Marina Gomberg

Marina Gomberg

The University of Utah Department of Theatre hosted the first annual High School Theatre Teacher Summer Workshop in the Meldrum Theatre on June 14. The day-long event consisted of four workshops taught to fourteen secondary school teachers from Cedar City, Heber, Lehi, South Jordan, Sandy, West Jordan, Stansbury Park, Magna, Ogden, and Bountiful. The day’s sessions concluded with a roundtable Q&A session with faculty and staff.  

  • Armed Stage Combat Choreography, taught by professor and department chair Chris DuVal, in which participants practiced the techniques of Single Sword –– the most common sword-based style used in theatre, television, and film –– and explored how to incorporate techniques into their programs.
  • Devised Practices, taught by assistant professors Alexandra Harbold and Robert Scott Smith, in which educators explored myriad ways into the process of creating original work with students, drawing upon practical techniques and structures from the Viewpoints, Tectonic’s Moment Work, Frantic Assembly and more.
  • Choreography for Musical Theatre, taught by assistant professor Erin Speer. This was an interactive dance workshop where participants examined story and character driven choreography, avoiding the trap of “dance for dance’s sake.”
  • Unarmed Stage Combat Choreography, also taught by Chris DuVal, exploring the foundational skills of unarmed stage techniques frequently required in productions

Participant Feedback:Participants learn stage combat | Photo Chris DuVal

  • “I truly loved these workshops and was very glad to be a part of if for the first year!  They were very valuable!”
  • “This was a great workshop.  I had a lot of fun and enjoyed learning from all the presenters!”
  • “The day-long theatre professional development at the University of Utah is a great opportunity for secondary school teachers! The professors all provided valuable training and were so fun to work with! I appreciated that they respected our work as secondary school theatre teachers and treated us like colleagues.”

Special thanks to faculty members Arika Schockmel, Erin Speer, Gage Williams, Kyle Becker, Kelby McIntyre-Martinez, Michael Horejsi, Rob Scott Smith, Amber Bielinski, Andra Harbold, Jessica Dudley-Rodriguez, Colleen Hirst, Karen Azenberg, and Penny Caywood for making this event possible.

The University of Utah Department of Theatre is thrilled to announce our 2024 / 2025 Season, in which two shows will be presented in our new state-of-the-art Meldrum Theatre.

“We hope you’ll join us for our season of contemporary plays, revitalized classics, show-stopping musicals, and an original Youth Theatre production for audiences of all ages — a truly thrilling season that you won’t want to miss!” — Chris DuVal, Interim Chair

The Heart of Robin Hood | David Farr
Director Alexandra Harbold and Fight Director Chris DuVal
September 27-October 7, 2024
Meldrum Theatre

“Come with us into the forest.”

Meldrum by BW ProductionsMeldrum Theatre (Photo by BW Productions)The notorious Robin Hood and his band of outlaws steal from the rich, creating a fearsome reputation amongst those who dare to travel through the mighty forest of Sherwood. But they do not share their spoils with the poor and are unloved by the people, who must also pay unfair taxes to the evil Prince John as he plots to steal his brother's crown. In this time of chaos and fear, it is down to Marion to boldly protect the poor and convince Robin that he must listen to his heart if they are to save the country. The Heart of Robin Hood | Concord Theatricals.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream | William Shakespeare
Director Robert Scott Smith
October 25-November 3, 2024
Studio 115

On Midsummer’s Night, the real and fairy worlds collide.

Four young lovers, faced with the prospect of unhappy marriage or worse, flee the court of Athens and stumble into an enchanted forest. Nearby, a group of amateur actors rehearse a play to celebrate an upcoming royal wedding. As these mere mortals cross paths with a warring fairy King and Queen, chaos reigns in the natural world. The lines between reality and illusion start to blur and no-one but mischievous Puck knows what is true and what is magic. RSC play summary

Spring Awakening | Music by Duncan Sheik, Book and lyrics by Steven Sater
Director Erin Speer
November 8-17, 2024
Babcock Theatre

“So let that be my story… Listening… For the hope, for the new life — Something beautiful, a new chance. Hear, it’s whispering, there, again…”

It is Germany, 1891, a world where the grown-ups hold all the cards. The beautiful young Wendla explores the mysteries of her body and wonders aloud where babies come from... until Mama tells her to shut it and put on a proper dress. Elsewhere, the brilliant and fearless young Melchior interrupts a mind-numbing Latin drill to defend his buddy, Moritz – a boy so traumatized by puberty that he can't concentrate on anything... not that the Headmaster cares. He strikes them both and tells them to turn in their lesson. One afternoon, in a private place in the woods, Melchior and Wendla meet by accident and soon find within themselves a desire unlike anything they've ever felt. As they fumble their way into one another's arms, Moritz flounders and soon fails out of school. When even his one adult friend, Melchior's mother, ignores his plea for help, he is left so distraught that he can't hear the promise of life offered by his outcast friend, Ilse. Naturally, the Headmasters waste no time in pinning the ‘crime’ of Moritz's suicide on Melchior to expel him. And soon, Mama learns that her little Wendla is pregnant. Now the young lovers must struggle against all odds to build a world together for their child. This celebration of rebellion provides the perfect opportunity to feature performers of all types, as well as the creative flexibility with the use of costumes, set pieces and lighting. Featuring a pop rock score, this is an ideal show for talented vocalists with strong acting abilities. Join this group of late nineteenth century German students on their passage as the navigate teenage self-discovery and coming of age anxiety in a powerful celebration of youth and rebellion in the daring, remarkable Spring Awakening. Spring Awakening | Music Theatre International

Xanadu | Book by Douglas Carter Beane and music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar
Director David Eggers
February 14-23, 2025
Meldrum Theatre 

“have to believe we are magic nothing can stand in our way have to believe we our magic don’t let your dream ever stray and if all your hopes survive destiny will arrive I’ll bring all your dreams to life for you” 

Xanadu follows the journey of a magical and beautiful Greek muse, Kira, who descends from the heavens of Mount Olympus to Venice Beach, California in 1980 on a quest to inspire a struggling artist, Sonny, to achieve the greatest artistic creation of all time – the first ROLLER DISCO! (Hey, it's 1980!) But, when Kira falls into forbidden love with the mortal Sonny, her jealous sisters take advantage of the situation, and chaos abounds. Xanadu | Music Theatre International

Charting Neverland | A new musical inspired by J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan
Adapted and Directed by Penelope Caywood
March 17-22, 2025
Kingsbury Hall

Charting Neverland offers a fresh perspective on the beloved tale of Peter Pan, drawing audiences into an imaginatively re-envisioned Neverland. This musical adaptation ventures into the untold stories of its cherished inhabitants, exploring the individual worlds within Neverland that mirror the limitless creativity found in the minds of children. Each version of Neverland, as unique and boundless as the child who dreams it, serves as the backdrop for our characters' origins, adventures, and the deep connections that unite them. 

Through innovative storytelling, an ensemble focus, and a contemporary folk soundtrack, Charting Neverland seeks to enchant today's audiences. Far more than a mere retelling, this production reawakens the magical world of Neverland as a place of inclusion, empowerment, and anti-colonial narratives. It invites a reimagining that respects the fluidity and vastness of children's imaginations, promising a journey filled with magic, music, and the exploration of themes that resonate across ages. This work is currently evolving, with a workshop and reading poised to bring it to life this summer, offering a glimpse into the creative process behind redefining a classic for a new generation.

You on The Moors Now | Jaclyn Backhaus
Director Sarah Shippobotham
April 4th-13th
Babcock Theatre

“My spirit cannot be in one place, and that is the wonderful sad thing of life, and of death. For we never know where we will be.”

Four literary heroines of the nineteenth century set conventionalism ablaze when they turn down marriage proposals from their equally famous gentlemen callers. What results is a confluence of love, anger, grief, and bloodshed, as the ensemble struggles to reconcile romantic ideologies of the past with their modern ideas of courtship. Everything you’ve learned about love from the pages of Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and Little Women is turned upside down in this grand theatrical battle royale.

It’s not until the play has already started that we find out what role each cast member will be playing for that particular performance. It’s a lottery system. Done live for all to see. And that’s just the beginning of the intrigue with Everybody, the Department of Theatre’s final production of the season directed by Robert Scott Smith and running from April 5-14 in the Babcock Theatre (300 South University Street).

A modernized adaption of the 15th century play, Everyman, this story dives deep into some of humanity’s early explorations of morality and death.

“Even with around 500 years between the two shows, the core questions and themes are still completely relevant,” said the production’s dramaturg Lauren Carn. “As much as our society has evolved since the 15th century, it is somewhat comforting to know that we are still considering the same question as the audience members of the original Everyman, which is: ‘How can I be a good person?’”

Though perhaps a bit macabre, the work is woven with humor and heart. At the top of the play, five actors who play Somebody are approached by Death who tells them to prepare for the inevitable. These Somebodies convince Death to allow time to find someone to bring along for the journey. At that point, the lottery begins and out of the Somebodies we find out who’s going to go on that journey as Everybody.  

Everybody is “losing who they are but gaining the wisdom and acceptance of their fate,” Macey Shackelford described, who plays one of the five Somebodies, which represent: Everybody, Kinship, Friendship, Cousinship and Stuff.

“What I find interesting about the story is that we know we know how it ends at the top of the show; Everybody dies and meets God,” said Michael Tirrell, who also plays a Somebody. “It's about HOW they get there and the journey we all take that leads us there.” 

The arc of the play is somewhat of a reflection of the process of putting it on.

“This has been one of the most challenging, exhilarating, and entertaining productions I have ever worked on,” said Smith. “Part of the joy will be experiencing this with multiple audiences as we wait in anticipation for the lottery and then watch what happens. Anything is possible, or is it? Death is something we will all experience, we just don’t know when.”

This exciting and important production is not to be missed. An ASL interpreted performance and audience talkback will take place on Friday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m.

University of Utah students get free tickets with their UCard, thanks to the Arts Pass program. Find other ticketing and parking information here

Content Advisory
This production is recommended for ages twelve and older. Children under the age of four will not be admitted. If you have additional questions, please email us at . Please note that more detailed advisories may contain information that reveals plot elements in advance, AKA "spoilers." 

Widely regarded as playwright Brian Friel’s masterpiece, Dancing at Lughnasa is a luminous, touching portrait of a family trapped by tradition on one side and modernization on the other, searching for beauty and hope as they dance on the brink of ruin. 

This version of Freil’s partially self-reflective and overwhelmingly award-winning play is directed by celebrated Department of Theatre Professor Sarah Shippobotham and runs Mar. 15-24 in Performing Arts Building (PAB) Studio 115, located west of the U Bookstore.

“This is a gorgeous play, beautifully written by Brian Friel, one of my favorite playwrights,” Shippobotham said. “His language is powerful without being too much. He brings the sisters to life so vividly and gives them all the dynamics that can come with living at close quarters with people you know too well. It is a somewhat unusual play for me to direct as it is full of realism, and the language outweighs the physical possibilities that I am used to featuring – creating harrowing journeys down the Colorado River in Men On Boats and an all-out gender battle in You On The Moors Now – but as a language lover and ear-driven person I am thrilled to support our students in bringing this story to our audience’s ears both through our Donegal dialects and our crafting of spoken thoughts. I hope we encourage people to lean in to hear what is being said as well as opening their eyes to a wild dance of longing and need!”

Dancing at Lughnasa promo 63 smPhoto: Todd CollinsThe play is set during harvest time in County Donegal, 1936, and the village of Ballybeg is celebrating with bonfires, drink, and dancing. Meanwhile in a cottage on the outskirts of town, five unmarried sisters struggle to make ends meet for themselves, their brother Jack, and the youngest sister’s illegitimate son, Michael.

Any diversion is welcome, even if it brings temptation — whether from random bursts of music on their unreliable radio, or from the arrival of a charming (and equally unreliable) drifter: Michael’s father.

"Dancing as if language had surrendered to movement — as if this ritual, this wordless ceremony, was now the way to speak, to whisper private and sacred things, to be in touch with some otherness."

An ASL interpreted performance and audience talkback will take place on Friday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m.

University of Utah students get free tickets with their UCard, thanks to the Arts Pass program. Find other ticketing and parking information here

Content Advisory
This production is recommended for ages twelve and older. Children under the age of four will not be admitted. If you have additional questions, please email us at . Please note that more detailed advisories may contain information that reveals plot elements in advance, AKA "spoilers." 

Dancing at Lughnasa promo 148 smPhoto: Todd Collins

Theatre in Utah has been rich with leading ladies, and our community has unfortunately lost one of our greatest: Marilyn Robinson Holt (1928-2024).

She earned three degrees at the University of Utah: a BS in Speech (’49) in the College of Humanities (before the College of Fine Arts was formally established), an MFA in Theatre (’70), and a PhD in Theatre (‘74) in the College of Fine Arts.

Marilyn Robinson Holt PhDHolt joined the faculty as an associate professor and worked quickly up the ranks from there, ultimately becoming a professor emeritus. By the early ‘80s, she was the chair of the Department of Theatre (one of only a handful of women across the country to be doing so), where she served valiantly for nine years.

In a piece published in The Salt Lake Tribune on Jan. 9, 1983, writer Nancy Funk said, “She is known for her ability to do everything well, whether it be directing a play, chairing a committee, running a department, performing on stage, or listening to a discouraged young student actor.”

Holt was beloved by students and colleagues alike. Her imprint and impact on people’s hearts and minds will live on forever.

“Marilyn Robinson Holt was a beautiful woman inside and out,” said Anne Cullimore Decker, an alumna of the Department who was later hired by Holt to teach. “A consummate actor, director, and leader in theatre, she motivated a great many students and instigated new programs within the department to enhance their training and education. As the Chair of our department, she was most considerate to staff and faculty and listened to the needs of everyone.  It was fascinating sharing the stage with her and observing her process in creating a role. She had it all.”

Her friends, family, colleagues, and former students have said so much more about her. For those interested, visit her obituaries on The Salt Lake Tribune’s website and Larkin Mortuary. For those inspired to donate to the U’s Department of Theatre in her honor, you can do that securely online here

December 06, 2021

Stay Connected

As you embark on your next adventure, we hope that you stay connected! Please help us stay up to date on your work, achievements, transitions, moves, discoveries, and more.

Why?

  • By staying in touch, you give us the chance to celebrate you and share your work with our Department of Theatre and College of Fine Arts communities.
  • As we expand opportunities for professional and personal networking, we hope to provide avenues for you to promote your work and connect with other theatre artists.
  • We can ensure that you receive invitations and updates for our productions, student and faculty works, and upcoming events.
  • By sharing your experiences and accomplishments, you can inspire future generations of theatre artists.

How?

  • Follow the College of Fine Arts’ alumni social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram
  • If you aren't on social media, fill out this Stay Connected form to let us know where you are and what you’re doing!
  • Submit theatre news items, events, and updates by using our News Item Submission Form (link opens in a new window)
  • Join the Forever Utah network—a platform where the U's professional community can maintain meaningful connections. Functions include a newsfeed, job boards, a directory featuring businesses owned by U alums, direct messaging, events, and mentor matching
  • Join the Department of Theatre and/or the College of Fine Arts email lists

In October, the College of Fine Arts Department of Theatre celebrated the opening of the John & Marcia Price Theatre Arts Building alongside many friends, students, faculty, and staff. 

The grand celebration included behind-the-scenes tours of the new facility, formerly known as Building 73. Attendees got a close-up look at studios, lighting lab, prop and costume studios, and more. They also had the chance to hear from University of Utah President Taylor Randall, Dean of the College of Fine Arts John Scheib, Chair of the Department of Theatre Sydney Cheek-O'Donnell, and Jennifer Price-Wallin, Chair of the Fine Arts Advisory Board. Students in the Musical Theatre Program (MTP) sang "Like Breathing" by Pasek and Paul, led by the Head of the MTP, David Schmidt. 

The John & Marcia Price Theatre Arts Building, along with the adjacent Price Family Amphitheater, has already completely transformed the student experience. We were so grateful to have this chance to recognize the incredible generosity of the Price family, and to celebrate the future of theatre at the University of Utah. 

Take a look at the gallery from the celebration! 
All photos by Jeff Bagley 

By Emeri Fetzer 

This week, the University of Utah Department of Theatre will dazzle audience members of all ages with “Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience,” a musical adaptation of a children’s book by Mo Willems. Directed by General McArthur Hambrick, with music by composer Deborah Wicks La Puma, the show follows Wilbur, naked mole rat with a knack for style.

mae propsMae Hinton-Godfrey demonstrates one propThe props studio in the new Price Theatre Arts Building has been a wild flurry of labor and excitement, as props designers craft all manner of objects and furniture central in bringing Wilbur's world to life. Props Master Arika Schockmel worked alongside two student assistant designers, Mae Hinton-Godfrey and Sam Dalton, to build rolling root stumps, clothing carts, signs, and a storefront – just to name a few pieces.

Assistant prop designer Mae Hinton-Godfrey initially started her studies at the U in education, and was taking a costume class just for fun. It was when she experienced great success in her first paid job as a costumer that she started seriously considering it as a career. Now, she never wants to leave. 

“I have enjoyed seeing the progression from a story book into a fully three-dimensional world with a lot more realism than I had initially expected.”

“Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience” is her first foray into props. “I have found that it’s been really helpful to understand the role props plays, filling in the gaps between set and costume. I like seeing where we can support other areas rather than just working in an isolated environment. As a costumer, I tend to try to do everything on my own, and not necessarily communicate with other departments,” she said.

This show has been both more collaborative and more playful than some of those past experiences.

“I am actually really excited for this show because it’s a musical and a kids’ show," Hinton-Godfrey said. "We were going to make a lot of the designs two-dimensional, but it has evolved into some more organic designs. For example, the set is based on some of the beautiful red rock formations here in Utah. I have enjoyed seeing the progression from a story book into a fully three-dimensional world with a lot more realism than I had initially expected.”

Prop artist Sam Dalton is in his final year as a theatre major at the U, then plans to go to grad school for a Master’s in higher education. Besides lending a hand on roots, he was responsible for cue card signs, which he drew free-hand, based on Mo Willems whimsical style. “It was really fun to create the things that get to be sillier, and get interacted with in the show,” he said. “The type face for the signs is called Grilled Cheese!”

With most of his design experience in set, Dalton is also having fun discovering the world of props. “This process has helped me understand the nuances,” he explained. “Just because something is a clothing item doesn’t mean it’s costumes. It’s really about how it is being used in the show, and who is using it. It has made it easier to develop relationships with other areas that help when you need something to make the show better.”

Disruptions in the supply chain have made this particular process challenging for the team. But creativity has prevailed, and even revealed some exciting innovations. “Items are more expensive right now, and shipping is more expensive and slower, so we had to be very creative and manage our expectations,” Schockmel said. “We had a plan for how we were going to build things, and then it turned out we couldn’t afford it, so we had to go with plan B. Plan B was garbage, which was better. It was faster, easier, and more creative for all the students involved.”

"Props is something you don’t know you like until you do it. All students have to take a lab aspect, so they will work with costumes, set, props, and sound. I try to grab people that enjoy crafts and encourage them to take my class. It is wonderful for problem solving."

Recycling and sustainability are important to the design team. Many would be surprised to know just how many materials in U Theatre’s shows are repurposed or up-cycled.

“Our technical director salvaged baling wire from a house he was clearing. We had to line everything with wire so we could bend it into the shapes we needed. People were bringing us plastic bags, bubble wrap, and we brought things from home,” Schockmel explained.

They were also beneficiaries of a happy mistake. “Two years ago, there was a mistake in ordering paper towels for our building’s machines, and so janitorial staff came, and asked if we would like the paper towels that didn't fit. We said, ‘Oh yes, we would!’ We’ve used thousands of paper towels to paper mâché. And we got our paint from the Department of Film & Media Arts when they shut down a set last season.”

Additionally, Pioneer Theatre Company donated piles of clothes they were cleaning out from their costume department this summer, and a few costume racks that were on their way to the salvage yard. A win-win for everyone.

Department of Theatre curriculum requires that all students take a design element, even if they are focusing on performance. This prepares them for the professional world, where those in theatre wear various hats.

“Props is something you don’t know you like until you do it. All students have to take a lab aspect, so they will work with costumes, set, props, and sound. I try to grab people that enjoy crafts and encourage them to take my class. It is wonderful for problem solving,” Schockmel said.

Come see the amazing work of this team, as well as the entire cast and crew of “Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience.” We can’t wait to rock with you!

NAKED MOLE RAT: THE ROCK EXPERIENCE

Babcock Theatre

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PERFORMANCE TIMES

Nov 12 @ 7:00 pm
Nov 13 @ 11:00 am
Nov 13 @ 2:00 pm
Nov 14 @ 2:00 pm
Nov 14 @ 5:00 pm
Nov 18 @ 10:00 am
Nov 19 @ 7:00 pm
Nov 21 @ 2:00 pm*
Nov 21 @ 5:00 pm

*Sensory Friendly performance
ASL INTERPRETER: Nov 19 @ 7:00 pm
Remember, all U students get in free with their U Card, thanks to Arts Pass! 

What are Sensory Friendly shows?

Sensory Friendly shows are geared towards patrons with sensory sensitivity. The subject matter is geared towards patrons with the developmental age of 4-8.

Please join us for an afternoon of performance, tours, and celebration of the new John & Marcia Price Theatre Arts Building at the University of Utah, home of the College of Fine Arts Department of Theatre!

John & Marcia Price Theatre Arts Building Tour
Tuesday, October 19 4:30-6:00P* 
332 S 1400 E Salt Lake City, UT 84112 

*Main Program to begin at 4:30P – reception at the new Price Family Amphitheatre to follow

Please RSVP by Monday, Oct. 18 to  (479) 466-4340

Parking

PTAB Tour Parking Map

Safety Information

For the safety of our community, we ask that all patrons attending to follow recent CDC guidance, which calls for everyone to wear face masks indoors. We ask that patrons please not attend any show if they have been exposed to COVID-19 or are feeling unwell.

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