Displaying items by tag: Theatre

It is our great pleasure to present the 2020 Outstanding Seniors from the University of Utah College of Fine Arts. Each year,  our five academic units nominate an outstanding senior for their academic achievements, artistic and scholarly accomplishments, and ongoing commitment to their craft. These graduating students continue the CFA's tradition of sending strong creative leaders out into the art world. Congratulations, and our hats off to you! 

A Message from Liz Leckie, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Student Affairs

Pisti Gamvroulas AAH

 Name: Pisti Gamvroulas
Majors and minors: Art with Graphic Design Emphasis, Minor in Arts & Technology
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Three words that describe you: Loyal, Hard-working, and Compassionate
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Xi Zhang’s Drawing 1 Course. Xi is an exceptionally kind and genuine human who cares for each and every one of his students. He is consistently pushing them to do their best work, and experiment in their process. His instruction allowed me to explore my strengths and to understand my weaknesses and how I could improve myself. 
Most memorable moment at CFA: Learning about and working in the wood shop during my Foundations year and somehow leaving with all my limbs attached. 
One thing you learned at CFA: Community matters. It’s important to connect with others that can understand and support you through the challenges you face in a creative industry, and that can cheer you on through the successes you accomplish. Being connected with others helps you grow as a creative and find spectacular humans that you can form relationships with for years to come. 
What inspires you: Humanistic Design/Art/Research/Places that motivate people to connect with one another and/or share human experiences. Designers like Timothy Goodman, who’s work expresses his emotions and tells stories that everyone can relate to, is very inspiring. Spaces like the National Museum of American History that focus on visitor interaction offer multiple forms of insight into how we can create spaces that bring people together. Podcasts like “The Happiness Lab”, that offer scientific insight into how we can live more content lives and connect with others. 
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: During my time at the University of Utah, I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with campus programs such as the Office of Student Success & Empowerment, The Muse Project, Bennion Center, and Intramural Sports. I created my own student organization called “U Got Game?” based on bringing students together to learn a variety of sports, and am the VP of the UofU AIGA, helping create a community amongst all design practices at the U. In the summer of 2019 I was fortunate enough to intern with the exhibition design team at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, in Washington D.C. I will be interning with an interdisciplinary architectural company, Sasaki, in Massachusetts this upcoming summer. 
One sentence that describes your work: Human centered design/art that uses humor, color, and/or bright subjects to create positive solutions for a variety of people. 


"Pisti’s participation in class, enthusiasm and diligent work habits set a wonderful example for her fellow classmates. She consistently goes above and beyond what is expected of her, both academically and beyond. It is not very often that we have the opportunity to engage with such a committed student. This same commitment to learn is also demonstrated in her pursuit in a career in graphic design. This led to landing a coveted, nationally competitive design internship at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. This demonstrates her high degree of self-motivation and professionalism. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Pisti is a pleasure to work with. She engages with her teachers and fellow students with a smile on her face. Even in  the midst of tackling a difficult design problem, Pisti enthusiastically takes on the challenge. Upon solicitation of faculty members for nominations for this award; we received multiple glowing reviews of Pisti. Her love for design is obvious and her positivity is contagious. In addition to her success in the Graphic Design Program and fulfilling the Interdisciplinary Capstone Project in Arts and Technology, she is highly involved in campus life. She is a MUSE scholar, serves as the AIGA (professional organization for design) student body president, and was the lead ambassador for the U of U’s  Undergraduate Studies Student Success and Empowerment Program. This are just a few of the many contributions she has made to the campus community." 

- Carol Sogard
Professor, Department of Art & Art History 

“Pisti is a kind, intelligent, passionate, and brave artist and designer. Pisti’s highly artistic achievements reflects these qualities. I do not doubt she will be a celebrated star in the design community.”
- Xi Zhang
Assistant Professor, Department of Art & Art History 


Cameron Mertz SoD

Name: Cameron Mertz
Majors and minors: Modern Dance major with a minor in Psychology
Hometown: Walnut Creek, CA
Three words that describe you: Compassionate, hard-working, resilient
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Junior year improv with Stephen Koester 
Most memorable moment at CFA: Performing “The Middle Way” choreographed by Molly Heller in the 2018 School of Dance Gala at Kingsbury Hall.
One thing you learned at CFA: I learned the importance of allowing myself to be vulnerable in my artmaking even when it’s uncomfortable and scary because, ultimately, that has led me to create work that is personally meaningful and memorable to me.
What inspires you: I’m inspired by things that I experience in my daily life, specifically interactions with people around me, whether intentional or not. I think it’s more fun to be inspired by the mundane than grandeur.
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: 

  • 2017-2018 Before She Sleeps in the Sand Choreography by Pamela Gaber-Handman, Performed as part of Legacy Assembly/ Performed as part of American College Dance Association Northwest Conference, selected for Gala Performance/ Performed as part of Breaking Ground Dance & Film Festival/ Performed as part of Performing Dance Company
  • 2017-2018- Awarded the Departmental Scholarship from the Modern Program of the School of Dance at the University of Utah
  • 2018- The Middle Way Choreography by Molly Heller, Performed as part of School of Dance Gala Concert
  • 2018- The Wallflowers Choreography by Brooklyn Draper, Performed as part of the Graduate Thesis Concert/ Performed as part of 12 Minutes Max/ Performed as part of Mudson
  • 2019- A Collective Resilience Choreography by Daniel Do, Performed as part of Repertory Dance Theater’s Emerge
  • 2019- Surge Choreography by Anouk Van Dijk, Performed as part of The School of Dance Gala/ Performed as part of Salt Spring Concert2019- Gaga Summer Intensive (Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • 2019- Parachute Princess Choreography by E’lise Jumes, Performed as part of the Graduate Thesis Concert2019- Becoming Choreography by Joanna Lees, Performed as part of the Graduate Thesis Concert
  • 2020- Grey Raven Choreography by Eric Handman, Performed as part of the School of Dance Gala

One sentence that describes your work: For me, I find it important that my work remains honest, explorative and evolving.  


“'WHO IS SHE?!' I remember asking when I first saw Cameron perform on stage at the MCD—she was a newly arrived freshman dancing in a piece by LA hiphop artist Jackie Lopez. Even then, a month into college, her maturity, clarity, fierceness, and stage presence was palpable. She shone on stage. And this star quality has grown exponentially while at the School of Dance. Cameron is a consummate dance artist--- a creative contributor who posseses an absolutely compelling stage presence, a deep thinker, and someone who shows grace and humanity in everything she does." 
- Satu Hummasti
Associate Director for Undergraduate Programs and Associate Professor, School of Dance

"Cameron’s committed, vibrant energy draws people to her. She is incredibly hard working and a curious, questioning artist at heart. Cameron is an exceptionally invested artist, one with great integrity, who seeks new research opportunities and mentorship to broaden her dancing life. She not only inspires others with her expansiveness as a performer, but she also exudes humility and perseverance. Inside the classroom, onstage, and within a creative process, she has earned the deep respect of her peers and faculty."

"Faculty feel that Cameron has been, '…an integral part of my choreographic research, influencing the direction, intensity, and depth of the research itself,' and, 'She raises everyone’s game. Inspiring, indefatigable, tirelessly creative and physically powerful.' Her peers feel that she, '…is truly a poetic movement artist. She is incredibly insightful, filled with creative guttural decision-making abilities. Cameron has the ability to always include her unique voice, physical quirks, textures and tonalities in anything that she does. It is a superpower of hers, to always include herself in anything she does; transcending ideas beyond movement, making dance seem otherworldly at times.'" 
-Michael Wall
Modern Dance Program Head & Associate Professor, School of Dance


Katie Phillips FMAD

Name: Katie Rose Phillips
Majors and minors: Film and Media Arts Major, Production Emphasis
Hometown: Midland, Michigan
Three words that describe you: Creative, Confident, Candid
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Sonia and Miriam Albert-Sobrino
Most memorable moment at CFA: When I was studying abroad in Italy one of the students, Brady Brown, had a scene in his film where he had to jump through a fence and every student on the trip came and helped film that one shot. It was hysterical.
One thing you learned at CFA: Always double check that the camera plate is secure on the tripod.
What inspires you: Telling stories that are important to me and having people connect with those stories.
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: Film, Seeing Eye Guy, featured at the Block Festival. Film, Grieving A Broad, showcased in Italy and the United States. Forward for the Utah Howl Women’s Ice Hockey team.
One sentence that describes your work: Rediscovering yourself is the first step to overcoming loneliness.

“During her time in the Department of Film & Media Arts, Katie has proven to be a very valuable member of this community. In class, she is always engaged and her willingness to learn is contagious; her films have a maturity level that is unseen in filmmakers of her age; and she’s always advocating for female empowering stories that reflect the different facets of the female experience. She is a strong talented young filmmaker who uses cinema to provoke positive change.”
- Sonia and Miriam Albert-Sobrino 
Assistant Professors, Department of Film & Media Arts

"Our Department is committed to empowering students to tell stories that matter to them. Katie has done just that. Her creativity, ambition, and perseverance have earned her the respect of her peers and instructors. We expect great things of her in the years ahead." 
- Andrew Patrick Nelson 
Chair, Department of Film & Media Arts 


Tony Elison SoM

Name: Tony Elison
Majors and minors: Honors BMus in Jazz Composition, minor in Computer Science
Hometown: American Fork, UT
Three words that describe you: open-minded, reflective, curious
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Jazz Composition and Arranging
Most memorable moment at CFA: premiering original works at senior recital
One thing you learned at CFA: how to network
What inspires you: real, sincere, hard-working people who love what they do
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus:

  • Learned how to learn
  • Developed a love for reading
  • Sharpened writing skills
  • Widened my musical palette
  • Established a reputation for professionalism in the SLC music community

One sentence that describes your work: It’s my hope that my work reflects authentic, musical expression, capable of moving and elevating the listener.

"I’ve known Tony as a work-study student who works at the front desk in the Music Office, and a scholarship recipient as a member of the Michie Jazz Quintet, which plays at many events on campus, including the Presidents Office. I’ve always been very impressed with his jazz piano playing and arranging. He's very unassuming, and I didn't know until recently of his impressive performance credits (including Carnegie Hall and Dizzy’s Club at Lincoln Center in New York!) or his minor in computer science. He is an Honors student with a GPA at the very top of his graduating class. Behind his unassuming manner there is a tremendously talented and intelligent jazz musician who has already reached some impressive milestones. He has a bright future ahead of him!" 
- Miguel Chuaqui
Director, School of Music 

"What makes Tony Elison a special student to me is his ability for synthesis. He can take inspiration from musical ideas, syntax, and traditions while filtering them through his own distinctive voice. I have been honored to help him achieve his goals and continue to expand his artistic horizons for the future."
- John Petrucelli
Visiting Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies, School of Music 

"Tony has the ideal demeanor for a working colleague--he is an amazing musician, always prepared, and a positive person to be around. He is already playing professionally in and around Utah."
- Donn Schaefer
Brass and Jazz Area Head & Professor of Trombone, School of Music 


Matthew Rudolph DoT

Name: Matthew Rudolph 
Majors and minors: Musical Theatre
Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Three words that describe you: Loyal, Passionate, Hard-working
Favorite CFA class or teacher: David Schmidt
Most memorable moment at CFA: Getting to perform with the cast of Bring it On! and represent the department of theatre at the opening of the Eccles theatre downtown.
One thing you learned at CFA: How incredible it is to be an artist. As artists, we have the opportunity to connect with people on a deeper level and create change within them and in the world. We have the chance to entertain those around us and make people feel something.
What inspires you: Seeing the passion other CFA students put into their craft everyday and getting to work on something that I am so passionate about fuels me with excitement to work hard and give my everything.
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: SAC Representative- President, Vice-President, class representative, FAF Grant Representative, Emerging Leadership intern, cast in 7 department of theatre musicals, member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.
One sentence that describes your work: I am an artist and collaborator who is passionate about creating change and allowing people the opportunity to escape reality and be entertained.

"Matthew has proved to be an outstanding student and leader within the Department of Theatre. He serves as President for the department's Student Advisory Committee (SAC). He also serves as the student representative at the College Council meetings. Besides being an excellent representative for his fellow students and the department, he is a talented performer. He has been cast in a number of department productions including, Chess, Company, Dracula and Floyd Collins. On behalf of the department and myself, we wish him the best of luck." 
- Harris Smith
Chair, Department of Theatre

"Freshman Matt Rudolph peaked his head into a rehearsal of "BRING IT ON" in August of 2016 when I had just lost the entire Cheerleading squad who had agreed to do the show….I said, “Howdy, can you tumble?” He said “sure”  …..and that is the way it has been for the last 4 years….. Matt is forever willing to give anything asked of him his best shot. Always with a smile, Matt is one of a very few students who have been cast in just about every departmental show of his college career. BRAVO MATT!" 
-Denny Berry
Musical Theatre Program Head, Department of Theatre

"I am so happy that Matthew was chosen as the outstanding student for the Department of Theatre. I have had the privilege of being involved with Mathew from the time of his audition for the department until now at his graduation. I have been his Private Applied Voice teacher for the 4 years. Matthew has an incredible work ethic, a passion for his art and the talent to make it all work. He is also a generous leader amongst his peers. I am sure he will have a brilliant future. Break legs Matthew!!" 
-David Schmidt
Associate Professor, Department of Theatre


*Look out for our feature of Alicia Ross, Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher!  And please join us tomorrow when we will hear from our two student convocation speakers, Jacob Weitlauf and Sydney May, right here on the blog.* 

Published in Finer Points Blog

Seven students from the College of Fine Arts were recently selected as Spring 2020 scholars in the University of Utah's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

UROP gives undergraduate students and faculty mentors the opportunity to work together on research or creative projects. The program provides a stipend and educational programming for students who assist with a faculty member’s research or creative project or who carry out a project of their own under the supervision of a faculty member. Students may apply for UROP any semester and may be eligible for a one-semester renewal. UROP awardees are hired as temporary, part-time UROP Participants by the Office of Undergraduate Research and are paid $1,200 for 120 hours of research or creative work during the semester.

Here are CFA's Spring 2020 UROP scholars and a glimpse at what each of them are working on:

Bethany Dahlstrom, Department of Art & Art History 
Faculty mentor: Carol Sogard

Bethany is researching notable alumni that have graduated from the Graphic Design program at the University of Utah. She is in the process of designing a promotional Graphic Design Alumni book that teaches students in the program, future students and community members about the history and legacy of the Graphic Design Program, while also recognizing these notable alumni and the impacts they have made on the profession. She is also researching innovative ways to utilize Instagram as a design tool to share the content developed in the book.

Ethan Edwards, Department of Art & Art History 
Faculty mentor: Laurel Caryn

The title of Ethan’s UROP proposal is “Art’s Role in a Contemporary, Saturated Market, and a Question into the Validity of Societies Value of the Market”.  Ethan will be  questioning the validity of the gallery space as a place for art, by finding alternative spaces, trying not only to define art itself, but define its purpose and final destination.

Kaitlyn Redd, Department of Art & Art History
Faculty mentor: Justin Diggle

Katie is utilising Laser Engraver and CNC machines to explore new approaches to printmaking. She will initially be creating test images to explore the technical possibilities of the machinery before creating specific images. With the laser engraver for example, she will first screenprint multiple layers of alternating colour before engraving back into the print with particular imagery. The engraving of the image will reveal layers of colour.

Nicole Kallsen, School of Dance 

Faculty mentor: Kate Mattingly

Nicole's project is called "Seeking Common Ground: A case study of ballet's cultural values in Salt Lake City." She is researching perceptions of ballet in Salt Lake City by analyzing three organizations: Ballet West, Ballet West Academy, and the University of Utah Ballet Program. For each organization, Nicole will assess their social and financial support with special attention to the demographics of people who participate in the production and presentation of performances.

Jacob Young, School of Music

Faculty mentor: Jared Rawlings

Jacob is exploring peer group effects of relational victimization and empowerment among high school instrumental music students. He utilized social network analysis and found that participation in a school-based marching band significantly impacts feelings of empowerment reducing self-reported relational victimization, even after controlling for gender, caring behaviors, and positive attitudes toward bullying.

Kimberly Brown, Department of Theatre
Faculty mentor: Rob Scott Smith

In Kimberly's own words: "I am on a quest to create a piece of theatre that examines and exposes our society's relationship with mental health, more specifically to personal identities in our youth in relation to the older generations and the world around us. I want to study mental health, gender, and social issues through the lenses of famous literary figures from Shakespeare’s works. This play will use iconic characters and humorous circumstances to expose and explore deeper issues that some might not be able to do with research papers, classes, and studies."

Courtney Cohen, Department of Theatre
Faculty mentor: Andra Harbold  

Courtney is conducting interviews and pursuing qualitative research into three thematic threads of "Spitfire Grill:" towns with economies whose primary livelihoods are failing, Vietnam veterans returning home after the war, and sexual assault survivors.

Click here for more information on upcoming UROP applications! The next deadline is Friday, March 20th for students interested in working during Summer 2020. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Noelle Sharp

For this episode of MAGNIFYING we spoke with Wig Master, Hair and Makeup Designer for Pioneer Theatre Company and the Department of Theatre, and Adjunct Assistant Professor for the Department of Theatre Amanda French. Our creative community here at the College of Fine Arts is diverse and wide spread. With the goal of gaining a deeper knowledge and awareness of the people within our community, we bring you MAGNIFYING, a series dedicated to showcasing the talent of our students, faculty, and staff.


Tell us about yourself: Name, where you are from, what you do and how you got into in your field of work
My name is Amanda French and I am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am the Wig Master and Hair and Makeup Designer for Pioneer Theatre Company and the Department of Theatre, and Adjunct Assistant Professor for the Department of Theatre teaching stage makeup classes, and classes in all aspects of wig and makeup design.

I construct and style all of the wigs and facial hair for all Pioneer Theatre productions and for the 4 mainstage productions for the department of theatre. I make sure that all of the performers know how to do their own makeup for the productions, including instruction as needed. I have also done prosthetics for productions, including the severed head for Macbeth, the nose and mouth pieces for the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, and Cyrano’s nose in Cyrano de Bergerac. I have been at Pioneer and the University since 2003, and have worked on over 200 productions in that time.

My path to this job has been quite varied, and this is the short version: In high school I wasn’t the best academic student, but enjoyed my time in 3 different choirs, and marching and concert band. I was never a part of the drama club, but did enjoy being in the chorus of Guys and Dolls my senior year. At the time, a career in theater was never on my radar. My first year in college I studied music education and voice, then when my family moved to Pennsylvania, I went to a community college where I took acting classes, and joined a swing choir. I did a small amount of acting and helped backstage doing props, and sound, then found my way to a stage makeup class – which I loved. A couple of summers I worked as an assistant stage manager for a small community theater, and decided that I loved working backstage and needed to focus on that work. I applied to and then attended the University of Cincinnati – College Conservatory of Music (CCM) from 1986-1990 where my major was in design and technical theater with an emphasis in wigs and makeup. I continued to work as an assistant stage manager (ASM) and did a couple of internships with Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. By the time I left CCM in 1990, I was working professionally as an ASM, and when I wasn’t doing that, I was doing wigs and makeup. In 1992 I decided to focus on wigs and makeup, got a job teaching at The School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati, and never looked back. I have been blessed with a 30 year career doing what I love.

What has surprised you the most in your life?
What has surprised me the most is how important teaching has become to me. There have been several articles in the New York Times in the last couple of years that talk about wig making becoming a dying art as some of the best in the business in the US, like Mr. Paul Huntley in New York, get closer to retirement. However, the author of the article neglected to look outside of the city, to find out how many great wig masters and wig artists there are in the Regional Theater world, and working for professional touring companies all over the country. There are very few schools that have wig and makeup design as an emphasis or major, and it is very important to keep this field supported. Being a wig maker is a job that has existed since at least the time of the Egyptians, and isn’t going any where soon, but we need more active professionals to teach the very specific skill sets that are required for building wigs. This is not a skill set that is taught in beauty schools at all, and more universities need to include it as a major in their technical theater departments, taught by working professional wig masters.

What do you wish you had known/been told?
I was actually warned several times that it is hard to make money in live theater. Most of my classmates went into film and television, and I am one of the few who chose to stay in live theater. I wish that I had learned more about the business side of show business and that I had reached out to more professionals in the field for guidance, early in my career. But then, that was before the days of the internet, and it is much easier now!

Published in Finer Points Blog
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The Department of Theatre ends the 2018-19 season with Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s British comedy, The Rivals. Directed by Alexandra Harbold the production runs 4/5 – 4/14 in the Babcock Theatre in the lower level of the Pioneer Memorial Theatre.

The Rivals features the romantic misadventures of wealthy Lydia Languish who is determined to marry her penniless lover Ensign Beverley. But first, she must contend with the immortal Mrs. Malaprop, who through a series of hilarious mix-ups, raises serious objections to Lydia’s choice for a husband. With iconic dueling scenes directed and choreographed by Adriana Lemke, The Rivals blends rivalry, chivalry, secrecy, romance, and shameless social climbing, creating a satire masterpiece.

As a play where people pretend to be someone they’re not to win the day, where appearances are overvalued and realities are ignored, The Rivals continues to be relevant in today’s society. Harbold’s lively direction and creative vision has produced a world where the designs reflect both period and contemporary elements. The vibrant costumes designed by Performing Arts Design student, Heather Rogers compliment the open concept set by scenic designer and artist, Thomas George.
The sparkling wit and whirlwind plot of The Rivals has delighted audiences for over 240 years. The U’s production reignites Sheridan’s masterpiece with a youthful talented cast made up of students from the Actor Training Program who perform a fresh and fast-moving performance that showcases the cleverness of Sheridan’s play. A talk-back led by dramaturg and professor Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell will be held after the performance on 4/6.


Dates and Times
Previews 4/3 and 4/4 at 7:30P. Show runs 4/ 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, and 14 at 7:30P with matinees on 4/13 and 4/14 at 2P.

Post-Performance Discussions
April 6

The Babcock Theatre, located at 300 South and University Street (1400 East) in the Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, lower level. Free parking is available to the south of the theatre and at Rice Eccles Stadium.

General Admission tickets are $18, University of Utah faculty and staff are $15, University of Utah students are free with UCard, and all other students with valid student ID are $8.50. Tickets can be obtained by calling 801-581-7100, online or at the Performing Arts Box Office, located at Kingsbury Hall.

Content warning
Children under four years of age, including babes in arms, will not be admitted. Mature/suggestive content.




Published in Finer Points Blog

On the heels of a record-breaking season, Pioneer Theatre Company (PTC) Artistic Director Karen Azenberg announces the highly-anticipated 2019-2020 season. University of Utah students can get discounted tickets to the new season by using their ARTS PASSAmong the season offerings includes a pre-Broadway tryout, a world premiere, and three productions that have never before been professionally performed in Utah. Azenberg will be joined at the helm by her new partner, two-time Tony Award-nominated producer Christopher Massimine, who will serve as PTC’s managing director.

“We have a great line-up in store,” stated Azenberg. “Salt Lake has a wonderfully sophisticated theatre audience; they know what is playing on Broadway, what is touring and what they want to see. We’re delighted to provide a unique opportunity offering our patrons productions that would otherwise be unavailable to statewide theatregoers.”

PTC will open the season with an expanded version of the Off-Broadway hit musical CAGNEY, an effervescent, tap-dancing biographical show about Hollywood “tough guy” James Cagney. Fred and Adele Astaire Award winner Robert Creighton will reprise his Drama Desk Award-nominated performance of the title role in this first pre-Broadway tryout. Applauded byVariety as “Showstopping! Pure hallelujah moments”.

Next, fresh from a revered Broadway run, PTC presents an exclusive engagement of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT. A timely and thought-inspiring comedic drama The New York Times deemed “terrifically engaging,” The Lifespan of a Fact examines truth through the eyes of a national magazine’s fact-checker. This critically-acclaimed play, which made Variety’s ‘2018 best of the year’ list.

PTC welcomes the Utah premiere of THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG. Originally produced by J.J. Abrams, this wildly successful Broadway comedy is “the ‘Tom and Jerry’ of British farce, slapping you silly with mishaps and pratfalls,” (The Washington Post).

The new year kicks off with MARY STUART, a politically-charged biographical British drama, that follows the unseen power-play between two of history's greatest Monarchs, who happened to be women. Running at PTCJanuary 10 through January 25, this smart and charming play recently presented a lauded revival in London's prestigious West End Theatre district. “MARY STUART is a testament to human bravery and dignity,” raved Azenberg. “With inspiring female roles, and a theme grounded in the struggle between religion, womanhood and statesmanship, this highly-relevant play mirrors, explores and questions those same issues present today.”

Get ready for another Utah Premiere, the “ravishing revival” (The New York Times) of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND. This 2018 Tony Award-winning musical folktale follows the adventure of two star-crossed romantics amongst an imaginative and vibrant Caribbean backdrop.

Get tickets for the world premier of “ASS”, a comedy about complicated family relationships, author Ellen Simon informs us that the play’s key figure, a famous sculptor, isn’t really based on her famous father,Neil Simon, but that her character “is really more of a Picasso guy.” Ass first appeared at PTC as part of the 2017-2018 Play-by-Play new play reading series, and will enjoy its first fully-staged production.

Closing the season will be SOMETHING ROTTEN! This recent rambunctious Broadway musical, was adored as an “over-the-top take on Shakespeare” by The New York Times. Wallowing in puns, double-entendres and bad taste, theatre buffs will enjoy the "Easter egg" references to popular musicals laced throughout this comedy.


Book by Peter Colley
Music and Lyrics by Robert Creighton & Christopher McGovern
September 20 - October 5, 2019

The Lifespan of a Fact
By Jeremy Kareken & David Murrell and Gordon Farrell
Based on the essay/Book by John D'Agata and Jim Fingal
November 1 - November 16, 2019

The Play That Goes Wrong
by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields
December 6 - December 21, 2019

Mary Stuart
by Jean Stock Goldstone and John Reich
January 10 - 25, 2020

Once On This Island
Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Based upon the novel "My Love, My Love" by Rosa Guy
February 21 - March 7, 2020

By Ellen Simon
March 27 - April 11, 2020

Something Rotten!
Book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell
Music and Lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick
Conceived by Karen Kirkpatrick and Wayne Kirkpatrick
May 8 - May 23, 2020


Published in Finer Points Blog

By Noelle Sharp

For this episode of MAGNIFYING we spoke with Department of Theatre Assistant Professor of Directing and Co-Founder & Co-Artistic Director of the Flying Bobcat Theatrical LaboratoryAlexandra Harbold. Our creative community here at the College of Fine Arts is diverse and wide spread. With the goal of gaining a deeper knowledge and awareness of the people within our community, we bring you MAGNIFYING, a series dedicated to showcasing the talent of our students, faculty, and staff.

Tell us about yourself: Name, where you are from, what you do and how you got into in your field of work
My name is Alexandra Harbold. I grew up in Williamsburg, Virginia and earned my bachelor’s at Middlebury College in Vermont and my masters at the University of London, Goldsmiths College. My grandparents met playing opposite one another in a production of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever, so theatre always felt encoded in the DNA and lore of our family.

What has surprised you the most in your life?
Where we find and make our homes and lives. Having grown up on the East Coast, I always expected to land there. When I was in London for grad school, I felt like I’d found home. Which made coming back to the States challenging in new ways – I found myself looking for that kinship I felt to London and couldn’t really find it. I’ve lived in New York City, Seattle, and Chicago… When we moved to Salt Lake City for my husband’s work, we thought it was a stopgap and that we would only be here for a year or two. That was in 2004.

What do you wish you had known/been told?
I wish I’d recognized that the sense of not knowing enough that used to get me tangled in knots was only problematic because I thought I was supposed to ‘get it’ the first time. As if our capacity to understand and create are fixed points, our once and future reality. Now I recognize that creativity and craft grow in direct correspondence to curiosity and resilience/stubbornness. In a SITI Company blog a few years ago, Artistic Director/author Anne Bogart wrote about the necessity of deep practice, referencing neuroscientists’ discovery that ‘only after 10,000 hours of practice is real progress and innovation possible.’
So I keep working towards that 10,000 hours.

Published in Finer Points Blog

Following a ten-month national search, Pioneer Theatre Company announced that Christopher Massimine will join the company 7/1 as the theatre’s managing director. Massimine will succeed Chris Lino, who will retire on June 30 after managing the professional regional theatre for twenty-eight years. Massimine will partner with Artistic Director Karen Azenberg in leading the company. 

"I want to welcome Chris Massimine to the PTC family and to the thriving arts community here in Salt Lake City," said Azenberg. "In Chris, we’ve found a creative business leader who brings skills and a set of experiences that will help ensure our continued growth in a changing professional theatre environment. I believe together we will accomplish more than that which either of us would be able to do so individually, as we shepherd Pioneer Theatre Company into a new era of leadership."

“The addition of Chris Massimine to Pioneer Theatre Company is a tremendous win for the university and the arts community in Utah. Chris has a proven track record of success and is well positioned to move the company forward building on the legacy of his predecessor, Chris Lino,” said Dan Reed, senior vice president for academic affairs for the University of Utah.

Massimine is a two-time Tony Award-nominated producer and leading arts executive. In New York City, he serves on the City’s Cultural Council; is the Co-Development Chair at Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York; is a member of The Broadway League; and is the Founder and former Chair of the Immigrant Arts Coalition. He is finishing a 6½ year tenure with the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF), the country’s longest consecutively producing theatrical organization, where he has served as CEO. Massimine oversaw the brand transformation of the institution and its financial expansion, and was responsible for attaining its consistent worldwide visibility. Under his leadership, Massimine bridged NYTF’s century-long traditions with a shifting contemporary landscape, leading to many successful strategic partnerships, collaborations, and numerous awards/accolades, such as the National Theatre Conference’s 2018 Theatre of the Year Award.

Most recently, Massimine was the executive producer of the critically-acclaimed Off-Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Academy Award winner Joel Grey. He was also responsible for NYTF’s first Broadway venture as Co-Producer of the play Indecent, which won two Tony Awards, including best direction. Massimine’s extensive producing resume is equally matched by that of his marketing and advertising work, which has contributed to some of the world’s most recognized campaigns. Massimine has produced theatre across the globe, and concerts that have included such prominent artists as Mandy Patinkin, Itzhak Perlman, Liza Minnelli, and the late Theodore Bikel.

Speaking of his appointment, Massimine said, “It’s an extraordinary time to join the PTC family. Since childhood, I’ve marveled at the stage. The first time I attended a theatrical production, I went home kindled to joyous wonder. For years, I couldn’t put into words what made that exact experience so undeniably impactful that it would guide the trajectory of my professional life. But when I found the words, it was clear there could be no turning back. Good theatre is about the production; great theatre is about developing community. When the work itself comes from a place of authenticity and care, it’s noticed and remembered. I have experienced all of those things at PTC, and fallen in love with Utah. I am emphatically inspired, and over the next four months I look forward to working alongside Karen, Chris, the Board, and the University as I transition into year one.”

PTC Board Chairman Daniel Lofgren praised the selection of Massimine saying, “Chris Massimine has enormous shoes to fill. Chris Lino has been a remarkable steward of this precious asset. That said, I am excited about Chris coming to PTC. He has demonstrated wonderful marketing savvy and an innovator’s approach to the business side of theatre. I am quite enthused about what he and our amazing Artistic Director Karen Azenberg can do working together at Pioneer Theatre Company.”

Former PTC Board Chairman David E. Gee, head of the search committee, said of their selection, “Massimine emerged as the strongest candidate from a group of well-qualified prospects. He has a strong numbers orientation and a record of success and innovation in marketing and community outreach that will complement the quality of Artistic Director Karen Azenberg’s productions.”

Pioneer Theatre Company is a fully-professional theatre located in residence on the University of Utah Campus. Member of the search committee and Associate Vice President for the Arts and Dean of the College of Fine Arts John Scheib said, “We are delighted to welcome Chris to our robust arts ecosystem here at the University of Utah and throughout the greater Salt Lake community. He brings with him an inspiring vision and impressive record of achievement in theatre management, and we look forward to exciting partnerships and fruitful collaborations for years to come.”

While Massimine will assume the managing directorship on 7/1, he will be consulting with the theatre over the next four months to prepare for the 2019-20 season.


Published in Finer Points Blog

The Department of Theatre presents Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical comedy Company, Directed by Ryan Emmons. This Tony Award-winning musical for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Lyrics and Best Book by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth exists outside the realm of your typical chronological piece of theatre.

Set in present-day New York City, Company follows bachelor Bobby on the event of his 35th birthday as his couple friends gather to celebrate and offer varying degrees of relationship advice. Their interactions are presented in a series of vignettes that explore the social pressures of being single, in love, or in a relationship. With popular and familiar songs such as “Another Hundred People,” “Marry Me a Little,” “The Ladies Who Lunch,” and the iconic “Being Alive,” the cast brings the show to life through intimate scenes, intricate music, and exciting dance numbers.

Guest Director Ryan Emmons brings a fresh perspective to the Babcock Theatre by tackling an ambitious musical with a young company. His work as resident director on the US National Tour of Miss Saigon and assistant director of Groundhog Day and Matilda The Musical on Broadway adds to the professional environment the U’s Musical Theatre Program strives to create for its students. His vision coupled with music direction by Alex Marshall and choreography by Ellie Hanagarne makes this production of Company as entertaining and relatable as it was when it debuted in 1970.

The audience is invited to join the director, members of the cast, and creative team for a talk-back immediately following the 2P performance on February 17.

Company at a glance
Dates and Times: Previews Feb. 13 and 14 at 7:30P
Show runs Feb. 15, 16, 20- 23, 27-Mar. 3 at 7:30P with matinees on Feb. 17, 23, 24, and Mar. 3 at 2P
ASL interpretation on the Saturday, February 23 at the 2P performance.
Post-Performance Discussion: Feb. 17




Published in Finer Points Blog

Edward Lewis was a pioneer in African American Theatre. The Edward Lewis Festival honors his legacy by featuring performances that address social and racial issues as well as celebrate diversity. Hosted by Salt Lake City’s Public Library, the 10th Annual Edward Lewis Festival features four performances, including University of Utah’s own, Dr. Lynn Deboeck’s original piece, The Lynchpin Life.

The 10th Annual Edward Lewis Theatre Festival Performances include:
University of Utah Adjunct Assistant Professor Dr. Lynn DeBoeck’s The Lynchpin Life which brings together Civil Rights pioneer Ida B. Wells with a Black Rights Matter woman of today.

GUISE by Chris Curlett and DoLs by Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin (Plan-B Theatre) · Script-In-Hand readings of two short plays-in-progress from Plan-B’s Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop.

Me Too Monologues (Wasatch Theatre Company)

Let Me Down Easy (Canary Down the Mine) · Written by Anna Deavere Smith, founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at New York University.


The 10th Annual Edward Lewis Theatre Festival
When: Sunday, February 10
Time: 2P to 5P
Where: Salt Lake City Public Library
FREE admission

Published in Finer Points Blog
January 09 2019

The Lynchpin Life

by guest writer Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theatre Lynn Deboeck

A question I continue to ask myself as a theatre practitioner and scholar is, why is live performance not a part of our teaching? To teach the artform I love, I should be using live performance to do it. This impulse drove me to apply for a teaching grant which has funded my project to bring liveness into the classroom, supporting students' learning experience.

Initially, the project only included theatre classes. When Dr. Mangun approached me to work with her in the spring of 2018, I was very excited at the prospect. Dr. Mangun asked me to arrange a performance in her class about Ida B. Wells, a remarkable journalist in the late 1800's who investigated reasons why Black men were being lynched. She published three long pamphlets with her findings and observations between 1892 and 1900. Since I did not have access to a play about her, I wrote my own. As a white woman, this posed a significant challenge as I did not wish the voices I was bringing to the fore to be disingenuous. My feminist approach to making theatre is to bring other, more knowledgeable people and resources into my process, which is what I did.

The result was "The Lynchpin Life," a conversation across time between Ida and a contemporary woman (Ada) dealing with both the history of lynching in this country and a current scourge of our culture, the shooting of unarmed black men by law enforcement. I had hoped the story might engage the students to remember what they might never have been taught, but also to see more clearly what they think they already know. I am now looking forward to this piece having a future (a possible performance at the Edward Lewis Festival this February) as well as making more partnerships in other departments to bring scenes to their students and help them connect with the humanity that lies at the heart of the knowledge we aim to disseminate. To use one of Ida's lines in the play, "if people grow too comfortable in their ignorance, you have to jangle to get their attention!" I hope this play continues to toll and reverberate through the students and faculty who experience it. 

Lynn Deboeck, a professor in the theatre department, has been working for the past 18 months on a project to enhance curriculum through performance -- bringing topics to life, so to speak. Part of this project took place on October 29, 2018 when two actors performed a play she wrote for my mass communication history class (COMM 5630). The play, "The Lynchpin Life," juxtaposes the true story of anti-lynching activist Ida Wells with a fictional character who becomes an activist in Black Lives Matter. The goal is to help students gain a different appreciation for Wells while also seeing how history influences current events. Deboeck is using this experience as part of a pilot project funded by a University Teaching Grant called "Teaching Theatre with Liveness." She has given several performers opportunities to learn their craft by participating in live theater, performing for theatre classes and receiving compensation for doing so; Deboeck also seeks to engage in other cross-disciplinary collaborations with faculty to help enrich the education of U students--"The Lynchpin Life" is the first such engagement.


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