For the first time in memory, UCI begins the new year (2006) awaiting two of its alumnae to open in major roles on Broadway, having just ended starring runs in separate off-Broadway productions. And so we begin our report with these two hard-working grads.
After several years of plays, movies, pilots and TV commercials in LaLa land, BETH MALONE (‘00) has moved to Manhattan, New York to play soloing roles in the musical Bingo at off-Broadway’s Theatre of St. Lukes, and then Ring of Fire at Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore opening on March 12. Bingo opened in November, where we caught its opening weekend, and shared Variety’s opinion that “There is one crowning exception in the shameless interpolation, "Ratched's Lament," definitively rendered by lanky, loony, laser-focused Beth Malone. The number has its share of wit, but it is Malone who puts it across. This dark-haired, Disney-cute performer brings more conviction to her character's cornpone contours than would seem possible…. Malone clearly is one to watch.” Yup! Ring of Fire, which follows in the Spring, is the new Johnny Cash musical, and the UCI alumni network played a role in the show’s casting: “JENN COLELLA (‘02) told the producer about me at the same time the casting director did - I was coming at them from all directions!” Star-struck wannabes should know that BETH’S success comes after a long effort – she was with Bingo for its entire five years of development. “Can you believe it?” Beth asks, “I'm 36 years old and I'm just now breaking in! I'm really happy, and enjoying it all so much. I'm the goat; tenacity, slow and steady progress has been my life. God bless work!”
And the same day we caught BETH’S show, we went to see her fellow-alum JENN COLELLA (‘02) star in the off-Broadway Slut, the Musical, earning equally fabulous reviews: a “sexy, dynamic lead” who also sings a “sweet duet” with her partner said Variety, while TheatreMania joined in with “Colella's impassioned belting never fails to amaze,” as the AP chimed “Jenn Colella's guitar-playing heroine has a gutsy musical persona that gives her songs an extra dose of theatricality.” Upcoming for JENN this Spring is Twyla Tharp’s new creation, The Times, They Are A’Changing, with songs by Bob Dylan; the show opens at San Diego’s Old Globe and heads to Broadway thereafter. JENN did workshops with the astonishing Twyla last year in New York (“I never could have gotten through them without what I’d learned from [UCI Prof] Annie Loui,” JENN tells us); she’s the only woman in the otherwise male cast. JENN’s been busy between these gigs as well; in October she reprised some of her songs from Urban Cowboy (for which she had copped an Outer Critics Circle Best Actress nom last year) in a cabaret performance at Smokey Joe’s Café.
Also in Great White Way musicals this season (see more on them below): DJ GRAY (‘93) is in The Producers (and also was Assistant Choreographer for The Putnam County Spelling Bee), SANDRA JOSEPH (’91) is starring as Christine in Phantom of the Opera, Dance major/music theatre alumnus RICK SPAANS (‘96) is in Spamalot, and JENIFER FOOTE (‘00) is in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
And overseas, PIPPA WINSLOW (’83) is starring in 42nd Street on London’s West End.
A lot of UCI Drama grads are in the movies, but one is not only in the movie but the subject of it: this is OAKLEY HALL III (‘70), whose life has been chronicled in the documentary film, The Loss of Nameless Things, which received very nice national notices at its showing at the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival last May. "Engrossing... the undeniable fascination of such live-fast, burnout-young life sagas holds attention... the slickly made piece should be a fine fit ...for arts broadcasters," said weekly Variety. The film treats OAKLEY’S prodigious and unconventional work at UCI, and his subsequent postgraduate creation (with other UCI grads) of the Lexington Conservatory Theatre in New York’s Catskills, and then depicts his tragic fall from a country bridge and eventual re-emergence as a significant playwright. Featured actors in Nameless Things include OAKLEY’s UCI co-alums BRUCE BOUCHARD (‘71), BOB CURRIER (‘72), SANDS HALL ‘73), and STEVE NISBET (‘72).
And it was BRUCE BOUCHARD (’71) who produced the commercial premiere of the above-mentioned Loss of Nameless Things at the Colombia Film Festival, and is shepherding its PBS premiere, introduced by Edie Falco, in their Independent Lens series. BRUCE also co-produced The Tricky Part, a one-man show with Martin Moran, at Saratoga Stages in upstate New York and then again off-Broadway where it won its star an Obie Award.
CRISTA FLANAGAN (’01) signed on this year as a regular performer/writer on MadTV on the Fox network and guest-starred on the season premiere of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. CRISTA was also featured in GENE DOUGLAS’s (’99) wonderful theatre website, www.actingnow.com, giving advice as a working actress, writer and stand-up comic: “I had a showcase right out of graduate school [ed. note, we know where that was] and chose good agents and managers. I also created and produced my own sketch show, But Wait…I Have Impressions. I love to create and write as well as act; there seems to be nothing that will happen that you don’t, in some way, create. That is to say, get out of the house! For stand-up work, get booked, see comics, and hang out after the show. Say hi to comics you liked. Say hi to comics you didn’t like. Create new material. Take a class. You will hone your skills, and you will meet some people who are supportive, hard-working, and hilarious.” Some of this sage advice just might land in one of your editor’s books someday.
After spending several years as a tenure track professor of theatre at Cal State L.A., SNEZANA PETROVIC (’96) is now teaching at University of Redlands this year. “While designing several shows in the Theatre Dept and as well as going through the tenure process this semester at Crafton Hills College, I am also designing a war machine for an opera workshop at Cal Arts. During winter break I will be visiting Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam." The press release on SNEZANA’s recent show at ICV Art Gallery in Irvine explains that “PETROVIC’s new painting series dissects and explores an uncharted territory of childhood myths and fairy tales, familiar story characters, and an idealized representation of reality. …The paintings reveal the underlying truths in children's tales, and unveil subliminal messages of violence typical of the adult world, the real world of disturbing acts that gradually, and quite often abruptly, penetrate and permanently transform the lives of the innocent.”
ANDREW SAMONSKY (’03) completed his year-long national tour starring role (for which he received rave reviews) as the young male lead in Disney’s On The Record. “The experience was tremendous, seeing the country, performing for great crowds, doing what I love to do and getting paid very well for it! I made the big move from my apartment in Astoria to a great place off Union Square, my favorite part of Manhattan. I love it. Spending a lot time walking around lower Manhattan and taking the subway up to Yankee Stadium. Go Yankees!” But though we missed ANDREW on the Record tour, we hope to see him in Ventura this winter, where he’s currently starring in Jonathon Larson's tick, tick... BOOM! at the Rubicon Theatre. “SAMONSKY gives a virtuosic performance, combining expressive singing with a winning personality [that] and endears us to him,” cooed Back Stage West, which gave the show their Critic’s Pick cite.
We were delighted this summer to drop in on BOB and LESLIE CURRIER (’72) in the wooden home BOB himself built that overlooks San Raphael and the Marin Shakespeare Festival – where the couple have now respectively served as the founding and continuing Artistic and Managing Directors for sixteen seasons. This summer BOB directed Beaumont and Fletcher’s Knight of the Burning Pestle (“very funny stuff!” said the San Francisco Chronicle) and Mr. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (“stellar....exemplary” cooed the Marin Independent)), and it was a lovely afternoon reflecting on these shows, and the ones to come, on BOB and LESLIE’S hideaway in the Marin redwoods.
Another UCI Drama grad who’s been the subject of a film (Breaking the Surface) is film actor and sometime diver GREG LOUGANIS (’83), who is now the author of a new book, For the Life of Your Dog. (Just keep him off the high board, GREG.)
BASIA MYSZYNSKI (’78) (WILCZYNSKI back in her UCI Drama days) is now the Creative Director of OC Influential Productions, LLC, and is creating a documentary about the great Polish actress Helene Modjeska: “The film is a metaphysical as well as a physical journey of this incredible Shakespearean actress of the late 1800’s. And TED KRYCZKO (’78) at Walt Disney Records (one of my dear friends and clients) is co-producing this with us.
With 45 film roles (per the IMDB) behind him (premiering next year are Tillamook Treasure and Roney’s Point), and teaching video acting at Pomona College and sister campus UCSD, BRIAN THOMPSON (’84) is now heading off to produce and direct his first feature. “I’m taking baby steps, and will let you know how it goes... it’s scary but exciting too. High Definition cameras now only cost $5,000. The technological revolution in film making is here. Power to the people!”
Longtime Alien Nation and Star Trek thesp GARY GRAHAM (’73) took a leave from the latter, where he had been playing Ambassador Soval in The Awakening sequence, and had himself a book signing in Burbank for his new ACTING & Other Flying Lessons, which has just been published by BookSurge Publishing. “It came out great, and I am very proud of it. It has a gorgeous cover, contains many polysyllabic words, answers several meaning-of-life questions, and doubles as a nice coaster, doorstop, paperweight, or cat thumper. (I'm kidding -- it makes a lousy coaster.)” We had a look at the manuscript last year, and want to say it’s a terrific book!
We had a delicious New York breakfast with JAMES CALLERI (’90) this Fall; JAMES has become one of the city’s finest and busiest casting directors, and while he still oversees casting for Playwrights’ Horizon, where he’s currently completing his tenth season, he’s also now the casting director for CSC Repertory and The Flea Theatre, plus the recent Broadway Raisin in the Sun revival with Sean Combs, the films Heights and the upcoming White Countess (both Merchant Ivory’s), and the TV series Hope and Faith, Ed, Monk, and all the ABC pilots shot in town, including this season’s hit, Commander in Chief. JAMES continues to advice UCI showcasing alums on strategies of licking the Big Casting Apple.
JENY FOOTE (’00) is in her third Broadway show, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. “She's the vacation swing for every woman in the production and she was chosen out of over 50 people for the job. Not too shabby, eh?” reports alum-pal JENN COLELLA (’02), and we were delighted to meet up with the two of them for a quick bite on 9th Avenue between a Saturday’s matinee and evening performances.
Also on the Great White Way is DJ GRAY (’93). “OK, I did it,” she writes. “I’m on Broadway!” DJ had landed the post of Assistant Choreographer for the 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee. “Talk about a dream come true...! I had stayed in the business since graduating. Oh, yes, many times, I’ve asked myself, WHY??? Is this craft an addiction or a hobby? It’s neither. But I have pursued! I’ve performed, and moved into directing and choreographing. At UCI, I played the cow in Into the Woods, and now I’m working alongside of its author, James Lapine, (Bee’s director). A lovely full circle. The older I get, the more things make a bit more sense.” But does that mean DJ isn’t performing any more? Not at all: she’s in the ensemble of the Broadway show, The Producers.
KELLY PERINE (’94) finished his fourth season on the UPN TV show, One on One, this winter and has “moved on to greener pastures,” with a starring role in the indie film called The Adventures of Johnny Tao: Rock Around the Dragon, where he plays “a bumbling small-town sheriff who is overwhelmed when his sleepy burg is overrun by zombies.” KELLY’S also getting much screen exposure with his Dunkin’ Donuts and Time Warner Cable commercials, seen on a TV screen – or a thousand TV screens - near you. KELLY’S wanderlust, he explains, is in fine fettle, with visits this year to Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Ireland and Iceland, among others, and he’s run in 9 marathons so far around those parts and others. “I know that I’m never going to beat the Kenyans, but for me just finishing is winning.”
We’re delighted to hear that PATRICK SABONGUI (’05) has been cast in his first month out of school in a Warner Brothers feature film titled 300, directed by Zack Snyder.
SARAH PALMROSE (’05) writes in to let us know that “I am designing Dracula, directed by THERESA LARKIN (’83), at Cal State LA. Just finished a job as prop master for a sketch comedy TV show called Funny is Funny and am the production designer for a TV pilot that will shoot mid December.”
And in TV-land, WINDELL MIDDLEBROOKS (’05 as well) has already performed on the Bernie Mac show and the DL Hughley show, with several more in the pipeline, we expect.
DEAN WEICHEL (’81), second AD for Reba, landed on the WB-TV show himself last November, “Actually, just my voice, but hey, I still got paid! I play the unseen On-Star operator that Barbara Jean likes talking to. It's my little homage to the computer HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. I'm in three scenes!”
JEFFRY MEEK (’83) starred as Jackie Furst in the TV film, She’s No Angel this year, and as Barry in Break A Leg.
JEFF GREENBERG (’72) continues his amazing career as a top Hollywood casting director with five series, According to Jim, Jake in Progress, Out of Practice, Stacked and Four Kings – and found time to invite all our 2005 graduating MFA actors up to his CBS studio casting office to visit, audition, and learn the ropes.
MARK HUTTER (’74) stopped by campus to see a basketball game this Fall. “I and my family continue to reside in L.A. My wife is an elementary school teacher at an LA Unified School District gifted magnet. I have two sons, Nash (a 16 year old baseball player) and Cole (a 13 year old in training to run the L.A. Marathon). They are my pride and joy. I, albeit sporadically, continue to work in my profession. Not long ago, I had the pleasure of working with Larry Gelbart (an icon) on a project he wrote and directed. Most recently I did a few episodes of The West Wing. But, as we all know, since this business does not treat actors kindly as they age, not to mention the sea of changes that have taken place in the industry, I’ve fortunately branched out over the years and invested in real estate, and now possess a nice portfolio of rental properties. I also, because of my passion for the sport, have been coaching high school basketball for several years. Great fun!”
AMY ROSENBAUM JACOBSON (’83) is “working on a comedy with my husband, Danny. It’s an original play; we’ve had a couple of readings in Los Angeles and are making our way to New York.” Good luck, guys!
SCOTT KROOPF (’73) produced John Favreau’s Zathura this year, his 32nd feature film by our count, and SCOTT must have been pleased when Roger Ebert opined that his latest opus “works gloriously as a space opera.” With four new films upcoming in 06 and 07, newsletter readers can be sure there’ll be much to report on our exec-producer alum in future issues.
And DAVID MANSON (’70) also remains an active Hollywood producer, moving in recent years to TV, where he has exec produced Thief for the past season and was consulting producer for Big Love in the upcoming year (or years?).
And among new producers is actor DAVID NEVELL (’96), who, in addition to holding a tenure-track faculty position at Cal State Fullerton, opened his world premiere production of One, a modern American rock musical written by Wade McCollum and co-composed by McCollum and Eric Nordin, in Portland, Oregon last Fall, on a $100,000 budget. One, DAVID tells us, “illuminates the human search for personal truth in the modern day. Inspired by the ancient Indian story of Siddhartha, it follows the urban life of Sid Arthur, examining his journey of self-definition as he struggles to choose between the paths of fame and duplicity, or integrity and personal truth. Mixing theatre, music and dance, the show features 18 actors and 5 musicians from the Brothers of the Baladi.” We missed it in Portland, but hope to catch it in New York (or Baladi) in a subsequent season.
BRENDA MERCURE (’03) is designing the Christmas Show at The Pasadena Playhouse with a continuing list of guest stars, including Al Molina ("Doc Oc"), Jamie Farr, Joe Mantegna, Tony Shalhoub and Sharon Lawrence.
CARYN MORSE DESAI (’90) writes in from the International City Theatre, where she is Managing Director, “My life is the ICT,” she reports. “We’re just ending our 20th anniversary season, so I guess we’re grown up now. This year we were selected as the next recipient of the Best Diversity Practices Award by the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, due in part from our many community partnerships. Personally, I just completed executive coaching training as one of ten selected by the L.A. County Arts Commission. I continue to teach and direct and am blessed to work in so many fascinating aspects of theatre.”
JENNIFER MATTHEWS (‘05) got her Equity card right out of school (and our UCI Spring production of Timon) as Production Stage Manager for Book-It Repertory Theatre in Seattle, Washington. JENNIFER’S first equity show is Don Quixote, and she is currently in pre-production for her second AEA production.
MARILYN HALL (’75) reports that she “took up painting and has exhibited in a jury show of local artists and has sold three paintings!”
MARIE “TEUSA” KOIWAI writes that “I am working my third season as assistant property master on the sitcom, Girl Friends, at Paramount. My son is an active third grader and my husband continues to work not only in the film industry but also helping me with my father’s company.”
“DAVID GREENSPAN’s (’78) brilliant, hilarious and impeccably performed” She Stoops to Comedy (the quotation is from the L.A. Times review) played at the Evidence Room in Los Angeles this fall, to a passel of rave notices, including one by your editor.
ANNE JAMES (’96) landed the post of Assistant Professor at Loyola University New Orleans, until Hurricane Katrina landed upon her, and reports that “my future there has become very tenuous. Presently, our entire faculty is on an unexpected "sabbatical" and I am back up with my husband in New York (got married this summer!). Short term, the university is hoping to re-open and resume classes (provided the city is stable, safe, and healthy) in January. But long term, the futures of our department and the university are very much in question.”
In the Last Jew, LUCK HARI (’91) plays – no, not the title role – but Mrs. Sarkar. The upcoming feature film is scheduled for a 2006 release.
NEIL SEIBEL (’00) is finishing his fifth season in Aspen, performing in The Underpants and Smokey Joe's Café, where he’s “pretty solidly booked” through the end of the year. “I love the lifestyle of hiking by day and going to the theatre at night - and I've had some great backpacking trips on the days off as well. And I just bought a condo in Denver and am looking forward to actually living in it after a summer in the mountains.”
NEIL also reports that JOANN YARROW (’00) is expecting her second child this fall, and LAU LAPIDES (’00) is due back to Russia to adopt another as well. ANDREW LEVY (’00) has his hands full with his first girl and ASHLEY FULLER WARD (’00) too with hers. “Strange, our conversations used to be about this job, that audition, what have you....now it's baby pictures!”
And speaking of ASHLEY FULLER WARD (’00), she directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream at “a tiny little black box in North Hollywood,” with husband KEN WARD (’99) as Bottom, ANDY DEAL (’99) as Titania, ERIC STEIN (’00) as Puck and SUZIE MARTIN (’00) as Flute. “It was a great experience,” ANDY reported, “ASHLEY and KEN are creating a very strong theater company filled with very good, positive people!”
Early alum ELAINE BARNARD (’71) reports she has had “several short stories in the USA and Great Britain and been acting in short films at the American Film Institute,” and that moreover she’s in the process of applying for the Peace Corps for an appointment in 2006!
JASON MICHAEL SPELBRING (’02) performed as, well, himself, at the off-Broadway Blue Heron in New York this November – in a solo show entitled CALLBACK! Who the Hell is Jason Michael Spelbring?, which the producers described as “a humorous, sometimes poignant evening of song and story about his close calls with the Broadway shows he auditioned for, got called-back for, and yet...never booked.” Jason’s report, “I pulled JENN COLELLA (’02) out of the audience to perform a duet with me, and the house was packed with UCI Anteaters RICHARD PADRO (’02), JEFF TAKACS (’02), DONNETTA GRAYS (’08) and JENNY FOOTE (’00), along with JEFF PARVIN (’03) who stage managed the evening and JASON TEAGUE (’03) who did some light magic on the show. Overall it was an amazing evening and experience.” One show that JASON did book this year, however, was Hal Harry Henry, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s double-tetralogy of history plays - Richard II through Henry VI. The show played at Shakespeare East in Boston, with JASON performing both the mysterious Thomas Percy and the accident-prone Nym. “I ran the New York City Marathon, completing the 26.2 miles in 4:11:07. My first marathon - and perhaps my last. We'll see,” says our alum-athlete-thesp.
Also starring off-Broadway this Fall was SARAH DACEY CHARLES (’88), in Dog Music at the Players Theatre on McDougal Street in the heart of the Village. “The music is great. The book is sweet and take a look at the cast — awesome!” says our alum-thesp. We’ll hope to have a look at both the above shows in the fullness of time.”
JONATHAN MICHEALSON (’78), after many years as Associate Dean at the University of Alabama, is now Chair of Theatre and Drama at the University of Indiana. “I’m now in my 11th month of being a Hoosier,” he writes. “It’s been a good move and there are some wonderful opportunities here. Fairly new theatres, new faculty, twelve shows a year etc. I certainly don’t lack work!”
KEN VERDUGO (’01) has signed on as an Assistant Professor of Design and Technology in the Theatre Department at Florida State University. Watch out for those hurricanes!
MATT MCNALLY (’05) headed up the I-15 after graduation, and is now stage managing Jubilee! at Bally’s in Las Vegas. “This is a multi-million dollar Broadway style production that’s been running in Vegas for 20 years. Each year the girls are rated the best showgirls in town, and the production has grand production numbers with integrated variety acts: We sink the Titanic on stage each night. Plus aerialist acrobatics, fantastic Bob Mackie costumes, and enough automated scenery to make your head spin. There’s a deck crew of about 75 and a performing cast of about 80 that I’ll be managing, in addition to working with company management, unions, and artistic staff. The show runs 6 days a week, 2 times each night so I’ll be quite busy! I feel really fortunate to have landed a project of this magnitude straight out of school, but I’m confident I can handle the task.”
JASON HEIL (’96) moved to San Diego this year, and landed five stage roles in as many theatres plus one TV spot: the plays included the world premiere of the new Lucy Simon musical, Zhivago, at the La Jolla Playhouse, directed by Des MacAnuff; Prince Larsin Rapunzel at the Lyceum (“nails his part as a puppylike pursuer”, (SD Union Tribune); Elliot Garfield in The Goodbye Girl at Moonlight (“charming performance” Playbill.com) – plus a co-starring role on FOX TV’s The Dark. “Very exciting,” JASON reported. By year’s end he was playing Sir Robert in The Winslow Boy at Lamb's Players Theatre (“Jason Heil finds myriad subtleties in the scenery-chewing role” said the Union Trib) with two other UCI alums, COLLEEN KOLLAR (’00) and KURT NORBY (’04), also reviewed as “standouts,” and heading into Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol at San Diego Rep. “But that’s not all,” JASON adds, “Katrina Miree Heil was born on July 10!”
We heard from KURT NORBY (’04) as well: “After my nine months at the Welk and Miss Saigon at FCLO, I landed Cogsworth in San Diego Regional premiere of Beauty & the Beast at Moonlight Amphitheatre, and was then cast in a my first non-musical pro gig in San Diego with two other UCI alumni: COLLEEN KOLLAR (’00) plays my sister and JASON HEIL (’96) our family lawyer. I am having the best time with them.” And vice-versa we gather (see above).
ALI HANSON (’94) is the Producer and Editor of the powerful documentary film, Back to Bosnia, which has now screened at Columbia University in New York, the 2nd Annual Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival, the Anthology Film Archives, and this Fall at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood.
MATT SULLIVAN (’86) writes that after 15 years of film acting he’s thinking about teaching. “I am into my final three quarters of work towards my MFA at Davis and will be graduating in June and looking for a position first in Northern, then Southern Cal by preference.”
We were delighted to see MIKAEL SALAZAR (’93) playing four roles quite brilliantly in the Anteus Theatre company’s much-lauded and multiple-cast Pera Palas at the Boston Court Theatre of Pasadena. The show, in which MIKAEL played an English diplomat, a Turkish Pasha, an American redneck, and a female servant, won numerous awards and we were happy to join in the standing ovation for its extraordinary cast. A longtime Anteus member, MIKEAEL is also a regular at A Noise Within, where he will soon be going into rehearsals as Bluntschi in Arms and the Man. When not on stage, our alum-thesp is also running his eponymous company, The Pilates Guy.
We were delighted to see LARRY BIEDERMAN (’92) as he visited UCI prior to giving a talk in grad directing class. LARRY performed his directorial magic again with Crumble (Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake), earning a Critic’s Choice nod from the L.A. Times (“Director Larry Biederman and the designers have an aerated ball with this sweetly audacious parable”) and several other in the local theatre press ("Director Larry Biederman, a top-notch ensemble and a striking production design team fully realize Callaghan’s gothic comedy, which balances wit and kitsch with scars and wounds to strike some chilling blows," L.A. Weekly; "Director Larry Biederman has elicited committed and energetic performances, capturing the comedy and tragedy that are never more than a millimeter apart," said Backstage West. And his Learned Ladies at the Theatre of NOTE also earned plaudits: “a post-toast-TV modern production of Molière’s classic. BIEDERMAN has pulled out all the style stops …a kind of paean to pop culture enlightenment slapped together with a whacked-out Laugh-In episode, and then some” said BackStage West, also praising PATRICK MCGOWAN (’87) as “sweetly comic” in the show. “Just hit four years of marriage with Therese, who remains the core of all things good in my life, and also just turned 40--please insert the sound of crickets chirping and a tumbleweed rolling on an empty highway,” says our alum director-actor-sage.
Recent MFA graduate SOO LEE (’05), who came to us from Seoul, Korea, has just received her working visa and is already employed as a draftsperson and illustrator in Disney's Entertainment Art division. Over the summer her scenery designs graced the stages of Shakespeare Orange County and South Coast Repertory.
CHRISTOPHER SOUSA-WYNN (’04) writes to alum-prof LONNIE ALCARAZ (’94) that his job at Pacific Conservatory Theatre “is going very well. I am working on Guys & Dolls right now, it opens in April. The As You Like It I designed opens mid-February. I get to teach a class next semester I am looking forward to that. I got engaged recently.”
We hear from always-far-flung CRAIG GARDNER (’95) that he is “seeking university work in Korea now after nearly two years of hogwan teaching.”
LAURA STANDLEY GOLDSTEEN (’97) writes that “the last year has been a whirlwind for me. Last year I married a wonderful man and this January I gave birth to my beautiful daughter, Eliza Grace. Now that I’m coming out of my mommy cocoon, I’m directing my first play in nearly 7 years. The show is The Shape of Things which plays at the American Theatre of Actors, Beckman Theatre in New York. I continue to be fascinated with my actors transformative work in rehearsals.”
CHRIS DUVAL (’98) is heading back to Ashland once again – where he will be playing Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale and a citizen in Cyrano de Bergerac. And there’s more: “I’ve also accepted an adjunct faculty position at Southern Oregon University for next academic year for someone going on sabbatical. I’ll be teaching three quarters of movement (and re-looking at my Annie Loui notes!) and I’m very much looking forward to teaching again.”
Prize-winning author NEAL SHUSTERMAN’s (’85) new novel, The Schwa Was Here from Dutton Books, has won the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, NEAL reports. Concerning “a boy so unnoticeable he's functionally invisible,” NEAL’s work has already copped the American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults award, as well as an ALA Notable Book citation, and continues to gain recognition on state award lists around the country.
And speaking of novelists, CHARLIE HUSTON (’95) has become a bestseller at this noble trade. CHARLIE’s Six Bad Things came out last summer; it’s the middle of a trilogy he began with Caught Stealing. “Very violent, profane and dark, and not everyone’ cup of tea,” he reports, in a very welcome catch-up email. “And my Already Dead is another project entirely, the first in a series of horror novels I’m writing for Del Rey. More violent, more profane and darker. But my mom likes it!” As for personal news, CHARLIE says that “my wife and I are in NY, but contemplating a move to LA. We've been thinking about it for a while, but Virginia’s had pretty steady work on Broadway the last few years doing covers with a line here or there, and that's kept us around. When her current contract runs out we'll be making a plan for the next year or two that includes moving, kids, and other topics of an adult nature.” You can catch CHARLIE’S regular musings - on “sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, violence, politics, sports, and other adult themed topics in graphic detail” - at www.pulpnoir.com.
And NEVADA BARR’s (’78) thirteenth book in her Anna Pigeon mystery series, Hard Truth, is already being hailed as her best by the critics. (“Noted for her precise plotting and atmospheric descriptions of nature, Barr again proves her skill in putting believable characters in peril against a backdrop of breathtaking scenery,” Publishers’ Weekly). And, according to her publisher, it is “also being acknowledged by advanced readers to be her scariest,” and is widely anticipated to make it to the New York Times Bestseller list, where NEVADA lives, as well as in her home in Mississippi – where between chapters she continues to work as an actress at the local Brickstreet Theatre. JON LOVITZ (’79) will be coming down to talk to UCI students this season. JON plays Mr. Marx (Matthew Broderick’s boss) in the upcoming movie version of The Producers, The Movie Musical, (where he’s supported by alums MICHAEL THOMAS HOLMES (’97) and ERIN CROUCH (’01)), and is co-starring in two 2006 films now in production, Southland Tales and The Benchwarmers.
MANDY OLSEN (’00) - and her husband Bryan Cogman – each received fine reviews and a glorious photo in national Variety last summer for playing in Marivaux’s Triumph of Love at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. “OLSEN is an exceedingly lovely schemer in the game of love,” said the Jersey scribe, and the show had “a rippling, infectious effect on the audience.” This was Mandy’s fourth year with the company, and has earned her an Equity card. “Bryan and I were married on the Oregon coast last summer. He is also an actor and a graduate of The Juilliard School. This is our first show together!”
MICHAEL MORGAN (’05) hit the Big Apple running at full tilt last summer: “Shana and I are now officially settled in New York. Shana and [baby] Dean get to frolic in the city while I go off to legal temp jobs and auditions. The first few months were rough and hot with the uncertainties of "Am I making enough money for the rent?" “Can Shana really not work for a while to be with Dean at such an important time?" "Will I actually be an actor or a perpetual temp?" All those fears seem to be residing. I’ve been auditioning all summer for regional theatre, B’way, off B’way, and national commercials. In the last two months however I have been hitting a stride. One director even said he loved me. I said I was married. So, just last week I finally landed the first deal. I booked Lt. Brannigan in Guys and Dolls at Jupiter Theatre in Palm Beach, Florida. Then, later last week I went in to pre-read for Law & Order: SVU in the morning, had a call back in the afternoon and found out I got it by nightfall. It's amazing all that can happen in a week. I have the third line and it is quick and in profile, so don't blink!”
VALERIE RACHEL (’05) directed Psalms of a Questionable Nature by Chicago playwright Marisa Wegrzyn for her own company, Lucid by Proxy, in Los Angeles last summer, with SASHA HARRIS (’05) and SHANNON NELSON (’04) in the leads.
SEAN CAWELTI’s (’03) company, the Rogue Artists Ensemble, had their first performances in Los Angeles during the past summer. Hyperbole, a mask and puppet extravaganza, was co-produced with the Son of Semele company, and was described by reviewers as "dizzying magic that mesmerizes the eye and captivates the mind." Rogue Artists who brought the "surreal, private worlds" to life include UCI alums KRISTINE AUBERT (’04), MELISSA DOMINGO (’03), LINDSEY GASSAWAY (’04), KERRY HENNESSEY (’05), MATTHEW HILLIARD (’05), MEGAN OWINGS (’04), JENNIFER OWINGS (’04), PATRICK RUBIO (’04), TYLER STAMETS (’03), MILES TABER (’03), and current student CARI TURLEY.
KRISTA COWAN (’05) writes, after returning from Korea as assistant director to Prof Eli Simon on his international production of The Birds, “I’m now living in L.A. and working at the Attic Theatre on Washington Blvd as Managing Director of their One-Act Marathon - an original one-act play competition and festival which will happens every year in the spring. This year I directed a one-act for them called Victims, by New York playwright Joe Lauringer. I'm also working at the Museum of Tolerance and Simon Wiesenthal Center, as their membership coordinator -- very interesting.”
SAM ZELLER (’92) played Jackie, the international playboy, in the west coast premiere of Michael John LaChiusa’s The Wild Party for the Blank Theatre Company of Los Angeles that played at the Hudson Mainstage in Hollywood.
STEPHEN BURDMAN (’95) breaks from Shakespeare this summer to stage the Bill Irwin/Mark O’Donnell version of Molière’s Scapin with his Central Park-based New York Classical Theatre, which he founded and continues to serve as Artistic Director. Earlier, his As You Like It appeared on Good Day New York (FOX network) and Today in New York (NBC).
NATHAN MAKARYK (’02) directed, produced and starred as d’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers for the debut production of the Maverick Theater mainstage in Fullerton, “and I am also the fight captain and choreographer of all the swordplay. Of course, you that know me shouldn’t be surprised that I also built the (rather massive) set, although I can’t take credit for the paint job. I am also one of the theatre’s owners and managers. So this show marks not only the end result of a huge undertaking for myself and my partners, but the completion of the Maverick Theater as an operational space with two performance spaces. It’s been nine months since we started building, so we are very proud to finally be here.”
We were delighted to run into MICHAEL GROS (’81) at the ATHE conference in San Francisco – MICHAEL continues to serve as Dean of the Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts. “This year, I attended a two-week program at Stanford University executive nonprofit arts leaders. I’m one of 50 individuals from around the world to have been nominated for this fellowship, so I guess I can now be called a "Fellow." Goodness knows I’ve been called a lot of things over the last few years! But I’m bringing a UCI baseball cap. Earlier in the year I attended the Humana Festival, and presented on management issues and related topics at USITT in Toronto, Canada. While doing all of that, and leading PCPA Theatrefest (Irvine Drama's north campus?), I directed a stage reading of Pyretown and a full production of Copenhagen.” Of the latter, a reviewer noted, “Once in a while, a production comes along that is a reminder of the power of great theatre to move us and make us think. PCPA’s Copenhagen is that rare event." Bravo. MICHAEL has continued to draw on UCI alums for his PCPA Theatrefest in Santa Maria and Solvang: “I've hired VALERIE RACHELLE (’05) as our casting and recruiting director for next season. She will join the company as a resident artist and teacher as well. And REBECCA TOURINO (’05) returns this summer in Picasso At the Lapin Agile directed by MARK BOOHER (’90).
ANDY DEAL (’99) is in the film Posiedon, where “I’ve been working fourteen hour days and have to be up at 3 am but...guess what!… They’ve given me a line! I play a wine steward and I say, "Very well, Sir” to Richard Dreyfuss after he orders a bottle of $5000 wine! I'm so excited!”
Congratulations to TANGI MILLER (’97) for her NAACP Image Award nomination for “Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic Special” for her lead role in Phantom Force. At the moment, TANGI is waiting for Tough Like Wearing Dreadlocks to come out, in which she co-stars with Bill Irwin, Omar Gooding and Robert Guilliame.
ARYE GROSS (’78) started the year with a bang, opening on Broadway as Ira Zimmer in Donald Margulie’s Brooklyn Boy at the Biltmore Theatre, and landing a stunning review in Variety which noted that the role is “played by GROSS with a prickly comic edge but also aching self-exposure in play’s most incisive perf.” And now ARYE awaits the release of his new 2005 film, Three Wise Guys, where he co-stars as “Leo” with Tom Arnold.
BOB GUNTON (’68) has been a regular on ABC’s #1 show in the nation for the past year, Desperate Housewives, but has little idea what comes next. “In case any of you have acquired America's newest cultural (?) addiction -watching the ladies of Wisteria Lane do their damage - I will be making my third ‘guest star’ appearance this Sunday night (at least, that's what the producers tell me.) In this episode, my character's secrets and motives are revealed. Later this week, I begin shooting my next episode. Whatever it is I’m up to is beyond me. Cards are held VERY tightly to the vest on this show!” What he knows for sure this coming year, though, is his newest assignment, which is on the cable TV series Nip/Tuck: “I am a guest star on the next three episodes, watching Anne Heche transformed from Hollywood’s idea of an ugly duckling into a hot chick. This is not a show for kiddies. I’m not sure that even I’m ready for it.”
MIRLA CRISTI (’98) has now made her way south (from Oberlin, Ohio) to her new, tenure-track position at the University of Georgia, where she teaches acting, voice and movement to both the undergrad acting majors and the MFA acting company. This year MIRLA directed Pinter's The Lover, served as style/dialect coach on Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest, and choreographed Pippin. “During the 2005-2006 academic year, I will participate in the redesign of the MFA Acting curriculum. I bought a 40-year-old brick house on the edge of this great college town of Athens, GA, and enjoy the proximity to friends and family in metropolitan Atlanta.” [Note: Your editor would also like to correct two inaccuracies from last year: MIRLA directed/choreographed Peter Pan and choreographed Joseph, and for Music Theatre Louisville, rather than Hamilton College. We regret the errors!]
JUSTIN LUJAN (’05) presented his one man show, 15 Minutes of Him, at the Egyptian Arena Theatre in Hollywood and the RedCat Studio in downtown L.A. in the Fall following his graduation.
STACY STAGNARO (’01) just wrapped Babel, where she was Assistant Costume Designer on the feature film that starred Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchette. Earlier in the year she was Costume Designer on King of the Ants, directed by Stuart Gordon and starring Daniel Baldwin, George Wendt, and Chris McKenna. On TV, she was the costumer on Extreme Truth and on commercials for Sony Playstation, Ikea and Gold Toe Sox.
And STACEY HAGGIN (’05) is stage managing the national tour of Chicago. “We have dealt with all sorts of fun things (musicians that played the wrong music, our show drummer getting sick and leaving the show, a bat in the house), including the impending doom of Hurricane Rita in Houston. I started calling the show last week, and I start running rehearsals this week. The highlight of my day at the Houston Hobby Center has been the art on the walls of the backstage area. There are 4x4 squares of the shows that have been here with the cast autographs, and I found the square for On the Record, so I had a moment with ANDREW SAMONSKY (’03) as John Hancock.”
TERESA POND (’03) directed the world premiere of Half Life – a powerful rendition of a 7th grade student molested by her teacher - for the NY International Fringe Festival last summer, winning many mentions and plaudits for her work from the New York Times, Time Out and New York Magazine (which headlines the show as “"highbrow and brilliant" – and goes on to say, “the best written and acted show at the Fringe… a singularly searing and realistic portrayal of a suddenly trendy taboo.” The play, performed at the Flea Theatre and extended into their main season, starred Anna Chlumsky (My Girl).
VIRGINIE MAGNAT (’02) writes, “I just returned from Europe where I spent two and a half months. My trip began with a short stay in Ireland followed by a visit to the Grotowski Center in Wroclaw, Poland, where I had been invited to meet with Haitian ritual specialist Maud Robart (who collaborated with Grotowski from 1977 to 1993). I then spent time in the south of France, visited many relatives and friends, went to the Avignon Festival, and participated in a workshop led by Maud, who then invited me to join her transdisciplinary research team of practitioners and scholars working on the concept of tradition.”
RICHARD CORDERY (’78) writes in from Charlotte, NC, that he has been pursuing some writing projects on a grant from the North Carolina Arts & Science Council. His chief project: “A full length play about the life of Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. Few people here know Rizal, but he was, and is, one of the most remarkable human beings I’ve had the pleasure to come to know, and my aim is to get him more exposure to the American public. His story is timeless and universal. His poetry and prose are beautiful and lyrical. He was a Ben Franklin, Mahatma Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln and Voltaire all rolled into one... with a little Shakespeare thrown in!” RICHARD’s play, which we’ve taken a peek at, looks most promising.
KRISTEN BRANDT (’05) graduated right into the leading role of Terry in Babes in Arms at the Saddleback Civic Light Opera in Mission Viejo last summer and is performing in Gypsy (ensemble and understudy to Louise) at the Lawrence Welk Dinner Theatre in Escondido as we write. And she’s also the musical director for Schoolhouse Rock Live at the Jewish Community Center of Orange County.
DONNETTA GRAYS (’02) was happy to alert us to witness her “two seconds of fame!! - As you know as an avid Law and Order watcher, if you miss the first 5 minutes of the show then you miss all of my juicy Officer Ramirez bits.” For those who missed it, DONNETTA was also very pleased with her work as “Claire” in Melanie R.W. Oram’s Shook! - which played on Showtime TV. “Melanie has such a great sense of story and is truly some one to look out for in the years to come! I had a great time filming this.” And on the legit boards, DONNETTA was in Mother Wove the Morning in New York at the Shetler 54 Showcase Theatre on 54th Street last May, a “warm, very well-written and enlightening show,” she says. DONNETTA was also there for her UCI followers – giving lavish and helpful advice to the gang of third year grad actors in NYC for the 2005 showcase.
SHANNON JARRELL (’04) says that the year has been good after she hit Hollywood Boulevard after graduation: “I recorded an episode of the Justice League (a cartoon on the Cartoon Network) in December. I absolutely love doing cartoons, my new-found passion! I also booked a small part in a movie called American Crude, which gave me my SAG card which is so vital in this town. And I booked a guest starring part on a show called Reasonable Doubt which is scheduled to air on the USA network. Now I’m auditioning like mad and have been lucky enough to have call-back after call-back – so I expect that good news is on its way!”
STEPHEN IVEY (’04) performed his one-man show, Mindless Pawns, on Saturday evenings at the Paul E. Richards Theatre Space this Fall, while during daytimes has been working as junior partner at a talent management company, SHANNON also tells us, “and he’ll be helping produce a pilot this season. He's really doing well!”
MARIKA BECZ (’96) writes, “I left my position at Fullerton and moved to New York City a year and a half ago, as I was offered a founding membership with The Gravity Project - and also fell madly in love with an old friend from undergrad that I was surprisingly reunited with after many years of being out of touch. We got married this past October! So I've been teaching at Playwrights Horizons for NYU and spent last year in an adjunct position at Marymount Manhattan College. I became a certified Reiki practitioner last spring, and completed Fitzmaurice Certification a year ago. The Gravity Project has its first professional performance this coming January, and we'll be touring in the fall.”
WILL SHANKLIN (’03) writes, “I moved to Chicago around 6 months ago. I don't know yet how long (or short) term a move this is, but I've been finding some things I was looking for here. I'm currently rehearsing a new play, Infidel, with the Outside the Lines Theater Company here.”
Wonderful long email from alum and former staffer GERARD BABB (’84). “I continue as a page designer at the L.A. Times, where lately I’ve been acting as executive editor for our National Edition; among my duties are attending the afternoon meeting where the top editors pitch their department’s stories for tomorrow's front page. It’s fascinating to watch the selection process; as many as 12 to 15 stories are pitched for page 1, with only 7 selected. I also continue teaching at the Professional School for the Arts in Torrance, CA. LISA MATSKO HAMILTON (’84) and I have taught a Clayton Garrison-style music theatre class together for about 14 or 15 years now. It's very successful; we have frequent guest instructors including UCI's [alum/prof] DENNIS CASTELLANO (’84) and Gary Busby. I also teach a contemporary monologue class as well as an occasional Shakespeare class, helping high school students prepare for entrance auditions for collegiate drama programs.”
Screenwriter DAN SANDERS (’83) had an interesting gig last spring as one of the defense attorneys defending Michael Jackson in his celebrated trial – on the E! Entertainment Network and British Sky Broadcasting! DAN played defense lawyer Robert Sanger for the world audience these two networks command – so that his MFA in acting was not in vain for this longtime Hollywood scribe. We suspect that DAN does not claim credit, however, for Mr. Jackson’s blanket acquittal.
JEANNE LASALA (’04) appeared, “albeit briefly, on All My Children this Fall, at the end of the episode in Dr. Greg Madden's flashback as his young wife, Emily.” Earlier, we had a delightful dinner with her in Greenwich Village as she told us she was “really excited about the Readings Series I put together with all-UCI alums. To start off on a fun note, our first reading was Lend Me A Tenor. We now meet on the first Monday of each month at the Players’ Club on Gramercy Park (courtesy of member GLENN KALISON (’02)! Already involved are, in addition to GLENN and myself, RYAN JENSEN (’01), CARRIE BAKER (’02), TERESA POND (’03), JASON SPELBRING (’02), MEGAN BYRNE (’01), CORY ALLEN (’02), LISA CLAYTON (’03), and MANDY SCHMIEDER (’03). We’ve done some great plays, most recently The Man Who Came to Dinner because TERESA POND (’03) was directing a production and wanted to hear it read by some fabulous actors! We’ve also read Valhalla and Holy Ghosts, and I’ve been networking with a group of screenwriters called Cinewomen who are interested in having our group read their work. Being together and doing something other than auditioning is terrific!”
Also at the dinner in the Village was RYAN JENSEN (’01) who later accompanied us to LaMama Theatre where his photos were featured in Richard Schechner’s reconstructed Oedipus play, Yokastas. “At the back,” commented the New York Times review, “a slide show unfolds of the willowy Yono (one of the Yocastas) bathing Oedipus in a tub. RYAN JENSEN’s slides are - like most carnal relations - tender, pornographic and antic: Yono tastes Oedipus' filthy flesh, arouses him, drowns him and then herself in the bloody bath, and pops alive again with a lewd grin.” Between these and his rapidly expanding headshots shoots, RYAN also acted in Places Like Here at the NY Fringe Festival.
And GLENN KALISON (’02) wrote in this fall to say “In addition to playing on Law and Order, I've been recently cast in a couple of exciting film projects. I'll be working on a film called The Good Shepherd (directed by Robert De Niro!) in October. I have a small role as a CIA operations officer that plays opposite Matt Damon and John Turturro. And a couple of weeks ago I worked on an indie film called A Guide to Recognizing your Saints in a small scene opposite Robert Downey Jr. I'm thrilled about both of these. Also - I'm getting married! Heidi and I got engaged over the summer and will be married next June.” By year’s end, GLENN also got a between-gigs job teaching acting with MARY WORKMAN (’87) at NYFA (see below).
And yes, that is the MARY WORKMAN (’87) who is teaching Acting at the New York Film Academy, having developed her own business teaching Public Speaking/ MARY has been blessed with some juicy roles in workshops of new plays.
DAMON KUPPER (’98) lives in Oregon where he’s working with the Artist Repertory Theatre and has recently signed a long term contract with the Oregon Children’s’ Theatre as well. “I pretty much fell in love with the city and the acting community up here. I’ve done a few more shows and some drama outreach programs since then. Currently, I'm in rehearsal for a very interesting play, Dirty Story and will start working on Bug, where I am playing the mysterious and short lived Dr. Sweet.” Damon is also delighted to report his “biggest news” that he was married earlier this year.
RYAN MAES (’04) has given us a quick career update. “I started working full-time at PRG (Production Resource Group) as the Purchasing Agent. I still work part-time at Opera Pacific as Production Administrator. I am also working with the Rogue Artists Ensemble (UCI born theater group) that is still alive and kicking.
ELIE GORETSKY (’90) writes that he “got tired of waiting for a sitcom,” and so has earned an M.A. in Clinical Psychology at Antioch College in Los Angeles. “This was the best decision I’ve made in 10 years. Wish I had taken school more seriously back at UCI!”
ERIN CROUCH (’01) writes in from Rochester, NY, where she’s playing Judy Turner in Company and understudying the lead role of Cassie – and managing to play six performances when Cassie was ill. “Also, the movie of The Producers will be released in December, and I play a Bavarian Peasant in the Springtime for Hitler number and a little old lady in the Little Old Lady Land number (shot in Central Park and other city locations). It was great fun and I finally got to work with Susan Stroman herself and become a SAG member!” (Also in The Producers film are alums JON LOVITZ (’79) and MICHAEL THOMAS HOLMES (’97) – we’ll be watching to see if the UCI gang runs into each other in Bavaria-on-Hollywood.)
SETH MICHAEL DONSKY (‘90) received his MFA in Film from Columbia University last year, and is now running the screenwriting program at New York Film Academy. His feature length film Twisted has been seen on the Independent Film Channel and is slated for re-release on DVD; his short film Loopy, starring Emmy/Tony Award winning actress Elizabeth Franz, has played at the film festivals all around the US (NY, LA, Philly, Austin, Palm Springs) and France (Clermont-Ferrand). We saw an absolutely ravishing (in all senses) two-minute web-clip from Newport Beach International Film Festival showing, and have only now caught our breath.
SASHA HARRIS (’05) costarred in Psalms of a Questionable Nature in winning a nicely-nuanced review in Variety: “HARRIS carefully builds her reactions, from cool disdain to growing shock with a subdued, tentative transition.” The play, at the Paul Richards Theatre in Los Angeles, was produced by VAL RACHELLE (’05), and directed by current grad student Trevor Biship.
It was fabulous to be with ROBERTO PRESTIGIACOMO (’03) and wife Bethany (and baby Sophia) in Davidson, North Carolina last year at the Royal Shakespeare Company residency (where we were on a panel with Cecily Berry and other RSC directors and actors) and also to visit ROBERTO’s classes at Davidson College where he was completing his visiting professorial term. ROBERTO has now signed on as a tenure-track Assistant Professor at Trinity University in San Antonio, and as a director for a professional San Antone theatre nearby.
COREY ALLEN (’02), also in New York, writes “After my 200+ page aciremA epic, I opted for something a little less daunting: an adaptation of The Oresteia! I sure know how to pick ‘em! My Agamemnon is getting ready to audition for a small staged reading and I'm busy researching for what is currently being titled Bearers of Libation: The Heirs of Atride. So, we'll see!”
OTTILIANA ROLANDSSON (’00) wrote a one woman play about Greta Garbo when she was in Sweden this summer, and performed it at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art last summer. “Professor Judith Olauson from UCSB directed it, and an article about the play was published in the Swedish newspaper Västerbottens Kuriren.
Congratulations to MONIQUE L’HEUREUX (’88) for winning a Horton Award for her lighting design of Sitting on January, a dance piece by the Los Angeles Backhausdance Company as part of the Glendale Celebration of Dance Festival at the Alex Theatre.
ÁSGEIR SIGURVALDASON (’89) writes in from his home in Iceland, “For the past fifteen years or so I have been in and out with the theatre. My last production was the female version of The Odd Couple by Neil Simon in my own translation. This was a community theatre in the Vestmannaeyjar this February. Prior, I had done the same production in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1998. I have increasingly turned to teaching and am now enrolled in The Iceland Academy of the Arts where I plan to receive a teaching diploma mid winter. I lived in London from 93 to 97 since I had joined a business venture that later brought me to Gothenburg where I became head teacher of acting at Drama Center, a private school for actors and film makers. After that I had my own operation and taught acting to professionals in Stockholm. I have now moved back to Iceland and have bought a house downtown and live together with a singer (classical training) and her two daughters.”
AARON SHORR (’94) uses his drama training all the time, he tells us: “I am employed by the law firm of Skadden Arps in Los Angeles, the largest law firm in the United States. My role as Trial Coordinator is to oversee in the presentation of evidence in the courtroom during high-stakes civil trials, and calls upon a wide array of skills gained at UCI Drama: I consult with trial lawyers on case themes, modes of persuasion, use of visual technology, and the subtle stage business employed by lawyers and their teams in trial. I am the only individual employed by Skadden that performs this function, and travel around the country to support cases. In the last five years I have been fortunate enough to have participated in cases grossing over $1 billion in favorable jury verdicts, and several billion more in averted damages for defendants. The primary lawyer that I work with is widely regarded as one of the best in the country, and his style of presentation relies heavily upon theatrical techniques that he and I have perfected over the years.” So that’s what we should have told our parents when we said we were majoring in drama!
DAVID VINCENT (’67), UCI Drama’s very first student (yes, as a work-study student he helped us move into our office four months before the campus opened in 1965), writes in with some sage advice for those thinking of teaching middle school: “I am in Palmdale. Again. I’ll be teaching one regular language arts class and two different extended intervention groups. One of my colleagues had taught drama last year, but electives have been stricken from the calendar as the school did not meet its required test levels. So it's back to the basics. The new program is straight-fist teaching: unpack the standard and structure individual lessons to address comprehensible portions. Triage. Some 275 lessons can be extracted from any set of standards and we have only 180 or so days to teach them. So you choose based on the state test. And beware pacing guides. The poor math people have the guides telling them to teach quadratic equations in May and the tests are in April – though a huge chunk of the test wallows in quadratic land!”
BARRY KORON (’74) who has been music directing in San Francisco for more than twenty years was in New York auditioning performers for his Curran Theatre production of White Christmas, which will expand to three companies in 2005 – one each in Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco.
RAMY ELETREBY (’02)has been working as both actor and journalist since graduation. As the latter he’s been writing for In Los Angeles magazine, and as the former he played Lenox at the Uprising Theatre’s production of Macbeth at the Court Theatre in Los Angeles and garnered national attention over the summer for his performance as Tameem, a gay Muslim man who was the victim of bashing, in Cornerstone Theater Company's faith-based A Long Bridge Over Deep Waters. Following the latter, RAMY was a guest speaker at a plenary session of the 2005 Theatre Communications Group conference in Seattle, on the basis of his Cornerstone performance. A lovely picture of RAMY and MARK VALDEZ (’00)from that conference, together with new UCI prof Bill Rauch, graced the September issue of American Theatre this Fall.
And MARK VALDEZ (’00), also at the TCG Seattle conference, has just concluded his five year term as Associate Artistic Director of Cornerstone after a terrific series of productions including two pieces for the faith-based cycle: You Can't Take It With You: A Muslim-American Remix (a community collaboration with Los Angeles Muslims) and Tracey Scott Wilson's Order My Steps. Also for Cornerstone, MARK directed Mary Shelley's Santa Claus, by Erik Ehn, Bernardo Solano's Growing Home, a collaboration with the residents of Fresno, CA, and Lighten Up, which he created for Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple Foundation. Then, last summer Mark directed Boda De Luna Nueva: New Moon Wedding a bilingual adaptation of Federico Garcia Lorca's poetic tragedy of conflict and ill-fated love, Blood Wedding in English and Español, updated and transplanted to Western Stanislaus County, where it was performed in Grayson, Westley and Vernalis. MARK is also now teaching and directing The Shape of Things at sister campus UC Riverside, and will be directing Luis Alfaro's Electricidad for Teatro Visión in San Jose, California this spring.
FRAN VAN HORN (’72) is now the Executive Director of a New York City visual arts-in-education organization, which works with about 30,000 children a year, providing painters, sculptors and printmakers to NYC schools and daycare centers. Most recently, her organization co-created the new visual artist curriculum for the city, and is now providing professional development in implementing it with all 1200 of the city’s art teachers.
LAURA STEGMAN (’76) writes in that “My PR business is crazy-busy (which is good), and most of my clients continue to be in the classical music field, with a few exceptions of course. I just did a project for the Geffen Playhouse, in fact, and it was wonderful re-visiting the "theater vibe" as I wrote their season press release and did research on the plays they're doing. I'm also doing work again this summer for the Hollywood Bowl, which involves all kinds of music, and I also handle a restaurant and the fund-raising part of the L.A. Zoo. I'm so lucky, because I love all my clients, and they seem to appreciate me.”
SARAH PALMROSE (’05) is happy to let us know that she “won the Emmy internship. Thank you for writing that letter for me! I will be working on The Bold and the Beautiful (daytime drama), Vegas (evening drama) and at least one other project. The internship is eight weeks long, and I am very excited!”
And STEVEN LEE (’97) has just been awarded membership in the Costume Designer's Guild: IATSE Local #892.
LINDA CASTRO ('01) played the title role in David Lindsay’s Kimberly Akimbo at the Moxie Theatre in Horton Plaza in San Diego last summer, and the show was apparently a great hit – “ If there's one show to see right now in San Diego, the irresistible, irrepressibly bent Kimberly Akimbo is it,” said the Tribune.
KIM HUBER (’93) starred as Stephanie in the great Jerome Kern musical, Roberta at the Alex Theatre last winter. “Huber’s soaring soprano is magnificent,” said Back Stage West, which gave the play a Critic’s Choice nod, concluding “and she’s effective in suggesting there’s more to this character than initially meets the eye.” BSW also noted in a subsequent review that the “standouts” included KIM as “an atypically spunky Cinderella” in the Redondo Into the Woods later in the season.
ELLEN KING (’99) is at “Ground Zero in NY,” Professor Kozlowski reports, “as the Designer in the Trade Shows Division of Mattel, assisted by alum KRISTIN INGRAM (’04). ELLEN designed costumes for the Macy’s Parade "Barbie Float"! How great is that? It was float #7 so it was right up at the beginning of the parade.”
CONWELL WORTHINGTON (’00) writes, “I just finished stage managing a one woman show in New Jersey, Vatican II: What the Hell Happened?, which will re-open again soon. Prior to that I PSM’d Purlie at Pasadena Playhouse, then at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Earlier in the year I PSM'd Private Lives at PPH, and Vatican II in Des Moines. Next up It's a Wonderful Life at PPH.”
Alum/Prof TOM RUZIKA (’74) was all over town this year, Backstage West reports. “Ruzika’s lighting is glorious, particularly in its subtle delineation of time frames,” said the trade regarding TOM’s work in Vesuvius at SCR. TOM was also part of the “skilled production team” for Smokey Joe’s Café at the La Mirada Theatre, and his “ambient lighting” provided “Broadway bliss” in the BSW “critic’s pick” Reprise! production of Applause at the Freud Theatre at UCLA.
“The frowsy platinum blonde ASHLEY WEST LEONARD (’98) is totally addictive as the manipulative Lily,” said BSW about our alum’s “fearless and worthy star treatment” as Lily Carlisle in Eddie Legs at the Lillian Theatre in Los Angeles.
And also getting BSW’s critic’s choice in that issue was the Miss Saigon at the Fullerton Light Opera that featured “MELA HOYT-HEYDON’s (’81) superb costumes.”
It was great to see EARL WEAVER (’90) beaming his famous smile while sitting in the audience at Prof Daphne Lei’s and our Association for Theatre in Higher Education presentations on Asian-American theatre connections last summer in San Francisco. EARL, who had his own presentations later in the day, is on the drama faculty in Orlando’s Central Florida University with alum-colleagues KYLE BECKER (’02) and BRIAN VERNON (’94).
Visiting EARL in Orlando this year was CURT DENHAM (’87), who writes, “I’m still in my UC job in Oakland, but have been doing so much in the theatre arena that I'm feeling like it has become more like my day job. First this year was the King in King and I, with dialect coaching provided by none other than UCI's JOEL GOLDES (’90). Then the 2004 New Works Festival at TheatreWorks in Mountain View and Georgia Stitt's new musical The Water. Then at Sierra Rep playing Charlie in Annie Get Your Gun (with alum STEPHANIE LINN (’03) as Winnie), George in La Cage (with DANNY KING (’96) as one of the Cagelles) at Walnut Creek’s Lescher Center and Fezziwig in Center Rep’s A Christmas Carol (again with JOEL GOLDES helping me out) – plus I directed a wonderfully successful production of Proof for Stockton Civic Theatre.” We’d call that a day-and-night job, and lets not forget that CURT’s “UC job” is assistant to the system-wide University of California president.
Among those alums that CURT keeps his eye on, in addition to EARL (see above): “I saw JOSH FINKEL’s (’84) production of Spitfire Grill at the Actor's Coop in Hollywood, and it was sensational! PIPPA WINSLOW (’83) and family are returning from London for a holiday visit in Orange County and I will spend Christmas Day visiting with them; I plan to get over to London in Mar/Apr to see her as Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street."
Also in Orlando is JEFF WIRTH (’78), who, SHARON ROCK (’82) explains, “has not dropped off the face of the Earth, but instead has been working tirelessly on project after project as the Director of the Interactive Performance Lab at the University of Central Florida. This summer, Jeff and a volunteer cast and crew of more than fifty produced a first-of-its-kind interactive project called, The Game, in which one non-performer “lived inside of a movie” for four-plus days. The story unfolded with improvised scenes taking place in locations across Orlando, from the train station to a busy bowling alley to a gay dance club, etc.”
RICHARD MEDUGNO (’81) has a new book out, Deaf Daughter, Hearing Father, which shares practical information on many of the common challenges faced by hearing parents and provides a list of games that hearing and deaf children can play together, an important consideration for many families. “Medugno recognizes that the rewards of having a deaf daughter are far greater than he could have hoped for or imagined,” says his publisher, Gallaudet University Press.
MARTIN SWOVERLAND (’04) played a leading role in UCI Prof Bryan Reynold’s play, Woof, Daddy, that toured five cities in Poland last spring, after which he “well-roared” as Snug’s the Weaver’s ‘Lion’ in the Utah Shakespearean Festival’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
DAVID PAUL FRANCIS (’95) played “Dr. Paul” in the world premiere of Vesuvius at South Coast Repertory last Spring. “It feels great to be working at SCR again. It feels like coming home in a way; the first time I ever got paid as an actor was when I did their Christmas Carol back in 1992, when I was a first year grad actor!” PHIL THOMPSON (’89) was the vocal coach for that show, and TOM RUZIKA (’74) the lighting designer, so DAVID was enmeshed in UCI-land!
EVAN BRASHIER (’03) has joined the Peace Corps and is teaching English in small villages in Moldova. “The people in this Eastern European country are wonderful, the countryside is beautiful, and there are more words for ‘cold’ than we can imagine!”
Making a website? LORI CULWELL (’95) announced this Fall the launch of a website for my company, Get Creative. ”As you may know, I've been consulting for Johnson & Johnson for almost five years, and last year I decided to incorporate and branch out (in addition to working with J & J). So this year, I signed a deal to write a book called Improve Your Website, Improve Your Business, launched the site, and now have some employees!”
NICOLE KORZENIK (’05) designed costumes for TWO films chosen to screen at The Sundance Film Festival, Everything's Gone Green and Mary both directed by Aaron Ruell. Films will be screened at both of the fest’s venues - Salt Lake City and Park City.
AMANDA RANDALL (’04) got her TV start on JAG on CBS last February. We’ll be watching.
“CYNTHIA HERTEG's (’01) costumes give the evening a quality finish,” said Backstage West for the production of Elizabeth: Almost by Chance a Woman at the Ruby Theatre at the Complex in Hollywood.
We had a lovely lunch with SUSANNA MORROW (’98) in Boulder, Colorado last summer, where Susan is now ABD on her PhD from the University of Colorado. “I wasn’t quite ready to write my dissertation this year,” she reported, “so I took a job as head of the theater department at a local charter school. I've spent the year directing plays (Our Town, Bald Soprano, Anouilh's Antigone) and teaching middle school and high school theater classes. It’s been extremely challenging - and more than a full-time job. So, next year, I am writing my dissertation so that I can move on with my life and get a saner livelihood.”
PATRICK MCGOWAN (’87) was “angling and pausing with wacky precision” in the Theatre of NOTE’s “certainly unique” production of Crawl, Fade to White, which exhibited “arresting elegance” and “masterful execution,” according to the L.A. Times this Fall.
Also on the LA boards was SELAH VICTOR (’03) who wrote us that she was “playing the female lead, Grace Miller, in Requiem for a Heavyweight at Theater West, directed by Howard Storm!” The play ran from October through November, with a reviewer noting “the agreeable and tantalizing SELAH VICTOR invests her character with a barely-subsumed longing that makes her presence in any scene vibrant.” Between performances, SELAH did “some stand-up for the first time ever at the Improv on Melrose, and performed in a film.”
ASHLEY DUNN (’05) writes, “after a long and terrifying process I am finally settled into a cozy apartment in upper Manhattan (waaay up), where I am busy decorating to my heart's content. I’ve secured a position as Company Manager with the Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn with a salary that I could survive on. I have been here for about a month, and have successfully coordinated the company's tour to Columbus, Ohio, and secured two other performance opportunities. In between gigs I am writing grants and pitching the company to national and international dance presenters, and was Wardrobe Supervisor for Wild Women of Planet Wongo at the New York Musical Theater Festival. I am so far from where I expected to be after college, but still relying on all the lessons and knowledge I acquired as a student in the UCI Drama department. I am eternally grateful for all the mentorship I received, and for being constantly encouraged to pursue my dreams (and be flexible with them).
MONICA WEATHERHOLT (’80) writes that after directing for many years at Palomar Community College and many community theatres, she has become the principal of Dover Middle School in Fairfield, California, and completing her doctorate which she expects in ‘07. “I do, however, use everything I ever learned in the theater every day of my professional life. In fact, I give teacher and administrator workshops and staff development trainings about getting organized and meeting deadlines. Educationese calls it ‘backward planning.’ I call it ‘a production schedule.’ And I'm raising my late husband’s autistic daughter. Kate is 11 and beautiful, a challenge and a joy. Her biological mother is in and out of her life, but I've been her ‘MamaMo’ since she was three. I now understand why we have kids when we are young.”
SEAN MURTAUGH (’05) and SHAWNA FERRIS (’04) are in Beach Blanket Babylon in San Francisco, reports alum/prof MYRONA DELANEY (’92).
ALEX GOLSON (’78) wrote in to tell us he “did a new political play by Teresa Rebeck called A View of the Dome. And now I am working on Othello, which I am enjoying a great deal – and remembering the 1972 UCI production which I saw long before I was a student at UCI. In October I am directing a production of UCI alum KITTY FELDE (’76); called A Patch of Earth, it is a terrific work about the Serb-Croat war. And last weekend I visited alum, SCOTT JACOBY (’74)”.
And we did indeed catch KITTY FELDE’s (’76) terrific Patch of Earth under ALEX’s direction on opening night at the Robert B. Moore Theatre at OCC. The based on testimony from the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal -- the story of a young soldier who confesses to shooting “no more than 70” of the more than a thousand men and boys who were killed one afternoon. He was the first witness to come forward to tell the outside world about the massacres at Srebrenica. “So what does a criminal justice system do with such a confessed murderer?” asks KITTY.
BEN KENBER (’99) writes in to tell us he’s been in two original one-act plays, entitled The Interview and The Miracle Group with CHRISTINA DIAZ, also ‘99. “Both were written by Sy Rosen (Taxi, The Wonder Years), who joined our theater company, 3KO Broadway, a few months ago; he’s proven a major asset and a wonderful guy. Our show played at the Sidewalk Studio Theater in Burbank.”
LARRY SOUSA(’92) has directed and choreographed the “under-appreciated musical Smile for the ETC Theatre, with a company of focused, committed high school and college-age performers – great kids - I love working with them!” at the Scene Dock Theater on the USC Campus.
DAVID KOBRIN (’82) has spent much of his time over recent years mentoring young persons in Los Angeles, and last summer experienced what he considers a major highlight of his life. “In the world of entertainment, and comedy, no one is more hysterical to me than Bill Cosby. I had asked to see him backstage before a concert last summer, I and Michelle were escorted back to the dressing room and there he was, talking with a few friends. Bill got up, came over to us, hugged us both and then (this is the coolest part), got a couple of chairs and invited us to join the discussion. We talked for about 40 minutes, about everything. Towards the end I told him I was a mentor and he talked for a few minutes about how important mentors are to kids, especially those from the inner city. Finally it was picture time, and when he came over to me, I said this is the picture with the mentor and he said ‘two mentors.’”
We sent an email to RYAN JENSEN but, computers having a mind of their own, it sent the epistle to RYAN PAREGIEN (’98), with whom we had lost touch and were delighted to hear from – even via this fortuitous accident. “Sorry to take so long to write you back but I’ve been extremely busy. Mostly in a very good way. I’m having a read-through this week of the musical I wrote and hope to get the music approved by the beginning of next month. I also had an internet project fall into my lap as well. I am the writer and Host of a new Internet show called Extreme PC Garage.” (You can find the other RYAN elsewhere in this newsletter.)
BARBARA PASSOLT (’79) writes that she’s been doing “a lot of singing and a little writing and acting. I joined the Angeles chorale and had the opportunity to sing Beethoven’s 9th for the first time! And I hope I’ll be singing at more weddings and fewer memorial services next year!”
ELLEN SNORTLAND (’74), the regular columnist for the Pasadena Weekly, presented her one woman show, Now That She's Gone: Unraveling the Mystery of My Mother in Beverly Hills, Palm Springs, San Diego and Pasadena this past winter, to “consistent ovations,” and, in spring, in various locations in New York City. The show explores Snortland's wacky and torturous relationship with her Norwegian-American mother and, Ellen says, “has been described as a Lily Tomlin/Garrison Keilor/Eve Ensler hybrid, passionate, poignant and funny in turns.”
We heard from DR. JANIS WEBB (’76) after an awfully long time. “Hard to believe that it has been almost 30 years, but when I look in the mirror, it is easy to recognize the passage of time. I am not sure I am a great role model for an MFA grad, although I will always be grateful for my experience and education. After about 10 years of teaching theater at the high school/community college level, I chucked it all one day and went back to school and earned an LCSW and now work with the families of children who are born extremely prematurely. Then 5 years ago I went back to school (again) and gained my Ed.D. and now have an agency that works with infants and toddlers who are medically fragile or born with developmental delays. A far cry from the theater, huh? I think what I have always really enjoyed is being a “student” rather than a teacher, and will probably go back to school again before senility sets in. I have always been involved in local and community theater, however, and recently ended a run as Charlotte in Ira Levin's Critic’s Choice. Yes, I am now best suited to the Mildred Natwick roles. That’s what the years do to you! I’m now married (to the same music major from Chapman University that MARILYN MOONEY (’75) introduced me to!) and have 2 wonderful children, both of whom have decided to get married in the next nine months, which is making life interesting.”
We were very saddened to hear that lifelong tree-climber YELENA STRELKOFF (’90) suffered a catastrophic 25-foot fall in 2002, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down, but heartened to see that she has turned her experience into a stunning, life-affirming performance entitled Caterpillar Soup, which received glowing reviews in its Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble debut at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica. “If such intensely personal material defies standard theatrical assessment, so too does STRELKOFF’s vast emotional range, which could melt granite,” said the Los Angeles Times. “In her regenerative hope and raw honesty, this wholly courageous artist is, in the truest sense, both humbling and inspiring.” Brava!
REBECCA CLARK CAREY (’93) covered for traveling husband David’s Voice and Speech classes at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London last Fall: “I loved it!” she writes. “Voice is taught there in groups of 3-4 students, unlike the 12-18 that is the norm for most drama schools in London, which meant I was able to do very detailed work with very talented students - such a joy. Also a joy to work with colleagues for whom I have enormous respect.” Meanwhile, we were delighted to meet David at a Royal Shakespeare Company confab in North Carolina on his stopover during his return to the UK and Becca.
JACQUELINE VAN BIENE (’02) was in New York performing in a reading of Brian Dykstra’s award-wining new play, Hiding Behind Comets, which was fortunately caught by CAM HARVEY (’69) in town for the National Theatre Conference of which he is a member.
And TOM RUZIKA (’74) filled us in that the Lumen West Awards banquet proved a gathering for alums EMMA FITZGERALD FILIUS (’00) (who chaired the event), LINDSEY PERKINS (’00), REBEL LUCKAU HOFFMAN (’98), DAVE KLEVENS (’96), CAT HEGDALE (’04), SHAWN FIDLER (’02), and KC SIECKOWSKI (’01).
COLLEEN DOWLING (’02) received a great review from the Cleveland Plain Dealer for the CIM Opera Theater’s staging of Mozart's neglected "La Finta Giardiniera, “a joy to experience,” said the scribe, who particularly praised COLLEEN for capturing “to superb effect the opera's various atmospheres - especially the grotto scene - in the difficult space of Kulas Hall.”
MIKAELA BENNETT (’03) finished up her undergraduate study at Sarah Lawrence College, then a year's conservatory study at the British American Drama Academy in London, and is now home in the San Francisco Bay Area where she was promptly cast in Mill Valley Shakespeare's production of Love's Labour's Lost as the Princess.
COURTNEY PETERSON (’99) writes in from Minnesota: “I’ve been working with GENE DOUGLAS (’99) on his Acting Now Magazine, and am now the Senior Editor and a Contributing Writer. In issue #4, I have an interview with movement and clowning guru Christopher Bayes, and in #5 I’ve written an article about the new Guthrie/University of Minnesota BFA Actor Training Program. Also in issue #5 we list our favorite performances of 2004 (look close for a UCI grad in there!) I’m also currently collaborating with local Twin Cities playwright Claudia Hankin on a new play entitled, Ursula Evermore and the Case of the Colossal Whoopsie. It's an Agatha Christie type murder mystery with a Sci-Fi twist. Coming to a Minneapolis theatre in, hopefully, Fall 2005, with yours truly playing the title character.”
And let’s make clear that GENE DOUGLAS’s (’99) Acting Now, online at www.actingnow.com, with both quarterly issues and daily blogs, has rapidly become the nation’s best online journal of acting news. Actor alums – and anyone interested in the current state of American theatre - should be checking it regularly!
JERRY HOFFMAN (’67), an alum from UCI’s founding year, writes that “life has taken a lot of interesting turns for me. I've recently (finally) pried myself away from the legal profession and am working on transitioning back into acting.”
JOSHUA FINKEL (’84) sent us this “quick note to say ‘don't blink’ when you see me on Desperate Housewives on ABC - I play Ricky, the country club maitre d’ in the restaurant scenes, and may also be part of the ‘Gossip chain phone sequence’ if any of it is left in after editing. It’s a fun episode and a great new show. And my production of Falsettoland, which I’m associate directing and choreographing, has opened in San Francisco at the Phoenix Theater in Union Square. JOSH later wrote in to say that he loved working with MICHAEL THOMAS HOLMES (’97) in Amour at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut, and that he was headed – with his entire staff at the Academy for New Musical Theatre - to London to perform and teach at the WORKS festival hosted by London Musical Theater writing academy, Mercury Musicals Development.
SCOTT WERVE (’03) directed That 90s Show, a trio of David Ives one-acts, at the John Raitt Theatre in Hollywood last winter, with JEFF FARKASH (’04) now RUBINO)and MARIE WONG (’03) in the cast. Set design was by GRANT VAN ZEVERN (’02), lighting by LEIGH ALLEN (’01), and the production manager was CHRIS SMITH (’03).
ALICIA ALBRIGHT (’01) writes in from her current tour of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, where she’s playing the lead role of Millie:”It’s my first lead, and I cried when I got it!!!! It is going very well and I am learning so soooo much. I am so deliriously happy – it comes to California (Torrance, Turlock, Lancaster and Glendora) in March. Before this, I toured Europe with Jesus Christ Superstar twice - the second time as dance captain and assistant director, and did a couple of regional productions. I just finished A Chorus Line as the only female u/s for all the parts - that was hard core - and I also assist Baayork Lee on many projects. She kind of took me under her wings - she is amazing!”
PETER KUO (’05) writes, “I’m working at East West Players temporary as an emergency box office assistant and am also in the process of starting at Theater Company in South Pasadena Called MentorWorks. We're working with high school students as interns, and just accepted 19 of them interns into our first production. I play dual roles (as usual) as the Director of the production and the Business Administrator of the company. Things are going well.”
MATT WILLIAMS (’00) (dance grad who choreographed UCI’s Castle of Perseverance) writes in from the Big Piano: “I'm currently choreographing Giant Piano dances at FAO Schwarz in New York. Just like from the movie Big: there is a 20-foot, three-octave piano in the store, and we have two dancers on it at a time playing song sets every half hour. It's been a hoot and I just signed on for another year as choreographer – and I dance on the piano on Sundays. Next time you are in NY stop by 5th Ave and 58th Street (or you can see it at the Forum Shops in Caesars’ Palace in Las Vegas as well). I also choreographed a new rock opera, Cellphones, at La Mama, and joined SSDC last year. Things are happening!”
KA-LING CHEUNG (’99) writes, “I’m in the ensemble for national tour of "The King and I", and will perform at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles.
CHRIS MARSHALL (’98) has signed another year's contract at Sage High School (next door to UCI) and will have staged the fights for Romeo and Juliet, directing Assassins, and staging a workshop production of Scenes From An Execution by the time you read this.
RACHEL MAIER (’05) is living on the upper east side of Manhattan and working as a Production Assistant on Stephen Schwartz’s new musical, Captain Louie. “I have been building props, painting the set, and making amazing connections. I got the job through the General Manager who hired me on my first week there as backstage run crew for a NY musical theater festival show called Monica! The Musical, about Ms. Lewinsky - very funny and lots of fun. I am also working at a trapeze school in Williamsburg and I flying trapeze in a show there. I am having the time of my life!”
Flying across country, know you’ll spend some time in the capable hands of CHRISTINA POND LAGOSKI (MFA ’96) who is an Air Traffic Control Specialist for the FAA, working at the Kansas City En Route Control Center in Olathe. “From 1996 to 2000, I was the Kansas City Ballet Stage Manager and Production Coordinator for the Starlight Theatre. Herb Lagoski and I were married in 1996. He's the former Sound Engineer for Missouri Rep Theatre and Starlight Theatre and is now a pilot. We are expecting our first baby Girl in March!”
We had a nice letter from DR. THERESA MAY (’82), who is now an Assistant Professor at Humboldt State University and was recommending one of her students to our program.
JON DOLTON (’01) is in touch. “Next month, I'll begin rehearsals as Bill Lewis in Connecticut Repertory Theater's The Hot L Baltimore. You'll be happy to hear that the auditors for the show said they know a lot about UCI, its faculty and its alumni, and had wonderful things to say about all three. I am so eager to start, I can hardly sit still! I'm looking forward to having a great role written by one of my favorite playwrights, and spending a beautiful spring vacation away from New York at the same time.”
MARIA COMINIS GLAUDINI (MFA ’93), has joined the tenure-track Theater and Dance Faculty at Cal State Fullerton as full time teacher (“along with DAVID NEVELL (’96)” in Acting, Voice and Movement. MARIA spent 10 years in New York City, “living directly across the street from where STEPHEN BURDMAN'S (’95) Central Park Shakespeare performed, and teaching acting at HB Studios. Returning to Southern California, MARIA first taught acting at the USC film school and directed at Azusa Pacific University (where, she tells us, BART MCHENRY (’94) is now director of Theatre) and at Vanguard University. Her recent television credits include the snide mother, Mona Clark, as a recurring role in Desperate Housewives. MARIA has also acquired her Fitzmaurice certification (and participated with PHIL THOMPSON (’89) at a summer Utah workshop on that basis last summer), and reports she has “been following the tracks of the Knight/Thompson Speechwork and still loves being a student even more now then in Graduate School.” Thanks, MARIA, for the “ten-year trek to tenure track” catch-up, and the lovely links to your fellow alums!
NATASHA CORICH (’04) writes in that she is beginning a new position as Program Director for Drama at the Boys and Girls Club in Costa Mesa. “My responsibilities are teaching acting to 3rd through 7th graders and putting on productions for the parents. I will also be bringing in guests to educate the students on certain specialties, for example, costume design, dance, voice, etc. It was an honor to graduate from UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts; I believe that I have been fully educated and trained for all of my new opportunities.”
We heard this year from BILL NELSON (’76) for the first time in three decades; BILL now has his own Media company in Bakersfield. “I recall with fondness my UCI undergrad days (except for that drubbing I received in Ian Bernard’s office after offering a truly sappy screenplay assignment!) Been busy in my media consultancy, enjoying life, and have recently released a feature-length film (Mental) on DVD in which I participated as cast member (Phillip) and film editor as well as executing the DVD production & design. A labor of love, to be sure. I graduated from UCI in ‘76. A good experience. After my BA degree I headed off to San Jose State for my MA. JOAN PIRKLE (’75) was there as well.”
CARRIE BAKER (’02) was feted by six of her alum classmates in New York as she headed off to Fairbanks, Alaska to become an Assistant Professor in the University of Alaska Theatre Department. Before leaving town, CARRIE played a prison inmate taunting Harley on Guiding Light and was in staged readings of Girls Night Out at the NY Festival of New Works and Mergers and Acquisitions at New Perspectives.
LINDA ALPER (’71) writes in from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival: “I'm in my 19th season at OSF, playing the lead in Napoli Milionaria! by Eduardo De Filippo, which I also co-translated with my writing partner, Beatrice Basso. Our kids are great -- starting to look around at colleges. Yikes!” No yikes from the reviewers: the Sacramento Bee reports that “actress Alper, who translated both works, leads the outstanding ensemble.”
And TYLER LAYTON (’95) played sweetheart Christine in Room Service and Rosaline in Loves Labors Lost (“intelligent and funny… great fun,” said the Mail Triune in her fourth season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and will be playing Cherie in Bus Stop and Mistress Ford in Merry Wives of Windsor at the venerable OSF in 2006.
Also in Oregon is KAREN MCNEIL (’68), who reports “I have moved to Newport, Oregon (it was time to get back to the ocean) and just auditioned for a local theatre company's production of Music Man which we (yes, I made it and am I excited!) will do in October at the very beautiful Newport Performing Arts Center. Our group is the Porthole Players; it’s been around for about 30 years. I am thrilled that I will be on stage in a play again - it will be a small role but hey, it's been 37 years! I love it here- my little black-and-white cross-eyed cat, Tater, and I live on a small cliff overlooking the ocean and Yaquina Head where the lighthouse is. I am grateful every day for all the beauty and love in my life - and now that I'll be in a show again - how much better could it ever be?”
Prof Eli Simon just saw JOHN GLORIA (’95) in an Ikea commercial, playing the befuddled husband buying furniture. “He looked terrific and his comic persona was perfect for the role.” JOHN and FRANK GALLEGOS (’97) have their own band, meanwhile, the Good Ole’ Country Railroad, playing around town, when last heard from at the Falcon on Sunset in Hollywood, Molly’s on Fairfax, and BB Kings and Saddleranch at Universal City’s CityWalk.
ANDREW LEVY’s (’00) production of Life with Father at the Vanguard Theatre was honored at the American College Theatre Festival this year, and he was kind enough to show us a photo of himself sporting his ACTF plaque.
We were delighted to hear that RONAL STEPNEY (’80) had a huge success on his hands with his production of Tartuffe at Florida Gulf Coast University. He’s now thinking of following it up with a Misanthrope. Why not?
LISA ROBINS’ (’79) email, with the subject line “Sex,” landed in our spam box the other day – guess why? Here’s the real story: “I've opened in a new play at the Actors Studio, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, & Sex by George Furth (Company, Merrily We Roll Along), directed by John Rubinstein. It was too much for our spam filter to handle, but we fished it out anyway. Not like the Actors Studio when we studied there in the early 60s (yes, it was going on then, just not on the stage.)
CATHERINE (CAT) HEGDALE (LD MFA '04) designed lights for I Just Stopped By To See the Man at The Old Globe, Cassius Carter Centre Stage, in San Diego.
JON SIDOLI (’92) weighs in from Independence City college in Kansas. “I’m in my second year here as department head and associate artist at the William Inge Center for the Arts. I brought in TAMIKO WASHINGTON (’92) in my Incidents in the Life of a Slavegirl [created at UCI several years ago] last year for Black History Month for local schools and the 50th anniversary of Brown v Topeka – it was great to see her again! And she was terrific. She stayed in [former UCI prof] William Inge's house and swears she made acquaintance with a ghost! This year the Inge Festival honoree is Tina Howe and lots of people will be converging on little Independence for five days of play readings and tributes. We will also have a tribute all-star reading The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, whose author, Jerry Lawrence, was a big factor in the founding of the Festival. I’ve also started a one-of-a-kind 2 year professional Playwriting Certificate Program along with the Inge Center: Playwrights-in-Residence so far have included Teresa Rebeck and Caridad Svich.”
So we called TAMIKO WASHINGTON (’92) to get filled in on her doings, and found that she had just received her promotion to Associate Professor at Chapman College, where she is in her eighth year on the faculty, teaching voice, movement and character development, and directing – her most recent production being Ragged Dick, about immigrants in the 1890s. Off-campus, TAMIKO has been acting with the Women’s Shakespeare Company in Los Angeles, most recently playing the Prince of Morocco in Merchant of Venice at the Ivy Theatre.
As an acting-with-honors senior, HARMONY GOODMAN (’94) played Harper in UCI’s bi-coastal showcase a few years ago; last season she played it professionally in an entire six-week production of Angels in America (both parts!) at the Noho Arts Center in North Hollywood. And HARMONY followed with a role in the same company’s world premiere musical of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.
Actress and authoress STARRA ANDREWS (’83) writes in after the big move to New York: “I'm temping at reception right now at Deutsche Bank on Wall Street. However, the money flow is allowing me to set myself up here and write at my desk. Next: a proofreading course which will enable me to have flexible income and make the transition from day job to a creative career. Bit by bit.”
KIMBERLY GREENBERG (’98) is a dresser on The Lion King on Broadway. She writes: “It’s been a busy year. I joined AEA, finally, and have been having great luck - a dinner theatre production, Christmas tunes at Harrahs in NC (my best gig yet - I was treated like a star), TV and other projects. My minor setback occurred when I tore my rotator cuff on my left shoulder on the Lion King set and had to have surgery. Had to stop performing for physical therapy but am almost well and am back at auditioning full throttle. I never imagined I would get hurt working as a dresser! But wonders never cease.”
JOSH HSU (’04) made his L.A. Directorial debut by staging Rick Robinson’s alphabetically-intriguing irl (“in real life”) at the Lucid by Proxy Theatre in Silverlake, Los Angeles last spring. “Lucid by Proxy once again shows its vitality with a new offering that succeeds ... on the quirkiness and precision of live actors and computer-generated characters together onstage," said LA Weekly. JOSH returned to UCI to compose music for the Fall Stage Two production of Seagull.
CAROL MITHERS (’74) continues to write for the L.A. Times and other publications, and her lovely piece, “Vanishing,” about the history of a Los Angeles house, received much commentary from appreciative readers, of which we were one.
COLETTE SEARLS(’02) writes in that “I continue to enjoy teaching and directing for our BFA program here at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and just got through my first review. Right now, I'm preparing an original puppet production for the NYC International Fringe Festival, August 2005; a comic, surreal piece mixing object animation with dance and called Basura. I've been focusing lately on a kind of "disposable puppetry" that enables actors to build and destroy puppets in performance and published an article about this in Puppetry Journal last year. More recently, I co-directed with [UMBC colleague] LYNN WATSON (’93) a cross-gendered production of Much Ado on campus this year. We had a wonderful time, and (no doubt owning to our shared UCI training!) were remarkably of one mind in our direction!”
JESSICA STEVENSON (’03) played Ophelia in guess what play at the Next Theatre in Hollywood last Spring.
And as we go to press, Prof Madeline Kozlowski reports on three alumni costume designers:
SHANA TARGOSZ (’05) has joined the Costume Designers Guild as she completes her work as Assistant Costume Designer on the Movie of the Week, Same As It Never Was, starring Wendy Malick.
NICOLE KORZENIK (’05) is the Assistant Costume Designer on another movie of the week, Devil on the Mountain, that was shot in Flagstaff, Arizona.
And LANE FRAGOMELI (’99) is now the Senior Designer/Merchandiser at Paper Magic Group, and has moved into new company headquarters in Manhattan.
ERROR IN THE BILL[ING], SIR! Your newsletter regrets an error in the last issue: Penelope Spheeris is, we now are told, not the aka of Penny Marienthal as reported last year. An embarrassed correspondent writes in to apologize for the reportorial error, and your compiler regrets his editorial one.