Missouri State University
Theatre and Dance Blog

Student gets chance to act with famous alumni

MattMurphyTheatre and dance student Matt Murphy will soon get the chance to exercise his acting chops with several Missouri State alumni, including notable television and film actors Tess Harper and Jack Laufer.

Auditioning for the role of Spike

Murphy, a sophomore from Monett, Missouri, is slated to play Spike in Springfield Contemporary Theatre’s upcoming “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” a Christopher Durang comedy that won the 2013 Tony Award for best play.

The SCT production is co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Letters and theatre and dance department.

Murphy is a transfer student majoring in theatre with an acting emphasis. He has previously acted in stage productions and student films.

Murphy said Missouri State Assistant Professor Maggie Marlin-Hess encouraged him to audition for the role.

VanyaSoniaMashaSpike

“When I saw the play on Broadway, Spike was the character I could relate to, and I hoped I would have the chance to see what I could do with that role myself. Then Maggie told me Springfield Contemporary Theatre was doing the play and that I should audition.”

Show is culmination of 40 years of friendship

Murphy will join Laufer, Harper and MSU faculty and alumna Julie Bloodworth, who play the roles of siblings Vanya, Sonia and Masha. Alumnus Terry Bloodworth will direct the play, and alumna Teresa Ayers will be designing the costumes.

“We all have maintained close friendships over the past 40-plus years. When Jack saw an L.A. production of the show, he wrote me a note and asked if I would like to direct him, along with Tess and my wife, in an SCT production of the show. I jumped at the chance, of course,” Terry Bloodworth said.

Local thespians Whitney Russell-Ice, part-time MSU faculty, and Helen Groves will round out the comedy’s cast as Nina and Cassandra, respectively.

jacklauferMurphy hopes to learn from stellar cast, crew

Laufer, who graduated in 1976, will be wrapping his third season in the Showtime series “Masters of Sex” in September. He is also known for his roles in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Mad Men” and “And the Band Played On.”

Harper graduated in 1972. She recently had reoccurring roles in “Breaking Bad” and “Crash.” She has won awards for her acting in movies such as “No Country for Old Men” and “Tender Mercies.”

Murphy said he’s excited to work with the caliber of acting and directing this show will bring.

Tess_Harper“It’s going to really help to see their process. I’m not going to be crazy with questions, because I don’t think they want that, but I’m definitely going to try to learn as much as possible from them,” he said.

About the show

Middle-aged siblings Vanya and Sonia share a home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where they bicker and complain about the circumstances of their lives. Suddenly, their movie-star sister, Masha, swoops in with her new boy toy, Spike. Old resentments flare up, eventually leading to threats to sell the house.

Dates: Sept. 11-13, 17-20, 24-27
Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.
Location: Springfield Contemporary Theatre, 431 S. Jefferson Ave #136
Admission: Tickets go on sale Aug. 11, 2015

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Alumna plays lead role in award-winning movie

LaurenSweetser
www.imdb.com

Theatre and dance alumna Lauren Sweetser’s latest film “Get Happy!” won best romantic comedy at the 2015 Manhattan Film Festival in June.

Sweetser, who graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, emphasis in acting, played a leading role in the film. She’s also had roles in “Winter’s Bone,” “Paradise, FL,” and the upcoming movies “ADDicted” and “Pali Road.”

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Few tickets left for Tent Theatre’s final show ‘Hairspray’

Tent 53TentTheatre‘s final show “Hairspray” begins July 8 and is nearly sold out. With a few seats left across the 11 remaining performances, the 53rd season is finishing up strong. The show, about a girl who achieves her dream of performing on a TV dance show in 1960s Baltimore and works to integrate the show in the process, will run July 8-11 and 13-19.

LeapofFaith

Sherlock

Tent’s 53rd season

Tent’s previous shows this season included “Leap of Faith” and “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure.” They were also hugely successful at the box office as were the picnics before the show.

Picnic tickets are separate

Guests can participate in a picnic prior to the show by making reservations at least 24 hours in advance, no show tickets required. Picnic and show tickets can can be purchased by calling the box office 417-836-7678.

Visit the Tent Theatre website for more ticketing and production information. And don’t forget to join the online conversation during the performance by posting to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag: #MoonlitMiracles.

Photos courtesy Tent Theatre’s Facebook page.

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Tent Theatre’s ‘Sherlock’ begins June 25

Tent_2015_show_logos_CMYK_HThe 53rd season of Tent Theatre begins its second show tonight, June 25, at 8 p.m. with “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure.”

Audiences will arrive to a steampunk set and enjoy watching as the world’s greatest detective solve yet another intriguing case. The show runs until July 3, and then the final performance “Hairspray” will begin July 8.

sherlockJoin us for a picnic!

Guests can participate in a picnic prior to the show by making reservations at least 24 hours in advance, no show tickets required. Picnic and show tickets can can be purchased by calling the box office 417-836-7678. 

Visit the Tent Theatre website for more ticketing and production information. And don’t forget to join the online conversation during the performance by posting to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag: #MoonlitMiracles.

TENTlogo

53rd Tent season

Catch the last two Tent productions of the summer. All showings begin at 8 p.m.

Tent_2015_show_logos_CMYK_H

Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure

The world’s greatest detective has seemingly reached the end of his remarkable career when a case presents itself that is too tempting to ignore.

 

Tent_2015_show_logos_CMYK_H

Hairspray

A girl achieves her dream of performing on a TV dance show in 1960s Baltimore and works to integrate the show in the process.

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Alumnus talks about work on Tony-winning musical

Alumnus Stephen Milosevich is celebrating this week with his fellow crew and cast of the Broadway musical “Fun Home.” The production took home five Tony Awards June 7, including best musical. Milosevich graduated in 2011 with a BFA in theatre for design, technology and stage management.

Photo provided by Stephen Milosevich
Photo provided by Stephen Milosevich

Milosevich started out as a production assistant during rehearsals. Since opening night, he has been the sub stage manager. He talked to Missouri State about his job on the production and his time as an MSU student.

Describe your job on “Fun Home.”

A sub stage manager fills in for a full-time stage manager who calls out sick, takes a personal day or goes on vacation. The sub will run the backstage deck track during the show.

What has been your favorite aspect of working on “Fun Home”?

My favorite aspect of working on this show is being a part of something that’s so one-of-a-kind on Broadway. It’s a coming-of-age story based on Alison Bechdel’s life. You will laugh; you will cry; you will think; and you will remember this special show.

What are the unique challenges that come with managing an “in-the-round” stage?

One of the most challenging parts of doing a show in the round is not having a large backstage area. Since the backstage isn’t big enough to store large scenery pieces, we have a total of six traps in the deck. These traps open up on the deck and a lift will bring up furniture pieces onto the stage level. These lifts are used often to execute transitions smoothly. As stage managers, it is our responsibility to make sure the actors are safe on stage while the traps are open and to make sure furniture is in the correct spike/position. There is a small margin of error which adds to the excitement.

milsovech web

How did Missouri State help you prepare for that job?

Missouri State quickly introduced me to the professional environment of stage management. We were given wonderful opportunities to stage manage high-caliber shows that helped prepare me for where I am today.

Is this your first time on an award-winning production?

I’ve worked on shows that won Obie’s, Lortel’s and Drama Desk awards, but this is the first show I’ve worked on that won a Tony Award for best musical.

When the awards were announced, what was your reaction? 

I felt very blessed and so unbelievably happy for every single deserving member on the team!

What advice would you have for MSU’s design, tech and stage management students?

Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to try something that you may feel you’re not qualified or prepared to do.

FunHome logoAbout the musical

“Fun Home” is a Broadway musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s bestselling, award-winning 2006 graphic novel “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.” It follows Alison, a 43-year-old graphic artist, as she looks back at various stages in her life trying to recreate moments between her and her dysfunctional family, especially her closeted father, as she reflects on her own journey as a lesbian.

“Fun Home” received a total of 12 total nominations at the 69th Annual Tony Awards on June 7 with five wins, including best musical, best performance by an actor in leading role in a musical, best direction of a musical, best book of a musical and best original score written for the theatre.

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Alumni working on recent Tony winner ‘Fun Home’

milsovech webnicole van giesenThe groundbreaking Broadway musical “Fun Home” was awarded five Tony awards Sunday night, including best musical, with two theatre and dance alumni on its cast and crew.

Nicole Van Giesen is an understudy for the muscial’s roles of Alison and her mother Helen. She graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre.

Stephen Milosevich, the show’s sub stage manager, graduated in 2011 with a BFA in theatre for design, technology and stage management.

FunHome logoAbout the musical

“Fun Home” is a Broadway musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s bestselling, award-winning 2006 graphic novel “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.”

It follows the memories of Alison, a 43-year-old graphic artist, as she looks back at various stages in her life trying to recreate moments between her and her dysfunctional family, especially her closeted father, as she reflects on her own journey as a lesbian.

For its public theatre run, it won Obie and Lucille Lortel awards for best musical. The graphic novel was a Pulitzer finalist for drama in 2014. Bechdel is also a McArthur genius grant recipient.

About the awards

“Fun Home” received a total of 12 total nominations at the 69th Annual Tony Awards on June 7 with five wins, including best score where composer Jeanine Tesori and playwright Lisa Kron were the first all-female team to ever win in that category.

Its wins included:

  • Best Musical
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Michael Cerveris)
  • Best Direction of a Musical (Sam Gold)
  • Best Book of a Musical (Lisa Kron)
  • Best Original Score Written for the Theatre (Lisa Kron, Jeanine Tesori)
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Tent Theatre’s ‘Leap of Faith’ begins June 10

Tent_2015_show_logos_CMYK_HThe 53rd season of Tent Theatre begins tonight, June 10, at 8 p.m. with its first show “Leap of Faith.” Audiences will follow a con-artist reverend traveling with his ministry when romance alters his course. The show will run June 10-13 and 15-20.

Join us for a picnic

Guests can participate in a picnic prior to the show by making reservations at least 24 hours in advance, no show tickets required. Picnic and show tickets can can be purchased by calling the box office 417-836-7678. 

Visit the Tent Theatre website for more ticketing and production information. And don’t forget to join the online conversation during the performance by posting to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag: #MoonlitMiracles.

TENTlogo

Other Tent shows

Catch the other two Tent productions later this summer. All showings begin at 8 p.m.

Tent_2015_show_logos_CMYK_H

Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure

The world’s greatest detective has seemingly reached the end of his remarkable career when a case presents itself that is too tempting to ignore.

Tent_2015_show_logos_CMYK_H

Hairspray

A girl achieves her dream of performing on a TV dance show in 1960s Baltimore and works to integrate the show in the process.

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Spring Dance Concert Strutting and Fretting: a neo-vaudeville

April 30-May 3, 2015

Coger Theatre

Credits:

Choreographers- Ruth Barnes & Darryl Kent Clark

Guest Artists- Peter Collins (piano) & Ann Marie Wilcox-Daehn (mezzo-soprano)

Costume Designers- Leslie Branyon, Jay Hensley, & Cynthia Winstead

Lighting Design- Blaine O’Donnell

Stage Managers- Jantzen Bates & Blaine O’Donnell

Concert Coordinator- Ruth Barnes

Cast

Les Folies du Carnaval- Caitlin Shukwit, Jake Wobbe, Sarah Gericke, Austin Wayne Grigg, Jill Kamler, Madison McElwee, Chelsea Thomas *

Place Settings- Travis Burbee, Jazzmon Craig, Sarah Fiedler, Sarah Gericke, Austin Wayne Grigg, Caroline Lacina, Caitlyn Price, Caitlin Shukwit, Alyssa Turner, and Jake Wobbe * **

Morning Glories- Molly Haslag, Madison McElwee, Courtney Poppell, and Chelsea Thomas *

Just Like a Butterfly- Travis Burbee, Alexandria Grossman, Paula Landry, Molly Noe, Nicole Polston, Melanie Sikyta, Kaylee Trost, Alyssa Tuner, and Jake Wobbe* **

A Poem- Jill Kamler

Lida Rose- * ** ***

Los Campanillas- Sarah Fiedler, Paula Landry, Courtney Poppell, and Melanie Sikyta *

I Never Do Anything Twice- Caitlin Shukwit and Jake Wobbe * **

There Are Fairies at the Bottom of Our Garden- Brittaney Laleh Banaei, Alexandria Grossman, Paula Landry, Madison McElwee, Caitlyn Price, Chelsea Thomas, and Alyssa Turner * **

My Buddy- Travis Burbee, Austin Wayne and Jake Wobbe * ***

Graceful Ghost- Sarah Gericke, Caroline Lacina, Molly Noe, Caitlin Shukwit, and Melanie Sikyta *

I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now- Brittaney Laleh Banaei, Travis Burbee, Jazzmon Craig, Sarah Fiedler, Austin Wayne Grigg, Paula Landry, Madison McElwee, Courtney Poppell, Nicole Polston, Alyssa Turner, and Jake Wobbe * ** ***

Solace- Alexandria Grossman, Molly Haslag, Caitlyn Price, Chelsea Thomas, Kaylee Trost, and Jake Wobbe *

A Poem- Jill Kamler

Minstrels- Caitlyn Price and Caitlin Shukwit *

Moonbeams- Molly Haslag, Caroline Lacina, and Molly Noe * **

Dance Little Lady- Full Cast * **

 

*Peter Collins (piano)

** Ann Marie Wilcox-Daehn (mezzo-soprano)

*** Male Quartet: Darryl Kent Clark, Nick Driscoll, Ted Kelley, and Mason Kelso

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The tent is up, tickets are on sale

The tent is raised and ticket sales have begun. Mark your June and July calenders for the 53rd season of Tent Theatre. Each performance begins at 8 p.m.

Unprecedented audition interest

Already off to a great start, this summer stock tradition saw a record-breaking number of applications back in Febrary, said Mark Templeton, theatre and dance‘s managing director. The increased interest will heighten the quality of performance, he said, and promised a not-to-miss season.

Ticket sales up to $40,000

As patrons starting lining up outside the Missouri State box offices May 4, ticket sales soared to $40,000 with a month left to go before the first show premieres. Visit the Tent Theatre website for more ticketing and production information.

Share your story

We encourage you to join the online conversation during Tent Theatre by posting about it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tagging your posts with the hashtag: #MoonlitMiracles.

2015 Schedule

Tent_2015_show_logos_CMYK_HA con-artist reverend travels with his ministry, yet romance brings new meaning to his life.

Tent_2015_show_logos_CMYK_HThe world’s greatest detective has seemingly reached the end of his remarkable career when a case presents itself that is too tempting to ignore.

Tent_2015_show_logos_CMYK_HA girl achieves her dream of performing on a TV dance show in 1960s Baltimore and works to integrate the show in the process.

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Theatre students get crash course in puppetry, political performance

©2012, Mark Dannenhauer, breadandpuppet.org
©2012, Mark Dannenhauer, breadandpuppet.org

During this year’s Public Affairs Conference, theatre and dance students learned about social and political performance as well as large-scale puppeteering from the one of the oldest not-for-profit theatre companies in the nation.

Workshops prepare students for PAC show

In April Peter Schumann packed his Vermont troupe Bread and Puppet Theatre into a school bus filled with puppets, and after two 18-hour days on the road, descended on campus. Over three days they offered workshops along with 50 years worth of advice to several students who went on to perform in the culminating conference shows.

Bread and Puppet redefines the theatre experience

BP4Assistant Professor Melanie Dreyer-Lude helped coordinate the Bread and Puppet events with Dr. Kurt Heinlein. She said the workshops were great opportunities for students to test their skills and expand their knowledge of what theatre can be.

“Students learned how theatre can be a metaphorical story as well as a literal one; that theatre can be political and change minds; that they have the endurance, talent and training to mount a show in three days.”

Being part of a ‘living and breathing sculpture’

bp3Senior Nick Oswalt, a theatre studies major, said the experience helped him learn to think on his feet, to be more selflessly part of a team and to use his voice and body in new ways.

“We were not building characters so much as we were all part of a larger-than-life, living and breathing sculpture,” he said. “This avant-garde performance art really showed me that since life oftentimes doesn’t follow a through-line story, art doesn’t have to either.”

 

Audiences react with mixed emotion to conference show

BP1Bread and Puppet performances often explore difficult political and social issues and draw mixed feelings among audiences. Something Oswalt noticed when talking to people after the show.

“It was very clear that several were confused. Some loved it and some were grasping to find a narrative within the show. I don’t believe anyone left our show feeling indifferent to what they experienced. To see everyone at least thinking and discussing afterward, that was rewarding and unique.”

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