Missouri State University
Theatre and Dance Blog

Spring Dance Concert: Movement in Flux




May 4-7, 2017
Coger Theatre



Choreographers: Ruth Barnes, Sara Brummel, Sarah Wilcoxon

Guest Choreographer: Cara Hagan

Costume Designers: Jantzen Bates, Christopher Compton, Amanda Preston, Cynthia Winstead

Lighting Designers: Seth Brown, Mike Foster, Victoria McWilliams

Sound Designer: Mark Putman

Stage Manager: Adelynn Hubbard

Concert Coordinator: Ruth Barnes



Crunchy Granola Suite
Original Choreography: Bob Fosse | Staged and adapted by Sarah Wilcoxon
Music: Neil’ Diamond’s Crunchy Granola Suite performed by Kyle Aho, Jesse Granados, Joseph Heflin, Adam Holderbaum, Dawson Jones, Connor Purkett, Jimmy Roffman, Matt Streuber, Jordan Woods and Mason Kelso
Lighting Design: Seth Brown and Victoria McWilliams
Dancers: Jazzmon Craig, Molly Fowler, Natalie Gorman, Katie Griffiths, Molly Higgins, Emily Hughey, Olivia Morgenthaler, Johanna Pfaff, Courtney Popeln, Deon Shotwell, Lauren Smith, Jessica Staples, Chelsea Thomas, Jake Wobbe

Fab Bour With Fresh People
Choreography: Ruth Barnes in collaboration with the cast
Music: John Lennon and Paul McCartney (Your Mother Should Know, Help! Blackbird, I’ve Just Seen a Face, Her Majesty)
Lighting Design: Seth Brown and Victoria McWilliams
Costume Design: Christopher Compton
Dancers: Sarah Disney, Lawrence Halliburton, Ra’chelle Hedgespeth, Jenna Levitt, Logan Lee, Isaiah Luna, Olivia Morgenthaler, Claire Namath, Natalie Benfro, Joe Schultz, Anna Surrell

Court of Whimsy/La Folia
Choreography: Ruth Barnes
Music: Francesco Geminiani (Concerto Grosso op. 5 No. 12 in d)
Lighting Design: Seth Brown and Victoria McWilliams
Costume and Wig Designer: Amanda Preston
Dancers: Sarah Gericke, Austin Grigg, Janae Hammond, Allison Meier, Courtney Poppell, Melanie Sikyta, Jessica Staples, Chelsea Thomas, Jake Wobbe

A Love Letter
Choreography and Costume Design: Sarah Wilcoxon
Music: Cole Porter (I Get a kick Out of You and You’re the Top!), James F. Hanley (Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart), Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern (The Way You Look Tonightt), arranged and performed by Mason Kelso
Lighting Design: Seth Brown and Victoria McWilliams
Dancers/Singer: Molly Higgins, Olivia Jones

Tiny Potato On the Train
Choreography and Costume Design: Cara Hagan
Rehearsal Assistant: Allison Meier
Lighting Designer: Mike Foster
Dancers: Morgan Ball, Brendon Boyd Dalton, Molly Fowler, Janae Hammond, Hannah Romano, Lauren Smith, Anna Surrell, Jake Wobble, Jordan Woods

Embodied Cognition
*performed at intermission of the Dance Concert in Craig Hall lobby*
Choreographed and Performed by members of Inertia Dance Company
Dancers: Jazzmon Craig, Lawrence Halliburton, Molly Haslag, Emily Hughey, Allison Meier, Lauren Smith, Jessica Staples, Nadia Stine

Choreography: Sara Brummel
Music: Clara Schumann (Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann, op. 20)
Lighting Design: Seth Brown and Victoria McWilliams
Dancers: Austin Grigg, Molly Haslag, Nadia Stine

A Dance for Chelsea
Choreography: Sara Brummel
Music: The Buddy Rich Big Band (Lament for Lester, arranged by Jay Corre)
Lighting Design: Seth Brown and Victoria McWilliams
Dancer: Chelsea Thomas

Sarah and the Boys
Choreography: Sara Brummel
Music: Kyle Aho with Jesse Granados, Joseph Heflin, Adam Holderbaum, Dawson Jones, Connor Purkett, Jimmy Roffman, Matt Streuber
Lighting Design: Seth Brown and Victoria McWilliams
Costume Design: Amanda Preston
Dancers: Morgan Ball, Neil Cathro, Brendon Boyd Dalton, Sarah Fiedler, Isaiah Luna, Deon Shotwell, Jordan Woods

Choreography: Sarah Wilcoxon and Dancers
Music: Childish Gambino (I.Crawl)
Lighting Design: Seth Brown and Victoria McWilliams
Costume Design: Jantzen Bates
Dancers: Hannah Bogue, Janae Hammond, Lawrence Halliburton, Emily Hughey, Haley Rolland, Deon Shotwell, Jake Wobbe, Natalie Renfro (understudy)

Remember the Ladies
Choreography: Ruth Barnes
Projections: Vonda Yarberry
Sound score by Vonda Yarberry: music by Thomas Adès (Arcadiana)
Sound Engineer: Weiyan Wang
Lighting Design: Seth Brown and Victoria Mcwilliams
Costume Design: Cynthia Winstead
Dancers: Lyric Arvizu, Katie Griffiths, Molly Haslag, Olivia Jones, Emily Poorman, Nadia Stine


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Strengthen skills in lyrics and music

The theatre and dance department is pleased to welcome Broadway songwriter Craig Carnelia, who will teach an intersession class in songwriting. This three-week, 3-hour course will be an intensive introduction to the craft of songwriting. Students will learn both lyrics and music, producing several songs throughout the class.

Over the course of his career, which includes composing for classics like Working and Sweet Smell of Success, Carnelia has been nominated for three Tony awards and two Drama Desk awards. He also received the Johnny Mercer Award, Emerging American Songwriter Award, the first annual Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Musical Theatre Award and the Kieban Award. He teaches songwriting workshops across the country.

Lyrics by Craig Carnelia: "I'm not at home in a house/ If you're looking for where I live/ Here's the only address I give/ Look for me in the songs"

Key details

  • What: THE 497 – 002: Songwriting
  • When: Summer intersession (May 22 – June 9)
  • Who: Tony-nominated songwriter Craig Carnelia
  • How: Registration is now open; CRN number is 35545
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Melanie Dreyer-Lude recognized with Award for Excellence in Study Away Programming

Melanie Dreyer-Lude
Melanie Dreyer-Lude is a recipient of the 2017 Excellence in Study Away Programming Award

Melanie Dreyer-Lude was recognized for excellence in Study Away programming, specifically within the category of community engagement. Dreyer-Lude drew upon her professional knowledge, academic focus and passion for cultural learning to develop Experiencing Uganda: Service Learning in Kampala and Gulu. Beginning in May 2016, Dreyer-Lude traveled with students on a three-week cultural immersion program in Uganda. Students were challenged to be open-minded as they explored the similarities and differences of Ugandan and North American culture. They engaged with residents of Kampala as they incorporated an African fable into a play with the Ndere Culture Troupe. Students volunteered at orphanages and a primary school, swapped stories and ideas with students at Kyambogo University, navigated marketplaces and visited historical landmarks.

The Study Away program was a catalyst for teaching students about Ugandan culture, their own cultures and how they interact with the world. Dreyer-Lude encouraged students to adopt a global perspective as they assimilated back to the Missouri State community.

About the award

The Study Away Advisory Committee created the AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN STUDY AWAY PROGRAMMING in 2012 to recognize Missouri State faculty members who demonstrate excellence in developing and leading short-term study away programs. The award categories are Cultural Competence and Community Engagement.

The Community Engagement category recognizes faculty members whose programs enable students to participate in an organized service activity that meets reciprocally identified community needs. Each recipient receives $1,500 in professional development funds and a trophy.

This text originally appeared in the program for the All-Faculty Recognition Reception.

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A Little Night Music


April 6-9, 2017

Coger Theatre



Costume Design: Jennifer Lippert

Scenic Design: Robert Little

Lighting Design: Michael Foster

Sound Design: Mark Putman

Hair, Wig, and Makeup Design: Shelby Kram

Technical Director: Chris DePriest

Conductor: Amy Muchnick

Stage Manager: Abigail Teel

Associate Music Director: Heather Luellen

Music Director: Ann Marie Wilcox-Daehn

Choreographer: Josh Inmon

Director: Robert Westenberg



Mr. Lindquist: Michael Payne

Mrs. Nordstrom: Kayli Owen

Mrs. Anderssen: Kara Libby

Mr. Erlanson: Chase Phillips

Mrs. Segstrom: Grace Minnis

Fredrika: Molly Higgins

Madame Armfeldt: Lisa Blake

Frid: Andrew McGowan

Henrik Egerman: Mason Kelso

Anne Egerman: Katie Hopkins

Fredrik Egerman: Noah Jermain

Petra: Liv Gallo

Desiree Armfeldt: Sarai Harding

Countess Charlotte Malcolm: Molly Fowler

Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm: Shayne Piles

Osa: Ellie Maji

Malla: Danielle Jones

Bertrand: Dalton Mathis

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Clybourne Park

February 23-24, February 26-March 3, March 5-6 2017
Balcony Theatre


Lighting Design: Seth Brown

Scenic Design: Lisa Kudas

Costume Design: Jantzen Bates

Sound Design: Mark Putman

Technical Director: Chris DePriest

Marketing Director: Mark Templeton

Stage Manager: Kelsey Hammontree

Director: Dr. Carol J. Maples



Russ/Dan: John Surgener

Bev/Kathy: Kate Pennington

Francine/Lena: Oliva Jones

Jim/Tom/Kenneth: Bailey Diehl

Albert/Kevin: Darian Bengston

Karl/Steve: Alex Tolar

Betsey/Lindsey: Molly Grotha

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Study Away: Scotland

Explore Scotland’s culture, history and identity during this short-term Study Away experience.

You’ll enjoy the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world, and the Edinburgh International Festival along with trips to Glasgow and the storied Scottish Highlands.

Dance faculty Ruth Barnes will lead this trip to Scotland, where she has experience traveling, working and creating art. Opportunities to engage with dance, performance, art and architecture will surround you during this experience.

Duke of Wellington Statue in Edinburgh
Duke of Wellington Statue, Princes Street, Edinburgh

Course credit available

This Study Away experience is offered as one of two courses:

  • IDS 297, which fulfills an arts requirement in the general education curriculum
  • UHC 350, which fulfills a cultural competency requirement in the Honors College

Key details

Learn more

Access the presentation “Study Away Scotland”

Study Away Scotland-2017

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Angels in America, Part 1: The Millennium Approaches

November 10-13

Coger Theatre


Lighting Design: Michael Foster

Scenic Design: Michael Foster

Costume Design: Jennifer Lippert

Sound Design: Kristen Stokes

Technical Director: Chris DePriest

Marketing Director: Mark Templeton

Stage Manager: Abigail Teel

Directed By: Sarah Wiggin



Roy Cohn: Tyler Coleman

Joseph Pitt: Michael Watterson

Harper Pitt: Hannah Finger

Louis Ironson: Colton Williams

Prior Walter: Corey Blake Todd

Hannah Pitt: Samantha Martinez

Belize: Dejuan Boyd

The Angel: Grace Murray

Rabbi Isidor Chemilwitz: Chance Nichols

Mr. Lies: Kendrick Hooks

Henry: Kristian Jett

Emily: Kate Pennington

Martin Hellar: Jordan Woods

Sister Ella Chapter: Khira Auerbach

Prior 1: Alex Tolar

Prior 2: Ricky Mehigh

The Man in the Park/The Eskimo: Matt Huebner

Woman in the Bronx: Leah Koclanes

Ethel Rosenberg: Elizabeth Armstrong

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Showcases ready acting, musical theatre and dance students for the next stage

Each year, Missouri State arranges for acting, musical theatre and dance students to perform for and network with industry professionals in hotspots such as New York City and Los Angeles. 

Hannah Green lightly hops up and down, her high heels clicking the floor to a steady beat. A few feet away, Nick Driscoll’s mouth is awkwardly poised as he quietly emits didgeridoo-like noises.

Others around the room are engaging in similar rituals, and the florescent light against a bright neon green accent wall offers no cover for the palpable tension.

Easing into a zone of energy and anxiety, one by one the 15 Missouri State musical theatre seniors walk through the door marked Studio 2. On the other side is a panel of casting professionals waiting for what could be — what hopefully will be — career-launching performances.

Camille Clossum performs “You Are the Sunshine of my Life” at the New York City showcase cabaret show. Photo by Nick Coleman.

Gaining exposure, building relationships

These auditions launched the eighth annual musical theatre showcase, a week’s worth of professional development opportunities held in New York City for Missouri State students.

The musical theatre showcase, most recently held in March 2016, is one of three showcase events coordinated by Missouri State’s theatre and dance department to put university seniors directly in front of talent professionals who can offer advice — and maybe even a job.

In April, students travel to Los Angeles for an acting showcase, with events focused on the television and film industry. And each spring semester, the dance program sends students to performance conferences for similar experiences in their field.

LA Showcase 2016

Acting Program Coordinator Dr. Kurt Heinlein said the exposure is invaluable, since it could take years to get an agent or to develop relationships with casting directors.

“This gives our students the opportunity to be seen before they even get out of school. It could save them five years of pounding the pavement.”

Heinlein said the trips also allow students to become acquainted with the scenes and cities in which they may eventually work. They also take industry workshops and connect to alumni living in those cities.

Sophomores and juniors often join the upperclass students to offer support and experience the city and workshops, too.

Other Missouri State visitors to the New York showcase include students in design, technology and stage management, the Missouri State Jazz Ensemble, and art and design students who show their works in galleries.

Hearing honest critiques from industry experts

Heather Luellen, staff music director and accompanist, organizes the New York showcase. She said each program’s showcase is tailored to what works in that respective industry.

For live theater, Luellen wants to give students a preview of what happens in a real audition room.

“It’s great for the students to experience being in one of those spaces in front of a real casting director. We simulate that in classes all the time, but to really have that experience in New York is a fantastic way for them to be prepared when they actually move there.”

Students pose at New York City's iconic Times Square TKTS pavilion.
Students pose at New York City’s iconic Times Square TKTS pavilion.

New York-bound students perform individually for casting professionals, who then offer honest feedback in a speed-dating-style critique.

Anything is fair game, from the students’ appearances to song selections, talent, decorum and more.

Travis Holt, a senior musical theatre student, said the panel thought his songs were too similar.

“Since then, I’ve been building my repertoire with songs that show who I am as a person. I’m finding my type as an actor and working on how I can showcase that in an audition.”

The panel also said they saw him as a young romantic lead and encouraged him to embrace his Native American heritage when looking for roles.

Alumnus Mark Albrecht teaches students and alumni tap techniques in a New York workshop.
Alumnus Mark Albrecht teaches students and alumni tap techniques in a New York workshop. Photo by Nick Coleman.

A handful of students were advised to add comedy to their routines. According to one comment, “It has to be moving or funny. Everything else is just boring.”

The critiques given this year were pretty tame compared to some in the past. Luellen said this portion of the showcase is sometimes the most heart-wrenching part for students.

However, this is the real industry and she said the critiques are a good opportunity for students to see beyond the glitz and glamour.

During each year’s New York trip, students also perform a cabaret show accompanied by the MSU Jazz Ensemble. Their audience for the Cabaret and Connection event is largely alumni and friends of the university.

They wrap up the week with workshops, stage tours and more.

The MSU Jazz Ensemble sent 18 members to New York City in 2016 to provide musical accompaniment during the cabaret performances.
The MSU Jazz Ensemble sent 18 members to New York City in 2016 to provide musical accompaniment during the cabaret performances. Photo by Nick Coleman.

Developing professional confidence in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles acting showcase, in its seventh year, is thriving with a traditional showcase model, Heinlein said.

Students perform two-person scenes on stage for alumni and industry professionals, such as casting directors and agents. To be considered for the showcase, students must audition and spend the year leading up to it preparing in class.

“It’s really an artistic and curricular capstone experience for these students,” Heinlein said. “By prepping for the showcase, they learn about the industry, they learn about marketing, they learn how to be in business as an actor, not just how to perform.”

In the acting showcase, students perform in pairs in front of casting professionals.
Students perform in pairs in front of L.A. casting professionals. Photo by Kelli MacTaggart.

Students also participate in workshops, table reads, sitcom tapings and more. They spend time with working alumni, ranging from Academy Award winners to recent graduates, who share advice about what it’s like to begin in this industry.

Acting senior Leah Hawkins performed two scenes at the showcase. The experience has shown her a career in acting is possible,

she said.

“It’s scary to take that first step, but after being out there, doing the workshops and meeting with alumni, I feel more prepared. I can trust in my acting skills and know I have the tools to be a professional performer.”

MSU hosts events to give students and faculty a chance to connect with alumni and industry professionals in Los Angeles and New York.
MSU hosts events to give students and faculty a chance to connect with alumni and industry professionals in Los Angeles and New York. Photo by Kelli MacTaggart.

Broadening horizons for dance students

Though the dance counterpart is not called a showcase, dance students get similar experiences and benefits at the four-day American College Dance Association regional conference, said Ruth Barnes, dance program coordinator.

Students start their day at 8 a.m. and end at 11 p.m., taking classes in various styles and performing in concerts adjudicated by dance professionals from across the country.

The adjudicators meet with students for two minutes in speed-dating-style feedback sessions. The judges comment on the choreography and determine which student performances will be presented in a national gala concert.

Katie Griffiths, Kristen Bretzke, Molly Haslag and Alex Grossman attended the 2016 American College Dance Association regional conference.
Katie Griffiths, Kristen Bretzke, Molly Haslag and Alex Grossman attended the 2016 American College Dance Association regional conference.

Barnes said the conference illustrates the possible career opportunities in dance, which may not be evident in Springfield.

“Students don’t know what’s out there. This is a way of exposing them to the enormous diversity in the dance world.”

Professional dancers often lead unconventional lifestyles, Barnes said. Few are paid well for performing, so they take on day jobs. They must be versatile and have a passion for dancing. Those are lessons students glean from the conferences.

Kristen Bretzke, a junior dance major, said the conference was invigorating.

“I left each adjudication feedback session with pages full of notes, advice and ideas for how I can choreograph successful and meaningful pieces in the future. I came back to school rejuvenated, refreshed and inspired to continue my work as a collegiate dancer.”

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Theatre and film professors partner to give students comprehensive film production experiences

Filmmakers and screen actors often rely on each other to make a production work. This symbiotic relationship is driving a growing collaboration between Missouri State’s department of media, journalism and film, and department of theatre and dance.

Student Becca Thompson works behind the scenes on the set of “Counting to 1000.”

Overlap in theatre and film

Kurt Heinlein
Kurt Heinlein

Kurt Heinlein, professor of theatre and dance and acting program coordinator, said despite the departments offering a different range of degree and course options, there is a lot of opportunity for overlap in theater and film. Each area teaches skills that are needed in the film production process.

“The logical trajectory of that has been more crossover work. Some of this was already happening, but we’ve formalized it a bit to benefit the students in both departments.”

The collaboration also comes, in part, as a result of a changing dynamic in MSU’s acting program and the acting profession — less emphasis on stage acting and more in on-camera work.

“Our department heads, as well as the dean’s office, have been really supportive about these crossover initiatives,” Heinlein said. “Every time I approach someone to say, ‘Hey, we’re thinking about this,’ the answer I get is, ‘Yeah, let’s figure out how we can make it happen.’ That’s so huge, so important for the students.”

‘Demystify the production and acting processes’

Andrew Twibell
Andrew Twibell

One media, journalism and film faculty member with whom Heinlein has partnered is Andrew Twibell, assistant professor in digital film production.

“One directing class … was designed to give students in both of our departments additional opportunities to not just work together, but to get to know each other,” Twibell said. “It’s our hope that these opportunities will help demystify the production and acting processes.”

Recently, the College of Arts and Letters has explored combining course work across departments with the idea that the collaboration will result in the creation of a film.

This innovative, combined curriculum may shape the future of both departments in years to come.

Testing skills learned in the classroom

Student projects, department-produced films and web series, and other locally filmed productions are examples of resume-building opportunities offered to students in departments across COAL. Here are a few created in the last year.

“The Weight”

This project had strong ties to Missouri State. It’s director, Thomas Rennier, is an MSU alumnus Thomas Rennier. “The Weight” was filmed in 2015 in nearby Greenfield, Missouri. Several COAL alumni and students participated as cast and crew members. Heinlein was the film’s stunt coordinator.

“Counting to 1000”

Seniors in electronic arts are required to complete a senior thesis project. “Counting to 1000” is one such project created by Josh Pfaff, Samantha Rhode, Logan Sparlin, Joshua Moore and Andrew Westmaas. Since its spring 2016 debut, it has been accepted into several national film festivals and won numerous awards.


The media, journalism and film-produced web series “Limbo” was initiated as a way to bring students in theatre and film together for a large-scale project, said Twibell.

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Legally Blonde: The Musical

October 13-17

Coger Theatre


Costume Design: Jay Hensley

Scenic Design: Robert Little

Lighting Design: Michael Foster

Sound Design: Mark Putman

Hair/Make-Up Design: Chris Compton

Technical Director: Chris DePriest

Marketing Director: Mark Templeton

Stage Manager: Jantzen Bates

Music Director: Heather Chittenden-Luellen



Elle Woods: Natalie Gorman

Margot/Greek Chorus: Haley Rolland

Serena/Greek Chorus: Nora Hennessey

Pilar/Greek Chorus/Prisoner: Olivia Jones

Kate/Greek Chorus/Shop Sweeper: Katie Hopkins

Delta Nu/Spring Breaker/Cheerleader/Greek Chorus/Prisoner: Janae Hammond

Delta Nu/Spring Breaker/Cheerleader/Greek Chorus/Prisoner: Katie Griffiths

Delta Nu/Cheerleader/Greek Chorus/Prisoner: Kadey Copeland

Delta Nu/Cheerleader/Greek Chorus/Prisoner: Allison Meier

Delta Nu/Cheerleader/Greek Chorus/Prisoner: Melanie Sikyta

Brooke Wyndham/Delta Nu: Lindy Jones

Enid/Salesgirl: Grace Minnis

Mom/Delta Nu/Sales Clerk: Tabitha Carroll

Delta Nu/Prisoner/Perfume Girl 2/Stenographer: Johanna Pfaff

Delta Nu/Prisoner: Emma Rathe

Chutney/Delta Nu/Prisoner/Sales Clerk: Logan Schoessel

Delta Nu/Prisoner/Perfume Girl 1: Maggie Shermoen

Paulette: Liv Gallo

Vivienne Kensington: Maria Kelly

Store Manager/Judge/Harvard Student: Helen George

Warner Huntington III: Travis Holt

Nikos/Spring Breaker: Austin Grigg

Dad/Reporter/Harvard Student: Joe Guccione

Grandmaster Chad/Harvard Student/Prisoner Guard: Brock Birkner

Winthrop/Carlos/Harvard Student: Mason Kelso

Emmet Forrest: Noah Jermain

Professor Callahan: Dr. Chris Thompson

Dewey/Kyle/Spring Breaker: Brandon Day

Aaron/Harvard Student: Adam Baker

Padamadan/Kiki: Deon Shotwell

Whitney/Harvard Student/Sales Clerk: Molly

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