'Arsenic and Old Lace' Fun Facts!

Stephanie | March 9, 2015

Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring, directed by Dr. Jay Malarcher, continues Tuesday, March 10 through Sunday, March 15 in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre.

Here are a few fun facts about the show, our designers, and a few characters! For tickets call (304) 293-SHOW or visit the CAC Box Office M-F, 10am-6pm, or an hour before curtain!



In this wickedly delightful farce, the Brewster family is brimming with charming, eccentric—albeit homicidal—characters! Mortimer Brewster is a drama critic whose two spinster aunts’ hobby of poisoning lonely old men with elderberry wine laced with arsenic, a brother who believes he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and another murderous brother on the run from the law, are getting in the way of his plans to marry the woman he loves.


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Costume Design by Cody Lorich.

Arsenic Master 11-28

Scenic Design by Prof. Robert Klingelhoefer. Lighting Design by Rachel Lake. Prop Design by Joe Dotts.


Brianne Taylor (Aunt Martha) is finishing up her graduate training at WVU and will be graduating with her MFA in May. While she’s enjoyed her time on the stage here playing roles like Kate in Seminar, Mistress Quickly in Henry IV, Frau Schneider in Cabaret, and Varya in The Cherry Orchard, she is ready to move on to the next adventure – wherever that may be. Whenever she manages to get free time, she enjoys practicing yoga, singing, reading fiction only if it’s purely for enjoyment, hiking up by Cooper’s Rock, and watching Gilmore Girls (specifically the episode of the Dance-a-thon).

Arsenic & Old Lace has been a unique experience – the cast is a full spectrum of experience and humor – there has never been a dull moment! The worst part about the process for her has been setting the table – it’s what Aunt Martha does for half of Act 1 and it brings to the surface so many childhood chore time memories?.. The BEST part about rehearsal? The night Teddy Roosevelt finally got a bugle to use.

She is very grateful for her husband who has helped her through three years of mainstage production and tech weeks with making meals and cleaning the dishes – without his love and support, she’d be a hot mess!


Did you know? Since we just got done with Oscar season, isn’t it a shame that Arsenic and Old Lace, the classic film version starring Cary Grant and Josephine Hull, wasn’t even nominated? This Oscar snub is a travesty! Luckily, the theatre world knows how to appreciate this laugh-a-minute dark comedy!


Stephanie Freeman (Aunt Abby) is going to be a Master of Fine Art in Theatre with an Emphasis in Acting come mid-May, and she thinks that’s mighty fine indeed. Her first show at WVU was the farce, Lend Me a Tenor and she is delighted to get to take her leave with Arsenic and Old Lace, the most wonderful screwball comedy ever written—a big thank you to Joseph Kesselring for that, and Dr. Jay Malarcher (Director) for letting her be a part of the Brewster Family. Over the past three years, Stephanie has played middle-aged to quite old ladies on stage here at WVU, and is very grateful, because this is all she wants to do when she grows up. “Many thanks to the Arsenic cast and crew for lots of laughter and one of the most fun theatre experiences ever, and to my parents who keep making the long journey, first from Tennessee and now from Arkansas, to see these shows-I love y’all lots!”

Friday Tech. Wig design by Taylor Rouse, Makeup Design by Colleen Schulz.


Stefanie Lemasters (Elaine) is a Sophomore theater major and vocal performance minor at West Virginia University. She is very excited to perform in her first main stage production. Stefanie started acting when she was in seventh grade, and hasn’t stopped since then. Some of her favorite past roles are Reno Sweeney (Anything Goes), Madame (The Maids), and Girl (The Good Doctor). She would like to thank her family and friends for their support.

Character Fact: “Elaine once went to Church with her father, the Reverend, without wearing a brassiere. The only one who didn’t know was her father.”

Ben Stansbery Headshot
Ben Stansbery as Dr. Einstein
“My role as Dr. Einstein marks the fourth time dawning a lab coat and gloves for a play. It’s the most physically demanding role I’ve had to play thus far, but that’s part of the deliciously sinister fun!”


MFA Actors

Students studying for a Master of Fine Arts degree in acting in the WVU School of Theatre and Dance will present MFA Showcase 2015 in New York City on March 23.

Performances are free and open to the public and will be held at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the June Havoc Theatre, 312 W. 36th Street, 2nd Floor, in the heart of New York’s Garment District, just a few blocks south of the Broadway Theatre district and just two blocks from Madison Square Garden.

The students will perform contemporary scenes for invited entertainment industry professionals, including talent agents, casting directors and career managers from the New York City area. The scenes were chosen by the students, who took into consideration personal style, type and casting possibilities.

For the past three years, the graduate acting students have studied in an intense conservatory-style environment at WVU with the goal of preparing them for a professional career in the theatre. Acting, voice and speech and movement classes explored a variety of genres, methods, playwrights and subjects from Stanislavski to Meisner, Shakespeare to Chekhov, and Restoration to contemporary works. Musical theatre, stage combat, acting for the camera, voiceover instruction and clowning techniques were all a part of their graduate education.

The purpose of the MFA Actor Showcase 2015 is to present the graduates to the New York City market with the goals of industry representation and career advancement as well as the chance to produce and present their work in one of the leading centers for entertainment and art.

WVU alumni and other guests in the New York area are also invited to this showcase performance so that they can experience the fine work being done by the School of Theatre and Dance and its current students.

WVU students presenting the MFA Actor Showcase 2015 include:

Mya Brown is a native of Champaign, Illinois. She has a passion for research and developing her own work. Some of her favorite roles include: Gertrude from “Hamlet,” Elizabeth from “Laundry and Bourbon,” Inez Serrano from “No Exit,” Mrs. Mueller from “Doubt,” and Titania from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” She has also done film and voiceover work. She holds a BFA in Theatre from Jacksonville University.

Originally from St. Francisville, Louisiana, Stephanie Freeman holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from The University of Alabama, where she trained as a stage manager, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Theatre Performance from Middle Tennessee State University. She plans to work as a professional actor, and to pursue her passion for teaching as well.

Landon Green hails from Tampa, Florida. After graduation, he plans to establish his base in central Florida and to work anywhere that opportunities arrive. He also plans to expand his experience in theater design and directing. Favorite roles have included: Clinton in “The Liar,” Lysander in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Yasha in “The Cherry Orchard,” Roy W. Selridge in “Biloxi Blues,” Ferdinand in “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” and Valere in “Tartuffe.”

Vincent Pelligrino is from Detroit, Michigan. His favorite roles have included the Emcee in “Cabaret,” the Purser in “Anything Goes,” Robertson Ay in “Mary Poppins,” Gaev in “The Cherry Orchard” and Konstantin Treplev in “The Seagull.” He loves working in theatre, whether it be musicals or plays, but his dream is to cross over into television and made-for-TV movies. He is also an accomplished musician and plays piano, organ and violin.

Nick Ryan is originally from Charleston, West Virginia. A veteran of the regional theater circuits in North Carolina, he performed roles in numerous styles for more than ten years before returning to school to obtain his master’s degree. He has a passion for both contemporary comedy and Shakespearean classics. Some of his favorite roles have included Horton in “Seussical!,” Jud Fry in “Oklahoma!,” Bazzard in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” and Henry Bolingbroke in “Henry IV.”

Brianne Taylor is from Kansas and holds a BFA in Theatre from Emporia State University. She previously worked as performer and tour manager for The Wichita Children’s Theater Touring Company. Her WVU credits include Varya in “The Cherry Orchard,” Frau Schneider in “Cabaret,” Mistress Quickly in “Henry IV,” Kate in “Seminar,” and Hippolyta in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” After grad school she plans to move to NYC, DC, or Chicago to pursue acting, voice work, and yoga.

Beau Harris is from Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and a minor in Theatre from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He then moved to New Zealand where he appeared in “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” and “Legend of the Seeker.” Other credits include titles such as “Marat/Sade,” “Les Misérables,” “Almost Maine,” “The Arabian Nights,” “The Magic Hourglass,” and “1000 Ways to Die,” among many others.

Kyle Walter is from Maryville, Tennessee, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from East Tennessee State University. He has worked in theatre regionally in Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, as well as in film and commercials. He has also studied extensive stage combat with the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD). His roles at WVU have included Dorante in “The Liar,” Martin in “Seminar,” and Leonardo in “Blood Wedding.”

A reception will be held after each showcase performance for invited industry guests to meet the actors. The receptions also provide an opportunity for WVU alumni to connect with the current students and reconnect with old friends, faculty and colleagues.

Admission is free, but those attending MFA Showcase 2015 should make reservations in advance. For more information, or to make reservations for seating, please contact Professor Jerry McGonigle, director of Graduate Acting in the WVU School of Theatre and Dance, at jerry.mcgonigle@mail.wvu.edu, phone 304-293-6969, or Lee Blair, assistant professor of acting at lee.blair@mail.wvu.edu, phone 304-293-6100.

For more information, including photos and full resumes for each of the MFA students performing in the showcase, see the website at: http://mfashowcase.wvu.edu/

The visit to the Creative Arts Center by Robert Shreve on Friday, Feb. 27, has been cancelled due to the weather. It will be rescheduled.

Shreve is a graduate of the WVU School of Theatre and Dance who is currently corporate vice president for Attractions Development at Herschend Family Entertainment in Atlanta, Georgia. He was scheduled to speak students at the Creative Arts Center about his career in theme park design management, as part of the College of Creative Arts Alumni-in-Residence Series, in which outstanding alumni of the College return to work with students.

Shreve graduated from the School of the School of Theatre and Dance in 1980 with a degree in technical theatre. He has been engaged in theme park design management since 1990, working with project teams at Disney and Universal Studios, as well as at Herschend Family Entertainment.

We will post the rescheduled date for his visit as soon as it is available.

Spend your Valentine’s Weekend with the girls—The Pliant Girls!


WVU School of Theatre & Dance’s LAB Theatre program will present three workshop performances of The Pliant Girls by LA-based playwright Meghan Brown Feb. 13-14 at 7:30pm and Feb. 15 at 2:00pm in the Vivian Davis Michael Laboratory Theatre. Free Admission, but limited seating. Following the opening night performance, Ms. Brown will give a talkback on the show and the LA Theatre scene!


Meghan Brown is a writer and director in Los Angeles. Full-length plays include The Pliant Girls (winner of the 2014 L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Playwriting—Original Play), Trochilidae (Max K. Lerner Fellowship winner, Princess Grace Award semifinalist), Psyche (Princess Grace Award finalist), The Fire Room (Hollywood Fringe Festival Award winner), The Gypsy Machine, This Is Happening Now, and Perfect Teeth for Crocodile Land. Her short plays Jack’s Last Night in Town, Ophelia, and Birds have had multiple productions throughout the U.S. She recently sold the romantic comedy feature Ambrazilica to Senate Productions, and has written, directed, and/or produced over 20 comedic short films.

Meghan has several upcoming projects in line for 2015, including two productions of The Pliant Girls (West Virginia University and Fugitive Kind at the Colony Theater), the libretto for a social justice opera (Operaworks), a production of her new play, What Happened While Hero Was Dead (Fugitive Kind Theater), and a workshop of a commissioned musical about the works of Jane Austen in Washington D.C. (Pallas Theater in association with the Jane Austen Society of North America, full production October 2016). She is currently a semifinalist for the Page 73 Fellowship.

Meghan has been commissioned to write several educational theater projects and has worked as a mentor with Young Storytellers. She is the resident playwright for Fugitive Kind Theater, and contributed frequent culture commentary for The Atlantic Monthly. Published work includes This Is Happening Now (Montag Press) and Twenty-Six (Naissance Press). Her short story Birds was featured in Francesca Lia Block’s Love Magick Anthology (Armory New Media). She lives in Los Angeles, and loves every minute of it.

1. Many of our students are interested in producing new works. Can you tell us a little about the process of getting The Pliant Girls to the stage?

As the Resident Playwright for Fugitive Kind Theatre here in LA, I’m commissioned to write one new play per year, which is a great situation! I knew our director, Amanda McRaven, from previous projects, who is also a colleague of Prof. Jim Knipple (LAB Theatre Program Chair and Visiting Artist for WVU School of Theatre & Dance) and we worked really well together. I was also fortunate to be writing for specific company members, which helped a great deal in the development process. Originally, the story centered around one relationship out of the many pairings that we have now. I wanted to flesh out the storyline in the style of The Suppliants by Aeschylus, and keep that sense of epic scale. I also knew that I wanted to go back and add more scenes for our very talented male actors, who didn’t seem to have enough to do in earlier drafts. The additional scenes really helped explain their side of the very extreme events that occur.

2. Usually Valentine’s Day theatre offerings center around feminist rants and very specific monologues. What is important for audiences to keep in mind about the message of The Pliant Girls?

What was most important to me in developing The Pliant Girls was to show the importance of having compassion for humanity as a whole—it’s not an extremist rant of “men are bad, women are victims.” Gender equality was what I was conscious about throughout the development process, with each character dealing with his or her own uncertainties and complications that would arise throughout their journey. This show is definitely not about painting men solely as villains with women stuck in the roles of damsels in distress. Both the male and female characters make decisions for the good or ill of others. Arriving at some sort of equal playing field was a goal of mine against the backdrop of this very violent Greek myth.

3. Any advice for students who are interested in pursuing work in the LA area?

My suggestion for students would be to hit the ground running and just create, create, create! Take any opportunity that comes along—theatre is a small world, and you never know what opportunity might be waiting around the corner. Take any creative job you can—especially the ones that may not pay at first, it could always lead to another gig, and then another.

Alumni-in-Residence Series: Robert Shreve

Charlene | February 2, 2015

Robert Shreve, a graduate of the WVU School of Theatre and Dance who is currently corporate vice president for Attractions Development at Herschend Family Entertainment in Atlanta, Georgia, will talk to students at the Creative Arts Center about his career in theme park design management, during a visit on Friday, Feb. 27.

The talk is part of the College of Creative Arts Alumni-in-Residence Series, in which outstanding alumni of the College return to work with students. All events are free and open to the public.

Shreve graduated from the School of the School of Theatre and Dance in 1980 with a degree in technical theatre. He has been engaged in theme park design management since 1990, working with project teams at Disney and Universal Studios, as well as at Herschend Family Entertainment.

Prior to designing theme parks, Shreve was deputy commissioner for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, taught technical theater in the WVU School of Theatre and Dance, and worked as a professional theater designer and technician.

His specialties include design management, show development, contracting, scheduling, and more.

During 2007-2008, he managed the conceptual design of a proposed Universal Studios theme park slated for Dubai. Prior to that, he served as executive producer for Universal Creative, the design department for all Universal Parks & Resorts. There he managed staffing, budgeting and development of all Universal products developed during his tenure, including “Revenge of the Mummy,” “Shrek 4D,” and “Universal Studios Shanghai.”

He was also show producer for the Revenge of the Mummy attraction at Universal Orlando. Other shows he produced at University Studios Design and Development include “Isla Nublar “(Jurassic Park) and the attractions The Jurassic Park River Adventure, Camp Jurassic, The Discovery Center and Triceratops Encounter.

In the 1990s he served as SQS coordinator at Walt Disney Imagineering (EPCOT) where he partnered with art director Patrick Brennan and worked with Operations and Technical Services to maintain the overall guest experience at one of Disney’s unique parks.

As show/ride manager for Walt Disney Imagineering, he worked on project teams for Muppets 3D, SciFi Dine-In and Commissary Restaurants, Disney/MGM Studios Europe (Backlot Area), Sunset Blvd. (Disney/MGM Studios Florida), and Tower of Terror (Concept Phase).

His honors and awards include: Golden Ticket Award – Best New Attraction 2012 – “Wild Eagle,” Amusement Business; Golden Ticket Award – Best New Ride 2013 – “Outlaw Run,” Amusement Business; Golden Ticket Award – Best New Waterpark Ride 2013 – “RiverRush,” Amusement Business, THEA Award- Best New Theme Park 1999 (UIOA); THEA Award – Best New Attraction 2005 (Revenge of the Mummy); and Theme Park Insider- Best New Attraction 2007 (Mystery Mine).

For more information his talk, or about the Alumni-in-Residence Series events, contact the College of Creative Arts at 304-293-4359.

Acclaimed dancer and choreographer Adam Barruch is the Masterworks Guest Choreographer for Dance Now! 2015.


Adam Barruch began his career as a young actor, performing professionally on Broadway and in film and television, working with prominent figures such as Tony Bennett, Jerry Herman and Susan Stroman. He later received dance training at LaGuardia High School for Music & Art and Performing Arts. After three years, he graduated early and was accepted into the dance department at The Juilliard School. As a dancer he has performed the works of Jiri Kylian, Ohad Naharin, Susan Marshall, Jose Limon, Daniele Dèsnoyers, and is currently a dancer with Sylvain Émard Danse in Montreal. As a choreographer, Adam’s work has been presented at Dance Theater Workshop, City Center, NYU/ Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, The Juilliard School, The Baryshnikov Arts Center, Joe’s Pub, Ailey-Citigroup Theater, Jacob’s Pillow: Inside/Out, The Cedar Lake Theater, The Harris Theater, The Yard on Martha’s Vineyard, Bates Dance Festival and Theatre Usine C in Montreal. Adam Barruch was selected as a participant in the 2011 Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation New Directions Choreography Lab made possible by generous support from the Ford Foundation. Adam Barruch’s short-film collaboration with filmmaker Nel Shelby, Folie a Deux, was screened at the Dance On Camera Festival in Lincoln Center. He has also created works for companies such as Ailey II, River North Dance Chicago and BalletX. Adam was the recipient of a 2014 Lotos Foundation Prize in the Arts and Sciences, which recognizes institutions and individuals for distinguished accomplishments and exceptional talent in the arts and sciences.

Masterwork Q&A




1. Can you describe your process? What becomes the initial inspiration for your pieces—music, narrative, etc.?

My process always begins with movement phrases that are generated in my body. I like to teach two or three sequences that ingratiate the dancers into my physical patterning. From there, I use several collaborative prompts which help the dancers transform elements of these initial phrases into new material. It’s very important to me to create a language that is intrinsic to the dancers I am working with. How I move doesn’t interest me so much as what the dancers create through my filter or choreographic lens, so to speak. After generating as much I can, it’s all about contextualizing the material. That is the harder part, although when the puzzle is solved it’s quite thrilling. I often give myself rules in order to limit the possibilities of how movement is organized. Since there were eight dancers I thought about the compass, and the eight directions or meridians of space. This helped to divide the stage and help define pathways for the dancers to follow.

2. How did you become involved with WVU’s Dance program?

I was brought to WVU by Prof. General Hambrick and Prof. Yoav Kaddar. General had worked with a dancer, Ahmad Simmons, who now performs with River North Dance Chicago, and it was he who recommended me to General. I’ve created two works on River North and will be headed back to Chicago to create a third this spring.

3. What qualities were you looking for when casting the piece?

I look for dancers who have a natural sense of the way I move, and an emotional connection to their bodies. They may not immediately grasp the complexities of the coordinations perfectly, but I can usually tell very quickly if someone will be able to grasp it. People who are committed to what they do without imposing anything artificial onto the work also catch my eye. Auditions are very hard for me. I always feel like I miss people. As a dancer, I also know how hard it is to pick up choreography and to do it quickly in these settings.

4. What advice can you give to our Dance students as they are moving toward becoming working professionals?

I think the most important thing is to stay hungry and to always keep learning. I also think finding the balance between wanting to go into wild, uncharted territory and giving oneself over to a technique is extremely valuable. Before you can break the rules, you have to know what you are breaking.

Dance Now! is in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre Feb. 5-7! Call (304) 293-SHOW for tickets or visit the CAC Box Office (M-F, 10am-6pm).

Canady Scholarship Winners 2014

Nineteen students studying in the West Virginia University College of Creative Arts have been awarded scholarships from the Valerie Canady Charitable Trust Foundation, one of the most prestigious awards given in the college.

The scholarships are named for Valerie Canady, a Morgantown native and WVU summa cum laude graduate, who was among the 270 people who died in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in Dec. 1988. Canady, who worked for H.J. Heinz Co. in their London office, was an accomplished linguist and artist in different media of expression, especially in piano.

Loulie and William Canady, Valerie’s parents, and long-time residents of the Morgantown community, present the awards annually in December. Loulie Canady is a long-time supporter of the WVU School of Music and Dr. William Canady is professor emeritus of the Department of Biochemistry in the WVU School of Medicine. The Canadys are also the major patrons of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performances at WVU—a series that is named in memory of Valerie.

This year’s Canady scholars include:

Sornsuang Tangsinmonkong, of Thailand, is a doctoral student in piano performance, who won honors in several piano competitions in Bangkok, where she is also a faculty member (currently on leave) at Mahidol University, the largest school of music in Thailand. She has a bachelor’s degree in statistics from Chulalongkorn University, also in Bangkok, and a master’s degree in music performance from Mahidol University. She is fluent in Thai and English and has performed at national and international levels, winning some prestigious honors and awards.

Lucia Zung de Andrade, of Brazil, is an undergraduate student in bassoon performance. She had nearly completed a piano degree in Brazil when an injury to her wrist forced her to switch to the bassoon four years ago. Lucia plays in multiple WVU ensembles, including the WVU Symphony Orchestra and the WVU Wind Symphony. She speaks Portuguese, Spanish and also taught herself English. She previously studied at the Universidade Tecnologica Federal do Parana in Brazil.

Wei Chen (Bruce) Lin, originally of Taiwan, who also spent several years teaching in Vancouver, is currently in his third year of doctoral study in piano performance. He also holds degrees in other schools in the United States and in Canada. He is fluent in Chinese, French and English. He is one of WVU’s outstanding piano performers and is sought after as a teacher for individual lessons.

Tse Wei Chai, of Malaysia, is a doctoral student in piano performance. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Malaysia and a Master of Music from WVU. She is fluent in Malay, Chinese and English. She is a very talented pianist and is also sought after as a teacher for individual lessons. She earned her master’s degree at WVU in 2011, after several years of teaching in Singapore.

Juan Carlos Rios Betancur, of Colombia, is a doctoral student in piano performance. He is fluent in Spanish and English. In addition to his piano studies, Juan works as an assistant to WVU Piano Technician Tim Richards. Juan Carlos studied for years with Blanca Uribe, a prizewinner in the Van Cliburn Competition and probably the most famous teacher in Colombia. Prior to attending WVU, he was a faculty member and staff accompanist at a major university in Medellin, Colombia.

Youna Choi, of Korea, is studying for a doctorate in piano performance. She studied for a master’s degree in Minnesota before coming to WVU. She was the unanimous choice to fill the opera-accompanying assistantship that was vacant at the time of her application to WVU, partly because of her superb audition, and partly because then-opera director Robert Thieme regarded her sight reading to be among the very best he had observed in several decades of teaching. She also studies organ with Dr. William Haller and is fluent in Korean and English.

Bao-Vuong Nguyen, a native of Morgantown, West Virginia, is an undergraduate student in violin performance. He is fluent in Vietnamese, which is his native language, in addition to English. His ultimate career goal is medicine, but he is studying music as an undergrad, while filling his schedule with extra science and “pre-med” courses. He performs in the WVU Symphony Orchestra, where he has quickly become one of the strongest players.

Javier Camacho, of Colombia, is a doctoral student in collaborative piano and is the first recipient of a partial graduate assistantship in choral accompanying. He is an exceptionally strong player, both as a soloist and as a chamber music partner. He had extensive performance experience, both in his native Colombia, and also during his work for a master’s degree at Duquesne University, where he studied with artist-in-residence David Wehr. He is fluent in both Spanish and English.

Tak Chiu Wong, of Hong Kong, is a doctoral student in saxophone performance. He entered WVU with a wealth of professional experience as both a saxophonist and as a teacher. He plays a wide range of styles and has performed in a large number of international venues throughout Asia, Europe and North America. He is a graduate assistant assigned to teaching work in the WVU Saxophone Studio, where he teaches applied lessons to some of the undergraduate student and coaches saxophone quartets. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Wyoming.

Diego Gabete-Rodriguez, of Spain, is a doctoral student in violin performance and concertmaster of the WVU Symphony Orchestra. He holds degrees from Musikene-Centro Superior de Musica del Pais Vasco, Spain, and from Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and Columbus State University in Georgia. He was a winner of the 2014 WVU Young Artists Competition. He competed as a soloist at the national MTNA competition in Chicago in 2014, after being named the winner in the Eastern Division’s “Young Artist Performance” category. He also competed in the competition as a member of the WVU Graduate String Quartet. Last December he performed a recital in Spain for the Argentinian consulate, and he is now working with several music schools in Spain to form a partnership with WVU performing faculty.

Sora Lee, of Korea, received WVU’s first Master of Music degree in collaborative piano in 2011 and is currently studying for a doctorate in collaborative piano, as the first student to enter this exciting new doctoral program. She has eagerly worked with wind, string, voice and other piano students in the School of Music and continues to develop her collaborative playing experiences with the choir and other ensembles. She is fluent in Korean and English and also studies organ with Dr. William Haller.

Kirill Tyulkov, of Russia, is studying for a master’s degree in music education. He is fluent in Russian, English and French. He holds a master’s degree in French and also a law degree from Nizhny Novgorod Linguistics University in Russia and received a degree in music technology from California University in Pennsylvania. He is studying both classical and jazz piano at WVU, with pedagogical work in strings, woodwinds, voice, brass, percussion and conducting, and specialized work in music education in the areas of world music and research. He also teaches in the WVU Community Music Program.

Qian Xu, of Laramie, Wyoming, is a doctoral student in piano performance at WVU. She received a master’s degree from the University of Wyoming and initially applied for a second master’s degree at WVU, but the music faculty encouraged her, on the basis of her lovely audition and her completed master’s degree, to enter the doctoral program instead. She is a graduate student of international standard and chose WVU so that she could study with Dr. Peter Amstutz.

Dipendra Sunam, of Nepal, is a doctoral student in piano, who completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance at Berea College and Northern Arizona University. He has studied with music professionals from around the world, and was keyboardist with a Nepali pop band named Nepathya, which released several professional recordings and toured throughout Nepal. He is fluent in four languages—Nepali, Hindi, Urdu and English.

Brandon Isaac Brown, of Charleston, West Virginia, is an undergraduate studying for a bachelor’s degree in violin. While only a sophomore, he has become an important member of the WVU Symphony Orchestra, due to his talent, hard work and enthusiasm for classical music. He is fluent in German, a language he is continuing to study at WVU. He intends to use the Valerie Canady Charitable Trust Foundation Scholarship to study music in Germany.

Christy Oscar, a native of Indonesia, is studying for a master’s degree in cello performance. She is also an excellent pianist and often plays accompaniments for other students. She came to WVU from Universiti Pelitas Haripan, near Jakarta, where one of her teachers included WVU School of Music graduates Dr. Mario Santoso and Dr. Tomislav Dimov. In 2012, she attended the InterHarmony Festival held in Hinterzarten, Scwarzwald, Germany. She is fluent in three languages: Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese and English.

Jocelyn Lee Jia Yin, of Malaysia and Singapore, is an undergraduate with a double major in violin and piano performance at WVU, where she excels on both instruments and is unusually gifted academically as well. She won the 2014 WVU Young Artist Competition on piano, playing the first movement of the Beethoven “Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37.” She is fluent in English and Mandarin, including the Cantonese and Hokkien dialects. She also currently studies German and Japanese.

Mirim Lee, of Korea, is studying for a doctorate in flute performance and is fluent in three languages, English, Korean and Bulgarian. She was a winner of the 2013 Young Artist Concerto Competition at WVU and plays principal flute in both the WVU Symphony Orchestra and the WVU Chamber Winds. She previously earned a bachelor’s degree in music at one of the top conservatories in Bulgaria and completed a master’s degree in flute performance at WVU last spring. She placed second at the 2013 Alexander & Buono International Flute Competition in New York, and was a semi-finalist at the Israeli Haifa International Flute Competition in 2014, and also at the 2014 International Intermusica Woodwinds Competition in Austria.

Elizabeth Rose Fitzgerald, of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Art History with a minor in French. Her language skills and her understanding of French History will make her a leader during the School of Art and Design’s spring 2015 study-travel course to France, where she, along with other art students and faculty, will live in Paris for nine days, taking excursions to Chartres, Troyes and Bourges to study Medieval stained glass in cathedrals, museums and studios. Lizzy plans to use the Valerie Canady Scholarship award for study abroad.

Caption: William and Loulie Canady (in front) with the 2014 Valerie Canady Charitable Trust Foundation Scholarship winners, from left: Dipendra Sunam, Juan Carlos Betancur; Christy Oscar; Tak Chiu Wong; Javier Camacho; Qian Xu; Sornsuang Tangsinmonkong; Kirill Tyulkov; Lucia Zung de Andrade; Elizabeth Fitzgerald; Wei Chen (Bruce) Lin; Brandon Brown; Tse Wei Chai; Bao-Vuong Nguyen; Jocelyn Lee Jia Yin; Diego Gabete-Rodriguez; Mirim Lee; Youna Choi; and Sora Lee.

“The course of true love never did run smooth” in Shakespeare’s other-worldly comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, coming to the Gladys G. Davis Theatre Nov. 19 & 21 and December 2-7.


The Rude Mechanicals

It’s hard enough to find the right person to love when you don’t have to deal with alternate dimensions of fairies, love potions, upended natural order? and a bunch of amateur actors! Some people are at home in the woods, and others, well, Shakespeare seems to send the most hopeless lovers straight into a dream – or nightmare – of magic on a night where anything can happen in this most inventive of comedies.

Tech rehearsal

A Midsummer Night’s Dream has a special place in my heart,” says director, Jerry McGonigle. “It is a magical and quite often misunderstood play. There is a deep richness that speaks to us in a very human way about the power of our imagination and dreams. It is light, delicate, heavy, and somber all at the same time. Bottom gets it right when he wakes from his night of wild encounters in the forest and resolves to have his friend Peter Quince write a “ballad” of his dream and decides to call it ‘Bottom’s Dream, because it hath no bottom.’ It is in this realm that the play exists in the bottomless world of our subconscious imagination and dreams.”

Midsummer Bottom

Bottom by Prof. Mary McClung

Scenic design for A Midsummer Night’s Dream is by Master of Fine Arts in Design/Tech student Jake Bigelow, and lighting design is by Master of Fine Arts in Design/Tech student Tim Thistleton. Both students are using their designs for their Master’s theses. Costume design is by Professor Mary McClung and sound design is by Professor Alan McEwen.


Lauren Waldron, Ben Brooks, Mya Brown, Katie Boothby, Rachel Moore, and Jerry McGonigle in rehearsal.

WVU School of Theatre and Dance design professors Alan McEwen and Mary McClung have their designs featured in a national theater design journal, for work they did on two plays presented at the Creative Arts Center.

Their designs were selected from hundreds throughout the country to be included in the 2014 United States Institute for Theater Technology (USITT) Theater and Design Technology Journal.

McEwen’s lighting designs for the play “Blood Wedding,” by Fedrico Garcia Lorca are featured, along with McClung’s costume designs for “The Visit” by Friedrich Dürrenmatt. Both plays were presented at the Creative Arts Center in 2012.

Alan McEwen is clinical assistant professor of lighting and sound design at WVU. His previous work experience includes Whitman College, Idaho Repertory Theatre, Mountain State Theatre, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Wyoming Summer Stock Theatre, and The Columbine Players. He has taught in higher education for 20 years, in various duties and capacities, focusing on lighting, sound, stagecraft and contemporary theatre. His lighting and sound credits include musicals, opera, theatre, dance, and performance art in addition to system consulting, design and installation. He received his MFA in lighting from the University of Oregon.

Mary McClung is professor of Costume Design and director of Costuming in the School of Theatre and Dance. She received a BFA in ceramics from Alfred University and an MFA in Costume Design from WVU. McClung has designed costumes, puppets, and sets for theatre, video, and television. She has designed for Disney, Children’s Television Workshop, Universal Studios, Dallas Children’s Theatre, The Idaho Repertory Theatre and The Colorado Shakespeare Festival. She also taught at The University of Dallas in Texas and at Whitman College, in Walla Walla, Washington, where she worked as a guest designer. McClung was awarded The 2002 Dallas Critic’s Award for Costume Design for “The Beggar’s Opera.” Costumes she designed for a WVU dance concert also received a 2010 Design Expo award presented by the USITT.

See Alan and Mary’s designs in the 2014 USITT Journal: http://bit.ly/1pwk0KE

Two women portray young Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, before fame and fortune. One night, the screenplay of Good Will Hunting falls magically from the ceiling. And…go!

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LAB Theatre’s Matt and Ben by Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers, directed by Stephanie Freeman, will be in performance in the Vivian Davis Michael Laboratory Theatre Nov. 14 and 15 at 7:30pm and Nov. 16 at 2:00pm. The show is free and open to the public, though seating is limited.

A darling of the 2002 International New York Fringe Festival and subsequent off-Broadway hit, Matt and Ben was written and performed by its two leading ladies, Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers. Offbeat and quirky, the plot revolves around how Matt and Ben (caricaturized as an uptight preppie and a dumb jock, respectively) deal with a heaven-sent script that is sure to make them famous while trying to maintain their friendship.

Mindy Kaling is best known for her role as Kelly Kapoor and her position as a staff writer on the hit NBC television series, The Office, as well as her own FOX network series, The Mindy Project. Brenda Withers has enjoyed success as a character actor and is also a founding member of Lucid Theater and Harbor Stage Company.

Matt and Ben is directed by third-year Master of Fine Arts in Acting student Stephanie Freeman. Freeman’s directing credits include, a staged reading of Kimberly Akimbo for WVU’s LAB Theatre, Tzu’s Palace and Homecoming at Middle Tennessee State University, and The Pillowman and Angel Street (Assistant Director) at The University of Alabama. Past roles at WVU have included Julia in Lend Me a Tenor and Amanda in The Glass Menagerie.

“This show is not only a blast to work on, but it fits my research area—women in contemporary comedy,” says Freeman. “Also, women in drag put into a farcical situation just screamed LAB show to me! It is our hope that audiences will see a different side to theatre—the laid-back, silly side—and will keep coming back to see more LAB Theatre performances.”


Professor Jim Knipple, Resident Artist and Director of the LAB Theatre Program, has brought some fresh ideas to the table about how students can be involved in creating their own theatre, providing even more creative opportunities within the School of Theatre & Dance.

“It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to see two entertainment icons lampooned by actresses in drag,” says Knipple. “This play is a laugh riot, and we’re so excited to present it as part of the 2014-15 LAB season.”

Matt and Ben stars BA Theatre senior Kathleen Cowan, who is using this performance as her Capstone project, and BFA Acting track sophomore, Kristen Aviles. Lighting/Sound design is by BFA Design/Tech student Daniel Del Busto.