Meet some of the 'Street Scene' Neighbors!

Stephanie | October 18, 2014

‘Street Scene’ produced by the School of Theatre & Dance in conjunction with the School of Music is in tech this weekend! Meet some of the friendly neighbors residing in the Lower East Side apartment building!

The show is in performance Oct. 23-26 in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre!

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Guest Artist, Ryan C. Connelly (Sam Kaplan)

Ryan C. Connelly, tenor, is a 2011 graduate from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Master’s Program. Since that time he has sung with many companies all over the country and the globe, like Kentucky Opera, where he made his professional debut in 2011 as Don Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro, as well as Remendado in Carmen and Njegus in The Merry Widow. Ryan debuted internationally in 2012 singing the role of Florville in the Rossini opera Il Signor Bruschino  with the CCM Spoleto Festival in Spoleto, Italy. In that same year, Ryan was able to perform in the inaugural production of the Queen City Chamber Opera , which included lead roles in their double bill of Mozart’s Bastien und Bastienne  and Der Schauspieldirektor. Ryan recently sang with Virginia Opera for their entire 2013-14 season in the roles of Dr. Cajus in Falstaff, Monostatos in The Magic Flute, and Scaramuccio in Ariadne auf Naxos.


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Caryn Alexis Crozier (Rose Maurrant)

Caryn Alexis Crozier received both her Bachelor of Music degree and her Master of Music degree from Appalachian State University where she was a Concerto-Aria competition finalist. Since that time she has been seen in such roles as Papagena (Die Zauberflote), Belinda (Dido and Aeneas), Die Mutter (Hansel und Gretel), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), and Giannetta (l’Elisir d’Amore). Caryn was involved in an opera outreach program (Quintessential!) that brought opera scenes to local schools, as well as, with an early music ensemble, Collegium Musicum, where she was able to perform as a soloist in Mozart’s Mass in C, Faure’s Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Bach’s Weihnachts-Oratorium, and Handel’s Messiah. She was recently given the opportunity to study Early Anglican Church music at Cambridge University. Caryn is currently pursuing her DMA degree at WVU and is studying with the incredible, Dr. Hope Koehler. Fun fact: She is terrified of clowns and spiders, and once auditioned for a role in O Brother, Where Art Thou.... she had to sing “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” with a Southern accent.


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Faith Snyderman (Anna Maurrant)

Faith Snyderman, a junior Vocal Performance major, Theatre minor from Washington, D.C., is thrilled and honored to be playing the role of Anna Maurrant in her third main stage production here at West Virginia University. Credits also include Gypsy-smuggler in George Bizet’s Carmen and featured female ensemble in Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret. She would like to sincerely thank Bryce Britton and Maestro Cormio for believing in her, pushing her to be the best she can be and for giving her the phenomenal opportunity to play the role of a lifetime in her undergraduate collegiate career. Faith would also like to thank Dr. Hope Koehler, Jackie Merrill, the Artistic Team, the cast, and crew for all of their hard work and encouragement. Lastly, she extends a huge thank you to her friends and family for their unconditional love and support.


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Dallas Wright (Frank Maurrant)

Dallas Wright is a senior bass-baritone studying under Dr. William Koehler. He was last seen as the Speaker in Mozart’s The Magic Flute produced by WVU’s School of Music in the spring of 2014. His opera scene performances include Koko in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado, and Drunken Poet in Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen. Dallas’ Clay Theatre performances include Sailor in WVU’s School of Theatre & Dance production of Cabaret, and as a smuggler and chorus member in Bizet’s opera Carmen. This semester marks his seventh with the University Singers, with whom he has been a soloist. Dallas has also appeared as a soloist with the WVU Steel Band singing the “tro-lo-lo” song.


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Mallory Robson (Mrs. Jones)

Mallory Robson is a sophomore in the Theatre program at West Virginia University, and is pursuing a minor in Vocal Performance. This is her first main stage production, and she’s very excited to be a part of her first operetta. This is also her first time working with a dog on stage, and she’s thrilled that it got to be Warren. She is a member of University Singers, along with many of the other students in the cast. Mallory would like to thank everyone involved in the production of Street Scene for all being wonderfully supportive and caring throughout the entire process of the show. And of course, she would like to thank her parents for being incredibly supportive and loving as always.


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Joe Ryan (Mr. Jones)

Joe Ryan is a sophomore Vocal Performance major at West Virginia University studying with Professor of Voice, Dr. William Koehler. Joe was cast as a freshman in Cabaret, Dance Now!, and The Magic Flute. Joe would like to thank Bryce Britton, Maestro Marcello Cormio, and General Hambrick for making Street Scene possible.


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Margaret Dransfield (May Jones)

Margaret Dransfield is a 20-year-old junior in the BFA acting program. She is thrilled to be back on the Clay stage dancing and providing that ever so necessary comedic relief. She was previously seen in DANCE NOW! 2012 and 2013, Carmen as part of the ensemble, and Cabaret as Fraulein Kost. Margaret has been heavily involved in musical theatre since age 10 but has recently found a love for straight theatre. She would like to thank the School of Theatre and Dance for the ability to thrive in her position at school and her family for always loving and caring for her even when it isn’t easy. -Dreams can NEVER be too big- love and peace-


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Woody Pond (Vincent Jones)

Woody Pond will be playing the role of Vince Jones in the WVU College of Creative Arts’s production of Street Scene. He is a sophomore in the Theater program and this is his first main stage performance at WVU. He has had a blast working on this show with a very talented cast, crew, and director. He would like to thank his parents, sister, friends, and his acting mentors Bill Cornforth and Tim Thompson for supporting him as an actor and a person.


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Warren Koon (Queenie)

Warren Koon is making his stage debut as “Queenie.” He is excited to take on the role of a female dog, and he is not afraid of the challenge it presents. Warren would like thank Mallory for being such a great acting partner and Glen Koon for taking care of him when he’s not on the stage! He hopes you enjoy the show tonight because it’s been a real treat for him to be a part of!

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Rachel C. Taylor (Mrs. Fiorentino)

Rachel C Taylor is a first-year graduate student at West Virginia University. A native of Miamisburg, Ohio, Rachel received her Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from Asbury University, where she was also the Peniston Honor’s winner for Voice. In addition to school performances, Rachel has been involved in community work both chorally as a member of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Chorus and in putting on concerts to benefit charities and senior citizen groups. In 2010, she studied at AIMS in Gratz, Austria. Her most recent opera role at Asbury was YumYum in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado. Rachel is excited to make her WVU debut as Greta Fiorentino in Kurt Weil’s Street Scene.


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Robert Rowley (Mr. Fiorentino)

Robert Rowley, Tenor, is a young artist pursuing his B.M. in Vocal Performance at West Virginia University under the instruction of Dr. Hope Koehler. Originally from Sturgis, Kentucky, Robert first became exposed to performing when he had the opportunity to be a chorister in West Virginia University’s production of Carmen in 2012. Since then Robert has appeared most notably as Monostatos in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Robert has also performed scenes as Alfred in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus and Dr. Caius in Verdi’s Falstaff with WVU Opera Theatre. Robert is excited to bring to life LippovFiorentino, the feisty Italian husband of Greta Fiorentino whose love for her is only matched by his love for ice cream.


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Vincent Pelligrino (Harry Easter/Dick McGann)

Vincent Pelligrino is an actor and musical theatre performer from Detroit, Michigan. This is his third year in the MFA Acting program. Previous shows at WVU include The Cherry Orchard, Cabaret and Henry IV. Professionally he’s worked with The Crown Uptown Dinner Theatre, The National Theatre for Children and Shakespeare in Detroit. He is looking forward to a career as theatre practitioner, teaching and performing.


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Madilyn Carothers (Mrs. Hildebrand)

Madilyn Carothers is so excited to be a part of such an exciting production! Madilyn is a sophomore Vocal Performance major with a Theater minor. She has always been heavily involved in music and theater and is definitely not a stranger to the stage. She has participated in multiple musicals including Once on this Island, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, and 42nd Street. But this is one of her first main stage productions with West Virginia University, with the exception of last semesters production of The Magic Flute as a chorus member. Madilyn is ecstatic to share with the audience the intense and hectic atmosphere that Street Scene provides. Welcome to the street, you might be able to take my place! Charlie!


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Janine Ernsting (Jennie Hildebrand)

Janine Ernsting is a junior Vocal Performance major at West Virginia University. This year, Janine will also be performing the role of Silverpael in an excerpt of Mozart’s The Impressario presented by the WVU Opera Theatre. In previous years, Janine has played the role of a Cigarette Girl in Bizet’s Carmen, Clorinda in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, and First Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. She is a member of the University Singers and is currently the Secretary of the WVU Student Chapter of American Choral Director’s Association. Janine competed in the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition and won first place two years in a row; she plans on competing again this fall. Finally, Janine would like to thank her parents, colleagues, mentors, and voice teacher, Dr. Hope Koehler, for believing in her and supporting her every step of the way. Janine cannot wait to see what her future has to offer.


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Meg Baker (Mrs. Olson)

Meg Baker is excited to play her first operatic role as Olga Olsen in Street Scene. Meg performed in the ensemble as a Cigarette Girl in WVU’s production of Carmen in 2013. She graduated as an Industrial Engineer from WVU last spring, and is returning to complete her second degree in Multidisciplinary Studies. The MDS degree combines three minors, so Meg currently studies Vocal Performance, Theater, and Music Technology minors. As part of her capstone project, she is the acting dramaturge for this production of Street Scene. Meg would like to thank her parents and her friends for letting her follow her crazy dreams, and supporting her even when it doesn’t make any sense.


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John T.K. Scherch (Mr. Olson)

John T.K. Scherch, bass, is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and in his final year of Vocal Performance studies at WVU. In Street Scene, he will be portraying Swedish neighbor Carl Olsen, his second full role in a WVU opera production. Other roles he has portrayed are Prince Gremin and Zaretsky in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at the Russian Opera Workshop, coached by faculty of Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts, and Sarastro in WVU’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. T.K. has also done scene work in a variety of roles, and can be seen in an upcoming performance as Sparafucile from Verdi’s Rigoletto and Don Alfonso from Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. He is also the director of the classical music show on U92-FM, WVU’s college radio station, and regularly features WVU students and faculty on air.


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Steven Michael Patrick (Mr. Buchanan)

Steven Michael Patrick – Tenor, is in his fourth year of study at West Virginia University. He currently studies with Dr.Nicholas Perna. He spent last fall in Edinburgh, Scotland where he attended The University of Edinburgh Napier. While there he worked with Taylor Wilson of the Scottish National Opera. He is excited to be performing the role of Daniel Buchanan. His past performances with the WVU Opera Theatre include Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Monostatos) and Bizet’s Carmen.


Alec

Alec Tincher (Officer Murphy)

Alec Tincher is a junior Vocal Performance Studies major studying under Dr. William Koehler.
He is currently working on a scene from Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief in opera theatre. This past summer he performed Missa Criolla with the University of Rome and the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Rome, Italy. He is the former keyboardist for the group The Corey Brooks Band which won album of the year and vocal group of the year at 2013’s Artist Music Guild Heritage Awards in Charlotte, North Carolina This is his first major production.

As part of the College of Creative Arts Alumni-in-Residence Series, noted alumni Sandy Bainum and Mark Phillips will return to the CAC in October to work with students. All of the events are also free and open to the public.

Friday, October 24: Sandy Bainum

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Actor, singer and dancer Sandy Bainum is the total modern day performer. From standards to contemporary hits to special material, she connects with a wide range of musical generations and genres – a truly eclectic and exciting theater and cabaret artist.

Sandy, who graduated from the WVU School of Music with a bachelor’s degree in 1982, is a classically trained coloratura soprano and dancer. She made the leap from small town Pennsylvania to Broadway when she was hired for the chorus of David Merrick’s legendary production of “42nd Street,” first in the National Tour and then on Broadway, in the plum rule of Annie. Now living in Washington, D.C., Sandy regularly appears in Washington’s top theatrical venues in plays and musicals for which she’s garnered excellent reviews, plus several nominations and awards. Sandy also performs her terrific one-woman cabaret shows in major venues in D.C., New York and Los Angeles. See her website at http://sandybainum.com.

Sandy will talk with students and faculty about her career experiences.

Saturday, October 25: Mark Phillips

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Mark Phillips is Professor of Composition, Electronic Music and Theory at Ohio University, where he was named a Distinguished Professor in 2007. An internationally known composer, his musical creations have been honored for their high level of craftsmanship, technical mastery and intellectual depth.

Phillips, who grew up in Parkersburg, W.Va., received a bachelor’s degree in composition, electronic music and theory (with a minor in trombone) from WVU in 1974, and master’s and doctoral degrees in music from Indiana University. His many prestigious awards include the Barlow International Prize for Orchestral Music, which led to collaborations with conductor Leonard Slatkin. Following a national competition, Pi Kappa Lambda commissioned him to compose a work for their 2006 national conference in San Antonio. His music has received dozens of orchestra performances by groups such as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra, and has been recorded by Richard Stoltzman and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lark Quartet, and several solo artists. See his website at http://www.coolvillemusic.com.

Mark will present a forum for music students at the Creative Arts Center on Saturday afternoon. That evening, there will be a New Music Concert at 8:15 pm that will feature two of his compositions: “T-Rex” for Trombone and electronic playback, and “Porch Music” for violin, cello, and marimba. The concert will be held in the Bloch Learning and Performance Hall (200A).

The College of Creative Arts is pleased to announce its success during the “State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University,” the comprehensive capital campaign conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of WVU. Thanks to the generosity of alumni, faculty, and friends, the College of Creative Arts has exceeded its initial fundraising goal of $13,500,000 by more than $2 million!

“On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students of the College of Creative Arts, I express thanks and appreciation to donors and friends who continue to invest in the arts and arts education. We will be excellent stewards of your generosity,” said Dean Paul Kreider.

• During 2013-2014, the College of Creative Arts received $1,632,490 in new pledges, new planned gift expectancies, and gifts not fulfilling pledges.
• The College also received $1,479,107 in cash and in-kind gifts.
• Donors contributed $326,261 through the College’s annual fund program, slightly up from the 2012-2013 annual fund total of $323,167. The reason for this increase was enhanced participation by the alumni and friends, with 1,511 donors this year, versus 1,401 last year.
• A total of 2,167 gifts were received from this year’s donors – an increase of 229 gifts from last year’s total of 1,938.
• Donors also made several significant gifts during the past year, including beautiful Steinway pianos that will enrich the experiences of students and faculty.
• A new musical theatre scholarship was endowed, research activities of faculty in the School of Art and Design were supported robustly, and the Mountaineer Marching Band was able to perform in Oklahoma and at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore due to gifts to the Pride Travel Fund.
• Endowed scholarships in music performance and collaborative piano were founded, and a future fund will support art education programs for middle and high school students.
• A fund was established to assist College of Creative Arts students to travel domestically and internationally for study, research, and performance activities, and the Dean’s Honors Scholars Program was initiated.
• An endowment was created to enable the Art Museum of WVU to acquire works by renowned international photographers.
• Last, but not least, many donors have supported the nearly completed Art Museum of WVU, which will greatly expand cultural and educational opportunities for the citizens of the region.

WVU Foundation and University officials have announced that the “State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University” has been so successful that it exceeded its $750 million goal more than a year before the original deadline. The Campaign is now scheduled to continue through 2017, with a new goal of $1 billion.

Because many pressing needs remain to be met in the College of Creative Arts, our faculty and staff will not diminish their efforts to advance the College’s mission during the remainder of the comprehensive campaign.

“Due to the fact that the college has exceeded its campaign goal and that the campaign has been extended for two years, the college will quickly review it fundraising priorities while considering a new goal for the State of Minds Campaign,” state Dean Kreider. “The College is grateful to donors, alumni and friends for their gracious support and for their continuous and future generosity.”

Street Scene in Production

Stephanie | October 5, 2014

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We’re switching gears from a small-cast, contemporary comedy to a large-scale operetta in conjunction with the School of Music! Street Scene, the acclaimed American opera by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Langston Hughes and book by Elmer Rice, based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, is coming to the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre Oct. 23-26!

From the shadow of a tenement building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 1940s, residents cope with the heat and fill their days with gossip and plenty of squabbles. Amidst the hubbub of this community, Anna Maurrant is a discontented housewife while her daughter, Rose, is finding romance with the boy next door. As tensions build between neighbors and families alike, this beautiful tragedy showcases how little we can truly know about people behind closed doors—until it is too late. From beautiful arias to classic Broadway-style show tunes, Street Scene creates a portrait of a not-too-distant American past.

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“Ice Cream Sextet” in rehearsal

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“Moon-Faced, Starry-Eyed” in rehearsal

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Act 1 Rehearsal

Meet Our New Faculty Members!

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Professor Bryce Britton, Director

Britton’s extensive professional credits include Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre,
ACT, Village Theatre, Lyric Theatre and Contemporary American Theatre Festival. With a passion for OriginalTheatre, he has worked on numerous new works with the Village Originals Festival and the Seaberry Quinn Playwriting Festival. He is a recipient of the 2009 Milo Cline Award in Athens, Ohio, based on service and support to the community and given by a summer theater program Britton managed there.

Some of his favorite directorial credits include Dana Lynn Formby’s The Small of Her Back,
Wonder of the World, West Side Story, Pippin, Into the Woods, and The Grapes of Wrath. Britton recently directed Monty Python’s hilarious musical Spamalot and Sara Ruhl’s haunting retelling of the Orpheus tale, Eurydice, in the Seattle area.

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Maestro Marcello Cormio, Musical Director

Mr. Cormio has appeared with orchestras around the United States and Europe, including the San Antonio Symphony, the Orchestra della Società dei Concerti di Bari, the Bacau Symphony, the Orchestra Sinfonica del Conservatorio di Bari, the Bay View festival, and the collegiate festival orchestra at Georgia All-State. He has also led the different orchestras of the Indiana University School of Music and the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra in several performances. He recently had his conducting debut in China, performing at the head of the University of Kentucky Symphony in concert halls in Hangzhou, Tianjin, and at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Beijing.

In recent years, Mr. Cormio has been regularly invited as guest lecturer and conductor for opera
workshops at prestigious academic institutions, such as the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music in New York; this summer he was on the faculty of the Opera Studio do Recifemaster class in Brazil.

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We have settled on an audition date for the newly created Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre over here in the School of Theatre & Dance!

Thursday, October 16th from 4pm to 7pm in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre

Given that we are the only BFA in Musical Theatre program in West Virginia, the word is spreading like wildfire and we are so excited by the amount of students interested! If you love musicals and want to find out more information about what WVU offers, contact Professor Bryce Britton at bpbritton@mail.wvu.edu or call him at 304-293-6981.

Please prepare the following –
• Two contrasting songs that show both your acting and vocal range.
o One should be up tempo – modern or contemporary.
o One should be a ballad, character driven “choice” song.
• Also, prepare a classical monologue from a play prior to 1900.
• Your entire audition package should be between 4 and 5 minutes total.
• An accompanist will be provided. Please have appropriate sheet music in your key.

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You will need to sign up for an audition slot.

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Meet the ‘Seminar’ Team!

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Is there a dark side to achieving artistic greatness or is that dark side merely just the brutal truth? WVU School of Theatre & Dance opens the 2014-2015 season with Theresa Rebeck’s biting play, Seminar, in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre, Sept. 26-Oct. 5.

In this bristly comedy, four young writers gather in an Upper West Side apartment to attend a high-priced seminar on fiction writing led by an acerbic and unorthodox literary giant named Leonard. He’s not your Mr. Keating from “Dead Poets Society” sort of inspirational teacher. Leonard is brutally and shockingly honest; a fact that actually might cause transformation. As egos clash with sexual politics, agendas change and shift, and their debates become more personal than professional, which writer will end up on top?

Professor Lee Blair, Director

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Lee Blair is an actor, director and teacher who has been with West Virginia University since 2006. Teaching undergraduate and graduate acting, his work in the classroom is Stanislavski-based training with emphases in comedy, musical theatre and audition techniques. Lee has also served as Program Director of Undergraduate Acting for the past four years.

As a director for the School of Theatre & Dance, Lee has helmed past productions such as Cabaret, Lend Me a Tenor, The Crucible, Guys and Dolls, Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teen-Age Blockhead, The World Goes ‘Round, and Urinetown: The Musical. He has directed productions such as Sugar Bean Sisters, The Heidi Chronicles and Putting It Together for theatres including Greenbrier Valley Theatre, St. John’s University/College of Saint Benedict and Mountain State Repertory Theatre. From 2018-2012 and 2014, Lee has been the production director for Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts. His most recent work with TN GSFTA was his adaptation of three Shakespearean comedies into one entitled As You Like the Comedy of Twelfth Night Errors.

A 1995 graduate of the University of Florida with a Master of Fine Arts in Acting, Lee’s career as an actor has included professional works off and off-off Broadway as well as regionally for the Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, the New York International Fringe Festival, Emelin Theatre, Hippodrome State Theatre, Alhambra Dinner Theatre, Greenbrier Valley Theatre and West Virginia Public Theatre. A member of Actors’ Equity Association since 1996, Lee also served in 2005 as a business representative for Developing Theatre in AEA’s Eastern Division.
A native of Tennessee, Lee also has a B.S. in Radio-Television Production with an emphasis in Broadcast Journalism from Middle Tennessee State University.

Stage Manager, Mari Smith

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Mari Smith is a junior BFA Theatre Design/Tech student. She has no emphasis yet, but has dabbled in things such as stage management and lighting design. Most recently, she was the stage manager for Dance Now 2014 which had around 75-100 people involved (or at least that’s how many people were on her email list at the end of the day). Needless to say, she is tremendously excited to scale back this semester. She would like to thank her twin sister Reva, her brother Skip, and the rest of her family, friends, and family friends for their never-ending love and support. She also wishes the best of luck to everyone involved with the show.

Asst. Stage Manager, Emily Stafford

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Emily Stafford is a recent transfer student from Troy University. She spent her past two years at Troy as a Vocal/Choral Music Education Major, but made the transition to stage management in her second year there. She is now a proud full time Theatre Major at West Virginia University. Emily’s previous shows in management include: Hansel and Gretel (the opera), Amahl and The Night Visitors (the children’s opera), and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She plans to pursue and continue her career path in theatrical stage management. Along with fellow ASM Kelsey Musselman, Emily’s tasks as ASM for Seminar include line notes, set prep for rehearsals and for performances she is backstage on headset, ready to assist actors and crew members. Students who are interested in stage management positions for the School of Theatre & Dance should contact Professor Steven Neunschwander, steven.neuenschwander@mail.wvu.edu.

Joe Dotts, Scenic Designer

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Joe Dotts is a senior BFA Theatre Design and Technology student emphasizing in scene design at West Virginia University. Seminar marks Joe’s first scenic design for the WVU mainstage season, and his first fully produced scene design ever. During the past two seasons, Joe has worked as an assistant scenic designer to Professor Robert Klingelhoefer on the shows The Liar and Lend Me a Tenor. Additionally his work as a properties master and artisan has been seen in the WVU productions of Cabaret, The Cherry Orchard, The Shape of Things, Carmen, and The Visit, as well as on both the East and West coasts at New York Stage and Film in Poughkeepsie, New York, and at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, California.”

Professor Alan McEwen, Lighting/Sound Designer

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Alan McEwen joined the School of Theatre and Dance in 2008. Previous work experience includes Whitman College, Idaho Repertory Theatre, Mountain State Theatre, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Wyoming Summer Stock Theatre, and The Columbine Players. Alan has taught in higher education for 20 years, in various duties and capacities, focusing on lighting, sound, stagecraft, and contemporary theatre. Lighting and sound credits include musicals, opera, theatre, dance, and performance art in addition to system consulting, design and installation. Alan received his MFA in lighting from the University of Oregon and is a member of USITT.

Professor Mary McClung, Costume Designer

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Professor McClung has designed costumes, puppets, and sets for theatre, video, and television. Companies include Disney, Children’s Television Workshop, Universal Studios, Dallas Children’s Theatre, The Idaho Repertory Theatre and The Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

Design credits include: As You Like It, The Dining Room, Twelfth Night, The Tempest,_ A Midsummer Night’s Dream_, The Life of Insects, The Beggar’s Opera, Henry IV part I and II, Great God Brown, The Seagull, Three Sisters, Sesamo Barrio (Sesame Street, Spain), The Long Christmas Ride Home, The Big Friendly Giant, and Tartuffe. Designs while at WVU: Guys and Dolls, Jekyll and Hyde, Caucasian Chalk Circle, Dracula, Another Part of the Forest, Hamlet, The World Goes Round, and 4 dance concerts.

McClung has also taught at The University of Dallas, (Dallas, Texas) and Whitman College, (Walla Walla, Washington) where she also worked as a guest designer. McClung was awarded The 2002 Dallas Critic’s Award for Costume Design for The Beggar’s Opera.

Brianne Taylor (Kate)

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Brianne Taylor is a graduate student on the MFA Acting track at West Virginia University. In the last couple of years here she’s been seen in Henry IV, Cabaret, The Cherry Orchard, and Blood Wedding. When she’s not in the Creative Arts Center working on her studies, she enjoys singing in the St. John’s Choir, running or biking on the rail trail, reading-reading-reading, and spending quality time with her husband. Kate is her thesis role for her degree studies and she would like to thank her parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers over the years, and husband for their unconditional love and support in her craft – without their words of encouragement over the last 10 years, she could not have gotten to where she is today!

Kyle Walter (Martin)

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Kyle Walter is a first year graduate student in the MFA Acting program here at West Virginia University. Kyle attended East Tennessee State University for his B.A. in Theatre. Kyle has worked in theatres around the region including Seaside Repertory Theatre in Seaside, Florida, Unto These Hills in Cherokee, North Carolina and Trail of the Lonesome Pine in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Some of Kyle’s favorite roles include Clown 2 in 39 Steps, Oedipus in Oedipus Rex, Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Will Masters in Bus Stop. Kyle is also certified in unarmed combat with the Society of American Fight Directors, as well as extensive training in rapier and broadsword. In his spare time, Kyle thoroughly enjoys bowling, billiards, fishing, darts and playing the guitar. He would like to thank Roger, Jerry and
the rest of the staff here at WVU as well as the cast, crew, his friends and his parents for their support.

Aneesa Neibauer (Izzy)

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Aneesa Neibauer is excited to be performing in her first main stage production at WVU. Last year she performed in the LAB Theatre productions of Sunday on the Rocks, American Buffalo, the graduate student project, The Colored Museum and the Advanced Directing production of Sunshine. She has also worked with several theatres in the central Pennsylvania area including Open Stage of Harrisburg, Gamut Theatre Group, Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg, and Hershey Area Playhouse. Be sure to check her out in A Midsummer Night’s Dream later this semester at WVU!

Bryan Staggers (Douglas)

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Bryan is a senior in the BFA Acting Program here at WVU. His previous roles include Jim in The Glass Menagerie, Cliff in Cabaret, and the Homeless Man in The Cherry Orchard. Thanks go out to Lee, the entire cast and crew, and all of his family and friends in the audience. Enjoy the show.

Nick Ryan (Leonard)

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Nick Ryan is a graduate student in Performance in Theater here at West Virginia University. Since arriving on campus, he has participated in Lend Me a Tenor, The Cherry Orchard, God of Carnage, The Liar, Henry IV, and is extremely pleased to be part of Seminar for his thesis performance here at West Virginia University. Theresa Rebeck continues to write some of the most exciting contemporary plays available, and Nick is thankful for the opportunity. Other favorite roles have included Bazzard in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Jud Fry in Oklahoma! _and Horton in _Seussical!. He would like to thank his wonderful girlfriend and family for all of their support.

Seven new faculty members have joined the WVU College of Creative Arts this fall, in the areas of musical theatre, art education, music history, costume technology, interactive media, painting, and music theory and composition.

The new faculty members are: School of Art and Design—Terese Giobbia, assistant professor of art and coordinator of art education; Jeffrey Moser, assistant professor of interactive media design, and Amy Schissel, assistant professor of painting; School of Music: Evan MacCarthy, assistant professor of music history, and Joseph Dangerfield, assistant professor of music theory and composition; School of Theatre and Dance: Bryce Britton, assistant professor of theatre and director of musical theatre, and Andrea Washington-Brown, clinical assistant professor of costuming.

“We are pleased to have such talented and experienced faculty joining the College of Creative Arts,” said Dean Paul Kreider. “I was impressed with these candidates and I am so pleased they have chosen to become members of the College of Creative Arts family.”


Theresa Giobbia photo


Terese Giobbia received a Master’s degree and a doctorate in Art Education from Northern Illinois University and also earned a Bachelor’s degree in Art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education. Her dissertation topic examined design education in the K-12 classroom and explored how the teaching practice of secondary school design educators can be enhanced by understanding the professional practices of fashion design professionals. Prior to joining WVU, Giobbia taught art education classes at Northern Illinois University and supervised pre-service art teachers. She has extensive experience teaching fine and applied arts in the K-12 classroom. Her research interests include design and technology education in secondary school curriculum; fashion as public art; and the hybrid identity of American youth as seen through their clothing. She has presented on these topics at numerous international and national conferences and is currently publishing a book on incorporating fashion into the K-21 art curricula.


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A recent graduate of the University of Delaware, Jeffrey Moser is a digital media artist working with the transmediation of culture taking place during the 21st century, when every scrap of analogue information, sound recording, photograph, and motion picture ascends from its physical form and is preserved in simulated perfection. His work celebrates this transmediation, while warning against its inevitable consequences—the loss of disintegrating or disappearing cultural history. Moser is influenced by the research of former Boston University film professor, Dr. Robert Steele (1918–1981) and his studies on light rhythms in films. Moser holds undergraduate degrees in Graphic Design and Philosophy, and has most recently taught in Omaha, Nebraska. His video work has been screened in Savannah, Georgia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Wilmington, Delaware; Providence, Rhode Island; and Zegreb, Croatia, as well as being presented at the National Gallery of Art as part of the 32nd Black Maria Film Festival.


Amy Schissel PHoto


Amy Schissel completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2002 from the University of Ottawa and her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Ottawa in 2009. Her work negotiates hybrid moments where paint and modes of digital representation collide, giving rise to contemporary imagery that flips between abstraction and representation. She was a finalist in the 2011 RBC Canadian Painting Competition and her work can be found in the collections of the Canada Council Art Bank, the Department of Foreign Affairs Canada, the City of Ottawa, the Free University of Brussels, Belgium, and the Gotland Museum of Fine Arts, Sweden, in addition to numerous private international collections. She was Canada’s 2009 recipient of the Brucebo Fine Arts Award, and Ottawa’s 2013 RBC Emerging Artist Award. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally.


EvanMacCarthy


Evan MacCarthy received an A.B. in Classics and music from the College of the Holy Cross, and a doctorate in historical musicology from Harvard University. His research focuses on the history of 15th-century music and music theory, late medieval chant, German music in the Baroque era, and late 19th-century American music. He is writing a book on the intersections of music, pedagogy, and the revival of classical literature across the Italian peninsula in the 15th century, focusing on the different spheres of humanistic and scholastic learning at Italian courts, cathedrals, and universities. He is also producing an edition and first-ever translation of Ugolino of Orvieto’s “Declaratio musice discipline” (written c. 1435) for Brepols Press. He has served on the music faculties of Harvard University (where he was the Harvard College Fellow in music from 2010 to 2012), College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Boston University.


Joseph Dangerfield photo


Joseph Dangerfield has lived and worked professionally in Germany, Russia, Holland and New York. He began his composition studies at Marshall University, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1999. He completed his master’s degree at Bowling Green State University, and received a doctorate in 2005 from the University of Iowa. He is the recipient of many awards and recognitions, including the Aaron Copland Award (2010), the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra’s Composition Prize (2010), the Henry and Parker Pelzer Prize for Excellence in Composition (2005), the Young and Emerging Composers Award (2002), and ASCAP Standard Awards. He was a Fulbright Scholar to the Russian Federation and the Netherlands (2009-2010), where he served as composer-in-residence with the Ensemble Studio New Music at the famed Moscow Conservatory, and lectured at Maastricht Conservatorium. He has been a resident in the Leighton Studios of the prestigious Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, and the Yaddo Colony in New York.


Bryce Britton


Bryce Britton received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Direction from Ohio University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Directing from the University of Puget Sound. His extensive professional credits include Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT, Village Theatre, Lyric Theatre and Contemporary American Theatre Festival. With a passion for Original Theatre, he has worked on numerous new works with the Village Originals Festival and the Seaberry Quinn Playwriting Festival. He was the recipient of the 2009 Milo Cline Award. Some of his favorite directorial credits include “West Side Story,” “Pippin,” ” Into the Woods,” “Extremities,” “Sleuth,” The Dumb Waiter, “The Grapes of Wrath,” Humperdinck’s opera version of “Hansel and Gretel,” “An Actor’s Nightmare,” “Sweet Charity,” and “Oklahoma!” He wrote and directed an original adaptation of John Webster’s classic “The Duchess of Malfi” and recently directed Monty Python’s hilarious musical “Spamalot” and Sara Ruhl’s haunting retelling of the Orpheus tale, “Eurydice.”


Andrea Washington Brown


Andrea Washington-Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Memphis and a Master of Fine Arts from Wayne State University. She has designed many costumes for the Bowling Green State University Theatre Department, Wayne State Theatre Department and Princeton University’s BAC Drama. She received the KCACTF XLII, Region III, 2010 Merit Award for “The Dancing Blanket” from the BGSU Theatre production of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” Photographs of her work for the WSU production of “The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God” have been published in “The Enjoyment of Theatre, Seventh Edition.” Recent designs credits include Swine Palace’s “Shapeshifter” and “King Lear” and LSU Theatre Mainstage’s “Our Lady of 121st Street.” She is a frequent guest costume designer for the eta Creative Arts Foundation in Chicago, Illinois.

NYMF Opening Party
NYMF Opening Party

Matt Webster and Taylor Ferrera have been best friends since they were students in the School of Theatre and Dance at WVU and—after graduating less than four years ago—they both moved to New York City, ready to take a bite out of the big apple.

And did they ever!

Both have achieved tremendous success individually in a short time, and now, a show they co-wrote, titled “Propaganda! The Musical” has been selected for the prestigious New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), the largest annual musical theater festival in America. The show opens July 23 and will run through July 27 at PTC Performance Space, 555 West 42nd St., in the heart of New York City’s Theatre District.

This world premiere is directed by Nathan Brewer and the cast of ten also includes MaryJoanna Grisso, a Morgantown native who graduated from the School of Music in 2011, (who just came off a national tour of “West Side Story” as Maria), as well as other actors and singers who have performed on Broadway, Off Broadway, or toured nationally with various shows.

“Propaganda! The Musical” is the story of a somewhat ignorant young man who takes over his family’s business and soon finds out that it is full of secrets. Now it’s up to him to cover up the biggest scandal since Watergate! Armed only with a clever idea, he must also fight off the evil mastermind—Agent X—and save the world from certain doom.

Add to that an energetic, catchy score and maybe even a tap dancing president (rumors are that it is Richard M. Nixon), and the result is a show that provides lots of fun for the audience.

To hear some songs from the show, go to this link on the NYMF website and click “music and video.”

The partners have been working on the musical for the past three years, constantly revising it, writing new songs, and performing it in workshops. On March 25 of this year, when the “Propaganda! The Musical” had its premiere reading in New York City, people were standing in the back and sitting on the floor for a chance to see it.

The Dream Team
The Dream Team

Both Taylor and Matt have been performing since they were young children, Matt since he was five years old and Taylor since she was three.

“I was one of the twins in the musical “The King and I,” said Matt, who is from Martin’s Ferry, Ohio. “My mom took me to the audition and I caught the bug. I did a show pretty much every year of my life after that.”

Taylor, a native of Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, got her start when she played the head orphan in the musical “Oliver” at her brother’s elementary school. “My mom runs a children’s theater company, so I was lucky enough to be involved in theater my whole life.”

The two met at WVU during the fall of 2008 when they did the show “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” together and they often played music together in the practice rooms at the Creative Arts Center.

“The Creative Arts Center really cultivates an environment that inspires personal creativity,” Taylor said. “Matt and I played music with other students in the practice rooms and that’s when Matt began pushing me to take songwriting seriously.”

They also got to be in a lot of shows, including six main stage productions each year and multiple laboratory theater shows.

Both were also in “Urinetown: The Musical” at WVU, which inspired them as actors and as writers. In that Tony Award-winning show, there is a terrible water shortage and public toilets are controlled by giant corporations. Matt and Taylor were part of a cast of rebellious characters who break into song as they demand free access for the people and are chased by police through the sewers!

It was shortly after this experience that Matt started writing his first musical, “Kingdom Come,” while still a student at WVU. Told through singing and dancing, monologues and scenes, the show features 14 stories, all centered on the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Kingdom Come” was performed in Morgantown and other places before it went on to win Best Musical of 2012 at the prestigious Downtown Urban Theatre Festival in New York. Since then, it has been featured by the New York Theatre Barn and had a three-night, sold-out run at the Secret Theatre in Long Island City.

Taylor was one of the stars of that show. “I loved being part of Matt’s original musical, “Kingdom Come,” which was the first time I was really involved in an original musical like that,” she said.”

Taylor Ferrera
Taylor Ferrera

Taylor received a BFA in acting from WVU in 2010 and has been in New York for three years. In that short time, she has attained a worldwide audience on YouTube. (See her YouTube videos here: http://www.taylorferrera.net/videos.html and her website: http://www.TaylorFerreraMusic.com.) She has been featured in the Huffington Post, on NBC, and various radio shows across the country for her songwriting.

In addition to acting, she writes songs for individuals, campaigns, and companies and also writes sketches and short plays. “Propaganda! The Musical” is the first time she has delved into the world of musical theater writing.

“After graduating and doing summer stock with Matt, I moved to New York with another friend from WVU,” she said. “I’d been to New York plenty of times, but that never prepared me to live here. The first year was full of figuring out how to make it in the city.

“That was also when I first came up with the idea for ‘Propaganda! The Musical,’ while at an audition. It was an open call and I was bored while I was waiting and wrote a song in my head. I wrote down the lyrics and the title and immediately went to Matt with the idea.”

Matt Webster
Matt Webster

By that time, Matt, who graduated in 2011, was also in New York, where he has been in the Off-Broadway Alliance Award-winning family show, “StinkyKids the Musical”; “The Curious Quest of Benjamin Bunny” with Connecticut Children’s Theatre, a member of the Rescue Agreement Theatre Company, and a show host on TvTalk. See Matt’s website: http://www.theothermattwebster.com.

In November 2013, he joined the Broadway national tour of “West Side Story,” performing the role of Gladhand for nine months as the show traveled around the country, with his fiancée, MaryJoanna Grisso, as Maria. (See MaryJoanna’s website: http://maryjoannagrisso.com.)

“Taylor approached me with the idea for ‘Propaganda, the Musical,” he said. “I loved it and the collaboration began.”

Out of the song, lyrics, and title that Taylor came up with originally, the title is the only thing that has survived the past three years of revision.

“We have been constantly working on music, working on lyrics, working on the book, changing things around, making edits, cutting things, and adding things to flesh out the show and make it more fun and more awesome,” Matt said.

Back in 2012, when Matt and Taylor took their musical to Orlando, Florida, to workshop it, WVU reporters caught up with them, and produced this video about the budding playwrights: WVU video.

Along the way, Matt and Taylor have received support from many friends, as well as their WVU family.

“We have been lucky to have a great group of friends from WVU,” Taylor said. “Even if we fall out of touch, whenever support is needed, they are always there. “The WVU/NJ Alumni Chapter has also reached out to us and has been very generous and supportive.”

Their goal now is to use the New York Musical Theatre Festival as a springboard for the show, since the festival has established itself as an unparalleled launching pad for new musicals.

“We hope we can continue to work on the show and get a commercial run,” Matt said. “That’s the dream. To continue to work, collaborate and move forward.”

They both hope to have future lives where they continue doing what they love.

“I don’t’ think I’ll ever stop wanting this show to be produced,” Taylor said.

“In the meantime, I’m willing to serve shrimp in Times Square so I can write and produce new musicals in my free time!”

Matt, Taylor and Dan Simpson, the lead in 'Propaganda! The Musical'
Matt and Taylor with Dan Simpson, who plays the lead character in the musical.

Propaganda! The Musical” is being staged at PTC Performance Space, 555 West 42nd Street (between 9th & 10th Avenues) in New York City for five performances during July 23-27.

The schedule includes: Wednesday, July 23 at 8 p.m.; Thursday, July 24 at 1 p.m.; Friday, July 25 at 9 p.m.; Saturday, July 26th at 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, July 27 at noon.

For more information about “Propaganda! The Musical” and the New York Musical Theatre Festival, see the festival website.

Matt and Taylor are still raising funds for the show. Anyone interested in contributing can visit http://www.PropagandaTheMusical.com and click “donate” in the top right corner.

Also, see them on Twitter: @PropTheMusical, Instagram: @PropTheMusical, and Facebook.com/PropagandaTheMusical.

Anna Justice photo

Anna Justice has joined the WVU College of Creative Arts as the new director of development. She was previously a development officer at Loyola University New Orleans. Justice began work with Creative Arts Dean Paul Kreider and WVU Foundation Assistant Vice President Chuck Kerzak on June 16.

“I’m really excited to be joining the College of Creative Arts team and getting to know the university and its vibrant arts community,” Justice said. “I was a trumpet major in my undergraduate studies, and I’m thrilled to continue my work in the arts management in higher education. This is my dream job continued!”

“I am also excited to have Anna Justice join our College staff,” said Dean Paul Kreider of the College of Creative Arts. “She brings significant arts development experience to our team. Her experience at Loyola University of New Orleans, coupled with her arts training, provide a foundation that will help move the College closer to achieving its philanthropic goals. I am confident our faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends, and supporters will find her a wonderful addition to the team as well.”

Justice, originally from Pawleys Island, South Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Music in Trumpet Performance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, as well as a Master of Science in Arts Administration and a Certificate in Fundraising Management from Boston University.

She joined Loyola University in 2008 where she was the development officer for the College of Music and Fine Arts.

While at Loyola, Justice served on the board of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s new audience group, “Prelude,” and was a member of the New Orleans Friends of Music, an organization that brings internationally renowned performing ensembles to the New Orleans community. She was also active on the advisory board for the New Orleans Opera Association.

She was a member of the Junior League of New Orleans, and holds professional memberships with the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Justice also taught an overview class in arts administration as an adjunct professor through the Department of Music Industry Studies in the Loyola College of Music and Fine Arts.

Commencement Highlights 2014

Charlene | June 2, 2014

It was a packed house at the Creative Arts Center on Saturday, May 10, as graduates of the College of Creative Arts received their diplomas during a special ceremony featuring actor and alumnus Chris Sarandon as guest speaker.

Diplomas were awarded this year to approximately 115 students in the College of Creative Arts, including graduates of August 2013, December 2013 and August 2014.

Daniela Longono-Bernal, the Outstanding Graduating Senior in the School of Art & Design, was also named the overall Outstanding Graduating Senior in the College of Creative Arts for 2014.

The other outstanding graduates recognized were: Jacob Sandridge, Outstanding Graduating Senior in the School of Music, and Nora Perone, Outstanding Graduating Senior in the School of Theatre and Dance.

Guest speaker Chris Sarandon is a native of Beckley, W.Va., an alumnus of the College of Creative Arts (Drama, 1964), and an award-winning actor best known for playing Prince Humperdinck in “The Princess Bride.” His many other roles in films, on Broadway, and on television, include the vampire Jerry Dandridge in “Fright Night” and Detective Mike Norris in the first entry of the “Child’s Play” series, as well as for providing the speaking voice of Jack Skellington in “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Leon in the 1975 film “Dog Day Afternoon.”

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“I can’t tell you how proud I am to be here today,” Sarandon said. He then told a true story:

“When one of my daughters was five years old, she and a friend were having pizza with the friend’s mom, and when the mom asked her own daughter what her daddy did, she said “He makes wires in houses.” Her mother said ‘That’s right, Daddy’s an electrician.’ Then the mother turned to my daughter and she said ‘You know what your daddy does, don’t you?’ and my daughter said ‘Yeah, he looks for work.’”

After much laughter, Sarandon told the graduates he was certainly not one who felt competent to give them the secrets of the cosmos, or tell them how to get a job, but he wanted to share four seemingly random events that occurred during his undergraduate years at WVU that each turned out to be a lightning bolt to him and helped give his life a new direction.

“I was preparing for one of several majors and thought that taking a few easy electives would be a good way to up my GPA,” he said.

Lightning bolt number one was an elective English class called “101 Scottish and Irish Ballads” taught by the renowned folklorist Patrick Gainer, who was professor of English at WVU from 1946 to 1972.

Professor Gainer would stand in front of the class and reference his book called “101 Scottish and Irish Ballads,” while punching the buttons on the 50-pound Wollensack reel-to-reel tape recorder that he had lugged up and down the mountains and hollows of West Virginia as he recorded amateur musicians singing the almost-identical words to the ballads in his book. These words had been passed down, orally, through the centuries, from Scotland and Ireland, and finally to West Virginia.

“At the time I was very snooty about what I thought of as hillbilly music, because I was a child of Greek immigrants and they worked very hard to assimilate and be all-American,” Sarandon said. “But, pow! Suddenly I was confronted by the fact that the state where I was born and raised and in which I was continuing my education and – by the way, from which I had been dying to get away – was the epicenter of a culture that went back hundreds and hundreds of years.”

Lightning bolt number two came in another English class, called “Victorian Poetry.”

“This appealed to the romanticized image I had of myself at the time as a sad, poetic soul,” Sarandon said. “And, it looked easy. It was taught by an aloof, but charismatic, professor named Gordon Pitts.”

Pitts was an English professor who founded the Victorian Poetry journal at WVU in 1962. He was passionate about poetry, and he recited it beautifully.

“His passion was catching. And his essay exams required answers that were graded on one’s ability to express original and complex interpretations of the poems,” Sarandon said. “In other words, they required one to think critically and write well, a muscle that I had used sparingly up to that time.

“I only got one C when I was here at West Virginia – I say somewhat immodestly – and I feel proud to have earned that C from Professor Pitts.”

Lightning bolt number three was a music class called “Choral Union,” taught by another charismatic teacher who was anything but aloof. His name was Joseph Golz and he was the first director of the opera and vocal program at WVU.

Somehow, Sarandon said, Professor Golz managed by force of his vivid personality and his acerbic humor to get a group of several hundred non-music students and a few voice major ringers to sing the “Carmina Burana” the Brahms “Requieum,” and the Bach “Mass in B Minor.”

“The experience of blending my voice with hundreds of others was an experience that was a high, and I’ll never forget it.”

Lightning bolt number four was a “Beginning Acting” class taught by Drama professor Charles “Chuck” Neel. This seemed like another easy class, especially since Sarandon had always had a way with accents and taking on characters and stories.

During the first semester, Professor Neel asked Sarandon to take a small part in a studio production that he was directing of “Julius Caesar.”

“I had some time and I wanted to earn some brownie points, so I accepted the three-line role,” Sarandon said. “And when it was over, he proposed that I accept another role. This time it was the lead in the studio production of a play called ‘Tartuffe,’ by Moliere.

“So then I had to make a choice,” he said. “To continue my somewhat aimless existence, going to parties and coordinating various campus activities, and taking classes that I barely cared about, or to commit myself to the theater – put on a wig, a false nose – with a wart – and, as an extra added attraction, to woo the young actress who was playing opposite me, the reigning Miss West Virginia. Well! I don’t have to tell you, the choice was not a difficult one. I bit. And I was bitten.”

As a result, Sarandon said, he was transformed from a boy, who had been trying on various identities – including jokester, rock musician, and campus politician – to a young man experiencing transcendent moments and taking on the identities of timeless characters such as Romeo, Harold Hill, and Tartuffe.

“If you graduates were as fortunate as I was to have a few lightning bolts while you were in college – classes or college experiences that led you to a wider view of the world and your place in it – then you were blessed,” he said.

He said the class in West Virginia music gave him a sense of authenticity. He felt pride in being surrounded by a centuries-old tradition and art form. The class in Victorian poetry connected him to a timeless and magnificent language taught by a teacher who expected his students to be critically original. The Choral Union made him a singer in an immense choir that was a mystical cooperative effort and collaboration.

And finally, through his acting mentor, Professor Chuck Neel, he was able to understand “how to connect with the characters that lived inside this manufactured exterior that I had worked so long to create.”

“An artist is made up of everything the he or she experiences,” he said. “I hope that during your time here you have used, absorbed, synthesized, grabbed onto, sucked into yourselves – personalities, artworks, music, personal tragedy, mundane everyday events, the prodigious minutia of life that will continue to inform your work throughout your life.

“By living a life in the arts you will be at times deeply discouraged in a culture that values celebrity over accomplishment and making money over making something lasting that enriches the world around you. But stick with it, whatever you do.

“Please, stick with it, whether it’s your vocation, or your avocation, for believe me there will be times when many of you will be doing other jobs to support your art habit or will be looking for work, just as I have. But if your life is an artwork, whatever job you do will be filled with dancing, breathless laughter, and maybe a few finger puppets.”

Sarandon ended his speech by reading a poem called “For the Young Who Want To” by Marge Piercy.

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.

Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
asking why you don’t have a baby,
call you a bum.

The reason people want M.F.A.s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else’s mannerisms

is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you’re certified a dentist.

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.


Outstanding Seniors

Outstanding Senior – College of Creative Arts
Outstanding Senior – School of Art and Design

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Daniela Londona-Bernal was the outstanding senior in the School of Art and Design and she was presented with the award as overall outstanding senior in the College of Creative Arts during the Commencement ceremony by Dean Paul Kreider and Provost Michele Wheatly. Daniela received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography and samples of her photographs were projected on a screen above the stage at Commencement. Her work was also displayed in the lobby and in the Mesaros Galleries.

Daniela is a native of Antioquia, Columbia. While a student at WVU, she has been the recipient of numerous academic and artistic awards. She received a number of merit based academic scholarships, including the WVU Foundation Outstanding Senior Award, a WVU Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarship, a WVU Fine Arts Scholarship, and a Valerie Canady Scholarship Award. As an artist, Daniela’s work has been exhibited and/or published in Small Art/Big Impact, juried exhibition through Manhattan Arts international; Art Biologic, juried exhibition at the Limner Gallery in Hudson, New York; 15th International Juried Krappy Kamera Competition in New York, New York; 16th Annual International Open Exhibition at the Women Made Gallery in Chicago, Illinois; and Best of College Photography 2013 by the Photographers’ Forum Magazine. Additionally, Daniella has worked as a photographer for the WVU student newspaper, The Daily Athenaeum, and as a Student Ambassador for the College of Creative Arts.

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Outstanding Senior – School of Music

Jacob Sandridge was this year’s outstanding senior in the School of Music and was congratulated by Dean Paul Kreider. Jake received a Bachelor of Music degree in composition and piano performance. During the Commencement ceremony, Jake performed “Skyscraper” from his work titled “Pieces of Glass.”

Jake is from Philippi, West Virginia. At WVU he has studied composition under Dr. John Beall, electronic composition under Dr. David Taddie, and piano under Dr. Peter Amstutz. Jake has composed for a variety of chamber ensembles including string quartet, piano quintet, woodwind sextet, art song, solo piano, and choir. He has also composed for electronic media with percussion and piano, and his art songs have been performed in a number of venues. Sandridge is the secretary of the WVU chapter of the Society of Composers and an active member in the Music Teachers National Association and served as a Student Ambassador for the College of Creative Arts. After graduation, Jake will attend Bowling Green State University for graduate study.

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Outstanding Senior – School of Theatre and Dance

Nora Perone was congratulated by Provost Michele Wheatly for being the outstanding senior in the School of Theatre and Dance. Nora received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting. During the Commencement ceremony, Nora sang “What I Did for Love.”

Nora is a Morgantown native. She attended Morgantown High School, where she was an International Honor Thespian. She has also been very active in community theatre in Morgantown and Fairmont. During her time with the WVU School of Theatre and Dance, she appeared on the main stage as a cigarette girl in “Carmen,” as Sally Bowles in “Cabaret,” and as a rebel soldier and Justice Shallow in “Henry IV,” as well as performing in several student-run productions. She will continue her education next fall in a postgraduate musical theatre course at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England.

Congratulations Graduates!

Following the conferring of degrees, there was a reception in the Douglas O. Blaney Lobby of the Creative Arts Center for the graduates, their families and friends, as well as College of Creative Arts faculty and staff.

See the entire College of Creative Arts Graduation Commencement Ceremony on YouTube Link to CCA Commencement 2014.

View a video capturing the thoughts, emotions and images of WVU Commencement Weekend 2014 at 2014 Video.

See photos of the ceremony, including photos of each of this year’s graduates, at the University Relations Photography link.

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