MTD News May 2016

MTD News May 2016
Jason Maracani receives his award at the Kennedy Center from Rafael Jaen (l) and Jesse Dreikosen


Theatre students Jason Maracani and Emily Hadick competed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. during the weekend of April 16 and 17 at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) National Awards. “It was an absolutely amazing experience,” said Emily. “I met some incredible performers and learned from a wide range of professionals. We took classes from casting directors, singers, choreographers, artistic directors, and more. I learned a ton about the professional theatre scene in Washington DC as well as the NYC area.”

Jason received The Honorable Mention in the scenic design category for his work on A Doll's House. It was presented to him by Rafael Jaen and Jesse Dreikosen, president and vice president of the Theatre Design wing of the KCACTF. Emily won an additional scholarship to add to the one she’d received at regionals for the Open Jar Institute Summer Intensive. “Jeff Whiting, the artistic director of Open Jar, was incredibly generous with his time and his advice,“ said Emily. “The Intensive is a week in New York taking classes with big names in the business like Susan Stroman, Bob Cline, and Joanna Gleason. We also get to see four Broadway shows, go backstage, and perform in a showcase at the end of the week. It should be a fantastic experience.”  Emily will also perform at The Huron Playhouse in Ohio this summer, in productions of A Chorus Line and Little Shop of Horrors. She’ll be back at OU in the fall as a junior. 

Emily Hadick performs on the stage of the Kennedy Center
in Washington 

On a smaller stage, in the auditorium of Rochester’s Stoney Creek High School, the students of OU’s Repertory Dance Company were the opening act at the Rochester Hills State of the City Address, which this year had a Hollywood awards theme. Music faculty member Jennifer Kincer’s daughter Lia Catallo sang the national anthem, along with Sophia Wahl. You can read more about the evening and see a photo of our dancers on stage on the Rochester Media website.

Vocal performance major Elise Eden, a soprano who has studied with Dr Alta Dantzler, is graduating this spring. She’s been awarded a graduate fellowship to pursue a master’s degree in the vocal program at the University of Michigan. You can follow Elise on her website.

Graduating musical theatre major Mitchell Aiello has accepted a professional six month contract to appear in The Confession and Josiah for President with Blue Gate Musicals  in Pennsylvania. He begins work the day after he graduates!

Also graduating this year is musical theatre major Alissa Beth Jane Morton who has signed a contract to perform with the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre for their 2016 season. She’s looking forward to playing Amber Von Tussle in the Hairspray, among other roles. “I am super excited to work with this fabulous company!” she wrote. “Many thanks to my parents and all of my professors at Oakland University who have prepared me for my career. I love my college!”

The members of Tubas Ignis with
Dr Kenneth Kroesche (JL Boone


During the first weekend of April, the OU Brass Band performed at the North American Brass Band Association (NABBA) Championships in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The OU Brass Band's Tuba-Euphonium Quartet, Tubas Ignis, came in second in the NABBA Brass Ensemble Competition. Congratulations to John Andersen, Ian Lester, Annette Brewer and Brandon Thibault.  Over 20 brass ensembles from across the United States and Canada took part in this prestigious competition.

Incoming freshman Colin Holstein, who currently attends Lamphere High School, won second place in the NABBA Youth Brass Solo Competition. And even though the semester is over, the brass musicians are not done performing. The Tuba Euphonium Ensemble will play at the International Tuba Euphonium Conference in Knoxville, TN in May.

Following their readings at Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck, we have more news about the successes of the students in Kitty Dubin’s playwriting class. English major Robert Hoxie's play, Fixer Picker Upper, will be included in Theatre Nova's College Student 10 minute playwriting festival in Ann Arbor on May 3, and theatre major Emily Christensen's play, Hitting Snooze, has been selected for production in Cranbrook High School's annual short play festival to be held on May 20 and May 21 at 7:30 pm.

Senior vocal performance major Amandalynne Walker has her eyes on a career in opera. Encouraged by her voice teacher Dr. Alta Dantzler with whom she’s worked since her sophomore year of high school, AmandaLynne participated in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, hoping mostly for feedback. She was delighted to receive an Encouragement Award and specific instructions on how to direct her future plans and career path. It inspired her to audition for the American Institute of Music (AIMS) in Graz, Austria, an intensive six week program. In addition to lessons and coaching, it offers accelerated German classes, performance opportunities, exposure to agents, and, of course, a chance to experience the culture of Austria. “It has always been my dream to travel, study, and perform in Europe,” said Amandalynne, “and I am so grateful for this opportunity and for everyone who has helped me on this journey to further my education and passion for this art form.”

Amandalynne received a Provost Undergraduate Research Award and she is also a recipient of a Betty and Shelly Appleton Critical Difference Endowed Fund Award. This award was established in honor of Shelly Appleton's distinguished teaching career at OU. It makes awards to undergraduate students in the Department of Political Science and/or the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance to support student participation in significant educational or career development activities.

Trombonist Joshua Nuss was accepted to three graduate programs around the country to pursue a master’s degree in Jazz Studies. Josh came to OU as a music education major with no experience of jazz but it became his passion and proved to be the path he wants to follow.  Associate Professor Miles Brown says that Josh has worked incredibly hard. He was rewarded with offers to study at the University of Northern Illinois, the University of Miami, and Michigan State. He chose Northern Illinois, in part because of its proximity to the Chicago jazz scene.

Voice professors Drake and Alta Dantzler both have OU students advancing to the finals of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) after successfully competing in the regionals. In this round of the competition Shannon Watts, Abigail McKay, Robert Skylis and Jake Surzyn submit recorded video performances. If they move forward, they will go on to the National Finals in Chicago this summer, where they will join with members of the Ryan Center, including OU alumna Ann Toomey, from the Chicago Lyric. Renee Fleming will be the headliner at the event.

Shannon Kraemer relaxes after
filming her first commercial
The Acting Showcase students: (from the top, clockwise) Bobby Brooks, Marissa Pattullo, Pablo Calzada Munoz, Lester Finley, Sarah McEneaney, Gabriel Jamison (JL Boone Photography)

Theatre student Shannon Kraemer, who recently finished the Acting for the Camera class, joined the other students in auditioning and registering for Productions Plus/The Talent Shop in March. Shannon also registered at I Group Talent Agency and through them she just booked and shot a commercial for a Jet's Pizza Store in Berkley. “I got to meet some cool new people,” said Shannon. “It was pretty exciting for me because it was my first paid gig, and my first time working on a real commercial but I definitely felt prepared thanks to Mila Govich's Acting for the Camera class!”

Graduating senior Hannah Bossner will continue her piano performance studies at Bowling Green State University in the fall, where she will work on her MM with teacher Dr Laura Melton. Laura has a full ride scholarship and an assistantship. At OU her piano teacher was Dr I-Chen Yeh.

This year, our acting students are getting their own trip to New York City for the first time. They will be there from May 9 to May 15. The juniors and seniors in the Acting program will perform in a showcase for agents and other theatre professionals. In addition to the performance, the students plan to take workshops and see Broadway shows. Associate Professor Anthony Guest said, “This is a great opportunity and we are hoping that it will lead to many more showcases in the future for upcoming students. Hopefully it will also lead to a great relationship between our acting program and agents in the city."

Jeff Daniels, currently appearing at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway in Blackbird, has agreed to meet with our actors in his dressing room after a matinee performance. This private talk back is an amazing opportunity and a very generous gesture from a busy professional who is well known for his passion for fostering young talent, especially from his home state of Michigan.


Dance faculty Thayer Jonutz and Ali Woerner, co-founders of Take Root, were nominated for the Governor’s Fitness Award as an Extraordinary Event and recognized as one of three finalists at a legislative reception at the State Capitol in Lansing on the morning of April 21, and later, at a gala event at Cobo Hall that same evening. They were heralded for the extraordinary work they do in the community. Watch this very moving video to learn more.

Take Root the Intensive will be offered from May 13 until May 15, offering experiences in dance of all kinds, to be followed by a student showcase that highlights students’ own creations from composition workshops. In addition Take Root will be holding Company/Apprenticeship Auditions for dancers who are aged 18 and older immediately following the Sunday showcase performance.  More information is available on the company’s website.

Music Preparatory director Bibianne Yu was very moved when one of her graduating piano students, Jonathan Sun, announced that, in addition to celebrating his transition into college, he was dedicating his June 12 senior recital to her. He explained why in his own words. “Miss Bibianne Yu, who is afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) — an autoimmune disease with no known cause or cure — continues to inspire with her perpetual passion and professionalism towards life and music.”

Music education professor Deborah VanderLinde has started a new STEAM project with two different groups of students and their teachers at Roosevelt Elementary in Keego Harbor. STEAM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. The goal of the project is student learning about science and the arts, using creative and critical thinking. She hopes to expand the project into more schools next year. You can read more details on Dr. VanderLinde’s website.

The items used to prepare the guitars for "Into the Deep"

Composer and OU lecturer Terry Herald has written a new work specifically for the Guitar Ensemble’s summer class, which will be taught by Bret Hoag. “Into the Deep’ is a composition for the “prepared guitar,” inspired by the music written by John Cage for the prepared piano. Terry said he experimented with many objects to find the sounds he wanted before settling on twisted plastic paper clips and sliced wine corks. Each of the five ensemble members will prepare their guitar with objects arranged on their strings to create the unique required sound. The ensemble will perform Terry’s composition, along with other works, during their concert at the Older Persons Commission in Rochester this summer, at a date still to be decided. You are welcome to check the website to watch out for the date.

Faculty member and alumna Jennifer Kincer, who runs a successful private voice studio in Rochester, was the entertainment director for the recent Michigan Earth Day Festival. She booked all the artists for the festival and made three appearances on the Detroit television stations to promote the event. Jennifer is also on the board of Pontiac’s Strand Theatre which has been undergoing major renovations. She reports that the work is nearing completion and that theatre management plan to launch their first events in the fall. A whole world of performance possibilities is opening up right on our doorstep.