Music, Theatre and Dance News March 2017

Music, Theatre and Dance News March 2017
Concerto Competition Winners: (l-r) Shannon Watts, Robert Schneeweis, Timothy Brown and Risto Tevdoski

We want to say a thank you to our OU Dance Heroes, for supporting the effort to purchase a new portable sprung dance floor for our dance program! We appreciate your commitment and support. We have received over $10,000 in gifts and pledges towards the dance floor, and are well on our way towards the goal of $30,000. 

Our students will benefit from having a portable sprung dance floor in our performance spaces. If you were not able to give during our crowdfunding campaign, you can still help us to reach our goal by visiting bit.ly/VHDanceFloor. Thank you!

We have an amazing range of student news. The Oakland Symphony Orchestra’s February concert was the Annual David Daniels Young Artists Concert, and it featured the four winners of the 2017 Concerto Competition: Robert Schneeweis, Risto Tevdoski, Shannon Watts and Timothy Brown who each performed with the orchestra.

The orchestra’s final concert of the season will be at Orchestra Hall in Detroit on Wednesday, April 5, along with the OU Symphony Chorus. It’s one of the highlights of our performance calendar and we hope to see many friends there.

Tubas Ignis: (l-r) John Andersen, Brandon Thibault,
Colin Holstein and Ian Lester

At the recent North American Brass Band Championships Tubas Ignis were second place winners in the Brass Ensemble competition. They played a piece written especially for them by Matthew Murchison. Congratulations to members John Andersen, Colin Holstein, Ian Lester and Brandon Thibault. It was the quartet's second year in a row to receive this placement.

Sophomore bass trombone performance major Josh Tobias was selected as alternate in the East Central Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Brass Performance Competition. In the event that the winner was unable to compete at the National level, he would have been asked to perform in Baltimore, Maryland in March.

During the Senior Showcase trip to New York this month, the theatre seniors took the opportunity to see shows as well as perform. After The Glass Menagerie, OU’s Maggie Hinckley got a chance to speak with, and get some advice from, the star of the show, the one and only Sally Field. Watch the conversation on Facebook and see Ms Field ask Hinckley which school she attends and advise her to “Just get in the saddle and ride.”

Musical theatre major Brandon Santana announced on social media that he will spend the summer in Cleveland, Ohio where he will join Mercury Theatre Company's full 2017 summer season. “I can't wait for this experience,” he wrote. “I will be playing the following roles: Ensemble/Understudy for Carnival Boy in Carousel, Chantal in La Cage Aux Folles, and Duane in Hairspray!”

Other theatre majors are also spending the summer working with professional companies: Andrew Barikmo (‘18) will be in the Water Works Theatre Company (Royal Oak, MI) production of The Taming of the Shrew, directed by faculty member Lynnae Lehfeldt. Bobby Daratony (‘19) will be in the ensemble of the Detroit Actor’s Theatre Company’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Stephanie Gettings (‘19) will be in the ensemble of the Detroit Actor’s Theatre Company’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Mannon MacIntosh (‘19) will be a stage manager for Interlochen Center for the Arts (Interlochen, MI). AlissaBeth Morton (‘18) will be in Mitch Albom’s Hockey, The Musical! Michigan tour. Andrew Muylle (‘18) will be playing Henry in Newsies at Porthouse Theatre (OH). Jacob Pacek (‘20) will be in the ensemble in the Detroit Actor’s Theatre Company’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Kristin Rebera (‘19) will be in Rocky Mountain Repertory productions of Newsies and Mamma Mia as an ensemble member and as Anita in West Side Story (Grand Lake, CO). Clayton Sallee (‘20) will be Annas in the Detroit Actor’s Theatre Company’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Hannah Faith Stevens (‘20) will spend her summer at The Barn Theatre as an apprentice (Augusta, MI). Emily Stoddard (‘20) will be a painter at Interlochen Center for the Arts (MI). Olivia Ursu (‘18) will be in the ensemble of Memphis at Mason Street Warehouse (Saugatuck, MI).

Some of our theatre seniors who are about to graduate this spring will begin their professional careers with summer work. Brian Baylor (‘17) will be in Seussical the Musical, Stop Kiss, The Comedy of Errors, and Sweet Charity at Festival 56 (Princeton, IL). Joey Fontana (‘17) will be playing Mush in the Porthouse Theatre production of Newsies (Cuyahoga Falls, OH). William Raveau (‘17) will be Pontius Pilate in the Detroit Actor’s Theatre Company’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Stefanie Sambrano (‘17) will be in productions of Seussical the Musical and Disenchanted! at Festival 56 (IL). Cassady Temple (‘17) will play Mary Magdalene in the Detroit Actor’s Theatre Company’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Television comedy icon Cindy Williams (“Laverne and Shirley”) was in Michigan in the early part of this year performing at Meadow Brook Theatre in “Mom’s Gift.” Theatre professor Anthony Guest invited her to meet with his students “late show style,” asking her questions about her life and career. “She was a delight and the students loved her,” he said.

Sophomore musical theatre student Sammy Borla will spend time in New York City this summer. He is the recipient of a scholarship to the Open Jar Institute’s Intensive. The institute is under the direction of Tony-winning Board of Directors including Joanna Gleason (Into The Woods), Susan Stroman (The Producers, Big Fish), Lynn Ahrens/Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Rocky the Musical, Anastasia), and Artistic Director, Jeff Whiting.

Congratulations to music major Lawrence Trice!  He is the bass player on the album Rhythm Man by Larry Trice, Jr., which hit #25 on the Billboard gospel charts in the last week of March.

ED dancers in front of Lincoln Center, (l-r) Katie Wiley, Brooke
Mainland, Rachel Pawson, and Daniel Wentworth (in front)

And congratulations to dance senior Rachel Pawson, who is currently apprenticing with Eisenhower Dance. She recently performed at New York City’s Lincoln Center with the ensemble, and in the coming months she will join them on tour in Israel and Poland.

The faculty has also been busy. Several of them, joined by some music alumni, played at an event organized by percussion and world music professor Mark Stone at the Pontiac Creative Arts Center in January. It was intended not just as a performance but as an act of unity and healing. “All of the music to be performed is rooted in different spiritual traditions from around the world,” said Stone in an interview in the Oakland Press given to Natalie Broda.

Associate Professor of Dance Gregory Patterson was also interviewed by the Oakland Press recently. He spoke with Rachel Moulden about the annual Michigan Five dance performance at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts. It offers college dancers an opportunity to showcase their work to a wider audience. This year OU’s dancers were not able to take part because of the date of the Senior Dance Concert, but you can read about Patterson’s work in this link to the interview.

Assistant Professor of Dance Ali Woerner presented an interactive session “Dance for Parkinson Disease: Making the Connection” for the OU Honors College at the Third Annual Murphy Creative Intersections Event in March.

Technical coordinator and composer Terry Herald was recently featured in the OUTV video series “Visiting Professionals” which was broadcast multiple times on Comcast Channel 41. The series is hosted by student Austin Slabough who visited Herald in his private music studio. It can be viewed on the series website.

Acting coach Mila Govich was featured in the recently released psychological thriller Eloise, which shot in Michigan in the summer of 2014. The movie stars Chace Crawford (Gossip Girl) and Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse, Tru Calling), with Govich playing an evil nurse. You can read more about the movie and the real Eloise mental hospital in this article in the Detroit Free Press.

Govich is also the lead in the short film Temporary, which was directed by her niece Milena Govich. The movie is a “short comedic drama about a person’s radical choice at the end of a loved one’s life.” It premiered at the San Francisco Indie Film Festival in February and played at the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival on March 24 at LA Live. Milena Govich has been accepted into this year’s AFI Directing Workshop for Women.

Sixth grade drummers at Alcott Elementary in Pontiac with Darren Anderregg (8th from the right) and Deborah VanderLinde (far right)

Music program director Deborah VanderLinde was at Alcott Elementary in Pontiac for an assembly on Thursday March 23. Oakland has been working with the city on the Pontiac Initiative, a university-wide partnership designed to benefit both the city’s community and Oakland’s students, and this visit was part of that wider initiative. For his Honors College project music education senior Darren Anderregg undertook a year-long program working with the Pontiac students once a week, as co-leader of VanderLinde’s sixth grade drumming group. The assembly was the culmination of that project. Dance company Take Root, co-directed by dance professors Thayer Jonutz and Ali Woerner also took part in the assembly.

The Michigan Music Conference is the annual gathering of the state’s music educators. This January two of our music faculty had presentations. Associate professor Joseph Shively spoke on the topic “Warm-Up Time is Teaching Time. A Curricular Approach to the Beginning of Band Rehearsals,” while Chamber Orchestra Director Alan MacNair spoke about “The Teacher/Conductor Paradox.” Doctoral student Lauri Hogle was also a speaker. She co-presented on the topic, “The Really ‘Late Beginners:’ Conceptual Learning in Secondary Choral and General Music Classrooms.”

Dance lecturer Rebecca Crimmins, who recently opened a new dance studio in Washington Township, has just launched a new children’s dance show on WRBW Community Television. The show, Come Dance With Me, includes crafts as well as dancing. Crimmins shared the promo for the show with us.

Carol Halsted

At the end of the current season, Professor Emerita Laurie Eisenhower will retire from her role as artistic director of Eisenhower Dance. Eisenhower founded the company in 1991 and built it into the internationally recognized organization it is today. The last stop of her final season will be a tour of Poland. OU alumna, ED founding member, and current co-artistic director Stephanie Pizzo will succeed Eisenhower, who has won many accolades over the years, including the ArtServe Michigan Governor's Award for Outstanding Michigan Artist and a 2012 Kresge Artist Fellowship. In 2016 OU Music, Theatre and Dance awarded her the Community Achievement Award in Dance.

Finally, Professor Emerita Carol Halsted died on January 28, 2017. Services were held at Christ Church Cranbrook on Saturday, February 4. Halsted graduated from the University of Michigan and moved to New York City to dance professionally in the early 1960s. She came to OU in 1970 as the only dance faculty member, and she founded the dance program as we know it. Her service to the university included acting as chair of the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance from 1996 until 2002. She met David DiChiera at OU, and when she retired from here in 2002 she became director of dance at Michigan Opera Theatre and helped it become a premier dance house. Some of the most prestigious companies in the world performed there during her tenure, including the Bolshoi Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

After paying tribute to Halsted’s groundbreaking career, MTD chair Jackie Wiggins wrote, “Those of us who knew Carol will remember her for her engaging smile, energy, and joie de vivre. She was a remarkable person who touched so many lives, in our region and beyond. She is survived by her husband, Tom Halsted, her children, and grandchildren - and all those who experienced her mentorship, guidance, and artistry.”