Thursday, January 26, 2017

Another Opening of Another Show!

One of Tennessee Williams' most famous works, The Glass Menagerie, opens in the Andreas Theatre tonight at 7:30 PM. Set in St. Louis in 1937, The Glass Menagerie is a four person memory play about a dysfunctional family living in poverty. Amanda Wingfield, played by MFA candidate Ashley Gunn, tries to give meaning and direction to her life and the lives of her two children, Tom, played by BFA Luke Steinborn and Laura, played by first year Samantha Buckley. At Amanda's request, Tom brings his friend Jim, played by Salvatore Frattallone, to dinner, as a potential suitor for his sister.

The play is directed by Melissa Rosenberger, who was thrilled to take it on. "I have always been intrigued by Tennessee Williams' work and at the same time hesitant to try as a director, but I have found that the same advice I give my actors is what I tell myself every night. Trust the language and trust the story, and when it's that good of a playwright that's all you have to do."

Samantha Buckley

Ashley Gunn

Luke Steinborn, Ashley Gunn, Samantha Buckley

Unlike most performances of The Glass Menagerie, MSU chose to present the reading edition of the play, rather than the acting edition. According to Rosenberger, the reading edition is more expressionistic and truer to what Williams' hoped would be passed down in his canon of work. Hardly anyone ever tries to make it work onstage, but Rosenberger was ready for the challenge. "I feel like everyone was intimidated by the work at the beginning. Sitting down and reading it starts to feel daunting. But I think everyone has been really patient with each other. You feel so much more dependent on each other in a small cast and it's nice to see them respond to that." 

Luke Steinborn

Samantha Buckley, Luke Steinborn, Ashley Gunn

Ashley Gunn

The show opens tonight at 7:30 PM and plays through February 5th. You can get your tickets by visiting or calling the Theatre and Dance Box Office at 507-389-6661 from 4:00-6:00 PM Monday through Friday. Or purchase your tickets online at You won't want to miss this famous piece of American Literature.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The curtain rises for our students at KCACTF on Monday!

Students from the Department of Theatre and Dance are about to depart for Des Moines, Iowa for the 49th Annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. The festival, more commonly known as KCACTF (it's a mouthful, we know), is a national theatre program designed for students to showcase their work and receive feedback from responders. Over 18,000 students from colleges and universities compete nationwide every year. 

This year 12 nominees and their partners will compete from MSU. Tuesday afternoon the students held their annual Irene Ryan Showcase where they performed their packages for faculty, staff and other students in the program. Their performances got rave reviews!

Jesse Beulke accompanies Amanda Mai and Andrew Anderson

Daniel Lane and Michaela Shapiro

Mikhayla Clausen and Alexis Vencill

Throughout the week-long festival, students participate in a variety of workshops, professional auditions, musical theatre intensives and of course, the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships. Two students are nominated for this award per show every calendar year. They are asked to pick a partner and put together a six-minute acting package. Out of the hundreds that compete, eight finalists are chosen (one from each region) to go to the Kennedy Center in DC. 

Maureen O'Malley and Matthew Sather

Claire Clauson and Alyssa Johnson

Claire Clauson and Emily Scinto

Cam Pederson and Billy Gleason

This year's Irene Ryan Nominees and their Partners
Andrew Andersen/Amanda Mai
Alex Blesi/Maureen O'Malley
Mikhayla Clausen/Alexis Vencill
Billy Gleason/Cam Pederson
Erin Horst/Amanda Mai
Alyssa Johnson/Claire Clauson
Daniel Lane/Michaela Shapiro
Doni Marinos/Jaclyn Britz
Matthew Sather/Maureen O'Malley
Emily Scinto/Claire Clauson
Gabe Sell/Michaela Shapiro
Jessica Staples/Mitchell Douglas

We wish them all many broken legs! Have a great week students!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Kiddie Tour Sets Sail this Thursday!

Students gathered in the Ted Paul Theatre on the first day of classes to watch a preview of this years Kiddie Tour, The Stolen Wind. The show was written by Senior BFA Acting Candidate, Alex Blesi. "I've always enjoyed writing and I really wanted to try writing a kids show," says Blesi. "The story itself came from the help of Sarah Thomas [Junior BFA] and Maureen O'Malley [Senior BFA]. They told me to think about what interested me as a child and the answer was instant: female pirates."
And so it began.

Katie Van Denise, Megan Fischer and Samantha Buckley.

Cleverly directed by 2nd Year MFA Acting Candidate, Doni Marinos, The Stolen Wind is a charming musical about three female pirates (Daisy Jones, Peggy and One-Eyed Sue) who set out to steal back their "stolen wind." They spend their days sailing the seas, searching for lost treasure so they can donate it to people in need. Not your typical pirate behavior. After a day helping others, they come back to find that the wind as been stolen and to get it back they must battle the 3 keepers of the wind and find the Wind Thief. During their pursuit they will learn about perseverance, being kind to others, and the importance of second chances. The cast consists of seven freshman: Samantha Buckley, Felipe Escudero, Megan Fischer, Braden Hanafee-Major, Sheila Tacheny, Katie Van Denise and Cassie Virnig.

Samantha Buckley, Katie Van Denise, Megan Fischer and Sheila Tacheny.

Samantha Buckley, Katie Van Denise, Megan Fischer and Felipe Escudero.

The show's music was a collaboration. "We knew we wanted a variety of music in the show so we brought on 3 musicians: Maureen O'Malley, John Nicol and Billy Gleason," says Marinos. Together, the three students wrote an exceptionally dynamic score that not only helps advance the plot line, but will also have students dancing in their seats.

Sheila Tacheny, Cassie Virnig, Braden Hanafee-Major, Katie Van Denise,
Samantha Buckley and Megan Fischer.

Katie Van Denise, Braden Hanafee-Major, Samantha Buckley and Megan Fischer.

The cast of The Stolen Wind takes a bow.

The cast is set to make their debut touring performance at United South Central this Thursday. We wish them the very best of luck as they begin their pirate adventures!