May 29, 2020

Stull, Reynolds’ UMW Theatre ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Reimagining Featured in FLS

UMW Theatre’s reimagining of the song ‘Anybody Have a Map?’ from the Tony Award-winning musical ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ was recently featured in an article in The Free Lance-Star. Jon Reynolds, director of marketing and audience services, updated the lyrics with the permission of the show’s creators to reflect the students’ common experiences in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The students recorded themselves singing individually in their own homes and submitted their videos. Director and theater department chair Gregg Stull and production supervisor Brandon Prendergast—with help from James Gardiner, a deputy director at Washington, D.C.’s Signature Theater—edited the recordings together into a video that was posted to YouTube, where it has been shared several thousand times and was applauded by Broadway star Laura Benanti.

“When we left campus on March 12, we held an important goal of keeping our students active and engaged while they were distant from us,” Stull said.

UMW sponsored a trip to New York last year to see “Dear Evan Hansen,” and the musical was a Common Read across campus in the 2018–19 academic year, Stull said, so it is familiar to many students.

“We really wanted to create something with our students that gave them a chance to respond to their feelings and was hopeful in these uncertain times,” Stull said.

The changes to the song’s spoken-word lyrics, which were approved by creators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, reflect a post-coronavirus world in which classes are held via Zoom meeting, friends socialize after class virtually through Google Hangouts, in-person commencement ceremonies are postponed and toilet paper is hard to find. Read more.

UMW Theatre reimagines Dear Evan Hansen’s “Anybody Have a Map?”

A message from UMW Theatre.

We’ve started our last week of classes. We have all stretched ourselves. We have stepped into uncharted waters as we gather new ways to teach and learn. We have pushed beyond the bounds of what we thought was possible.

The University of Mary Washington is a special place, distinguished by the strong connections our faculty build with our students as they grow and learn together. COVID-19 has not changed that. In many ways, it has strengthened our work with each other.

There have been real challenges. And there have also been moments of real joy. One thing is certain, today more than ever before, we relish the moments of success and connections we find even when apart from one another.

And to celebrate that joy, this is a gift from UMW Theatre to you—”Anybody Have a Map?” from the blockbuster musical Dear Evan Hansen by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, and Steven Levenson reimagined by our students for today. Stay safe and well.

 

Gregg Stull signature

Gregg Stull
Producing Director

Stream UMW Theatre’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ Online

When in-person classes were suspended on March 12, walking away from Much Ado About Nothing was heartbreaking; we had to step away from weeks and weeks of work, much of which we knew would never be seen by anyone but us. We are grateful that the UMW administration took decisive steps to keep all of us safe and well amidst so many unknowns; what remains most important is that you, your loved ones, and our greater world do everything we can to flatten the curve of the pandemic and emerge strong and healthy.

And yet, even in this time when we find ourselves apart from one another, we continue to believe in the power of theatre to nurture and inspire ourselves and our community.

Our students will be performing Much Ado About Nothing after all—ONLINE! Mark your calendar—April 16, 2020, from 7:00 – 8:00 pm—just two weeks away! REGISTER HERE.

Our entire department has come together to ensure that our students are engaged, connected, and seizing every opportunity to learn and grow, even when distance keeps us apart. Our performance of Much Ado is but one example of how we continue to teach and learn as a community of educators, artists, and students.

There are so many reasons why this project is important to all of us. Much Ado is the final production Helen Housley will direct for us as she anticipates retirement at the end of this year after two decades of teaching, directing, and serving as our vocal coach for dozens of productions. The same is true of Marilyn Wojdak, our costume shop supervisor, who is also retiring in May having brought a breathtaking level of excellence and professionalism to the shop in her 13 years with us. More than two dozen students have been rehearsing the play in the weeks prior to leaving campus and eight students have senior projects connected to Much Ado. Finally, it’s Shakespeare! We always celebrate the opportunity to bring his work to life.

We are thrilled at the prospect of getting to share our work with you as we wrap up our season. Different than planned, fairly abridged, and not onstage in Klein Theatre (but performed in bedrooms and living rooms across several states), Much Ado, nonetheless, will showcase what we do best—students finding themselves in the work, strengthening their skills, growing their capacity to contribute to our community, and readying themselves for life after UMW. 

Please join us. Our students need your support right now. With so much uncertainty in our world, I want them to know that we are all there for them. Will you celebrate their work with me?

Wishing you good health and strength every day,

Gregg Stull
Producing Director

 

REGISTER HERE.

Actors Split Role in UMW Musical ‘Fun Home’

In UMW Theatre’s production of Tony Award-winning musical ‘Fun Home,’ three actors – Madison Neilson, Olivia Whicheloe and Lydia Hundley – portray graphic novelist Alison Bechdel at various stages of her life. Photo by Geoff Greene.

In UMW Theatre’s production of Tony Award-winning musical ‘Fun Home,’ three actors – Madison Neilson, Olivia Whicheloe and Lydia Hundley – portray graphic novelist Alison Bechdel at various stages of her life. Photo by Geoff Greene.

A pivotal scene in UMW Theatre’s current musical features the protagonist recalling a drive she took with her late father. Struggling to find the words, they sing a heartbreaking duet about their failure to have an open and honest conversation.

“I’ve lived that exact moment, looking out the car window because I didn’t know what to say to my dad,” said senior Lydia Hundley, who plays the college-aged Alison Bechdel, who later became a successful graphic novelist, in Fun Home. Hundley credits Bechdel’s critically acclaimed memoir and the musical it inspired for teaching her how to communicate with her own parents.

She’s one of three actors who will portray Bechdel at various stages of her life. Junior Madison Neilson plays her at age 10, and senior Olivia Whicheloe portrays her as an adult. The show, which continues UMW’s 2019-20 theatre season, runs Nov. 14 to 16 and Nov. 21 to 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 17 and 24 at 2 p.m. in duPont Hall’s Klein Theatre. Tickets cost $25 for general admission, and $20 for students, senior citizens, alumni and military. Read more. 

Actors Split Role in UMW Musical ‘Fun Home’

In UMW Theatre’s production of Tony Award-winning musical ‘Fun Home,’ three actors – Madison Neilson, Olivia Whicheloe and Lydia Hundley – portray graphic novelist Alison Bechdel at various stages of her life. Photo by Geoff Greene.

In UMW Theatre’s production of Tony Award-winning musical ‘Fun Home,’ three actors – Madison Neilson, Olivia Whicheloe and Lydia Hundley – portray graphic novelist Alison Bechdel at various stages of her life. Photo by Geoff Greene.

A pivotal scene in UMW Theatre’s upcoming musical features the protagonist recalling a drive she took with her late father. Struggling to find the words, they sing a heartbreaking duet about their failure to have an open and honest conversation.

“I’ve lived that exact moment, looking out the car window because I didn’t know what to say to my dad,” said senior Lydia Hundley, who plays the college-aged Alison Bechdel, who later became a successful graphic novelist, in Fun Home. Hundley credits Bechdel’s critically acclaimed memoir and the musical it inspired for teaching her how to communicate with her own parents.

She’s one of three actors who will portray Bechdel at various stages of her life. Junior Madison Neilson plays her at age 10, and senior Olivia Whicheloe portrays her as an adult. The show, which continues UMW’s 2019-20 theatre season, kicks off tonight with a Pay-What-You-Can Preview Performance in Klein Theatre at 7:30 p.m. The box office opens at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Read more. 

Cast of “God of Carnage” at UMW makes dessert to eat onstage (The Free Lance-Star)

UMW theater students teach stage skills to school-aged children (The Free Lance-Star)

UMW Theatre Continues Season with Merrily We Roll Along

UMW Theatre will continue its 2018-19 season with Merrily We Roll Along, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth. Performances will be Nov. 1-3, Nov. 8-10, and Nov. 14-17 at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 4, 10, 11, 17, and 18 at 2:00 p.m. in Klein Theatre, duPont Hall at the University of Mary Washington.

AfterWords, a post-show talkback with the cast, will take place after the matinee performance on Nov. 4. Tickets are $25 for standard admission, $20 for students, senior citizens, alumni, and military.

[Read more…]

UMW Theatre Opens 2018-19 Season with The Amish Project

A generation ago, Broadway responded to rocketing ticket prices with a “rush line,” helping bring New York theatre back into the mainstream. This week, UMW Theatre joined the best in the business when it kicked off its 2018-19 season with a pay-what-you-can preview performance of The Amish Project by Jessica Dickey on Wednesday, Sept. 19. Patrons could quite literally pay whatever they could afford for the special production, which began at 7:30 p.m. in Klein Theatre, located inside the University of Mary Washington’s duPont Hall. Regularly priced tickets are $20; students, senior citizens, alumni and the military usually pay $16. “We want to be certain that our work is accessible to the widest audience possible and we hope this initiative removes any economic barrier to attending live theatre in Fredericksburg,” said Gregg Stull, professor and chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance and director of The Amish Project. “Professional theatres throughout the country have included pay-what-you-can performances in their seasons for more than 25 years. We want to share our work with as many people as we can and we hope this will open our doors to people who might not otherwise attend a performance in Klein Theatre.” To that end, each of UMW Theatre’s 2018-19 productions will include an opening, pay-what-you-can performance. Regular performances of The Amish Project will be held Sept. 20-22 and Sept. 26-29 at 7:30 p.m., and Sept. 23, 29 and 30 at 2 p.m. in Klein Theatre. AfterWords, a post-show talkback with the cast, will take place after the matinee performance on Sept. 23. The Amish Project, which features a cast of UMW theatre students from around the country, is a fictional depiction of factual events: a tragic shooting that took place in a one-room schoolhouse in an Old Order Amish community. In October of 2006, a gunman entered the West Nickel Mines schoolhouse in a village in Bart Township, Lancaster, Pennsylvania and opened fire before turning the gun on himself. Through the stories of these imagined characters, Jessica Dickey explores unconditional forgiveness and reconciliation within the Amish community in the wake of this tragedy. From cast member and stage manager to costume construction and lighting design, UMW students have taken front seat roles in the theatre production, directed by Stull. Scenic design is by assistant professor Michael Benson, and costume design is by associate professor Kevin McCluskey. Lighting and sound design are by guest designers Catherine Girardi and Jon K. Reynolds, respectively. The Amish Project was originally written and performed by Jessica Dickey as a one-woman, multiple character show, which premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2008. After being workshopped, the play opened Off-Broadway in 2009, and has since been adapted for an ensemble. For more information, call the Klein Theatre Box Office at 540-654-1111 or visit www.FredTix.com.

A Thirst for Theatre

Austin Bouchard finds his calling at UMW.