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‘Spring Awakening’: A Review

By: ANNA BIRBIGLIA
10/10/2018

When I arrived at A. A. Frederick’s to watch the student production of “Spring Awakening,” I was struck by one of the more impressive sets I have seen at this university to date. The floor was ornately painted with a splatter that began in its center. It was very reminiscent to what I imagine a blown-up spin art painting would look like.

The risers on the stage allowed for everyone to be able to look down and watch the show in the round. This was a very interesting point of view to be in as an audience member, rather than having to look upward. It was almost like watch a show up close whilst being in the mezzanine. This change of perspective was not only welcome, but successfully aided in the narration of this story.

As you wait for the show to start, the pre-show music plays lightly in the background while the live band warms up. The music, or rather sounds, playing were those of children playing in a playground. You could faintly hear children’s screams and laughter until the actors began filling the stage for a pre-show ritual before the show officially started.

As a whole, the cast was filled with extremely strong actors. Right away I understood that I was watching a show with children telling this story, even though these actors range from 18 to 21.

While the show as a whole sounded beautiful and poignant, the female ensemble truly blew me away. In “Mama Who Bore Me (Reprise),” the harmonies were so tight and resonated beautifully throughout the theatre. The pure angst emitted from these ladies was breathtaking.

The show stopper in this show for me was clearly “The Darkness I Know Well.” The technical aspects of this song truly portrayed the real darkness the song describes. The use of puppetry was very powerful and perfectly matched the dramatics of the song as well.

Cassidy Giddens, who portrayed Martha, left her soul bare on the set as she belted through her character’s felling whilst lying on a bed onstage.

You are guaranteed to leave this show feeling differently, which is something that always lets me know it has done its job. The way it resonates in everyone speaks worlds of both the direction and the writing.

The message of the show is mostly a call to action for sexual education and freedom within our youth and the audience will leave wanting to know how they can be a part of it.

“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” is debuting at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 31. If it is half as good as “Spring Awakening,” NSU Theatre is in for a great semester.

NSU Theatre to perform “Spring Awakening”

By David West
09/13/2018

NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University Theatre and Dance will perform “Spring Awakening” Sept. 26-28 and Oct. 3-6 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. in the A.A. Fredericks Auditorium.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children and senior citizens. NSU, BPCC@NSU and Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts are admitted free with a current student I.D. Tickets can be purchased online at capa.nsula.edu/theatre/season-tickets. For more information, call (318) 357-4483.

“Spring Awakening” with book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik is based on the groundbreaking and controversial play “Spring Awakening” by Frank Wedekind. The play takes the story of sexual awakening, youth revolt and self discovery into a new century. The play is set in 1891 when the grownups hold all the cards. Headstrong Melchior and naïve Wendla stumble into each other’s arms, passionate and curious while anxious Moritz struggles to live up to the stringent expectations of society.

With only each other for guidance, this group of young men and women travel the fraught and rocky path of adolescence, discovering their bodies, their minds and themselves along the way. An eclectic, vibrant celebration of youth and rebellion, “Spring Awakening” fuses issues of morality, sexuality and rock and roll into a story that packs a powerful emotional punch.

“‘Spring Awakening’ has been a production the theatre students have asked to do for quite a while,” said director Scott Burrell. “I’ve always been hesitant to direct the show because of the subject matter and the deep emotional content it presents. But with the current challenges youth are facing each day, I felt the timing was right to take on such an evocative musical. While those attending will certainly be impressed with the level of talent in our program, this production is certainly not for everyone.”

Burrell warned the play contains graphic and intense content including suicide, sexual violence/assault, sexual themes and mental illness. It is suitable for mature audiences over 18.

The cast is Joey Carroll, Madalyn Mullins and Emma Rivet of Baton Rouge, Jordan Molitor of Sulphur, Kathryn Bancroft, Trevor Brown, Samuel Wright and Emily Ricalde of New Orleans, Payton Hartwick, Thomas Hadzeriga, Asher Van Meter and Jayzen Boger of Edmond, Oklahoma, Andrew Palmintier of Lafayette, Cassidy Giddens of Shreveport, Dania Hunter of Leesville and Hannah Conrad Bradley of Princeton, New Jersey.

The stage management team is stage manger Krislyn Mardis of Choudrant and assistant stage mangers Devin Shores of Youngsville and Caitlin Foster of LaPlace.

Student designers are props designer Jade Duthu of New Orleans, costume designer Cambree Bailey of Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia, sound designer Cameron Duhe of New Orleans and Hartwick is set designer.

The choreographer is Brett Garfinkel with music direction by Daniel Ley. Phil Kidd is set designer while Paul Pharris is lighting designer and Robert Richoux is technical director.

CAPA students prepare for annual program ‘New Faces’

By Anthony Renteria, The Current Sauce

Freshman theatre majors didn’t have much time to settle in at NSU before getting hit with their first assignment: preparing for “New Faces,” a one night only show on Monday, September 10.

“New Faces” is always the first show of the semester that the theatre department produces in the fall semester. It is meant as an introduction to the theatre department for those new at NSU.

Students register through the Intro to Theatre class, and each person performs an individual piece of their choosing. From behind the scenes, each student is assigned an upperclassman as a coach to help with their piece, whether they be focusing on Musical Theatre, Dance or Performance/Directing.

Emma Rivet, a senior advising two freshmen on their performances, said coaching typically consists of helping students find material and ensuring they are performance-ready. This year, a total of 71 incoming freshman will be on the stage for “New Faces.”

Payton Hartwick, the Artistic and Production Director of “New Faces,” is more than excited to be heading this year’s production. She chose the opening act to be a number from the musical “Legally Blonde.”

The storyline of the show will feature the freshmen going from high school and jumping headfirst into the Theatre department and learning the ropes and demands. Songs like “Find My Way” and “What You Want” will tie into this theme.

Hartwick wants the students to get a sense of the work ethic, passion and creativity that the department strives for and apply it to their future careers.

“It’s almost surreal to think back when I was a freshman [and] how scared and nervous I was coming into this,” Hartwick said. “Now being in this position, it feels rewarding to give these freshmen the same experience I got when I was like them.”

For a few of the other students with history in the department, Thomas Hadzeriga, an acting director for “New Faces” and recurring coach fondly remembers performing an Olan Rogers monologue about his time in a Target bathroom. It wasn’t a traditional theatre piece, so his focus during rehearsal was to change the piece to a unique theatrical direction.

“Coming into this department is your own journey,” Hadzeriga said. “Whether or not you decide to stick with it is on you. It shows when you are trying and it makes a better impression.”

“Here’s Killing You Kid” to open July 25

By NSU News Bureau

07/05/2018

NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University’s Summer Dinner Theatre will perform the murder mystery “Here’s Killing You Kid” July 25-28 and August 1-4 on the A.A. Fredericks Auditorium stage at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and advance reservations are required. For information or reservations, call (318) 357-4218.

Move over Sam Spade, Mike Hammer and Phillip Marlowe, there’s a new sleuth in town. He’s got a case to solve and despite the Surgeon General’s warning, it’s going to take a lot of cigarettes and whiskey to tough it out. When you see this film noir spoof you’re sure to say, “Play it again.” A murderously funny 1940s detective film spoof, this mystery dinner theatre is sure to make you become a super sleuth.

Members of the cast are Sean Grady of Leesville, Sam Wright of New Orleans, Bethany Lee of Baton Rouge, Kyle Munson of Prairieville, Adleigh Denham of Central and Connor Loar of Covington.

Robert Richoux is the director, set designer and technical director with lighting and sound design by Paul Pharris. Krislyn Mardis of Choudrant is stage manager and Anna Gautreaux of Houma is assistant stage manager.

More, from the Natchitoches Times: What to expect at the latest summer dinner theatre at NSU, July 30, 2018

Creative Collaboration: Theatre, CIS work together on “Into the Woods” costumes

By Jessica Parr, professor of theatre

The Northwestern State University Theatre and Dance Department’s recent performance of Into the Woods benefitted from an unusual collaboration with the Computer Information Systems program. In her research, student costume designer Mary Rogers found an example of 3D printed claws she wanted to experiment with for the Big Bad Wolf character. She reached out to CIS professor Dr. Begona Perez-Mira, who generously offered access to their 3D printer. Dr. Perez-Mira brought in CIS student James Maricle to help with the project. Over the next several weeks the three experimented printing custom claws directly onto fabrics. Their goal was to create light weight clawed gloves large enough to read from stage that didn’t impede the actor’s hands and allowed for a full range of motion. They tested which fabrics adhere best to the printed material and which shapes make for a stable claw. They worked out the best claw spacing and custom tailored gloves to the actor’s hands. Their hard work paid off when the Big Bad Wolf took the stage, and a research goal became a reality.

Thingamajig Theatre Company shines spotlight on Pia Wyatt, choreographer

By Tess Wisher and Pia Wyatt

Special to The PREVIEW

Thingamajig Theatre Company has just started rehearsals for its summer season with over 50 people involved from all over the country. One such person is Pia Wyatt. Wyatt is choreographing four of the five summer shows: “Legally Blonde,” “West Side Story,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Wyatt spends most of her year in Natchitoches, La., working as a choreographer and professor at Northwestern State University. Luckily for Pagosa Springs, Wyatt decided to spend her summer as the choreographer for Thingamajig Theatre. This is her first summer in Pagosa Springs and said that so far she thinks it is fantastic.  Wyatt said that, in Pagosa,”The air is clean. The sun is shining. It’s quaint and sweet.”

Rehearsals for the summer seasons started off with a bang about two weeks ago. Wyatt was struck and excited by the amazing talent and drive amongst the cast.
“Everyone here is in it to win it. Nobody is dragging their butt. Everyone is just positive and on top of their game.”  With rehearsals happening almost all day and every night, the cast and crew is hard at work preparing for the openings of “Legally Blonde” (opening June 15) and “West Side Story” (opening June 22).

Wyatt actually started her journey with Thingamajig Theatre many weeks ago. She began choreographing the shows in Natchitoches after many discussions with the directors of each show. The largest challenge for Wyatt has been planning choreography for actors and dancers she has never worked with before, but it is a challenge she has embraced with both arms.  Wyatt said that, “A lot of times we end up adjusting [the choreography] for the better.”

The best part of Wyatt’s choreography is how well it enhances each moment within the show. Within her directing philosophy, dance is the last resort in the effort to communicate.
“In a musical, if you are talking and talking and talking and you’re trying to get your point across… [once] you’ve exhausted all possibilities, you sing,” she said. And when singing does not work, “you dance.”  The choreography this summer will be fun, moving, and really focused on adding another layer of quality to each production.

It was tough for Wyatt to pick a favorite show this summer. To her, each one has something to be excited about. Wyatt has choreographed “West Side Story” before, but the other shows each offer other exciting possibilities.  “‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ has some vicious tap that is just going to be fantastic to work on,” she said. “‘Little Shop of Horrors’ is just fun … And ‘Legally Blonde’ is just pink all over the place, which [she is] just loving.”  Each show has something special that makes the dancing worth experiencing in person.

Overall, Wyatt is most excited for this summer season because the different shows really deliver upon why we go to the theater in the first place: “to escape our own life, to see a mirror of our life on stage and to be able to learn.”  So, come experience all Thingamajig has to offer and enjoy some Broadway in the mountains.

For information on tickets to see Wyatt’s work in action, visit the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts at pagosacenter.org or call 731- SHOW (7469).

Musical, murder mystery on dinner theatre schedule

By David West
06/04/2018

NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University’s Summer Dinner Theatre will perform the musical “The Honky Tonk Angels” June 13-16 and 20-23 and the murder mystery “Here’s Killing You Kid” July 25-28 and August 1-4. Both shows will be presented on the A.A. Fredericks Auditorium stage at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and advance reservations are required. For information or reservations, call (318) 357-4218.

“We are excited about this summer’s offerings,” said Scott Burrell, coordinator of theatre and dance. “If those who saw and loved our summer production of ‘Always Patsy Cline’ a few summers back, then wait until they see ‘Honky Tonk Angels.’ The show is filled to the brim with great country-western standards sung by some of the department’s best talents. If you like Dolly, Loretta and Tammy, then you will love Honky Tonk Angels.”

“The murder mystery dinner theatre is always a big hit too. The audiences always love interacting with the characters and have tons of fun solving the mystery. The murder mysteries are always hilarious and a crowd favorite.”

“The Honky Tonk Angels” was written by the creator of “Always….Patsy Cline” and combines more than 30 classic country tunes with a hilarious story about three gutsy gals who are determined to better their lives and follow their dreams to Nashville.

The all-hit song list includes “I’ll Fly Away,” “Stand by Your Man,” “9 to 5,” “Coal Miners’ Daughter,” “Ode to Billy Jo,” “These Boots Are Made for Walking,” “Rocky Top” and “I Will Always Love You.”

The cast is Payton Hartwick of Edmond, Oklahoma, Cassidy Giddens of Shreveport and Hannah Conrad Bradley of Princeton, New Jersey.

Burrell is director and Michael Rorex is musical director with set design and technical direction by Robert Richoux. Paul Pharris is lighting and sound designer with costume design by Hartwick and choreography by Dwight Robinette, Maci Burt and Alphonse Engram. Sam Wright of New Orleans is stage manager and Bethany Lee of Baton Rouge is assistant stage manager. The crew includes Thomas Hadzeriga of Edmond, Oklahoma, Connor Loar of Covington and Emmanuel Dunn of Baton Rouge.

Members of the band are Jonathan Andino of Cortes, Honduras, Jose Colon and Juan Santos of Cartegena, Colombia and Austin O’Carroll of Kinder.

Summer Activities!

It was a great end of the year in the Theatre and Dance Department, we are proud of all of our graduates and excited to see what the future holds for them! Our students are going all over the country this summer on a variety of gigs!

Dance Concentration:
Katherine Langlois- Dancer, TEXAS! The Outdoor Musical, Amarillo, TX
Dwight Robinette- Richie in A Chorus Line and Judah in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Patrick Dorow Productions, Kittery, ME
Taylor Young- Dancer, TEXAS! The Outdoor Musical, Amarillo, TX

Design/Technology Concentration:
Cambree Bailey- Costume intern, Shenandoah Summer Musical Theatre, Winchester, VA
*Lauren Guillot- Berkshire Theatre Festival, Stockbridge, MA
Lexi Mancuso- Props Designer, Rivertown Theaters, New Orleans, LA
*Luke Raines- Stage Carpenter, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Cedar City, UT
Mary Rogers- Costume Intern, Cortland Repertory Theatre, Cortland, NY
*Savannah Thibodeaux- Stage Management Intern, Playhouse on the Square, Memphis, TN

Musical Theatre Concentration:
Luther Brooks IV- Ensemble in 9 to 5 and Pepper in Mamma Mia, McLeod Summer Playhouse, Carbondale, IL
Rosa Campbell- Anna in Graceland, Karla in The Bikinis, and Susan in Tick, Tick…Boom!
Asher Van Meter- A Chorus Line and Newsies, Apex Summer Theatre, Jacksonville, FL
Performance and Directing Concentration:
Serdalyer Darden- Bobby in Memphis the Musical, Shreveport Little Theatre, Shreveport, LA
Desmond Moss- Director/Choreographer/SM, Covington Louisiana Actors Playhouse System, Covington, LA
Taijha Silas- Live Entertainment Office Clerk, Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH

*Graduated this year

Students involved in summer dinner theatre shows here at NSU:

Honky Tonk Angels
Conrad Bradley
Emmanuel Dunn
Cassidy Giddens
Payton Hartwick
Bethany Lee
*Connor Loar
Kyle Munson
Sam Wright

Here’s Killing You Kid
Adleigh Denham
Anna Gautreaux
Sean Grady
Bethany Lee
*Connor Loar
Krislyn Mardis
Kyle Munson
Sam Wright

Check out the ticket page for more info!

Theatre and Dance to perform “The Five Senses”

By David West
02/19/2018

NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University Theatre and Dance will present “The Five Senses” Feb. 22-25 and March 1-3 in Theatre West. Performance time is 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 22-24 and March 1-3 and a 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 25.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children and senior citizens. NSU, BPCC@NSU and Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts are admitted free with a current student I.D., but tickets must be reserved in advance in Room 108 of the Old Wing of the A.A. Fredericks Fine Arts Center. Tickets are limited. Reservations can be made by calling (318) 357-4218 or (318) 357-4483

The five senses (sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste) form the basis of an exploration in dance. The performance will delve into our senses, specifically how they can deceive our perceptions and how the absence of one makes the others stronger. Choreography is by Cher Anabo, Brett Alan Garfinkel, Kirstin Riehl and Rebecca Morgan.

Members of the cast of “The Five Senses” are Alphonse Engram of DeRidder, Luther Brooks and Adele Hebert of Lafayette, Dwight Robinette and Taylor Young of New Orleans, Lee Garrett of Haughton, Thomas Hadzeriga, Jayzen Boger and Asher Van Meter of Edmond, Oklahoma, Katherine Langlois of Baton Rouge, Elaina Guerrero of Shreveport, Maci Burt of Mandeville, Laura Guzman of Cartagena, Colombia, Skilynn Fontenot of Eunice and Vilma Castro of San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Letter of intent for dance program approved

By David West
02/23/2018

NATCHITOCHES – A letter of intent for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance at Northwestern State University has been approved by the State Board of Regents. The degree program is subject to further approval by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System and the State Board of Regents.

The new program would be the only one of its kind at a public university in Louisiana, according to Director of Dance and Associate Professor of Dance Kirstin Riehl who co-authored the degree proposal with Assistant Professor of Dance Brett Garfinkel.

The university plans to produce well-rounded students who will be able to enter any area of the dance profession including performance, teaching or choreography. A BFA program contains more courses in dance than a Bachelor of Arts program.

The program would meet a need within the state for K-12 dance teachers. The state offers dance certification in grades K-12, but no public university in Louisiana currently offers a degree in dance or fully prepare K-12 students to meet the Louisiana Arts Content standards.