Department News (9-21-15)

Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson had a very exciting premiere week in New York City and Los Angeles this past week for Peace Officer.  They began in New York with a screening of Peace Officer  at the Museum of Modern Art put on by NY buzz maker Peggy Siegal.  Most of the week was filled with press interviews including WNYC and NPR’s show “All Things Considered,” then they kicked off the theatrical run at the IFC Center theatres in Manhattan.  In Los Angeles Brad and Scott were featured onMadeleine Brand’s radio show “Press Play.”  After receiving a favorable review in The Los Angeles Times, they finished off the week screening the film at the historic Nuart Theater in Los Angeles (and a brief stop at the Camden International Film Festival in Maine).  They will continue rolling the film out in about 30 cities nationwide over the next few months.  For more info and a current list of cities/showtimes, please see  http://www.facebook.com/peaceofficerfilm or http://www.peaceofficerfilm.com/showtimes (The Tower offers discounts to students under 21.)  Brad observes that “in addition to the RogerEbert.com review, probably the most exciting other reviews were the 2 in The Los Angeles Times and 1 in Newsweek (and so far we’re at 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes).”

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BYU Young Company’s Water Sings Blue will make it’s splash this weekend in the Margetts theatre on Friday, September 25. The cast and crew have been studying marine life at the aquarium, memorizing poems, and developing storytelling techniques in rehearsal to plan for this fun and interactive play about a day at the beach and in the sea. To find out more about the preparation for Water Sings Blue, visit the 4th Wall Dramaturgyand read “We Were Awestruck” and “Devising Our Show.

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Thanks to the collaborative efforts of current TMA students, alums, and possibly future students, on November 12-14 and the 16th at 7pm at Maple Mountain High in Spanish Fork, high school students will perform the staged version of Lovestruck, the musical, which was originally produced as a student capstone film in TMA. The director is BYU TMA’s own Laura Taylor. She graduated in Theater in 2014 and now works at Maple Mountain High as a theater, public-speaking, and English teacher. Laura was the casting director of the capstone film version of Lovestruck!  Lauren Laws, the producer of the film, mentioned that she wanted to adapt the script into a stage play but really wasn’t sure how. Laura encouraged her to do it and told Lauren that she would be directing the school’s musical that fall and still hadn’t decided on it. Long story short, she decided she wanted to do Lovestruck ! Over the summer the theater students had been trying to guess what this year’s musical would be. They were shocked and, fortunately, excited to find out that they would be the first cast in a brand-new musical! John Leavitt, the original composer and a BYU student in Piano Composition, and Lauren got to work and started expanding out the script. They doubled the page count of the script, including an additional six songs. It has been a good fit for the high school because it was appropriate in content and has enough parts to showcase many of students. Laura was also looking for a musical with a strong female lead and one change we made was giving our main female character more songs and more of a backstory. About fifty students are in the cast and the high school band will be performing the music. John is the musical director andTricia Zuskind, an MDT student at BYU, is the dance instructor and choreographer.Cody Phillips,an MPA student also at BYU, designed a new logo for us. Maple Mountain High’s other drama teacher Bradley Moss is helping with the technical and construction side of things. There has been one week of rehearsals so far and everyone is excited and working hard to make this brand-new musical come to life.  We’ll remind everyone when the performance will be so that we can support this innovative collaboration.
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TMA alumni Ariel Mitchell has sent us some exciting updates. She finished her MFA in May from NYU in Musical Theater Writing. Her thesis was a full length musical called Mormonish, a semi-autobiographical show about a girl who has a Mormon father and a Jewish mother and is trying to figure out what it means to believe in God. She and her husband have moved to Newark, Delaware, where her husband is starting a PhD program. Ariel is working on a couple of dramaturgical projects for the University Rep as well as sending her plays out to theaters and applying to fellowships. She has been accepted to a short musical festival in New York City called Stage Fright (run by Prospect Theater Company) and she and a collaborator are writing a new 10 minute musical that will be produced at the end of October. Most exciting of all, Ariel and her husband are expecting their first child at the beginning of March. Congratulation, Ariel!
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The Theatre Opening Social was held last Friday at the River Park, near the LDS Motion Picture Studio.  Almost ninety people attended, including full-time and adjunct faculty members and their families.  Many thanks to TMA 101 that provided student volunteers who helped gather sunflowers for the tables, pick up and set up the venue, and clean up.  Also, much appreciation to the Student Theatre Association, especially Arianna Krenk, for providing marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate, and wire hangers for roasted marshmallows and s’mores after dinner.   And, of course, thanks to all of you who attended and made this excellent party a success!
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