Department News 01-23-17

Mary Poppins opens this week! Mary brings magic into the Banks’ home with every snap of her finger and wink of her eye and the production’s design team has been hard at work making that magic come to life for a live audience. In the early stages of production, the team drew up a list of “magic moments” as a guide for the production team and discussed how these moments were executed in other productions and movies. For example, Ben Unguren, explored different techniques to use projection effects for instantaneous magical changes. Rory Scanlon, the production’s costume designer, has also been working hard on designing costumes that symbolize familial relationships as well as reveal things about Mary’s character. Meanwhile, Taylor Robinson and Bradlee Hager have been developing important props and even scouring Pinterest for more inspiration. One of the most important props is the kite which represents how the family is unraveling. Being a musical, this production includes a vast amount of choreography as well. Choreographers Beck Wright Phillips and Jenny Giauque-Tingey have been working to create numbers that simultaneously play off the performers’ strengths, represent emotions, and incorporate many different styles. Mary Poppins is sure to delight all ages as the production team uses stage magic to tell her story. The 4th Wall describes more of the productions team’s efforts and magical work here. Read more about the production in BYU News.

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OFF THE MAP, the BYU international theatre festival, concluded its fourth annual season last weekend. This year’s festival included two theatre companies performing three shows in the Margetts, Nelke, and Pardoe Theatres from Jan. 13-21. The guest artists participated in seven in-class workshops with TMA students as well as the forum on Jan. 19. Overall, the festival presented 16 performances. Plays included: Every Brilliant Thing by London’s Paines Plough Theatre as well as It’s Dark Outside and The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer, both from Perth, Australia’s The Last Great Hunt. All of the guest artists had a wonderful experience performing at BYU and interacting with our students—one of the actors even said that the audiences here were the warmest and best she’s ever performed for anywhere in the world. TMA provided financial support to enable TMA faculty and majors to attend the performances this year. Festival director, Jeff Martin, offers his sincere gratitude to everyone who supported and attended this year’s festival and is already hard at work planning the next edition, scheduled for January 2018.0.jpg


Myrna Layton, who is the Performing Arts Librarian at the HBLL, has arranged for TMA faculty to access Digital Theatre Plus, a service that “collaborates with renowned academics and theatre practitioners” to provide videos of top notch performances for academic theatre study.  How to access the service is explained below, and we encourage our faculty to use this service to see if we want to continue it.  If you have difficulty in accessing the service, feel free contact Myrna Layton at 422.4334 or

  • The HBLL subscription to Digital Theatre Plus (the first year is considered a trial) is set up so we can track usage and see how much the service is used. You can find it on the databases list in the library catalog at #13 here: Faculty should go in through the library portal so it will recognize your BYU affiliation.  If you are off campus, you can still enter through the library portal. It should ask for your net ID and password.
  • Another way to access this service is from the Theatre Research Guide.  It is located under the Theatre Productions Tab:


At the beginning of the month (January) Gayle Lockwood, who helps support the MDT program, attended the annual meeting of Musical Theatre Educators’ Alliance (MTEA) in New York City.  The best part about it was being able to go with Nathan Balser (Dance Department/ MDT Steering Committee,) Korianne Johnson (Vocal Coach – MDT,) as well as 6 MDT students! The students were Emily Lyons, Brooke Hiatt, Lauren Hughes, Ellie Smith, Breearna Mandla and Taylor Stanger.  They were able to attend master classes and other sessions of interest to them.  Emily Lyons and Gayle participated in a session presented by Rock/Pop expert Sheri Sanders.  Emily did a short rap/rock piece and was a terrific representative of our program.  Also, representing BYU, Nathan Balser gave a presentation entitled: Seabury’s Stanislavsky: Reinforcing Acting Technique in the Dance Studio.  The conference opened with an appearance by award winning director/ writer, George C. Wolfe.  The keynote speaker was Forrest McClendon, internationally renowned, Tony nominated actor/teacher who was also in the original cast of The Scottsboro Boys.  His focus was the role of the artists’ contribution to society. Both of these sessions were inspiring and thought provoking.
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