I was featured in our university's e-newsletter this past month. For a brief interview with me, click the link!
2018 clearly got away from me! It was a busy year, with a production of Urinetown at the university in the spring, and a great deal of change in the university throughout the year. Currently I'm directing a production of Coward's Hay Fever for our graduate program in conjunction with Cleveland Play House.
Otherwise, I continue to chair our department and help in the planning of the Phase 2 of the Maltz Performing Arts Center at CWRU, which will be mainly occupied by the Department of Theater. It will house two theaters, scenic and costume shops, rehearsal halls and classrooms, and frankly be a game-changer for our program and the university. It's hectic, but I'm very optimistic the outcome is going to be terrific.
2017 has proven to be a challenging year, with both moments of joy and professional progress, and great sadness. My colleague and mentor passed in April, during rehearsals for a production of She Stoops to Conquer that I was directing, which made the experience bittersweet. I'm very proud of the show, and of my graduate actors' ability to press on despite great sadness, but Professor Ron Wilson's presence was missed, for sure.
After I completing my second year as chair of our department, I was honored with appointment to the Katharine Bakeless Nason Professorship in Theater and Drama. After 17 years at Case Western Reserve University, i was deeply touched (and completely surprised) by the appointment and the trust and faith and respect it showed me on behalf of my dean, provost, and president.
Life endures, of course, and so I'm beginning the 2017-18 academic year with a number of projects, including completing the work I've shared on the Provost's Commission on the Undergraduate Experience at CWRU. This has been a two year review our undergraduate educational experience with a recommendation to be made to the university this month.
I'm scheduled to direct the musical Urinetown in the spring, and am very much looking forward to that, as it's been a few years since I've done a musical.
I've had a busy year since my last update, with chairing the Department of Theater and overseeing production for our undergraduate season.
I am moderating a discussion between Tony Kushner and Sarah Vowell on the life and legacy of President Abraham Lincoln as part of CWRU's "Think Forum" (the successor to the Town Hall of Cleveland series, active since 1931).
I'll also be directing Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer in spring 2017.
My production of "The Addams Family" was a tremendous hit (although I was very proud of it, it's success surprised me a little if I'm honest). We had a nearly sold out run (only one performance didn't sell out or near-sell out) and it's now the biggest box office hit in recent memory at Eldred Theater.
It's a charming, old-fashioned, but sweetly dark musical. I used the term "whimsically macabre" to one designer, and she was very fond of that description.
I'm going to be idle for awhile artistically (lots of focus on my admin work as department chair, unfortunately), but now I start the planning for next season's shows at Eldred. Always an exciting time!
The Philadelphia Story was a smash hit at Cleveland Play House despite some challenging weather. The show holds the program record for the most profitable and best attended production of the CWRU/CPH MFA program to date. I had an incredible team of designers and actors with which to work, and it was fun to tred the boards again as Willie Tracy. The process of directing and acting at the same time was a first for me, and while it was incredibly rewarding, I'm not sure I'll repeat it soon. It's definitely a different experience, and I'm not sure I've figured out how to effectively balance the two in rehearsal. But my team, as I said, was excellent and so all went well.
After a summer transitioning into my role as chair of the Department of Theater, I'm now in the middle of our Eldred Theater season. We're in rehearsal for A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Jayce Tromsness. It will be followed by The Addams Family, which I'm directing, assisted by Brad Wyner as music director.
I also completed dialect coaching Or at Dobama Theatre, which has been playing to great reviews.
I recently concluded work on The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Eldred Theater, with an almost sold-out run.
My next project will be to direct Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story at the Cleveland Play House (CPH) with the students of the CWRU/CPH MFA Ensemble. It's my second time staging the show, so I'm excited for another crack at it. Due to some casting challenges, I am also going to play the role of William Tracy. Directing a play and acting in it at the same time is something that I've not done before--and generally don't think is a great idea--but this is an exciting challenge, and I'm looking forward to seeing how to navigate the balance between the two. Thankfully I know the show well, have a great cast, and am supported by a terrific team of designers and colleagues to help me manage it.