Thursday, September 18, 2014

Look Who's On a National Tour!!

Our very own Tony Tillman (BFA Performance 2013) is on the Mamma Mia! National Tour!

Tony is playing Eddie. Take a look at his career on the Mamma Mia! site:

Let us know how it's going Tony!

Reminder to all current 
Theatre VCU students:

Next Thursday, September 25 is MACBET's open night

That night only tickets are $5.00 for all Theatre VCU students! 
Buy your tickets now at the Box Office 
& be sure to bring your student ID!

Dress up and join the celebration! There will be a reception in the lobby following the show.

We will all be there to support the hard work of the Macbeth cast and crew!

News From VA REP to 
ALL VCU Students 

We are holding seats for VCU students for the evening of Friday, October 3 for $14.  The students can call 282-2620 and pay for their seat as a part of this group.  
VCU students are invited to join UR students that evening at 6:45 for a reception and comments by Bruce Miller and Jan Powell.    

Students who cannot attend that evening can attend any performance for $10.  That rate is only good day of show but there should be tickets.  

Other adults in the VCU community - faculty, alumni, etc can use this code for a $5 discount for any show by using the code VCUSHAKES online or at the box office.

Here's more about the show:

It is 1606, and Shakespeare has been commanded to write a propaganda play about the Gunpowder Plot, in service to King James. Will he agree to be a pawn in the cynical gamesmanship of the king’s spymaster, or will he equivocate—lie by telling the truth? The playwright, his acting company, and a variety of historical figures clash in this high-stakes political thriller about the complexities of the truth and the terrible consequences of compromise. Read the Press Release (PDF)

“One of the most bracingly intelligent, sizzlingly theatrical American plays in a decade.” Variety

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Theatre VCU is all over town… and if you're a student there are some great ticket deals!

Our very own David Emerson Toney is directing Frederick Knott's 
Wait Until Dark 
at Firehouse Theater. 
Opening Sept. 18 and running until Oct. 18.

An apartment in 1970’s Greenwich Village becomes the site of theatre’s most terrifying game of cat and mouse. Desperate to reclaim a mysterious doll stuffed with illegal drugs, a con man lays a trap to ensnare a blind woman.  With the help of his criminal cohorts and a few clever disguises, he spins a tale to fool the innocent and unsuspecting woman.  But when the doll can’t be found, the situation spirals out of control.   From the author of Dial “M” for Murder, Wait Until Dark proves that what you can’t see can most definitely hurt you.

Also the main character, Susy, is being played by Ciara McMillan (3rd year performance, Arabian Nights)

Other VCU students & alumni  in the cast:
Sam - Saidu Tejan-Thomas (Mass Comm, VCU, Arabian Nights)
Mike - Nicklas Aliff (Theatre VCU alumnus)
Policeman 1 - Jordan Jones (1st year Theatre VCU Performance)

Policeman 2 - Andrew Reid (2nd year, Theatre VCU Performance)

Preview Night (College Night) is this Thursday Sept. 18. All student tickets are $5.00 (with your VCU ID). During the run student tickets will be $16.00

According to Style Magazine:
The powerful "H2O" marks an auspicious debut for 5th Wall Theatre."

Starring two Theatre VCU alumni : Landon Nagel and Liz Earnest.

Here's what Style says about Landon and Liz:

"With his Everyman face and obvious charm, Nagel puts in an effortless performance as Jake."

"In the hands of a lesser actress, the role could easily be seen as supporting and one-dimensional, but Earnest works to show the character's complexity."

Thursday - Saturday at 8PM, Sunday at 4PM at Theatre Gym at Virginia Repertory Center, 114 W. Broad Street

September 4 – 27, 2014

Contact Billy Christopher Maupin for student ticket information -

Opening September 24 at Richmond Triangle Players
Noel Coward's Design for Living

Directed by alumnus Justin Amellio

and featuring alumnus Jeffrey Cole

Sept 24 – Oct 18, 2014
Three bohemian artists grapple with the pleasures and challenges of a ménage à trois lifestyle in this sophisticated and innovative comedy that scandalized two continents when it premiered! Gilda loves Otto, and it’s entirely mutual. But Gilda is rather fond of Leo as well. Leo adores Gilda – but come to think of it, Leo and Otto have a bit of history, too. So which of them will pair off, and who’ll be left out in the cold? Well, why should they have to?  What’s that all-too-common comment on relationships: “It’s complicated?” This one just happens to be rather more complicated than most!  A classic comedy where the morality is in the eye of the beholder.

Meanwhile in NYC David Leong (Theatre VCU Departmental Chair) with the assistance of  Brad Willcuts (Theatre VCU MFA 2015) is choreographing the many complex and exciting conflicts in the Broadway bound Amazing Grace - opening in Chicago this October! How cool is that?

Olivia Luna (Theatre VCU Perfomance Alumnus) was that you we saw on the new ABC dramatic series How to Get Away with Murder? PremieredThurs. Sept. 25.
 Looking great and living the dream!

Congratulations and Break Legs to ALL our Theatre VCU peeps!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Much goes on…. and on… and on

We've got Man of La Mancha rehearsals starting to percolate - One week in already!
Stage managers  - look at Miss Kat working that ruler.

The cast on the first night of rehearsal. 

Xiolin's costumes are amazing distressed leather 

...take a look at the designer with the armor.

Speaking of Costume Design/Tech…

Lindsay Austria
Toni-Leslie James, head of Costume Design) has been hard at work on two pre-Broadway musical productions slated to open on Broadway in the spring of 2015. Bull Durham and Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace: A New Musical (music and lyrics by Christopher Smith, book by Smith and Arthur Giron) will have it’s pre-Broadway premiere in Chicago in October. This huge musical has over 160 18th century costumes. Theatre VCU alumni and current students has been hired to create many of these gorgeous costumes.

Matt Armentrout

The VCU team consists of:
Joshua Quinn – Asst Costume Designer, United Scenic Artists 829 – VCU MFA 2013
Gloria Kim – Costume Illustrator, Shopper, 18th Century Fan Designer – VCU BFA 2013
Michael Magaraci – Shopper, Men’s 18th Century Neck Wear Designer - VCU BFA 2012
Neno Russell – Draper, Pattern Maker – Theatre VCU, Director of Costume Technology
Matt Armentrout – Draper Pattern Maker, Asst. Wig Designer, VCU BFA 2012

Theatre VCU current students and alumni have been responsible for the production of 115 Amazing Grace garments. The stitchers include:
Neno Russell

Sophia Choi - VCU BFA 2015
Lindsay Austria - VCU BFA December 2014
Isabela Tavares de Melo  - VCU MFA 2014
Devario Simmons – VCU MFA 2015
Emily Atkins – VCU MFA 2015
Casey Jones – VCU BFA 2016
Willa Piro – VCU BFA 2016
Kiyoshi Shaw – VCU BFA 2014
Anastazia Whittle – VCU BFA 2015
Breanne Levandowshky – VCU BFA 2015
Maura Cravey – VCU Faculty

Also assisting the Theatre VCU Shop Assistants
Grenville Burgess – VCU MFA 2016
Raven Wilkes – VCU BFA 2015

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Bull Durham has over 150 costumes, the majority of which are shopped. The Bull Durham team has been led by J. Theresa Bush (VCU MFA 2013).

Toni-Leslie James believes in our students!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Let's Get This Party Started!!

It's true the 2014/15 year is about to roar out of the gate - and there are all kinds of news you need to know. Let's start with this:

The Scottish Play is in Rehearsal

Warming up in 72

 Director Barry Bell explaining the finer points

The Team - Stage Managers Rachel, Hannah & Barry

Check out Xiaolin Lan's 
gorgeous Macbeth costume renderings:
Lady Macbeth
One of the Witches

Murderer I


MacBeth Himself.

Don't forget
Departmental Welcome on 
Wednesday, Aug. 20th is 

First years - 2:00 in the PAC lobby
(you too grad students)
3:00 pm

You don't get in the building if you don't fill out a 
NEW Locator Card.
(We don't care if you filled it out last year, really, we don't.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A letter from Wesley Broulik with Theatre VCU's Senior Showcase 2014 in LA

The beautiful girls!
Hello everyone,

Los Angeles has been going swimmingly so far.

Better than expected so far.

The house is terrific, students are driving and dealing with traffic and everyone has had some In-N-Out Burger. (Yay!)

Yesterday was the workshop with Arlie Day and today is the day that focuses on moving, living and surviving here. (Arlie was AWESOME and the students loved her.)
The handsome guys!

After this trip, everyone should have a clear picture of what Los Angeles is like and is it right for them.

Attendance at the performances was light but we got enough of what we wanted. (CBS came!)

There are several agent/manager appointments so far and more will roll in today as well.

I have had some feedback (in writing) from the agents and it was all really good.  The industry people were very pleased, and they wrote to me unsolicited. That makes me feel like we are on the right track, and after this year, we will actually have relationships with some industry.

So, for our first stab at actually showcasing in Los Angeles, I don’t know how it could have gone better. Especially since nobody had ever heard of our program. (Yes I had to explain who we are, where we are and what we do to everyone.)

Let’s hope next year is easier and our brand grows a little more through word of mouth. These things take time and don’t happen over night.

Now it’s time to get back to work on NYC from beautiful, sunny California. More later!

The whole gang with Arlie Day



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

End-of-the-Year Portfolio Review 2014

This year Toni Leslie James (Head of Costume Design) and Ron Keller (Head of Design) arranged to have these nationally known Scenic, Costume and Lighting Designers, Technical Director and Stage Manager spend and entire day at Theatre VCU reviewing our Design/Tech students’ portfolios,  - allowing our students to meet some of the nation's finest theatrical design/tech.

Below are their bios:

Scenic Design

Tony Cisek 
Mr. Cisek has created designs for Arena Stage, The Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap Opera, Folger Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, Round House Theatre, Studio Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Signature Theatre and Theatre of the First Amendment, among others. Regionally, his work has been seen at the Guthrie Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Delaware Theatre Company, Arden Theatre Company, Berkshire Theatre Festival and City Theatre. Hewas the theatre consultant on the theater construction for the new Atlas Performing Arts Center in Northeast Washington, D.C., which he designed with Dan Covey. He is the recipient of four Helen Hayes Awards for outstanding set design and holds an M.F.A. in design from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Shannon Robert 
Clemson, Paint Crafts Manager of The Spoon Group Productions : The Grinch, Grease (and national tour), Xanadu, Legally Blonde, Inherit the Wind, The Pirate Queen, Coram Boy, The Color Purple (and Chicago production), Jersey Boys (and national tour and Vegas), Spamalot (London West End and Vegas), Hairspray (and Vegas) and Sponge Bob Squarepants (Asian tour). 
Shannon Robert received the M.F.A. in scene design from Florida State University. While at FSU, she participated in an international exchange with the Moscow Art Theatre Conservatory. Shannon was director of theatre and head of design at William Carey University, where she taught scene design for 14 years. She served KCACTF as Region IV design chair (3 years – managed the design exposition), regional vice chair (3 years – managed the Irene Ryan acting scholarships), regional chair (1 year) and served on national design committees. Shannon has worked internationally in venues in Nairobi, Bratislava, Moscow and Edinburgh and has designed for Mill Mountain Theatre, New Stage Theatre, Auburn University Theatre, Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts (MTSU), Southern Arena Theatre, University of Southern Mississippi, SC Governor’s School for the Arts, The Fine Arts Center, The Peace Center, and ReelRock Productions. She was a consultant for The Saenger Theatre renovation in Hattiesburg, MS for Albert and Associates Architects. 
Shannon has also worked as an evaluator, respondent and adjudicator for a number of productions/projects and has presented several workshops and served on panels throughout the U.S. She is currently the Associate Artistic Director and Scene Designer in Residence for The Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, SC.

James Schuette 
James Schuette’s work at Steppenwolf includes set designs for Time to Burn, Space, Berlin Circle, The Royal Family (Jeff Award) and Homebody/Kabul, as well as costume designs for Mother Courage, Purple Heart and Time of Your Life. Recent work includes set or costume designs for Of Thee I Sing directed by Tina Landau (Papermill Playhouse), Frank Galati’s Oedipus Complex (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Nixon in China directed by James Robinson (Opera Theatre of St Louis), Intimations for Saxophone directed by Anne Bogart (Arena Stage) and Doug Varone’s Deconstructing English. His work has been seen at the Goodman Theatre, Old Globe Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Seattle Rep, A.C.T, Long Wharf, Yale Rep, Prince Music Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, New York Theatre Workshop, Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, The Public Theatre, Glimmerglass Opera, Seattle Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera, New York City Opera and Santa Fe Opera. Upcoming projects include Rigoletto and Marriage of Figaro at Opera Colorado and After the Quake at Steppenwolf.

Stanley Meyer
Stanley Meyer was the set designer for Disney Theatricals’ Broadway hit, Beauty and the Beast, which was the sixth longest running Broadway show in history, and the designer of the world premiere of Aida at the Alliance Theatre for Disney Theatricals. He was the first receiptient of the League of American Theatre Producers “National Broadway Award” for his North American design of the national tours of Beauty and The Beast. Stanley Meyer has more than four dozen credits as a scenic designer/production  designer/ illustrator that have earned him numerous awards and nominations, including an American Theatre Wing nomination, A National  Broadway Theatre Award Nomination, A LA Ovation Award Nomination, the THEA Award winner-Best Outdoor Nighttime Spectacular (Peter Pan’s Neverland at Universal Studios Japan), and the IAPPA Brass Ring Award Winner for Best Outdoor Daytime Spectacular (Seaworld’s Blue Horizons, Orlando, FL and San Diego, CA). He has also designed the national & world tours of Alice Cooper, The Steve Miller Band, Cindi Lauper, Disney Ice Shows, and The Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus.  He has been a concept designer for Nike, Sony, Inmotion Entertainment, Clear Channel, Thinkwell Design & Entertainment, Mdame Tussand’s NYC and Las Vegas, and Busch Gardens Williamsburg.


James Schuette (see bio above.)

Leslie Yarmo  
Leslie Yarmo was the costume designer for the pilot and seasons 1 through 3 of Law & Order: SVU for NBC. USA Television Network and Wolf Films Prod. Other film and television credits include: Empire (Touchstone/CBS), The Rage: Carrie II (United Artists), Cadillac Records (Sony Pictures, costume consultant), Rome (HBO, costume consultant), Lipstick Jungle (NBC, Asst. Designer), The Siege (20th Century Fox, Asst. Designer), I Am Legend (Warner Bros., Asst. Designer), The Eye of the Dolphin(Paradise Productions), History is Made at Night (Shaftsbury Films Inc.), Ricochet River (Dee Gee Entertainment), and Hudson River Blues (The Shooting Gallery), among other credits. She received a dual MFA in Costume & Set Design from NYU, where she was the winner of the S. Seidman Award for Design Excellence. Ms. Yarmo completed her B.A in Theatre Arts from UCLA. and also holds a certificate in French Language & Culture from The Paris Fashion Institute and The Sorbonne in Paris, France.  She is an currently assistant professor of theater, costume design, period production as interdisciplinary study and researcher of Medieval dress codes st Salisbury University in Salisbury, MD.  As a professor of costume design, history of architecture, fashion, and International Studies in Theatre in Italy, Leslie endeavors to inspire her students to create work with integrity, thought and conscience. She has also taught at Theater Conservatory, Design-Tech Department, Purchase College, SUNY, Purchase, and,The Accademia Italiana di Design, Rome, Italy International Design School for Theatre & Film. Ms. Yarmo is fluent in the Italian language. 

Joe Solasavich 
Joe Solasavich is a costume designer and the Costume Director at Arena Stage, where he has worked for thirteen seasons on over 100 productions. Mother Courage and Her Children is his Arena Stage design debut. He has realized designs for Theoni Aldredge, Susan Benson, Linda Cho, Anne Hould-Ward, Toni-Leslie James, Willa Kim, Jess Goldstein, Martin Pakledinaz, Carrie Robbins, ESosa, and Paul Tazewell, among others. In addition to his work at Arena Stage, Joe has served in various capacities in costume departments for the Kennedy Center, Signature Theatre, the Shakespeare Theatre, Virginia Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, NBC, HBO and Disney. His internships were with Williamstown Theatre Festival and Actor’s Theatre of Louisville. Joe studied at the University of Dayton.

Emily DeAngelis 
Emily received her MFA from the University of California San Diego and her BA from Michigan State University. In NYC, she has designed at The Working Theatre, Theatre for the New City, Daryl Roth Productions, The Parsons Dance Company, New Georges, Classical Theatre of Harlem/ HHTF,  The Public Theater Summer Play Festival, Central Park Summer Stage, Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, and for Frankel Green Theatricals. She has also designed productions for the national tour of The Soul Doctor, La Jolla Playhouse, The Hungarian Theatre of Clu in Romania, the Yale Dramatic Association, Pacific Coast Performing Arts Center, SEED, Victory Gardens Theatre, and The EPA Theatre in Chicago. Ms. DeAngelis has also been a costume stylist for various commercials for Netflix and Nickelodeon Music Videos.

Carol Ramsdell
Head Draper at Arena Stage, Washington D.C.

Lighting Design

Ken Billington
Since joining the United Scenic Artists Local 829 in 1968,  Ken Billington has worked as an assistant to such designers to Tharon Musser, Thomas Skelton, William Ritman and Pat Collins. In 1973 he lit his first Broadway show, The Visit, directed by Harold Prince and as of April 2014, Ken has designed 98 Broadway productions including Act One, Chaplin, Don’t Dress for Dinner, Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway, Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It, The Scottsboro Boys, are among his numerous Broadway credits. Ken works in all forms of theatrical lighting including opera, dance, concerts and spectaculars. He has designed lighting for 13 productions for the NY City Opera. Other companies include Dallas Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, La Scala, Theatro Real in Madrid and Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. Some of the great entertainers that Ken has lit include Ann Margret, Shirley MacLane, Liberace, Sigfried and Roy, Juliet Prowse, Chita Rivera and Lisa Minelli to name just a few. For 27 years the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular had lighting by Ken Billington as well as the annual Easter Show. Other spectaculars include the relighting of Jubilee at Bally’s Las Vegas in 2004, Fantasmic! at Disneyland, Shamu Rocks at the Seaworld Parks and lluminights at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Ken Billington has been nominated for nine Tony Awards (winning in 1997 for Chicago), and six Drama Desk Awards (once again winning for Chicago in 1997). Ken has been received many awards including the Ace Award for Television Lighting, the Luman Award for Architectural Lighting and many theatre awards including the Tony, NY Drama Desk, Los Angeles Drama Critics and Boston Drama Critics to name a few. A more complete list of his credits can be found at

David Arch
Lighting Programmer for Broadway including: If/Then; Matilda; Ghost; Lysistrata Jones; Hugh Jackman “Back on Broadway”; Baby Its You; The Book of Mormon; Million Dollar Quartet - On and Off Broadway; Memphis; 9 to 5; West Side Story; Guys and Dolls; “13”; In the Heights; Sunday in the Park with George; Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!; A Bronx Tale; Grease; The Pirate Queen; High Fidelity; Lestat; Ring of Fire; The Color Purple; Lennon; Sweet Charity; Pacific Overtures; Fiddler on the Roof; Never Gonna Dance; Dance of the Vampires; Into the Woods; The Crucible; Dreamgirls; 42nd Street; The Rocky Horror Show; Fame; The Life
Lighting Programmer,  Off Broadway & Theatre Tours: The Book of Mormon - Chicago; The Book of Mormon - 1st National Tour; Fela - Off Broadway; The Drowsy Chaperone - Tour; Memphis - 1st National Tour; High School Musical - Tour; The Wiz (Encores); Merrily We Roll Along (Encores); On your Toes (Encores); “First You Dream” Kennedy Center DC; Wonderland (Tampa); White Christmas - Tour; West Side Story - 1st National Tour; Dreamgirls - Tour.
Lighting Programmer, Concerts/Tours - 1993 – 2012 (19 years)Barbra Streisand - Back to Brooklyn Tour; Hugh Jackman - In Performance; Prince - Musicology; Madonna - Drowned World Tour; Madonna - Don’t Tell Me Promo Tour; Madonna - Girly Show Tour; Barbra Streisand - Timeless Tour; Reba McEntire - 1994 -2000; Michael Crawford - Concert tour; Bette Midler - Experience the Divine; Ricky Martin - Livin La Vida Loca Tour; Shakira - 2001 Sony Record Debut; Yanni - 1997 World tour; Lighting Programmer
TV shows and Special Events 1997 – 2011 (14 years) The Tonight Show (Programming Consultant); Iron Chef America; Who wants to be a Millionaire; Sweet Genius; “Living it Up” with Alley and Jack; The Tony Danza Show; Studio 7; The Boston Pops 4th of July; The Apprentice; Imagination Movers; The Conan Writers Live; The James Beard Awards; Fast Track To Fame; Tyra; 2 Minute Drill; Heisman Awards; Viva Variety

Anthony Pearson 
Anthony Pearson is an Australian lighting designer and a member of KB Associates.  He received his degree in lighting design from The National Institute of Dramatic Art, Sydney (NIDA).  He has designed off-Broadway and regionally at The New York Musical Theatre Festival, The Asolo Repertory Theatre in FL, and at Busch Gardens Williamsburg  His Broadway credits include: as Associate Lighting Designer on Pippin  (Broadway, 2013), Kinky Boots (Broadway, 2013), Finian’s Rainbow (Broadway, 2009), and Boeing-Boeing (Broadway, 2008). As an assistant designer he has contributed to the productions of Other Desert Cities (Broadway, 2011), Looped (Broadway, 2010), Bye Bye Birdie (Broadway, 2009), High Fidelity (Broadway, 2006) The Drowsy Chaperone (Broadway, 2011.)

Technical Director

John Forsman  
Technical Director.  M.F.A., University of Virginia; B.F.A., Nebraska Wesleyan University. Forsman has worked in a variety of theatres across the country. He has worked as the Assistant Technical Director for the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and as Stage Crew Supervisor at the Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico. Currently the Technical Director for Hollins Universtiy. 

Stage Management 

Cary Lawless  
Production Manager, Arena Stage, Washington, DC; Production Manager, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee, WI; Production Manager Actors’ Studio Drama School, New School University, NY; Theater Manager, Graduate Theater Division, Columbia University, NY; Stage Manager, The Utah Shakespearean Festival, Cedar City, Utah; Production Manager, School of Fine Arts, University of California, Irvine, California. Member of the Actor’s Equity Association and the American Guild of Variety Artists. Professional member of the Stage Manager Association. Ms. Lawless received her Master of Science at Illinois State University