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Minnesota Centennial Showboat

Features an interactive style of theatre based upon old-time vaudeville traditions and offers great music, wit, charm, and lots of laughter to thousands of patrons per year.

Coming soon....An important news regarding the University Centennial Showboat. Watch this space for an announcement April 18.


  • May 2016 APPLAUSE

      U of M Centennial Showboat docked at Harriet Island  credit: RiverRides 
    Centennial Showboat announces Farewell Season
    In celebration of the rich history of its productions on the Minnesota Centennial Showboat, the University’s Department of Theatre Arts & Dance will present  Augustin Daly’s Under the Gaslight, directed by John Miller-Stephany, July 7­ to August 27, 2016, in the Showboat’s farewell season. Docked on the Mississippi River at Harriet Island in downtown Saint Paul, the Centennial Showboat offers this sensational tale of a young woman’s harrowing journey to find her true identity while battling against evil forces. When performed in the Minnesota Centennial Showboat’s inaugural summer of 1958, Under the Gaslight proved a runaway hit with audiences. Reserved seats for this summer’s final season of 60 performances are now on sale by calling 651-227-1100 or visiting

    Since that summer of 1958 when construction of the first Minnesota Centennial Showboat was completed, faculty and students from the University’s Theatre Arts & Dance Department have produced entertainment aboard the Minnesota Centennial Showboat on the Mississippi River; since 2002, the Showboat has welcomed audiences at the splendid location on Harriet Island in Saint Paul. 

    This year on September 30, the fifteen year agreement between the University of Minnesota and the City of St. Paul for docking the Minnesota Centennial Showboat at Harriet Island will end, requiring both parties to review the partnership.  In the meantime, the University and the City of St. Paul are working together on creative alternatives for the use of the boat.
    Production costs as well as all repairs and improvements have traditionally been funded by Showboat ticket sales, which have declined dramatically in recent years. Without University support for maintenance and operating costs, the College of Liberal Arts has initiated the process to eventually transfer ownership of the Showboat to another entity.

    The Department of Theatre Arts & Dance has determined that it must establish opportunities for its students that are more in line with the department’s mission, and move away from the nineteenth century melodrama format with its often-problematic social conventions.
    Under the Gaslight will be performed in the fully air-conditioned 200 seat theater styled after a vaudeville house complete with painted scenery, footlights, nineteenth century stage magic, and live piano accompaniment.

    The Centennial Showboat proudly presents Under the Gaslightfor this 57th and final season of fun and laughter. Thousands have found it to be “a perfect Minnesota summer evening” for a first date or family outing. Unsolicited comments by one audience member sums up the response of many: “A talented cast of singers and actors kept me laughing and entertained the whole night…I’m going again and taking others with me.” Convenient FREE parking for cars and buses is available.  Arrive by bike on the Lilydale Trail, or by boat and dock for FREE on the island.  The University of Minnesota Centennial Showboat is completely accessible. Moored on the banks of the mighty Mississippi at Harriet Island in beautiful downtown St. Paul, the Showboat offers welcoming public spaces, bars and a beautiful upper deck lounge with spectacular views of the city’s skyline. Visitors stroll along embankments with wide green lawns shaded by towering cottonwoods as they step aboard.

    Under the Gaslight plays 2:30 pm matinees every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday and evenings at 8:00 pm Wednesday through Saturdays July 7- August 27, 2016. Thursday nights feature post-show Talk Backs, informal Q & A sessions with cast members. Ask about Family Fun Special rates for Friday nights and Saturday matinees. Discounts for students with valid ID, seniors 65+ and groups rates for 15 or more are available. Reserve tickets ($20-$25) by calling 651-227-1100 or by visiting for more information. 

     In the News
    Congratulations! The Star Tribune (April 17, 2016)  and City Pages in their “Best Of” honors recently recognized the artistic excellence of the following talented individuals;  all  are current and former instructional staff members of the Dance program. 

     Ananya Chatterjea, Best Choreographer, Star Tribune
    “Chatterjea is unashamedly political. She taps into social justice issues with fierce passion and empathy. Her dancers don’t simply move, but channel a raw intensity that they seem to suck up from the earth beneath them. We see a complex range of emotions in their faces but also in their bodies, from their cores to their fingers and toes. As a choreographer, Chatterjea’s distinctive vocabulary draws on the classical Indian dance form Odissi with yoga technique and the martial art form Chhau. It’s an intricate style that she employs to stir raw fury, anguish and hope as a call to action.”

    Toni Pierce Sands & TU Dance Best dance company in Minnesota 2016, Star Tribune  
    Under the leadership of power couple Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands, TU Dance boasts some of the best dancers in the Twin Cities, who display both athletic prowess and a clarity of form. Somehow, the individuality of each member of the diverse company always shines through in the work. Whether they are bringing to life one of choreographer Uri Sands’ eloquent pieces, or working with the many world-renowned guest choreographers TU brings in to funnel new ideas and challenges, TU Dance is reliably crowd-pleasing and emotionally riveting.

    Erin Thompson, Best dancer in Minnesota 2016, City Pages
     “A mature dancer with an ample and varied expressive palette, Erin Thompson infused Joanie Smith's Tableaux Vivant, a tribute to suffragettes and female icons of the early 20th century, with heroic vigor and sly sensuality. Through shifting characterizations of women including flappers, mothers, and militant feminists, Thompson charged each gesture with fluid intensity. Movement purled through her lithe body as she imbued the period dances and behaviors suggested in Smith's vignettes with swing, sass, and rhythmic panache. Part of an excellent ensemble of dancers ages 22 to 75, Thompson captured the eternal feminine in subtly detailed motion.”

    Dustin Maxwell, ( Alum & former Dance program instructor)  Best Dancer: Star Tribune 
    “For someone with such a distinctive punk look, Dustin Maxwell has an amazing ability to blend in, to become an integral part of an ensemble. In works such as Christopher Schlichting’s “Stripe Tease” and Morgan Thorson’s “Still Life,” Maxwell brought a special energy to group dynamics, while moving cohesively with the other dancers. Maxwell also shines as a solo performer. His unusually angular physique creates captivating lines, and his nuanced, subtle understanding of movement results in meticulous, enthralling execution.”

    Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Best Musical 2015, (City Pages) as 
    produced by Theatre Latte Da, was a bloody hit of a show directed by Peter Rothstein and choreographed by Dance program faculty’s Carl Flink. The two first teamed together for Spring Awakening co-produced with Latte Da and UMTAD in 2012 at the Rarig Center.

    Sarah Bahr, MFA ’16 was in a news maker last month. Interviewed by the Star Tribune the use of social media by the theatre makers, Sarah uses the site Pinterest to share images with her directors and other designers. “It’s like giving the director a photo album with 20 or so options,” she said,” Then we can talk on the phone while we’re looking at the Pinterest boards.” (April, 3, 2016). Sarah recently designed costumes for Earthquakes in London. 

    Students Center Stage 
    The 2nd annual BA Senior Showcase will be presented Monday May 9, 7:30 pm at the Southern Theater.  This evening of short performances by graduating actors, directors, performance artists and theatre makers will also include displays by stage managers and designers. An informal reception with light refreshments follows with an opportunity to meet and greet the artists.

    TAD’s Playwriting Showcase will be presented Friday May 13, 12:30 pm at the Playwrights Center. The Intermediate Playwriting Class taught by Jerome Fellow Andres Rosendorf will present excerpts from their new plays directed by Joel Sass and Stephen Yoakam and read by actors Pearce Bunting, Jennifer Blagen, Ryan Colbert, Emma Foster, Laura Mason and others. 

    Dance Repertory class students taught by Carl Flink participated in”TPT-TV Takeover” co-produced by Black Label Movement ( BLM) on April 30. The dozen students  were featured in a pre-recorded video shot earlier in the Barker Center for Dance. In addition, the student dancers  performed a five minute version of  BLM’s HIVE during the live portion of the show in the St. Paul television  studios. <Learn More

    Alums on Stage
    Nico Swenson (BA ’14) will be performing in Northern Sparks June 11 in The Night Library, an interactive collaborative installation exploring the role of information and the library in society for the Hennepin County Library. Share resources, gather information, and save the world  through puzzles, storytelling, and theatre. <Learn More

    Kiara Jackson (BA’13) and Paul LaNave (BFA’13) play in Six Characters in Search of an Author, in Wonderlust's production, presented by Park Square Theatre though May 8. 

    Q&A with Joanna Harmon                           

    Alums Joanna Harmon (BFA) and Noah Bremer (BA) are co-artistic directors of the critically acclaimed Live Action Set. This award-winning physical theatre company is “committed to creating original, ensemble –driven performances that dissolve boundaries between artistic disciplines.” Founded in 2003, the Live Action Set has emerged as one of the most influential theatre companies in the Twin Cities and its work has been hailed as “courageous,” “beautiful,“ and “daring.”  <Learn More.

    credit: Star Tribune 

    Their upcoming production THE SPARROW, opens May 6 playing through May 20 at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis. Cast member include the BA alums: Cate Jackson, Kalen Keir, Noah Bremer, Sam Kruger and Peter Rusk <Learn More. 

    Between rehearsals, Joanna Harmon took time to talk about their work for Live Action Set.

    Projects you’re most proud of, Joanna?
    I’m proud that we explore artistic regions beyond what’s been charted. It’s terribly unnerving, but if I didn't force myself from the safety of what I've already mapped out, I'd be unsatisfied. I often feel like I’m diving into the deep end without knowing how or when (or if!) the pool will fill up. But inevitably water is there. Sometimes it's deep and warm, sometimes it's cold and shallow, but the water is always there. I occasionally fall on my butt, or I get lost in the woods. That's the price of exploring new artistic territory and it's worth it.

    Two recent productions both of us are particularly proud of: 
    Crime and Punishment was a production ambitiously large in scale: a huge cast, a huge space, a huge design, a style unfamiliar to many audience members, and a very small admin team... We didn’t have any grant funding, so I’m doubly proud of the fact that the show basically paid for itself in ticket sales...

    The Half-Life was an intimate expression of profoundly personal emotions. I am proud that in so many audience members the piece touched a soft part of their hearts. Because of an audience member’s suggestion mid-way through the run we added talk-backs after every performance...That desire to process the piece together, was one significant way that the piece felt immediate and purposeful. It was also my first time working with a cast solely comprised of dancers. They had a beautifully poetic way of receiving and interpreting direction...(so) the collaboration felt fresh and seamless in a way I had not previously experienced.  

    What motivated you to become a founder of a theater company?
    I did not, in fact, want to start a theater company. When I graduated, my goal was to meet the theater companies in the Twin Cities and learn who was already pursuing a mission and an aesthetic that aligned with mine. Live Action Set was one of those companies (founded 6 years prior). With all of the wheels currently spinning and turning and trying to gain traction, it was better for me (and I dare say the field) to become a spoke on one of the wheels already in motion rather than trying to “reinvent a wheel” of my own.

    Very shortly after I started working for/with Live Action Set, Noah Bremer was hired by Cirque du Soleil to tour in one of their shows. At the time, we didn’t know when he would return, and so the company was “bequeathed” to me during that time, and Noah stayed present from afar. So, a lot of what I know, I learned by default and in the moment. But, frankly, that’s how everyone seems to learn anything-- even the people I talk to who have been doing this much longer than I have.

    I recommend that everyone, and especially recent graduates, ask of themselves: How do I strengthen what’s already here? If you find a hole that isn’t being filled, then I say to you, “Go for it! Start a company!” But, 90 percent of the time, someone else is trying to fill in the same hole that you are. The field is already tapped for precious resources---people, money, time. Make it a team effort! So much of creating is about the team with which you’re creating. People are the most important things in an artistic company. Yeah, it’s about our product, too, but it’s mostly about the people involved (i.e. the working environment, and therefore the process).

    I found my team in Live Action Set. I love how the work lives in a world in between dance and theater. It strives to create experiences that can only be experienced live; nebulous worlds that aren’t explained easily with words, they have to be felt; powerful experiences.

    What are the skills that transferred from school and what lessons have you learned?
    The skills that I learned in the BFA Program as an actor that translate to my job as an administrator and creative leader are:
    A strong work ethic -- We have a lot of work to accomplish in the B.F.A. program. In that pressured environment, you learn to stay focused, prioritize, and present work when you aren’t fully “done.” Presenting/performing/doing, even when “half-baked,” is how you’re going to grow.
    A proactive nature -- As  co-leaders of Live Action Set, Noah and I together decide our performance schedule, avenues to pursue, strategic goals, etc. Many people help us, but their help won’t come if we aren’t proactive about what we want and proceed as if no one else is going to help.
    Intention -- Every element should be purposefully created. A flick of a finger can mean a lot for a character. The font one chooses on a postcard can mean a lot for the tone of a production.
    Prepare, prepare, prepare -- Have as big a tool box with as many tools in it as you can. That way, you’ll have many strategies to try when you get stuck and feel as if everything is going to fail.
    Emotional truth and authenticity -- The BFA Program is all about this. This quality makes you a better artist, a better collaborator, a better administrator. Mostly, it makes me a better person, and that’s the most important thing of all.
    It’s never done. -- There is no “finished product,” just iteration after iteration.
    Self-worth comes from myself. -- We have many intensely dedicated, intensely passionate teachers in the B.F.A. Program who all have their own valid, individual responses that are sometimes quite different from one another. All of these voices are useful. Similarly, audience members or ensemble members may also have very different opinions. I add all of the voices together -- negative and positive -- to my knowledge bank and care deeply about them. But, I don’t cling to them for validation of my worth. Those voices don’t determine one’s worth. One’s integrity does.

    Who influenced you while at school?
    In addition to all of my B.F.A. teachers, Michael Sommers (of Open Eye Figure Theater) had a profound impact on me. I took a puppetry course from him during one of my last semesters. He did two things: He expanded my brain to see a different aesthetic of performance and storytelling, and he gave me time to create without time pressure. We’d have a three-hour class, and for the majority of the time, we’d be doing something as “simple” as cutting paper. Cutting that paper taught me about my personal aesthetic and gave me the confidence to pursue career paths that are uncommon.

    How did you go about finding your path into the professional admin world?
    I am both an actor and an administrator, and the intimate knowledge of both sides helps me be a more effective player on both sides. When I graduated, Jon Ferguson (Theatre Forever) asked me to help him produce a play called Super Monkey in the Dowling Studio. He saw something in me (and I’m forever grateful for that) that said to him I’d be good at admin work. I think it’s because I have a big picture brain. Even when I am performing as an actor, I often see myself from a bird’s eye view. That experience producing caused me to question the sustainability of small theater companies in general, companies I cared about and wanted to thrive. Those ideas eventually led to the creation of what has now become ARTshare at The Southern Theater (headed by the tenaciously dedicated Damon Runnals). I have a strong sense that we are all in this thing called “theater” together. Your success is my success. And that belief leads me to being interested in theater admin. I want the whole damn thing to work!

    Why or why not should undergrads consider going to grad school?
    I haven’t been to grad school. I was never interested in it, although, of course, it crosses my mind from time to time. If ever I were to decide to go, I would need to feel that grad school could fill a hole inside my creative heart or my practical skill set. I feel that I’m learning so much right now doing what I’m doing.

    Any other advice or ah-ha moments:
    Get over the aversion to saying, “no” to a project. You will always be saying, “no,” because even when you say “yes” to a project, you are, by default, saying “no” to some other opportunity. It’s the inherent yin and yang of a decision. Embrace it. It is your power to say “yes” and “no” to take control of your own life.

    Faculty Summer Activities

    Lisa Channer, BA program head travels to San Francisco in June as a performer /writer in RANT produced by Fools Fury Theatre  at the Fury Factory Festival. She also travels to England  where she will be presenting research at the International Brecht Society Symposium at Oxford.

    Sonja Kuftinec, Associate Chair, will be at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival during May/June attending productions and speaking with Artistic Director Bill Rauch and other members of the company in preparation for an article about the company. The trip is supported by Imagine Funds. In August, she will be speaking at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education conference in Chicago.  Her topic: Women's Roles in Combatants for Peace--an Israeli Palestinian alliance of ex-combatants who use theater, storytelling and alternative rituals as a tool of their social movement work.  Kuftinec will also be moderating two panels,“Irony and Activism in Performance” and “Theatre of the Oppressed as Political/Aesthetic Labor: Toward Timely (Never Timeless) Work.”
     Montana Johnson, Audio and Media Supervisor, created the sound design for Yellow Tree Theatre’s production of Violet, the Musical. The show which opened in April continues through May 8 in Osseo, MN.

    Bruce Roach, BFA acting instructor, fresh from directing Earthquakes in London with the senior BFA class of 2016 at the Guthrie’s Theater’s Dowling Studio, takes stage himself.  In June and July , he will be appearing as Malvolio in Twelfth Night at the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival in Kansas City, MO. 

    Barbara Nordstrom-Loeb, Adjunct Faculty , will be teaching Dance Movement Therapy at the Inspirees Institute of Creative Arts in Shanghai, China  in June. 

                                                          # # #

  • April 2016 APPLAUSE

    On Stage…

    Must-see April Events
    Henry VI, The Contention + The Ascension
    My Name is Anton Chekhov  
    Earthquakes in London, Snapshots
    Fresh Scenes

    Lady in the Dark 


    Students in the Spotlight 

    Leila Awadallah's Almost But Not Yellow to perform at Kennedy Center 
    Cole Remmen, writer/performer of Go Boldly launches at CalTech                                                                                        
                                                                      Maddy Fox, MN Daily 
    Henry VI: The Contention + The Ascension 
    Stoll Thrust Stage March 30 - April 4  
    Experience Shakespeare's own 'Game of Thrones' over the five days, or immerse yourself in this violent history in a double feature on April 3. Shakespeare raises timely questions as we enter an election year: what makes an effective leader? How much must a leader sacrifice for the “greater good”? Henry VI presented in two parts: The Contention +The Ascension, opened March 30, is performed entirely by students in the BFA 2018 class of the University of Minnesota /Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program.

    We’ve staged these works with an emphasis on clarity of text, with simple production elements. This is a rare opportunity to see this work staged,” said guest director Doug Scholz-Carlson, artistic director Great River Shakespeare Festival, who is joining in on the epic project with director Steve Cardamone, TAD member in the University of Minnesota / Guthrie Theater BFA program. “We have taken Shakespeare’s three play saga, and shaped it into two parts— a mini-series, if you will,” explained Mr. Cardamone. 
    Tickets: theatre or call 612 624-2345

     My Name is Anton Chekhov, a creative collaboration by BA Performance students guided by affiliate faculty member Shirley Venard begins April with a showing you’ll not want to miss.   After investigating two of Chekov’s short stories and researching his life, these creative collaborators have devised a performance at the intersection of the author/playwright’s life and his work through the lens of love. March 31 and April 1 staged in the Nolte Xperimental Theatre, limited seating reserve your free tickets at

    Earthquakes in London graphic  by Francesca Pancorbo 

     "An epic, expansive play about climate change, corporate corruption, fathers and children"---  The Guardian 

     "The theatrical equivalent of a thrilling roller coaster ride", delivering "a rush of invention, humour and raw emotion"- Daily Telegraph 
    Questions fizz and soar like fireworks….not to be missed!"- Time Out
    Earthquakes in London…scores highly on the Richter scale”—British Theatre Guide

     An all-pervasive fear of the future and a guilty pleasure in the excesses of the present drive Mike Bartlett's epic "roller coaster" of a play from 1968 to 2525 and back again. Earthquakes in London includes burlesque strip shows, bad dreams, social breakdown, population explosion, and worldwide paranoia. “It is a fast and furious metropolitan crash of people, scenes and decades, as three sisters attempt to navigate their dislocated lives and loves, while their dysfunctional father, a brilliant scientist, predicts global catastrophe." writes Methuen Publications. 

    Staged at the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio, playing April 13-24, Earthquakes in London is under the direction of Bruce Roach and performed by the University of Minnesota / Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training class of 2016. Playing in repertory with this production will be Snapshots a presentation by the BFA class performing a series of scenes from the dramatic cannon, directed by Marcela Lorca and Michelle O'Neill.
     Tickets or by calling 612-377-2224.

    Premiered at London’s National Theatre in 2010, followed by a tour of the UK , Bartlett’s sweeping Earthquakes follows three sisters caught in shifting relationships– with family, lovers, professional lives, and the planet’s future. A film version of the play is now in development, according to the playwright’s publicist. The Olivier Award winning writer is also author of Broadway's newest smash hit King Charles III likely to be up for a slew Tony Award nominations in May. 

    Fresh Scenes presents the University of Minnesota / Guthrie Theatre BFA Freshman Company in performance April 28-30 on the Liu Stage , Kilburn Theatre. Tickets are free, but reservations required at
    Lady in the Dark, April 14-17 concludes the Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht Festival, a collaboration of the School of Music and Theatre Arts & Dance,  in Ted Mann Concert Hall.  The fully staged musical play, directed by David Walsh, Director of Opera Theatre and conducted by Chad Hutchinsonm is presented by University Opera Theatre. “Moss Hart’s wry, playful, intelligent book, Ira Gershwin’s wittily sophisticated lyrics and Kurt Weill’s hauntingly gossamer melodies [of this]... innovative 1941 Broadway hit is a multi-faceted gem” hails theSan Francisco Chronicle. This U of M School of Music production marks the premiere of Lady in the Dark’s critical edition, thoroughly researched and authorized by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music. 
    Tickets: 612-624-2345 or
    SPECIAL NOTE: Mark your calendar for April 14 and 15 when Lady in the Dark scholar/ award-winning author Dr. bruce mcclung and David Walsh, the production’s director, share the podium for a free "Preview for Patrons"  45 minutes before curtain in the first tier lobby of the Ted Mann Concert Hall. 

    Students in the Spotlight 

    Leila Awadallah  photo: Brandon Stengel
    Leila Awadallah and her Cast of Five 

    to Play DC's Kennedy Center

    BFA Dance major Leila Awadallah’s choreographic work has been selected for the American College Dance Association’s (ACDA) National Festival to be presented at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, June 8-11. Awadallah’s work was one of three pieces selected for their outstanding artistic merit to represent the North Central region. Artist adjudicators described the work as “a sophisticated , richly–layered work that invites you to discover it.  Almost But Not Yellow is full of enigmatic imagery that enhances its choreographic body.” Leila’s cast of five, Jessika Akpaka, Abby Johnson, Laura Osterhaus, Tabitha Stegar and Nicole Stumpf, were praised for "their strong performances in this work" at the regional conference and gala performance.
    The National College Dance Festival highlights the outstanding quality of choreography and performance created on college and university campuses throughout the nation. The U of M is one of 31 participating schools to have been selected “by nationally recognized adjudicators at each of the 12 ACDA regional conferences". 
    Additionally, Awadallah’s self-choreographed solo was selected for the regional Gala Performance presented on Wednesday March 23. UMTAD’S dance program is proud of all the Dance Majors conference participants including Ayana DuBose who presented her own choreographic work at an informal concert, the fourteen students who performed at the conference, and the four students who presented undergraduate research, Leila Awadallah, Ali Higginbotham, Margaret Ogas and Abby Taylor. Congratulations to Leila and cast. 

    Go Boldly launches Cole Remmen at CalTech

    The Starfleet crew aboard the Starship Enterprise as they sing the title song “Boldly Go.” Courtesy of Theatre Art California Institute of Technology (TACIT)

    UMTAD senior, honors BA Theatre Arts student Cole Remmen wrote the wildly successful musical parody Boldly Go!, a musical parody of Star Trek. The show, which he co-wrote with his brother and Caltech theoretical physics PhD student Grant Remmen, premiered at Caltech on February 26, 2016 to rave reviews. Cole explains, “all of the shows sold out; we estimate that over 2,200 people saw it! We've been told it was the most popular show in the history of CalTech Theater.”
    Spock falls in love with Takya the Andorian during the 60s-pop-style song “Emotionally Compromised.” Courtesy of TACIT.
    “A musical of both substance and comedy, Boldly Go! follows the intrepid crew of the Starship Enterprise, along with some new characters, on an exciting and hilarious adventure. And it’s all set to a side-splitting tour de force of musical mayhem! At its core, Boldly Go! is a story about being true to oneself and one’s convictions, about friendship and love, about discovery and wonder, about the triumph of the individual over adversity, and about the joy of sharing with each other this vast and mysterious Universe.” – Theater Arts at CalTech
    We sat down with Cole, who also co-directed and starred in Boldly Go! as Spock, to talk about the show:

    Could you talk about how you got the idea for Boldly Go! and the steps that took you to CalTech?
    My older brother/co-author Grant and I had always discussed the possibility of writing a musical together. The idea for Boldly Go! came to us after we saw Star Trek: Into Darkness in 2013 and continued to watch some of the classic movies and TV episodes that summer. We went through approximately six drafts, rewriting and editing the script and music, storyboarding the plot, orchestrating the accompaniment, etc. In addition to being a parody of Star Trek, Boldly Go! is also a satire of musical theatre itself, with which my brother and I are very familiar. I then brought the show to the University of Minnesota for an auditioned workshop and public reading, which proved to be very popular. A few months later, in May 2015, I assisted with a public reading at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech), where my brother is a graduate student. The reading at Caltech received an overwhelming reception. While Boldly Go! was not written for Caltech, we thought that it was a perfect place at which to premiere the show, given the history of the campus culture and its connections to Star Trek, dating back to the 1960s, as well as a director interested in producing new works. We were very fortunate to receive a lot of positive press, including mentions in The New York Times and LA Weekly as well an article in The Los Angeles Daily News, to name a few. We had an excellent cast of about 24 people and a fantastic band and crew, with around 60 people total involved in the production, including undergrads, graduate students, Caltech staff/faculty, scientists and engineers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, alumni, and even a Disney Animation technical director. Robert Picardo (movie/TV actor including Star Trek: Voyager) was able to join the cast for a couple performances in a guest cameo role.                                                          

    Actor Robert Picardo (left) plays a guest role as Admiral Barnett. Courtesy of TACIT.

    What’s been most helpful experience you’ve gained in your undergrad classes when it came to writing, producing, and performing in your show Boldly Go!? Was there a class, a professor's comment or guidance, or an experience at the U that has proved over time to be inspiring you?
    In my time at the U of M, I've been lucky to have had great mentors and support from the faculty. In particular, Luverne Seifert has been a wonderful mentor for my independent projects, including the UROP grant that supported the U of M workshop of Boldly Go!, as well as the independent research credits that I am currently undertaking, which allowed me to spend time at CalTech earlier this semester for the production. Additionally, my previous directing experience, including directing and performing in a production of Copenhagen (also mentored by Luverne Seifert) as well as Lisa Channer's intermediate and advanced directing courses, gave me great experience with the directorial skills I was able to use assistant directing the CalTech production of Boldly Go!

    Do you have any advice for current college theater students looking to produce their own work?
    My advice for other students looking to see their work produced is, firstly, to really love whatever concept they are working on. If you want to see a project all the way through to production, it will take a lot of commitment and hard work, which means that you will be living in and exploring the world you're creating for a long time. Seek out opinions of others, including family, friends, professors, and other students. Workshopping is also an excellent way to get feedback from both actors and audience, if you have a public reading. I would strongly suggest applying for a UROP or contacting Open Stage, which can help fund your project. Get involved in other student productions and get to know your peers so you have a community of support.

    How are you feeling after the closing of "Boldy Go!"? Have you already decided on the next place to produce the show?
    My co-author and I are very excited at the success of the show and have been contacted by a few professional theatre companies in California and out East who are interested in possibly mounting their own productions of Boldly Go!. Of course, we would love to bring the show to Minneapolis if there is a theatre company interested here [hint hint]!

    Check out the cast and crew’s vlogs from the experience here:

    Faculty Center Stage 

    Penelope Freeh, dance faulty member and collaborator Donna Schoenherr’s new dance theater work, Helioscope opens April 1 playing through April 3 as part of 2016 The Right Here Showcase at The Illusion Theater in the Cowles Center, 8thfloor.  Heliocsope, inspired by the innovative photographic studies of motion and methods of Eadweard Muybridge, will be performed by choreographers Freeh and Schoenherr, singer David Kozisek and Theater Arts & Dance students from our dance program: Kelly Folwick, Adrianna Lonick, Sara Mortenson, Tabitha Steger, Nicloe Stumpf, Kristina Van Deusen , Abigail Whitmore, and Natalie Wollman.  Helioscope also features the music of Joe Strachan and two other living composers, as well as images by video artist Kevin Osatz.  For 2016 Right Here Showcase tickets visit  For more information  The Star Tribune writes “The Right Here Showcase” offers a welcome venue for Twin Cities artists who deserve to be seen.”
    A orginal photographic study of motion by Eadweard Muybridge
     Sonja Kuftinec will travel to Princeton University to participate as an invited panelist on a symposium of Gender and Violence, April 1-3. 

    Luverne Seifert along with Dario Tangelson travel to California in April to lead a residency for SLAM, Science Leaders  and Management at UC Berkeley.   Earlier the duo lead a series of four communication workshops for students of the University of Minnesota Chemistry Department to help them develop skills to be better communicators. 

    Carl Flink will choreograph the History Theater’s premiere of Alan Berks’s Complicated Fun: The Minneapolis Music Scene, which will be directed by Dominic Taylor (formerly TAD) This rockin’ production opens April 30, and plays through May 29, 2016.  


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