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Angela Mitchell

Angela's Performing Arts Blog

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Lilly Awards Continue to Honor Women in Theatre

Friday May 30, 2014

"Frozen"It can be tough to be a woman in the theatre and the performing arts -- especially to be a woman attempting to break into the worlds offstage that are still all too often monopolized by men. With this in mind, it's always great to see organizations that help female writers, producers and other creatives. Honoring women of distinction in the American theatre, the 2014 winners of The Lilly Awards were announced recently by The Lilly Awards Foundation. The winners include an assortment of talented women who have achieved against the odds, and who continue to inspire other women of the stage to continue to strive themselves. This year's Lilly honorees, who include Winnie Holzman, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, and more, will be celebrated at the 5th Annual Lilly Awards Ceremony this Monday, June 2, 2014 in New York City.

The Lilly Awards is also currently accepting donations to help the organization to continue to grow (and to nurture and promote the achievements of notable women in theatre). To assist the organization with its costs in this year's Lilly Awards ceremony, as well as to help it meet the goals of providing funding, gifts, and/or cash prizes to future recipients. The organization also hopes to eventually offer modest scholarships for women pursuing further education in the theatre.

Learn more about this year's awards honorees -- and about how you can donate or take part in The Lilly Awards, here.

Photo  © 2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

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Williams College Museum of Art to Explore Set Design Process

Saturday May 24, 2014

Photo courtesy of Williams College Museum of ArtThe Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) announced this week that it will be kicking off its summer season with an exciting lineup of exhibitions and programs including an in-depth exploration of Set Design. This summer, WCMA, The Clark, and MASS MoCA are inviting visitors to make the most of the area's vibrant arts community in the Berkshires.

With a program entitled "Staging the Gallery: Visual Research in Set Design,"  David Morris, MFA, Assistant Professor of Theatre will explore the ways in which staging art can offer a "window onto the world, but how does its role change when viewed as research for the creation of imagined realms onstage?" The program will take an in-depth look at art objects as source material for a set design process -- for instance, "how the choice of an early American armchair can affect an actor's posture, or a Hudson River School painting might become the emotional touchstone for an entire scenography."

Learn more about the upcoming event at the WCMA official website  here.

Photo courtesy of Williams College Museum of Art

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Examining the Importance of Costumes

Saturday May 24, 2014

Costume ShopThe impact of just the right costume in creating film iconography -- and beyond, in the realms of theatre and television -- was recently examined at a conference entitled "Who Designed Marilyn's Dress?" hosted by the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development on May 2, 2014.

When discussing the Conference's goals, "Our aim is to bring the great talent of costume designers, and the impact they have, into a larger dialogue," said Nancy Deihl, director of the NYU Steinhardt program in costume studies and one of the conference organizers. "As with Marilyn's dress, great costumes become characters in themselves, indispensible to the success and look of a film."

The program featured a keynote address by Academy Award-nominated costume designer and historian Deborah Nadoolman Landis (Raiders of the Lost ArkAnimal HouseComing to America). All lectures and panels were designed to promote a broad discussion on the topics that costume design touches at every level - history, clothing, social codes, narrative genres, science, and fashion.

Learn more about the conference's lineup of speakers here.

Photo courtesy of SF Bart (Bart Vis, Flickr)

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Dryden Wins Lifetime Achievement Award for Costume Design

Saturday May 24, 2014

Deborah DrydenWith a career spanning nearly 35 years to her credit, longtime Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) costume designer Deborah M. Dryden was recently selected by the Theatre Development Fund (TDF) as the 2014 recipient of the TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award for Costume Design. The award was presented by designer David Woolard at a ceremony at the Hudson Theatre in New York City on May 2, 2014.

"I am honored and humbled by this prestigious award," Dryden said. "As this year's awards ceremony celebrates the work of designers working in regional theatre, I am particularly proud to represent the artists of OSF who have collaborated on the creation of many of the productions I have designed."

Learn more about Dryden's award here.

Photo courtesy of The Oregon Shakespeare Festival

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L.A. Theatre to Help Kids Celebrate Performing Arts in July

Saturday May 17, 2014

L.A.'s 'A Noise Within' Day CampEspecially in today's world in which so many school arts programs have been downsized or cut completely, it's always terrific to see theatre organizations reaching out to kids and communities to instill a love for the performing arts. The award-winning Los Angeles-area classical repertory theatre company A Noise Within (ANW) is doing just that, and has recently announced that it will present a week-long day camp, entitled All the World's A Stage, for younger children ages 6-9, from July 21-25, 2014.

All the World's A Stage introduces the children to the world of the stage and Shakespeare, helps them build social skills and will also encourage full-time fun. The week's activities will include acting classes, stage combat, costuming and scene-making workshops and crafting galore. Kids also learn improv, acting techniques, and vocal and movement exercises, along with technical theater knowledge. Along the way, the young campers will acquire teamwork skills and confidence and develop their creativity to the fullest.

The camp's week of theatre activities and appreciation will culminate in a final performance of their version of a Shakespeare play. For more information on the camp, and to inquire about how to take part, check out the article here.

Photo courtesy of A Noise Within

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Harris Leads 2014 Drama League Awards Winners

Saturday May 17, 2014

Courtesy of the Drama LeagueHedwig got angry again this season, and star Neil Patrick Harris has already been recognized with what will probably be a significant number of awards for its return. The Drama League recently announced the winners for the 80th Annual Drama League Awards, from Distinguished Production of a  Musical (A Gentleman's Guide To Love and Murder) to Distinguished Play (All The Way), Distinguished Revival of a Musical (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), and more at a star-studded luncheon ceremony hosted by Jesse Tyler Ferguson at the Marriott Marquis Times Square (1535 Broadway).

The 80th Annual Drama League Awards Ceremony and Luncheon included a nominees cocktail reception, luncheon, and awards presentation held at the Marriott Marquis Times Square in the Broadway Ballroom (1535 Broadway) on Friday, May 16, 2014.  In addition to the competitive categories, Kennedy Center Honoree, Tony, and Grammy Award nominee, Barbara Cook was honored with the Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Award in recognition of her contribution to the musical theatre;  Key Brand Entertainment/Broadway Across America: John Gore was honored with the Unique Contribution to the Theatre Award for the continuing efforts in promoting live theatre; and Tony, Drama Desk and OBIE Award-winner John Tiffany was honored with The Founders Award for Excellence in Directing.

Learn more and get the complete awards list here.

Photo courtesy of the Drama League

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Student Oscar Winners Announced

Saturday May 17, 2014

Oscar StatuetteFifteen talented film students have been selected as the 2014 winners in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 41st Student Academy Awards competition. The student winners will arrive in Los Angeles for a week of industry activities that will culminate in the awards ceremony on Saturday, June 7, at 6 p.m., at the DGA Theater in Hollywood.  The medal placements - gold, silver and bronze - in the five award categories will be announced at the ceremony, and the winners this year included U.S. students from Jacksonville, Florida to New York City, and internationally from Tel Aviv, to Munich, the United Kingdom, and beyond. Academy members voted the winners from a field of 49 finalists, announced earlier this month.

The Academy established the Student Academy Awards in 1972 to support and encourage excellence in filmmaking at the collegiate level. Past Student Academy Award winners have gone on to receive 46 Oscar nominations and have won or shared eight awards. They include John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Robert Zemeckis, Trey Parker and Spike Lee.

The 41st Student Academy Awards ceremony on June 7 is free and open to the public, but advance tickets are required. Learn more about this year's winners and awards ceremony in the article here.

Photo courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)

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Taye Diggs to Participate in Staged Reading May 14

Saturday May 10, 2014

Taye Diggs (center) will provide choreography for an upcoming staged reading.I'm a big fan of staged readings as useful and dynamic theatre events in their own rights, so it was great to hear of producer Bellanca Smigel Rutter (The Bridges of Madison County, Macbeth), who recently announced that a working, industry reading of The Me Nobody Knows will take place in New York City on May 14 and 15, 2014 in anticipation of a commercial production.  Director Stafford Arima (Allegiance, Altar Boyz) will helm the creative team, which will also include musical direction by Bryan Perri (Wicked), and choreography by Taye Diggs (Rent, "Private Practice").

Inspired by the writings of nearly 200 New York City public school children, ages 7 though 18, The Me Nobody Knows has been inspiring and touching audiences throughout the world for generations. Through its powerful and uplifting contemporary score, The Me Nobody Knows follows a day in the life of a multi-racial cast of young people as they examine their aspirations, fears and determination. At odds with their squalid surroundings and cynical, materialistic views of the world, feelings of hope and renewal emerge.

Learn more about the upcoming reading in the article here.

Photo © Sony Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

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A Sad Loss at the Seattle Rep

Saturday May 10, 2014

Jerry ManningThe Seattle Rep experienced a tragic loss recently, when its acclaimed Artistic Director Jerry Manning passed away due to complications from surgery for a congenital heart defect on April 30 at the age of 58.

Manning had helmed the Seattle Rep since 2010, and had worked with the organization as Associate Artistic Director since 2000. His tenure as Artistic Director was defined by his advocacy of new work, emerging artists, and the Seattle community. During his four seasons at the helm, the Rep commissioned 13 new works (nine by Seattle writers) and world premiered eight plays. Many of those had a life outside Seattle, including An IliadHow to Write a New Book for the BiblePullman Porter Blues, and A Great Wilderness. Three more new plays, including Robert Schenkkan's second play about LBJThe Great Society, will make their stage debuts next season.

I was privileged to interview Jerry Manning in 2011 (check out the article here), and found him an inspiring and fascinating advocate for the stage.  In a moving statement, The Seattle Rep hailed Manning's accomplishments and enthusiasm: "Jerry was a beloved leader, director, producer, mentor and friend. Well-regarded by his peers, he was known for his biting sense of humor, irascible spirit, and sharp mind."

Jerry will most certainly be missed, but his legacy will live on.  Learn more about Manning's legacy, and the Seattle Rep's upcoming June 2 memorial to celebrate his life and career, here.

Photo of Jerry Manning courtesy of The Seattle Repertory Theatre

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'Face Off' Crowns Sixth Season Winner

Saturday April 26, 2014

'Face Off' Season 6 FinaleAfter another great season of competition, three artists remained in the fight for the title of season 6 'Face Off' champion on Tuesday night: George Schminky of Walnut Creek, CA by way of Puerto Rico; Rashaad Santiago of the Bronx, New York; and Tyler Green of Litchfield, Connecticut. For their final challenge, each created a pair of rival alien races, which then had to perform in a challenging and electrifying dance performance for a judging panel that included regular judges Glenn Hetrick, Ve Neill, and Neville Page, along with finale guest judge music producer and DJ, Rusko. Each contestant had to integrate lighting elements into their stage makeup designs and prosthetics, making for a truly unique final performance show featuring the final creature creations.

The season 6 finale episode of 'Face Off' aired on Tuesday, April 22 on Syfy, and after a tense deliberation, Rashaad Santiago was crowned the winner in an emotional moment (I loved the entire roster of contestants this season -- as always, surely one of the nicest on TV, but admit I was rooting for Rashaad). Each finalist was ably assisted by two talented previously eliminated contestants, with Rashaad assisted by Daran and Kat, George assisted by Niko and Corinne, and Tyler assisted by Graham and Chloe.  Best of all, unlike in so many other reality shows where contestants seem to feel required to show their worst selves, "Face Off" again outclassed the competition, with fellow competitors showing nothing but support for their fellow finalists, and with no signs of bitterness from the eliminated returnees -- just a desire to help their designers win.  (Future "Project Runway" contestants, who have gotten increasingly nasty and unlikeable in recent seasons especially, should take note.)

I'm hoping to interview Rashaad and the other talented finalists in the next week or so -- in the  meantime, don't miss my past 'Face Off' interviews with Laura Tyler, Derek Garcia, Rayce Bird, Ian Cromer, RJ Haddy, and more!

Photo by Nicole Wilder/Syfy, courtesy of Syfy

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