CCM Alumni Create Thrills and Chills in ‘Gone Girl’ Movie

CCM alumnus Cooper Thornton as Dr. Benson, leaning over Ben Affleck in the film 'Gone Girl.'

CCM alumnus Cooper Thornton as Dr. Benson, leaning over Ben Affleck in the film ‘Gone Girl.’

While movie audiences were gasping for the last few weekends, two CCM alumni were grinning. Not that the grads had morbid senses of humor, but they were appreciating the fact that their creative talents were partially responsible for Ben Affleck’s new thriller, Gone Girl, taking top box-office honors at $38 million during its Oct. 3-5 debut. Dawn Swiderski (BFA Theatre Design & Production, 1989) was the film’s art director and actor Cooper Thornton (MFA Dramatic Performance, 1992) played the role of Dr. Benson.

Affleck portrays a man whose beautiful wife goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. “ Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble,” say Twentieth Century Fox’s promotional materials. “Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question.”

David Fincher directed the film, based upon Gillian Flynn’s bestseller.

Swiderski and Thornton both have a long list of movie and TV credits attached to their names. Some of Swiderski’s best known works are The Girl with the Dragon TattooX-Men: First Class and Angels & Demons, starring Tom Hanks — a film in which the Art Directors Guild nominated her for best production design.

Thornton, known as Ray Thornton in college, is an actor, writer and producer, who is best known for his appearances on a variety of TV shows, including Parks and Recreation in the recurring role of Dr. Harris, “NCISNCIS: Los Angeles and House.

Learn more via Deborah Rieselman and  UC Magazine here.

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The Tony-winning writing team of composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens.

CCM Alumnus Stephen Flaherty Composes ‘Little Dancer’ For Kennedy Center

The official poster for the Kennedy Center musical 'Little Dancer.' Illustration/Kennedy Center.

The official poster for the Kennedy Center musical ‘Little Dancer.’ Illustration/Kennedy Center.

Thanks to the brilliant composition by CCM alumnus Stephen Flaherty (BM, ’82), Edgar Degas’ most renowned sculpture “Little Dancer, Aged 14” will magically come to life in the world premiere Kennedy Center musical Little Dancer beginning this Sunday, Oct. 5 Saturday, Oct. 25, and running through Nov. 30, 2014!

Those without tickets to the sold-out world premiere can get a box seat right on their couches when the center streams the show live, beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Flaherty, the Tony-winning composer of the Broadway musical Ragtime, composed the music for what is being called “the splashiest Kennedy Center production of the season.”

His lyricist partner Lynn Ahrens penned the lyrics and book for Little Dancer. In 1998, they both won Tony and Drama Desk awards for Best Original Musical Score for Ragtime. In 1991, they won the Best Musical Tony Award for Once on This Island.

Learn even more about this new musical via Deborah Rieselman and the UC Magazine.

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CCM Drama Grad Diana Maria Riva Returns to Primetime TV

CCM alumna Diana Maria Riva on television's 'Saint George.' Photo courtesy of FX.

CCM alumna Diana Maria Riva on television’s ‘Saint George.’ Photo courtesy of FX.

We are thrilled to report that CCM Drama alumna Diana Maria Riva (BFA, ’91; MFA, ’95) returns to primetime television as a series regular in a new comedy starring George Lopez. The half-hour Saint George premieres at 9 p.m. ET tonight (Thursday, March 6) on the FX channel!

Riva plays Lopez’s “tough and sexy” boss, as described in FX press materials. Her character, Concepcion, is the assistant principal at a downtown Los Angeles school, where she supervises Lopez teaching an evening history class — his way to give back to the community.

You can learn more about the program courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer here and courtesy of UC Magazine here.

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NBC’s 2014 Olympic Coverage Features the Iconic Music of CCM Alumnus Randy Edelman

NBCSochiLogoTelevision viewers of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi have a CCM alumnus to thank for the rousing theme music featured in NBC’s coverage of the games.

Beginning with the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the NBC television network has used music originally composed by distinguished alumnus Randy Edelman (CCM ’69, HonDoc ’04) extensively in its televised sports broadcasts.

A prominent singer, songwriter, arranger and film scorer, Edelman has led a prolific career since concluding his studies at CCM and has regularly seen his film and television scores find a second life in NBC’s sports coverage. Below, you can listen to the closing credits soundtrack for NBC’s Olympics coverage, which features Edelman’s “World of the Heart” and “Finale.”

As the Los Angeles Times has previously reported, the heroic music used by NBC to promote upcoming Olympic competitions was originally the theme for the comedy-western television series The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. You can view the original title sequence for that program (complete with Edelman’s score) below:

This theme has come to soundtrack NBC’s Olympic coverage for nearly 20 years and has also been used in the network’s coverage of Major League Baseball playoffs and other major sporting events.

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CCM Alumnus Flaherty’s Score for ‘Rocky’ Heads to Broadway

A scene in the ring from the musical "Rocky."

A scene in the ring from the musical “Rocky.”

After more than a year of packed houses in Hamburg, Germany, Rocky: The Musical will soon open on Broadway, with a score composed by Stephen Flaherty (Composition, 1982), and his lyricist writing partner Lynn Ahrens. Tickets are already on sale for previews starting Feb. 11, 2014, at the Winter Garden Theatre and for an official opening on March 13.

Flaherty and Ahrens wrote 20 new songs for the show and retained three popular oldies: “Eye of the Tiger,” “Gonna Fly Now” and “Take You Back.” Because the story is set in Philadelphia in 1975, “the score combines a lot of sounds of the period — funk, soul, pop, rock and folk,” Flaherty says. “We look back to that time, but it is really a contemporary score.”

Rocky: Das Musical opened in Germany in November 2012, produced by Stage Entertainment, as well as Sylvester Stallone, creator, writer and star of the 1976 Rocky movie, which received 10 Oscar nominations. Germans loved the show. The front page of Hamburg’s daily newspaper declared, “Big Emotions, Big Theater.” And the city’s biggest tabloid announced, “‘Rocky’ Knocks Hamburg Out!”

Of course, both producers had hoped to move the show to Broadway eventually and did so even though the German production is still packing houses to rave reviews more than a year later.

“It has been an amazing adventure,” Flaherty says. “Our international cast in Germany comes from 12 different countries, and our band features some of the best players I’ve ever worked with. I’m having the time of my life. Thank God for the ‘Basic German For Dummies’ app!”

The Tony-winning writing team of composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens.

The Tony-winning writing team of composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens.

Flaherty and Ahrens have been writing popular musicals for 30 years, including two shows that won Tonys for best scores — Once on This Island in 1991 and Ragtime in 1998. The book for the latter was written by Terrance McNally, who won a Tony for his creation and who also wrote the book for Rocky.

In addition, Flaherty received a 2001 Drama Desk nomination for outstanding music for Seussical, which was originally scored for Broadway, later revised for a national tour, then revised again for junior-theater productions. For years, it has been one of the top three most-licensed properties in Music Theatre International’s licensing catalog.

You can learn more about Stephen Flaherty courtesy of UC Magazine.

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How a CCM Alumnus Helped the Grinch Steal Christmas

CCM alumnus Albert Hague in his Marina Del Rey living room in 1998.

CCM alumnus Albert Hague in his Marina Del Rey living room in 1998.

Did you know that CCM alumnus Albert Hague (CCM, 42) composed “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” as an audition piece to win the job scoring the 1966 TV movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas?

UC Magazine‘s Deborah Rieselman interviewed Hague in 1997 and got the inside scoop on how this now-iconic song came together. You can read the 2001 feature article here.

When Jim Carrey made the story into a full-length feature film in 2000, Hague’s song and much of his score accompanied the movie, and he was listed in the credits.

In honor of the season, you can enjoy an excerpt from How the Grinch Stole Christmas below:

Hague was also well known for playing the role of Mr. Shorofsky, the music teacher, in the TV series Fame from 1982-87. In addition, his musical Plain and Fancy, a story set among the Amish of Pennsylvania, is performed all year long, and has been for decades, in Nappanee, Ind.

Hague passed away in November of 2011 at the age of 81.

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CCM and the ‘Mary Poppins’ Connection

CCM alumna Ashley Brown (far left) as Mary Poppins on Broadway.

CCM alumna Ashley Brown (far left) as Mary Poppins on Broadway.

Saving Mr. Banks opens in movie theaters today to remind us how in 1962 Walt Disney turned the original Mary Poppins into something magical. But its magic continued to grow in the following half a century with each doll, storybook and set of branded building blocks that were created.

Perhaps its biggest spoonful of sugar might have been the 2006 Broadway opening of Mary Poppins the musical, starring CCM alumna Ashley Brown (BFA, 04) in the title role. All told, five CCM alumni appeared in the cast.

On Broadway, Brown was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her performance as Mary Poppins. The musical won one Tony and was nominated for seven more, including best musical. It also won two Drama Desk Awards and was nominated for five more. Ultimately, the musical won 44 major theatre awards around the globe.

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