Dean Mogle holds the white and black swan design sketches for CCM's production of Swan Lake.

From Sketch to Stage: The Making of CCM’s ‘Swan Lake’ Costumes

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There is a shortage of tutu makers in the world, said CCM Professor and Head of the Costume Design and Technology Program Dean Mogle, who faced the daunting task of designing costumes for Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet.

CCM is working to fix that shortage by training the next generation of costume designers and technicians, whose work will debut on stage in the conservatory’s first ballet production to have costumes designed and built in-house.

A timeless tale of love, magic and mystery, Swan Lake will grace the Corbett Auditorium stage from April 22-24, marking the second time in CCM’s nearly 150-year history that a full-length story ballet has been included in the Mainstage Series.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Staff and students within the Costume Design and Technology program have worked on the ‘Swan Lake’ costumes for the past 18 months.

Presented by CCM’s Department of Dance, the ballet uses three different casts and the principal roles are all double cast ­— which is challenging for the costume shop students and staff responsible for ensuring the pieces fit each dancer correctly.

“You have to understand what dancers go through—what they need,” Mogle said. “Balance becomes really important.”

Costume designers and technicians must consider the weight of the fabrics and headpieces so the dancer can retain their natural balance. There is also limited “real estate” on the costume for artistic expression or characterization, Mogle said. If a female dancer needs to be lifted, safety dictates the fabric around her waist can’t be too slick and can’t get caught on anything.

“The ballet world is a totally different beast.”

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Newly designed costumes for the Hungarian Czardas in Act III of ‘Swan Lake,’ made by costume students and staff. To the far right is Prince Siegfried’s jacket, made by Jessica Barksdale.

Mogle, with a team of students and faculty within the Costume Design and Technology program, has worked on the Swan Lake costumes for the past 18 months. They’ve borrowed and modified some costumes from a previous CCM performance of Brigadoon and the Broadway production of Cyrano, The Musical. Costumes for the principal and specialty roles in the ballet are newly designed and made.

Iconic white tutus, bodices, vibrant dresses and rich fabrics have taken over their workshop. The costumes are designed in the traditional style typically associated with the classic ballet. CCM plans to reuse and rent out some of them after the performance.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Jessica Barksdale is building Mogle’s design for Prince Siegfried’s costume, which will be worn in Acts III and IV.

Mogle, who previously designed costumes for the Cincinnati Ballet’s The Nutcracker, watched five or six different productions of Swan Lake to prepare for his costume designs. The pieces are still evolving on a daily basis, he said.

“Since we are making the production to last about 30 or 40 years, we don’t ever want to get too wild and crazy with the concept because it is pretty traditional,” Mogle said. “The things that really change in a traditional ballet like this are going to be the specialty characters.”

Those include the newly designed and made pieces that will be worn at the ball in Act III, where the Queen invites potential wives from Poland, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Naples and Poland to match with her son, Prince Siegfried.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

A sketch and sleeve of Von Rothbart’s Act III costume, made by Erin Winslow.

At the ball, Prince Siegfried will wear a newly designed black and gold jacket made by Jessica Barksdale, first-year costume technology graduate student. Rothbart, the evil sorcerer who cursed the prince’s love Odette, will wear an intricately detailed costume made by senior costume technology student, Erin Winslow, as part of her capstone project.

Barskdale and Winslow are also making the iconic white and black swan costumes for leading female characters Odette and Odile. Associate Professor of Costume Technology Regina Truhart is managing all costume production for the ballet.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

The in-progress white and black swan costumes for characters Odette and Odile are being made by Jessica Barksdale and Erin Winslow, respectively.

After 27 years at CCM, Mogle is familiar with the 30,000 costume pieces the conservatory has in stock. Luckily, the costume department was able to pull pieces from past performances of Brigadoon and Cyrano to modify them for courtier and peasant costumes in Swan Lake.

The costume department dyed some of the costumes in bright jewel tones and added details such as sashes, sleeves, aprons and hats. Net petticoats were used to make the costumes lighter and easier to dance in.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Costumes from the CCM production of ‘Brigadoon’ are being modified for the female peasants in Act I of ‘Swan Lake.’

“Every time we do [Swan Lake], we’ll add more to it and rely less on our costume stock,” Mogle said, adding that when the ballet is performed again in 6 years they will likely build new peasant costumes.

“That’s how some companies do it anyway. They’ll use tutus from many kinds of shows. Pulling together a show like this from all of these different places is a great exercise.”

Acquiring materials is one hurdle but then, of course, the costumes must actually fit.

It helps that musical theatre bodies and dancer bodies are similar in stature, Mogle said. It would cost around $5,000 to reproduce one of the Cyrano costumes today.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Costume technicians included three clasp sizes on the ‘Swan Lake’ bodices so they can be adjusted for different dancers.

With three different casts, and double-cast principals, it was important to make the costumes interchangeable for different dancers. The technicians included three clasp sizes for the bodices to make them more adjustable and, in some cases, built extra costumes.

The process and pieces are evolving daily, with more adjustments expected after fittings and the dress rehearsals. A beautiful design can look perfect on a mannequin but flawed when put on a body that needs to breathe, dance and kick. That is why it’s important for the costuming students to learn each step in the creative process, said Mogle.

 “The whole focus of our program is teaching design and technology so designers know how to make stuff and makers know how to design stuff. So they all have the same sensibility as to how things should look and how they should be handled. If the knowledge base in those two roles isn’t strong then things fall apart.”

After the designs are sketched, the appropriate fabrics need to be found, Mogle said of the costuming process. Then there’s making the patterns and cutting them out of the cloth and stitching them together. There’s also fabric painting and dying and mask and jewelry making.

“Each one of those is a profession in itself,” Mogle said. “The more skills you have as a technician and the more kinds of plays and operas and ballets that you can design as a designer, your job market opens up. It’s a good part of training and real life experience.”

Co-directed by Dance Department Chair Jiang Qi and Associate Professor of Dance Deirdre Carberry, the Mainstage Series production features students from CCM’s BFA Ballet program. The lavishly staged spectacle features accompaniment by CCM’s lauded Concert Orchestra under the direction of Assistant Professor of Music Aik Khai Pung.

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Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake runs April. 22 – 24 in Corbett Auditorium. Tickets are $27-31 for adults, $17-20 for non-UC students and $15-18 UC students with a valid ID.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/swan-lake.

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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Community Partner: ArtsWave

Production Sponsors: Rosemary & Mark Schlachter, Teri Jory & Seth Geiger and Graeter’s
____________________

Story by Rebecca Butts

CCM News CCM Slideshows Faculty Fanfare Student Salutes
CCM Dance presents 'Swan Lake.'

CCM Dance Presents Lavish New Production of Enduring Classic Ballet ‘Swan Lake’ April 22-24, 2016

Swan Lake

Madison Holschuh as Odette and Samuel Jones as Prince Siegfried in CCM’s production of ‘Swan Lake.’ Photo by René Micheo.

CCM’s Department of Dance presents Tchaikovsky’s timeless ballet, Swan Lake, April 22-24 in Corbett Auditorium. Co-directed by Dance Department Chair Jiang Qi and Associate Professor of Dance Deirdre Carberry, the Mainstage Series production features students from CCM’s BFA Ballet program, which Dance Magazine has hailed as one of the country’s “top programs to consider.” The lavishly staged spectacle features accompaniment by CCM’s lauded Concert Orchestra under the direction of Assistant Professor of Music Aik Khai Pung.

A tale of unending love and haunting mystery, Swan Lake is one of the most well-known fables of our time. The classic Russian ballet is performed in four acts and tells the story of Odette, a maiden turned into a swan by the evil sorcerer, Von Rothbart.

Disinterested in potential love matches arranged by his mother, Prince Siegfried is in search of a wife when he stumbles upon Odette during a night hunt. The two fall madly in love but their romance is hindered by Odette’s curse – which forces her and her fellow maidens to become swans by day and human by night.

Swan Lake marks only the second time in CCM’s nearly 150-year history that a full-length story ballet has been included in the Mainstage Series. As a result, this production features brand new costumes designed and built in-house, which is actually a CCM first.

Costume Design and Technology Program Head Dean Mogle spent 18 months on the creation of Swan Lake’s intricate costumes. For the past 40 years, Mogle has designed for numerous drama, musical theatre, opera and dance productions, including the Cincinnati Ballet’s The Nutcracker.

“The ballet world is a totally different beast,” Mogle said of the challenging costume designs. “In dance, it’s all about the body and movement.”

In addition to the famous white swan costumes traditionally associated with the ballet, the story will come to life with vibrant colors and rich fabrics adorning the talented performers of CCM Dance. In particular, keep an eye out for the intricately designed costumes worn by Prince Siegfried’s potential wives on display during the opulent ball in Act III.

For this production, the iconic role of Odette will be performed by dance majors Yu-Ting Huang (on Friday and Sunday) and Madison Holschuh (on Saturday).

Guest artist Patric Palkens, appearing by permission of the Cincinnati Ballet, will perform as Prince Siegfried in the Friday and Sunday performances of Swan Lake. Palkens joined the Cincinnati Ballet in 2011 and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 2015. He returns to Cincinnati after spending a year in Europe with Salzburg State Theater Austria Dance.

The ballet will also feature Assistant Professor of Dance André Megerdichian, who will dance the role of evil sorcerer Von Rothbart. Megerdichian has performed professionally over two decades with such companies and choreographers as the Jose Limón Dance company, Janis Brenner and Dancers, The Mary Anthony Dance Theatre, Soundance Repertory Company, Reidel Dance Theatre, Daniel Charon and Sean Curran.

Join us for this timeless tale of love and magic in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium April 22-24.

Performance Times

  • 8 p.m. Friday, April 22
  • 8 p.m. Saturday, April 23
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, April 24

Location
Corbett Auditorium, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to Swan Lake are $27-31 for adults, $17-20 for non-UC students and $15-18 for UC students with a valid ID.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/swan-lake.

Parking and Directions

Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the new U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.

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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Production Sponsors: Rosemary & Mark Schlachter, Teri Jory & Seth Geiger and Graeter’s

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Story by CCM and UC Lindner College of Business graduate student Ryan Strand (BFA Musical Theatre, 2006)

CCM News Faculty Fanfare
The logo for Broadway's Lysistrata Jones.

CCM Musical Theatre Presents Energetic Comedy ‘Lysistrata Jones’ April 7-9, 2016

 

CCM caps off its 2015-16 series of musical theatre productions with Lewis Flinn and Douglas Carter Beane’s Lysistrata Jones, a modern pop retelling of the classic Greek comedy Lysistrata by Aristophanes.

The witty, high energy musical runs April 7 – 9 in the Cohen Family Studio Theater, featuring stage direction by Assistant Professor Emma Griffin, choreography by Adjunct Assistant Professor Patti James and Music Direction by CCM student Danny White. Like all Studio Series productions, admission to Lysistrata Jones is free, but reservations are required. Tickets become available at the CCM Box Office at noon on Monday, April 4.

Lysistrata Jones closely parallels the plot of the ancient Lysistrata, albeit with some artistic liberties that bring the story into the 21st century. In Aristophanes’ original, Lysistrata leads the women of Athens to stop having sex with their husbands and lovers until the long-lasting Peloponnesian War has finally ended. In the modern musical, the men’s basketball team at fictional Athens University has lost every game for the last 30 years when a cheerleader named Lysistrata “Lyssie J.” Jones transfers to the school. Lyssie J. inspires the girls at the school to stop “giving it up” to their boyfriends on the team until they finally win a game.

“It’s very clever,” says director Emma Griffin, “Anyone who knows the classic play really well will be delighted at the intelligence of the remake. But you don’t need to know the original at all, kind of like you don’t need to know Romeo and Juliet to understand and love West Side Story.”

Griffin and her creative team have turned CCM’s Cohen Family Studio Theater into a basketball arena, but Griffin is quick to point out that this is not your garden variety high school gymnasium:

“The creative team and I spent a lot of time looking at very heightened representations of sports and pop music. We also looked at comic books for some of the styling as well. So what you’ll see is a very colorful, poppy setting.”

The original Broadway production of Lysistrata Jones was reviewed extremely well, with Ben Brantley of the New York Times likening the show to the fun-filled Broadway musicals of the 1940s and 50s. He made sure to add, however, that “there’s a tasty substance beneath the froth.” Griffin agrees:

“This show does something that I think is quite difficult to do in terms of tone: it’s super poppy and funny, but the story is told in a very witty and intelligent way.”

With free admission and limited seating, CCM’s Studio Series productions remain one of the hottest tickets in town.

Learn more about how secure your tickets by visiting ccm.uc.edu/about/villagenews/did-you-know/how-to-studio-series.

CCM’s production of Lysistrata Jones is rated PG-13. There is no strong language or nudity; the subject matter includes sexual innuendo, but nothing overt.

LYSISTRATA JONES
A Musical Comedy About Faith, Hoops and Chastity
Book by Douglas Carter Beane
Music and lyrics by Lewis Flinn

Performance Times 

  • 8 p.m. Thursday, April 7
  • 8 p.m. Friday, April 8
  • 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 9

PLEASE NOTE: the 8 p.m. performance of Lysistrata Jones on April 9 will coincide with an FC Cincinnati game scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in Nippert Stadium.

Location
Cohen Family Studio Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Reserving Tickets
Admission to Lysistrata Jones is free, but reservations are required. Tickets become available at noon on Monday, April 4. Visit the CCM Box Office or call 513-556-4183 to reserve. Limit two tickets per order.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the new U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.

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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Community Partner: ArtsWave

Lysistrata Jones is presented by arrangement with TAMS WITMARK MUSIC LIBRARY, INC., 560 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10022

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Story by CCM and UC Lindner College of Business graduate student Ryan Strand (BFA Musical Theatre, 2006)

CCM News
CCM Drama's class of 2016.

CCM Drama Holds Annual Senior Showcase and Dolly Awards on March 18, 2016

CCM Drama's class of 2016.

CCM Drama’s class of 2016.

CCM’s Department of Drama presents its 2016 Senior Showcase at 2 and 7 p.m. on Friday, March 18, in Patricia Corbett Theater. The annual DOLLY Awards ceremony follows the 7 p.m. showcase performance and includes the recognition of an outstanding alumnus of the program. These events are free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.

The showcase performance will consist of a variety of scenes by graduating seniors in CCM’s Drama program, demonstrating the depth and breadth of the acting skills they have honed during their undergraduate training at CCM. The Senior Showcase will be the first presentation of a performance that the students will be taking on the road to exhibit their talent in New York and Los Angeles. You can learn more about the Drama Class of 2016 by visiting ccm.uc.edu/theatre/drama/seniorshowcase-classof2016.

Hosted by Professor Richard E. Hess, CCM’s A.B., Dolly, Ralph and Julia Cohen Chair of Dramatic Performance, the annual CCM Drama DOLLY Awards recognize the outstanding achievements and performances of students in the Department of Drama. Awards are given for Excellence in Performance and Excellence in Ensemble Performance from the 2015-16 CCM Drama season, which included the productions TRANSMIGRATION 2015, You’re Welcome: A Cycle of Bad Plays, Pentecost, The Hunchback of Seville and Ah, Wilderness!.

CCM Drama alumnus Michael Littig in Africa in 2011.

CCM Drama alumnus Michael Littig in Africa in 2011.

The highlight of the Dolly Awards ceremony will be the presentation of the 2016 Julia Winter Cohen Career Excellence Award to a graduate of CCM Drama. This year’s honoree is alumnus Michael Littig (BFA Drama, 2005).

Littig has worked as an actor, teaching artist and theatre maker. As an actor, his US credits include NYSF/Public Theater, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey, Portland Stage Company, Los Angeles Theater Center, Z Space, Hangar Theater, the Utah Shakespeare Festival and the Hippodrome Theatre as a resident company member.

Internationally, Littig has performed in A Dreamplay (United Arab Emirates), Juárez: A Documentary Mythology (Mexico/UAE/Lebanon), HEARTPIECE (Mongolia) and Hamlet/Ur Hamlet (UAE) as an associate artist with New York/Abu Dhabi-based Theater Mitu. In addition, Littig has diligently continued various global research initiatives towards a continuous development and articulation of Theater Mitu’s training methodology of “Whole Theater.”

Littig has served on faculty at the NYU Graduate Actor Training Program, Shakespeare Society, Stella Adler Conservatory and is a co-founder of the Patrick Page Studio in New York. His awards and recognition include a NEA Arts Works grant, a NEFA Touring grant and a Fulbright Fellowship to examine the relationship between a shaman and an actor in Mongolia.

Littig is the founder of the Great Globe Foundation and the Dadaab Theater Project. The work of the Great Globe Foundation has facilitated artistic collaborations with the United Nations High Council for Refugees, US State Department, Save the Children and FilmAid International. At present time, the Dadaab Theater Project continues in Africa in collaboration with Real Life Poets, a poetry exchange program between Alabama students and refugees living in Kenya.

Performance Times
2 and 7 p.m. Friday, March 18

Location
Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Admission Details
Admission to the CCM Drama Senior Showcase and DOLLY Awards Ceremony is FREE and open to the general public. Reservations are not required.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the new U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.

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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Community Partner: ArtsWave

CCM Alumni Applause Student Salutes
TRANSMIGRATION, CCM Drama's festival of student-created new works.

CCM Drama Students Present Original Works at Annual TRANSMIGRATION Festival

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This week, CCM proudly presents its TRANSMIGRATION Festival of Student-Created New Works. Students from CCM’s Department of Drama are assigned to teams and given full creative license in this annual festival, which runs March 10 – 12 in CCM Village. Admission is FREE, but reservations are required.

The TRANSMIGRATION Festival offers the opportunity for CCM Drama students to flex their writing, producing, designing and directing muscles while building 25-minute original plays from the ground up.

“The creative teams are chosen totally at random,” says producer and Assistant Professor of Drama Brant Russell. “Essentially everyone gets together on the first day of the semester and counts off one through six.”

The student groups are then left to their own devices to figure out a theme, assign roles and produce an entirely new piece of theater. Russell explains, “Department Chair Richard Hess and I are the producers, so we help them coordinate the festival, but we are fairly hands off… and that is on purpose, pedagogically speaking. We guide our students and nudge them one way or the other and give feedback, but they really build it.”

“In the contemporary theatre landscape, it would be irresponsible of us to turn out brilliant actors who only know how to wait by the phone for an audition and don’t know how to create their own work,” Russell suggests.

One of the goals of TRANSMIGRATION is to assist the students in finding their artistic voice. “Every voice is unique and every voice is so clearly articulated in these pieces,” says Russell. One of those voices is senior Bartley Booz whose group has chosen an unorthodox subject to write about: bees.

“Bees are an intrinsic and beautiful part of our environment,” Booz observes while explaining his team’s new play, Colony Collapse Disorder. “However, these bees are not immune to danger. Spores from a parasitic fungus called cordyceps may infiltrate their bodies and their minds,” he suggests. Although bees and their maladies are not usually fodder for new plays, one of the unique and exciting aspects of this festival is that students are given free reign to create, which means that unconventional ideas are not only tolerated, they are encouraged and are often the most enjoyable for the audience. When asked about the motivations to write his piece, Booz offers: “Desperation. Isolation. Bees.” Now that’s a unique voice.

Also on the docket for this year’s festival is The Home, a slightly more traditional show from sophomore Lauren Carter and her team. Carter describes the play as being about two siblings and their friends who sneak into a morgue to recover their grandfather’s valuable ring before his funeral. “Conflict arises when the siblings realize they aren’t alone in their endeavors,” she says, “and the stakes are raised when they discover they’re stuck inside the funeral home.”

The Home was actually idea number two for Carter and her group; Carter explains, “We decided on a concept very early on, then this past week we realized the direction we were headed wasn’t right. We put that idea aside and decided we would take aspects of it and turn it into the show we are currently working on. TRANSMIGRATION is a great opportunity to learn when to say yes and when to say no if it just isn’t working.”

Each of the six groups has their own story of creation and will present vastly different and daring plays at the end of the process. According to Russell, this is a point of pride for he and the faculty.

“My favorite part of this whole thing is that you get to see work from students that you never suspected would come out of their mouths, it’s so cool, their personalities emerge,” Russell says.

Audience members will have the opportunity to customize their evening of theatre experiences by choosing to watch as many as four different productions, which are performed simultaneously in non-traditional spaces throughout CCM’s Corbett Center for the Performing Arts.

Performance Times

  • • 7 p.m. Thursday, March 10
  • • 7 p.m. Friday, March 11
  • • 7 p.m. Saturday, March 12

Location
Various locations around CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Reserving Tickets
Admission to CCM’s  TRANSMIGRATION Festival is free, but reservations are required. Visit the CCM Box Office or call 513-556-4183 to reserve. Limit two tickets per order.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the new U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.

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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Community Partner: ArtsWave

Drama Studio Series Sponsors: Neil Artman & Margaret Straub

CCM News Student Salutes
The set for CCM's Mainstage Series production of Green Day's 'American Idiot.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

A Discussion With ‘American Idiot’ Set Designer Thomas Umfrid

The curtain rises on CCM’s production of Green Day’s punk rock-opera American Idiot  at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, but the behind-the-scenes work has been going on for months. Much of the design process for a musical must be completed before actors even step into the rehearsal hall, but the work doesn’t end there. It continues all the way to opening night.

Thomas Umfrid, American Idiot set designer and Professor of Stage Design at CCM, is no stranger to the process. His career has taken him around the world, designing for opera, drama, musical theatre, dance and more. We were able to tear him away from his hectic schedule leading up to opening night to give us a little insight about his design.

Talk about the overall design for American Idiot and how you came up with it.

An image of the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in New York City.

An image from ground zero in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attack in New York City.

Director Aubrey Berg came up with the design concept, a lot of which is based on iconographic 9/11 imagery, which I then developed into the design.

This project has an overriding environmental conceit and isn’t supposed to be any particular time or place.  It’s a space that evokes a dark and pessimistic mood and serves the loosely episodic stage action.

The music and lyrics aren’t pretty or glamorous, they ’re down and dirty. So is the set.

How does the set help tell the story?

Although the story deals with events passing in time and inter-related characters, it doesn’t necessitate “in focus” scenic environments, time of day or symbolic references to actual places.

For example, the characters go to New York, but the city isn’t directly rendered in any particularly recognizable way. It could be any big western city where marginalized and drugged out suburban youth have fled to try and find themselves, and in so doing, get terribly lost in the process.

How close is the actual product on stage to the initial ideas?

There is always a natural, and expected, “page to stage” evolution of a set design from the scale model and mechanical drawings to the real thing sitting on stage.

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My student, staff and faculty colleagues have done an incredible job of developing and translating Aubrey’s and my ideas to the stage. When the cast moves into the theater and begins to explore the, at times, 28 foot high stage after weeks of rehearsal in a rather neutral and barrier free rehearsal hall, I’ll have a much better idea of how successful we’ve been in translating our ideas to the stage. This is always a crucial and exciting phase of any show.

What was most important to you to convey through the set?

I hope the audience will be subconsciously affected by the environment and, rather than notice anything in particular about the set, have a visceral reaction as they experience the show as a whole entity.
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American Idiot runs March 3 – 13 at CCM’s Patricia Corbett Theater. This production contains mature subject matter, including references to drug use, sexual content and profanity. Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/american-idiot.

CCM's Mainstage Series production of Green Day's 'American Idiot' plays March 3 - 13, 2016.

CCM’s Mainstage Series production of Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ plays March 3 – 13, 2016.

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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Community Partner: ArtsWave

American Idiot is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. 421 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019 | Phone: 212-541-4684 | Fax: 212-397-4684 | www.MTIShows.com

CCM News CCM Slideshows Faculty Fanfare

CCM Dance Presents Student Choreographers’ Showcase March 3 – 5, 2016

CCM’s Department of Dance proudly presents the annual Dance Student Choreographers’ Showcase in the intimate Cohen Family Studio Theater from March 3 – 5, 2016. Dance Department faculty members Andre Megerdichian and Michael Tevlin will direct the diverse collection of student-produced pieces. Admission is free, but reservations are required.

CCM Dance's annual Student Choreographers' Showcase returns March 3 - 5, 2016. Photo by Will Brenner.

CCM Dance’s annual Student Choreographers’ Showcase returns March 3 – 5, 2016. Photo by Will Brenner.

This year’s showcase features the new works of six talented undergraduate choreographers. To be selected for this highly competitive program, students submitted proposals and performed brief selections from their pieces several months ago.

“We were looking for maturity and thoughtfulness. Essentially we were investing in potential,” says Megerdichian. This year’s talented crop includes Jake Elwell, Brooke Fabian, Sterling Faust, Brianna Levy, Kiahna Saneshige and Emma Webb.

Outgoing senior Brianna Levy is one of the talented student-choreographers who will be featured. Her contemporary ballet piece for eight dancers is titled Within Dreams.

Levy explains, “I’ve had the idea to choreograph a dance revolving around dreams for a long time, and the fact that I am nearing the conclusion of my education at CCM makes this the perfect time to bring this piece to life.”

She continues, “We are the most uninhibited in our dreams, they grant us the ability to explore any and all worlds, allow us to express our deepest fears, present a means to revisit the past and give voice to our most secret desires and aspirations. Dreams provide the driving force behind our daily lives – if not for our dreams, what would we be living for?”

The dance is divided into three sections, all featuring music by The Album Leaf (a solo music project inspired by classical, jazz and post-rock electronica). “The first section presents an entrance into the dream world, introducing the more exploratory and wondrous side of dreams. The second section, featuring a pas de deux, revolves around dreams of longing, love and loss. The third and final section takes a look at the more celebratory aspect of dreams – dreams that inspire us to strive and achieve, that transcend the world of sleep to our waking reality,” explains Levy.

Another young choreographer whose work will be showcased is sophomore Emma Webb. Webb, a Cincinnati native, is choreographing a contemporary ballet on pointe with 12 dancers titled Embracing the Battle. “The push and pull, ups and downs and turn of events in life were the inspiration for this piece,” remarks Webb. She says her choreographic style is designed to showcase the many talents of her fellow classmates. “I want to show off the dancers’ technique, but also allow them to put their artistic and expressive flair on each movement,” she says. “I am enjoying this process of working with such talented students!”

The rest of the concert features diverse works ranging from hip-hop dance to classical ballet; each piece is conceived and created by the students themselves.

Megerdichian remarks, “Our students are extremely talented and self-motivated, so we just make sure to have the resources in place to help them achieve their vision.”

With free admission and limited seating, CCM’s Studio Series productions remain one of the hottest tickets in town. Learn more about how to secure your tickets by visiting ccm.uc.edu/about/villagenews/did-you-know/how-to-studio-series.

Performance Times

  • 8 p.m. Thursday, March 3
  • 8 p.m. Friday, March 4
  • 2 & 8 p.m. Saturday, March 5

Location
Cohen Family Studio Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Reserving Tickets
Admission to the Dance Student Choreographer’s Showcase is free, but reservations are required. Visit the CCM Box Office or call 513-556-4183 to reserve. Limit two tickets per order.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the new U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.

____

CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Community Partner: ArtsWave

The Dance Department gratefully acknowledges the support of the Corbett Endowment at CCM.

CCM News Student Salutes
From left to right, Louis Griffin, Ben Biggers, John Battagliese and Chris Collins-Pisano in CCM's production of AMERICAN IDIOT. Photo by Mark Lyons.

CCM Pushes Boundaries With Green Day’s Punk Rock Musical ‘American Idiot,’ March 3 – 13, 2016

From left to right, Louis Griffin, Ben Biggers, John Battagliese and Chris Collins-Pisano in CCM's production of AMERICAN IDIOT. Photo by Mark Lyons.

From left to right, Louis Griffin, Ben Biggers, John Battagliese and Chris Collins-Pisano in CCM’s production of AMERICAN IDIOT. Photo by Mark Lyons.

CCM proudly presents the first local production of Green Day‘s iconic musical American Idiot from March 3 – 13 in Patricia Corbett Theater. The through-sung rock opera is directed by Patricia A. Corbett Distinguished Chair of Musical Theatre Aubrey Berg with musical direction by Adjunct Instructor of Musical Theatre Steve Goers.

Although many think of Broadway musicals as saccharin sweet, there have been shows throughout the decades that have burst onto the scene, changing theatre forever and defining a generation.

“In 1944, Leonard Bernstein’s ‘On The Town’ brought fresh faces and a jazz-inflected score to Broadway. My generation grooved to the sound of ‘Hair.’ In the 90s there was ‘Rent’ by Jonathan Larson, and for the current generation, it is ‘American Idiot’,” says Berg.

A high octane adaptation of Green Day’s 2004 Grammy-winning concept album of the same name, American Idiot features a raucous and exhilarating punk rock score yet offers a simple, contemporary fable in the style of the Brothers Grimm. Three disaffected young men – Johnny, Will and Tunny – plan to flee a stifling suburban lifestyle and parental restrictions. Along the way they deal with drugs, lost love, war, inner turmoil and living in an America that is forever changed and roiled by dark events, including the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the Iraq War.

Making sure CCM’s production reflects the style and temperament of the current generation was important to Berg. “American Idiot is a musical by the young, for the young,” he says. To keep the presentation authentic, Berg surrounded himself with a creative team of students. His associate director and choreographer, Tom Meglio and Samantha Pollino respectively, are both graduating seniors and are the perfect candidates to help shape this production.

American Idiot was one of our generation’s very first artistic expressions of events that are ever present in our consciousness because, for the very first time, our generation can say: we lived them,” Meglio and Pollino suggest.

CCM’s production is set three years before the release of the album in the aftermath of the events of 9/11. Meglio and Pollino explain, “We wanted to create an atmosphere of immediacy, to highlight the themes of the show as a response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and explore the period of upheaval that immediately followed.”

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Great theatre can delight and entertain, but it can also challenge audiences to confront their own closely held views and perceptions. American Idiot deals with potentially incendiary subjects. The show is loud, abrasive and confrontational. The language is raw and constant. There is simulated sex and simulated drug use. The musical presents an uncompromising view of a dystopian America, but it is also a foray into the psyche of a young generation struggling to make sense of its place in the world at a particular moment in time.

“In addition to ‘rocking out,’ we ask the audience to take a moment to connect with, reflect on and embrace this piece as a raw fragment of history presented with the utmost respect and many unanswered questions,” Meglio and Pollino conclude.

CCM’s production of American Idiot is not recommended for children or those easily offended.

Official logo for Green Day's 'American Idiot.'
Music by Green Day
Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong
Book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer

The Company

  • Ben Biggers as Johnny
  • John Battagliese as St. Jimmy
  • Clara Cox as Whatsername
  • Chris Collins-Pisano as Will
  • Shauna Topian as Heather
  • Louis Griffin as Tunny
  • Cameron Anika Hill as Extraordinary Girl
  • with Kyra Christopher, EJ Dohring, Joel Flynn, Ciara Alyse Harris, Marissa Hecker, Tyler Jent, Phillip Johnson, Chris Kelley, Stavros Koumbaros, Jackson Matteck, Emily Ashton Meredith, Hamilton Moore, Anya Olsen, Alex Stone, Donelvan Thigpen, Madelaine Vandenberg and Keaton Whittaker.

The Creative Team

  • Aubrey Berg, director
  • Stephen Goers, musical director
  • Samantha Pollino, choreographer
  • Thomas C. Umfrid, scenic designer
  • CJ Mellides, lighting designer
  • Kevin Semancik, sound designer
  • Jillian Coratti, costume designer
  • Jillian Floyd, wig & make-up designer
  • Tom Meglio, assistant director
  • k. Jenny Jones, fight choreographer
  • Jenny Rissover, stage manager
  • Tom Kitt, musical arrangements and orchestrations

Performance Times

  • 8 p.m. Thursday, March 3
  • 8 p.m. Friday, March 4
  • 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 5
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, March 6
  • 8 p.m. Thursday, March 10
  • 8 p.m. Friday, March 11
  • 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 12
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, March 13

Location
Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to American Idiot are $31-35 for adults, $20-24 for non-UC students and $18-22 for UC students with a valid ID.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/american-idiot.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the new U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.
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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Community Partner: ArtsWave

American Idiot is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. 421 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019 | Phone: 212-541-4684 | Fax: 212-397-4684 | www.MTIShows.com

CCM News
Beverly Hills Bar Association logo.

CCM Alumnus Darrell D. Miller Named 2016 Entertainment Lawyer of the Year

CCM’s Department of Musical Theatre has produced scores of successful graduates over the years. Alumni of the program have been seen on Broadway, on television, in movies and in theaters around the country. They work as actors, dancers, writers, directors, producers, musicians and lawyers.

Yes, you read that last sentence correctly: lawyers!

CCM alumnus Darrell D. Miller.

CCM alumnus Darrell D. Miller.

Case in point: alumnus Darrell D. Miller (BM Musical Theatre, 1985) has recently been named Entertainment Lawyer of the Year by the Beverly Hills Bar AssociationThe Beverly Hills Bar Association boasts the largest entertainment law section in the country and awards this particular honor to an attorney whose accomplishments contribute greatly to the profession. Throughout his career, Miller has certainly embodied that description.

This is just the latest in a long line of honors for Miller. The CCM graduate has also been recognized in Variety‘s prestigious “Dealmakers Impact Report” for three consecutive years, made Hollywood Reporter’s list of the Top 100 Power Lawyers and was named the National Bar Association Entertainment Attorney of the Year in 2012.

After graduating from CCM, Miller began his professional life as an actor touring with several national production companies. He also landed a lead role in the jazz opera Leo and traveled with an international tour of the musical The Princess and the Pea. Miller then took his career in a slightly different direction.

In 1990, Miller received his Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center, and has gone on to become one of the world’s leading entertainment attorneys, working in film, television, theatre and digital media. Now the managing partner of Fox Rothschild LLP’s Los Angeles offices and the chair of the firm’s Entertainment Law Department, Miller’s client list includes Academy Award-nominated actress Angela Bassett, star of the hit CBS program NCIS (and fellow Cincinnati-native and SCPA alumnus) Roscoe “Rocky“ Carroll, music mogul and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, reality television star NeNe Leakes and more.

In addition to his decorated law career, Miller recently released his first book, The 16th Minute of Fame, which details the serious perils that come with blindly embracing and enjoying the fleeting fun of celebrity fame and fast money.

Miller explains some of his motivation to write the book, “In reflection, I would say that getting into CCM and performing with the CLO was my first 15 minutes of fame, but at the time, I was just enjoying the experience and praying that it would last.”

Miller’s experience as a performer gives him great insight and has helped him build a career guiding those in the entertainment industry through their first “15 minutes” and maintain their success. Part professional memoir, part insider’s guide to the entertainment industry and part manual for strategic career planning, The 16th Minute of Fame ultimately focuses on the pathways to a more successful life.

Miller will be honored by the Beverly Hills Bar Association during an awards ceremony on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. The entire University of Cincinnati community congratulates him on this latest award and wishes him continued success in the future!

To learn more about Darrell D. Miller and his work in the entertainment industry, visit www.foxrothschild.com/darrell-d-miller.

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News

CCM Drama Presents Bittersweet Production of Eugene O’Neill’s Comedy ‘Ah, Wilderness!’ Feb. 10-14

CCM resumes its Mainstage Series with Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness!: A Comedy of Recollection in Three Acts, playing Feb. 11-14 with a special preview performance on Wednesday, Feb. 10. The show also bids a fond farewell to its director, and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies, R. Terrell Finney as he retires from fulltime status at CCM.

Poster for CCM's February 2016 production of AH, WILDERNESS!The words “Eugene O’Neill” and “comedy” are rarely used in the same sentence unless that sentence is “Eugene O’Neill does NOT write comedy.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of Long Day’s Journey into Night and Mourning Becomes Electra is primarily known for his semi-autobiographical plays about characters who struggle to maintain their hopes and aspirations but ultimately slide into despair and disillusionment. Ah, Wilderness! is not one of those plays.

Set in an idyllic Connecticut town (presumably New London, O’Neill’s hometown) on the Fourth of July weekend of 1906, the play focuses on the Miller family and their 16-year-old son Richard, whose coming of age story offers a tender portrait of small town family values, teenage growing pains, and young love.

“It’s really quite the opposite of a typical O’Neill family story,” says director R. Terrell Finney. “The subtitle of the play is ‘A Comedy of Recollection,’ so my take on it is this is the family unit that O’Neill wishes he had.”

Even though it’s a comedy, the show still has plenty of the classic O’Neill depth-of-character for which he is known, “If it were written by a playwright of lesser skill, it could verge on the sentimental, but [O’Neill] brings elements that his other plays deal with: alcoholism, squandered love, intolerance and political strife. So, although it is a very loving and romantic portrait of a family, it has some depth as well,” explains Finney.

CCM’s production will be very true to the original look and feel of the play as written. “We’ve tried to create a world that’s going to let us live in 1906, so everything on stage is very period-specific,” says Finney. For example, it was important to obtain the exact music requested by O’Neill for various parts of the play, “I have to thank Dr. bruce mcclung from the Department of Musicology; he really helped us locate the music and source material so we could stay true to the original script,” Finney adds.

Ah! Wilderness!’s tender feel makes it a fitting farewell for it’s director, R. Terrell Finney. Finney’s tenure as a fulltime faculty member will come to an end this semester after 33 years of service as a member of the Department of Drama and head of CCM’s Division of Opera, Musical Theatre, Dramatic Arts and Arts Administration (now known as the Division of Theatre Arts, Production and Arts Administration, or TAPAA). Finney has most recently served as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies at CCM.

R. Terrell Finney directs this beloved classic by Eugene O'Neill.

R. Terrell Finney directs this beloved classic by Eugene O’Neill.

Over his time at CCM, Finney’s approach to directing has changed, he says, for the better, “I’d like to think I’m more relaxed than when I started! Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches in the theater. I’ve also really come to respect and trust actor instinct. If a director can open a door to the creativity the actor can bring, he’s done his job.”

Finney says directing Ah Wilderness! has reinvigorated his love for the creative process and, even though he’s entering a much-deserved retirement, he hopes to stay involved in the future, “I’ve had a ball directing this show. It’s been six years since I’ve directed and it’s been so liberating. It’s amazing to be involved in the creative process, so if you had asked me, without having done this show, what I wanted to do in retirement I may have just said, ‘Oh, tend my garden,’ but now I would hope that I can continue to direct. I’m not quite ready to be put out to pasture!”

The Company

  • Jonah Sorscher as Tommy Miller
  • Olivia Passafiume as Mildred Miller
  • Owen Alderson as Arthur Miller
  • Katie Langham as Essie Miller
  • Rachel Baumgarten as Lily Miller
  • Devan Pruitt as Nat Miller
  • Andrew Iannacci as Sid Davis
  • Andrew Huyler Ramsey as Richard Miller
  • Spencer Lackey as David McComber
  • Mickey Tropeano as Norah
  • Isaac Hickox-Young as Went Selby
  • Annie Grove as Belle
  • James Egbert as Bartender
  • Ryan Garrett as Salesman
  • Emily Walton as Muriel McComber

The Creative Team

  • R. Terrell Finney, director
  • Thomas C. Umfrid and Whitney Glover, scenic designers
  • Adam Ditzel, lighting designer
  • Mathew D. Birchmeier, sound designer
  • Maria Lenn, costume designer
  • Missy White, wig & make-up designer
  • k. Jenny Jones, fight choreographer
  • Scott Slucher, stage manager

Performance Times

  • 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10 (preview)
  • 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11
  • 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12
  • 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14

Location
Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to Ah, Wilderness! are $27-31 for adults, $17-20 for non-UC students and $15-18 UC students with a valid ID. Tickets to the Feb. 10 preview performance are just $15.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/ah-wilderness.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the new U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.

____

CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Community Partner: ArtsWave

Ah, Wilderness!: A Comedy of Recollection in Three Acts is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.

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