Working in the Arts: MTD Alumni News, September 2016

Working in the Arts: MTD Alumni News, September 2016
Sarah McEneaney
Sarah McEneaney

Theatre alumna Sarah McEneaney (BFA ‘16) is moving to New York to study with the SITI Company’s 2016-17 Conservatory Class whose artists participate in a rigorous, immersive program emphasizing training for performance and the creation of new work. “I was first introduced to SITI's methodologies at Oakland,” said Sarah, “and it really resonated with me. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to further my training and create new theatrical work both collaboratively and individually.” You can read more about the SITI Company on their website.

The Huron Playhouse in Ohio has a summer company of around 50, and this year three members were part of the OU theatre family. Two were current students and the third was alumnus Jake Daley (BFA ‘16), who played Larry in A Chorus Line. Like many of our musical theatre graduates, Jake plans to move to New York City.

Olivia Griffin (BFA ‘16) spent the early summer with Festival 56 in the rural community of Princeton, Illinois. She was one of 40 visiting artists. On June 30 she opened in Violet the Musical, noting that she hadn’t performed in a musical since The Life in her junior year at OU. In August Olivia also moved to New York.

Chris Rozanski (BFA ‘09) spent August at the Forestburgh Playhouse which was founded in 1947 and is the oldest continuously operating professional summer theatre in New York State. He had a leading role in the musical Rock of Ages.

Jillian Hoffman (BFA ‘15) is working as a main stage performer for Disney Cruise Lines onboard one of their largest ships, the prestigious Disney Dream. She began rehearsals in Toronto on June 27 and set sail in late August.

Sam Rohloff
(l-r) Charissa Hogeland, Sam Rohloff & Ellen Marlow

Sam Rohloff (BFA ‘13) made his debut at the famous Broadway supper club Feinstein’s/54 Below on August 13. He was the headliner of a show that also featured special guests Charissa Hogeland (Heathers, Kinky Boots) and Ellen Marlow (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Kinky Boots). “Sam Rohloff is Preoccupied” was billed as a "mystical journey filled with outrageous stories, musical theatre, pop and R&B." Read more about 54 Below on their website.

Jason Maracani (BFA ‘16) has accepted a job in New York City as a design and production faculty member at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, one of the oldest schools in the country, founded in 1764. It was originally a prep school for Kings College, which became Columbia College, now a part of Columbia University.

Ben Russell Lynch (BA ‘07 ), who has been based in New York for many years, spent the spring and summer at sea performing in Rock of Ages onboard a ship of the Norwegian Cruise Line.

Mitch Aiello (BFA ‘16) finished his summer theatre gig and was in New York in August for two musical performances of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More with Feeling! produced by The Campy Cabaret at The West End.

The winners of the 2016 Wilde Awards were announced on August 29 at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts in Bloomfield Hills. Among the OU theatre people on the list of nominees were Lauren Mounsey (BFA ’12), who directed the The Wild Swan Theater’s production of Charlotte’s Web, nominated in the category of Best Theater for Young Audiences. Lauren also directed The Odd Couple at Purple Rose Theatre Company, and David Montee, who played Felix in the show, was nominated as best actor in a leading role in a play. Also nominated in that category was OU alumnus Joe Bailey (BA ’92) for his work in the UDM Theatre Company and The Ringwald Theatre’s production of The Whale.

Lauren Mounsey will be one of the instructors at the Purple Rose’s Actor/Director Lab this fall. It’s the company’s premier class, and she’ll be working with Purple Rose artistic director Guy Sanville and director of educational programming Michelle Mountain.

Alexa Moffo (BFA ‘15) was in a commercial for Subway sandwiches that ran this summer; you can see it in this Vimeo clip. Alexa had some health challenges earlier this year and now she’s feeling fully recovered, she’s decided to pursue her dreams without delay. In September she’s moving to Los Angeles where she will be represented by BMG Talent.

Kaitlynn Mabbitt (BM ‘15), whose primary instrument is clarinet, started teaching at Brimley High School in the Upper Peninsula in January 2016. Kaitlynn said she’s thankful to be teaching what she loves and gaining experience with a variety of different age groups. She wrote, “In May, we held our annual Spring Arts Festival, which included performances from each general music class in K-6, 5/6 grade band, middle school band, and high school band. The students and I were extremely proud of the performances, and we received countless compliments from our audience. I was told by many teachers that we put on the best concert the school had seen in 20 years!”

Ryan Dawley (BM ’12, BFA ‘12) was named one of the national quarter-finalists for the 2017 Grammy Music Educator Award. The Grammy organization recognizes an exceptional music educator every year because, as they say on their website, “For every performer who makes it to the Grammy stage, there was a teacher who played a critical role in getting them there.” Ryan is the vocal music director at James R Geisler Middle School in Walled Lake. You can read more about the award program on the Grammy website.

Joshua Steckelberg (BFA ‘16) and Anna Marck (BFA '15), recently appeared in the Michigan premiere of Stephen Massicotte’s play Mary's Wedding at the Yellow Barn theatre in Ann Arbor, with OU theatre professor Karen Sheridan directing. As students, Anna and Joshua worked on Mary's Wedding for independent study, and Anna formed her own production company, AM Productions, to bring this beautiful story about wartime love to a wider audience.  Her initiative and the work of the company was rewarded with a wonderful review from Martin F Kohn, who called it “a little gem of a production.” You can read his full review on the Encore website.

Three current OU theatre design and technology students also worked on the production: Anita Holsey-Banks as lighting designer; Ashley Gaal as scenic artist; and Chris Winter as sound engineer. Anita’s lighting design was singled out by Kohn for the skillful way it allowed one space to represent different places and times without any other demarcation.

Shinko Kondo ISME
Dr. Shinko Kondo at ISME 2016


Among the impressive number of OU music educators attending July’s International Society for Music Education (ISME) conference in Glasgow, Scotland were seven alumni, including Shinko Kondo (PhD ‘15) who presented her paper, “Hybrid Identity Through Eastern and Western Eye - Teaching Music and Space in Group Studio Piano. Shinko called it a thrilling week and an amazing experience.

Other alumni presenting peer-reviewed research were Daniel Abrahams (PhD ‘13) assistant professor of music education, University of Arkansas; Alex Ruthmann (PhD ‘06) associate professor of music education & music technology, New York University; Miroslav Manovski (PhD ‘12) music teacher with Birmingham Schools; Sharon Davis (PhD ‘08) assistant professor of music education, Lebanon Valley College, PA; Spiros Xydas (PhD ‘14) music teacher with Troy Community Schools and Deborah VanderLinde (PhD ‘06) associate professor of music education, OU’s music program director.

Also enhancing OU’s reputation on the international academic stage is Ellen Peck (BA ‘95), associate professor of theatre at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. Ellen, who has an MA and PhD in theatre history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been named a Fulbright Scholar by the U.S. Department of State. She will spend the 2016-2017 academic year researching and teaching at the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Romania. You can read more about Ellen in her JSU bio and in our upcoming Prism News article about her.

Matthew Ball (BA ‘04) known professionally as the Boogie-Woogie Kid, continues to draw enthusiastic audiences for his special brand of ragtime, boogie-woogie and blues piano. WXYZ Channel 7 Detroit recently featured him on their morning show.

Finally, Garrett (Gary) Clayton, a musical theatre student in the ‘09-’10 academic year, was cast as Link Larkin in the NBC production of Hairspray which will been shown live on December 7. His most recent movie King Cobra, co-starring James Franco, Christian Slater and Molly Ringwald, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, and this summer Garrett featured prominently in the viral video "Fight Song."