Check what's coming up this year at TDPS and find out what our alumni have been up to!
Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Dear Fabulous Alumni,

Fall is finally here! We’re about to open the first show of the 2018-2019 Main Stage season, which is Little Shop of Horrors - a show some of you created way back in 1989. Please let me know if you can come. I’d love to see you!

Next week we open the first dance concert of the season, the Fall MFA Dance Thesis Concert, which will provide full accessibility services, including ASL interpretation, audio description, and a pre-show touch tour. The concert includes a dance-based Hamlet by Christine Hands and dwelling by Stacey Carlson.

For all of us in this nation, it is the worst of times, and depending on one’s perspective, it is the best of times. Faculty, staff, and students are engaged in deep discussions, deeper learning about the issues of the times, caring about our community, and creating art and research that responds to the challenges of these times.

We continue to thoroughly enjoy the time that we and our students get to spend with alumni. Your presence and support of the education provided by the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies completes the circle.

Leigh Wilson Smiley, Director
University of Maryland School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
Who remembers UMD's 1989 production of Little Shop of Horrors???
We hear that creating the plant puppet inspired some colorful language around that build 🙂
Photo courtesy of Bill Brandwein (BA Theatre '79)
In this newsletter:

  • In memoriam of Doug Lawler
  • TDPS Main Season and Second Season (2018-2019)
  • Feature story: The Triumph of Isabella
  • Alumni spotlights
  • Alumni production notes
  • Alumni placements, publications, and awards

Stay in touch by emailing your news to

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In memoriam
TDPS grieves the loss of Doug Lawler,
accompanist, music director, friend, and collaborator
It is with a heavy heart that the UMD School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies is grieving the loss of Doug Lawler, our wonderful friend, collaborator, teacher, accompanist, music director and mentor.

We were lucky to have had Doug for our last musical  The Wild Party . Doug reduced and arranged the score from full orchestra to single piano and drums. The sound he created was more beautiful than the full orchestra version. You heard Doug in every song and lyric. Doug treated the students as professionals and they rose to the occasion. Some of our favorite memories are from musical theatre classes in the Cafritz. He created a safe space for each student to do their best work and if a student was having a hard time they were sent to “Club Doug.” Club Doug was the place where you would go and sing with just Doug, the piano and a cabaret stool. The rest of the class disappeared as the warmth and love of Doug made it the safest place on the planet to perform. The class would sit in awe as students who had struggled with a song magically transformed into a seasoned performer before our very eyes. That was the special talent of Doug - getting the best out of every student - with love and compassion - reminding them of why they love to perform - and sometimes tears would follow. Other memories were performing our musical theatre showcase with Doug at the Kennedy Center, afternoon Applause Cabarets, Maryland Day and master classes with the likes of everyone from Adam Lippa to Alan Cumming. Where students might be thrown singing in front of these celebrities and venues - Doug had done so much professional work - that his ease and professionalism rubbed off on the students. Doug made the students shine like they’d been on Broadway for years. No nerves - just the joy of performing.

Because of Doug and his teaching, many students entered the professional arena right out of school - winning awards and going on to successful careers. After graduation many a student would tell me their audition went well because Doug was there playing with them and for them - just like class. And since Doug played in the pit of most of the orchestras in town - students would always delight in seeing Doug do professionally what he was teaching in class - always the sign of a true teacher.

The mark Doug has left is a great one and because of that his music will always be a part of each and everyone he knew. This is devastating to all of us and it’s a great loss. Doug was such a kindhearted, generous person and our students especially were all recipients of his kindness and generosity. I hope that everyone will be comforted by the memories we share and continually think of Doug and keep him in our hearts.

With love and sadness,
Professor Scot Reese & the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
TDPS Main Season and Second Season 18-19
Main Season
Little Shop of Horrors
October 5-12

Seymour’s just another jerk working down on Skid Row when opportunity falls into his lap in the form of a carnivorous, conniving – not to mention singing – new plant that promises to fulfill his every wish in exchange for human blood! A smash-hit, sci-fi musical comedy with a gleefully witty Motown/pop-rock score.

Tickets and information here
Fall MFA Dance Thesis Concert: dwelling and Hamlet
October 12 & 14

Original, compelling works from MFA Dance candidates. dwelling, a multidisciplinary work by Stacey Carlson, utilizes movement to explore perspective and pathways within the myriad subtleties of dwelling. Christine Hands’ highly physical dance theater piece, Hamlet, posits our hero in a dystopian future, exploring the human experience. 

Accessibility: All performances will include audio description, ASL interpretation, and a pre-show touch tour beginning 1 hour and 15 minutes before show time. The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is wheelchair accessible.

Tickets and information here
November 9-16

Everyday racism can come on slyly — a hasty glance or a too-casual comment. Adapted from Claudia Rankine’s acclaimed book of poetry, this searingly provocative meditation on race in America is not merely a play. It’s fast-moving, fluid theater at the speed of thought.

Tickets and information here
Faculty Dance Concert
December 7-9

The Faculty Dance Concert showcases the eloquent and provocative choreography of featured dance faculty members, students and special guests. Through gesture and verse, meaning through motion, this collection of dances will captivate and inspire.

Tickets and information here
Spring MFA Dance Thesis Concert: Tides and 's (apostrophe s)
February 8-10

Ama Law presents Tides. Where sand meets sea, it rises and falls. Drifting, floating, calls from our ancestors. Join these women on a journey discovering how different and alike we are in this skin.

‘s (apostrophe s) by Shawn Stone consciously explores the dichotomy of consciousness. In researching the research of researching oneself, this Dance explores the inner workings of mind through the awareness of body.

Tickets and information here
Hamlet Replayed
February 22 - March 2

Hamlet finds himself knee-deep in a personal and political quagmire. But the politics and scandal in Shakespeare’s classic tragedy are nothing compared to the political discord and global uncertainty of today. This student-driven, devised theater piece, adapted from the Bard’s tale, imagines a new cast of greedy, divisive leaders — and a new generation to challenge them and liberate themselves.

Tickets and information here
Fearless New Play Festival
Kick-off panel: February 17, March 7-9

TDPS's Fearless New Play Festival is a three-day celebration of new scripts in development. The festival will kick off with a panel speech from a keynote playwright of national renown. After a week of workshops, participants will present: (1) a staged reading of the keynote playwright's newest play, (2) staged readings of new ten-minute plays by current students, and (3) a showcase of new short plays by alumni, followed by a closing night celebration.

Tickets and information here

Alumni play selections:

  • CrossFit WonderWoman by Sam Mauceri (’15)
  • Ceasefire by Avery Collins (’16)
  • What to do When You're Suicidal but You Can’t Fight Fascists When You’re Dead by Natalie Ann Valentine (’13)
  • Field Glass by Martin Thompson ('15)
  • It's a Queer Thing by Radcliffe Adler (’18)
  • The White Talk by Whitney Geohagan (’18)
  • Terrible Lizard by Megan Meinero (’12)
  • Sweet Dreams by Nikki Lust (’17)

Thank you to all the alumni playwrights who submitted exciting plays who made for a very tough decision!!!
The Heidi Chronicles
May 4-11

In this heartfelt, funny coming-of-age story, Heidi Holland grows up before our eyes. With feminist guiding principles, she strives to build a fulfilling life and is forced to confront, through her work, friendship and relationships, the true cost of “having it all.” A Pulitzer Prize winning play, newly resonant for a generation experiencing feminism through the lens of #MeToo and #TimesUp.

Tickets and information here
UMoves: Undergraduate Dance Concert
May 10-12

Encouraged to nurture their authentic artistic voices, undergraduate dance students set new works of art into motion in this concert of original choreography. Paired with faculty and graduate student mentors and in collaboration with student designers, these short works span multiple dance styles and are as diverse as the students themselves.

Tickets and information here
Second Season
Lost Sons by Niree Turner and Rockfish by Sydney Lemelin
October 19-20

Lost Sons by Niree Turner

This hip-hop theater piece explores the impact of mass incarceration in the black community. The effects of an imprisoned father ripple throughout the entire family and community, and the play highlights the sharp differences in families with and without a father figure around. It also demonstrates differences in how white men and black men are sentenced.

Rockfish by Sydney Lemelin

Rockfish is a piece was inspired by rockfish dinners, aunties who aren’t really your auntie, and the strange circumstances under which the playwright’s grandmother’s belongings were replaced with rocks.  

More information here
Hell is a Bubble Tea Shop by Hana Huie
November 16-18

What happens when the barriers holding you back from your dreams are also the people closest to you? Hell is a Bubble Tea Shop is a play that explores how we construct identity in the midst of obstacles and expectations... that happen to take the form of a Chinese-American family. We follow the journey of a freshly deceased young woman who tries to use her new perspective on life to make sense of familial expectations and pain.

More information here
Fuse by Suzanne Creedon and Hapa by Jenna Gerdsen
February 1-2

Fuse by Suzanne Creedon

This dance work dissects the juxtaposition of minimality and maximality.

Hapa by Jenna Gerdsen

Pain and labor lie beneath the pleasurable, paradisiacal landscape of Hawaii. This new play weaves the author’s own upbringing in Hawaii with the island-state's imperialist history and tourist based economy.

More information here
Shared Graduate Dance Concert
March 29-30

Featuring provocative choreography by MFA in Dance students, this concert is a collection of eclectic new works, serving as an unguarded exploration of these diverse artists' talents and interests.

More information here
I've Been a Woman by Jordan Ealey
April 12-13

This original theater piece follows two souls who are repeatedly reincarnated in Black women’s bodies during feminist movements of the past, present and future. As these embodied souls reconnect with one another across three distinct time periods, they struggle to reconcile the realities of their race, gender and sexuality within societies that seek to deny their humanity. 

More information here
Feature story
The Triumph of Isabella
The Triumph of Isabella Experience  - photos by Nicky Everette and Renee Gerardo
Congratulations to the many students, faculty, and staff who participated in  The Triumph of Isabella Experience , the inaugural production of the International Program for Creative Collaboration & Research (IPCCR), directed by Professor Frank Hildy. This year-long project is a collaboration between TDPS, the School of Music, the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

We filled The Clarice with the sights and sounds of the 17th century Ommegang, featuring a multimedia presentation by street theater specialist Dr. Susan Haedicke, an immersive experience in which paintings came to life through high-tech animation by our graduate students, and exciting performances by TDPS and School of Music students and alumni. If you missed this multimedia immersive experience, make sure to check out  The Triumph of Isabella  exhibition at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, on until May 2019.

Read more about the production at the UMD Writer's Bloc and the Diamondback .
Alumni spotlights
Gail Berman (BA Theatre '78)

Gail Berman has been named president of the Producers Guild of America for a two-year term. Gail has served on the PGA's National Board of Directors as well as served on the guild’s Producers Council Board of Delegates since 2016. Read more here
Amber Chabus (BA Dance '18)

Amber Chabus just completed a 3.5 month long internship at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival as the Archives/Audience Engagement Intern. 
Yuval David (BA Theatre '01)

Yuval David is an actor and host who works in television, film, theater, and on the web. He currently produces 7 web series and regularly performs his one-person shows in theaters. Yuval also has a mission of using his art and creativity for social change; he hosts, narrates, creates video content, and speaks for cultural, humanitarian, philanthropic, social and political initiatives.  

Check out his website at
Joshua Friedman (BA Theatre '05)

Joshua Friedman published a book in 2011 called Getting It Done: The Ultimate Production Guide. His movie Warning Shot, starring David Spade, James Earl Jones, Tammy Blanchard, Bruce Dern, and Guillermo Diaz, opened on September 14. He is getting ready to teach a 5-week film production class at the Raindance film school in New York.

Joshua recently launched an iOS mobile app for the film industry called Crew Me Up, an app for staffing film and television freelancers.
Sarah (Wilson) Hansen (MA '08)

Sarah (Wilson) Hansen was recently announced as one of Pittsburgh Magazine's 40 Under 40 Honorees for 2018 for her work as a Senior Research Associate at HPW Associates.

Colette Krogol (MFA Dance '17) and Matt Reeves (MFA Dance '17)

Orange Grove Dance (Colette Krogol and Matt Reeves) was featured in Dance Teacher Magazine in June 2018. The piece is about their artistic and personal collaborations, including those with fellow UMD TDPS alumni Robin Neveu Brown (MFA Dance '14) and Mark Costello (MFA Design '18). The piece also includes photography by Costello and Jonathan Hsu (BA Dance '15).

Read the article here .
Bridget "Dee Dee" Ling (BA Dance '17)

Bridget "Dee Dee" Link moved to NYC to teach dance at a charter school in Harlem, where she was quickly promoted to start a new dance program in the Bronx. She is now the lead dance teacher at a middle school in the Bronx with Success Academy Charter Schools. There she has opened a National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) chapter to give the dancers access to arts education, scholarships, and awards to push their future careers. 
Ebony McSwain (BA Dance '12)

Ebony McSwain has opened dance studio in Clinton, MD called Excellence 
Dance Academy. For more information about the studio, visit their website and follow them on Instagram at @excellencedance18.
Amanda Ogorzalek (BA Theatre '13)

Amanda Ogorzalek received her MA from NYU in Performing Arts Administration in 2017. She is currently working at the Broadway League, the national trade association for commercial theatre in North America. She manages the Jimmy®Awards (the National High School Musical Theatre Awards), which impacts over 100,000 students at 1,500 high schools nation-wide who participate in their high school musicals.

In May, she graduated from the Commercial Theatre Institute 14-week program for Broadway Producing. She also works as part of the house management team at Springsteen on Broadway, Bruce Springsteen’s solo show playing through this December. She continues to work seasonally as an entertainment cast member at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL.
Khalid Y. Long (PhD '18)

Khalid Y. Long is the new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scholar-in-Residence at Columbia College Chicago. In addition to teaching courses such as Traditions of World Theatre and Theatre History and Inquiry, Khalid is tasked with curriculum development to ensure that diversity is a priority throughout the theatre program. Additionally, he is currently serving as a faculty mentor for the student group, YOUNG, GIFTED, and BLACK.
Khalid has recently been elected to the office of Vice President and Conference Planner (VPCP) for the August Wilson Society (AWS) following a recent polling of its membership to select the next slate of officers. With this new role, his goal is to ensure that the August Wilson Society becomes an epicenter for the study, recognition, and appreciation of playwright August Wilson (1945-2005).  
Sisi Reid (BA Theatre '15)

Sisi Reid is a member of the Choir/Ensemble in Theater Alliance’s production of The Events running September 13 - October 7 at the Anacostia Playhouse in Washington, DC. She is also a new board member for the Pride Youth Theatre Alliance and a co-facilitator with Voices Unbarred, a organization that uses Theatre of the Oppressed techniques in weekly theatre workshops at a men’s prison.
Marci Rodgers (MFA Design '16 and TDPS Board of Visitors)

Marci Rodgers (MFA Design ‘16 and Board of Visitors) has been getting lots of press lately as Spike Lee’s go-to costume designer. Check out one article about her work on the blockbuster BlacKkKlansmen here:

“Although it is too early to predict who may land an Oscar nomination at the 91st Academy Awards, a popular choice will certainly be Marci Rodgers, who handled the aesthetics for Spike Lee’s latest film, BlacKkKlansman , which is certainly timely in its subject matter despite it being a 1970s period piece.”
Robert Rotenberry (MA '89)

Robert Rotenberry is in his 23rd year as the theater chair at the Academy for the Performing Arts in Huntington Beach California. Most recently, he won an Outstanding Direction award for his production of "Noises Off." He was similarly awarded for productions of "Boeing Boeing," "As You Like It," "It Runs in the Family," "Tom Jones," "Dark of the Moon," and "Peter and the Starcatcher."

Robert was also honored with a Distinguished Arts Educator in Theater award from the Allied Arts Board of the City of Huntington Beach. In the last year, performances of his scripts of "Steffi and Cindy's Sweet 16," "POEtry and Aesop and Grimm" were produced. This past summer, he focused on writing extensively completing scripts to three full-length plays: "Round and Round," "Life and Other Stumbling Blocks," and "Elizabeth and Alexander and ...," as well as a collection of 25 sketches and a one-act called "Two's More Fun. "
Natasha Rothwell (BA Theatre '03)

Natasha Rothwell, known for playing the role of Kelli on HBO's Insecure, has joined the cast of Wonder Woman 1984. She joins Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal. Read more here.
Jennifer Schwed (BA American Studies '96)

Jennifer Schwed's company, Through the 4th Wall, is in the process of creating an original musical. “19” is the dynamic and little-known story of Alice Paul, the suffragists and their fight to get women the right to vote--the 19th Amendment. Learn more at the company's website and Facebook page.
Adam Shapiro (BA Theatre '02)

Adam Shapiro and his wife, Katie Lowes (known for playing the role of Quinn on Scandal), talk to Playbill about their roles in the Broadway musical Waitress, their long history with musical theatre, and their relationship with the musical's songwriter, Sara Bareilles. Check out the article here.

Adam and Katie are pictured to the right with Professor Scot Reese.
Matthew Shifflett (PhD '14)

Matthew Shifflett teaches in the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of Mississippi, where he will be directing Mr. Burns, a post-electric play in February 2019. He was recently awarded the Mary Ann O'Brian Malkin Research Award from Penn State University to support his research on eighteenth-century dance instruction.
Want to put your story in the spotlight? Please email .
Alumni production notes
Abigail (Gustafson) Hawk (BA Theatre '04) in "In the Bleak Midwinter" / photo credit: Sally Davis
  • Moriamo Akibu (BA Theatre '15) is performing Longacre Lea’s The Interstellar Ghost Hour through September 9 at the Callan Theatre in Washington, DC. This is Moriamo's latest step toward achieving her dream job, which she describes as: “Insecure meets Black Panther meets transcendental Black queer femme exploration.” Get the inside scoop in a recent edition of Take Ten.

  • Richard Atkins (BA Theatre '77) will be performing in his play, "DeliKateSSen" for the New York regional premiere at the Performing Arts Center in Rhinebeck, New York. Check out more information here.

  • Nathaniel Claridad (BA Theatre '04) is currently working at Florida Studio Theatre in rehearsal for "Unchained Melodies", a new musical revue that celebrates the doo-wop sound of the 50's and 60's. The production runs from October 3 to Feburary 3.

  • Caroline Clay (MFA Performance '13) performed the role of Faye in Skeleton Crew at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, CA.

  • Chelsea P. Freeman (BA Dance '13) played the role of "Ethel" and Ensemble in Memphis, the 2010 Tony Award winning "Best Musical," at the Gateway Playhouse this past summer. The production was featured in Broadway World.

  • Abigail (Gustafson) Hawk (BA Theatre '04) recently starred in "In The Bleak Midwinter," a new play by Emmy Award winner Dorothy Lyman, at Shetler Studios’ Theatre 54 in Manhattan. She is also currently filming CBS’ Blue Bloods, now in its 9th season. 

  • Noah Israel (BA Theatre '16) and Ben Lurye (BM Voice Performance '09) recently performed in Sweeney Todd at Rep Stage at Howard Community College in Columbia, MD with an 8-person cast.

  • Connor Voss (BA Dance '13) performed in RoseAnne Spradlin's "Y" this September at New York Live Arts. Check out a review of the performance here.
Connor Voss (BA Dance '13; third from left with leg extension) performs in RoseAnne Spradlin's "Y"
Photo credit: Andrea Mohin, The New York Times
Do you want us to share your recent and upcoming work?
Please email .
Alumni placements, publications, and awards
Christina Banalopoulou (PhD '18)
Christina Banalopoulou published an article in Performance Philosophy journal entitled, " The Tragedy of the Greek Debt Crisis: To Be Done With Judgment."
Nava Behman (BA Dance '13)
Nava Behman has been accepted at Rutgers University and starts his Masters of Education degree in Dance and teaching certification for Pre K-12 this fall.
Christopher Martin (PhD '10)
In August 2018, Christopher Martin joined the board of directors for the Faction of Fools theater company.
Sam Mauceri (BA Theatre '15)
Sam Mauceri recently relocated to Chicago to work at the Goodman Theatre as School Matinee Series Assistant.
Thank you to for sharing your alumni stories, keeping in touch and continuing to be TDPS representatives that model innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship in the performing arts.

If you would like to come back to TDPS to share your professional expertise with current students we'd love to hear from you.

Please email .
The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
advances and transforms the research and practice of the performing arts
through a commitment to excellence and innovative education.


Kate Spanos, Coordinator of Marketing & Communications