Announcing our upcoming 2017-2018 Season!
Read the latest news to find out what TDPS alumni have been up to.
TDPS Alumni Newsletter
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Dear Alumni,

Thank you to everyone who contributed news and updates. We love hearing what you're up to and how you've gone on to use your degree in various innovative ways. Please keep us posted on the creative, collaborative, and entrepreneurial work you've been doing since graduating from UMD TDPS!

This past Friday, February 10, we had a successful opening of The Importance of Being Earnest, followed by a delightful reception to celebrate Randy Lord '77 and Steve Fessler's generous gift to the School. Read the story and see photos from the evening below.

Also be sure to check out Spring 2017 events and our 2017-2018 Season Announcement. We are excited about the upcoming year and hope to see you here at The Clarice!

Email and share with us on social media.
In this newsletter:
  • Recent TDPS alumni events
  • Upcoming TDPS events
  • 2017-2018 Season announcement
  • Alumni spotlights
  • Alumni production notes
  • Honors & awards
Recent Alumni Events

  Reception for Randy Lord & Steve Fessler on February 10

On Friday, February 10 we celebrated Randy Lord and Steve Fessler’s generous gift to the UMD School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS). Last fall, we announced that Randy--a 1977 graduate of what was then called the Speech & Dramatic Arts program--and his husband Steve committed to endow a graduate assistantship in theatre. The reception was an opportunity for TDPS faculty, students, staff and alumni to meet Randy and Steve and thank them in person for their generosity. Campus leadership, including UMD President Loh and Mrs. Loh, Provost Mary Ann Rankin and College of Arts and Humanities’ (ARHU) Dean Bonnie Thornton Dill were present to thank the donors for their generous commitment. 

The evening began with TDPS’ season opener “The Importance of Being Earnest,” a delightful production of Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy on manners. After the show, guests gathered in the Cafritz Foundation Theatre for food, drinks and entertainment. Theatre major and Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) scholar Erin Valade opened the reception with a welcoming song, Duke Ellington’s “Hit Me With A Hot Note.” TDPS Director Leigh Wilson Smiley made introductory remarks and welcomed Randy and Steve and fellow classmates back to the university, and Dean Thornton Dill followed with a speech about the importance of the performing arts at Maryland and the role of our alumni in making many creative initiatives and learning opportunities possible for students. She then publically thanked Randy and Steve on behalf of the campus community.

TDPS Director Leigh Wilson Smiley
ARHU Dean Bonnie Thornton Dill
Randy took the podium to offer remarks about his and Steve’s decision to give to TDPS, highlighting their lifelong commitment to the performing arts and their desire to give the “gift of goosebumps”--that is, to allow young students to follow their passion for the arts. They quoted President Loh’s recent statement to the UMD community about the campus commitment to remain true to its core values of freedom of expression, respect, diversity and inclusion, and openness. “It is because of this commitment,” Randy said, that he and Steve feel so confident in their decision to give to UMD. Happy in their choices, they are able to say, “We’re glad we did,” and not, “We wish we had.”
Reception guests
Randy Lord ’77
Randy’s speech was followed CAPA scholars Kyle Travers and Monica Albizo performance excerpted from TDPS’s fall production of “ The Wild Party.” MFA Design candidate Matthew Buttrey also paid tribute with a signed design rendering from “The Importance of Being Earnest.”
Kyle Travers and Monica Albizo perform
Matthew Buttrey with design rendering
The reception ended with an emotional performance of “Proud of Your Boy” from Aladdin by CAPA scholar Montana Monardes. A slideshow of photographs from Randy and Steve’s past acted as a backdrop during the performance, showing Randy on the UMD stage in the 1975 production of “Wizard of Id” and in other local theatre productions during his undergraduate years. The photographs demonstrated Randy and Steve’s long and deeply rooted commitment to the performing arts, and to each other, over the past 34 years.
  Montana Monardes sings against a slideshow backdrop
After the performances, guests mingled over food and drinks. A group of alumni from Randy’s 1977 cohort came back to campus for the event--the excitement of reuniting with old friends was palpable. It was a beautiful and heartening event, and we were thrilled to welcome Randy and Steve back to UMD and show them our deep appreciation.

By Kate Spanos
Photography credit: Geoff Sheil, The Clarice
Steve Fessler, Brian MacDevitt, and Randy Lord
Photo by Leigh Smiley
Professor Frank Hildy with Marilyn Schoenbaum
Photo by Leigh Smiley
  Steve and Randy with Randy’s classmate and friend Patricia Hammer, reuniting after 38 years!
Spring TDPS Events
   2016-2017 Main Season
By Oscar Wilde
Directed by Amber Paige McGinnis
Through February 18, 2017

Cecily and Gwendolyn know that the only really safe name for a suitable suitor is Earnest. But Algy and Jack, the two blundering bachelors who set out to woo them, don’t let a little detail like that stand in their way. The main thing standing in their way is the formidable Lady Bracknell, who is intent on ensuring everything is properly buttoned up. Alas, the game of Victorian-era courting goes hilariously awry in this beloved classic comedy of manners. 

By Jessica Dickey
Directed by Mitchell Hébert
February 24 - March 3, 2017

Shots are fired in a school house, and the world seems to stop. A stunned community — teachers, parents, friends, families of the victims and the perpetrators — must find a way to keep living their lives. This lyrical and potent drama explores the aftermath of a school shooting in an Amish community, and the path of forgiveness and compassion forged in its wake. This play was inspired by the tragic 2006 shooting at an Amish school in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

By Maksym Kurochkin
April 28 - May 6, 2017

Translated by John Freedman
Directed by Yury Urnov

Love and lust are the ultimate Hallmark emotions, right? According to Bento Bonchev, they’re saccharine marketing gimmicks designed to sell flowers and candy to those gullible enough to believe. But Bento’s world is turned upside down when an astounding discovery forces him to rethink his dogma. Set in the not-so-distant future where love is thought to be a myth, this Russian absurdist satire offers a truly novel take on an age-old question of the heart. 

May 5-7, 2017

Directed by Christopher K. Morgan

Undergraduate TDPS Dance students present a concert of original choreography. The program includes new works created and/or performed by undergraduate students as they explore their choreographic voice and vision, plus pieces developed throughout the year by guest choreographers.

  2017 MTEA THRIVE Conference   
February 25, 2017 at 10:00am 

The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies will host the 2017 Maryland Theatre Education Association (MTEA) THRIVE Conference at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center on Saturday, February 25. The daylong conference is spearheaded by Theatre alumna Leayne Dempsey '08. The MTEA THRIVE Conference is a theatre educator empowerment conference with experiential workshops that are designed to give theatre educators the opportunity to explore their craft. 

  2017 ACDA Mid-Atlantic North Conference   
March 8-11, 2017

This year the American College Dance Association (ACDA) annual conference for the Mid-Atlantic North region will be hosted by the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. The four-day conference will bring together students, teachers, artists, and scholars for workshops, panels, and master classes.  

Retirement Party for Professor Karen Bradley
May 13, 2017 at 3pm

Save the date! TDPS Dance Professor Karen Bradley is retiring this year and a retirement party will be held in her honor at The Clarice. More details coming soon.
2017-2018 Season Announcement
Tickets go on sale soon, so stay tuned!
Alumni Spotlights
  Mickey Mullaney's Joyous Voices
Joyous Voices and Mickey Mullaney (second from left).
Alumna Mickey Mullaney (BA Theatre '74) shared the story of her caroling group, Joyous Voices, with us over the holiday season:

"Returning to Maryland in 1996, our small family, including 4-yr-old daughter Alice (BA Public Policy ’15), founded Joyous Voices.  I developed marketing materials, and scoured the Yellow Pages (quaint!) for local talent agents...I scoured newspapers and magazines for holiday event ads, and contacted organizers to see if they could use caroling services. Rehearsals with our extraordinary singers energized my search for gigs. When you know you have a wonderful product, selling it to others is a breeze. Most fun was hiring and training our now 30-member multi-ethnic ensemble, many already professional singers.  Building our repertoire of traditional favorites, jazzy standards, international classics and novelty tunes has proved another joy. Members have been known to “woodshed” arrangements on the spot, to delight clients with requests outside our song list. We’re just scratching the potential for marketing through Facebook, but through technology we’ve streamlined scheduling, touring logistics, invoicing, banking and every aspect of the business. My message-- 

"Use your talent, craft, and personal resources.
Experiment in arts entrepreneurship. Find your niche, create a product, develop marketing strategies and go for it!"

Lisa Dalton '75

Alumna Lisa Dalton (BA Theatre '75) recently published her book, Falling for the Stars: A Stunt Gal's Tattle Tales. The book is available in paperback and as an ebook on Amazon. Falling for the Stars recounts Lisa's experience spinning her training at UMD into a film stunt and acting career to support  her work in theatre.

Richard Atkins '77

Alumnus Richard Atkins (BA Theatre '77) continues to write, direct, act, compose and produce. He has a longstanding partnership with Tony-winning author, Mark Medoff ( Children Of A Lesser God) with whom he has collaborated as a dramaturg on two successful plays: The Men of Mah Jongg and DeliKateSSen. DeliKateSSen is going on to its East Coast regional premiere at Centre Stage in Greenville, South Carolina, where Richard just finished a stint as their playwright-in-residence for their New Play Festival.
Steven Kellert '97

After graduation, alumnus Steven Kellert (BA Dance '97) danced for local modern dance companies, including Doug Hamby Dance, Kathy Harty Gray Dance Theatre, and Tehreema Mitha Dance Company. In 2005, Steven moved to Chicago performing with Korzatkowski Contemporary Dance and Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble. Steven is a founding member of the Windy City Cowboys, a country and western performance group for gay men, who whom he performed for 1 million people at the Chicago Pride parade. He is also a member of the Ballroom, Latin, and Swing Team (BLAST) at Northwestern University and studied 'ukulele and traditional hula with Lanialoha Lee at the Aloha Center of Chicago. Currently, he is a senior editor for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and is hoping to pursue a Master's of Prosthetics and Orthotics at Northwestern.
Jeremy Goldman '00

Alumnus Jeremy Goldman (BA Theatre '00) currently serves as President of the Board of Directors of Silhouette Stages, a non-profit theater organization in Columbia, MD. In May 2016, Jeremy played Dan Goodman in Silhouette Stages’ production of  Next to Normal, which was awarded the 2016 Ruby Griffith Award for Outstanding Achievement for a Musical and was named one of the Best Musicals of 2016 by DC Metro Theater Arts. In October 2016, Jeremy played Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in the area-premiere of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, which was named one of the Top Ten Shows of 2016 by MD Theatre Guide and one of the Best Musicals of 2016 by DC Metro Theater Arts. Jeremy was individually recognized for both performances in DC Metro Theater Arts’ list of the Best Performances of 2016 in DC/MD/VA Community Theater. When not producing or performing in community theater, Jeremy works as an attorney at a large defense contractor and lives in Howard County with his wife, Allison and his two children, ages 11 and 8.
Jordan McCraw '08

Alumna Jordan McCraw (BA Theatre '08) has spent the last decade living in the United Kingdom and working as a high school English, Drama and Media Studies teacher for students grade 6-12. Since the birth of her son in 2015, she has gone back into the field of acting as a screen and voiceover artist in the UK, US and EU. Currently, you can hear Jordan's work as the American voice of Mattel's GB/EU Internet "Monster High Dolls" advertising campaign. You can follow Jordan's continued work on her new website.
Jason Schlafstein '08

In November, alumnus Jason Schlafstein (BA Theatre '08) and Flying V, the company he co-founded, presented  It's the Rest of the World that Looks So Small: A Theatrical Review of Jonathan Coulton  as part of The Clarice's NextLook series partnership with Joe's Movement Emporium in Mount Rainier, MD. Jason was also interviewed by DC Metro Theater Arts about the piece.

Vannia Ibarguen '09

Alumna Vannia Ibarguen (MFA Dance '09) is Artistic Director of Global Water Dances, a project focused on the need of clean and safe water that facilitates collaboration between dancers, scientists, environmental activists and the community.

On June 24, 2017, Vannia and Global Water Dances will organize communities around the world to share a dance work set in a locale that is close to water and highlights a local water issue. Choreographers, dance groups, organizations, water activists and members of the community will be encouraged to find ways to take action to solve their immediate water problems.

Michelle Heller '11

Alumna Michelle Heller (BA Theatre '11) moved straight to NYC after graduation and began working her way up from being an Intern, to Production Assistant, to Stage Managing on Broadway and National Tours. Currently, she is the Stage Manager for the Miss Saigon revival on Broadway. Most recently, she was the ASM on Love, Love, Love at the Laura Pels Theatre and the SM for Les Miserables on Broadway. 
Elizabeth Alman '12

Alumna Elizabeth Forte Alman (PhD '12) served as the Voice, Text and Dialect Coach for Studio Theatre's recent production of Caryl Churchill's Cloud 9 directed by Michael Kahn. Nelson Presseley of the Washington Post called the production, "brainy, precise and delightfully showy." Elizabeth currently teaches Acting and Voice and Speech at George Mason University and is a Master Teaching Artist at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. She may be reached through her website.
Cristina Camacho '14

Alumna Cristina Camacho (BA Dance '14)   will complete an internship in Spain this summer, teaching dance and working with a dance organization.
Unissa Cruse-Ferguson '14
Alumna Unissa Cruse-Ferguson (BA Dance ‘14) scored a spot in the dance ensemble for Hairspray Live!, which aired on NBC on Wednesday, December 7, 2016. The Stamp hosted a viewing party that was presented by the University of Maryland and NBC4 Washington.  
Paige Hathaway '14

Alumna Paige Hathaway (MFA Design '14) was interviewed by as part of their Theatre Life series about her fabulous scenic design work at local Washington, DC theaters. 
Kayla Coutts '16

Alumna Kayla Coutts (BA Dance '16) is pursuing her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Columbia University in New York City. At Columbia, Kayla is currently rehearsing for two works in the school's fall dance concert through the organization Dance Haven.
Want to put your story in the spotlight?  Please email
Alumni Production Notes
Do you want us to share your recent and upcoming work?
Please email
Honors & Awards
Kristina Friedgen '08
Kristina Friedgen (BA Theatre '08) received a WATCH nomination for her role as Frumasarah in Fiddler on the Roof and was honored by DC Metro Theatre Arts for Outstanding Choreography and Direction of Damascus Theatre Company's production of The Drowsy Chaperone.  
Farah Lawal Harris '08

Farah Lawal Harris (BA Theatre '08) recently received a $6,000 Arts and Humanities Fellowship Program grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for playwriting.

Diedre Dawkins '10

Diedre Dawkins (MFA Dance '10) recently received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award / President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Erica Philpot '13

On October 11, Erica Philpot (BA Theatre '13) won the Best Singer award from the New York City Thespis Theater Festival for her role in Something Like a Fairytale. The musical also won Best Original Play, Best Director, Best Stage Manager, Best Stage Design, and Best Music Score.

Jessie Laurita-Spanglet '14
Stephanie Miracle '14

Stephanie Miracle (MFA Dance '14) received a US State Department Individual Grant to collaborate on a dance project with Yekatrinburg, Russia. She will work with Anna Shchekleina on a cross-cultural exchange to foster community empathy.

  Have you recently received an exciting award or accolade?
Please email
  Do you have news to share with the TDPS community?
Email and share with us on social media!

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Kate Spanos, Coordinator of Marketing & Communications