Lay should let sleeping dogs lie - Lowell Sun

Lay should let sleeping dogs lie - Lowell Sun Lay should let sleeping dogs lie - Lowell Sun Posted: 05 Mar 2021 10:15 PM PST THREE REASONS why School Committee wannabe Dominik Lay should abandon all efforts to replace his buddy Bob Hoey, who resigned from the committee Feb. 26 just a few days after his abhorrent, racially insensitive behavior on a local cable television show: First, the evidence to support Lay's claim he lives in Lowell and not Boston is scant. After Lowell officials received complaints that Lay did not live in the city, and in fact lived in Brighton, City Solicitor Christine O'Connor penned a four-page letter last week explaining in part why Lay does not live in Lowell. O'Connor, a top-notch sleuth, found via a search of public records that Lay has owned his Brighton property since 2015, however, a search of the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds shows that Lay has been associated with this property since Novemb

WHS play plays on pandemic 'survival' - Kewanee Star Courier

WHS play plays on pandemic 'survival' - Kewanee Star Courier

WHS play plays on pandemic 'survival' - Kewanee Star Courier

Posted: 17 Dec 2020 10:30 AM PST

It should surprise no one that a play has been written about life in quarantine.

Wethersfield High School's play director Laura Evans didn't want to go two years without putting on a school play, so she did some research and found "10 Ways to Survive Life in Quanantine," a one-act comedy done entirely online.

Last March, the pandemic pulled the rug out from under the school's production of "Cinderella" while it was still in rehearsal, and Evans was looking for something they could do this spring under the assumption COVID restrictions would still be in place in April, when the school play is normally presented.

"We can't do it inside and the weather still won't be suitable to do it outside so this seemed like the best solution," Evans said.

"10 Ways," a new stay-at-home play by playwright Don Zolidis, "is full of handy solutions, from putting on a musical with your dog, to becoming an announcer for a made-up sport, to falling in love with an inanimate object like Tom Hanks in "Wilson," or inspired to take up origami and squirrel observation and is especially for actors to perform online is sure to bring a laugh to anyone who finds themselves unexpectedly indoors," according to the website of Playscripts, Inc., an independent publisher of new plays and musicals.

Zolidis has written two novels and over 100 plays and one-act plays for teenagers. Evans said she checked comments and reviews online from other schools where the play has been performed and all were positive.

She said the play calls for a cast of 20 but can be done with as few as 10 by doubling up on parts. Auditions will be held Jan. 8, with rehearsals in small groups or individually online. The end product will be a series of comedy sketches, similar to "Saturday Night Live," that will be posted on the district's website and can be viewed by anyone anywhere.  

"This year's play will be unique and a great way to be introduced to theater," Evans said. She encouraged students to try out for parts for things people have been doing while stuck at home. That includes the students, themselves.

Like all schools in Illinois, Wethersfield shut down last March and students took classes from home. This fall, the district has successfully managed to make it safely through the first semester with a hybrid learning model which has students in school twice a week on alternating days.

Zolidis is a former high-school and middle-school theatre teacher. He is currently a professor of creative writing at Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pa.

Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Zolidis received his bachelor's in English from Carleton College, Northfield, Minn., and an MFA in playwriting from the Actor's Studio Program at The New School for Drama. According to his online bio, he has received numerous honors, including the 2004 Princess Grace Award in Playwriting for "White Buffalo," now published by Samuel French. In 2013, "White Buffalo" was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Zolidis' plays for young people have been produced more than 4,000 times in all 50 states and 32 countries and have won numerous awards.

More information and an audition form for intereseted students are posted on the school's Facebook page.  a date has not yet been set for the production.

How to Get Into the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music - Backstage

Posted: 18 Nov 2020 12:00 AM PST

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Photo Source: Jay Yocis/University of Cincinnati

We're profiling the best performing arts programs in the U.S. and beyond with Reaching Higher, our inaugural questionnaire series that dives deep into all things higher education: What should you look for when choosing the right school for you? What do college admissions pros want from their freshman class? What opportunities await students during their studies and post-graduation? Learn everything you need to know right here!

If the bona fides of card-carrying Broadway stars like Shoshana Bean and Karen Olivo are any indication, the performing arts program at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (known simply as CCM) gives its students all the tools they need—and then some—to succeed on the stage and screen. Denton Yockey, the division head of Theatre Arts, Production, and Arts Administration (TAPAA) at CCM, sat with Backstage to break down exactly what makes the offerings there so singular, and what prospective students need to keep in mind when applying and auditioning for a coveted slot in the freshman class.

What makes your program different from other top performing arts programs in the country?

Few schools offer more comprehensive training programs for actors, singers, dancers, directors, designers, technicians, and arts managers than the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Students enrolled in CCM's BFA programs in acting and musical theater receive a wealth of learning opportunities focused on performing onstage as well as some behind-the-scenes work. Performances throughout the school year are fully supported by CCM's department of theater design and production, one of the finest BFA/MFA programs of its kind. Impressive scenery, lighting, projections, lavish costumes, properties, wigs, and makeup offer Broadway-caliber physical production quality. This is thanks to not only the sharing of resources among all the programs housed within our Theatre Arts, Production, and Arts Administration division, but also through interaction with other divisions at CCM, including Electronic Media and the college's internationally renowned music programs.

 Our acting and musical theater programs each offer eight semesters of rigorous, intensive training. CCM Musical Theatre provides voice, dance, and acting training.  Each year, 15 to 20 students are selected from over 1,000 hopeful auditionee applicants. CCM's musical theater program was the first of its kind in the U.S. and set the standard for musical theater training for all others to follow. The program helps singers, actors, and dancers hone their skills to become top musical theater performers, as evidenced by the multitude of graduates working on Broadway and on national tours as performers and creative artists in every facet of the entertainment industry.

CCM Acting is widely recognized for its quality and its history of training successful young actors, with graduates following careers in theater, film, and television. Students receive broad actor training, including specialized classes in improvisation, voice, movement, and stage combat. Students also train for a full year of acting for the camera, and recently have been given opportunities for CCM-sponsored film and television projects as well. Stage opportunities include both classical and contemporary shows, as well as devised and new works.

What can students expect each year to look like at CCM? What are the core requirements for graduation?

CCM is located in the heart of the University of Cincinnati, an impressive urban campus and top research institution. The area around the main campus has been redeveloped in recent years and has many affordable dining options, as well as nearby apartment housing. CCM is a short trip from the city's vibrant arts community that includes Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Aronoff Center for the Arts, Cincinnati Ballet, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, art and cultural museums, and much more. Many of Cincinnati's arts organizations feature work by local alumni and faculty members, and CCM regularly collaborates with them in special programs and performances.

CCM's world-class facilities provide a highly creative and multidisciplinary artistic environment. The school's campus, which is commonly referred to as the CCM Village, is equipped with state-of-the-art classroom, studio, and performance facilities. The core requirements for both acting and musical theater cover a variety of classes and performances appropriate to the disciplines. CCM keeps a busy on-campus performance schedule, including up to four musicals and four plays produced annually in three performance venues at the college. The acting and musical theater students perform in the same spaces as the college's Philharmonia Orchestra, chamber orchestras, choirs, dance, and opera students. Successful graduates need a minimum of 120 hours in their respective programs. 

What does your audition process typically look like, what do prospective students need to prepare, and what advice do you have for the audition room?

Recently, CCM's acting and musical theater [programs] both moved to a video prescreen audition, which students must complete before being granted an in-person audition.  This levels the playing field so students from all over the world are able to audition for their desired program without expensive travel costs. Audition requirements may be revised annually, so it is important to check the Admissions & Aid section of the website for the latest information.

What are some of the main qualities you look for in your incoming class?

Both programs are looking for students who understand who they are [and] have a healthy work ethic and a passion for the art form. The acting and musical theater programs are rigorous; students must be dedicated and focused in order to thrive and succeed in school and after graduation.

Do you have a performance showcase for graduating seniors? When, where, and for whom do your students perform? What's required?

CCM curated the industry's first senior showcase program of its kind for New York agents and casting directors in 1993. Since then, our musical theater and acting programs have continued to present senior showcases to debut the graduating class for industry professionals and casting agents. The musical theater seniors present their showcase each spring in New York City. The acting seniors present their showcase each spring in New York and Los Angeles.

When the class of 2020's New York and L.A. senior showcases had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CCM quickly pivoted and became the first college program to launch a digital senior showcase experience in April of 2020. The musical theater class of 2020's senior showcase was filmed and made available online for casting directors and agents. Students in CCM Acting's class of 2020 senior showcase also filmed performances and recorded voiceover demos that were packaged into an online showcase for casting directors and agents.

The college plans to build off of last year's successes and again offer online, virtual senior showcases for this year's class of 2021 in acting and musical theater as well.

What advice do you have for students to narrow down their search?

Students should seek a school that is the right fit for them. They should ask themselves [if] they see themselves excelling in that program's system and with that program's faculty and fellow students. They should investigate their top choices, talk to faculty and current students, and schedule an in-person or virtual visit. Due to the pandemic, CCM is currently hosting virtual visits only, which can be scheduled online.

What's one thing that high schoolers thinking about studying the performing arts should know before pursuing a degree?

A career in the performing arts is not easy—it takes a lot of work, passion, and commitment to navigate the highs and lows of the industry. Pursuing an education and a career in the performing arts is not for the faint [of] heart. You must also be able to adapt to challenges and rise from failures.

In what ways is your program adapting to the restrictions and demands of the coronavirus pandemic?

The University of Cincinnati is offering a mix of online, in-person, and hybrid instruction for students during the pandemic. To facilitate social distancing, many of our theater arts classes in acting and musical theater take a hybrid approach to instruction, meaning that some students are in-person on certain days while others participate online. For example, one professor hosts half of the students in her musical theater dance class in person (while masked and spaced 10 feet apart) while the other half of her students participate online by dancing in their dorm rooms, living rooms, driveways, or even in outside spaces on campus. The musical theater dance classes sometimes even take over the sports stadiums on campus to dance together outside. Students, alumni, and faculty also regularly participate in virtual performances, including a tap dance performance that was featured as part of the Muny's Summer Variety Hour Live! series, as well as alumni performances streamed and shared by Playbill. 

CCM Acting also offers a mix of online, hybrid, and in-person classes. One professor recently moved his class to a lawn on campus, while others connect with students over Zoom. Students and faculty are working together on upcoming film and radio play projects, as well as short, socially distanced outdoor performances. Additionally, students, faculty, and alumni have participated in many digital theater projects during the pandemic, including recent projects with the national One-Minute Play Festival and the Monologues of Hope Series with the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. 

The college is not presenting performances for live, in-person audiences due to the pandemic. However, we are curating a video performance series that features the work of students and faculty for our online audiences. You can watch recent performances by visiting

Anything else you'd like to highlight?

Explore CCM to see if it's the right fit for you by visiting Reach out to the faculty of our acting and musical theater programs to learn more about us, and schedule a virtual visit to see why so many successful alumni have chosen to start their journeys here. Good luck.

This story originally appeared in the Nov. 19 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.

Looking for remote work? Backstage has got you covered! Click here for auditions you can do from home!

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Benjamin Lindsay

Benjamin Lindsay is managing editor at Backstage, where if you're reading it in our magazine, he's written or edited it first. He's also producer and host of a number of our digital interview series, including our inaugural on-camera segment, Backstage Live.

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