School of Music, Theatre and Dance

Music, Theatre and Dance News

September 2019

icon of a calendarSeptember 20, 2019

Share this story

Music, Theatre and Dance News: September 2019
Lynnae Lehfeldt
Associate Professor of Theatre Lynnae Lehfeldt (center) recently completed her certification in the Linklater Voice Method. She has the distinction of being the only Designated Linklater Voice Teacher (DLT) in the state of Michigan.

Lynnae Lehfeldt, associate professor of theatre, recently completed her certification in the Linklater Voice Method. Linklater Designation is the most prestigious certification in the field of Stage Voice. Designated Linklater Voice Teachers (DLTs) teach at the most sought after programs in the country — Yale, Carnegie Mellon University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — and Lehfeldt has the distinction of being the only DLT in the state of Michigan. The training to become a Designated Linklater Voice Teacher is a rigorous and time-consuming process that involves working in private sessions, observing senior teachers teaching group classes, and attending teacher training weekend workshops to develop teaching skills. The program requires a teacher trainee to learn anatomy, singing, piano, speech work and articulation issues, several kinds of movement and body techniques (the Trish Arnold series of arms and body swings, Alexander, Feldenkrais) as well as various acting approaches in order to know the demands of the text on the actor. After at least five years of training, Lehfeldt auditioned to be accepted to the designation workshops (two three-week workshops) held at the Kristin Linklater Voice Centre Ltd., in Orkney, Scotland.

Lehfeldt will also be performing in Meadow Brook Theatre’s production of Murder on the Orient Express, which runs from Oct. 2 - Oct. 27. The cast also includes OU theatre lecturer Sara Catheryn Wolf, with costumes designed by theatre alumnus Corey Collins.

On Sept. 14, Varner Recital Hall played host to an interdisciplinary musical performance that explored crucial moments in the history of physics. The event, The History of Physics in 13 Songs: From Galileo to Dark Matter, featured Oakland University Professor of Physics Alberto Rojo (composer, guitar); Associate Professor of Theatre Lynnae Lehfeldt (narration); and guest artists Michael Gould (percussion) and Dave Haughey (cello).

Alex Benoit

Former theatre student Alex Benoit, who recently left OU to pursue an acting career in Chicago, has been named in the "Hot New Faces 2019: 10 New Chicago Actors You Should Know" article in the Chicago Tribune.

OU alum and Tony Award winner Jayne Houdyshell will join Hugh Jackman, Sutton Foster and more in the upcoming Broadway revival of The Music Man. Jayne will take on the role of Mrs. Shinn. The Scott Rudin-produced revival, directed by Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, will begin Sept. 9, 2020 at a Shubert venue to be announced later.

Angela Theis, soprano, is the newest member of the OU voice faculty. Theis was an original member of the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio and served as the Soprano resident artist from 2015-2017. Around the country, she has been a soloist with various professional opera companies and symphony orchestras. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Notre Dame and New England Conservatory of Music, and she has studied abroad in Italy and Austria. This summer, Theis made her solo debut at Carnegie Hall She will perform a recital in Varner Recital Hall on Sept. 27, including music by former OU Music Chair and founder of the Michigan Opera Theatre, David DiChiera.

The Mason Street Warehouse production of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, which ran from Aug. 16 - Sept. 1, featured a "staggering set" designed by Associate Professor of Theatre Jeremy Barnett and theatre alum Jason Maracani served as associate scenic designer. According to Revue, West Michigan’s Arts & Entertainment Guide, “The design plays every bit the successful storytelling role in fulfilling the promise of this remarkable show as well as milking its humor."

Barnett and Maracani are also getting ready to open an art installation at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, entitled “Playful Spaces.” The piece will extend about 250 feet through the exterior and interior spaces of the SCA. It opens in October in tandem with “Illuminaries,” a group exhibition of artists working with light and audience interaction, and will remain up through March 2020.

Bianca Brengman

Bianca Brengman (BFA ‘16) was recently accepted into a prestigious choreography workshop in New York called the Doug Varone Choreographic Intensive and Mentorship Program. Her work was performed in Doug Varone and Dancers Presents: DEVICES 6 on Aug. 2-3 at The Theater at Gibney 280 Broadway in New York City.

Hannah Grace Johnson, rising junior musical theatre major, and Dimitri Jurgensen, rising sophomore musical theatre major, performed in Follies, an Exit Left Theatre Company production, which ran July 6 - Aug. 4 at the Park Theatre in Holland, Mich.

Dr. Alta Marie Boover, assistant professor of music at OU, presented a session entitled Diction Refresher: English, German, French and Italian — on Aug. 1 at the MSVMA Summer Conference in Port Huron. On Oct. 5, Dr. Boover and Dr. Tian Tian, associate professor of music, will present a recital featuring the world premiere of A Woman’s Life (and Love), composed in 2019 by Sara Carina Graef with poetry by Morgan Parker and Melissa Stein. The performance will also include Robert Schumann’s masterwork, Frauenliebe und Leben.

Ralaya (Rai) Goshea (BFA ‘09) has been dancing with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, one of America’s foremost modern dance companies. Under the direction of Cleo Parker Robinson, the Ensemble performs a dynamic body of work inspired by the African American experience and rooted in ethnic and modern dance traditions worldwide. Goshea and the company recently performed at the American Dance Festival in North Carolina.

Olivia Griffin (BFA ‘16) performed in Beau, which opened Aug. 3 at the Adirondack Theatre Festival, a professional not-for-profit summer theatre located in Glens Fall, New York.

Mark Ujik (BFA ‘19) completed his second summer as tour actor/director with Missoula Children’s Theatre (MCT). The MCT travels to a new community each week to teach a one hour show (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) in five days to over 50 kids, which includes performing workshops on acting, make-up, improvisation and mime.

OU Percussion Ensemble

The Oakland University World Percussion Ensemble has been selected to present a Showcase Concert on Nov. 14 at the Percussive Arts Society IInternational Convention (PASIC). The program, entitled The Embaire Xylophone of Uganda, will feature the renowned Ugandan musician Haruna Walusimbi and will be presented together with percussion ensembles from Ohio University and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. “There are a very limited number of showcase concerts at PASIC each year and to be accepted to present one is a major accomplishment for our program,” said Mark Stone, associate professor of world music and percussion. The following students will be performing at PASIC: Peyton Miller and Chris Sinelli (sophomores), Max Correia and Kyle Paoletti (juniors), William Angliss (jazz minor), Madeline Wilson (world music minor), and Stephen Niko Martinez (graduate student).

Robert Benton (BM ‘07) was recently promoted to associate professor at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where he teaches low brass and music theory in the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance. 

Amanda Blaikie, an applied instructor of flute at Oakland University, was married on Aug. 10 at the Belle Isle Conservatory. The wedding was followed by a reception at the Detroit Yacht Club,

Kyle Goetzinger (BFA ‘19) recently accepted a position at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Fla. as part of their lighting team.

Jake Hooker, a special lecturer in theatre, is co-directing a new play, Cleopatra Boy, which will run through Sept. 28 at Andy in Detroit. The original play “uses the history of Cleopatra combined with music, choreography, bold design, and spoken word to illustrate how women, POC, and LGBTQIA+ individuals in positions of power risk losing control of their own images against the dominance of white patriarchy, resulting in false narratives and misrepresentations.” It is being presented by A Host of People and is supported, in part, by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ prestigious National Theater Project Creation and Touring Grant.

Mitch Aiello (BFA ‘16) has been selected as the next artistic director of an Equity theatre in Kansas and he has invited several OU alums to perform there next season. “According to Mitch, in the three years since graduation, between shows and national tours he has been working as a professional singing actor every day — except for two months and two days off,” said John-Paul White, distinguished professor of music at OU. “Pretty good record!”

Take Root, a contemporary dance company-in-residence at Oakland University, will present their underwater film, Ripples from the Skin We Shed, in Chicago at the Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival on Sept. 20-21. Also on Sept. 21, Take Root will perform at the fourth annual Team Fox in the D Gala, which benefits the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. 

Karen Sheridan in Silent Sky

Karen Sheridan, professor of theatre, has won’s Wilde Award for Best Performance, Supporting Actress for Silent Sky at the Williamston Theatre. The other play Sheridan was nominated for, Detroit Public Theatre’s production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, won Best Play, Drama. Next up, Sheridan will play Hannah in The Safe House at Williamston Theatre in Williamston, Mich. from Oct. 3-Nov. 3.

Josh Young, an assistant professor and OU’s newest theatre faculty member, will be performing with fellow faculty member Alta Marie Boover in An Evening with Irving Berlin on Nov. 9 at the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit.. He will also be performing in Classic Broadway: Rodgers & Hammerstein, on April 14-15 at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. The concert is “dedicated to the unforgettable tunes of one of the most successful pairings in the history of musical theatre” and includes classics from The Sound of Music, Carousel, Oklahoma!, and South Pacific. Young 

Baritone singer, voice teacher and impresario Richard Conrad — who taught at Oakland University as a special instructor in music in the 1970s — died on Aug. 26 at age 84 at his home in Elio, Maine following a long illness. According to his obituary, Conrad studied as a baritone in Boston and made his operatic debut in the American premiere of Mozart’s La Finta Semplice in 1961. In the early 1970s, he appeared in numerous productions, including Cosi fan tutte, La rondine, and Help, Help, the Globolinks in Detroit. These appearances led to an academic seat on the voice faculty of Oakland University, where he began an international commute, splitting his time and talent between Rome and Detroit. “He initiated many things at OU, and many students — and faculty — were influenced and/or mentored by him,” said Professor Emeritus David Daniels. In addition to performing, Conrad was also a producer and director, and he served as the artistic director of the Boston Academy of Music for 23 years. He also founded the Bostonian Opera and Concert Ensemble, also known as The Bostonians.

Thomas D. Mahard, a special lecturer in theatre, will be performing in On Golden Pond through Sept. 28 at the new JET Theatre in West Bloomfield, Mich. OU alumna Melissa Beckwith will be playing his daughter.

Esau Pritchett (BA ‘99) will have a recurring role on Prodigal Son, a new crime drama premiering on FOX this fall. He has also been cast as a recurring character on a new drama on HBO. “It’s hard to believe, but easy to remember that I was practically homeless a few months ago,” Pritchett said. “And now I’ll be appearing on two separate shows, on two separate networks, concurrently. Thanks so much to all of you who were there during the most challenging part of the struggle, and those of you who are close to me right now.”

Lauri Hogle

Dr. Lauri Hogle, visiting assistant professor of music education, was selected to present at the 2019 Symposium on Music Teacher Education: Cultivating Perspectives and Practices, held in Greensboro, N.C. in September. She worked with 2018 OU music education graduate, Caitlyn Bramble (BM ‘18) as a co-researcher and presenter. They collaboratively shared findings of their study, Music Teacher Agency Through Duoethnography: Pedagogical DNA in a Community of Learners at the national conference.

Marcus Schoon, an applied instructor of bassoon at OU, contrabassoonist at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Tai Chi instructor, led the Tai Chi class during A Night of Movement: Tai Chi and Yoga in the DSO Sosnick Courtyard on Sept. 6.

The School of Music, Theatre and Dance is pleased to welcome several new part-time and full-time faculty members, including Pamela L. Kiena (visiting assistant professor of music), Josh Young (assistant professor of theatre), Amy Hardison Tully (professor of music and director of the SMTD), and Monica Lopez Orozco (visiting assistant professor of theatre).

Musical theatre student Jonathon Stecevic recently announced that he will be making his return to the Berman Stage this December as Conrad Birdie in the PAIJ Players production of Bye Bye Birdie

Theatre alumna Marissa Patullo’s (BFA ‘17) show, House of Creeps, opened on Sept. 13 and will continue through Nov. 3 in Los Angeles, Calif. “This is the fifth season of Creep L.A. and my first show with the company,” Patullo said. “It’s immersive and spooky; people are calling it a sexy haunted house.” For more information, visit

Disney’s DCappella, a new Pentatonix-style touring performance experience featuring OU alum Joe Santoni (BA ‘14) released their video for “Speechless” from the movie Aladdin. You can check out the video on YouTube and download the single on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon Music.

Pam Klena

Pamela L. Klena, visiting assistant professor of music, will be conducting the Symphonic Band, teaching elementary and secondary instrumental music education methods courses and supervising student teachers. Klena is currently completing the dissertation requirement for the DMA at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where her primary research interest is gender diversity among conductors; her doctoral research document is entitled “The Phenomenology of Accomplished Female Conductors: Their Lived Experiences.” She holds a BM from Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn. and a MM from Central Michigan University. She taught beginning, middle, and high school band, general music courses, and conducted school musicals in Georgia.

Tyler Capa (BM ‘15) has been busy working with Rachel Zegler, a 17-year-old New Jersey High School student who will make her big screen debut in Stephen Spielberg’s West Side Story, which also stars Ansel Elgort and is set to be released on Dec. 18, 2020. The film is an adaptation of the 1957 musical featuring an iconic score by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.

Ian Lester’s (BM Euphonium Performance ‘18) award-winning Tuba Sonata, Hades: God of the Underworld, will be used in the 2020 Falcone Competition, as well as the 2020 Southeast Regional Tuba/Euphonium Conference at Kennesaw State University. “I’m so thrilled,” Lester said.

Mannon McIntosh (BFA ‘19) is the stage manager for Encore Musical Theatre Company’s production of Fun Home, which opened on Sept. 12 and runs through Oct. 13. “I’m so lucky to be working with such a lovely company and team on such a beautiful show,” McIntosh said. After Fun Home, McIntosh will take a short break before heading to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, where she will stage manage four plays at the Lean Ensemble Theatre through mid-May. “I’m so excited and so lucky,” she said.

Ashley Rozanski (BFA ‘11) served as a guest judge for the Arts, Beats and Eats Rock the Mic competition, which took place in Royal Oak. “As a performer and voice teacher, I had a blast seeing what the Detroit local talent has to offer,” she said.

Broadway Cares

Students from Oakland University’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance are coming together with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS — a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps men, women and children receive lifesaving medications, health care, nutritious meals, counseling and emergency financial assistance – to host Red Bucket fundraising collections after select performances. “I will be looking for volunteers for the Bucket Brigade at the post-show appeals, which usually involve a cast member making a speech just after curtain call, explaining what Broadway Cares does and asking for any donations,” said Erica Kennedy, a musical theatre major at OU. “As the audience leaves, they’ll see volunteers like you at the exits, holding red buckets for their cash donations.” In the last year, more than $13.7 million was raised for Broadway with the help of the Bucket Brigade. Collection dates are expected to be announced soon.

Coming up: The SMTD will celebrate the music, humanity and legacy of Ludwig van Beethoven, who is regarded as one of the most magnificent artists in the history of western music, by presenting his 32 piano sonatas in a 10-concert series starting on Oct. 13, 2019 and ending on the composers 250th birthday on Dec. 17, 2020. Also during the 2019-20 season, the Oakland Symphony Orchestra will present its first concert of the season on Oct. 6; the SMTD will present Urinetown from Oct. 10-20 in Varner Studio Theatre; and the Chamber Music Society of Detroit at Oakland University series will kick off at 3 p.m. on Sept. 29 with the Juilliard String Quartet. The series will also include performances by Imani Winds with Tian Tian (piano) at 3 p.m. on Nov. 3; Gryphon Trio at 3 p.m. on Jan. 26; and Curtis on Tour – Vera Quartet with Meng-Chieh (piano) at 3 p.m. on March 15.

Share this story