posted December 11, 2007

Benefit Performance Precedes Festival Honor

The Hope College production of "Rose and the Rime," which was written at the college, has been chosen for presentation during the annual festival of the Great Lakes Region of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (ACTF) in January.

West Michigan theatergoers will have an opportunity to enjoy the production a few days earlier. A benefit performance has been scheduled for Monday, Jan. 7, at 7 p.m. at Hope in the DeWitt Center main theatre.

"Rose and the Rime" is one of only nine productions selected for presentation during the festival from among a field of 35 entries submitted from throughout the five-state region. The event will run Tuesday-Sunday, Jan. 8-13, at Cardinal Stritch University and Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis. "Rose and the Rime's" festival performance has been scheduled for Friday, Jan. 11.

Hope College Theatre originally presented "Rose and the Rime" during the 2006-07 school year, on Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21, and Wednesday-Saturday, April 25-28, in the DeWitt Center main theatre. The show was written and created by guest artist Nathan Allen, who was also the production's director, in a collaborative effort with the cast and design team.

"Rose and the Rime" is set in the fictional town of Radio Falls, Mich., where it is always winter. The community has been laid waste by the terrible Rime Witch, and is a world without flowers, apples, mail or dancing -- but with an abundance of snow, wind and ice cream. The shining beacon in the wintry gloom is a young girl named Rose, who takes it upon herself to make a treacherous journey to the frozen cave of the Witch in the hope of changing her town's fate.

Several of the original cast members will be reprising their roles in the production: 2007 graduate Jennifer Blair of Libertyville, Ill., as Ethel May-Bell; junior Isaac Bush of Muskegon as Charlie Sutherland; senior Dane Dandridge Clark of Grand Rapids as Hank; 2007 graduate Chad Coe of Birmingham as Gary Smackhouse; 2007 graduate Kate Finkbeiner of Haslett as Adelaide Avram; 2007 graduate Youngmee Sharon Kwon of Ann Arbor and Tae-jon, South Korea, as Granny Sadie; 2007 graduate Cody Masalkoski of Lansing as Uncle Roger; senior Brandon Ruiter of Grand Rapids as Jimmy Sutherland; sophomore Brittany Stock of St. Charles, Ill., as Hazel Davis; and senior Rachel Wells of West Bend, Wis., as Rose. Joining the original cast are seniors Katherine Bramley of Northbrook, Ill., as Betty Duncan, and Jocelyn Vammer of Midland as Loretta Laroche and the Rime Witch.

The production team will include a mix of Hope students and faculty and staff. The scenic designers are faculty member Richard Smith and seniors Sarah Watkins of Bloomfield Hills and Stephanie Gavin of Granville, Ohio. Costume design is by faculty member Michelle Bombe and senior Amanda Spaanstra of Wyoming. Erik Alberg of the staff is lighting director, and senior Mike Olson of Holland is student lighting designer. Sound designer is faculty member Perry Landes. Stage manager is 2007 graduate Kate Goetzinger of Indianapolis, Ind., while the assistant stage managers are 2007 graduate Katie Eagan of Highland Park, Ill.; sophomore Jeri Fredrickson of Wheaton, Ill.; and sophomore Lenore Ojibway-Gifford of Lansing.

Senior Stephanie Lawson of Mount Vernon, Ohio, is production manager and house manager. Freshmen Christine Worden of Midland and Jackie Richards of Worthington, Ohio, are doing wardrobe. Serving on the lighting set and crew are sophomore Sara Gosses of Amherst, Ohio; sophomore Kenneth Chamberlain of Metuchen, N.J.; junior Laura Van Tassell of Spencer, Iowa; senior Jon Sprik of Grand Rapids; freshman Ben Hertel of Fennville; junior Katie Terpstra of Zeeland; and senior Sam Mirto of Fennville. Working on front-of-house crew are sophomore Candice Tindell of Lake Villa, Ill.; senior Kelly Sina of Watertown, Wis.; and senior Stacy Thomas of Clare. Senior Jon Kay of Three Rivers, who did original poster art for the production and will also be on the crew for the remount.

Allen is the artistic director of the House Theatre Company in Chicago, Ill., and worked with the students throughout the 2006-07 school year in creating the play. He began in October 2006, with monthly intensive workshops for actors, directors, technicians and writers which culminated in his residency in March and April of 2007.

Originally from Colorado, Allen graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2000 with a BFA in acting. After his experiences in college and abroad, Allen and friends from SMU and the BritishAmericanDramaAcademy moved to Chicago to start their own theatre company. Their mission was to collaborate and create a non-elitist theatre community where they could write, act, direct, and realize their own work. Within a year and a half, they had incorporated the House Theatre Company.

The last Hope College Theatre production selected for presentation during the regional festival was "The Dining Room" in 1988. Productions chosen previously were "Hallelujah" (1971), "Bull Moose" (1975), "Mack and Mabel" (1981), and "Tea and Sympathy" (1983; also invited to the national theatre festival at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.). Most recently, in 2004, a scene from Hope College Theatre's fall 2003 production of "Iphigenia and Other Daughters" was chosen for presentation during the regional festival's "Evening of Scenes."

In addition to "Rose and the Rime" being chosen for presentation, multiple students are competing for individual awards.

A total of four students nominated by ACTF responders will be participating in the Irene Ryan Acting Competition: sophomore Isaac Bush of Muskegon (Trplev in "The Nina Variations" in October), senior Dane Clark of Grand Rapids (Hank in "Rose and the Rime"), senior Isaac Droscha of Mason (Xavier Cassidy in "By the Bog of Cats" in November and December) and senior Rachel Wells of West Bend, Wis. (Rose in "Rose and the Rime"). Four others were also nominated but have chosen not to compete due to having graduated or off-campus commitments.

Two students will be presenting their designs in the Barbizon Awards for Theatrical Design Excellence competition. Seniors Amanda Spaanstra of Wyoming and Sarah Watkins of Detroit will be presenting their designs for "By the Bog of Cats." In addition, Spaanstra will be entering her designs for "Rose and the Rime," and Watkins is entering another design.

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is a national program designed to encourage excellence in college and university theater in the United States. Started in 1969, the program involves 18,000 students from more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country.

The program is divided into eight regions. The Great Lakes "Region III" includes colleges and universities from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Tickets for the January 7 benefit production of "Rose and the Rime" at Hope are $15 for regular admission, $10 for senior citizens and members of the college's faculty and staff, and $5 for students, and are available in the ticket office inside the east entrance of the DeVos Fieldhouse.

The ticket office's hours will vary somewhat because of the holiday season. Through Friday, Dec. 21, the office is open Mondays-Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ticket office will be closed Monday-Thursday, Dec. 24-27, and on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 31-Jan. 1. The ticket office will be open on Saturday, Dec. 22, from noon until 4 p.m.; on Friday, Dec. 28, from noon until 9 p.m.; and on Saturday, Dec. 29, from noon until 4 p.m. Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 2, the office will again be open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, the theatre lobby ticket office in the DeWittCenter will be open on the January 7 performance nightly shortly before the 7 p.m. curtain. The ticket office may be contacted at (616) 395-7890.

The DeVos Fieldhouse is located at 222 Fairbanks Avenue between Ninth and 11th streets. The DeWittCenter is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.