posted March 5, 2008

Hope Theatre Production Chosen for National Festival

The Hope College Theatre production of "Rose and the Rime" is one a select group of plays nationwide invited to be presented during the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (ACTF) National Festival in Washington, D.C., in April.

"Rose and the Rime," which was written at the college, is one of only three full-length college/university-staged plays chosen for this year's national festival from among the best productions highlighted during the eight ACTF regional festivals held around the U.S. in January and February. "Rose and the Rime" was the only production from the ACTF Great Lakes Region festival in Milwaukee, Wis., to have the honor of being under consideration for the national festival.

"We are incredibly excited and honored to be selected to perform 'Rose and the Rime' at the Kennedy Center in our nation's capital," said Michelle Bombe, who is director of theatre, professor of theatre and resident costume designer at Hope. "This honor is the culmination of an amazing journey - from humble ideas of what might happen if we brought in a guest artist to write a play with and for our students, to a challenging and motivating process of creation, to the incredible success it had on our campus last spring, to having college theatre students jumping to their feet at the regional festival in Milwaukee, and now to be recognized on a national level - truly amazing."

The non-competitive national festival - Bombe noted that selection is the recognition -- will run Monday-Sunday, April 14-20, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Hope College Theatre will present "Rose and the Rime" on Thursday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m. in the center's Terrace Theater.

The last Hope production invited to be presented during the national festival was "Tea and Sympathy" in 1983. The last time that a Hope production had been chosen for presentation during the regional festival was "The Dining Room" in 1988. The other Hope productions selected for regional presentation through the years have been "Hallelujah" (1971), "Bull Moose" (1975), "Mack and Mabel" (1981), and "Tea and Sympathy." Most recently, in 2004, a scene from Hope College Theatre's production of "Iphigenia and Other Daughters" was chosen for presentation during the regional festival's "Evening of Scenes."

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 have been 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. The original cast has been joined by seniors Katherine Bramley of Northbrook, Ill., as Betty Duncan, and Jocelyn Vammer of Midland as Loretta Laroche and the Rime Witch.

The production team includes 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; freshman Ben Hertel of Fennville; and junior Katie Terpstra of Zeeland. Working on front-of-house crew is senior Stacy Thomas of Clare.

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 at the college 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 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.

In addition to "Rose and the Rime," the full-length, college- and university-staged productions chosen for the festival are "In the Blood" by Suzan-Lori Parks, from the University of Alabama-Birmingham; and "Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout" by Tomson Highway, from the University of Oklahoma. The festival will also include two finalists for the John Cauble Award for Outstanding Short Play; productions to be featured during the event's "Short Play Festival," with selections from Weber State University's "The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)" by Joanne Bogart and Eric Rockwell; a showcase performance from Wichita State University's production of "Wild Party" by Andrew Lippa; and "A House Full of Letters" by Kit Steinkellner of the University of California-Los Angeles.

The college's Office of Alumni and Parent Relations is planning a reception at the Kennedy Center for alumni and friends of the college in conjunction with the national performance of "Rose and the Rime." The event will take place on Thursday, April 17, at 6 p.m., and admission will include both the reception and a ticket for the play. Additional information about the reception may be obtained online at http://www.hope.edu/alumni/ or by calling the office at (616) 395-7250.

Additional information about the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival may be obtained online at http://www.kennedy-center.org/education/actf/