Monday, October 30, 2006

Fresh off a one-year sabbatical, Rollins College Director of Theatre, Thomas Ouellette, is directing our upcoming production of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap. Here's a mini-interview with Thomas to give you some insight into the process of bringing this mystery to the spotlight.

Part of our department's philosophy is the need to expose our students to certain kinds of material during the four years at Rollins. For example, a Shakespearean play is usually done every other year. How does The Mousetrap fit into this philosophy?
The playing style for a period mystery piece like The Mousetrap is very specific. It calls for a heightened reality, requiring actors to make theatrical, high-stakes choices that are nonetheless grounded in reality. One cannot "underplay" an Agatha Christie piece. The trick is to hit just the right elevated style: heightened but never cheesy.

What challenges does your cast face in creating an air of mystery and suspense in this production?
The dialects are tricky: making them at once authentic and understandable to an American audience is a bit of a challenge. One character speaks in a thick Italian dialect and one is Cockney. We're having fun with those, particularly.

What has been the most surprising thing about directing The Mousetrap?
The play is brilliantly, carefully constructed. It's a machine! There is nary a superfluous action or bit of dialogue. I've learned that if I just "play the play" as Dame Agatha constructed it, I won't -- almost can't -- go wrong.

The Mousetrap has been running in London for more than half a century -- longer than any other play in history. Now that you have explored the play, do you have an explanation for its unusual longevity?
It's a terrific blend of mystery and comedy. If you're willing to let yourself go, the play grabs you and takes you on a bumpy, spooky, intriguing ride.

If you were solving a murder mystery, do you think your approach would be more like that of Miss Marple or Hercule Perroit?
Columbo is more my style, minus the wrinkled coat.

The Mousetrap runs November 10-18, 2006. Call 407.646.2145 for more information.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Michael Neil Mastry will be hitting the Annie stage this Friday as Charlie Davenport in Annie Get Your Gun. You might recall his performance as Saunders in last season's hit Lend Me a Tenor pictured here. What follows are notes from Michael that are included in our playbill...

During my first year of college, I wrote an essay regarding non-Natives dressing up as Native Americans. Researching the essay, I became more aware of long-held stereotypes and their impact on “real” people. This past summer, I participated in a nationwide leadership conference where I met Native peoples of Navajo, Omaha, Lakota, and other backgrounds who came from reservations all over the United States. The issues these people raised gave me a new awareness of the struggles that confront contemporary Native Americans.

When I entered my second year of college and prepared to audition for the Annie Russell Theatre’s upcoming season, I read the script for Annie Get Your Gun I immediately noticed the show’s issues of race. Misgivings abounded and I questioned my personal choice to perform in the show. Would my performance contribute to the perpetuation of harmful Native American stereotypes? Annie Get Your Gun is set in the midst of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show and today, many people still think of Native Americans as they appeared in the turn-of-the-century entertainment.

In the 1999 revival version of Annie Get your Gun, certain moments tend toward subverting the negative stereotypes by pointing to them and emphasizing their dehumanizing power (reminiscent of Sherman Alexie’s writing for the 1998 film Smoke Signals); other moments, however, are still painful and leave me morally conflicted. While deciding if I wanted to perform, the show’s director encouraged me to work out my struggle and share it with the audience. As I have decided to perform, I am grateful for the opportunity to share my struggle and encourage the audience to be aware of the moments in the show where we have tried to subvert stereotypes and bigotry, and perhaps more importantly, where we may have consciously or unconsciously let them take the stage.

Michael Neil Mastry ’09

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Last summer LA Times critic David C. Nichols wrote, "Had Arlene Hutton been around during Broadway's golden age, her finely wrought plays might rank with those of William Inge or Horton Foote. Among postmodern dramatists, Hutton (the pseudonym of actor-director Beth Lincks) stands apart, relying on traditional techniques in an era where such values grow ever rarer. This restrained old-school care distinguishes Last Train to Nibroc at the [Actors Co-op] Crossley Theatre. Hutton's romantic WWII two-hander receives a spare, beautifully judged revival, as quietly enthralling as it is unassuming."

Beginning September 8th, Actors Co-op of Los Angeles presents Arlene Hutton's The Nibroc Trilogy, restaging their acclaimed production of Last Train to Nibroc in rotating repertory with See Rock City and Gulf View Drive.

The Nibroc Trilogy by Arlene Hutton Creates Los Angeles Theatre Event World Premiere opens Actors Co-op 15th Season

Actors Co-op of Hollywood opens its benchmark year with award-winning playwright Arlene Hutton's humorous, touching, and insightful love story about a young married couple's journey through World War II on the home front and its challenges during a postwar America. The three part saga plays in repertory and includes the return of the 2005 critically acclaimed Last Train to Nibroc, its sequel See Rock City, and the world premiere of Gulf View Drive.

See Rock City, part two of the trilogy, follows the tale of May and Raleigh, the two young strangers whose bumpy road to romance began when they shared a seat on Last Train to Nibroc, heading east in 1940. Rock City, also a one act play, picks up on the couple after their honeymoon and sees them through the end of World War II, introducing the characters of their two mothers-in-law. As the newlyweds begin their new life together living with May's parents in rural Kentucky, they struggle with newfound marital expectations and challenges on the home front during the ongoing war in Europe. When victory overseas brings unexpected consequences at home, the young couple is forced to face hidden truths and find uncommon solutions to the challenges of a new postwar America.

The world premiere of Gulf View Drive, a full length play and the trilogy's final episode, finds May and Raleigh ten years later in Florida. Hutton's saga continues with the aftermath of war and the breakup of the traditional family. May and Raleigh live in an island community off the gulf coast of Florida. Their dream house shrinks as relatives descend, further testing the couple's love in this romantic, humorous, and insightful glimpse of life in the 1950s.

See Rock City was workshopped at The New Harmony Project and premiered at the 78th Street Theatre Lab, directed by Eric Nightengale. Gulf View Drive was written at and received development at The New Harmony Project and the 78th Street Theatre Lab, again directed by Nightengale.

Nan McNamara directs parts one and two of the Trilogy. She directed the Co-op's 2005 Last Train production, and last season directed the Co-op's production of The Boys Next Door. Marianne Savell directs part three. She directed the Co-op's 2005 production of It's A Wonderful Life: A Radio Play, and will return to direct it again this year. Stacy Armao and Gary Clemmer, the original May and Raleigh in the 2005 Last Train, reprise their roles and play the lead characters throughout the entire trilogy.

Actors Co-op Producing Director Paul Stuart Graham, notes it is rare for a 99-seat theatre company to devote the first half of its season to one three-part production, but sees The Nibroc Trilogy as an exciting opportunity for Los Angeles audiences to witness the world premiere of an entire body of work by a playwright, and heralds this as the beginning of a new chapter for the Co-op. "The Actors Co-op in its 15th anniversary season is eager to present this new trilogy and our intention is to continue to look for new playwrights and new projects for future productions," Mr. Graham said. "We want to continue to provide the opportunity for playwrights to showcase their works at the Actors Co-op, and we are happy to inaugurate this initiative with The Nibroc Trilogy."

Presented in repertory, The Trilogy schedule enables audiences to see the entire love story, all three plays, in one day and night or during one weekend. The Nibroc Trilogy plays September 8 through November 26.

WHAT: The Nibroc Triology by Arlene Hutton
WHEN: Opens Friday, September 8 and plays through Sunday, November 26 Thursday-Saturday 8:00 p.m. & Saturday and Sunday 2:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Crossley Theatres, 1760 N. Gower Street, Hollywood
TICKETS: Adults $30, Seniors, Students (w/ID), Children (8-12), and Groups of 10 or more $25. For tickets and more information, call (323)462-8460.
PARKING: Free, well-lit, guarded parking is available.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Horsing Around with Equus?

Thanks to Yvette Kojic having her ear to the ground for all things theatre on both sides of the pond, we were able to scoop Elizabeth Maupin's blog ( on this fun bit of news. Cast members from the Harry Potter movies will be in a new production of Equus -- with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) himself as the tortured adolescent, Alan. Read about it here in the London Theatre Guide:

Some of you may recall that the Annie Russell Theatre's production of Equus during the 1978-79 season made headlines when it was protested by local religious groups and boycotted by other concerned citizens. One anonymous caller was quoted as saying, "If you put on that claptrap of a nude play, there will be a bomb in your theatre opening night -- and I mean it."

The Annie's archive is full of articles from several different publications about the production and a debate that raged about whether nudity in the play was even legal. The flap prompted a counter protest of Winter Park City Hall by Rollins students when the city wanted to ban the show's nudity. "Stop horsing around with Equus," read one placard.

The thick archive file contains many pieces of correspondence against the production and many in support of the production. Many patrons asked for -- often demanded -- refunds...before seeing the production. "I am returning my ticket for the performance of Equus," wrote one subscriber. "I have friends who saw it in London, England and I feel that for the Annie Russell Theatre, Rollins College and Winter Park this production is in very bad taste. Sorry."

While Sentinel Star critic, Sumner Rand, opened his review of the Rollins production making note of the "drama outside," he made only a brief two sentence statement about the nudity itself:

"The nude scene is not down-played, nor is it sensationalized. It flows naturally in the context of the psychiatric examination and symbolically, at least, demonstrates the vulnerability of Alan."

Of student David Lee "Spike" McClure's turn as Alan, Rand stated, "a bravura performance."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

An Interview with Yvette Kojic, President of
Rollins Players

What is Rollins Players?
Rollins Players is a student organization that recognizes students who have gone above the call of duty to represent Rollins Theatre on campus. They serve to provide the highest standards of artistic and educational integrity for every theatrical event.

How long have you been a Rollins Player?
I was inducted into Rollins Players at the beginning of my sophomore year. Since then, I have been an active member of the Executive Board, and fought my way to the top as Players President. I’m pretty sure I’m the only Players President to be elected while I was studying in another country, but I’d have to fact check that statement.

How did you feel when you were given Player status?
I had instant jazz hands and burst out into song.

What does Rollins Players do?
Rollins Players are the producers for the Second Stage Series on the Fred Stone Theatre. We also are committed to serving our Rollins and Greater Orlando communities. We participate in events on campus such as Halloween Howl and Relay for Life as well as volunteering with local theatres and a new project this year with the Mennello Museum.

What is the most rewarding part of your job as Players President?
I would like to think that I am impacting the future of the organization. I have a lot of visions for Rollins Players and I am just trying to spread around my dedication and optimism to the organization, so hopefully it will catch on.

Of all the activities Players does each year, what is your favorite?
I would have to say the talent shows, An Evening at Fred’s, that happen after closing night of the Main Stage. It’s a great way for the talent within the department and outside of the department to shine.

How does someone become a Rollins Player?
Show up to Open Players meetings, sign up to participate in Players events, and submit a resume with enough points to join.

Is it true that becoming a Rollins Player makes you instantly more attractive?
Yes. It must have something to do with the sexy, hot pink t-shirts that we just got in. "We do it with Annie and Fred."
Good Bye Ode to Pflug and Harmon

This is a very very sad announcement for my fellow Rollins alumni... it hearts my heart a little.

We all shared our most crazy and favorite moments in the P-flug and Harmon houses during our years here. (Whether in the house or on the roof or at the dock.)

It is my sad duty to inform that after being vacant for at least a year, they have both been demolished. Yes, Pflug is now a pile of rubble which looks remarkably akin to the original structure itself...

Yes, we all know it was a long time comin' but now that it's happened, it tugs at the heart strings a little. So, if you feel the need, light a little candle for all your memories of inappropriate activities, super-soaker fights, scratch n' snatch parties, crashing on the common room couches, scary Greg Climer movie nights, and the unmentionable Lemon Drops that took place. That place was sacred, disgusting and a health hazard, but sacred.

And though it may seem baffling why they are gone and the Fred Stone still stands, let us look back fondly and wonder how we all lived through it without black mold or asbestos poisoning. We take off our hats to them, and say a silent "sticky wickett" in honor of their closing.


--Olivia Horn (formerly Haine) '02

In addition to being an alum, Olivia is currently the Administratve Assistant for the Department of Theatre & Dance.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Welcome New Theatre Students!

No doubt you will make Rollins your second home over the next year, but in the meantime there is lots to learn about the campus, our department, etc. Here is an opportunity to ask questions and have them answered. As the old adage goes, the only stupid questions are the ones you don't fire away...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


WINTER PARK, FL – The Rollins College Department of Theatre & Dance announces the institution of the “Friends of the Annie Grant: Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival.” The grant, made possible by donations to the Friends of the Annie fund, will award a member of the Rollins community – student, alumni, staff, faculty or professor emeritus – funds to produce a play at the Orlando Fringe.

“The Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival is thrilled to be partnering with Rollins College in their venture to provide this grant,” says Beth Marshall, Producing Artistic Director of the Orlando Fringe. “I have no doubt this will be the first of many exciting ventures we partner with one another on. Rollins has been home to many of our community’s finest artists. I can’t wait to see what the grant recipient will produce at The Fringe.”

Eligible persons wishing to apply for the grant, need only log onto the department’s website at to download an information sheet and application. The completed application must be presented to the Department of Theatre & Dance by Monday, August 21, 2006 at 5pm to be considered for the 2007 grant. A committee formed of members of the Rollins community and the Central Florida arts community will review the submissions. The committee will determine one recipient for the $1000 award.

“Rollins has always been actively involved in the Orlando Fringe,” says Thomas Ouellette, Chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance. “I hope this unique grant will encourage increased participation from students and recent graduates living in the Greater Orlando area. This is a win-win situation: it provides an opportunity for our students to contribute to the growing Orlando arts scene and for local arts to benefit from the contributions of our talented students and alumni.”

The recipient of the Friends of the Annie Grant will be announced prior to September 1, 2006 when the Orlando Fringe will begin taking applications for the 2007 festival.

Those seeking further information should contact Scottie Campbell, Audience Services Coordinator, at 407.646.2253 or