Tag Archives: Berry College Theatre Company

Eric McDowell and Hannah Avery in "Proof"FAMILY DYNAMICS: Professor of Mathematics Dr. Eric McDowell performs with on-stage daughter Hannah Avery during the Berry College Theatre Company’s recent production, “Proof.”

Eric McDowell in "Proof"Anyone who has ever studied mathematics with Dr. Eric McDowell will tell you he brings a theatrical flair to his teaching. He has even gone so far as to collaborate with students on ingeniously creative (and award-winning!) videos that educate as they entertain.

In November, the longtime Berry faculty member stepped out of the classroom and onto the Sisters Theatre stage in a role seemingly created just for him. Acting alongside students Hannah Avery, Andy Sphar and Katie Cooley, McDowell infused elements of his own personality into “Robert,” a recently deceased mathematician beset by mental illness in his final years whose relationship with his daughter is the crux of the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning Proof.

“I could just have easily been playing a history professor or a writing teacher, I don’t think it would have really mattered,” McDowell said. “The personality I put into Robert is very much my own. I see a lot of me in him anyway. How much of that is the mathematician I don’t know.”

McDowell’s fascination with acting dates to a childhood role in The Sound of Music. A 30-year hiatus followed high school, but recent years have found him performing in such local productions as Spamalot, Into the Woods and Almost, Maine. His Berry College Theatre Company debut came about as the result of a request by guest director Jon Royal, who sought an obvious age difference between “Robert” and the student performers.

The experience left McDowell profoundly impressed by all aspects of Berry theatre.

“My favorite part of the process was watching the other three actors perform and being so impressed with how talented they are,” he reflected. “It was my first look inside Berry theatre, and everybody is so professional in their work.”

Student media: Actors display “raw” emotions in Proof

Reporting by student writer Kendall Aronson

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Hannah Green in front of Captain Marvel marquee

Working in the costuming department for blockbusters such as Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and most recently Captain Marvel, Hannah Greene (06C) has played a big role in creating the costumes for some of our favorite superheroes.

The bright lights of Hollywood are a long way from the Berry campus, but the threads of her career tie directly to her work in the costume shop of the Berry College Theatre Company, where she fell in love with that particular aspect of production.

As a student, the visual communication major designed costumes for theatre and dance troupe productions. Upon graduation, her Berry experience helped her gain admission to the University of California, Los Angeles, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in costume design. She then used connections made in Los Angeles to begin her career in film, working her way up to Marvel Entertainment.

In her current role, Greene is responsible for sourcing all the fabrics used to create the characters’ costumes and coordinating between the fabric vendors, costume designer and sewers to make sure the final product matches the creative vision. When working on a Marvel movie, she has to create as many as five costumes for each actor and stunt double, depending on the action required and how well fabrics hold up in the elements.

“It’s been a lot of fun working on the superheroes, because you’re figuring out something that doesn’t exist,” Greene said. “You’re trying to create something that’s high tech and no one has ever seen before.”

Greene was deeply influenced by her Berry professors and is grateful for the mentoring provided by Associate Professor of Theatre Alice Bristow.

“Honestly I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without her,” she said. “She is amazing and such a great professor. She was the one who encouraged me to take costuming classes.”

By student writer Kendall Aronson

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"Rumors" Set

SPACE TO PERFORM: Students actors make themselves at home on the set designed by Carl Tallent (01C) for BCTC’s fall production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors.” Photo by student Lindsey Campbell.

Carl Tallent Working on the Set of "Rumors."

Carl Tallent working on the set of “Rumors.” Photo by student Jacob Bushey.

It’s been more than 17 years since Carl Tallent (01C) graduated from Berry, but when he returned to campus in September to assist with set design for the Berry College Theatre Company’s production of Neil Simon’s Rumors, it felt like no time had passed at all.

Tallent, who has put his Berry-honed skills to good use working on props for Broadway productions such as Rock of Ages and Cirque du Soleil, did note one impressive change – new facilities for the dramatic arts in the form of Sisters Theatre and an updated Blackstone Hall, both funded by the generous gifts of alumni and friends.

“It seems like the resources have really grown,” he said. “There’s a new costume shop and a new theatre. It is a really exciting time.”

In addition to his Broadway production work, Tallent has also showcased his talents designing shows for community theatres and high schools and creating window displays on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. When Associate Professor of Theatre Alice Bristow contacted him about the possibility of sharing his experience with current students, he was happy to oblige.

Students Building "Rumors" Set

Students gain valuable experience building the set for “Rumors.” Photo by student Lindsey Campbell.

“I really love working with students,” he said. “These people are just starting to do work outside of Berry, so it’s exciting to advise them and help them get jobs.”

When Tallent first arrived at Berry as a student, he wanted to be an actor. His work in the scene shop opened up new possibilities.

“I was always artistic and crafty, but I never thought of set design as a career,” he said.

His professor thought he had skill, both in set painting and set design, and encouraged him to explore those options.

“If I had been at a larger school I might not have explored doing set design, but it wound up being what I was passionate about,” Tallent said. “It was great that at Berry we were able to experience all different aspects of theatre, so I discovered that set design was what I wanted to do.”

Click here for more on Tallent’s visit.

By student writer Kendall Aronson

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Audrey Morgan at Sisters Theatre Dedication

Audrey Morgan stands in front of a portrait of herself and sister Bobbie Bailey in the lobby of Berry’s new theatre.

“The dedication of this theatre is nothing short of a miracle. Less than two years ago, it was only a dream.” – Audrey Morgan

Dry eyes were scarce Oct. 6 as students, faculty, alumni and friends joined Audrey Morgan and her family for the dedication of Sisters Theatre. The name of Berry’s newest fine arts facility celebrates the legacy of love and lifelong commitment to the arts shared by Morgan and her sister, the late Dr. M. Bobbie Bailey.

“For me personally, the new theatre has deep meaning,” Morgan expressed. “I was very blessed to have as my sister Bobbie Bailey. Our lives as sisters and best friends were entwined for 85 years; our names as business partners entwined for 55 years. And now with this beautiful new theatre on the Berry campus that I love so much, our names are going to be entwined for years to come. Tonight is truly a mountaintop experience for me. I could not be happier or more honored.”

Morgan, a Berry Board of Visitors member and recipient of the college’s honorary doctorate, played a critical role in the now-completed $6.7 million campaign to fund the theatre’s construction and associated improvements to Blackstone Hall. Her $1 million challenge gift initiated fundraising in 2015; a year later, a second $1 million gift was announced, this one from the foundation of her late sister.

Students and faculty were thrilled to take possession of their new 9,226 square-foot performance home, which features a black-box stage with adjustable seating for up to 276. Coupled with the improvements to Blackstone Hall, the new facility doubles the amount of functional space available to Berry’s theatre program.

The Berry College Theatre Company christened the new facility with its fall production of Crimes of the Heart. Next up is Make Merry (Or How to Survive Your Family on Holidays), scheduled for Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 1-2. Click here to order tickets.

Sisters Theatre Photo Gallery

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Cabaret Performance ImageMomentum is building for the dramatic arts at Berry, with fundraising surpassing $3 million for new and improved campus theatre facilities and attendance reaching new heights during the Berry College Theatre Company’s February production of Cabaret. More than 70 students worked on stage and off to bring the Tony Award-winning musical to life on the Berry stage, and their efforts did not go unrewarded. Attendance totaled nearly 1,300 for the eight shows (more than 80 percent capacity), breaking the previous record set by Little Shop of Horrors in 2014.

Audrey MorganAmong those who turned out was Audrey Morgan, the Board of Visitors member and recipient of Berry’s honorary doctorate whose $1 million challenge gift has spurred significant additional support for construction of a new theatre and renovation of Blackstone Hall. In recognition of her generosity and leadership, the stage in the new theatre will be named in her honor. If you share Mrs. Morgan’s desire to see construction on a new theatre begin in 2016 and would like to take advantage of the matching funds she has made available, click www.berry.edu/gift or contact Scott Breithaupt (91C, 96G) at sbreithaupt@berry.edu.

All gifts should be designated to “New theatre and Blackstone Hall renovation.”

Around Berry: Cabaret Photo Gallery

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It takes more than torrential rains to put a damper on Mountain Day. Despite cancellations, rescheduling and mud – lots of mud – the annual celebration of Martha Berry’s birthday was a successful and enjoyable event.

More than 200 alumni representing 12 classes took part in Saturday morning’s Mega Reunion Brunch – held in Ford Dining Hall due to the rain – while approximately 1,600 turned out for the traditional Saturday afternoon picnic, which were relocated to Krannert Center from the mountain campus (the Grand March was postponed until spring).

A break in the rain allowed attendees to enjoy the Marthapalooza carnival rides in Clara Bowl for several hours late Saturday afternoon. That night, a crowd of nearly 3,700 braved the damp conditions at Valhalla stadium to cheer the Berry football team to a 20-13 victory over Washington University of St. Louis.

Other weekend highlights included a lively convocation presentation by Tony Brown (79C), an acclaimed actor, Southern Baptist minister, and Berry speech and theatre alumnus. Mountain Day Photo Gallery

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