posted December 14, 2011

Benefit Performance Precedes Theatre Festival Honor

The Hope College production of "Gone Missing" has been chosen for presentation during the annual festival of the Great Lakes Region of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in early January.

A benefit performance of "Gone Missing" to help defray the cost of the trip has been scheduled on campus for Monday, Jan. 2, at 8 p.m. in the DeWitt Center main theatre, the day before the regional festival begins.  

Only eight productions were chosen for presentation during the festival from among entries submitted from throughout the four-state region.  The shows were evaluated on a variety of criteria, including artistic achievement and educational strengths. 
It is the second time in four years that a Hope production has been chosen for the highly competitive annual event.  The college's production of "Rose and the Rime" was selected for the 2008 festival. 
The festival will take place on Tuesday-Saturday, Jan. 3-7, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Hope College Theatre will present "Gone Missing" on Friday, Jan. 6, at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the Colwell Playhouse theatre in the university's Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. 
"Gone Missing" is an inventive new cabaret by Steve Cosson, artistic director of the New York City ensemble, The Civilians, with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman ("Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson").  Premiered in 2003, "Gone Missing" is based on interviews conducted by the theatre company's members around the topic of losing something.  Throughout the production, stories and songs about something "gone missing"--be it a dog, a shoe, a piece of jewelry--are shared.  With musical panache and surprising comedy, this cabaret grapples with loss as an inescapable facet of life. 
Hope College Theatre presented "Gone Missing" during the 2010-11 school year, on Friday and Saturday, April 15 and 16, and Tuesday-Thursday, April 19-21, in the DeWitt Center main theatre. 
The January 2 performance at Hope will both give West Michigan theatergoers an opportunity to see the acclaimed production and provide the cast and crew a valuable opportunity to present the play in advance of the festival, making the event a benefit in more than the financial sense alone. 
"It's good for us to have a chance to perform it for an audience one more time before we go," said Daina Robins, who is the production's director as well as a professor of theatre and chairperson of the department. 
All of the original cast members of the college's production of "Gone Missing" will be reprising their roles, including three who have graduated since April:  junior Katie Colburn of Holland; sophomore Molly Coyle of Hamilton; senior Kelsey Cratty of Rockford, Ill.; sophomore Aiden de Jong of Zeeland; junior Erik Durham of Holland; junior Skye Edwards of Morrison, Colo.; sophomore Bradley Hamilton of Southfield; 2011 graduate Jackie Richards, originally from Worthington, Ohio; junior Jesse Swatling-Holcomb of Oakland, Calif.; 2011 Jenny Tremblay, originally from Oostburg, Wis.; junior Kaija von Websky of Holland; and 2011 Christine Worden, originally from Midland.  The performers will also include a student jazz combo comprised of junior Michael Bass of Hudsonville, bass; senior Larry Figueroa of Holland, piano; and junior David Webster of Troy, drums. 
Stage manager is senior Elizabeth Dwyer of Ypsilanti, and the assistant stage managers are sophomore Kelly Eubank of Louisville, Ky., and sophomore Lauren Ezzo of Haslett. The student costume designer is senior Amanda Vander Byl of Williamson, N.Y., and choreography is by Skye Edwards. 
In addition to Robins, faculty members working on the production include Michelle Bombe, costume mentor; Brian Coyle, jazz ensemble coach; Edye Evans Hyde, vocal coach; Perry Landes, lighting and sound designer; and Richard Smith, scenic designer. Staff member Paul Anderson is the technical director, and staff member Darlene Christopher is the costume shop manager. 
In addition to "Gone Missing" being chosen for presentation, multiple students are competing for individual awards. 
A total of six students nominated by ACTF responders based on their appearances in Hope productions during 2011 will be participating in the Irene Ryan Acting Competition: senior Kelsey Cratty of Rockford, Ill. ("The Two Gentlemen of Verona"), Skye Edwards ("Gone Missing"), Jesse Swatling-Holcomb ("Gone Missing") senior John Telfer of Escondido, Calif. ("Under Milk Wood"), senior Christoff Visscher of Silver Spring, Md. ("The Two Gentlemen of Verona") and senior Kara Williams of Saline ("Under Milk Wood"). Two others were also nominated but have chosen not to compete due to having graduated or other commitments. 
In addition, senior Brittni Nowicki of West Bloomfield, who was stage manager for the college's November production of "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," will be competing for the National Stage Management Fellowship.  One stage manager from each regional festival will be chosen to attend the national theatre festival at the KennedyCenter for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., in April. 
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 and Wisconsin. 
Based on its performance at the 2008 regional event, the college's production of "Rose and the Rime" was one of only three full-length college/university-staged plays chosen for that year's national festival.  Other Hope productions chosen for the regional festival have included "Hallelujah" (1971), "Bull Moose" (1975), "Mack and Mabel" (1981), "Tea and Sympathy" (1983; also invited to the national theatre festival), and "The Dining Room" (1988). 
Through the years Hope College Theatre has also had a variety of scenes from its productions chosen for the regional festival's "Evening of Scenes," including most recently "Street Scene" in 2011 and "Big Love" in 2010. 
Tickets for the January 2 benefit production of "Gone Missing" 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 DeVos Fieldhouse as well as online. 
Tickets are available for purchase online every day of the week, 24 hours a day, at 
For in-person purchases, the ticket office's hours will vary because of the holiday season.  Through Tuesday, Dec. 20, the office is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The ticket office will be closed on Wednesday-Friday, Dec. 21-23, and on Monday-Wednesday, Dec. 26-28.  The ticket office will be open on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 29-30, from noon until 9 p.m. 
The DeVos ticket office will be closed on Monday, Jan. 2, but the theatre lobby ticket office in the DeWittCenter will be open on the January 2 performance night by 7 p.m. 
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.