Wednesday, October 5, 2016

5 Ways to Purge the MACBETH Curse With EMU Theatre

If you're a theatre person you know what the one word is that you should never, ever, EVER say in a theater. And if you're not a theatre person and stumbled upon this blog post because you are an English Literature student, or a practicing witch looking for new curses to try - the name you should never say in a theater is Macbeth! 

Our first show of the season is William Shakespeare's MACBETH, so going into the show we did a little investigating amongst #EMUTheatre to find out how one might get rid of the dreaded curse...just in case.

Naturally we first went to the stage manager of MACBETH, Becca Bedell.

Then we decided it might be wise to ask someone with a lot of Shakespeare chops, so we stopped by Terry Heck Seibert's office.

After getting some great prank ideas to use on the MACBETH cast from Terry, she suggested we talk to the man directing the Scottish play, Lee Stille!

Not having found a specific cure for the curse yet - Terry said we should ask the person who knows all the things, our Supervising Stage Manager, Brittney Gillespie! 

After talking to Brittney we realized we forgot to talk to the person in charge of everything, the person with all the answers, the person who made twizzlers a necessity in Quirk, PAM CARDELL!  

There you have it, Give My Regards To Broadway the Pam Cardell-endorsed fix to the curse of Macbeth! But don't let the curse scare you away come see the savage, Shakespearean tragedy of MACBETH running Oct. 21 - Oct. 30 at Eastern Michigan University.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Nick Whittaker Discusses Life at the Barn

   If you saw a show in our 2015-2016 season then you are probably familiar with Nick Whittaker. Nick transferred to Eastern last year to pursue a degree in Theatre Arts and Musical Theatre. He made a splash on the Quirk stage last season by appearing as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables and Stanley Stubbers in One Man, Two Guvnors! After a successful year at EMU Nick decided to tackle the all too familiar experience for anyone pursuing a career in musical theatre...summer stock.
   After attending a cattle call audition for numerous summer stock theatre companies Nick went to a callback, filled out an application and after two months found out that he would be spending his summer in beautiful Augusta Michigan at the historic Barn Theatre. 
   The Barn Theatre is one of the oldest and most recognized summer stock theatre companies in Michigan. Summer stock theaters hire a group of actors to form a company for the summer and that company of actors rehearses numerous shows and performs them in rep that summer. The Barn also has an apprenticeship program where summer stock actors learn various other skills such as set building, props, lighting and more on shows that they aren't performing in. While at The Barn actors can earn points toward membership into the Actors' Equity Association and work alongside Equity actors in various productions. 
   Now that you know a little bit about The Barn here's the inside scoop from someone who's worked there! 

Q. How did you get hired at The Barn? 
A. "I was hired at the Barn through auditions, callbacks, and an application. I personally auditioned at the North Central Regional auditions, a type of unified auditions that brings together actors with professional theatre companies hiring for summer, year-round, or both. As I am in school still, I only auditioned for summer. Although I had callbacks with other companies as well, I was most intrigued by the Barn because of their fantastic season as well as the history and legacy that it holds. After my auditions, I filled out the rather lengthy application and was offered a contract in about two months." 

Q. What shows are in their season this summer? 
A. "The shows this season are Avenue Q, Buyer and Cellar, Guys and Dolls, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Little Mermaid, The Rocky Horror Show, Singin' in the Rain, and Red, White, and Tuna."

Q. What shows are you performing in? 
A. "I will be performing in five shows total this summer. I was/will be involved in the others on the props team but will not be performing because those shows utilize only Equity performers. In Guys and Dolls, I was Society Max/Con Man/ Havana Bartender. In Jesus Christ Superstar, I was Peter. In The Little Mermaid, I am playing Jetsam. In The Rocky Horror Show, I am a Transylvanian. I will be performing in Singin' in the Rain, but do not know my role yet. The last show of the season I will be doing my props duties but not performing, as it is a two man show." 

Q. What is your favorite show that you've done this summer?
A. "So far, Jesus Christ Superstar was my favorite to perform. I enjoyed the show so much because of course, I've loved the rock opera for many years but it was also a very fulfilling role to play. A show discussing such a ubiquitous and well-known figure like Jesus Christ was a thrill and a challenge because the audience already comes in knowing most of the story so the actor must find ways to bring new facets of the story and the characters to life."

Q. How would you describe a typical work day at The Barn?
A. "Working at the Barn is no small feat, to say the least. Despite lunch and dinner breaks (that are often spent rehearsing the cabaret show that follows each main stage show), the work day every day is typically from 9:30 am to about 12:30 am. The work is intense, the hours are long, and days off are not plentiful. The days can vary but a typical day would start with our meeting, we then break to work areas which is props for me, then get called to rehearsal for the next show throughout the day, lunch/bar show rehearsal next, then back to work areas/rehearsal, dinner, then show assignment which rotates (I've done bar, parking, and ushering), and then get ready and perform the current show at night. After the show is the bar show which features the apprentice company. The bar show changes with each show and is comprised of all genres of music from pop/rock to standard Musical Theatre. After the bar show is done, then you are released to go home."

Q. What do you like most about working at The Barn?
A.  "As I've said, the schedule is very unforgiving and many times I get exhausted and frustrated. However, at the end of the day I feel very fulfilled by being a working actor that gets to perform constantly; it really is a ton of fun. My favorite part is actually the bar show because I get to perform many different styles of music performance which always proves to be thrilling."

Q. What has been your least favorite part about working there?  
A. "My least favorite part is the hours/every other Monday off (for the most part) schedule. It is utterly exhausting but proves to be pretty necessary for how many shows are being put up in this short summer season."

Q. What are some of the differences between doing shows at The Barn and doing shows at EMU? 
A. "There are many many differences between here and EMU, the most significant difference being the rehearsal process. The process is much quicker with the entire rehearsal and tech being within two weeks or less. Another difference is that for EMU, there are auditions for each show with callbacks whereas here, we auditioned to get in and at the beginning of the summer when we got here and then everything was cast (for the most part). As is typical of professional theatre, the expectations are very high, like the expectation that once something is learned musically or blocked, it will be memorized completely the next time it is ran. There are many more but those are the ones that come to the mind at the moment."

Q. What are some skills that you will take away from your experience performing at The Barn?
A.  I hoped to learn what it's like in the professional theatre world and although there are some things here that may differ from other professional theatres, I have really gotten a grasp of it. I came into it not knowing how I was going to be able to digest all of this information so quickly and perform it. I didn't think it would be possible to be performing two different shows (main stage and bar) while rehearsing two others at the same time. However, I acclimated fairly quickly because I focused intently and also had no choice not to. A lot of my experience here has given me proof that, despite whether I get frequent work as an actor or not, I have it in me to work hard and make it in this crazy business.

Thank you for the interview Nick!! We're so glad you had a great time this summer and we can't wait to have you back in the fall! For more information on The Barn Theatre visit:

For more information on our upcoming season visit: 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Welcome to EMU Theatre Jackie Marlett!

Meet one of our newest EMU Theatre students
Jackie Marlett!

   Jackie Marlett is a new graduate of Woodhaven High School in Flat Rock, Michigan who is headed to EMU next month! Just like so many others, the last show she binged on Netflix was New Girl, "I love it!" she said with a smile. (We love Zooey Deschanel too Jackie.)

  She is planning on being involved in EMU Theatre, but she's taking her first year to get acclimated to college life. So far Jackie is undecided on a major, "I wanted to go through my first year and take the classes that everyone has to take (general education) and discover what interests I have in things outside of what I did in high school." When asked what she was most looking forward to when it comes to starting college she said, "Meeting the different people in the community and working with new people. You get so used to working with the same people and the same director from high school and I think it will be good to work with new people."

    Jackie had a lot of first-hand experience that informed her decision to attend EMU "When we were applying for classes I knew EMU had a good theatre program and educational program because I was interested in being a teacher. I also knew a lot of people here, alumni from Woodhaven, which was really cool!," she said. 

   She is excited to start experiencing the Arts Management side of theatre by working alongside our House Managers as an Usher in the Fall. She is looking forward to working in college theatre because "I'll be getting to do shows that aren't just PG. You get a better variety of shows in college." She's also very interested in the role that theatre plays in community dialogue, "I like the messages theatre can bring tot a community. You can tell a variety of different things to the community and there are so many aspects of theatre that people don't even know about! There's so much that goes into a show, it's very intricate."

   Jackie's favorite show is Hamilton by Lin Manuel Miranda. "I like how they mix hip hop and rap elements to bring more people into the story. It's history too so that's cool!," she said with a laugh. Her favorite shows that she has worked on are Once on this Island and The Insanity of Mary Girard. She explained, "I liked them both because it was an ensemble and we all worked together. I thought they both really exemplified strong ensemble work."

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Welcome to EMU Theatre Shelby Seeley!

  Meet one of our newest EMU Theatre students
Shelby Seeley!
   Shelby Seeley is an 18 year old who just graduated from Woodhaven High School in Flat Rock, Michigan. Just to let you know how cool she is, the last show she binge watched on Netflix was Stranger Things. (Who hasn't?! Come on Stranger Things was fantastic!) An interesting fact about her is that she absolutely loves her job, to which she added, "I'm a barista now and it's the best job in the entire world. I wish I was there all the time I love it."

  She'll be attending EMU this fall and majoring in theatre arts, but she is still deciding on a minor.  When asked what she was most looking forward to when it comes to starting college she said, "Theatre, I miss it so much. I needed to do it this summer and I didn't which created this hole in my heart."

    Shelby gives credit to her high school drama teacher Michael Clemons for helping her choose Eastern for college, "I chose Eastern mainly because of how much Clem talked it up and then there's the people that already go there and it's close to home, but mostly Clem," she said with certainty. She has also gotten experience with EMU Theatre by attending our Drama Day while she was in high school, "...the show was my favorite part. I love seeing theatre and seeing the people behind the scenes earlier in the day at the workshops was really cool too. My favorite workshop was the movement one, it was the best." At Drama Day, high school students attend workshops led by our students and faculty members with other high school students from all over the state. After lunch the students are then led into Quirk Theatre where they get to see an exclusive performance of our first Mainstage production of the season just for them! For more info on Drama Day email

   Shelby is excited to be studying theatre at Eastern because of the environment that comes with it, "I'm most looking forward to working with people who have the same level of dedication that I do. Having every there honestly wanting to be there and working as hard as possible to make the show the best it can be." She is pursing theatre because, " gives me a purpose and a goal and something to work for that is bigger than myself." (We know exactly what you mean Shelby!)

   Shelby's favorite show is Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl. Her favorite show that she's worked on was The Insanity of Mary Girard which she co-directed at Woodhaven. Their show was entered into the MIFA Theatre Competition and made it to the State Finals "I was very proud," she said with a smile.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Welcome to EMU Theatre Molly Price!

  Meet one of our newest EMU Theatre students
Molly Price!

    Molly Price is  a recent graduate of Whitmer High School in Toledo, Ohio and she'll be attending EMU this fall! She'll be majoring in Communications and double minoring in Musical Theatre and Theatre Arts! When asked what she was most looking forward to when it comes to starting college she said, "I am looking forward to making new friends and expanding my education! "

   Molly visited EMU her freshman year of high school and it seems like the rest was history, "I love the atmosphere, the campus, the people, and of course the beautiful building that is Quirk!" She's also already gotten her feet wet in EMU Theatre by attending one of our scholarship auditions, "I loved meeting the other future EMU theatre students as well as the amazing professors!"

   "The thing I like most about theatre is the feeling you get when you perform," Molly's love for performing is inspired by being in front of an audience. She said, "I love being able to take people away from the real world for a couple hours and showing them a new reality. In the words of Lady Gaga- 'I live for the applause, applause, applause.' The feeling you get when you're performing is like none other. And it's the best adrenaline rush you can experience."

Her favorite show is The Rocky Horror Picture Show, "I mean, cmon. Tim Curry in high heels. What more can I say?" Nice choice Molly, we have to agree with you on those heels! Her favorite show that she's done was Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella where she played the title role. "It was seriously the best experience of my life and that show proved to me that dreams really do come true. I can't wait to see what dreams come true for me at EMU and in my future career in theatre!" We can't wait to see what EMU has in store for you either Molly! Have a wonderful rest of your summer!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Welcome to EMU Theatre Rebekah Preiss!

      Meet one of our newest EMU Theatre students
Rebekah Preiss!
    Rebekah Preiss is a recent graduate of Lutheran High School Westland and she'll be attending EMU this fall! She stopped by our office for some summer advising, so naturally we decided to interview her to get to know her a little better. 

   Rebekah will be majoring in Theatre Arts with a musical theatre minor. She decided to come to EMU because, "A lot of my friends were going here and I had also done solo and ensemble for MSVMA (Michigan School Vocal Music Association) here. I went to Drama Day last year and saw Little Shop of Horrors and got to chat with the cast afterward. I really like it here and I got a good vibe from everyone here-not too big and not too small, and the campus is beautiful!" The dance workshop led by our Musical Theatre professor Phil Simmons was her favorite workshop at Drama Day, "Usually I get nervous around groups that I don’t know very well, but I felt so comfortable there.
   She decided to pursue theatre in college because, "I enjoyed doing it in high school. At first I wanted to be a vet, but then I decided against it. I’m really good at this singing and acting thing so I said ‘let’s do it!' I just really enjoy doing this." Rebekah hasn't always been interested in theatre though, "I used to be shy so I hated theatre. I was afraid of making mistakes, but doing theatre made me realize that when you make a mistake it’s okay." Rebekah's favorite show is The Music Man. Her favorite show that she's been a part of is Footloose, which she is rehearsing right now with the Players Guild of Dearborn.  
  When asked what she is most looking forward to in college she said, “Lots of new faces, new people, independence and being responsible. Getting to walk around campus and seeing different people and trying new things every day.” We can't wait to see you in the fall Rebekah!