Department of Theatre and Dance -- Fall 2012


Chair’s Corner –
Welcome from Department Chair Randy Mugleston

Welcome to the Department of Theatre and Dance. Thank you for checking out our newsletter. I am proud to be the chair of a dynamic department that is vital to the artistic community of Montclair State University. I would like to give you some information about our in-depth academic programs, superb productions, dedicated faculty, and professional experiences.

We have the following undergraduate degree programs: BA in Theatre Studies and Dance; BFA Acting, Production and DesignMusical Theatre and Dance; and three graduate programs in Theatre Studies, Production/Stage Management and Arts Management. These degrees are nationally accredited with the National Association of Schools of Theatre and Dance. We are also active participants in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre and Dance Festivals.

We put on nine productions each year in theatre, dance and musical theatre. This year's season opened with Cloud Nine by Carly Churchill, Attempts on Her Life by Martin Crimp, and we are currently working on the production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. Our season is ambitious and diverse.

Over in our Musical Theatre division, I am thrilled to report that we have added two new faculty to the department to teach acting, directing and movement. MARK HARDY, (B.F.A. in Acting, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and M.F.A in Theatre Pedagogy, Virginia Commonwealth University) comes to Montclair State from Northern Kentucky University, where he taught Acting and Musical Theatre Performance. His direction of plays and musicals has garnered awards from the League of Cincinnati Theatres and the Cincinnati Acclaim Awards, including a recent production of the Alice Childress play Trouble In Mind. Ongoing international teaching has taken him to China, Croatia, Romania, London, and Greece. As an actor and singer, Mark worked professionally in NYC for 18 years in such productions as Les Miserables, Sunset Boulevard, Titanic, A New Brain, The Rothschilds, and The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

JOE JOYCE  graduated with honors from the M.F.A. Musical Theatre program at San Diego State University and earned his B.F.A. in Drama from Boston University College of Fine Arts. He has taught on the faculties of San Diego State University and AMDA (American Musical Dramatic Academy) College and Conservatory in Los Angeles. Mr. Joyce has appeared on Broadway in Swinging On A Star and toured with the Broadway companies of La Cage Aux Folles and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. He is a proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA. 

The Dance division also has three great programs featuring choreography by world-renowned dance companies and choreographers. The repertory for this year's concert explores the theme of “Myth and Transformation,” anchored by Martha Graham’s chorus from Night Journey, a choreographic retelling of the story of Oedipus. Also featured will be the architecturally cool Powers of Ten by modern dance pioneer May O’Donnell and the improvisationally-based Continuous Replay by renowned dance master, Bill T. Jones.

This year, students will have the opportunity to work with great professionals in the artistic world in hands-on workshops. Kari Margolis is giving two extensive movement workshops in physical theatre.  We are bringing Leonor Lopehandia, a professional actress/voice and speech coach from Chile, to lead two master classes in voice and speech for the freshmen BAs and BFAs. Leonor will also be incorporating physical/movement work. For our production students, ETC lighting will be doing a demonstration of their new LED lighting and automated instruments. This, along with many more opportunities, gives our students the real-world experience needed as an edge in today's thriving artistic world.

I hope you will take some time to look at the other exciting programs we have in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Montclair State University.

Prof. Randy Mugleston,

News Highlights . . .


Students from the Department of Theatre and Dance, Cali School of Music Present Carousel

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Tony Award-winning musical, Carousel, played through Sunday, November 18 at Montclair State University’s Alexander Kasser Theater. Co-produced by the John J. Cali School of Music and the Department of Theatre and Dance, the production showcased the talents of the students of the College of the Arts. Read the full article.

A Conversation with Choreographer Benjamin Millepied

Benjamin Millepied, choreographer and star of Black Swan and former New York City Ballet principal dancer, discussed dance, choreography, and his new dance company, LA Dance Project, in a conversation with Professor Neil Baldwin, director of Montclair State University’s Creative Research Center, and students in the Alexander Kasser Theater lobby on October 24. Read the full article.

Montclair State "In the News" - Dance Division's Performance at 92nd Street Y Featured in "Dance Magazine"

Read a recent article in Dance Magazine about the MSU Dance Division's performance at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan in April.

Montclair State Theatre Alumni Make Their Mark

What do Kevin Carolan, currently on Broadway in the musical Newsies, and Edward Gero, who recently completed a seven-week run in Washington, DC, as artist Mark Rothko in the play Red, have in common?

Both are proud alumni of Montclair State University. Read the full article.

People Spotlights . . .Faculty, Students, Alumni


KAREN GAYLE taught a two-week residency in Tel Aviv, Israel. She served on the faculty for summer intensive at Young Dancers Program at Joffrey; at Steps on Broadway; and for The Ailey Experience at Alvin Ailey. Her company Xodus Dance Collective was invited to perform in Toronto at the IABD Festival (January) and Choreographers Canvas at MMAC (May).

JAY T. JENKINS taught for the Cairo Opera house this summer and witnessed the historic election firsthand. He also directed and choreographed Leon Thomas on his Nickelodeon tour with Big Time Rush and finished the Summer singing with D'Angelo in His US tour with Mary J Blige. Will be guest teaching for the Alabama Dance Festival in January.
NANCY LUSHINGTON taught a one-week residency in Ferrara, Italy; a two-week residency for the Horefitika Vimata Organization teaching and choreographing in Nicosia, Cypress; conducted a one-week residency teaching technique and repertory at the Bolzano Dance Festival in Bolzano, Italy; and Ballet Schule Graz in Graz, Austria.

DIANN SICHEL was a guest artist in the Senior Seminar on Physical Intelligence at Ailey/Fordham University, Oct 9.  She serves as the artistic advisor for 10 Hairy Legs,  Randy James, artistic director (
MAXINE STEINMAN performed in Brazil in June before resuming her MFA studies at the University of Wisconsin.  She will be presenting her thesis performance, Say It With Flowers, in December. She served as a guest with Annabella Gonzalez Dance Theater; taught and performed in the II CONGRESSO BRASILEIRO DE DANÇA MODERNA; received a Graduate Student Fellowship Award for MFA studies at the Peck School of the Arts, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; was invited to perform in the American Dance Guild concert on September 7; and invited to set two works at Alma College in the fall.

Assistant Professor ELIZABETH McPHERSON  and Adjunct Professor LAURIE ABRAMSON worked for the New Jersey Department of Education designing model dance curriculum, creating assessments, and adjudicating dance students in vocational high schools through the winter and spring of 2012.

ELIZABETH McPHERSON presented a paper at the Society of Dance History Scholars' Annual conference in June, and made presentations at the National Dance Education Organization Conference this October and the Congress on Research in Dance this November.

received a Student Faculty grant in the amount of $2,000 to bring MSU dancers to the 2013 American College Dance Festival at Hofstra University in March 2013. 

NEIL BALDWIN's Legends of the Plumed Serpent-Biography of a Mexican God, a massive study originally published in hardcover by PublicAffairs (N.Y.) in 1998, is now available as an e-book via Amazon. In the book, "Neil Baldwin has created a mosaic of words and images retelling the myth of the Plumed Serpent (or Quetzalcóatl) as it has evolved through the millennia. He has also created an essential guidebook for the armchair traveller and passionate tourist alike." (Amazon.) He also served as moderator, in Danceworks' post-performance "Talkback” with choreographers Chase Brock and Ryoko Kudo last April 13; and moderated Bill T. Jones' post-workshop conversation on March 24.


TRACY DUNBAR (Junior Dance major) received the Jeanne Wade Henningburg award for the academic year 2012-'13.

KELLY VAGHENAS (sophomore) won first place in last spring's 2012 University-wide Undergraduate Student Research Symposium for her essay/presentation on "Danthropology." (Read more.)

Twenty-one students from the Dance Division performed at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan last April as part of a "Celebration of the Bennington School of the Dance,"curated by Assistant Professor ELIZABETH McPHERSON. McPherson taught a modern dance/choreography class afterwards to high school students. The performance was reviewed in Dance Magazine July 2012. (Read the article here.)

MSU dance majors JUSTIN CAMPBELL, JAKE DEIBERT, and NICHOLAS HARNEY were selected by Earl Mosley to perform in Breath at the Alvin Ailey Dance Center in January 2012.


ROB McCLURE (BA inc.; Rob left in 2006 to join the national tour of Avenue Q) is currently starring in the title role of Chaplin, the Musical on Broadway.  

KRISTEN VANDERVEER (BFA 2010) is performing with Kennedy Dancers.

SARA FUNICELLO (BA 2012) taught in a summer program for Children of migrant farm workers in Gloucester County.

SARAH GARVEY (BFA 2005) is dancing at Walt Disney World.
LAUREN MACALLISTER (BA 2012)  taught at Earl Mosley's Summer Dance Institute.

LISA PELUSO (BFA 2004) is a full company member of the Elisa Monte Dance Company.

MELISSA SANDE (BFA  2011) is pursuing her MAT at Rutgers University.

(BFA 2007) taught at the Bill T. Jones summer residency at Skidmore College and performed with ZviDance at New York Live Arts in June 2012.  She is currently pursuing her MFA at NYU.

ELISE TARANTINA (BFA 2012) is working full-time as a dancing princess in Walt Disney World.

KEVIN CAROLAN (BA Theatre/Film Studies, 1990), is currently on Broadway in the musical Newsies. (Read more.)

EDWARD GERO ( BA Speech and Theatre, 1976),  recently completed a seven-week run in Washington, DC, as artist Mark Rothko in the play Red. (Read more.)

JESSIE WHELAN (BFA 2012) is teaching at three studios in NJ:  Dawn Lau's Dance Company, Ambition Dance Academy, and Kelsea's Performing Arts Center. She also has a work study position as an assistant teacher twice a week at Peridance in Manhattan.

SHARROD WILLIAMS (BFA 2012) was selected for the National Tour of A Chorus Line in NYC playing the role of Richie Walters. Also selected were JOSEPH ROSARIO (2012) in the roles of Frank and Paul, and BONNIE KELLY (2010) who is playing the role of Bebe. WILLIAMS also performed with Doug Elkins' Fraulein Maria in June, 2012 and with Von Howard Project in September 2012.

CHELSEA KELLISH (BFA 2012) is a member of Joyce King Dance Company in Brooklyn, N.Y.

NATALIA CORDERO (BFA 2012) is assisting Earl Mosley with setting choreography at MSU.  She is also an intern for Ballet Hispanico's Educational Outreach Program at P.S. 40 in NYC.

LINDA D'AMICO (BFA 2012) just performed with The Nines, Freespace Dance, and Leon Dance Arts New York this past summer, 2012.
ELAINE GUTIERREZ (BFA 2012)  performed as an apprentice with 360degrees dance company in June, 2012.

OMAGBITSE OMAGBEME (Dance) received a Bessie Award for Outstanding Performer (of a work performed in a smaller capacity venue of less than 400 seats) for sustained achievement in the works of Keely Garfield, Ralph Lemon, David Gordon, and Urban Bush Women.

J.P. FERRERI (BFA 2004) is dancing in Newsies on Broadway.