Alum Call Board: October 2021

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Say hello to the new Chair of the Department of Theatre: Bonnie McCoy!

The department is thrilled to welcome longtime Assistant Professor and Administrative Director Bonnie McCoy as our new Chair! Bonnie is a talented designer who worked on Broadway, Off-Broadway and at regional theatres for years before bringing her talents to VCU. Her dedication and passion for the department are long known to us here in the department, and we are so thankful to have her leadership.

“I am so honored and inspired to take on this new role in the department. Thank you to the colleagues and members of our community that have expressed support and encouragement—I could not do this without you!
I am so grateful for our community and alumni. For many years I have been invested in the department—in our students, our faculty, our alumni, and in our collective success. It’s all of you and your unique voices that make us strong. We’re on this journey together, and I look forward to working with you.” -Bonnie

Walid Chaya (BFA ’11)  hosted a Los Angeles alum mixer Social in the City on Thursday, October 14 at the Bungalow in Santa Monica, CA.   Hope lots of area alums got to go.

Congrats to all the VCU folks involved with PIPELINE at Virginia Repertory Theatre in Richmond. Trevor Lawson (BFA ’21) stars as Omari, Khadijah Franks (BFA ’21) plays Jasmine (U/S), and on the Artistic team there’s Katrinah Carol Lewis (BFA ’03) as Director, Nia Safarr Banks (BFA ’19) as Costume Designer, Justin Janke (BFA ’18) as Production Stage Manager, Dasia Gregg (BFA ’18) did the projections, and Sheridan Parkinson (current student) is Wardrobe Supervisor. Performances run through November 7th. Tickets here.

actors on stage
Photo by Tom Topinka

The Niceties at the Conciliation Lab in Richmond just finished their run. Bravo to the team! Debra Clinton (MFA  ‘97) and Mikayla LaShae Bartholomew  (BFA ‘ 17) starred as Janine and Zoe, and the Artistic Team had lots of VCU people as well! Direction by Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates (current professor), Associate Direction by Heather Falks (MFA ’15), Costume Design by Amber Martinez (BFA ’09 / MFA ’15), Lighting Design by Austin Harber (BFA ’21), Production Stage Management by Crimson Piazza (BFA ’21), plus Scenic Design by Faith Carlson (current senior) and Assistant Stage Management by Emily Ellen (current senior). Congrats to all!

Amy Curley Gentry (BFA ’95) has voiced her first audiobook called I Am Stronger Than My Anger by Elizabeth Cole. Amy voices a little boy, a kangaroo, a monkey and a parrot. The book is to help children manage their anger and is available on Amazon.

man in hat smilng

Harold Slazer (BFA ‘88) recently received a grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts’ City Artist Corp.   He will use the funds to support Middle Players, who continued to produce theatre virtually throughout the pandemic.  On October 25, at 7PM they celebrated their first in-person production with a new play of Harold’s, How I’m Getting Through Covid at 145 W 28th St., 11th floor, NY.

Aaron Holland (BFA ’03  has joined the new Chicago cast of Scary Stories Around the Fire, with audio adaptations by Crystal Skillman.  It will be available on YouTube and podcast through Random Acts Network. Here’s the Random Acts YouTube Channel.

Andrew Martineau (BFA ’85) has a new script Trash Day that has just been released from Next Stage Press.  His play Etched In Stone will be presented in a one-act play festival in Maryland next June.

Travis Stanberry (BFA) is offering an Adult Improv Class through the Meadowview Arts Center in October, Meadowview, VA

Photo by Eric Dobbs

Freddie Kaufman (BFA ’79) is thrilled to be cast as Uncle Max in The Sound of Music at the Jewish Community Center in Richmond at Christmas.

Steve Barker (BFA ’01) has started a new job at Public Playhouse in Prince George County as a venue Technical Director.   So glad to be getting back to work.

Michael Pitzer  (BFA ’90)  Congratulations to Mike and the whole crew at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York for the brilliant Tony Awards 2020.   It was a great two hours of talent.  Mike is the House Electrician at the Winter Garden.

Jeff Klein (MFA ’95) is happy to announce the reopening of the Freidsam Memorial Carousel or otherwise known as the Central Park Carousel on October 16, 2021.  The carousel was out of operation during the pandemic and has now changed managers.  Jeff is the Sales Manager for Central Amusement International, the company that has been named as the new manager of the classic carousel.

Joy Bleeker Walsh (BFA ‘92) will release her first single, Nobody Likes You, under the name of Crimson Joy, on November 5, 2021.  It will be available on streaming platforms with the Lyric video coming soon.

Check out Alum Jonathan Wright’s (BFA ’02) brewery and catch a fall fun concert while you are at it. Visit Redbeard Brewing in Staunton, VA on October 30th for beers, Peruvian food and the musical stylings of Dragon Wagon.  Redbeard is sponsoring A Christmas Story, The Play, as well. Show dates are December 3-5 and 10-12 at ShenanArts in Staunton.


Mark Duncan (MFA ’95) died on October 15, 2021 at 9:27 PM at the age of 49 after a long battle with cancer.  He was surrounded by his family.  It was at VCU in the MFA program where he met and fell in love with his beloved wife Jane. So many friends and students have posted memories on Facebook. There was a Celebration of Life on October 25 in Franklin, Tennessee. Our hearts go out to Jane, their children, and all of Mark’s family, friends, and students. Read his obituary here, a heartfelt tribute.

Department of Theatre Alumni Newsletter October 2021