Alumni Call Board: May 2021

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CONGRATS TO OUR NEW ALUMS THE CLASS OF 2021! What a time to graduate—the department is thrilled we got the chance to celebrate in person together. We are so proud! There is also an exhibit of Class of 2021 student work “On the Cabell Screen” through the summer!

Congratulations to this year’s Senior Showcase! This is the second year that the department has pivoted to a virtual showcase. Students are still meeting virtually with casting agents via Actor’s Connection, and the showcase has reached many people through Actors Access / Breakdown Services, URTA, and more! Special thanks to alum newsletter editor Jerry Williams (BFA ’71) for being our video editor!!

Congrats to VCUarts Theatre alum Joshua Boone (BFA ’10) who will be starring in Tyler Perry’s A JAZZMAN’S BLUES alongside Solea Pfeiffer on Netflix!!

Gigi New (BFA ’87) announced that she is working as a writer for HBO Max on a sequel to the family comedy The Brothers Garcia called The Garcias a new 10 episode order.  Production is slated to begin in June 2021 in Mexico.

Clifton Duncan (BFA ’04) was featured as Archibald in a workshop production of the tony Award Musical The Secret Garden which was presented by the industry-leading streaming platform Broadway on Demand on May 6, 2021.  This was a benefit for The Dramatists Guild Foundation and The Actor’s Fund and dedicated to the original Lily, Rebecca Luker.

Lyam B. Gabel (BFA ’05) just graduated from the Master’s program at Carnegie Mellon, and they are starting a new adventure as a tenure track Assistant Professor of Acting and Directing at Lehigh University. Congrats Lyam!

Jeff Stern (BFA ’89) was honored to receive the Arts Legacy Award 2020 from the Alleghany Highlands ARTS COUNCIL.  The award recognizes individuals who have given a lifetime of dedication to the perpetuation of the performing arts.  Jeff has over 39 years of professional experience working in theatre, television, feature film, fine art and radio.  Most recently Jeff served as Executive Director of the Historic Masonic Theatre Foundation in Clifton Forge, VA.

Justin Scribner (BFA ’02) has developed a self-care workshop for stage managers. “During this interactive workshop, self-care coach Gracy Obuchowicz and veteran stage manager Justin Scribner will guide you through the emotional journey of being a stage manager–from dealing with challenging personalities to skillfully setting boundaries. We’ll explore self-care practices that will help you work with true generosity and perspectives that can support you in elevating the culture of care on every show you manage.” The discounted pilot session ($15) is Monday June 7th.

Matt James (BFA ’09) is happily back at work as Entertainment and Activities Manager at Disney Cruise Lines.  He is currently in London quarantined to his ship room waiting to rejoin the Disney Magic group after all testing is finished. Matt was in London when the pandemic hit and had to stay shipboard until early May 2020 before the crew was allowed to fly home. This new Disney Magic trip is considered a staycation since the ship will only be allowed to cruise for a few days.  The first cruise with guests will begin mid-July.

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Jessica Smith Hebron (BFA ’06) is excited to announce that she is part of a new album featuring Black Children’s Music Artists which will drop on this Juneteenth. Her song is entitled I Am the Future of Black History.  You can find it @1tribecollective.

Raven Wilkes (BFA ’15) is busy making a movie with Chelsea Burke called Shanidar.  A mood trailer is featured on Theatre VCU- Past and Present. 

Michelle Wagner  (BFA) has co-written a new opera with her creative partners Susan Griffen and Lorna Lor called Woman of Light.  A musical experience illuminating the life of Mary Magdalene and her journey standing for equality, the sanctity of life and the unifying force of love.  Lucinda McDermott Piro has come onboard to help make the opera into a 90 minute stand alone piece.

Harold Slazer (BFA ’88) has written a new zoom script for the Middle Players in New York entitled Confessions on my Uncle Lance.  Keith, a documentary film maker, is asked to create a film about his family and decides to ask them about his late Uncle Lance who died in a car accident before he was born.  The story comes to life through the monologues of friends and family as they remember who Lance was.

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Adanma Onyedike Barton (BFA ’03 / MFA ’09) was thrilled to be asked asked by Youth Bringing Immigrants Together to teach a webinar on solo performance.  The other panelists were a musician from Canada, a painter from Ukraine and a creative writer from Oregon.  Her students were from Azerbaijan, Prague, Romania, Germany, Serbia and Ukraine—Teaching all over the world through zoom.

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IN MEMORIAM: Elizabeth Kelsey Wilson McRary (BFA ‘94) has died. My sweet, darlin’, funny, talented friend died of cancer on April 30, 2021.  We reconnected a few years ago on Facebook and talked regularly.  She was brave and funny as always going through this last year.  She asked me if I had any dvd’s of her on stage since her children had never seen her act, and I was lucky enough to have a copy of Chekhov in Yalta that I sent.  I hope they saw that.  She was the lead actress in five shows that we worked on in Richmond, both at VCU and in town that my husband directed: The Dead Monkey, Christmas on Mats, Chekhov in Yalta, What the Butler Saw and Prelude to a Kiss.  She leaves a husband and two beautiful children.  -Liz Hopper

Keep us posted! Share your news with your fellow alumni!

Life changes.
Awards and recognition.
New casting or job.

Also, feel free to suggest any fellow grads for a profile in upcoming issues!

Email Jerry Williams ( or Liz Hopper (

Compiled by Liz Hopper, professor emeritus, and Jerry Williams (BFA ’71) for the May 2021 Theatre Alumni Newsletter.