Category "University Theatre Memories"

April 5, 2006

Hello from David-Michael Monasch

Hello all from David-Michael Monasch: graduated 1971, as one of the first two U of M BFA's in Theater - together with Linda Smith (where is she now?)

Most fond memories were evoked by Peter Thoemke's contribution (now to be found under Student Memories) and Patsy Monson's memories of the GREATEST PARTIES ever - - (and I have to agree!). For a long time I pondered whether to attend the reunion or not, since so much of the focus seems to be on the Rarig years, which came after I had already gone to the Guthrie and then dropped-out of the theater altogether for many years. Would I know anyone? Would I feel like an old fossil? But then I decided to go; to see a few folks, (especially former teachers), visit my sister (also a U of M theater department alum), see Barb Berlovitz's Cabaret (we started at the U together), and hope for a surprise meeting or two!

So, I guess more than anything I'd like to urge old friends from the late Sixties/early Seventies to come to the reunion - - it would be wonderful to see you again. I'm sure we've all changed enormously, challenged by relationships/work/children/LIFE - - and/but perhaps something of those heady and idealistic times still lingers in our souls. Anyone remember the Anti-War rally at the State Capitol with the huge heads we made of Nixon, etc? (I've never forgotten the sight of thousands and thousands of people pouring down the street toward the Capitol, where we were waiting to perform.) How about the police in riot gear in Dinkytown? Spider John Koerner and Leo Kottke at the New Riverside? The Walker Art Center's superb intimate rock concerts at the Guthrie? Wes Balk's Hugo Square Productions? The often brilliant Minneapolis Children's Theater? The first years of the Minnesota Renaissance Faire? Bob Moulton's Stagecoach Theater productions? The thrilling Firehouse Theater? The growth of the co-ops (and the takeover of the People's Warehouse by the 'Trots')? Boogie's at the Odd Fellow's Hall? While these memories aren't directly connected to the Theater Dept. at the U, they are all part of my memories of the rich years I spent in Minneapolis/St. Paul. I'd love to share more with whoever shows up!!! I'd also welcome email from anyone who'd care to write:

Posted by utheatre at 9:11 AM | University Theatre Memories

Category "University Theatre Memories"

March 27, 2006

Memories from David Gebel

What I loved most of all during my time at Rarig was the unbelievable amount of rehearsals and work you could be doing simultaneously: scenes for directing students, scenes with fellow actors for your own class, main stage rehearsals, and work outside of the school is you had it. It exposed me to more people, writers, directors than I could have imagined. It allowed me to discover what I did well, and at what stuff I sucked (like blank verse).

The endless scenes available to do let me take risks and chances - not worry about getting fired! I can't even remember the exact scenes I did, but do remember the ephemeral experience of finding some wonderful moment in performance with it with my partner - (Becky Crumb, Megan Grundy, David Gale, Laura Davies) - they were private performance moments appreciated and never to be seen again.

"Rarig High" was quite an experience.

After one performance of "Kiss Me Kate" everyone in the cast was going on about how quiet and unresponsive the audience was, what a "bad crowd' they were. Dr. Moult on (our director) overheard, stepped in and simply stated "Maybe it wasn't the audience..." Hm mm. Lesson learned.

Hope to hear from others of that era.

David Gebel
(917) 701-9855

Posted by utheatre at 10:53 AM | University Theatre Memories

Category "Alumni News"

Category "University Theatre Memories"

January 18, 2006

Memories from Patsy Monson, class of '71

Well, let me be the first one to say it, my best memories are the parties. Being part of the theater department in the late sixties and early seventies was a lot of fun, but I think we had the greatest parties ever. Especially wearing sheets, dancing to" Tommy". Life was sweet on Thornton St. with Cathy and Camille.

Patsy Monson, Class of '71

Posted by justin at 11:44 AM | Alumni News | University Theatre Memories

Category "University Theatre Memories"

Memories from Joan Lee, class of '85

During all those years when John Loprieno was playing "Cord Roberts" on "One Live to Live," I tried to tell people that I knew him, that he beat me up on stage in the play "Major Barbara"!

Well, now I have proof. I'm the little blonde being menaced by John and his cohorts in the pic shown for the 1983-84 season. Thank you for memories.

We all had a little crush on the very-married Mr. Loprieno!

Joan Lee
one of the "Stale Faces" that graduated on the "five-year" plan with a BA in
Theatre Arts in 1985

Posted by justin at 10:47 AM | University Theatre Memories

Category "University Theatre Memories"

January 13, 2006

Carole Peterson Wendt's Memories of the University of Minnesota Theatre (Part 1)

One of the most vivid memories I have of my years at the University of Minnesota is riding across Wisconsin sitting next to Doctor Frank Whiting, or "Doc," as we called him.

Doc was driving. Anyone who ever rode with Doc will now feel a chill of fear. Doc was, to put it mildly, an adventurous driver. Fast and erratic. The vehicle was a University of Minnesota van filled with dancers on the way to a performance at Northwestern University. Our leader and choreographer was Bob Moulton. I remember Bill Phelps was among the passengers. At every opportunity, the group would urge me to take over the driving. They were terrified. I was the only other person legally qualified to drive. I had a license and I was an employee of the University; at the time I worked at the library. I kept asking Doc if he were tired of driving; I told him I would be happy to take over. "Oh, no," he said jauntily, "I love to drive." At one point he told me he loved to pass cars on a hill because it was exciting not knowing what was coming the other way. I have to assume he was joking because he never did pass on a hill during our long, long ride to and from Evanston, and he never once let go of that steering wheel.

I will never forget Bob Moulton. I first met him when he designed and fitted the gorgeous gowns I wore in the French play, "Le Medecin Malgre Lui." I played Lucinde, the ingenue, and daughter of the "medecin" played by Bill Hillard. A wonderful actor with a brilliant mind. He later became a good friend. I
was new to the theatre then. Having the charismatic costume designer Professor Moulton at my feet pinning and measuring and tugging away to make the gowns perfect was almost more of a thrill than I could stand. My theatrical experience was limited, having just recently left my hometown of Litchfield,
Minnesota, population 5,000: "large enough to serve you, small enough to know you" was the town motto. Wearing those beautiful gowns with their huge hoop skirts and outfitted with a white upswept wig, I couldn't have had a more lovely entry into the University of Minnesota theater world. And all in French, no less.


Posted by utheatre at 1:33 PM | University Theatre Memories

Category "University Theatre Memories"

Carole Peterson Wendt's Memories (Part 2)

It was about that time that my boy friend, Bill Wendt, was cast as the young Marco in "Marco Millions." Our mutural interest in the theater --plus the fact that we both worked at Gray's Drugstore in Dinkytown -- drew us together. Bill and I married after we graduated and were together until his death in 1998.

Of course, I attended a performance of "Marco Millions" .. proud of my boy friend's acting. I was also struck by Lorraine "Tiny" Steiner's portrayal of a prostitute. Though I was a little bit shocked, I figured I must really be sophisticated to be able to watch such carryings on. Those were more innocent times. I was also amazed by the wonderful acting of Richard Halverson as Kublai Khan. I had seen a few plays in high school; I was even in one. But this was much different. This was a quality of performance beyond anything I'd seen before. Halverson went on to have a very successful career in regional theater. The great theater critic Brooks Atkinson praised his work highly at the Cleveland Playhouse. Atkinson almost never looked at any production outside of Broadway so it was quite noteworthy that he saw and wrote about Halverson's work.

After we married, Bill and I went to New York to try our luck in show business. I ended up working in television as a producer and writer on shows that included the Today Show, the David Frost Show, and the Jack Paar Show. My first foray into TV, however, came at the University. I played a leopard in an odd
little show called "The Blob." Myron "Mo" Odegaard played the blob. The whole thing was directed by Jerry Rumley. The details have faded but I do recall that I had a costume with a tail and that I entered from camera right -- backwards. I believe I was dancing or doing something that vaguely resembled dancing. We all thought it was quite avant garde. Bill, meanwhile, did something for stage and TV, which was much more serious and made more sense. Frank Sturcken directed him in a one act play titled "Hello, Out There." Bill played a tortured young man in jail being visited by his girl friend. The play was televised and was well received. I learned later that for years it had been shown to student actors and directors as an example of good work for television. (I would be grateful if anyone could find a copy of that show.)


Posted by utheatre at 1:31 PM | University Theatre Memories

Category "University Theatre Memories"

Carole Peterson Wendt's Memories (Part 3)

About the time Bill and I were finishing our schooling at the University, Doctor Whiting was wooing Sir Tyrone Guthrie. Doc was determined that Sir Tyrone would establish a theater in Minneapolis. Doc was an inspired and determined man, as we all knew, and as Sir Tyrone was to find out.

If Bill were here, he would share his memories of our student days, too. He might talk about playing the lead in "Bodas de Sangre." That role was especially challenging -- he didn't speak Spanish. Fortunately, he had an ear for the accent and his sister, Ruth, who had taught Spanish in high school, helped him memorize his lines, and understand them.

I bet he'd write about the time I, his new girl friend, worked on one of his stage crews. All theater students had to put in time on a crew and I was assigned to Bill's. I forget the show but it being presented in the little theater downstairs at Scott Hall. We decided to pretend we were barely acquainted so as not to cause any talk among the other crew members. That worked fine until Bill discovered that in my fervor, I had screwed a flat to the floor. That, Bill explained gently in tones one might use to a small child, was not well done. The screw was meant to be attached to the flat, not to the flat AND the floor. The other crew members got a kick out of the exchange, as it was immediately clear we were more than mere acquaintances. I told him later he was lucky I hadn't had a hammer in my hand at the time.

We both remember what a strict disciplinarian Merle Loppnow was. He taught us by word and example that the theater was serious business. You did your job, on time, and you did it well. Curtains went up on time. If the show was to start at 7pm, by cracky, that curtain went up at 7pm or else. And, you showed
up on time for rehearsals and of course for performances. Those habits worked well for us no matter what careers we followed. Having said that, I have to say the first time Bill and I went to a Broadway show (West Side Story), we were amazed to discover that the curtain did not go up at 8pm sharp. It rose at
ten after eight. Big surprise. Bill found out when he was cast in Broadway and off Broadway shows that a strict discipline did apply. You showed up on time for everything .. and the curtain always went up on time: at ten after eight, sharp.


Posted by utheatre at 1:29 PM | University Theatre Memories

Category "University Theatre Memories"

Carole Peterson Wendt's Memories (Part 4)

Nearing the end of our tenure at the University, both Bill and I were cast in the Scott Hall production of "Finian's Rainbow." John Breitlow played Finian, and Myron "Mo" Odegaard played Og. Both were wonderful; it was a good show and a pleasure to be in. There is a scene in the show where Finian leaves the stage and the other characters wave goodbye; he's leaving for good. I remember waving goodbye to Finian and thinking this was also my farewell to the theater world at the University. It was my last show before Bill and I married and left for New York City.

I had a wonderful time at the University of Minnesota. I danced and sang and acted in dozens of shows, big and small. I found my lifelong partner, Bill, and I learned a great deal from the teachers, artists, and friends I met there.


Posted by utheatre at 1:28 PM | University Theatre Memories

Category "University Theatre Memories"

September 7, 2005

Comments from Beth Gilleland

When we did the Caucasian Chalk Circle, Martin Esslin was concurrently teaching a class at the “U” on Pinter. He was also an authority on Brecht. He came to see the show, then offered some commentary afterwards.

For Grusha’s flight through the mountains, six males lifted a platform a bridge up to an impressive height of about nine feet and I, as Grusha, had to step onto this floating bridge, and was ushered across the stage to an equally high precipice on the other side — singing, and holding a baby.

“Deep is the abyss son, I feel the weak bridge sway…” I felt the bridge sway, believe you me.

As an illuminating example of Brecht’s theory of alienation, Esslin told us that in Brecht’s production, the effect of real danger was absent. The bridge was a short plank, two feet off the ground.

— Beth Gilleland (1980 grad)

Posted by utheatre at 10:10 PM | University Theatre Memories