Setting the tone for a year of milestones at Roger Williams University – including the 25th anniversary of The Barn Performing Arts Center and the 40th anniversary of the Theatre program – three performing arts groups came out en force to celebrate the inauguration of RWU’s 10th president, Dr. Donald Farish. Student musicians, actors and dancers featured in “Celebrations! A Performing Arts Revue.”
The afternoon began with a performance by the RWU Instrumental Ensemble Chamber Group, directed by Catherine Hawkes, featuring music from the English, French and Spanish Renaissance. Hawkes was eager to recognize the extra rehearsal hours that the student musicians donated for the event. A subset of the larger Instrumental Ensemble of more than 20 student musicians, the chamber group featured six undergraduates: Trevor Beard (baritone horn); Celeste Bessey (trombone); Kevin Ghizzoni (clarinet); Peter Janeiro (violin); Kaitlynn Pike (flute); and Andrew Rumore (percussion). Hawkes accompanied the students on percussion.
Apropos of the 40th anniversary of both the Theatre program and the London Study Abroad, the freshman theatre troupe reprised their fall performance of Lanford Wilson’s, “This is the Rill Speaking,” directed by Professor Emeritus William Grandgeorge. The selection was a revival of the first play ever performed on the Roger Williams campus in 1971, also directed by Grandgeorge.
The play was performed sans set due to a performance location changed, and was restaged for the Revue to be performed on stools – nearly identical to the show’s original production in New York City in 1965. “This is the Rill Speaking” featured six student actors – Kevin O’Lear, Wendy Benjamin, Hannah Smith, Noelle Bourquard, Karson Baird and Mike Tiberio – and is one act of Wilson’s full-length play, “The Rimers of Eldritch.”
Wrapping up the Revue was a rousing performance by the Roger Williams University Dance Theatre, which performed excerpts from “Mandorla.” Drawing energy from an interlude from adjunct faculty member Mike DeQuattro – whose performance can only be described as a stunning one-man percussion spectacular, playing up to nine instruments at once – the 15 dance students transfixed the audience with excerpts from the multimedia production choreographed by RWU alumna Jenny Rocha ’96. “Mandorla,” which is a satire of the lifestyle of the struggling artist, debuted at LaMama Experimental Theater Club 2011. Coincidentally, this is the same theater where Lanford Wilson’s “The Rimers of Eldritch” debuted in 1966.
RWU senior Leanne Smith mesmerized as the principal dancer for the performance, surrounded by an elite corps of undergraduate dance students: Michelle Birmingham; Alexandra Burke; Nicole DeWolfe; Kelsey Heineman; Elizabeth Kelley; Jane Leary; Kristen Majoros; Kelsey Nestor; Lauren Provost; Kayla Rodriguez; Jaclyn Serino; Danielle Sinsigalli; Katie Suyematsu; and Haylee Zubrycki.