When Canandaigua native Amber Smith graduated from Keuka College in 2011, she had dreams of the Big Apple.
Forging her own path at the College, Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in management, but fleshed out her concentration in theatre and minor in communication studies by investing time acting in campus plays, serving as president of the Arion Players (drama club) and honing leadership skills. For example, she coordinated special events such as an all-arts or improv night for the Arion Players.
When she graduated, there were three potential career options in mind: acting, hip-hop dance or managing her own business.
Now a New York City resident, the dancer/actress/singer has begun to make her mark in choreography, putting her hip-hop dance talents to use in three music videos and now, serving as co-choreographer for the Bristol Valley Theater production of “Rent,” which runs through July 19 in Naples. She is also a cast member.
“In the ensemble, I sing and dance a lot as I play about six different characters minor to the show. Singing and dancing are what I love to do,” said the Canandaigua native.
As a co-choreographer for “Rent,” Smith has choreographed the tango sequence and dance sequence – two of the biggest numbers – with what she calls a “softer side.” Where other versions of the show have portrayed characters dancing with little thought or intent, Smith’s choreography seeks to echo the lyrics and rhythm of those songs in the physical movement, she said.
Audience members may also see elements of hip-hop in the choreography, a nod to Smith’s dance specialty. Her music videos include two for rap artist D’Chrome Foster and one for the rock band dec3. In addition to dance, Smith has sung backup vocals for Foster, and will return to the Big Apple following “Rent” to record vocals for his next album and then choreograph his next music video.
Smith sees great marketability when a performer can sing, act and dance on stage or screen, so she plans to continue choreographing whenever the opportunity arises. Ultimately, however, she would love to utilize her business skills as a manager in the music industry, she said.
“I’d really like to help guide people in developing their entertainment careers,” she said. To that end, Smith believes her Keuka College education prepared her well for success.
She cited faculty members Mark Wenderlich, professor of theatre, and Ann Tuttle, professor of management, for their guidance and encouragement to pursue her dreams, push herself to success and be confident in her decisions. In addition, the “small-town friendliness” that encompasses the campus community has served her well in New York City, where she said people respond positively when she interacts with them in a warm, open way atypical of big-city residents.
“The atmosphere at Keuka College sticks with you and helps you relate to people on different levels,” she described.
If it takes a little while to build up the business side of her career, Smith is not worried. Meanwhile, she stays busy auditioning for roles, taking dance lessons and more on top of her job at a couture children’s boutique inside the Plaza Hotel.
“If someone offers me a part in a show, there’s no way I’d say no,” she explained. “Who’s going to say no when you can sing and dance and do what you love?”
When you combine a train, a birthday party, and a cast of characters who may or may not help you on your journey into the unknown, you get The Charnal House Trilogy, the latest video game from Owl Cave Games.
And the trilogy, comprised of Inhale, Sepulchure, and Exhale, has a Keuka College connection. Kelsey R. Marquart ’12 is a voice actor in two of the games, Inhale and Exhale. In Inhale, Marquart portrays the answering machine of the main character, Alex. For Exhale, she voices Carli, a minor villain.
“I like playing video games and villains, so this was a great way to combine some of my interests,” said Marquart. “I always wanted to be a voice actor in some way. A couple of years ago, I took a one-night voice-acting class at Cayuga Community College, and I was able to put what I learned into the games.”
She also credits Mark Wenderlich, professor of theatre, for boosting her aplomb and encouraging her as she was active in the College’s theatrical productions.
“While I was the stage manager for most of the plays, I helped with stage readings, was in a couple of on-campus movies, performed in one Keuka College production, and was in a play at Auburn Community Theatre,” said Marquart. “Mark gave me the confidence to get on stage—he’s amazing.”
And she can also thank a popular form of social media for helping her land her first voice-acting roles.
“I became friends with the game developer, Ashton Raze, after following her on Twitter,” said Marquart, who recorded her lines via her computer’s webcam. “She released Sepulchre first as a free stand-alone game in September 2013 and then the trilogy as a whole was recently released. She asked if I would voice characters in Inhale and Exhale. I received the script and read the whole thing so that I could figure out how to record my lines.”
For example, for the answering machine, Marquart tried to get the “human-ness” out of her voice. Marquart described Carli like a character out of Mean Girls.
According to Marquart, “the games are point-and-click style adventure games, in the same vein as King’s Quest and Monkey Island. The art is also in the same style.”
“The games are interactive horror-mystery and players must figure out the nature of the world in the game,” said Marquart. “The story is driven by exploration, and you must solve puzzles along the way. For example, if you need to get into a door but it’s locked, you need to figure out what to do or where to go in order to get the key to that door.”
For those interested in giving the game a whirl, here’s a brief synopsis:
Sepulchre casts you in the role of Dr. Harold Lang as you piece together his memory and navigate his fateful journey into the unknown. Find out how some strange characters are connected in this unsettling take on trains, historians, and huge bags.
In Inhale, you play as Alex, who is celebrating her birthday on the train. She is waiting impatiently for an urgent delivery—one that will change her life. Haunted by snatches of a past she can barely face, Alex longs to escape her room, her apartment, and her life. Discover the part she plays on the ominous train journey.
Alex wakes up in a familiar location after a with tragedy in Exhale. Join her in her desperate search to find the doctor she met and travel to the mysterious island of Augur Peak. Can she survive the journey? Why does she want to escape? And what is the dark and terrible secret from her past that doesn’t seem to want to stay hidden?
Marquart also serves as the editor-in-chief of the gaming and geek culture site Nerdy But Flirty, and is a member of the StreamFriends livestreaming group.
To purchase the game, log onto http://store.steampowered.com
A romantic comedy in three acts, Keuka College’s fall theatrical production, The Lady’s Not for Burning is set in the Middle Ages.
Written by Christopher Fry, the play reflects the world’s “exhaustion and despair” following World War II, with a war-weary soldier who wants to die, and an accused witch who wants to live. In form, it resembles Shakespeare’s pastoral comedies.
Directed by Professor of Theatre Mark Wenderlich, The Lady’s Not for Burning opens Friday, Oct. 17. The show begins at 8 p.m. in the Red Barn Theater, with additional performances Saturday, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. and again at 7 p.m.
“There are some neat angles in this show, as the play is co-produced by the Penn Yan Theatre Co. (PYTCo.), the Division of Humanities and Fine Art, and the Arion Players Drama Club,” said Wenderlich. “Two town people are in the cast, and we also have two alumni and a staff member [in the production].”
Thomas Mendip, a discharged soldier, weary of the world and eager to leave it, comes to small town Cool Clary, announces he has committed murder and demands to be hanged. A philosophical humorist, Thomas is annoyed when the officials oppose his request, even believing he is not guilty of the crime he suggests. Shortly afterward, a young woman, Jennet, is brought before the mayor for witchcraft, but for some strange reason she has no wish to be put to death.
A dark comedy of rare wit and exulted language, Thomas tries, in his own way, to prove to the official how absurd it would be to refuse to hang a man who wants to be hanged, and at the same time to kill a woman who is not only guiltless, but doesn’t want to die. Jennet enjoys the banter, and soon sees the merit in Thomas the man.
The mayor’s family members, clerks and officials gather for an impending wedding and seem to be stuck with the dilemma of two uninvited people—who may or may not be hanged in the morning—who must be included in the pre-nuptial activities.
First produced in England, The Lady’s Not for Burning had a successful run in New York. It has proved, because of its delightful freshness, the dramatic thrust of its poetry, and the sheer high spirits with which the author has endowed his characters, a joy to producer and actor, as well as to the audience.
The New York Herald Tribune called it “a poetic fantasy of rare splendor and delight…a work of magical humor and deep beauty.”
The cast includes Ryan Gillotti (Richard), a senior American Sign Language-English interpreting major from Auburn; Alicia Brown (Alizon Elliot), a senior occupational science major from Kirkwood; Phil Atherlay (Nichols), a junior adolescent English/special education major from Deposit; Jake Banas (Chaplain), a senior English major from Delmar; and Caleigh Alterio ’14 (Jennet Jourdamaine), who is pursuing her degree in occupational therapy.
Justin Krog, program developer for the College’s Office of Information Technology Services (ITS), portrays Tappercoom. Penn Yan resident Brian Cobb ’08, M’11 will return to his alma mater to portray Thomas Mendip in the production. Cobb teaches English at Penn Yan Academy. Logan Ackerly ’14 also returns to his alma mater and will portray Humphrey. Ackerly serves as an installation merchandiser at Hallmark Cards in the Greater New York City Area. John P. Christensen, reporter for the Penn Yan Chronicle Express portrays Hebble Tyson, mayor. Eileen Farrar, a Penn Yan resident who has worked with PYTCo., portrays Margaret.
Amelia Gonnella, a freshman clinical science major from Marcellus, serves as stage manager.
Tickets are $5 for Keuka College students, faculty, staff, and alumni; and $10 for the general public. Seating is limited. Tickets for The Lady’s not for Burning can be purchased in advance on instantseats.com, and are available at the box office.
A look at two couples’ recent divorces in 1906 New York City society sets the scene for The New York Idea, the spring theatrical production at Keuka College.
The farce, written by Langdon Mitchell and updated by David Auburn, depicts the comedic entanglements of divorce while mixing in one visiting English lord smitten with the city’s easy way with matrimony.
Directed by Professor of Theatre Mark Wenderlich, The New York Idea opens Thursday, April 10. The show begins at 8 p.m. in the Red Barn Theater, with additional performances Friday, April 11-Saturday, April 12 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, April 13 at 7 p.m.
The plot follows Cynthia Karslake, a freewheeling young divorcee, who decides to settle down again into a much more stable relationship with the prominent Judge Philip Phillimore. Little does she know, however, that neither of their impetuous and unpredictable ex-spouses, nor her beloved race horse Cynthia K, is down for the count.
Cynthia’s impulsiveness has driven her ex-spouse, John, to near financial ruin—and, she fears, into the seductive arms of Vida, Phillimore’s vampish ex-wife. To complicate matters, both Cynthia and Vida find themselves attracted to a visiting English gentleman with a lordly estate and an eye for American beauty. In duly antic course, one couple reunites and one stays divorced, while both the old idea of a socially ‘suitable’ marriage and the superficial new “New York idea”—marry for a whim and leave the rest to the divorce court—get thoroughly kicked around. But will Cynthia and John realize that they truly belong together forever before Cynthia makes it to the altar?
Members of the cast include Kimberley Sweet (Mrs. Phillimore), a freshman adolescent mathematics major from Cuba; Michael Musolino Jr. (Sir Wilfred Cates-Darby), a freshman American Sign Language-English interpreting major from Durhamville; Sierra Lynch (Vida Phillimore), a senior psychology major from Watervliet; Caleigh Alterio (Cynthia Karslake), a senior occupational science major from Akron; Phil Atherlay (Sudley/Fiddler), a sophomore adolescent mathematics education major from Deposit; Alicia Brown (Jacqueline), a junior occupational science major from Kirkwood; and William Staub (Thomas), a freshman adolescent English major from Rochester. Justin Krog, program developer for the College’s Office of Information Technology Services (ITS), portrays Phillip Phillimore. Penn Yan resident Brian Cobb ’08, M’11 will return to his alma mater to portray Matthew Phillimore in the production. Cobb teaches English at Penn Yan Middle School. Pat Fegley, a Geneva resident who has worked with the Pennsylvania Yankee Theater Company (PYTCo), portrays John Karslake.
Members of the crew include Marissa Rogers, a freshman psychology major from Pompton Plains (stage manager); Danica Zielinski, a senior American Sign Language major from Congers (costume designer); Dan Roach (sound designer); and Trish Ralph (lighting designer).
Ralph is chair of the Department of Theatre and Music Studies and an associate professor of theatre at SUNY Brockport, while Roach has worked with the Eastman Opera, Geva Theatre and Downstairs Cabaret Theatre, among others.
The April 10 performance will benefit the cast members’ annual trip to the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. All tickets are $7 and will be sold at the door. Tickets for the other three performances are $5 for Keuka College students, faculty, staff, and alumni; and $10 for the general public. Seating is limited.
Two mismatched roommates, who both have been thrown out by their wives, sets the scene for Oscar and Felix, the fall theatrical production at Keuka College.
The comedy, written by Neil Simon, is an update to his The Odd Couple, and pits slobbish Oscar Madison against his best-friend-turned-roommate, the ultra fastidious Felix Ungar, in a pitched battle to see who’ll drive the other insane first.
Directed by Professor of Theatre Mark Wenderlich, Oscar and Felix opens Thursday, Oct. 24. The show begins at 8 p.m. in the Red Barn Theatre, with additional performances Friday, Oct. 25-Saturday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m.
The story finds Madison, a bachelor since his wife, Blanche, kicked him out years ago, living as he pleases. His apartment is in a constant state of disarray, discarded clothes lie all over the place, and he hosts regular poker games with his pals.
Enter Felix, who has just been given the boot by his wife, Frances. With nowhere to turn, he shows up at Oscar’s place where his friends, tipped off about the breakup, are constantly—and hilariously—on guard against suicide attempts by their distraught friend.
The Odd Couple premiered on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre March 10, 1965 and transferred to the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. It closed July 2, 1967 after 964 performances and two previews. Directed by Mike Nichols, the cast starred Walter Matthau as Oscar Madison and Art Carney as Felix Ungar. The production gained Tony Awards for best actor, best author, best direction of a play, and best scenic design. It was also nominated for best play.
The characters were revived in a successful 1968 film and 1970s television series, as well as other derivative works and spin-offs, including an adaption with a female cast. In addition to performances in venues across the United States, The Odd Couple has been seen in Scotland, England, Canada, Venezuela, Japan, and Poland.
Members of the cast include Logan Ackerley (Oscar Madison), a senior political science/history major from Liberty; Ryan Gillotti (Felix Ungar), a junior American Sign Language-English major from Auburn; Joe Micnerski (Roy), a sophomore English major from Grayslake, Ill.; Michael Musolino (Speed), a freshman American Sign Language-English interpreting major from Durhamville; Marco Cartwright (Vinnie), a senior management major from Painted Post; Sini Ngobese (Inez Costazuela), a junior management major from Durban, South Africa; and Sierra Lynch (Hoolya Costazuela), a junior psychology major from Watervliet. Justin Krog, program developer for the College’s Office of Information Technology Services (ITS), portrays Murray.
Members of the crew include Kelsey R. Marquart ’12 (stage manager), technical support technician for ITS; Danica Zielinski (light designer), a senior American Sign Language major from Congers; Jake Banas (costume designer), a junior English major from Delmar; Caleigh Alterio (light board operator), a senior occupational science major from Akron; Elijah Snipes (sound board operator), a senior psychology major from Rochester; P. Gibson Ralph, (set designer); and Dan Roach, (sound designer).
Ralph is chair of the Department of Theatre and Music Studies and an associate professor of theatre at SUNY Brockport, while Roach has worked with the Eastman Opera, Geva Theatre, and Downstairs Cabaret Theatre, among others.
The Oct. 24 performance will benefit the cast members’ 2014 trip to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. All tickets are $7 and will be on sale at the door. Tickets for the other three performances are $5 for Keuka students, faculty, staff, and alumni; and $10 for the general public. Seating is limited.