March 11, 2008

First-Year MFA Actors Take Stage for Tom Stoppard's Arcadia

Ensemble Debuts as Class in the Case-Cleveland Play House Production

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Case Western Reserve University's first-year MFA acting students will spend their spring break under the big stage lights readying for opening night, Wednesday, March 12, and continuing through March 22 in their first performances as an ensemble class in Tom Stoppard's challenging and complex love story, Arcadia.

Performances will showcase the talents of the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Play House Professional Actor Training Program students at the Brooks Theatre under the direction of Ron Wilson, the program's director and chair of the university's department of theater and dance.

Stoppard's inventive play jumps between 1809 to 1989 and explores the nature of truth, time and the disruptive influence of sex -- as Stoppard calls it, "the attraction that Newton left out."

"The true attraction of this complex play is how ridiculous love can be," says Mark Alan Gordon, associate director of the actor training program.

"Arcadia is enjoyable theater for the audience. It deals with everything from Byron's poetry, landscape gardening, thermodynamic, to academic hubris, and it is done with great wit and intelligence," said Wilson.

But performers can find Stoppard challenging. Wilson added that it speaks to the exceptional talent in this year's class that is ready to undertake the play's roles that can switch between the past and the present and in which students may play more than one character.

"This play is wonderfully complicated in terms of text, technical challenges, and British dialects for students -- the last is something that is usually saved for the second year," he said.

"We've been lucky with the last two classes in having exceptionally strong ensembles," stated Wilson. He added that the new class has an interesting mix of students, some just out of college and others with professional theater experience, and overall this is a quick and articulate group of young actors."

This year's ensemble includes AJ Cedeno (playing multiple roles of Jellaby/Captain Brice, RN), Michael Flood (Ezra Chater), Zac Hoogendyk (Septimus Hodge), Lindsay Iuen (Thomasina Coverly), Andrew Lund (Gus Coverly/Augustus Coverly), Sarah Nedwek (Lady Croom/Chloe Coverly), Tom Picasso (Valentine Coverly), Tom White (Ricahrd Noakes/Bernard Nightengale) and Leigh Williams (Hannah Jarvis).

Cedeno has had "an incredible time" doing the play.

"I think we've all begun to see how much we still have to learn, but we're also beginning to see how much potential we have, too," he said. "Seeing each other in the rehearsal environment has informed us all greatly about the way in which we work. There is a constant air of support from everyone involved," Cedeno said.

Visit the Cleveland Play House online for the performance schedule and to purchase tickets.

ABOUT THE ENSEMBLE

AJ CEDEƑO comes to Cleveland fresh out of undergrad where he earned his B.A. at the University of Notre Dame, double-majoring in psychology and film, television and theater art. He is an avid musical theater enthusiast, and his past credits include Guys and Dolls (Big Jule), Joseph & the AmazingTechnicolor Dreamcoat (Joseph), Footloose! (Chuck Cranston) and Man of La Mancha (Pedro and the Barber).

MICHAEL FLOOD recently hails from New York City. He has been in the business professionally for three years, hitting the ground running, learning the ins and outs of the profession with many trials and errors, and garnering some memorable successes. His New York productions include: Two Gentlemen of Verona (Valentine), The Tempest (Ferdinand), Marat Sade (First NY revival produced by the Classical Theatre of Harlem), As You Like It (William and other roles) and has performed in other various contemporary and classical productions. He has also made television and film appearances in Guiding Light, American Gangster starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, Bacardi NYC marathon commercial, VH-1, MTV Movie Awards, and other productions. Michael has trained at the Frederick Douglas Creative Arts Center with Petronia Paley and with the NY Stage & Film Powerhouse Theatre Program.

ZAC HOOGENDYK has performed at the Texas Shakespeare Festival as the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath and Ahab in Moby Dick Rehearsed. Other favorite roles have included Jim in The Glass Menagerie, Joe Keller in All My Sons and Malvolio in Twelfth Night. He earned his bachelor's degree from Pepperdine University.

LINDSAY IUEN was last seen at The Crown Uptown Dinner Theatre where she played Miss Scarlett in Clue The Musical and Belle in Beauty and the Beast. She has also worked for Theatre West Virginia and The Great Plains Theatre Festival. Her favorite roles include Polly Peachum in The Three Penny Opera, Mildred Miller in Ah! Wilderness, and the roles of Miranda, Ariel, Trinculo, and Sebastian in The Tempest. She was part of the pre-professional program at New York University's CAP21 and holds a bachelor's degree in fine arts in theatre performance from Wichita State University.

ANDREW LUND is making his debut at The Cleveland Play House and is a freshman studying theater and biology at Case Western Reserve University. Andrew appeared in Case's recent production of The Shadow of a Gunman (Adolphus Grigson) and has actively participated in high school, community and college theater in his hometown of Cincinnati.

SARAH NEDWEK is a native of St. Louis, Missouri and graduated from Marquette University with a degree in Spanish and Communications Studies. She recently toured with the National Theatre for Children and was seen in the premiere of Memorial Day, a Journeyman Pictures production. Sarah also performed in Uneventful Deaths for Agathon at the New York Fringe Festival, in numerous plays with the International WOW Company and appeared on Guiding Light and All My Children.

TOM PICASSO comes to Cleveland from New York where he was seen around town in Journeypath (Ontological Hysteric Theater), Three Sisters, Largo Desolato, and the premiere of Veritas (Columbia University School of Fine Arts), The White Rose (New York Musical Theater Festival), and the original play C. Commute (Red Room Theater). Regional credits include Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Hangar Theater), Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Triumph of Love (Timber Lake Playhouse) and in his native Kansas City doing Caught in the Net and Grease (New Theatre). He earned a degree in theater from the University of Kansas.

TOM WHITE, a Case Western Reserve University alumnus,has appeared throughout Cleveland, working with The Cleveland Play House (Midsummer Night's Dream, Heartbreak House), Great Lakes Theater Festival (Merry Wives of Windsor),Dobama (Death of Frank, This is Our Youth, Heaven & Hell), Cleveland Shakespeare Festival, Night Kitchen, and Karamu Theater. In 2006, he portrayed Ben Affleck in the Ohio Premiere of the fringe hit Matt & Ben.

LEIGH WILLIAMS' regional credits include the Cider Mill Playhouse (Proof, Move Over, Mrs. Markham; Perfect Crime, and four seasons with Riverside Theatre Shakespeare Festival, where favorite roles have been Olivia, Kate, Ariel, Regan and Mistress Page). She also played Miss Havisham in TheatreWorks USA's first national tour of Great Expectations. Leigh has a bachelor's degree in theatre arts from Cornell University and came to Cleveland from New York City.

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, March 11, 2008 12:42 PM | News Topics: Arts & Entertainment, Collaborations/Partnerships, Events, Faculty, HeadlinesMain, Students

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