Thursday, March 14, 2013

Theatre UAB grads: directing in NYC, munching in Taco Bell commercial, making "Magic Flute,” "Ruined" happen in the 'Ham

Theatre UAB grads are creating magic, and they're making it happen on stage and screen in Birmingham and across the country.

Department alum Luke Harlan is directing a show that just opened off-Broadway, and he is one of just three people recently accepted into the prestigious Yale School of Drama Master’s Program in Directing. Harlan, who graduated in 2008 after directing the department’s award-winning production of “The Laramie Project,” has been working in New York City since graduation.  The play he is currently directing, “Honky,” is enjoying its world premiere at Urban Stages on West 30th Street. The offer to join Yale's program was a perfect opening-night present.

Recent graduate Stephen Webb, whose play “Postcards to J. Bird” was produced by the department two years ago, has been accepted by the Carnegie Mellon Master's program in playwriting.

Individually, Tobie Windham and Shinelle Azoroh have starred in plays and films all over the West Coast. Together, they are a creative husband and wife team living in West Hollywood, working as writers, producers, actors and teachers. Windham is currently performing in “The Whipping Man” for Virginia Stage Company, and Azoroh was recently seen as Malcolm X’s daughter in the Lifetime movie “Betty & Coretta.” She can also be seen in a new TV commercial for Taco Bell’s Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos; look for her in the laundromat.

Department alumna Hannah Hughes has appeared in a lot of films, but now she has starred in one that was screened at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival and won a coveted distribution deal as a result. The upcoming found footage horror anthology sequel “V/H/S/2” was screened at South by Southwest (SXSW) and will be in select theaters in October.

Alumnus Patrick Johnson was recently elected vice-president of City Equity Theatre (CET), Birmingham’s sole professional theater operating under agreement with the Actors’ Equity Association. He is working as stage manager for CET’s production of “Ruined” by Lynn Nottage, co-directed by Jonathan Fuller and UAB Assistant Professor of Theatre Cheryl Hall. This summer, he will return to the stage in CET’s production of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer-winning drama “August: Osage County.”

The popular Birmingham production company Theatre Downtown has named UAB Theatre Department alumnus and actor/director/playwright Daniel Martin as its new artistic director.

Award-winning 2010 alum Dustin Can├ęz is stage manager for this weekend’s Opera Birmingham production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” Most recently, he was assistant director for New York City’s Resonance Ensemble run of “R.U.R.,” with a script adapted by UAB Assistant Professor of Theatre Lee Shackleford.

Visit Theatre UAB online for more updates on students and graduates, as well as the latest news from the department.

Shannon Thomason,, is a media specialist in the UAB Office of Media Relations. Her beat covers the arts and events at UAB.

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