Wagner College Theatre Celebrates 50th Anniversary Throughout 2018

By: Dec. 18, 2017
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Wagner College Theatre Celebrates 50th Anniversary Throughout 2018 The award-winning Wagner College Theatre Department is celebrating its golden jubilee throughout 2018 with a year of exciting events.

The WCT was founded in 1968 by Lowell Matson; thus began a 50-year history of producing theatre for the Staten Island community. Alumni of the Wagner College Theatre include Betsy Joslyn, Randy Graff, Janine LaManna and Kathy Brier along with a current generation working on shows like "Dear Evan Hansen," "Hello, Dolly!", "The Book of Mormon," "Jersey Boys" and the Radio City Rockettes. Department chairs who have continued the WCT tradition of excellence are Gary Sullivan, Lewis Hardee, Christopher Catt and Felicia Ruff.

"Onstage and off, we take pride in our alumni," said Ruff. "The 50th anniversary allows us to celebrate their amazing contributions to the great American export - entertainment! - as well as dedicating ourselves to another 50 years of service to the performing arts."

Wagner College Theatre has devoted itself to live performance, particularly musical theater, since its founding in 1968. Many schools have recently founded programs that capitalize on the popularity of musicals, but Wagner's Theatre Department has been taking this intrinsically American form seriously for 50 years. Undergraduates study dance, acting, music, design, management, directing and more, all in a liberal arts setting. On the Mainstage as well as in WCT's Stage One studio theater, students and audiences love coming together for live performances of new works as well as classics.

The Wagner College Theatre Department will celebrate its 50th anniversary throughout 2018. Please join us at our Mainstage and Stage One Productions as well as alumni gatherings, a design exhibition, lectures, workshops and our May 14th gala, featuring WCT alumni, students, and faculty and hosted by Professor Michele Pawk and Janine LaManna '88, multi-award-winning co-stars of Seussical on Broadway.

Wagner College Theatre alums are welcomed to all events for free, with the exception of the WCT Alumni Cabaret and 50th Anniversary Gala.

Along with celebrating our 50th anniversary, WCT will launch a year-long fundraising campaign to support the next generation of theater artists who, like our alumni, will become change-makers in our profession. Proceeds will keep WCT flourishing on Staten Island for another 50 years, with more inclusive outreach programming.

Wagner College Theatre 50th Anniversary Season events

Jan. 21 - 'Gamers'

Staged reading - Stage One studio theater - 5 p.m. - FREE

Written by Scott Barnhardt '01

Directed by Brendan Stackhouse '14

Production stage manager: Jazmine Minner '17

" 'Gamers' is the theatrical love-child of 'The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' and 'American Buffalo'," says playwright Barnhardt. "The dog-eat-dog world of eSports is not known for its sweetness. But when Paul Elliot Anderson - the world's most optimistic orphan, from Somewhere, Ohio - is recruited to the hyper-competitive video gamer workhouse of Harrington Media ... game over."


Jan. 22 - WCT Alumni Cabaret

Green Room 42 at Yotel (570 Tenth Ave at 42nd St.) - 7 p.m. - tickets $25

Reservations required: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10231492

The Alumni of the Wagner College Theatre Department are proud to kick off a year-long celebration of their department's 50th Anniversary with a variety show at the The Green Room 42!

Hosted by Christina DeCicco ('02, Evita, Wicked, Spiderman) & Lilo Grunwald ('90, Evita, Lifetime), the night features graduates throughout Wagner's storied history, including many stars of Broadway, TV and Film. Join us for a night of song, dance, comedy, auctions, and much, more, highlighting Wagner College Theatre's characters, connections, & community!

Feb. 12 - Stanley Drama Awards

The Players Club (16 Gramercy Park S.) - 6:00 p.m.

The 60th Anniversary Stanley Drama Awards will be presented in the historic Players Club, just across the street from beautiful Gramercy Park. The Stanley Drama Award was established in 1957 by Staten Island philanthropist Alma Guyon Timolat Stanley and endowed through the Stanley-Timolat Foundation to encourage and support aspiring playwrights. The national Stanley Award competition is administered by the Wagner College Theatre program under the direction of Arts Administration Professor Todd Price, esq. The award carries with it a monetary prize along with the distinction of joining the illustrious list of past Stanley Award winners, such as Terrence McNally's "This Side of the Door" (aka "Things That Go Bump in the Night"), Lonne Elder III's "Ceremonies in Dark Old Men" and Jonathan Larson's "Rent." This year's final-round judges include WCT faculty member and author Jeff Sweet along with Stephanie DiMaggio and Adam Rapp.

Feb. 22 thru March 4 - 'Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson'

Wagner College Main Stage - tickets $25 to $32

Directed by James Barry (original cast member)

Music direction by Carl Haan (WCT's "Avenue Q" and "Legally Blonde")

Who would imagine that the founding of the Democratic Party and America's seventh president would be the subject of a rock musical? With "Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson," that is exactly what is brought to raucous, comedic life. This 2009 show (music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, book by Alex Timbers), which had a successful run at The Public Theater before moving to Broadway, is an exhilarating and brash take on one of our nation's founding "rock stars."

March 1-4 - 'The Dance Project 2018'

Stage One studio theater - tickets $10

Directed and choreographed by Rusty Curcio (WCT's "La Cage aux Folles" and "Iolanthe")

Live music by Lauri Young (WCT's "Nine" and "Titanic")

Original choreography and music will be featured in a collaboration between Wagner Head of Dance Rusty Curcio and Musical Director Lauri Young. This year's "Dance Project" will be an exploration of the universal human conditions of grief, guilt, redemption, adversity, hope and the many paths to spirituality.

March 26 - Wagner College Theatre 2018 Senior Showcase

Playwrights Horizons (416 W. 42nd St.) - 6 to 7:30 p.m. - limited seating available, reservations required - FREE

Directed by Tony Award-winner and WCT professor Michele Pawk, with music direction by Wendy Cavett

This annual spring-semester event features the Performance Class of 2018 performing for invited agents, managers, casting directors, producers, musical directors and industry professionals in New York City.

April 19-29 - 'Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical'

Wagner College Main Stage - tickets $25 to $32

Music by Galt MacDermot, lyrics and book by James Rado and Gerome Ragni

Directed by Darren Lee ("The King and I," "Seussical")

Music direction by David Sisco (WCT's "La Cage aux Folles")

"Hair" celebrates the 50th anniversary of its Broadway premiere and the Sixties counterculture in all its barefoot, long-haired, bell-bottomed and fringed glory. To an infectiously energetic rock beat (with music by Staten Island's own Galt MacDermot), the show features popular anthems like "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," "Good Morning, Starshine" and the title anthem. "Hair" reminds us of such ideals as peace, love and acceptance - and what it means to be young and believe you can change the world.

May 14 - Wagner College Theatre 50th Anniversary Gala

Main Hall and Sutter Oval, Wagner College - 6 to 10 p.m. - tickets $125 (or $100 early-bird price if purchased before April 1st)

Co-hosted by award-winning co-stars of Broadway's "Seussical" Michele Pawk (WCT faculty member) and Janine LaManna '88 (WCT alumna)


The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception on the Sutter Oval in front of Main Hall, followed by a 7:30 p.m. Main Stage program.

Oct. 3 - Lecture on American musical theater by theater historian John Kenrick

Wagner College Main Stage - 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. - FREE

Oct. 4-14 - 'Wagnificent! A 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Wagner College Department of Theatre and Speech'

Wagner College Main Stage - tickets $25 to $32

Written and directed by Drew ScottA. Harris (WCT's "Titanic" and "The Most Happy Fella")

Music direction by Lauri Young

Choreographed by Carissa Bellando '02 (WCT's "1776" and "Nine")

The 2018-19 Main Stage season kicks off with an original revue celebrating the Wagner College Theatre Department's 50 years of musicals and plays. Written and directed by Drew ScottA. Harris, a guest director/choreographer for WCT since 1981.

Oct. 5-7 - WCT Reunion Weekend

Wagner College Theatre alums are encouraged to attend weekend performances of "Wagnificent!" on Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. There will be workshops hosted by WCT alums in addition to receptions with cast and crew following performances.

Throughout October - Wagner College Theatre Design/Tech Major Designer Showcase

Horrmann Library's Spotlight Gallery

Curated by department technical director Brian T. Sharron and DTM student Vanessa Rebeil '20, featuring work by students, faculty and alumni.

For further information on Wagner College Theatre's 50th anniversary events, call 718-420-4036.