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Friday, September 7, 2018

Brandon Victor Dixon and Deborah Cox Will Perform at U.S. Open Finals

Brandon Victor Dixon

Both artists will offer a rendition of “America the Beautiful.”


Singer-songwriter Deborah Cox (Jekyll & Hyde, Aida) and Tony-nominated actor Brandon Victor Dixon (The Color Purple, Hamilton, Jesus Christ Superstar Live!) will perform “America the Beautiful” prior to, respectively, the women and men’s U.S. Open Finals on September 8 and 9.

Cox will also perform “I’m Every Woman,” and Dixon will sing “We Are the Champions” as a celebration of the female and male champions of the past 50 years of the U.S. Open in Flushing, New York.

Dixon was a 1999 Donna Reed scholarship finalist in musical theatre.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Play That Goes Wrong is extended on Broadway

Preston Truman Boyd

2004 Donna Reed Scholar stars in production

Broadway’s The Play That Goes Wrong, starry Preston Truman Boyd, will stick around for longer than previously announced. Despite posting an August 26 closing notice, the comedy is now scheduled to play the Lyceum Theatre through January 6, 2019.

By then, the production—currently the longest-running play on Broadway—will have played 27 previews and 745 regular performances. A national tour will launch in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in September.

Boyd was a 2004 Donna Reed Scholarship recipient in both Vocal Music and Musical Theatre.

Read the entire article

Monday, July 2, 2018

Brandon Victor Dixon Joins NBC's MACY'S 4th Of July Fireworks Spectacular

Brandon Victor Dixon

1999 Donna Reed scholarship finalist in musical theatre

American Authors and Brandon Victor Dixon join the incredible slate of performers for NBC's annual "Macy's 4th of JulyFireworks® Spectacular," which airs Wednesday, July 4 (8-10 p.m. ET/PT) with an hourlong encore presentation at 10 p.m. Dixon will be joined by the iconic Harlem Gospel Choir for a rendition of the patriotic "America the Beautiful."

American Authors and Dixon join the previously announced acts, including Kelly Clarkson, Ricky Martin, Blake Shelton and Keith Urban, whose performance will feature hitmaker Julia Michaels for a song during his set.

Monday, June 25, 2018

'Tag' director comes home to Cedar Rapids for movie debut

Jeff Tomsic was 1995 Iowa Donna Reed Scholarship recipient in film


Jeff Tomsic was born in Chicago but raised in Cedar Rapids. He was back in town for the debut of his first major motion picture-- one he just happened to direct.

The Washington High School graduate is behind the new movie "Tag." Tomsic made it into the big dance at Sundance with a short film in 2011. This month, he waltzed into the big leagues.

“Tag,” his feature film directing debut, opened third at the box office, raking in $14.6 million — more than half of its $28 million price tag — in its first weekend.

The comedy is based on a true story about a group of friends who've stayed together into adulthood by playing tag every year.

Children’s Musical Theatre Workshop Wraps Up with production of Disney’s The Jungle Book, KIDS

Director Laurel Olsen works with students on the set
of The Jungle Book, KIDS. -photo by Dan Mundt.

Six days, 52 kids, one great musical production

The curtain closed on another successful musical theatre workshop for kids on Saturday, June 16 with a performance of Disney’s The Jungle Book, KIDS. Director Laurel Olsen, along with a volunteer production crew of 15, worked with students in kindergarten through eighth grade. In six days they were able to learn dialogue, musical numbers, and choreography, as well as experiencing how a musical production is put together.

This was the 14th year for this popular workshop sponsored by The Donna Reed Foundation.

Read Dan Mundt’s article in the Dension Review.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

"TAG" Directed By Former Donna Reed Scholarship recipient

Jeff Tomsic

Jeff Tomsic was 1995 Iowa Scholarship recipient in film

Every summer, there is no shortage of new films to blow audiences away at theaters -- and blow away records at the box office. This year, director Jeff Tomsic has a new Warner Bros. movie in the mix.

Tag is based on a true story that was featured in The Wall Street Journal about a group of friends who have been playing a no-holds-barred version of the children’s game Tag for the last 30 years.

Mark Steilen and Rob McKittrick penned the script.

See more of his work.

Jared Grimes featured in video for Joey Alexander's Take on "Moment's Notice,"

Jared Grimes

Grimes is 2001 Donna Reed scholarship recipient in dance

If you happened to be wandering the streets of upper Manhattan one night this winter, you could have stumbled onto a video shoot for pianist Joey Alexander.

The video — for a version of “Moment’s Notice,” by John Coltrane — features an interpretive performance by dancer Jared Grimes, with Joey and a boombox on the sidelines.

The director is Yas Rowan, who has worked on several of Joey’s previous videos. He came up with the premise for the shoot after considering a suggestion from Joey’s father and manager, Denny Sila. “I knew all we needed was the right dancer, and the right location, after that everything would come together, and it did,” Rowan says. “Jared was a no-brainer. He had the right style, the right look, and he had the talent. He was perfect. He liked the piece, he wasn't intimidated by the idea of improvising, and he was very excited about the whole project.”

Grimes has choreographed the musical Holler If You Hear Me with Kenny Leon, 42nd Street at Drury Lane Chicago with Michael Heitzman, and The Scottsboro Boys with Joe Calarco at the Signature Theater in DC.

Read the WBGO article and watch the video

The Play That Goes Wrong to close on Broadway

Preston Truman Boyd

Donna Reed Scholar in production


The Play That Goes Wrong, a comedy about an amateur production of a murder mystery that goes hopelessly awry, will end its run at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre August 26. The Olivier-winning comedy, which began in a pub as a U.K. fringe production, currently stars Preston Truman Boyd, a 2004 Donna Reed Scholarship recipient in both Vocal Music and Musical Theatre.

The production officially opened on Broadway April 2, 2017, following previews that began March 9. At the time of its closing, the play will have played 27 preview performances and 585 regular performances.

A national tour will launch in September in Pittsburgh. Casting and a full itinerary, which will also include a five-week stint at Center Theatre Group's Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, will be announced at a later time.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Actress Mekia Cox talks about Once Upon a Time

Mekia Cox as Tiana/Sabine
 in  ONCE UPON A TIME

1999 Donna Reed Scholarship finalist in musical theatre

In ONCE UPON A TIME, now in its seventh and final season on ABC Friday nights, the action has moved from the enchanted town of Storybrooke, Maine, to the somewhat more modern environs of Seattle, Washington State. Mekia Cox has joined the cast for this last year as aspiring food truck entrepreneur Sabine. Due to a curse, Sabine doesn’t realize that she is really Princess Tiana (the first African-American Disney princess, originally introduced in the animated film THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG), nor that her best friend and business partner Jacinda is really the likewise bewitched Cinderella.

Cox is also a regular on NBC’s CHICAGO MED. Her character Robin Charles was in a coma at the beginning of the season, which helped allow her to schedule her ONCE UPON A TIME work.

The actress, born in the U.S. Virgin Islands and raised in Florida, has also been in stage tours of the musicals FAME and SMOKY JOE’S CAFÉ. Cox’s other TV and film credits include 90210, UNDERCOVERS, MOB CITY, KEY & PEELE, CRAZY STUPID LOVE, GOTHAM and SECRETS AND LIES.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Watch Brandon Victor Dixon Sing 'Superstar' from Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert

1999 Donna Reed scholarship finalist in musical theater


We're less than a week away from NBC's epic presentation of Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. The Easter Sunday concert staging of the Broadway hit will feature a star-packed cast led by John Legend, Sara Bareilles and Alice Cooper. Two-time Tony nominee Brandon Victor Dixon will lend his strong vocals to the powerful role of Judas, singing Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's showstopping "Superstar." NBC has offered up a sneak peek of Dixon's take on the rollicking number, backed by the super-talented Choir! Choir! Choir! Watch below and don't forget to tune in on April 1.



Thursday, March 22, 2018

Popular Children's Musical Theatre Workshop Returns to Denison, Iowa

Workshop runs June 11-15, 2018 with production for public on Saturday, June 16.


It's a fun-filled week designed to teach the basics of musical theater to kids in grades K-8 who love singing, dancing and challenges. All events will take place at the high school, 819 North 16th St in Denison, IA. This year's production is the popular The Jungle Book KIDS. 

Since its meager beginning in 2004, the workshop has developed a strong tradition of educational fun for all involved. This year’s workshop will be under the direction of Laurel Olsen, a language arts instruction at Denison Community High School. She has been producing/directing plays and musicals in Denison for the past 15 years, including the community musicals AnnieShrek, and The Wizard of Oz. She has also taught dance, judged speech and theatre competitions, and served as technical director and choreographer for past Children’s Musical Theatre Workshops sponsored by The Donna Reed Foundation.

Even local grandparents have discovered a wonderful benefit of the workshop. It’s an opportunity to spend a week of quality time with their grandchildren by inviting them for a visit and enrolling them in the workshop.

Grades K-2 (With parent/guardian)
June 11-15, 9:30-11:30
Tuition: $60 (Fee increases to $70 after June 1)
Includes free production t-shirt and two performance tickets

Grades 3-8
June 11-15, 9:30-12:30
Tuition: $100 (Fee increases to $110 after June 1)
Includes free production t-shirt and two performance tickets

Additional workshop information can be found by downloading and saving our fillable registration form (English)fillable registration form (Spanish), by calling 712.263.3334 or by stopping at the Donna Reed Foundation office, 1305 Broadway, Denison, Iowa.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

"For the People" with Ben Rappaport premieres Tuesday, March 13 on ABC

2004 Donna Reed Scholarship national finalist in acting

Ben Rappaport
Set in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (a.k.a. "The Mother Court"), the new Shondaland series For The People follows six talented young lawyers working on opposite sides of the law and handling the most high-profile and high-stakes federal cases in the country.

These young lawyers will be put to the test both personally and professionally as their lives intersect in and out of America's most prestigious trial court.

Rappaport previously played the role of Todd Dempsy in the NBC sitcom Outsourced, which aired during the 2010–11 television season. The series marked Rappaport's debut acting role on screen.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Donna Reed Scholar De’Lon Grant makes Broadway debut in ‘Come from Away’

De'Lon Grant

2002 scholarship finalist in acting from Duluth, Minnesota


A funny thing happened when De'Lon Grant went to his seventh callback for "Hamilton." The Duluth-bred actor landed his first role on Broadway — but in a different Tony Award-winning musical.
Grant plays Bob and others in "Come from Away," a contemporary piece based on real events in Gander, Newfoundland, in the days following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He replaces original cast member Rodney Hicks, who was diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia — a neurological disorder that has made it impossible for the performer to continue as a professional stage singer.

Grant spent the past few years in a touring production of "Jersey Boys," and last fall settled into Boston for a production of "The Scottsboro Boys," where he played leader Haywood Patterson.

Monday, February 26, 2018

‘Hamilton’ Alum Brandon Victor Dixon Joins NBC’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar Live’

Brandon Victor Dixon

1999 Donna Reed scholarship finalist in musical theater is cast as Judas


Brandon Victor Dixon has been cast as Judas in NBC’s upcoming live staging of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” The production will air Easter Sunday, 7:00 p.m. CST.

Dixon won a Tony in 2014 as a producer of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” which won for Best Revival of a Musical. In 2006 Dixon was nominated for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his role as Harpo in “The Color Purple,” and again in 2016 for his role as Eubie Blake in “Shuffle Along.”

In addition to his Tony nominations, Dixon is known for taking over the role of Aaron Burr in the hit musical “Hamilton” from original star Leslie Odom Jr. Dixon played Burr for nearly a year at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. He currently co-stars on the Starz series “Power” as Terry Silver. His previous screen credits include “The Good Wife” and “The 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors” in December.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Santino Fontana to Step Into Hello, Dolly! on Broadway

Santino Fontana steps into "Hello, Dolly" role.
The Tony Award nominee will temporarily replace Gavin Creel in the role of Cornelius Hackl beginning March 13.


Santino Fontana (2000 Donna Reed Festival acting scholarship finalist) is set to step into Hello, Dolly! on Broadway. The Tony Award nominee will take on the role of Cornelius Hackl beginning March 13, taking over for Tony winner Gavin Creel while he recovers from back surgery.

“Santino’s an amazing performer,” Creel said. “He'll be absolutely wonderful in the part.” An end date for his engagement has not yet been announced.

Fontana was last seen on Broadway in 2014 in Act One. His other Broadway credits include Cinderella, The Importance of Being Earnest, A View From the Bridge, Billy Elliot: The Musical, and Sunday in the Park With George.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

“Once Upon a Time” fairytale drama is ending with season seven.

Mekia Cox

Cast includes 1999 Donna Reed Scholarship finalist


Mekia Cox, a Florida State University graduate and Donna Reed scholar, plays Princess Tiana, the character from the Disney feature The Princess and The Frog. Her role is notable because she is the first black Disney Princess on television. She was initially cast as a recurring role in July amid several new cast additions for the rebooted Season 7. 

Cox burst onto the scene in 2009 as one of the lead dancers on Michael Jackson's concert tour This Is It and the subsequent movie This Is It. Not long after, she was cast as the vivacious DJ Sasha on CW's hit series 90210. From there she worked as a series regular on NBC's Undercovers, as well as TNT's Mob City. Most recently she starred in three primetime shows: TV Land's Impastor, ABC's Secrets and Lies and the NBC hit drama Chicago Med, in which she currently has a recurring role.

Read her rollingout.com interview

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A musical adaptation of the 1982 comedy Tootsie premiers in Chicago this fall before heading to Broadway in spring 2019

Santino Fontana

Musical features 2000 Donna Reed scholarship finalist Santino Fontana


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Santino Fontana will star as struggling actor Michael Dorsey, who auditions for a soap opera as the brassy middle-aged Dorothy Michaels and gets the part. Dustin Hoffman played the part in the 1982 film version of Tootsie, which earned Jessica Lange a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as his love interest, Julie Nichols.

In addition to playing Greg on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend from 2016 to 2017, Fontana provided the voice for Prince Hans in Frozen and has graced the Broadway stage numerous times. He was nominated for a Tony for his role as Prince Topher in the 2013 revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella and appeared in Billy Elliot, Sunday in the Park with George, The Importance of Being Earnest and Brighton Beach Memoirs.

Read the article

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Santino Fontana doing something new

Santino Fontana

2000 Donna Reed Festival acting scholarship finalist adds audio books.


You may know actor Santino Fontana from his performances in My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, or as the voice of Hans in the blockbuster Frozen, or from his many starring roles on Broadway, but he has also become the indelible voice of many a beloved character for audio books.

Since his appearance as a Donna Reed Scholarship finalist in acting, Santino has continued to reinvent himself. His newest adventure is doing voiceover for audio books. Learn more in an interview for Audibile, Inc. Read it here.