Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The kids of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ are still friends 70 years later

Al Roker interviews the kids of "It's a Wonderful Life."
It’s been 70 years since the release of Frank Capra’s classic Christmas film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” in which a man named George Bailey sees what his town would have been like without him. At a museum dedicated to the film, TODAY’s Al Roker sat down with the three actors who played Bailey’s children, who are still friends today. Watch the December 19, 2016 Today Show interview.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Santino Fontana Stars in New Indie Flick

Santino Fontana
The Tony nominee and Frozen voice actor adds Impossible Monsters to his resume.

According to Playbill, actor Santino Fontana, whose most recent screen role found him in Rachel Bloom’s hit Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, just wrapped filming the psychological thriller, Impossible Monsters.

Fontana plays Dr. Rich Freeman, a psychology professor conducting an extreme sleep study. When one of the research participants is found dead, Freeman becomes a suspect.

This marks Fontana’s first leading film gig. The actor earned a Tony nomination in 2013 for his performance as Topher (a.k.a. The Prince) in Cinderella opposite Laura Osnes. He has also originated roles in Billy Elliot The Musical, the 2011 revival of The Importance of Being Earnest, and Act One.

Fontana also voiced Prince Hans in the smash Disney movie Frozen. He recently departed The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. According to IMDB, he has another movie, Galileo, which recently wrapped filming and is set for a 2017 release.

Fontana was a 2000 Donna Reed Festival acting scholarship finalist.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Donna Reed Scholarship alumna opens in West Coast production of "Merrily We Roll Along"

Saycon Sengbloh

College Park, GA native has starring role in Stephen Sodheim musical

Broadway veteran Saycon Sengbloh, a 1996 Donna Reed Foundation national scholarship winner, is now in Los Angeles, starring in the Michael Arden-directed production of Stephen Sodheim’s masterwork Merrily We Roll Along. It runs November 23 - December 18 in the Bram Goldsmith Theater at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Calif.

This rarely staged Stephen Sondheim musical travels backwards in time to navigate the bumpy history among three friends - Franklin, Charlie and Mary - who begin their careers in show business together. The powerful and moving story, based on the Kaufman and Hart play, features some of Sondheim’s most beautiful songs including "Good Thing Going," "Our Time" and "Not a Day Goes By"

Sengbloh is an award-winning actress whose performance as Wife Number One in Eclipsed earned her an Obie Award and Drama Desk Award, and Tony nomination on Broadway. Sengbloh plays Nora in the upcoming feature film Double Play by Ernest Dickerson. Sengbloh also has starred in the Broadway productions of Holler If Ya Hear Me, Motown the Musical, Fela!, Wicked, Aida, The Color Purple, Hair and the RENT tour. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Free screenings of "It's a Wonderful Life" at the Donna Reed Theater, December 11

See It's a Wonderful Life as it was meant to be viewed – on the big screen.
On Sunday, December 11, the classic holiday movie, starring Denison native Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart, will be shown twice – at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Donna Reed Theatre. Free admission.

Bedford Falls display returns.

A miniature replica of Bedford Falls returns to the front window of the Donna Reed Heritage Museum for a winter showing. The HO scale replica was built by model building enthusiast from the Quad Cities area and was displayed for several years by the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center in Davenport, Ia. before being donated to the Donna Reed Foundation.

Expanded museum exhibit on the making of It's a Wonderful Life opens. 
Stepping inside the museum, you will find an expanded exhibit featuring a variety of items from the Donna Reed Collection relating to the making of the movie. It includes a letter to pen pal Violet Lindsey mentioning the upcoming filming of the movie; daily call sheets detailing the daily shoot schedule; daily production reports tracking expenses and progress of the filming of a various scenes; Donna Reed's invitation to a screening of the movie from director Frank Capra; and the review of the movie which appeared in Variety. Of particular interest are photos of the new snow-making process developed especially for this film that replaced the practice of using painted cornflakes for falling snow.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Jared Grimes touring with “Carefree - Dancin’ With Fred & Ginger”

Hayley Podschun and Jared Grimes

2001 Donna Reed Foundation national scholarship recipient in dance.

"Carefree — Dancin' With Fred & Ginger" is a musical revue paying tribute to songs and style of Astaire and his co-star in a host of classic Hollywood musicals, Ginger Rogers. It includes such Gershwin classics as "Slap That Bass," but also songs by Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and others.

"We pay homage to Fred and Ginger," explains the show's leading man, Jared Grimes. "My character is a reflection of characters Fred would play in his movies — a guy who's looking to dance, release his frustrations and partner with a beautiful lady. We reinvent what he did and replicate what he did. We say 'Fred would have done this,' then try to do it. It's a wild ride down Memory Lane."

Grimes has toured with Mariah Carey and worked with Gregory Hines, Ben Vereen and Jerry Lewis. He was the associate choreographer for the Tupac Shakur musical "Holler if Ya Hear Me" and did an acclaimed "Singing in the Rain" routine in the 2015 "New York Spring Spectacular" at Radio City Music Hall. Before stepping into the shoes of Fred Astaire in "Carefree," Grimes won a 2014 Fred and Adele Astaire Award for outstanding male dancer.

Read story

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Donna Reed Festival alumnus to star in forthcoming independent film

Santino Fontana

Santino Fontana was acting finalist in 2000

Santino Fontana, the Tony-nominated Broadway actor who can currently be seen in The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, stars in the forthcoming independent film Galileo, according to

Galileo, according to the industry website, “follows an arrogant heir to a Mexican fast-food franchise that goes hunting for the next culinary big thing. He soon finds himself in a small New Mexican town, where foodies come from all over to salivate over the culinary treats of a local and feisty female chef."

Fontana has been seen on Broadway in Sunday in the Park with George, Billy Elliot: the Musical, Brighton Beach Memoirs, A View from the Bridge, The Importance of Being Earnest, Cinderella (Tony nomination) and Act One.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Donna Reed scholarship finalist now appearing in two hit shows

Mekia Cox

Mekia Cox plays roles of a strong, independent woman

Mekia Cox is becoming one of the best known actresses in Hollywood. She currently stars in two hit shows—ABC’s Secrets and Lies and NBC’s Chicago Med—and rocks each role like a pro. Although the roles are pretty different, it allows us to see Mekia in a different light each time. She has a great depth of talent and it is a pleasure to see her in different roles each week. Read the complete TVGrapline article.

Cox was a 1999 Donna Reed scholarship finalist in musical theater from Orlando, Florida.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Donna Reed Scholarship Alumnus To Recur In Season 3 Of TV Land Comedy Series

Ben Rappaport    -Associated Press

Ben Rappaport, 2004 Donna Reed Scholarship national finalist in acting

Ben Rappaport (Mr. Robot) has been cast in a recurring role opposite Molly Bernard on Season 3 of Darren Star’s TV Land comedy series Younger.
He’ll play medical intern Max Horowitz, a new love interest for Lauren Heller (Molly Bernard). Max and Lauren went to camp together as kids, and when they run into each other in a bar, they start to rekindle their friendship and develop into something more. Ben will first appear in the third episode of the season, “Last Days of Books”, which airs Wednesday, October 12. Season 3 premieres on September 28.
Rappaport can currently be seen in the second season of USA’s breakout series Mr. Robot recurring as Ollie Parker. He previously recurred for two seasons on The Good Wife and starred in the NBC comedy Outsourced. He is co-starring on Broadway inFiddler on the Roof and will soon appear in Landing Up, a film he also co-produced.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Donna Reed Scholarship alumna joins cast of 'Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 8 - Journey's End'

Kari Wahlgren

Kari Wahlgren, popular voiceover artist

If you are a “Minecraft: Story Mode” gamer, watch for Mevia, the enforcer. You will be hearing the voice of Kari Wahlgren, a 1995 Donna Reed Foundation National Scholar (acting/vocal) from Hoisington, KS.

Journey's End” is the eighth “Story Mode” episode, and the final announced episode thus far. It follows 'Access Denied' (review here), but this time out, Jesse and party seem to be on the cusp of finding their way home.

In Episode 8: 'A Journey's End', with Harper leading them to the world of the Old Builders, Jesse and crew finally have their chance to return home... but it won't be easy, and the stakes are high. You'll need to take on opponents in a series of gladiatorial games to win your freedom, save your friends, and maybe, just maybe, make it back to your own world!

The September 13th launch date included PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon, and even Windows Store.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Donna Reed Foundation Sponsors Tri-City BBQ Costume Contest

Come strut your stuff!

Look ridiculous and win prizes at the 2nd ever BBQ Costume Contest! Get creative and dress up as your favorite meat, animal or anything else BBQ related and you could win! All ages!
PRIZES: 1st- $100 in BBQ Bucks; 2nd- $50 in BBQ Bucks; 3rd- $25 in BBQ Bucks; ALL runners up - $5 in BBQ Bucks
The silliness goes down Sat., Sept. 17th at the Reisz Construction FREE streetside stage at 3:15pm, hosted by the Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts.
Check out the full event schedule at:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Billy McGuigan Returns to Denison With New Show

Rave On: The Buddy Holly Experience reinvents the ordinary tribute show with an electrifying, high-energy, rock n’ roll extravaganza featuring America’s premier Buddy Holly interpreter, Billy McGuigan! 

If you missed him at the Omaha Playhouse in June, you can catch him in October at the Donna Reed Theatre in Denison, Iowa.

Billy McGuigan as Buddy Holly

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Jared Grimes to choreograph Signature Theatre's “Jelly's Last Jam”

Jared Grimes, choreographer

2014 Astaire Award winner for Outstanding Male Performer in a Broadway show

Jared Grimes, 2001 Donna Reed Foundation national scholarship recipient in dance, will bring a dazzling, high-energy choreography to the Arlington, Virginia's Signature Theatre in its upcoming production of Jelly's Last Jam.

Jelly’s Last Jam, according to the Signature, “tells the story of one of jazz music’s pioneers with a jazz, blues, and ragtime score based on Jelly Roll Morton’s original music. Journey from the back alleys of New Orleans to the dance halls of Chicago to the stages of New York with ’he who drinks from the vine of syncopation’ in a sizzling memoir of pride, lust and a past denied.”

Grimes has danced alongside legends such as Wynton Marsalis Gregory Hines, Ben Vereen, Jerry Lewis, Fayard Nicholas and also performed for Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy at the Kennedy Center.

At age 30, he was named outstanding male dancer in a Broadway show at the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards in New York. He won for his tap dancing in the Cotton Club-era musical revue, After Midnight.

Grimes made his choreography debut in Cirque Du Soleil's, Banana Shpeel off-broadway, choreographed commercials for Chilis and also assisted choreography with Kristin Denehy for Macy's popular Kids Bop commercial.

"Shuffle Along" Tony nominee Brandon Victor Dixon joins Broadway's "Hamilton"

Brandon Victor Dixon

1999 Donna Reed scholarship finalist in musical theater cast as new Aaron Burr

Two-time Tony Award nominee Brandon Victor Dixon (Shuffle Along) will join the cast of Broadway's Hamilton in mid-August, replacing Tony winner Leslie Odom Jr.

Dixon was nominated last season for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Shuffle Along, and was previously nominated for Best Featured Actor for the original production of the The Color Purple. The stage star previously acted in Motown and the Off Broadway production of The Scottsboro Boys.

In addition to winning the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Hamilton won 11 Tony Awards this year, including the evening's biggest prize, Best Musical. The show's creator Lin-Manuel Miranda took home two prizes himself for both Book and Score, while his costar Leslie Odom Jr. bested him in the Leading Actor category.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Brandon Victor Dixon nominated for Tony Award

Brandon Victor Dixon

1999 Donna Reed scholarship finalist in musical theater

Brandon Victor Dixon, a 1999 Donna Reed scholarship finalist in musical theater, has been nominated for a 2016 Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical. Dixon is currently starring as Eubie Blake in Shuffle Along on Broadway. The production received 10 nominations including Best Musical.

Dixon is known for creating the Broadway roles of Harpo in The Color Purple (2005) receiving a Tony Award nomination, and Berry Gordy Jr. in Motown: The Musical (2013) receiving a Grammy nomination. In London's West End, he played the role of Hayward Patterson in The Scottsboro Boys

His television credits include "The Good Wife," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," and "One Life to Live."

The Tony Awards will be broadcast live from the Beacon Theatre in New York City on Sunday, June 12 at 8:00 p.m. EDT on CBS.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Donna Reed Scholarship alumna nominated for Tony Award

Saycon Sengbloh

College Park, GA native has starring role in Eclipsed

Saycon Sengbloh has been nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play. She was a 1996 Donna Reed Foundation national scholarship winner in acting and musical theater.

Eclipsed has been making history ever since it debuted on Broadway this year. Now, the cast and crew are up for six Tony Award nominations.

Penned by Zimbabwean-American actress, playwright and star of The Walking Dead, Danai Gurira, it tells the story of five women during the Liberian civil war.

Other nominations include Best Play, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play (Lupita Nyong’o), Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play (Pascale Armand), Best Costume Design of a Play (Clint Ramos) and Best Direction of a Play (Liesl Tommy).

The 70th Annual Tony Awards are set to take place Sunday, June 12th, at the Beacon Theater in New York City. They’ll be televised on CBS.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

"Disney's The Lion King KIDS" Is Coming To Denison, IA

This summer's production.

The award-winning musical that has captivated audiences around the world comes to life during June workshop.

This summer's Children's Musical Theater workshop production is the popular “Disney's Lion King KIDS.” 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. The workshop runs from June 13 – 17 and concludes with a performance for the public on Saturday, June 18. All events will take place at the high school, 819 North 16th St in Denison.

Since its meager beginning in 2004, this popular workshop has blossomed under the direction of Allison Rasmussen, a Manilla native and an instructional coach at Waverly-Shell Rock Community Schools. This is the tenth year she has volunteered to head this workshop production. She is assisted by a dedicated team, including former students who have aged out of the program. All give a week of their time to help stage the production.

Even local grandparents have discovered a benefit. By enrolling their grandchildren in the program, they get to spend quality time with them during the week of the workshop.

Workshop information and tuition rates can be found by downloading our registration form, by calling 712.263.3334 or by stopping at the Donna Reed Foundation office, 1305 Broadway, Denison, IA.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Little Boyer Blues Society teams with The Donna Reed Foundation

Rock Legends graphic

Unique concert to rock Donna Reed Theater

The Donna Reed Foundation and the Little Boyer Blues Society are bringing Billy McGuigan, a tribute band from Omaha, Nebraska, to the Donna Reed Theater in Denison, to perform the Rock Legends show at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 30.

Rock Legends is a customized show – part rock concert and part rock tribute. Audience members are given the opportunity to pick the songs and music they want to hear through music personality tests prior to the show.

The show features rock and roll of the 1950s, the psychedelic sounds of the 1960s, as well as music from the 1970s and 1980s.

Tickets cost $30 for seating on the main floor, $25 for seating in the lower balcony section and $15 for seating in the upper balcony section. Tickets may be purchased at the Donna Reed Foundation office, by calling 712-263-3334 or by e-mail at The Donna Reed Theater is located at 1305 Broadway in uptown Denison, Iowa. 

Money raised by the concert will go toward the maintenance and operation of the Donna Reed Theater building.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Jared Grimes Appears on Stephen Colbert's “Late Show”

Jared Grimes

Donna Reed Foundation national scholar performs with Wynton Marsalis

Jared Grimes teamed up with Wynton Marsalis and Lil Buck for a recent appearance on the late night show, performing “Petite Site (for Savion) Movement II.” It was part of their promotion of Marsalis' “Spaces” performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, where he is artistic director.

Grimes, who was a 2001 Donna Reed Foundation scholarship recipient in dance, performed in last year's Radio City Music Hall production of "The New York Spring Spectacular," a show that featured the famed Rockettes.

Grimes was named outstanding male dancer in a Broadway show at the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards in New York in 2014. He won for his tap dancing in the Cotton Club-era musical revue, “After Midnight.” He then performed in the Tony Awards broadcast.

Read the New York Times review
Read Dance Magazine blog comments
Watch the “Late Show” performance

Thursday, March 31, 2016

2003 Donna Reed Scholarship Alumnus to appear on NCIS (CBS)

Michael Weatherly and Ben Giroux (Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS)

Ben Giroux to appear as “Tiny Tony.”

Ben Giroux will appear in an episode of “NCIS” (CBS) on Tuesday, April 5. Look for him in "Charades," episode 20 of season 13.

Multiple perpetrators steal Tony's (Michael Weatherly) identity and begin blackmailing senators as fake Special Agent DiNozzos. The real DiNozzo tracks the identity hackers down and finds quite the odd couple - a "Tall Tony" and a "Tiny Tony."

Ben Giroux will guest star as the shorter Tony and Adam Mayfield will play the taller Tony. 

Giroux, originally from Phoenix, AZ, was the 2003 Donna Reed Foundation National Scholarship recipient in Acting.

Monday, February 29, 2016

"An Evening With Mark Twain" Comes to Denison, IA

Jim Waddell as Mark Twain

Performance part of Donna Reed Foundation's "American Icon Series"

One of America’s most beloved storytellers, Mark Twain, comes to the Donna Reed Theater in Denison, Iowa at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 12th, in the person of JimWaddell from Hannibal, Missouri.

Waddell has portrayed Twain for over 30 years in the author’s boyhood hometown, weaving yarns first spun by the creator of some of our most treasured literature.

“We are truly fortunate to have Mr. Waddell in Denison to portray Mark Twain,” said Tim Tracy, coordinator of the Donna Reed Foundation’s “American Icon Series. “To see his show you would have to travel to the Mark Twain Cave's, Cave Hollow Complex in Hannibal, Missouri where he performs daily. This will be a rare performance for Jim outside of Hannibal.”

Tickets for “An Evening With Mark Twain” are $20.00 and can be obtained by calling the Donna Reed Theater in Denison, Iowa at 712-263-3334 or by e-mail at Student tickets are available for $5.00 each. The Donna Reed Theater is located at 1305 Broadway in uptown Denison, Iowa.  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tonic Sol Fa returns to Denison IA

Talented a cappella group will appear at Donna Reed Theatre

TonicSol Fa, a popular Minnesota-based a cappella group, will appear at the Donna Reed Theatre in Denison, Ia on Friday, April 8 for a 7:30 performance. Postponed from Friday, March 4.

The trio has established itself as the most in-demand vocal group in the Midwest and one of the most successful independent acts in America. The group has toured extensively throughout the US and abroad. In addition, CD sales of its own independent releases has passed the two million mark.

The group reached national prominence with appearances on NBC’s Today Show and in Newsweek magazine. Along the way, they shared the stage with a number of recognizable performers including Jay Leno, Jeff Foxworthy and Lonestar, and were recently part of Garrison Keillor’s 30th Anniversary celebration of A Prairie Home Companion. 

General admission tickets for the 7:30 pm performance are $20 for adults and $15 for under 18 years of age. They can be obtained by calling the Donna Reed Theater in Denison, Iowa at 712-263-3334 or by e-mail at The Donna Reed Theater is located at 1305 Broadway in uptown Denison, Iowa.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Happy Birthday, Donna!

Donna Reed on the set of The Donna Reed Show.

Donna Reed Foundation invites you to help us celebrate

Monday, January 25, 2016 5:00 - 7:00 pm CST
6:00 pm - Special screening of This Is Your Life
Donna Reed Theater
1305 Broadway
, Denison, IA 51442

Please join us on Monday, January 25, 2016 between 5:00 - 7:00 pm for an open house birthday reception for Donna Reed at the Donna Reed Center for the Performing Arts in Denison, Iowa.

Stop by for light refreshments and a special screening of the half-hour long television show,
This Is Your Life which aired March 26, 1958.

The show, hosted by Ralph Edwards, surprised Donna with guests that included her parents and siblings, her best friend from high school, her high school chemistry teacher and her one-room schoolhouse teacher.

For our out-of-town friends and fans, please help grow our birthday card collection for Donna Reed with any favorite memories you have for her, her films/shows, encounters, and experiences with anything Donna (including participation in her Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts workshops, events, scholarships, parades, etc - anything is welcome!)

You can send greetings to the Donna Reed Foundation, 1305 Broadway, Denison, IA 51442 or email contact us at our special birthday email address. Excerpts and cards may be displayed at this or future celebrations.

Monday, January 11, 2016

“Living Rushmore” Brings Four “Presidents” to Denison on January 30th at 7:00 pm

Four nationally accomplished Presidential historians together on stage as Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt

Living Rushmore cast at Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Spend an evening with four of our most be-loved Presidents the weekend before Iowans meet in the Iowa Caucuses to support their favorite candidate for the next President!
“Living Rushmore” will feature four of the most nationally accomplished presidential impersonators together on one stage, giving their views on our democracy and the presidency. 

This presentation has only been done a handful of times across the country and this will be the first time ever in Iowa. It's part of our 2015-2016 American Icon Series. 

Fritz Klein, from the Lincoln Institute in Springfield, Illinois, appears as Abraham Lincoln. Klein bears a striking physical resemblance to Lincoln. He blends Lincoln’s humor with his great humanity. You are guaranteed to walk away with a genuine sense that you have been with Lincoln himself. 

Bill Barker has portrayed Thomas Jefferson in a variety of venues since his first appearance at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1984. He continues to appear as Jefferson for Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the world's living history museum in Williamsburg, Virginia. 

Gib Young from Huntington, Indiana, is a member of the Theodore Roosevelt Association. A fortuitous meeting with Fritz Klein, our Lincoln interpreter, convinced Young to become a professional interpreter himself. Besides the physical resemblance to Theodore Roosevelt – circa 1915 – he has been able to develop the voice and movements of his subject to a high degree. 

Carl Closs from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, is a former educator and senior business executive who has dedicated his retirement toward helping children and adults discover George Washington. He is a serious scholar and lively speaker who delights audiences with little-known, instructive and entertaining Washington facts that parallel the challenges and situations we face today.

Tickets for the 7:00 pm performance of “Living Rushmore” are $20.00 and can be obtained by calling the Donna Reed Theater in Denison, Iowa at 712-263-3334 or by e-mail at The Donna Reed Theater is located at 1305 Broadway in uptown Denison, Iowa. For more information, visit our website at 

Download - The American Icon Series 2015-2016 Brochure - Adobe PDF