Saturday, December 8, 2018

Blumhouse Finally Hires a Woman Director: Sophia Takal’s All-Female Horror Movie

Sophia Takal

Addition to Hulu's "Into the Dark" series brings a new all-female horror movie to a national audience.

With all the horror movies Blumhouse has released, they’ve never had a female director for a horror film. Until now. Sophia Takal, director of the amazing indie horror film Always Shine, will become the first female Blumhouse director with New Year New You, a feature-length entry in the Blumhouse/Hulu anthology series, Into the Dark. The 85-minute feature will premiere on Hulu on December 28.

The plot centers on a group of old high school friends who reunite in a house for New Year’s Eve, where they’re forced to confront traumas from their past.

Takal’s previous features have followed the traditional route of arriving on the festival circuit and searching for distribution. “Green,” in which Takal starred opposite her husband Lawrence Michael Levine, premiered at SXSW in 2011; “Always Shine,” a tense thriller starring Mackenzie Davis and Catlin FitzGerald premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016.

Takal was a Donna Reed National Scholarship finalist in acting in 2003.

Close Shave! Check Out Santino Fontana as Dorothy Michaels in Tootsie

Santino Fontana

New Dorothy has Donna Reed Foundation connection

Tootsie, the new musical based on the acclaimed 1982 film comedy classic starring Dustin Hoffman, is heading to the Great White Way this spring. The story follows talented but difficult actor Michael Dorsey, played by Tony nominee Santino Fontana, who struggles to find work until an audacious, desperate stunt lands him the role of a lifetime. Enjoy the fun shot above. The production is scheduled to open on Broadway on April 23, 2019, at the Marquis Theatre.

Best known for his role as (original) Greg on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Fontana is a Tony-nominated theater actor, for his performance in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Fontana was a Donna Reed Scholarship national finalist in 2000.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Memorial service for casting director Eddie Foy III

Eddie Foy III

Set for December 13 at Donna Reed Theatre

A celebration of the life of Eddie Foy III will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 13, at the Donna Reed Theater in Denison. Foy’s life will be celebrated through videos and photo montages set to music. Everyone is invited.

Foy, an award-winning Hollywood casting director, who worked on such classic series as Happy Days, Cheers, M*A*S*H and The Monkees, and was a third-generation member of the legendary Foy show business clan, died November 3 from a fall at his home in Denison, IA. He was 83.

We loved him because of his connection with “The Donna Reed Show,” which starred the Denison native by the same name. His work for the Donna Reed Foundation will be sorely missed.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” to be screened with Spanish subtitles

Sunday, December 16 at 3 p.m. at Donna Reed Theatre

Every December for the last 20 years or so, the Donna Reed Center for Performing Arts in Denison has hosted a free screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the 1946 holiday classic that features the theater’s famous namesake.

Over those same 20 years, Denison has changed. Hispanic immigrants have arrived, initially drawn to jobs at the meatpacking plants, and now make up almost half of the western Iowa town’s population of 8,500.

So this year, for the first time, the theater is hosting a screening of the Christmas movie with Spanish subtitles at 3 p.m.on Dec. 16. The movie will be screened at 7 p.m. without subtitles. Folks can see “Que bello es vivir” or “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Read the entire Des Moines Register article.

From Kansas to Los Angeles - Talking with Voice Actress Kari Wahlgren

Kari Wahlgren

An interview by Taimur Dar, Digital Media Producer and Marketing Expert for the Beat.

One of the most prolific talents in the animation industry, Kari Wahlgren has worked on some of the biggest properties not only dubbing anime but Western animation as well such as Marvel and DC Comics animation, Ricky and Morty on Adult Swim, and so much more. Much like Clark Kent, Wahlgren has certainly come a long way from her humble town in Kansas. Read about her voiceover journey and delve into some of her past projects and roles in this interview. Plus learn about her decidedly unique take on the classic character Tinker Bell in possibly one of the craziest interpretations of the Peter Pan story.

Walgren is a University of Kansas graduate and a 1995 Donna Reed Foundation National Scholar (acting/vocal) from Hoisington, KS.
Read the entire interview.

King Kong Stomps onto Broadway

Kristen Faith Oei

Kristen Faith Oei is part of cast

The highly anticipated Broadway premiere of King Kong opened November 8 at the Broadway Theatre. Kristen Faith Oei, is a swing for the production. A swing is a member of the company who understudies several chorus and/or dancing roles.

King Kong follows a young actress (Pitts) and a maverick filmmaker (Morris) as they voyage from the bustling streets of 1930s New York to an uncharted island to capture the greatest wonder the world has ever seen. At the center of the stage show is a 20-foot high, 2,000-pound gorilla brought to life by a team of seamlessly integrated artists and technicians.
Watch highlights from King Kong

Jared Grimes to star in Swing Kids

Jared Grimes

Film to be released on December 19, 2018

Jared Grimes will star in an upcoming South Korean film based on the Korean musical Rho Ki-soo, directed by Kang Hyeong-cheol. Joining him will be Do Kyung-soo, Park Hye-su, Oh Jung-se and Kim Min-Ho.

The film takes place in Geoje prison camp during the Korean War in 1951. Ro Ki-soo (Do Kyung-soo), a rebellious North Korean soldier, falls in love with tap dancing after meeting Jackson (Jared Grimes), an officer from Broadway. Roh Ki-soo then joins Jackson's produced dance group. Kang Byung-sam (Oh Jung-se) dances with the wind in hopes of finding his wife, Xiao Fang (Kim Min-Ho), a Chinese soldier who was born with a talent in dancing but cannot dance for more than a minute due to Angina. Yang Pan-rae (Park Hye-su) completes the group who makes money through dancing.
Watch the trailer.

Amanda Seales Lands Her Own HBO Stand-Up Comedy Special

Amanda Seales

Hour-long special Amanda Seales: I Be Knowin’ to air sometime in 2019

Comedian Amanda Seales (Insecure) will make her stand-up debut in the hour-long special Amanda Seales: I Be Knowin’.

A series regular as Tiffany on Insecure, Amanda Seales is currently touring with Smart Funny & Black, the live comedic competition show she created. A former MTV VJ with a master’s degree in African-American studies from Columbia University, she has guest-starred on Black-ish; written, produced and starred in two seasons of her scripted web comedy series Get Your Life; and hosts her weekly podcast, Small Doses.

Seales was a 1999 recipient of a Donna Reed National Scholarship in acting.

Brandon Victor Dixon cast in Fox's Rent Live

Brandon Victor Dixon

Upcoming live television event will air January 27, 2019

Brandon Victor Dixon, along with Jordan Fisher, Vanessa Hudgens, and RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Valentina are among the names announced for Fox's 2019 live production of Rent.

Set to air January 27, 2019, Rent will feature Kiersey Clemons (Hearts Beat Loud) as Joanne, Dixon (Hamilton, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert) as Tom Collins, Fisher (Hamilton) as Mark, and Hudgens (High School Musical, Gigi, Grease: Live) as Maureen, with Brennin Hunt (Nashville) as Roger, Mario (Empire) as Benjamin, recording artist Tinashe (Dancing With the Stars) as Mimi, and Valentina as Angel. Tony nominee Keala Settle will also be part of the production, singing the solo from "Seasons of Love."

After the success of its live musicals Grease! Live and A Christmas Story, Fox now brings the Pulitzer Prize-winning Jonathan Larson musical to television audiences.

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

Broadway's Kiss Me, Kate Finds Its Complete Cast

Preston Truman Boyd

Ensemble includes 2004 Donna Reed Scholarship winner

Roundabout Theatre Company's 2019 Broadway revival of the musical comedy Kiss Me, Kate has found its complete cast. The 1948 musical comedy from Cole Porter will feature an updated libretto by Tony-nominated composer-lyricist Amanda Green.

Preston Boyd, originally from Moorhead, MN, will be a member of the ensemble. He recently starred in Broadway’s The Play That Goes Wrong, was cast in Jersey Boys as Bob Gaudio on its first national broadway tour, and played the role of the Monster in the first national tour of Young Frankenstein the Musical by Mel Brooks.

Boyd was the recipient of both the Donna Reed National Vocal Scholarship and the Donna Reed National Musical Theatre Scholarship in 2004.

Jose Luaces appearing in Regional Production

Jose Luaces

A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas opened November 29th

Flat Rock Playhouse in Flat Rock North Carolina launched the premiere production of A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas in 2017 and broke box office records for a seasonal production. Featuring favorite holiday songs, spectacular dance numbers, and sublime vocals, A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas had audiences a-ring-ting-tingle-ing for more.

Jose Luaces, a 2003 Donna Reed National Scholarship finalist in musical theatre, appears in this year's production. It will journey through iconic holiday scenes, including the streets of a bustling city and a wintry wonderland. Interspersed with festive musical numbers and jovial scenes, this production will also celebrate the serene beauty of classic songs such as "O Holy Night" and "White Christmas".

A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas will run on the MainStage from November 29th to December 22nd.

Brandon Victor Dixon, Tina Fey, John Gallagher Jr., and More Tapped for Modern Love Series

Brandon Victor Dixon

A new anthology series from Amazon

A host of Broadway alums are set to appear in Modern Love, the new anthology series from Amazon Studios. Based on the well-known New York Times column and weekly podcast, the eight-episode series will feature Hamilton and Shuffle Along star and Emmy nominee Brandon Victor Dixon, Oscar winner Anne Hathaway (Ocean’s Eight), Mean Girls creator and Emmy winner Tina Fey (30 Rock), Tony Award winner John Gallagher, Jr. (The Newsroom), and Emmy nominee John Slattery, recently seen on Broadway in The Front Page.

Each half-hour episode of Modern Love looks at love in its varied forms. The show is currently in production in New York.

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


Saycon Sengbloh

Broadway divas Saycon Sengbloh and LaChanze are teaming up in 2019 for the Off-Broadway musical version of The Secret Life of Bees. Performances will begin May 12, 2019 at the Atlantic Theatre Company before an official opening on June 13.
According to PLAYBILL, Sengbloh (Eclipsed, Hair) will star as Rosaleen, a Black caretaker who embarks on a pursuit with the young Lily, played by Elizabeth Teeter, to uncover the mystery of Lily’s mother’s death against the backdrop of 1960s South Carolina. LaChanze will play beekeeper August Boatwright along with Eisa Davis (Kings) as June, Manoel Felciano as T-Ray, Brett Gray as Zach and Anastacia McCleskey as May.

The Secret Life of Bees is based on the 2001 Sue Monk Kidd’s novel of the same name. It was turned into a major motion picture in 2008 starring Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keyes, Dakota Fanning and Sophie Okonedo.

Sengbloh was the 1966 recipient of a Donna Reed Acting and Musical Theatre scholarship.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Point Park's Conservatory Dance Co. Opens Season Oct. 11

Mark Burrell

Work by Mark Burrell, 1997 Donna Reed Scholarship Recipient in Dance, to be featured

Point Park University's Conservatory Dance Company opens its bold 2018 - 2019 season with Contemporary Choreographers, a diverse selection of pieces from four renowned choreographers who stretch the boundaries of dance. One of the contemporary selections featured is "Dancin' in the Dark" by Mark Burrell.

Burrell, a 1997 Donna Reed Scholarship recipient in dance, is an assistant professor of dance at Point Park University in Pittsburg. He has performed on Broadway and internationally. He has served as associate and assistant choreographer of several Broadway shows, in addition to holding positions as dance captain and swing. His body of work weaves in and out of the commercial and concert dance worlds. He was part of the international touring company of PIPPIN, and was the assistant choreographer for Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular for 11 years.

Fall in Love Again with Paul Gordon's EMMA Now Streaming On-Demand

Adam Daveline

2000 Donna Reed Scholarship Alumnus, Adam Daveline, part of cast

EMMA, a TIMELESS love story from one of the most widely read writers of all time, is a musical that will entice modern audiences to fall in love again with one of Jane Austen's most adored heroines.

Tony Nominee Paul Gordon's critically acclaimed stage adaptation re-imagines Austen's classic in mid-century modern while keeping the language fans have come to adore intact.

Daveline, a native of Jacksonville, FL, holds an MFA in Acting from the University of San Diego/Old Globe and a BFA in Musical Theater from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, writer, and director who has created productions both on film and on stage.

Broadway-Bound Tootsie Musical Opens in Chicago

Santino Fontana and Dustin Hoffman

Musical stars 2000 Donna Reed Festival scholarship finalist Santino Fontana

The best moment in “Tootsie,” which opened its pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago on September 30, is not when the remarkable Santino Fontana first appears in a dress as Dorothy, the ill-advised creation of an out-of-work actor turned by the relentless cruelty of a rejection-heavy biz into a two-bit, Midtown version of Dr. Frankenstein. It is when Fontana first opens his mouth to sing.

The musical adaptation of Tootsie, features a score by The Band’s Visit Tony winner David Yazbek and book by Robert Horn. It opened its pre-Broadway engagement at Broadway in Chicago’s Cadillac Theatre September 30. Performances continue through October 14.

2003 Donna Reed Scholarship Alumnus to appear in Peter Pan and Tinker Bell - A Pirate's Christmas

Ben Giroux

Ben Giroux joins cast as Smee

Ben Giroux will join the holiday spectacular Peter Pan and Tinker Bell - A Pirate's Christmas presented by Tennessee Performing Arts Center and the Lythgoe Family Panto December 13-23 in TPAC's James K. Polk Theater. 

Giroux, star of Nickelodeon's Henry Danger, has appeared in numerous productions for Lythgoe Family Panto.

Filled with big laughs, magic, dancers and contemporary songs by everyone from Taylor Swift to The Bee Gees, this family show has a little bit of something for everyone.

The star-led production blends fairy tales, comedy, the holidays, dancing, contemporary songs, and local and regional references to create an unforgettable theater experience.

Ben Gunderson to appear in all-new Cole Porter musical Anything Goes.

Ben Gunderson

2005 Donna Reed Foundation National Award Recipient in Musical Theater plays role of Purser

Casting is now complete for Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater's upcoming production of the classic Cole Porter musical Anything Goes, which will be presented November 2–December 23 on the Fichandler Stage. Artistic Director Molly Smith directs.

"I’m excited to be tackling this musical,” shares Smith. “Although this musical was written in the 1930s, the cast is representative of America right now. Expect to experience the best and wildest tap dancing you’ve ever seen in the Fichandler and a string of brilliant comics singing their hearts out in classic Cole Porter style. Joined by a wonderful creative team who are taking this on with all the glamour and verve of the ’30s, we will bring this classic musical into the current moment.”

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

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 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.