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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Ben Giroux Goes 'Back to the '80s' in Viral Video Sequel

Ben Giroux and Jensen Reed

Phoenix native was 2003 Donna Reed Foundation National Acting Award Recipient

Ben Giroux and Jensen Reed took the internet by storm with their music video “Back to the '90s” in 2017.

Now the duo has gone back even farther. Their sequel, “Back to the '80s,” takes viewers on a trip to the decade of tight pants and crazy hairstyles. The video involves numerous movie sets and took nearly two years to complete. It was released last week.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Jared Grimes puts a spin on the classic ’42nd Street’

Jared Grimes

Choreographer is Donna Reed scholarship alumnus

The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minn. is staging a reinvented version of the Broadway classic “42nd Street.” This Ordway Original production with choreography by Jared Grimes was previously produced at Chicago's Drury Lane Theatre and garnered rave reviews. Performances begin on July 23 and continue for 24 performances through Aug. 11.

Grimes was a 2001 Donna Reed national scholarship recipient in dance. He went on to become an Astaire Award-winning dancer and tap and hip-hop/street jazz choreographer, performing alongside legends such as Wynton Marsalis and Gregory Hines.

Grimes has extensive stage experience including such Broadway productions as “After Midnight” and “Holler If You Hear Me” and the Radio City Music Hall production of “The New York Spring Spectacular.”

Friday, June 28, 2019

Zachary Levi, Jeff Tomsic, Teaming On New Line’s ‘Spy Guys’

Jeff Tomsic, Cedar Rapids, Ia.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa native to direct

New Line Cinema has lined up Zachary Levi to star in Spy Guys, and it has just set Jeff Tomsic to direct the script by Adam Sztykiel. That puts the action comedy on a fast track to get the movie made before Levi reprises in the Shazam! sequel, which New Line is also percolating.

Tomsic made his directorial debut last year on the New Line comedy Tag, and cut his teeth on the Comedy Central series Broad City and Idiotsitter, on which he is executive producer.

Tomsic was a 1995 Iowa Donna Reed Scholarship recipient in film.

Ben Gunderson appearing in “Blackbeard”

Ben Gunderson, Moorhead, MN

World premiere commissioned by Signature Theatre

Ben Gunderson, a 2005 Donna Reed Foundation National Award Recipient in Musical Theater, is part of a hilarious, wildly original, and immersively staged production of a fresh musical salute to the Seven Seas.

Gunderson, who plays the role of Gerrick/Maynard, is one of ten people in the cast who play about 60 roles between them.

Gunderson's previous productions include Grand Hotel (Signature), Anything Goes (Arena Stage), Camelot (Shakespeare Theatre Company), The Pajama Game (Arena Stage), Still Life with Rocket (Theater Alliance), Les Miserables (Broadway), Les Miserables (25th Anniversary Tour), A Time For Singing (York Theatre) and Fiddler on the Roof (Engman Theater).
Read the Washington Post review

Donna Reed Scholarship alumnus appearing in Regional Production

Jose Luaces

Jose Luaces as Emilio Estefan in ON YOUR FEET!

“On Your Feet!,” a musical based on the life and music of the seven-time Grammy-winning Latin pop sensation Gloria Estefan and her producer-musician husband Emilio Estefan, opened May 30 at Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, NY. 

Luaces was most recently seen nationally in A Christmas Story Live. His New York City credits include: A Christmas Story (Broadway), Bliss (workshop), Big Fish (Workshop), All That Glitters (Workshop), Plaid Tidings (York Theatre), Venus Flytrap, and I Am Harvey Milk. Tours include 101 Dalmatians, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Fiddler on the Roof, Reel to Real (China, Edinburgh). Luaces' favorite regional appearances include: Rudy in Cuba Libre (A.R.T.) Sparky in Forever Plaid (New Theatre), Seussical (The Muny), Chino in West Side Story (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), Jacob in La Cage Aux Folles (Forestburgh Playhouse) and Spamalot and Altar Boyz (Actors Playhouse).

Luaces was a 2003 Donna Reed National Scholarship finalist in musical theatre from Miami, FL.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

“Saving Brinton” to play at the Donna Reed Theatre

Mike Zahs, Washington, Iowa

Film is an endearing, affectionate documentary

When an eccentric small-town collector discovers the showreels of the man who brought moving pictures to the Heartland, he begins a journey to restore the legacy of America’s greatest barnstorming movieman and save these irreplaceable cinematic treasures from turning to dust.

Director/editor Tommy Haines, director/producer Andrew Sherburne and director of photography John Richard set themselves to chronicling Mike Zah’s discoveries. Their efforts became the film, “Saving Brinton.”

Join Zahs and Sherburne for the screening of “Saving Brinton” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 18, at the Donna Reed Theatre in Denison. Tickets are $5.

Read the LA Times review

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Donna Reed Scholarship Alumnus accepted to prestigious SITI workshop

Sean Naughton
Sean Naughton, a graduate teaching assistant in the theater department at Ohio State University, has been accepted to the Saratoga International Theater Institute Company Summer Intensive with Anne Bogart and her company.

Sixty artists are invited to take part in an intensive workshop that includes rigorous, physical work, theoretical research, and the generation and performance of new work by each participant. The program’s objective is to develop courageous theater artists who are able to integrate new influences from many disciplines into their work. The curriculum is designed for pre-professional and professional artists.

The Saratoga International Theater Institute (also known as SITI) is an ensemble-based theater company whose three ongoing components are the creation of new work, the training of young theater artists, and a commitment to international collaboration.

Naughton is a 2000 Donna Reed Scholarship Acting Award recipient.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

It Takes a Whole Comic Store to Bring Up a Robin

Ben Giroux

Donna Reed Acting Award alumnus in new film

Ben Giroux is the new voice of Robin, Damian Wayne, in the new Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. He has previously voiced roles in Nickelodeon’s Bunsen is a Beast, Loud House, The Adventures of Kid Danger, and Amazon’s Rocky and Bullwinkle.

He grew up Phoenix, spending time in the comic store owned by his parents, Alan and Marsha Giroux, All About Books and Comics, at Central Avenue and Camelback Road, a comic store still going strong and still run by his folks.

Giroux is a 2003 Donna Reed National Acting Award recipient.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Amanda Seales Touring in Smart, Funny and Black

Amanda Seales

Game Show Creator is Donna Reed Scholarship Alumna

Frustrated with the constant negative images of black people in media, unchecked appropriation, and the overall lack of education in African American history, (I mean, how did we not know about the, “Hidden Figures” women!?), Amanda Seales decided to use her humor, her Master’s degree in African American Studies, from Columbia University, and her love of games and music, to create a game show that serves as a safe space for the Black voice, and celebrates the many contributions Black Americans have made to history, pop culture and more!

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

Blumhouse Is Remaking Black Christmas

Sophia Takal

Director is a Donna Reed Scholarship alumna In the past year, many classic horror projects, such as IT, Suspiria and Pet Sematary, have been remade by Hollywood, and this trend doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. Next week, Child’s Play will get the same treatment and it’s now been announced that Blumhouse Productions have answered the call to reimagine of the 1974 cult-classic Black Christmas. The new Black Christmas will be directed by Sophia Takal, who previously helmed the 2016 thriller Always Shine and a segment of Hulu’s Into the Dark series titled New Year, New You. Takal co-wrote the script with April Wolfe, per Slash Film. Takel was a Donna Reed National Scholarship finalist in acting in 2003.

New Musical Adaptation of The Secret Life of Bees Opens Off-Broadway

Saycon Sengbloh

World-premiere musical features Donna Reed Scholarship alumna 

The Atlantic Theater Company’s world-premiere musical adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s best-selling novel The Secret Life of Bees officially opens Off-Broadway June 13 following previews that began May 12. The production will run through Sunday, July 21, at the Linda Gross Theater.

The production stars Donna Reed Scholarship alumna and Tony nominee Saycon Sengbloh (Eclipsed, Hair) as Rosaleen and Elizabeth Teeter (The Audience, The Crucible) as Lily.

Set against the backdrop of 1960s South Carolina, the story follows the journey of Rosaleen, a Black caregiver who is beaten and jailed for asserting her right to vote, and the young Lily, a restless teenager haunted by her mother's death.

Sengbloh was the 1996 recipient of a Donna Reed Acting and Musical Theatre scholarship.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Donna Reed Festival alumnus wins Tony Award

Santino Fontana as Tootsie

Recipient was 2000 Donna Reed Festival scholarship finalist

Santino Fontana has won the 2019 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in Tootsie. He received the award June 9.

Tootsie is a musical comedy that tells the story of a talented but volatile actor whose reputation for being difficult forces him to adopt a new identity as a woman in order to land a job. Rolling Stone magazine called Fontana’s role “one of the best performances ever seen on a musical stage.”

Fontana was nominated for the same award in 2013 for his role as Prince Topher in Broadway’s Cinderella. Beyond Broadway, Fontana voiced the role of Prince Hans in the Walt Disney movie Frozen and played Greg Serrano in the hit television series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Fontana is a graduate of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program, a partnership with the world-renowned Guthrie Theater.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Musical Theatre Registration Forms Now Available

Children's Musical Theatre Workshop
17 - 22 June 2019

This fun-filled week is designed to teach the basics of musical theatre to kids in grades K-8 who love singing, dancing, and challenges. The workshop concludes with a performance on Saturday, June 22 of the popular musical, Willy Wonka KIDS.

Grades K-2 with parent/guardian
June 17-21: 9:30-11:30 am
June 22: performance on Saturday at 2:30 pm
Tuition: $60 (fee increases to $70 after June 1)
Includes free production t-shirt and two performance tickets

Grades 3-8
June 17-21: 9:30-12:30 am
June 22: performance on Saturday at 2:30 pm
Tuition: $100 (fee increases to $110 after June 1)
Includes free production t-shirt and two performance tickets

Get a registration form.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A Workshop Opportunity for kids

Children's Musical Theatre Workshop
17 - 22 June 2019
Laurel Olsen - Denison Community Schools


This fun-filled week is designed to teach the basics of musical theatre to kids in grades K-8 who love singing, dancing, and challenges. The workshop runs from June 17-21, 2019, and concludes with a performance on Saturday, June 22. All events will take place at the Denison High School, 819 North 16th Street in Denison, Iowa. This year's production is the popular musical, Willy Wonka KIDS.

Since its meager beginning in 2004, this popular workshop has developed a strong tradition of educational fun for all involved. Even local grandparents have discovered a wonderful benefit. They can spend a week of quality time with their grandchildren by inviting them for a visit and enrolling them in the workshop.

The workshop will be under the direction of Laurel Olsen, a language arts instructor at Denison Community High School. She has produced/directed plays and musicals in Denison for the past 15 years including the community musicals Annie, Shrek, 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.

Grades K-2 with parent/guardian:
June 17-21: 9:30-11:30 am
June 22: performance on Saturday at 2:30 pm
Tuition: $60 (fee increases to $70 after June 1)
Includes free production t-shirt and two performance tickets

Grades 3-8
June 17-21: 9:30-12:30 am
June 22: performance on Saturday at 2:30 pm
Tuition: $100 (fee increases to $110 after June 1)
Includes free production t-shirt and two performance tickets

Additional workshop information and release forms can be found on our online registration form (English), online registration form (Spanish) or by calling 712.263.3334 or by stopping at the Donna Reed Foundation office, 1305 Broadway, Denison, Iowa

Friday, March 1, 2019

Save The Date

We've picked the production!

Children's Musical Theatre Workshop
Grades K - 8
June 17 - 22, 2019
Denison, Iowa

Mark your calendar for a scrumdidilyumptious musical workshop guaranteed to delight everyone's acting sweet tooth.

Sponsored by The Donna Reed Foundation

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Fox goes Bohemian with premiere of RENT LIVE January 27

Brandon Victor Dixon

Cast includes Donna Reed Alumnus

Brandon Victor Dixon, a 1999 Donna Reed scholarship finalist in musical theater, will appear in the role of Tom Collins on FOX's live television adaptation of “Rent” which airs January 27, 2019 at 10/9c.

Dixon, who played Tom Collins in the 2011 Off-Broadway revival of “Rent,” is best known for his performances in the original Broadway companies of The Color Purple, Motown, and Shuffle Along, and as the first Aaron Burr replacement in Broadway’s Hamilton. Earlier this year, TV audiences discovered just how talented he is when he turned in an Emmy-nominated performance as Judas Iscariot in NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, alongside Sara Bareilles and John Legend.

The groundbreaking, Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical is a re-imagining of Puccini's "La Boheme," and set in New York City's gritty East Village. "Rent" tells the unforgettable story of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams during a time of great social and political turmoil.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Jared Grimes joins cast of NBC series "Manifest"

Jared Grimes as Adrian

Recurring role as Adrian

Jared Grimes, 2001 Donna Reed Foundation national scholarship recipient in dance, has joined the cast of the NBC series “Manifest” in a recurring role.

His first appearance was in last week’s mid-season premiere, “Crosswinds,” and he will next appear in the Feb. 4 episode. He plays Adrian, an entrepreneur whose life was disrupted by the events that set the series in motion. Now, he is trying to make sense of things. The show revolves around the crew and passengers of a plane that disappeared under mysterious circumstances for five years.

Grimes has previously appeared on such shows as “Boardwalk Empire” and “Fringe,” and has extensive stage experience including such Broadway productions as “After Midnight” and “Holler If You Hear Me” and the Radio City Music Hall production of “The New York Spring Spectacular.”