Thursday, July 23, 2020

The blog of the Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts has moved to a new location. You will now find us on the Foundation’s site at

This site will no longer be updated but will remain as an archive of our past posts.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Paul Petersen reflects on recording “My Dad”

A Father’s Day Tribute

Paul Petersen is best remembered as Jeff Stone, the son on The Donna Reed Show. It was on The Donna Reed Show in 1962 when Petersen sang “My Dad” to his on-screen father, Alex Stone, played by Carl Betz. “My Dad” was released later in 1962 on the Colpix label, reaching #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Petersen penned the following reflection for Father’s Day.

Among those things of which I am most proud is the single episode of The Donna Reed Show called “My Dad.” It is tops among my performance life in television. This single episode is consistently voted in the Top 100 single episodes in television history. That’s why it’s in The Television Hall of Fame. It struck a chord in America when it was first broadcast on October 25th, 1962 and you’d have to be made of stone not to be touched by its straight-forward unapologetic sincerity to this very day.

"My Dad" was not a spontaneous act of creation captured on film. The song was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, arranged by Stu Phillips, recorded and re-recorded for its presentation on a carefully written family show. It was seamlessly lip-synced for a variety of camera angles over a two-hour period with an hour out for lunch. Scores of people behind the lens made it happen, and they all knew what they were doing, from Donna Reed and Shelley Fabares to the property master and cinematographer.

Spencer Tracy had a viewpoint he shared with Sidney Poitier that says it all when it comes to acting. “Don’t let anybody catch you at it.”

"My Dad" was then and is now greater than the sum of its parts. This Father’s Day classic continues to capture people’s hearts and moves them to share its impact. I hope the lyrics reach deep into your soul. Take the time to watch the “My Dad” episode on YouTube. Write to me. I collect these tales. Happy Father’s Day.” -Paul Petersen

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Children's Musical Theatre Workshop Canceled

Workshop falls victim to COVID-19

The Donna Reed Foundation has made the very difficult decision to cancel this summer’s Children’s Musical Theatre workshop. “During this time of uncertainty, the health and safety of our students, their families, our volunteer staff, and audience members is our top concern,” said Pat Fleshner of the Donna Reed Foundation. “We are disappointed we will not be bringing a popular theatre experience to the community this summer but we are looking forward to offering an exciting adventure next year.”

This summer will be the first that The Donna Reed Foundation hasn’t staged a Children’s Musical Theatre workshop and production since the program was established in 2007. This year’s workshop production, Disney’s The Aristocats KIDS, will be held over for next year’s program.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

We have a new look.

We’re excited 

to announce that The Donna Reed Foundation's new and refreshed website is live. The update provides a stronger sense of who we are, what we do, and why we do it.

It also features a modern design, improved functionality, and easy access to essential information. Visit our Website here.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

NBC to Re-Air Emmy-Winning Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert

Brandon Victor Dixon
sings role of Judas

Cast includes Donna Reed Scholarship alumnus 

NBC's Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, which aired live from Brooklyn on April 1, 2018, will be rebroadcast on the network Easter Sunday, April 12 at 7 p.m. EDT/6 p.m. CDT.

The cast includes Brandon Victor Dixon singing the role of Judas. Dixon was a 1999 Donna Reed scholarship finalist in musical theatre. He 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.

As a producer, Dixon's revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch won the 2014 Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for best revival of a musical.

The Donna Reed Heritage Museum remains closed.

The Donna Reed Heritage Museum remains closed through Thursday, April 30 to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Like you, we are concerned about the health and safety of everyone during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. We will continue to monitor and follow the advice of the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control regarding a date to reopen.

Take care of yourselves, your communities and your information intake—make sure you’re following verified sources to help separate findings from feelings.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Big Show Show Season 1: Production Complete

Ben Giroux
2003 Donna Reed Scholar

Cast include Donna Reed Alumnus Ben Giroux

The Big Show Show is all about the heavyweight WWE star Paul Wight aka Big Show. The story revolves around the WWE star and his teenage daughter who comes home to live with him, along with his wife and other two daughters. Giroux is cast as Coach Fener.

Giroux, from Phoenix, AZ, was a 2003 Donna Reed Scholarship recipient in Acting. On camera, he recurs as The Toddler on Nickelodeon’s “Henry Danger”, Superintendent Bonavich on Disney’s “Coop & Cami Ask The World”, Little Zach on the CW’s “Hart of Dixie”, and the Dark Warrior on Disney’s “Mighty Med”.
Read his bio.

Aretha Franklin Biopic ‘Respect’ Wraps Production

Saycon Sengbloh
1966 Donna Reed Scholar

Cast includes Donna Reed Alumnus Saycon Sengbloh

Respect (to not be confused with Nat Geo’s upcoming Genius: Aretha sequence starring Cynthia Erivo) follows Franklin’s life from singing in her father’s church, to turning into one of the vital iconic figures within the music trade. The MGM biopic is ready to launch in theaters on October 9, 2020.

Sengbloh was a 1966 Donna Reed scholarship winner in Acting and Musical Theatre. She has starred in a number of Broadway musicals. Her breakthrough came in 2015, when she was cast in Eclipsed, a play about five Liberian women and their tale of survival near the end of the Second Liberian Civil War.

Come From Away Celebrates Three Years on Broadway

De'Lon Grant
2002 Donna Reed Scholarship finalist

Cast includes Donna Reed Scholar De’Lon Grant

The Broadway production of the international hit musical Come From Away recently celebrated three years on Broadway. The musical, which tells the true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the Newfoundland town that welcomed them in the immediate aftermath of September 11, officially opened on Broadway March 12, 2017.

Grant, from Duluth, MN, was a 2002 Donna Reed Scholarship finalist in acting. He has appeared in a touring production of "Jersey Boys," and a production of "The Scottsboro Boys," where he played leader Haywood Patterson.

Final Casting Announced for OTHER WORLDS at Bucks County Playhouse

Kristen Faith Oei
1999 Donna Reed Scholar
Kristen Faith Oei will appear in the world premiere production of the new musical-comedy adventure, "Other World." The musical, which celebrates the ability to find heroes in unexpected places, begins performances at the Playhouse on March 13 and run through April 11 with an official opening night on March 28.

Oei, a Fremont, Calif. native, and 1999 Donna Reed Foundation National Award recipient in Dance, most recently appeared in the Broadway production of “Spiderman:Turn Off The Dark”, understudying chorus and dance roles.

‘Black No More’ musical to premiere Off-Broadway

Brandon Victor Dixon
1999 Donna Reed Finalist

Cast includes Donna Reed Scholarship Alumnus 

Brandon Victor Dixon will appear in a modern musical adaptation of “Black No More,” a 1931 novel by George S. Schuyler satirizing race relations and a symbol of the Harlem Renaissance. It will receive its world premiere in the fall in an Off-Broadway production by the New Group. It will have a book by Oscar winner John Ridley( “Twelve Years a Slave”) and choreography by Tony winner Bill T. Jones (“Spring Awakening”). The cast will also include Jennifer Damiano (“Next to Normal”) and Theo Stockman (“Hair”).

Dixon, from Gaithersburg, Maryland, was a 1999 Donna Reed Scholarship finalist in Musical Theatre.

Santino Fontana Comes to Bay Area Cabaret

Santino Fontana
2000 Donna Reed Acting Finalist

Versatile star with Donna Reed Scholarship ties

Tony winner Santino Fontana will make his San Francisco concert debut at the Venetian Room of the Fairmont Hotel May 10. 

Santino Fontana won the 2019 Tony Award for his performance as "Michael Dorsey"/"Dorothy Michaels" in Tootsie, and a Tony nomination for his leading role as "Prince Topher" in Cinderella.

Fontana, from Richland, WA, was a 2000 Donna Reed Scholarship finalist in acting.

Read full Broadway World article

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Save The Date

We've picked the production!

Children's Musical Theatre Workshop
Grades K - 8
June 15 - 20, 2020
Denison, Iowa

Mark your calendar for a musical workshop that's
guaranteed to satisfy your acting interests

Sponsored by the Donna Reed Foundation
Registration forms in April

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Watch “Les Miz” Tour Preston Truman Boyd's Performance of 'Stars'

Preston Truman Boyd
2004 Donna Reed Scholar
Vocal and Musical Theatre

Donna Reed Award Recipient

Preston Truman Boyd is currently on the road playing Inspector Javert on the national tour of Les Misérables. The production recently closed a three-day run at the Orpheum Theatre in Omaha the latter part of January.

Boyd’s Broadway credits include Kiss Me, Kate, The Play That Goes Wrong, Sunset Boulevard, She Loves Me, One the Twentieth Century, Bullets Over Broadway and Big Fish.

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

Read the article and watch his performance of “Stars.”

Signature Theatre’s “A Chorus Line” Earns 9 Helen Hayes Award Nominations

Ben Gunderson
2005 Scholar  - Musical Theatre

Donna Reed Scholarship recipient among nominees

Signature Theatre’s A Chorus Line received nine Helen Hayes Award nominations, including Outstanding Musical, Direction, and Ensemble, in the Hayes category (for predominantly Equity productions).

Ben Gunderson (2005 Donna Reed National Award Recipient in Musical Theater) is nominated as a member of the best-ensemble nominee “A Chorus Line” by Signature Theatre. He is originally from Moorhead, MN.

Helen Hayes Awards recognizing excellence in theater in the Washington, D.C., area.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Charles Fuller's "A Soldier’s Play" Opens on Broadway January 21

Jared Grimes
2001 Donna Reed Scholarship in Dance

Cast includes Donna Reed Scholarship Recipient

Roundabout Theatre Company celebrates the official opening of A Soldier's Play, Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, on Broadway January 21. A Soldier's Play follows an officer's race against his white leadership to unravel the crime of a black sergeant's murder. A hair-raising mystery set in 1944, the play is seen on Broadway for the first time.

Included in the cast is Jared Grimes who is cast as “Private Tony Smalls.” Grimes was a 2001 Donna Reed national scholarship recipient in dance. He made his choreography debut in Cirque Du Soleil's, Banana Shpeel off-broadway, He 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.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

“The Rookie” Adds Once Upon a Time’s Mekia Cox

Mekia Cox
1999 Donna Reed Scholarship finalist

1999 Donna Reed Scholarship finalist - Musical Theatre

Once Upon a Time princess Mekia Cox is returning to ABC. Cox, whose additional TV credits include Chicago Med, Secrets and Lies, Impastor and 90210, will play Nyla Harper, an LAPD detective who after four years of undercover work practically misplaced herself. Now, Nyla is hoping to seek out normalcy once more as she takes on the function of John Nolan’s new coaching officer.