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Adam Honoré


Aug. 10, 2021, Norman, OK—As Broadway begins its preparations for a fall reopening after over a year of waiting due to COVID-19 suspensions, several alumni of the Peggy V. Helmerich School of Drama at the University of Oklahoma are preparing to return to work in live theatre in a variety of Broadway productions.

“Broadway, as it re-emerges from the most prolonged blackout of its history, is filled with a combination of uncertainty and the promise of new beginnings,” stated Helmerich School of Drama director Seth Gordon. “And when it does re-emerge, several of these productions will have OU Drama alumni making important contributions.”

The lineup of several alumni working on Broadway, fall 2021, includes:

Adam Honoré, B.F.A. in Drama, with emphasis in Lighting Design ('15), is making his Broadway design debut as the lighting designer for the upcoming comedy production Chicken and Biscuits. Performances begin Sept. 23 at the Circle in the Square Theatre. Honoré is the first OU School of Drama alum to officially head the lighting design of a Broadway production.

Brad Gray, B.F.A. in Drama; with emphasis in Lighting Design (’12), is the moving light programmer for three of Broadway’s hit productions: The Lion King, returning to the Minskoff Theatre on Sept. 14; Jagged Little Pill, with performances starting Sept. 21 at the Broadhurst Theatre; and Moulin Rouge! The Musical, with performances returning on Sept. 24 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

Michael Cole, B.F.A. in Drama, with emphasis in Lighting Design (’11), is the associate lighting designer for Caroline, or Change. The Roundabout Theatre Company revival production has its previews beginning on Oct. 8 at the Studio 54.

Kirk Fitzgerald, B.F.A. in Drama, with emphasis in Lighting Design (’11), is the assistant lighting designer for Mrs. Doubtfire, with performances currently scheduled to resume on Oct. 21 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. Fitzgerald will also be working on the upcoming MJ The Musical, with performances scheduled to begin on Dec. 6 at the Neil Simon Theatre.

Nate Putnam, B.F.A in Drama, with emphasis in Sound Design (’07), is the head of sound for the upcoming Diana: The Musical. With performances beginning Nov. 2 at the Longacre Theatre, Diana: The Musical will premiere as a special presentation on Netflix on Oct. 1, two months ahead of its Broadway debut.

“We are very focused on the future of the American theatre at the Helmerich School of Drama and, clearly, Broadway producers are seeing how our program is turning out students who can help them achieve their goals,” Gordon said.

Zoe Sherinian and young Dalit women


Zoe Sherinian, professor of ethnomusicology and chair of the Division of Musicology, Ethnomusicology, and Music in General Studies at the University of Oklahoma School of Music, was named the recipient of the Best Oklahoma Feature Award for the documentary film Sakthi Vibrations at the deadCenter Film Festival award ceremony, held June 13 in Oklahoma City.

The 21st edition of the annual deadCenter Film Festival, Oklahoma’s largest and most celebrated film festival, featured a record-breaking slate of 180 films from around the world. The winners of each of the 16 categories were chosen by an independent jury of film industry professionals, including highly regarded producers, directors, writers and actors.

Sakthi Vibrations was selected for the Festival because it is a beautifully crafted film with an incredible story and message,” stated Sara Thompson, director of programming at deadCenter Film. “Dr. Zoe Sherinian has done a wonderful job sharing the story of the Sakthi Centre and we were beyond thrilled at the opportunity to share it with our audiences.”

Sherinian’s award-winning ethnomusicological documentary seeks to reveal and analyze the outstanding model used by the Sakthi Folk Cultural Centre for Dalit (outcastes or untouchables) women’s development that integrates folk art performance with social analysis, micro-economic sustainability, leadership and community development.

“We are delighted to congratulate Dr. Zoe Sherinian on the receipt of the Best Oklahoma Feature Award for Documentary Film at deadCenter Film Festival,” said Mary Margaret Holt, dean of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts. “Dr. Sherinian is a respected educator, writer and researcher, and her work to shine a bright light on the Dalits who utilize folk arts, drumming and dancing to transform themselves and the lives of others is of great significance to all in the struggle against caste and gender oppression.” 

The Sakthi Centre, led by two progressive Tamil Catholic nuns, reclaims the devalued parai frame drum (associated with pollution and untouchability) to re-humanize and empower these young women through the physical embodiment of confidence in performance, and renewed cultural identity in a complex campaign against gender, class and caste subjugation.

The film, directed and produced by Sherinian and edited by Jeffrey Palmer, Kiowa filmmaker, OU alumnus and current assistant professor in Cornell University’s Department of Performing and Media Arts, experimentally weaves together interviews, performance and development activities, such as tailoring and basket making, along with footage shot by the students themselves as they actively define their process of growth and contribute to this participatory documentary.

Narrated by the women looking directly into the camera, the film confronts the audience with the reality of their oppressed yet transforming lives, telling their collective story of transformation from their first day struggling to walk and clap in time, to their final public festival and academic graduation from high school.

“My goal is to impact the broader audience with the message that, although caste still exists in India, Dalits are using the folk arts, drumming and dancing to transform and empower themselves, creating hopeful futures and fighting internalized caste and gender oppression,” stated Sherinian, who plans to give all profits from the film back to the Sakthi Centre.

With this film, which has also been accepted to several noteworthy international festivals, including ARTSxSDGS, United Nation’s NGO CSW65 Forum, Paris Ethnografilm Festival, Toronto International Women’s Festival and Bangkok International Documentary Festival (nominated for best music film), Sherinian aims to impact the world of ethnographic filmmaking with an activist participatory, ethnomusicological film that effectively pays attention to sound.

Paul Moore sculpting a piece for the Centennial Land Run Monument



Paul Moore, artist-in-residence, and professor of figurative sculpture at the University of Oklahoma, is the recipient of the nation’s most prestigious award for sculpture in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the art form.

The National Sculpture Society will present Moore its Special Medal of Honor at its annual conference, summer 2021. Throughout the society’s 127-year history, only 45 special honor awards have been given to accomplished artists, architects, historians, and philanthropists. Moore will be the 28th artist to receive this award, joining past recipients such as Daniel Chester French, who created the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and Paul Manship, renowned for his sculpture of Prometheus in New York's Rockefeller Center.

“For decades, Paul Moore has brought our state’s history to life through his breathtaking bronze works of art.” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “At OU, he has immortalized some of our university’s most iconic figures, which will stand sentinel on our campus grounds for generations to come. He is incredibly deserving of this prestigious honor.”

Over the past four decades Moore has produced awe-inspiring bronze sculptures that stand gracefully and thoughtfully in museums; in private, international, and corporate collections; and at universities and memorials around the world.

As OU artist-in-residence, Moore has sculpted many prominent works across the university, including the sculpture of President George Lynn Cross in front of Evans Hall and the Seed Sower statues featured on all three of OU’s campuses.

Outside the university, Moore’s Achievements culminated in the completion of his 20-year masterpiece project, the Oklahoma Centennial Land Run Monument.

The Oklahoma Centennial Land Run Monument was finished in 2019 and commissioned by the State of Oklahoma, the federal government in the City of Oklahoma City, the monument commemorates the 1889 opening of unassigned lands in Oklahoma territory. One of the largest free-standing sculptures in the world, the action-packed composition creates a theatrical sense of drama that depicts the settlers racing across the land, through water, to forge their future on the prairie. The immense scope of work, with spectacular detail, stands 365 feet long with 45 bronze life-and-a-half-size elements in Bricktown in Oklahoma City.

His statues can also be seen throughout the state, including the state capitol. Nationally, his work may be seen in the U.S. Capitol Collection, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Brookgreen Gardens Collection, and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, to name a few.

A fifth-generation Oklahoman, Moore has created an astounding 155 commissions to date honoring Native American people, military and service leaders, great artists, and historic events. His work is in constant demand for portrait and monumental commissions.

Moore began sculpting in high school. His inspiration for Western art derived from a visit to the Western Heritage and Cowboy Museum of Art and the book Bronzes of the American West.

At age 20, he began sculpting professionally. In his early years as a budding artist, he knew working with the process of creating a bronze sculpture would make him a better artist. He worked for foundries in Montana and Santa Fe, New Mexico, to learn the highly technical multifaceted process of taking a clay sculpture and turning it into the final bronze art. This vital knowledge gave Moore the ability to complete many of the steps in-house to create not only a bronze sculpture, but an expensive monument, something very few sculpture artists do.

His heroes were his teachers and they pushed him to excel. American artists that inspired Moore are Chuck Jones, creator of the Warner Bros. Cartoons on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts; Neil Estern; and George Carlson. To honor Jones, Paul created a portrait of Jones with his characters, which now resides in the Smithsonian's permanent collection.

Moore’s studio is part working area and part collection/memorabilia. Located in Norman, Oklahoma, the studio houses some of his award-winning sculptures, including The Buffalo Jump, The Stickball Game, Losing the Topknot and The Ghost Wrestler. There are maquettes, initial sculptures that demonstrate the beginning story; mementos from other famous sculptors; historical relics and a collection of books on American Western art, famous sculptures in history of the American West.

For over 40 years, at times working 14 to 16 hours a day for seven days, Moore strove to complete commissioned pieces. In each bronze sculpture, a surprising amount of human handwork is involved. The process itself involves many painstaking hours sculpting on, under and over a vision, laying on clay, adding texture and dimension, telling this story.

One of Moore's masterpieces is the commissioned monument On the Chisolm Trail. With the dedication and enthusiasm of a master sculptor, Moore worked tirelessly for two years to create the massive and realistic image honoring the spirit of a bygone era. Standing at the entrance of the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, Oklahoma, this impressive work of art stands nearly 15 feet high atop an immense base and stretches 35 feet across. The monument is a tribute to the American cowboy, a pioneer, as Moore is himself; the sculpture is a “relief to fully dimensional” style work of art that has become his trademark.

As artist-in-residence at the OU School of Visual Arts, Moore teaches a course in figurative sculpture. In addition, he connects students to professional artists with similar styles. Moore said, “Having a mentor helps a budding artist tremendously.”

Throughout his career, Moore has won numerous awards, including four Anne Marion Best of Show Awards, four Gold Medals for Sculpture, five Silver Medals for Sculpture, the Stetson Award and two Ray Swanson Memorial Awards at the annual Cowboy Artists of America Show. He also has won the Gold and Silver Medals for Sculpture, the Leonard J. Meiselman Award, the Margaret Hexter Prize, and the Fine Art Connoisseur Award at the Annual National Sculpture Society Exhibition. In 2020 he won the Briscoe Western Art Museum’s Purchase Award and the James Bowie Best-in-Show Sculpture Award.

2019 was a monumental year of recognition for Moore. At the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum's Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition, Moore won the Robert Lougheed Memorial Award for best display of three or more works and the Prix de West 2019 Purchase Award. The Lougheed Award is voted on by other artists in the exhibition. His submission of bronze art included The Procession, Yaqui Deer Dancer, Navajo Country, and The Wood Gatherers. Moore also won the top prize, the Prix de West 2019 Purchase Award, for his bronze The Procession, a large bronze relief of a Pueblo religious Christian procession. This honored sculpture is part of the museum’s permanent collection. In addition, he received the Governor’s Commendation by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt for the completion of the Oklahoma Land Run Monument.

Oklahoma City mayor David Holt designated Feb. 18 as “Paul Moore Day,” a recognition that will continue annually.

Other honors and recognition highlights include an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for his documentary “Paul Moore: Monument Man” that aired on PBS/OETA, and in 2013 he was the recipient of the Oklahoma Governor’s Arts Award.

His current work includes an art altar piece titled The Holy Trinity, composed of polymer, wood and paint.

Not planning to slow down anytime soon, Moore will exhibit new work in four upcoming shows in 2021. In the future, he would like to create a monument honoring the Native Americans’ “Trail of Tears” journey.

Grand sculptures created by Moore have touched the lives of thousands, honored Native Americans, veterans, U.S. residents, and state and national leaders. He has told important stories of historical events.

Jon Young

Jon Young, professor of scenic design in the Helmerich School of Drama at the University of Oklahoma, will be one of 10 theatre professionals, artists and educators inducted into membership at the 2020 National Theatre Conference in early December. 

Young oversees the design and production area for the School of Drama and University Theatre and has been teaching students at OU for 11 years. As a member of the National Theatre Conference, he is one of the distinguished members of the American theatre community who represent both professional and academic theatre institutions, as well as independent artists. NTC members of artists, producers, scholars and innovators are all leaders in their field and dedicated to supporting the future of American Theatre.

Young was recipient of the 2016 Rothbaum Presidential Professor of Excellence in the Arts from the University of Oklahoma and a 2015 recipient of the Gold Medallion from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Young has designed professionally for the Houston Shakespeare Festival, Stages Repertory Theatre, Creed Repertory Theatre, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, Black Hills Playhouse, Unicorn Theatre Late Night Theatre and Coterie Theatre. He has designed over 30 productions for University Theatre dance, drama, opera and musical theater at OU.

Young’s scenic design work was featured in United States Institute for Theatre Technology’s Theatre Design & Technology publications for Stupid F##king Bird at Stages Repertory Theatre, summer 2016 issue; and his design for Sunday In The Park With George and The Odyssey, summer 2012 issue.

His scenic design work for After Juliet was invited to be a part of the World Stage Design 2009 Exhibit in Seoul Korea. You can follow Young’s work at www.youngscenicstudio.com and @youngscenicstudio.

 

Lloyd Cracknell works with Ben Burton on The Nutcracker costumes.

Professor Lloyd Cracknell, (left in photo) associate professor of drama, has been named the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts 2020 Irene and Julian J. Rothbaum Presidential Professor of Excellence in the Arts at the University of Oklahoma.

After a highly successful and lucrative career in the fashion world, Professor Cracknell fell in love with the theatre and teaching. He earned his master of fine arts degree in drama from the University of Oklahoma in 2010 and joined the Peggy Dow Helmerich School of Drama in an interim position that year.

Each year, professor Cracknell teaches a minimum of 10 classes in the School of Drama and serves as the resident costume designer for OU University Theatre. He designs two to three main stage productions, as well as mentoring student costume designers on five to six college-wide main stage productions and up to four lab productions each season. 

When asked about his teaching philosophy, Cracknell stated, “All of my classes support a journey for the student that encourages the development of self-motivation, innovation, responsibility and creative confidence. The process of becoming a designer or technician is intensely personal, and my courses have been structured to allow for fluidity based on who is on the roster, but my belief is that the process must contain the following: learning how to collaborate and contribute to the production design process, how aesthetic choices combined with script analysis and in-depth research form the design, and learning basic and advanced construction techniques that inform the design.”

Helmerich School of Drama, Alice in Wonderland

The Peggy Dow Helmerich School of Drama at the University of Oklahoma is one of the top 10 Bachelor of Fine Arts theatre design and technology programs in the nation, according to OnStage. Housed in the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts, the school is under the leadership of Tom Huston Orr, director and James Garner Chair. OU is the only school in Oklahoma and the only school in the Big 12 to be selected.

“We are thrilled that OU’s Peggy Helmerich School of Drama has been ranked in the top 10 nationally out of the approximately 3,000 schools of drama in the United States,” said OU President David L. Boren. “Having this center of excellence on our campus enriches the life of the entire university community,” he said. “Director Tom Orr and his faculty and staff colleagues have done an outstanding job of unlocking the great potential of our students.” 

Thoroughly Modern Millie musical


The A. Max Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre at the University of Oklahoma is recognized as one of the top musical theatre programs in the country by American Theatre magazine. The national publication compiled a list of the top 13 colleges and universities outside the New York City metropolitan area that continually work to modify, adapt and reshape degree programs by offering unique coursework that provides students the opportunity to distinguish themselves in an ever-changing form of theatrical performance.

Both private and public colleges and universities are included in the list. In addition to OU, honorees include the University of Michigan, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Carnegie Mellon University.

OU is the only school in Oklahoma and the only school in the Big 12 to be selected.

“This honor from American Theatre magazine confirms OU’s ranking as having one of the best musical theatre programs in the nation,” said OU President David Boren.

Housed in the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts, OU’s A. Max Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre offers students conservatory-style training within a dynamic liberal arts university environment. As the only school of musical theatre in the country, and with alumni performing on Broadway, in national tours, at regional theatres, and throughout Europe and Asia, it has become identified as one of America’s premier musical theatre programs.

“We are very excited to have been named as one of the top programs in the country. I am so proud and honored to be working with such talented and dedicated faculty and staff that provides our students with consistently top notch education,” said the school’s interim director, Harold Mortimer, Ph.D. “Our amazing alumni serve as incredible ambassadors for the school, and we couldn’t be happier for them and the successes of our current students.”

The degree curriculum is designed to provide students with the tools for success both on and off stage. The program offers courses that range from singing, acting, dancing and performing to liberal arts classes, intended to broaden students’ critical thinking and knowledge. It is one of the very few university programs in the nation that provides students an opportunity to be in the same cast with professional Broadway actors in brand-new productions. Students also have opportunities to study musical theatre techniques abroad in Europe and South Africa.       

OU has one of the oldest comprehensive colleges of fine arts in the Great Plains states. In addition to its musical theatre program, the university also has highly regarded schools of music, musical theatre, drama, art and dance, and programs in opera and sculpture.

American Theatre’s complete list of the nation’s top 13 musical theatre programs can be found at www.americantheatre.org/2017/01/04/not-only-in-new-york-13-musical-theatre-programs-outside-of-manhattan/.

More information about OU’s A. Max Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre can be found at musicaltheatre.ou.edu.

OU Symphony Orchestra


The OU Symphony Orchestra, one of the most exciting collegiate ensembles in American universities today, performed to a full house in Houston’s Wortham Theater Center on April 1, 2019.

The orchestra has gained attention for its sell-out performance in Dallas’ Morton H. Meyerson Center, as well as for hosting the 4x4 Prizes for Composers and Conductors. The ensemble performs regularly at the University of Oklahoma, playing a wide repertoire of orchestral and operatic music.

The OU Symphony is conducted by Music Director Jonathan Shames, who is also Director of Orchestral Studies and Artistic Director and Conductor of OU Opera Theater at the University of Oklahoma.

Guests at the Houston concert enjoyed Hector Berlioz Roman Carnival Overture, Anthony Brandt Making Perfect, Leonard Bernstein Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, and Johannes Brahms Symphony No. 1 in C Minor.