Alumnus Spotlight: Hutch Pimentel ’12

This winter, we’re continuing our alumni spotlight series, featuring even more of our favorite Kalamazoo College Theatre Arts Department alumni!

This week, we talked to Hutch Pimentel ’12. While at K, he/they directed two shows: Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis and Yussef El Guindi’s Back of the Throat. He/they also wrote a Theatre Arts SIP titled Growing Pains: Becoming Queerer.

Since graduation, he/they founded a theatre company called First Floor Theater. There, Hutch serves as Artistic Director.

Read more to learn about what Hutch is up to now!

headshot of hutch pimentel
Hutch Pimentel ’12

What was your experience founding First Floor Theatre like? 

I came to be a part of First Floor in a somewhat unorthodox way. The theater was originally founded by a group of folks I met while interning at About Face Theater (which I wrote my SIP about). They were seniors at the University of Chicago and came to see Back of the Throat (the final show I directed at K) and asked me to join them when I moved to Chicago. I started as the producer and became the Artistic Director after our second season. The mission and aesthetic of the company has shifted significantly since then, largely to focus on new work, specifically by queer and POC writers. 

What has being Artistic Director during the pandemic been like?

Running a storefront theater company is everything and nothing you’d think it’d be. I spend a lot more time figuring out where the money is going to come from than what play we should do. During the pandemic my focus has been on keeping the company financially solvent, and beyond that we’ve dedicated most of our time to working on two commissions from playwrights Terry Guest and Ariel Zetina. Since becoming Artistic Director my goal was to found a commissioning program so The Blueprint Commission has really been a dream come true. 

I’m really impressed that First Floor Theatre has an audience base 70% under-40 and 50% BIPOC! How did you achieve that?

This is probably the most common question I get. I think the easy answer is, I program work that I want to see in the world, and Chicago audiences have begun to look to us for cutting-edge, sexy, funny, weird plays about what people our age are going through. In a regular season we typically program two BIPOC writers and one white writer, so that’s helped diverse audiences identify us as somewhere they’ll feel represented on stage. 

What inspires you to do theatre?

The moments that take your breath away, sitting in the dark, surrounded by a hundred other people, watching something magical happen. Whether it’s visual spectacle, great dialogue, or an unorthodox choice by an actor, that’s why I keep making art. Because I want to share those moments of glory with audiences. 

What plays, TV shows, or movies have been bringing you joy lately?

My favorite pandemic theater piece was Circle Jerk Live by Fake Friends (not porn I promise). The play I’m currently obsessed with is Botticelli in the Fire by Jordan Tannahill. The TV show I’m currently binging is It’s a Sin. And the last great movie I watched was Judas and the Black Messiah

How are you taking care of yourself during the pandemic?

I am trying to relax as much as possible. It’s so easy to COVID-spiral and so whenever I feel that about to happen I go for a walk or do some stretches or eat some soup. 

What’s your favorite memory from theatre at K?

It has to be the first play I ever directed, 4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane. Directing that play changed my life forever and I’ll never forget it. 

Thank you so much to Hutch Pimentel ’12 for answering our questions! To learn more about First Floor Theater, check out their website. And if you want to know more about our alumni, see our Notable Alumni page.

Theatre Arts Alumni and Asian-American Representation

Two Kalamazoo College Theatre Arts alumni have recently been involved with projects which are sparking discussion about Asian-American representation in United States media. Joe Tracz ’04 created the Netflix show Dash & Lily, which is an adaptation of the Dash & Lily book series. Steven Yeun ’05, on the other hand, stars in an A24 film titled Minari.

Read on to see how these works, and the societal response to them, has affected the Asian-American community. We’ll start with Tracz’s Dash & Lily then discuss Yeun’s Minari.

Dash & Lily

a smiling actor wears a red jacket. there are book shelves behind her.
Midori Francis in Dash & Lily, image credit: Netflix

The Netflix series Dash & Lily, based off a book series with two white protagonists, features Midori Francis playing a now-biracial white/Japanese-American Lily. Much of the script represents a new cultural perspective: Lily encourages Dash to make mochi (餅); Lily’s grandfather offers her and her brother otoshidama (お年玉) on New Year’s Eve; everyone takes their shoes off in the apartment of Lily’s grandfather. The casting committee also made sure every actor within Lily’s Japanese family, whether monoracial or biracial, was of Japanese descent. 

In an interview with People magazine, Francis said, “This was the first time that I’ve really even been on a set or in any kind of production where they took the time and care to make sure that every single Asian actor on set was of Japanese descent.”

In the same interview, Troy Iwata, who plays Lily’s brother, said, “One thing that our show does such a wonderful job of doing is portraying this mixed family, but not making it so heavy-handedly about the fact that they’re mixed race. It’s two backgrounds coming together, this is just a family. It’s very matter of fact that half of them are Japanese and half of them are white.”

Midori and Troy sitting together on a couch
Francis and Iwata, image credit: Netflix

Not only did Tracz ensure cultural integrity and casting specificity, he also allowed Francis herself to make changes to the script so the show would be more specific to her own experience. In a scene from the episode “Edgar & Sophia,” Lily addresses her white middle school bully, saying “I’m tired of boys pulling our pigtails and getting called cute … I wish I could have stood up to all the bullies who made me feel too weird, too different, too Asian.”

This monologue, as originally scripted by episode writer Lauren Moon, did not include the phrase “too Asian.” As she revealed in an interview with Refinery29, Francis wanted to insert that detail. “For me, a big part of being bullied growing up — because I was. Or teased — was the way I looked. Especially at that time, when there was no representation. If you don’t fit that kind of Eurocentric mold, you’re not attractive. I talked to our showrunner, Joe Tracz, about it. I was like, ‘Hey, what do you think about this speech being the time where we bring it up?’…So that was such a special cap for that speech for me. Because me, as Midori, if I was going to stick up to any of my bullies, that would be a part of it.”

Midori holding a microphone
Francis in “Edgar & Sophia”

Francis also had power to make creative decisions beyond just her own lines. As mentioned in the same interview with Refinery29, “It turns out that Joe was so receptive to everything. He honestly kind of diverted to me whenever he felt he didn’t know [something]. He was able to have talks with the set designer and the directors. Together, we were able to make [my input] a reality.”

Francis also mentioned that she has had opportunities that previous generations were not fortunate enough to receive. “I have an aunt who worked in the industry in the ‘80s and this just couldn’t have happened back then. There were times when I felt a bit of sadness. Like, ‘Why do I get to be the one who gets to have this positive experience? How messed up is it for all these years, people who look like me couldn’t have it?’ And then there was also so much relief and joy and gratitude that I was paired with someone like Joe who really cared.”

This show’s care did not go unnoticed by the Asian-American community. As The Literary Dumpling’s Natasha writes, “2020 has done a lot in terms of furthering diversity and representation, and being able to see a mixed-race family represented on screen as well as [seeing] how Western and Asian culture combines has been really uplifting for me. Whilst there are many ways it could go wrong, the creators of Dash & Lily manage to present Lily’s family in [a] natural way without shoehorning it in. In my opinion, it is never done in a way that requires you to think too much about how the family works, rather you just accept it as it is and overall it’s a great way to demonstrate how Lily’s family works in comparison to Dash’s (which is non-existent), as well as presenting a different kind of family dynamic on the silver screen.”

All that said, judging from the series’ IMDB page, it appears as though there were very few Asian-Americans on the film’s creative team and crew, and even fewer, if any, Japanese-Americans. How much more compelling could the biracial white/Japanese-American representation be if there were more Japanese-Americans in positions of power on the creative team?


A family of Korean Americans standing among tall grass
Yeun and Minari co-stars, image credit: Josh Ethan Johnson/A24

For the Minari, Yeun not only served as the top-billed actor, but also as an executive producer. Set in rural Arkansas, the film follows the story of a Korean family moving to the United States. 

The specific, accurate representation in this film is so important because as Yeun puts it, “This is not a Korean movie, [and] this is not an American movie—as you understand it. This is such a uniquely American tale. And I think the third culture of it, the Korean Americanness of it, that specific lane that it inhabits, hasn’t necessarily been claimed in wider American society. The narrative of Korean America is this—of pizza and kimchi together at the same table. It’s caught between two worlds…but ultimately, it’s its own thing. That’s what we’re trying to get to.”

Yeun and co-stars standing in an open field
Yeun in a promotional image for Minari, image credit: A24

Even though the film is set in the United States and is specific to an American experience—the Korean-American experience—the Hollywood Foreign Press Association categorized Minari as a foreign language film, supposedly because it features more Korean than English. This barred Minari from competing for Best Motion Picture at the Golden Globes; it has instead been nominated only for Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language. 

As filmmaker Lulu Wang said on Twitter, “I have not seen a more American film than #Minari this year. It’s a story about an immigrant family, IN America, pursuing the American dream. We really need to change these antiquated rules that characterizes American as only English-speaking.”

Author Min Jin Lee also spoke out on Twitter, “#Minari is an American film about new Americans. Everyone in America except for indigenous people came from somewhere else by choice or force. The English language is not an indigenous language. Enough of this nonsense about Asian-Americans being permanently foreign. I’m done.”

Many other Asian actors, directors, and artists criticized the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s decision. Glee actor Harry Shum Jr pointed out that Inglorious Bastards featured more German, French, and Italian than English and did not receive the same treatment as Minari. Actor Daniel Dae Kim said that this incident is “The film equivalent of being told to go back to your country when that country is actually America.”

In regards to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s decision, Yeun suggested that instead of using the phrase “specificity is universal,” artists should adopt the phrase, “humanity is universal.” As Yeun said, “That was the central focus for us in Minari. [The film didn’t say,] ‘Hey, America, this is what Korean Americans are.’ Instead, it focused on being a father or mother or family, or desiring something or striving for something. Or just living. It allowed more people into the narrative to enjoy it, because there wasn’t this wall up of authenticity that people had to scale.”

Yeun with his arm over a young boy
Yeun with co-star Alan S. Kim, image credit: A24

In an interview with Variety, Yeun said, “I think a Korean audience from Korea will watch Minari and say, ‘that is the story of an American family.’ And I think an American audience will watch Minari and say, ‘that’s the story of a Korean family.’ And that’s the void that we’re caught in. We wanted to profess that this is an Asian American story, where it is American.”

Minari and Yeun’s work in it are critical to the future of Asian-American representation in cinema. While Asian-American films are still treated by America’s predominantly white institutions as foreign, an emulation of the “perpetual foreigner” stereotype, the increased visibility of Asian-Americans in media could be the catalyst for more change. 

As Yeun described, “I’d seen John Cho start popping off, and it was really cool to watch him. He hadn’t gotten the shine that he deserved at the time, and it took a little bit for him over time. I watched him, and I was like, ‘Wow!’ Here’s a Korean American actor that I’ve never seen before, and he’s on the screen, and it’s pretty incredible. He was the first one not to be objectified or fetishized. He was a new version of what an Asian man is seen as. He was something new and fresh and gave me a roadmap to emulate. I thought it was possible for me.”

Yeun’s work in films like Minari could inspire the next generation of Korean-American artists, and Asian-American artists more broadly, to continue the work toward better representation and, eventually, liberation from predominantly white institutions. 

Tracz and Yeun have both been doing the important work of platforming Asian artists and humanizing Asian-Americans through compelling storytelling. Here at Festival Playhouse, we are very proud. But as we celebrate, we also have to ask, “How much more work is yet to be done?”

To watch Dash & Lily, go to Netflix. Minari will be available to stream on various platforms starting February 26. To learn more about our Theatre Arts alumni, including Tracz and Yeun, check out our Notable Alumni page.

Alumna Spotlight: Aly Homminga ’20

This winter, we’re continuing our alumni spotlight series, featuring even more of our favorite Kalamazoo College Theatre Arts Department alumni!

This week, we talked to Aly Homminga ’20. At K, she was heavily involved with the Theatre Arts Department, working in the Theatre Arts Office and acting in many shows, such as Fun Home and Silent Sky. She also went to the GLCA New York Arts Program. She directed several productions between New York and Kalamazoo, including Beauty’s Daughter and Wine and Pizza.

Since graduation, she has continued acting and directing. Right now, she directing a virtual production of FantasticLand.

Read more to learn about her time at K and what she’s up to now.

Headshot of alumna Aly Homminga
Aly Homminga ’20

How have you been maintaining your craft during the pandemic?

I have had the privilege to be able to continue doing theatre work throughout the pandemic, usually in a virtual medium. I have directed two virtual shows, FantasticLand at Town Hall Theatre and Waiting for Doggot at Imaginarium Theatre Company. I have also acted in two productions, Care Instructions Not Included at The Grand Theatre (produced by Kate Kriess ’19 and written by Camille Wood ’17) and a short film titled ‘The Prayer’, written and directed by my boyfriend Sean Bogue ’18. For both of the directing positions, I happened upon a call for a director on the internet and decided to apply. I am very lucky that both of the companies put their faith in me and trusted my directing abilities.

Additionally, I have kept my acting skills sharp by taking Method Acting classes online through The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute. It has been wonderful to continue to develop my craft and get feedback and tips from instructors, even over Zoom. Since April of last year, I have been crocheting for fun and relaxation, which is also a creative medium. I am grateful that I have taken the craft up again, my grandmothers taught me crocheting when I was young. 

Tell us more about directing FantasticLand! What has that been like?

FantasticLand has been SO COOL! I had the idea of presenting it as a theatrical mini-series before I was hired, and Town Hall has encouraged me to take that idea and run. The whole experience has been extremely professional and exciting for my career. The play explores the events that transpired inside an amusement park when a hurricane traps 306 employees in the park. During the 5 weeks they were trapped, the employees, mostly young adults ages 18-25, split into “tribes” and were pushed to fight each other in order to survive. Think ‘The Hunger Games’ meets ‘Lord of the Flies.’ The story is told through interviews from surviving employees. I am working with 28 actors, each with a unique perspective and story to tell. Two of the actors are K grads! Sophie Hill ’20 and Anders Finholt ’20 are both in the production. I am editing the show myself and two episodes will be presented every week beginning March 11th. Information for tickets will be on Town Hall Theatre’s Website and social media soon.

Are there any upcoming projects or life changes that you’re particularly excited about?

Yes! Sean Bogue and I have a very exciting move planned. We are going to be living in Tokyo, Japan for a year beginning in March of 2021. I am really excited to be immersed in Japanese culture and experience Kabuki and Noh Theatre first hand. I am hoping to be involved in English speaking theatre companies while I am there as well to expand my acting and directing career internationally!

Which plays, TV shows, or movies have been bringing you joy lately?

In preparation for our move, we have been watching a lot of Japanese shows to learn more about the culture and language. Most recently, we finished a live-action drama series called Rookies that follows a high school baseball team. Sean and I also often have long movie nights and the most recent one was a comedy marathon including “classics” like Blades of Glory and Clueless

What’s your favorite memory from theatre at K?

I have so many very fond memories of my time at K, it is so hard to choose just one. I really appreciate the time I spent in The Playhouse, The Dungeon, and the office. As nostalgic as it is, my favorite memory has to be the last time I performed live, in Silent Sky, last year in February. There is a tender and emotional moment at the end when my character, Henrietta, wraps the show up with a lovely monologue detailing the ways her astrological discoveries have affected science since her death. She also speaks to her sister, Margret, played by Rose Hannan ’23, from the afterlife. The moment Rose and I locked eyes during the monologue we both choked up every single time.

Thank you so much to Aly Homminga ’20 for answering our questions! To learn more about FantasticLand, follow the production’s Instagram account. And if you want to know more about our alumni, see our Notable Alumni page.

Alumnus Spotlight: Cody Colvin ’18

This winter, we’re continuing our alumni spotlight series, featuring even more of our favorite Kalamazoo College Theatre Arts Department alumni!

This week, we talked to Cody Colvin ’18. At K, he started out playing football, but eventually gravitated toward the arts, singing in various ensembles and becoming a member of the Festival Playhouse family. A business major, he wrote a Senior Individualized Project titled Analysis of Festival Playhouse Fundraising Opportunities, in which he discussed possible ways of developing a sustainable funding structure for Festival Playhouse.

After graduation, he founded Colvin Theatrical, an executive production company for film, theatre, and broadcasting. Here at Festival Playhouse, we were fortunate to work with him on our livestream of Kokoro and multimedia production of K, and we look forward to working with him again throughout this year!

Read more to learn about his time at K and what he’s up to now.

Cody Colvin
Cody Colvin ’18

What has your experience running Colvin Theatrical been like?

Forgive the cliché, but it’s a dream come true. Toward the end of college, I knew I wanted to help people make meaningful art, and I felt in my heart that I could do it on a large scale. At the beginning of quarantine, I reduced my hours at my other business – investment real estate advisory – and just gave myself a chance to really build the company the way I wanted to. To see it blossom, and to continue to receive larger and more complex opportunities to help creative people tell stories, has just reinforced the fact that creative production is a good spot for me.

Are there any upcoming or current projects that you’re particularly excited about?

Yes! I am especially excited to work with the American Association of Community Theatre to help produce their national community theatre festival, AACTFest 2021. My crew and I will be on the road in April and May recording and producing about a dozen theatrical recordings around the country. I had been aware of AACTFest before, so it’s pretty neat to join forces after being in the audience. I am helping coordinate both the tour’s logistics and creative production, which makes for a really fun mix of challenges.

Which plays, TV shows, or movies have been bringing you joy lately?

I recently made my way through 30 Rock, and am now going through Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Tina Fey and Robert Carlock are two folks I’d love to work with – there is so much depth to their comedy, and they maintain an incredible pace throughout each project. Though I gravitate toward darker, grittier work on stage, that’s the kind of television I enjoy watching and – hopefully soon – helping make.

What’s your favorite memory from theatre at K?

Without a doubt – dancing, singing and gyrating as Eddie in The Rocky Horror Show. I quit football the end of my sophomore year and didn’t have a great idea of what I would end up doing with my time… I was fortunate to find my way into the performing arts, and it started with that show. 

I find myself increasingly thankful for the education I received at K; I think it’s a credit to the school that I still use everything I learned there on a daily basis, from accounting and negotiation to technical production. I owe so much of my personal and professional development to the school – especially the theatre department – which is why I’ve so loved coming back and working with the students and faculty this year. It feels like being home.

Thank you so much to Cody Colvin ’18 for answering our questions. To learn more about Colvin Theatrical, check out the company’s website and Colvin’s Facebook page. And if you want to know more about our alumni, see our Notable Alumni page.

Alumna Spotlight: Katy Loebrich ’90

This fall, we’re doing a spotlight series featuring some of our favorite Kalamazoo College Theatre Arts Department alumni!

This week, we talked to Katy Loebrich ’90. While at K, she appeared in August Strindberg’s The Ghost Sonata her freshman fall. After that, she filled a variety of production positions, including wardrobe assistant, props master, sound designer, and assistant stage manager. She gradated from K in 1990 with an English major and a double-minor in Theatre Arts and Music.

She has been working in television since the year she graduated, and now, she’s a two-time Emmy Award-winning TV Producer/Director at UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina. She is one of three producers on the Arts Team, and they won the Emmy, both times, for their arts show, Muse, which profiles all kinds of arts and artists across the state.

Read more to learn about her time at K and what she’s up to now!

Alumna Kate Loebrich holding an Emmy
Katy Loebrich ’90

What plays, TV shows, or movies have been bringing you joy lately?

Ha-ha! What a great question! Binge-watching Netflix and Disney+. So much good television out there—and I love being one of the people who make the good tv! 

What’s your favorite memory from theatre at K?

There are so many!! When I was at K, we were still on the K-Plan with the rotating on-campus and off-campus quarters, and sophomores and juniors were on-campus in the summer. We did multiple main stage shows during the summer terms. Those summer shows were also great because we got to work with professional actors who came in just for the summer season.

During freshman orientation the current theatre majors did a skit for us—it was a spoof of Jeopardy, and the final Jeopardy round clue was Shakespeare & Musicals. The answer was “What are the two things not done in Kalamazoo Theatre?” Spoiler Alert: by my junior year that was no longer true.

There was a production of Othello that summer, and the A/C went off in the theatre. The cast were given the choice to perform in street clothes, and some did, and some went half and half with shorts and doublets, but Desdemona wore her full dress and kept the heavy drapes onstage—and it was the best production I’d ever seen, the energy was so high! The first musical they did during my four years fell during my Senior Individualized Project, and I drove through a snow storm from Toledo to Kalamazoo to see Godspell—it was totally worth it, a phenomenal show! 

I was the sound designer who programmed the house music for a special show: Don’t Bump into Me & Speak Cleary: An Evening with Noel Coward. Which is also when I met Nelda Balch. I became the ASM for the show because the stage manager came down with mono, and the original ASM got bumped up, so I did both roles walking back and forth across the light booth to cue music and lights. That was such a cool thing. Just Nelda’s presence was inspiring.

But the absolute best part was the people—students, professors, alumni, emerti, and friends—we taught each other as we worked together. Making a TV show is a lot like that, except you can edit out the mistakes!

Thank you so much to Katy Loebrich ’90 for answering our questions. To learn more about UNC-TV’s Muse, check out UNC-TV’s website. And if you want to know more about our alumni, check out our Notable Alumni page.

Alumna Spotlight: Kate Kreiss ’19

This fall, we’re doing a spotlight series featuring some of our favorite Kalamazoo College Theatre Arts Department alumni!

This week, we talked to Kate Kreiss ’19. While at K, she appeared in several plays, including Bad Jews, The Learned Ladies, The Rocky Horror Show, Student Body, and Twelfth Night. She was also co-captain of the improv comedy troupe Monkapult and directed Amber Palmer’s Baby Dyke Whisperer and Robert Davis’s spells/signed by the heart.

Now, she’s the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for The Grand Theatre in Wausau, Wisconsin. Read more to learn about what she’s up to!

Headshot of Kate Kreiss
Kate Kreiss ’19

How have you been maintaining your craft during the pandemic?

My job has shifted a ton since March, since we’ve had to change from marketing specific shows to marketing The Grand itself. It’s required a lot of innovation from all of us, and for me, has led to a renewed sense of appreciation for the performing arts—trying to find new ways to connect with our community has reminded me how much I care about this work! I guess to answer the question more directly, I haven’t been able to work on “my craft” a ton, but I’m learning to appreciate it more. I’ve also been attempting all the little theatre TikTok challenges in my apartment which has been a deeply humbling and slightly humiliating experience for myself and my neighbors.

What has your experience planning The New Normal been like?

The New Normal is my attempt to recreate TK New PlayFest here in Wausau! We don’t see a ton of straight plays or new plays around here, but there is a really rich music culture– lots of indie artists, lots of new work premiering all over the place. I wanted to capitalize on that and try to start introducing our audience to some straight plays, contemporary dance, etc. Quarantine has been such an emotional time for all of us, and has resulted in some really poignant new work, so I felt like it was important for that work to be seen and heard. It’s been interesting to be in the “producer/curator” role instead of the “performer/director” role, and I’m grateful to my bosses for giving me the green light to try this out.

The New Normal will go live on The Grand Theatre’s Facebook and YouTube pages on Friday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.

Which plays, TV shows, or movies have been bringing you joy lately?

Equal parts comedy and garbage! A little Middleditch & Schwartz, Schitt’s Creek, Michelle Wolf; a little Love Island, Bachelorette, Naked & Afraid. Nothing particularly groundbreaking, but I’m enjoying escaping from the real world.

What’s your favorite memory from theatre at K?

Lots of favorites, but the one that comes to mind is the midnight performance of The Rocky Horror Show. I remember doing the Time Warp (hehe) – Sean Bogue and I (Janet and Brad) were at the lip of the stage, the only ones not dancing… I remember looking around and being literally surrounded by people doing the Time Warp. The rest of the cast was behind us, dancing on stage, and the audience was in front of us, standing up and dancing in the seats… just 360 degrees of people going bananas. I think theatre is a lot about shared moments of catharsis, but this really was a shared moment of absolute mania, and I remember thinking to myself, “I am never going to experience something like this ever again.” I do feel like we’re all experiencing a sort of “communal mania” right now in the world. Maybe that’s why I’ve been thinking about this moment so much lately.

Thank you so much to Kate Kreiss ’19 for answering our questions. To keep up with her work, follow The Grand Theatre on Facebook. And if you want to know more about our alumni, check out our Notable Alumni page.

Alumnus Spotlight: Quincy Isaiah ’17

This fall, we’re doing a spotlight series featuring some of our favorite Kalamazoo College Theatre Arts Department alumni!

This week, we talked to Quincy Isaiah ’17. While at K, he appeared as Benny in In the Heights and received an Irene Ryan Award for Performance for his role in A Raisin in the Sun.

Read more to learn about what he’s up to now!

headshot of Quincy Isaiah
Quincy Isaiah ’17

How have you been maintaining your acting craft during the pandemic?

It’s been tough because most acting classes are through Zoom now. Since I already have a role I know I’m gonna play, I just try to keep researching and watching videos on Magic. In addition to trying to look like him in terms of playing basketball and my overall body. Also, I read scripts and I’ve done a few self-tape auditions which has helped keep me busy acting. 

What’s happening with the HBO L.A. Lakers drama (in which you were cast as Magic Johnson)?

We shot the pilot last September and we were picked up in November to shoot the rest of the series. Once COVID hit, it got pushed back a few times and now we’re scheduled to shoot Spring 2021 with a possible release in 2022. 

What’s your favorite acting performance (in a play, TV show, or film) you’ve seen recently?

I’m not gonna lie, I haven’t watched as many shows or movies during the pandemic as I probably should have. But Michael Ward in Blue Story and Top Boy has really wowed me recently. Also, Paul Mescal’s performance in Normal People is amazing.

What’s your favorite memory from theatre at K?

Favorite K theatre memory? Honestly, everything from my Junior Winter until Spring quarter. I was able to do so much in a little amount of time. I was in a sketch show, a classic play (Raisin in the Sun), and an incredible musical. The cast were fun and the material really help me build the confidence as an actor. But if I had to choose one specific thing, it’s probably the third Raisin performance. Two things happened: I missed a line, but a fellow actor picked it up so well no one could tell. I also got a really great response from the crowd that night, too, afterwards.

Thank you so much to Quincy Isaiah ’17 for answering our questions. To keep up with him, follow him on Instagram. And if you want to know more about our alumni, check out our Notable Alumni page. Thanks for stopping by!

2020 KTAN Newsletter

Festival Playhouse Logo.  The word Festival is over the word Playhouse and there is a person standing in the spot where the 'A' in Festival is

Hello KTAN!

I hope that this email finds you healthy and happy. My name is Aly Homminga. I am a graduating senior and Assistant Office Manager of the Theatre Arts Office. It is my pleasure to be curating the KTAN Newsletter this year.

Throughout 2020, there have been many events that have rocked our world, and it is my hope that this newsletter will be a beacon of light in the darkness and pain as we celebrate our theatre alumni. We stand in solidarity with all who stand for justice.

Reflections on Our Year ~

Though we at Festival Playhouse are extremely disappointed that our spring production of Water by the Spoonful was postponed indefinitely, we are still happy to be celebrating the end of our 56th Season, HERstories: Forgotten Female Figures! Here are some highlights from our season. 

FALL: The Spitfire Grill. Directed by ‘C’ Heaps

This musical followed the story of Percy, an ex-convict who attempts to start her life anew in the small town of Gilead, WI. Her journey of self-exploration helps the town grow and become more accepting. As the show goes on, the audience learns that there is much more to Percy, and Gilead, than meets the eye.The Spitfire Grill is a lesson in acceptance, understanding, and hope. Set and lighting design by Lanny Potts was spectacularly breathtaking, especially his creation of a setting sun on stage. 

WINTER: Silent Sky. Directed by Ren Berthel

Written by Lauren Gunderson, America’s most produced living playwright, Silent Sky depicts the lifelong journey of astronomer Henrietta Leavitt. While working at the Harvard observatory in the early 20th century, Leavitt and other female astronomers were written off and relegated to analyst positions instead of full astronomers. Despite this, Henrietta was able to make significant discoveries that lead to astronomers measuring the universe for the first time. Costume Designer Lori Sands worked with juniors Clara Valenti ’21 and Marie Townsend ’21 to design costumes for the leading ladies. (One dress even lit up!) Jon Reeves and his crew created a stellar spiral staircase and platform for the set. Local artist Raven Wynd painted a nebula on the stage floor that was so popular with patrons, many bought pieces of it! For more details and some very special design notes, please see the attached program, coordinated by Aly Homminga ’20. (It’s one of our best yet! [According to Laura Livingstone-McNelis, I am not just bragging]).

Silent Sky Program PDF (It is in ‘Booklet’ format so the pages are out of order. The page numbers on the bottom corners of the pages should help)

SPRING: Online Classes & Devised Theatre

Festival Playhouse did not stop creating just because we went online! During the spring term, the Community Dialogues class worked with Emilio Rodriguez, Artistic Director of The Black and Brown Theatre Company in Detroit, MI, to create a full-length devised play. Visiting Assistant Professor, “C” Heaps, served as dramaturg. Over the term, students created a play that is currently 110 pages long! The play, simply titled K, will be produced by Festival Playhouse this fall. (More on the production below.)


Irene Ryan Competition Nominations were awarded to Rebecca Chan ’22 (The Spitfire Grill), Sophie Hill ’20 (The Spitfire Grill), Aly Homminga ’20 (Silent Sky), and Milan Levy ’23 (Silent Sky)

Ethan Tuck ’22 was awarded a Certificate of Merit for Stage Management (Silent Sky)

At the annual festival held in Madison, WI this year, two of our students were given special awards: Milan Levy ’23 was awarded Golden Collaborator for being an outstanding and collaborative presence during the festival’s devised theatre project. Aly Homminga ’20 received a full-ride scholarship to attend a theatre intensive for Collaboration and Devised Theatre through the California State University Summer Arts Program. Rebecca Chan ’22 National Finalist for the Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy (as a first-year last year!), competed again this year, as did Sedona Coleman ’23 and Milan Levy ’23. Kate Kreiss ’19 co-presented a workshop on theatre arts administration with Laura Livingstone-McNelis ’89.

Faculty Updates

Professor Emeritus Ed Menta is enjoying his retirement and is the guitarist for Kalamazoo blues band BlueBack. The band will present concerts in the Beats on Bates weekly summer music festival in downtown Kalamazoo on Wednesday July 8 @5:30 -8:30pm, and at the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse on Week One Monday Sep. 14 @7:30pm (co-sponsored by the Office of Student Involvement and Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College). For more info on the band and other gigs, check the BlueBack Website.

Guest Artist Bianca Washington got married in October 2019 and is expecting her first child in August! 

Upon receiving the International Innovation Fund Grant, Laura Livingstone-McNelis ’89 visited the new study abroad program in preparation for students next year. There, at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, she met with faculty, administrators, toured the sonic lab (yes, it is amazing!!–literally speakers are below the floor, on the walls, and above the ceiling!) and costume shop as well as The Lyric Theatre, where their motto is, “Come, play with us.” The first group of students to take advantage of this program, including rising senior Trevor Lodeum-Jackson ’21, were supposed to attend in fall of 2020. A second new program originally scheduled to begin this fall is in London, England, which allows for students to customize their interests in urban studies including focusing on the arts.Laura also visited the Edinburgh Fringe Festival office with thoughts of taking students there to present one day…and no trip to the British Isles is complete without a stop at Stratford-upon-Avon! There she saw A Museum in Baghdad, and The Boy in a Dress–two excellent productions of important stories.


Our 57th Season is all about us! Well… our students that is. Season 57 is all about stories that tell important stories that represent our students and/or thecurrent experiences of youth, peer pressure, and technology. The season is titled: Our Time is Now #ourstories and will feature graphic designs by three current students. (This is the third year we’ve been fortunate enough to work in this way! See attached designs–and if you’d like to receive a mailer by post, please contact Laura 

Poster for Kokoro: True Heart. A woman holding the outline of a baby in front of a pink, flowering tree.

Fall 2020:
Kokoro: True Heart by Velina Hasu Houston
Directed by Ynika Yuag ’21, Assisted by Ren Berthel
Graphic Design by Jorence Quiambao ’21 
Original Devised Theatre Production,“K”
Directed by Emilio Rodriguez

During spring quarter 19 students worked with Guest Artist Emilio Rodriguez of The Black and Brown Theatre Company to come up with a completely original full-length play, written by students for students. Though we cannot disclose much of the plot at this time, we are honored that our own Nelda K. Balch has a significant role in the play. Special thanks to Visiting Assistant Professor “C” Heaps who has served as dramaturg for this play.Graphic Design by Christina Diaz ’21

Poster for Be More Chill. A distressed young man wearing glasses and a sweatshirt.

Winter 2021:
Be More Chill: The Musical.  Book by Joe Tracz (K’04). Music and Lyrics by Joe Iconis.
Directed by Jon Reeves
Bringing the work of K theatre alumni back to campus is always a thrill, but we are especially proud of Joe for his Tony Award-nominated musical and honored to produce his work.
Graphic Design by Christina Diaz ’21

Poster for The Compass. Graphic of a brain made up of twisting arrows with a compass embedded inside.

Spring 2021:
The Compass by Michael Rohd
Directed by ‘C’ Heaps
Graphic Design by Angela Mammel ’22

For More Information about these plays and our upcoming season read our full Season Announcement on our newly designed website!

And now… Alumni Updates!

Staring with our graduating seniors… Our soon-to-be grads are already jumping into the world of theatre as best they can.

2020: Sophie Hill graduated with honors from the Theatre Arts Department. Sophie secured an internship at The Civic Theatre in Kalamazoo and is hoping to work more on her beadwork platform. She is also working on expanding her SIP into a full-length play….. Aly Homminga also graduated with honors in the department and on her Senior Individualized Project. Aly works for The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute as a remote blog writer and will (hopefully) be moving to Japan to teach English and artistic creativity to children with partner Sean Bogue ’18…. Mars Wilson graduated early from K and has been working at tea shop, ChocolaTea, in Portage. Mars’ work is being featured in a 24 hour play festival in partnership with OutFront Kalamazoo’s #StillProud series on June 19th. He has become involved with PACCT Board (Promise Advocacy of Children and Community Transformation) to advocate against the school to prison pipeline with in KPS. 

2019: Hunter Himeloch was participating in the Disney College Program, but it unexpectedly ended in March this year…. As of October 2019, Kate Kreiss has been the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at The Grand Theater in Wausau, WI. She was also cast as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde at the Wasau Community Theater. In the fall she will help lead the Central Wisconsin Jerry Ensemble (an audition-based ensemble for high school students).

2018: Cody Colvin began his own theatre production company based in Grand Rapids called Colvin Theatrical. His company produces a 24 hour theatre festival every month and produced a virtual short play festival called Overcoming Isolation.…  Johanna Keller-Flores has been busy doing theatre while working as an Art Administrator for the East Side Arts Council in St. Paul, Minnesota. For two years in a row, Johanna’s work was a part of a performance series called Controlled Burn, from queer theatre company, 20% Theatre. This year’s production, Angelita, featured a song co-written by Johanna and her brother. She also stage managed a production of Sueno, adapted by Jose Rivera, at Pangea World Theatre…. Lauren Landman has been working as a promotional model for various brands including LIVELY, Popsugar, Amazon and Samsung. She has also been working at Prose, a custom hair care company. She was supposed to reprise her role as Anne Lehmann in her second national tour of My Heart in a Suitcase, but it was cancelled due to COVID-19. 

2017: Quincy Crosby was cast as Magic Johnson in an HBO series about the 1980’s Lakers that is scheduled to begin production in late 2020…. BIG congratulations on the engagement of Emma Franzel and Aidan Ives-Johnson.Emma writes, “After meeting our freshman year at K, we dated for 6 years before he popped the question in Central Park. We plan to be married in August 2021 in Stetson Chapel, of course!”

2015: Poet Jane Huffman was awarded the prestigious Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. She is also Editor-in-Chief of Guesthouse magazine, all while teaching at the University of Iowa (Alma mater of Festival Playhouse’s Costume Designer and Theatre Arts professor, Lori Sands). 

2014: Linda Strini is working as the Assistant Technical Director at the esteemed Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago…. Michael Wecht started a photography business that specializes in dance and theatre photography, including headshots and portraits. Michael’s Photography Site.

2012: Sam Barken has been creating digital experiences for the San Francisco Neo-Futurists’ weekly online show The World Wide Wrench.

2010: Emilia LaPenta’s career at Audible continues to thrive as she wraps up her third year as the Senior Producer of Commissions and New Play Development. In 2019, she worked on seven commissioned projects, including Madhuri Shekar’s Evil Eye, which received a 2020 Audie Award for Best Original and is being adapted into a film. Her wedding was originally scheduled for April, but has been postponed. 

2009: Speaking of weddings, Terry Cangelosi is engaged to be married! Wedding date has yet to be determined. He is also continuing his work as Senior Manager of Operations at Americans for the Arts…. Alex Cothier’s wife has been teaching him yoga during quarantine. He has also been “trying to dream up new projects” with K friends Emilia LaPenta ’10 and Pibby Motts ’10…. Joan Miller completed he qualifying exams for her THIRD master’s degree! Her dissertation explores the role storytelling plays in society as empathic education. This year her articles have been published in Transformative Works and Cultures, the International Journal of Communication, The Journal of Play, and a chapter in an edited collection from NYU Press called; Popular Culture and the Civic Imagination– her chapter focused on the ways public affect influences violent tactics from groups like #gamergate and the #altright.

2006: Christine Grodecki was promoted to Executive Director of CCS Fundraising, a non-profit fundraising company in Chicago. 

2005: Another great year for actor, Steven Yeun! Be on the look out for Minari, a Korean-American drama. The film, directed by Lee Isaac Chung, won the U.S. Dramatic Competition Grand Jury and Audience Award Prize at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. 

2004: Emily Campbell Berezowsky returned to K this year to teach Fundamentals of Acting as Theatre Arts Visiting Assistant Faculty….Though the process is still underway, Ryan Hatch is expecting to receive a tenure and promotion of Associate Professor of English at California Polytechnic State University. He teaches modern and contemporary drama at Cal Poly and is also the Director of Graduate Studies. As a part of PAJ: a Journal of Performance and Art, Ryan is working on a monograph on the work of contemporary experimental playwright Young Jean Lee….Joe Tracz created a new Netflix series called Dash & Lily, premiering Christmas 2020. Joe writes, “I’m excited to see K do my musical BE MORE CHILL in 2021!”…. Lanie Wieland moved back to San Francisco to be closer to family and to teach early childhood music and puppetry. Her first classes were online and covered puppet creation. 

2002: Kristala Pouncy Smart began working as a middle school Drama teacher this year.

2001: Political comedian Jordan Klepper visited K’s improv team (and his former improv team), Monkapult, over Zoom at the end of May. In 2019, Jordan aired his new docuseries, Klepper, on comedy Central and toured around the country doing live shows. He has occasionally returned to The Daily Show with Trevor Noah as a correspondent. Jordan also surprised the Class of 2020 with a Commencement Address at the virtual Conferral of Degrees Ceremony on June 14th.…. Allen Krause is the Political and Economic Section Chief of the U.S. Consulate Jeddah in Saudi Arabia…. Sarah Surrian was awarded an NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship for the final year of her PhD in Education at Harvard! Her dissertation is on the transition to preschool for Spanish-speaking dual language learners.  

1999: Attorney Ben Imdieke’s children have stolen the show on stage this year! His son, Ami, aged 9, performed his ninth show (online because of COVID). He was a ‘Gang Member’ in Les Misérables at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley. His younger sister, Karuna, aged 3, made her acting debut as Baby Simba in The Lion King Jr

1997: This past year Jennifer Goodlander moved departments from Theatre and Drama to Comparative Literature. She continues to do roller derby with the Circle City Derby Girls in Indianapolis, IN…. Matt Priest is now the General Manager of Beer on the Wall, a craft beer store and tasting room in Arlington Heights, Illinois. “Once it is safe,” Matt writes, “I look forward to having a beer in person with any of you who can come for a visit!”

1995: Anjalee Deshpande Hutchinson was promoted to Full Professor at Bucknell University this spring! She is rotating out of the role of Chair of the Theatre & Dance Department and into the role of Coordinator for Department Equity, Diversity and Inclusive Efforts where she will be working on strong plans of action for theatre programs. In July, she has an edited collection of essays coming out titled Michael Chekhov and Sanford Meisner: Collisions and Convergence in Actor Training. The last essay in the book focuses on the need to broaden the acting techniques prevalent in most Western training programs to include more methods from artists and teachers of color, as well as a call to decentralize white actor training techniques as a whole.

1990: Katy Loebrich won her second Emmy award this year! She is a producer on the Arts team at UNC-TV in North Carolina (PBS). Her production team won their second Emmy for their show, MUSE, which showcases artists across the state. Last Fall she attended the Cucalorus Film Festival in Wilmington, NC as a presenting filmmaker. Her film was a collection of short films about and/or by youth.

1989: Festival Playhouse Company Manager, Laura Livingstone-McNelis, took to the stage once again in 2019 as The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz at Center Stage Theatre. Her daughter, Mary Lee, played her stunt double. Mary Lee recently turned 25 and just completed a job skills program through Project Search. She has been volunteering in the Theatre Arts Office at K for two years and has developed some great skills as an office assistant. Her son, Vincent, is a rising senior at Williams College and was recently elected class president! Last Fall, she andPeter McNelis ’87 celebrated their 30th anniversary. Laura is actively trying to get the children’s book that should wrote published, and has begun working on a short memoir about parenting and learning from a person with special needs…. Larry Schlessinger got married to Daivd F. Bryant last fall! K College theatre alumni Laura Livingstone-McNelis, Tricia Wagner, and Christine Polydoris Webster were in attendance. He also took on a new role of Senior Producer/ Program Manager of Live & Streaming Series for Amazon Web Services…. Tricia Wanger is teaching bi-lingual 7th grade theatre in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

1988: Meredith Robertson Eaton has spent quarantine cherishing time with her teenage children, especially her high school senior. Her family is spending time “bingeing a lot of great television/Netflix/Hulu; homeschooling the kids with movie nights of all the films they should see in their lives. Badminton and corn hole in the yard. So. Much. Cooking. And cocktails. Game nights, puzzles, Zoom calls, laughter and tears.” She hopes everyone has stayed safe and well.

1985: Christopher Tower performed a magic act at the Lower Colombia College talent show in January. He hadn’t performed magic since his time at K. He has been taking the time to write more fiction, including a novella about a future pandemic that’s worse than COVID-19. 

1974: Barbara Ostroth is still an active full-time realtor with Coldwell Banker Realty in New Jersey. She also does community service projects with the League of Women Voters including celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, supporting the local election foundation, preparing for increased voter registration, serving on the board of the Teaneck Community Scholarship Fund and heading up a cleaning products collection for families in need. Her four children are all grown up and she now has 4 grandchildren with a 5th on the way. Her daughter’s wedding to her girlfriend is scheduled for October. 

1960: Congratulations to Bill Vincent on acting in two short films that are in post-production, St. Anton’s and The Frightened President. He has written and performed in two films: Some are Born, recently added to Amazon Prime, and The Seer, featured at the 2019 Sault Ste. Marie Public Library Horrorfest.

Thank you for reading, for sharing, and for being part of the Kalamazoo Theatre Alumni Network! Please encourage your friends from K to share their updates; our connections are treasures! If you have any suggestions for PSAC, thoughts, or ideas to share–or information you’d like from our Festival Playhouse Archives, or would like to receive a season mailer (by post!), please contact

As the world starts to reopen, stay safe this summer, and keep finding ways to do theatre! 

Theatre that is always provocative. Theatre that is always thoughtful.

Aly Homminga ’20 & the Theatre Arts Department