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Theatre Alums Share Successes with Bison Hill

August 3, 2010

OBU theatre alums Rex Daugherty and Christy Hall have found success in their profession since they graduated, and they are sharing the product of their accomplishments with their alma mater to open OBU's 2010-11 theatre season.

Christy Hall

Matt Lutz

Rex Daugherty

The duo have seen a string of successes as actors, directors and playwrights: Daugherty, a 2005 graduate, recently was featured on the cover of American Theatre magazine; a play written by Hall and directed by Daugherty - "Yours, Isabel" - opened in Washington, D.C.'s Capital Fringe Festival to positive reviews; and a book (script) written by Hall is part of a musical to be produced in New York City in the fall.

"Yours, Isabel" conveys two young lovers, Isabel and Nick, who are shaken and separated by wartime and yet retain an extraordinary closeness through a series of written letters. The play, inspired by actual letters written during WWII, will be presented at OBU Sept. 2-3 at 7:30 p.m. in Craig-Dorland Theatre in Shawnee Hall.

Tickets for the OBU production of "Yours, Isabel" will be $6 per person. All seats will be general admission, and tickets will be available for purchase at the door. The box office will open at 6:30 p.m.

Hall, who graduated in 2004, will return to Bison Hill to portray Isabel. She has portrayed Isabel in professional stage readings, but this will be Hall's first time to portray Isabel in a full production. Her husband, actor Matt Lutz, will portray Nick.

As an actor, Hall's theatre credits include Arlene Hutton's "Vacuum" in New York City; "Last Train to Nibroc," also by Arlene Hutton, in North Carolina and Oklahoma; Barbara Lebow's Holocaust drama "A Shayna Maidel" at North Coast Repertory Theatre near San Diego, Calif.; the West Coast premiere of Ray Cooney's British farce "Tom, Dick and Harry" presented by ICT in Long Beach, Calif.; Thornton Wilder's classic "The Skin of Our Teeth," and "Shooting Stars," both with Actors Co-op in Hollywood, Calif. Also on stage, she has appeared in "The Most Happy Fella" and "Show Boat" with Utah Festival Opera. Hall is a member of Screen Actors Guild and Actors Equity Association.

As a writer, her work spans both stage and screen. Currently in pre-production is her screenplay "The Moon and His Boy," for which Christy is also co-producer. Additionally, "Little Iron Men," a screenplay co-written by Hall, was one of 12 American films-in-development to attend the No Borders International Co-Production Market, part of IFP's Independent Film Week in New York City.

"I can't tell you how proud I am to be presenting my work at OBU," Hall said. "When I first arrived as a freshman back in the fall of 2000, the idea of being a professional someday seemed like a strange and distant dream - a dream I barely dared to speak out loud. And now, I'm flying in from New York to share my work with the very people who not only heard me whisper that dream, but spent years helping me cultivate it. ... It almost feels as if I'm coming home."

Lutz's film credits include "Bringing Down the House," "A Walk to Remember," "End of the Spear," the indie feature comedy "Port City" and the upcoming short "Sudden Death." His television credits include two years as Phil Newberry on Hallmark Channel's "McBride" series opposite John Larroquette, "Las Vegas," "Boston Public," "Dawson's Creek," and "7th Heaven," among others. His theatre credits include the new musical "Glimpses of the Moon" in New York City; "Show Boat" and "The Most Happy Fella" at Utah Festival Opera; "A Time for Love" at Rubicon Theatre; Jimmy in "Thoroughly Modern Millie"; Jon in the Los Angeles premiere of "Tick, Tick ... Boom!"; and several other productions with Actors Co-op. Lutz is a member of Actors Equity Association and Screen Actors Guild.

Daugherty works as an actor, director and acting instructor in Washington, D.C. He originally directed "Yours, Isabel" for the Wattage Theatre Festival, and he said he is delighted to bring the production to Shawnee. Other directing credits include: "Monged," "Caught Red Handed," "The Perfect Ending," "The Beauty Queen of Leenane," "Fat Pig," "Stones In His Pockets" (as assistant director) and Forum Theatre's Helen Hayes nominated production of "Angels in America" (as assistant director).

As an actor, he has been seen off Broadway in "Disco Pigs" and was recently nominated for a Helen Hayes award for the Washington, D.C., production of that show. He has appeared at The Shakespeare Theatre Company in "Love's Labor's Lost," and "Hamlet"; at The Kennedy Center in "Unleashed!"; at Rorshach Theater in "1001" and "Dream Sailors" and in several other productions as an actor, musician and music director.

Daugherty is a company member with the Irish arts organization Solas Nua and has performed in many Irish plays with the troupe, most recently in the American premiere of "Johnny Meister and The Stitch." In addition to his time on Bison Hill, he has studied the Michael Chekhov technique at the Moving Dock Theatre Company in Chicago. He is currently a faculty member at The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts where he teaches movement and Shakespeare. He is a member of the musical-comedy band Silly Songs with Silly Guys.

Dr. Joyce Spivey Aldridge, associate professor of theatre, did dramaturg work for "Yours, Isabel," collaborating with her former students. A dramaturg serves as the literary advisor to a production. The responsibilities can vary depending on the type of play being presented.

"Since 'Yours, Isabel' focuses on a time period removed from our own, the dramaturg's primary responsibility was to provide specific research concerning the social, political and historical characteristics of that era," Aldridge said. "It was my responsibility to provide the production team with enough visual and written data about the changing dynamics of the American culture from 1942-45. I created a packet of information that included photos, artwork, musical selections, articles and narratives so that the director and actors could more easily engage their understanding of the play with the realities of the time period."

Aldridge teaches all levels of OBU Theatre courses, and she has served as director, actor, dialect coach, choreographer and faculty mentor on numerous OBU Theatre productions since coming to OBU in 2001. The 2006 recipient of the OBU Promising Teacher Award, Aldridge also received a commendation from the National Selection Team from Region VI of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in 2009.

"I'm very proud of and grateful to Rex, Matt and Christy," Aldridge said. "It has been my pleasure and honor to have been a continued presence in both Rex and Christy's lives since graduation. Throughout these past years, they have been in contact via phone and email, allowing me the opportunity to continue our relationship in this next phase of both their personal and professional lives.

"When they have returned to Oklahoma, we have been blessed by their taking time to come to campus to speak to our classes, watch a rehearsal and interact with our students," she said. "It is an example of the kind of relationships that are created when disciplined professionals develop a friendship with one another alongside an admiration for one another's talents and abilities."

The musical for which Hall wrote the book (script) - "Trails" - recently was accepted into the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Trails tells the story of two friends who reconnect after 10 years to hike the Appalachian Trail from beginning to end. They sift through their history and build a bond of brotherhood during their six-month, 2,000-mile journey. The musical will open on Oct. 8 in Manhattan's TBG Theatre.

For more information about the New York Musical Theatre Festival, click here.