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Alley Theatre’s ‘Cyrano De Bergerac’ Winning over Audiences With Assistance from UH School of Theatre & Dance Students, Alums

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October 27, 2008-Houston-
"Cyrano de Bergerac" is currently swashbuckling across the Alley Theatre's main stage. Houston audiences are praising the action-packed production, especially actor Jeffrey Bean's "on the nose" portrayal of the sharp-witted title character.

Sharing the stage with Bean and other Alley resident actors are students and alums from the University of Houston's School of Theatre & Dance, who maintain a steady stage presence as the play's ensemble cast.

This professional opportunity is offering students valuable experience and a nice notch on their acting resumes. Best of all, they're able to hone their skills by working alongside some of the top talents of the industry.

"This has been an amazing experience, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with such talented professionals," said Elissa Levitt, UH master of fine arts (MFA) student. "Watching the Alley's cast and crew work is like a master class in acting, directing and production."

Also participating in "Cyrano de Bergerac" is Brian Byrnes, associate professor of theatre, who teaches stage combat at UH and is the play's fight director, choreographing sword duels and other moments of staged violence.

During the pre-production process for "Cyrano de Bergerac," the members of the Alley expressed a strong interest in using UH students as a part of the acting ensemble. Following recommendations by Byrnes, four UH students (Levitt, Rivka Noskeau, Luis Gonzalez and Caleb George) and two alumni (Noe Mendoza III and Kalob Martinez ) auditioned and were hired to participate in the play.

Also working on "Cyrano" is UH MFA student and 15-year Alley resident company member Paul Hope, UH alum and 20-year Alley resident company member James Belcher, and professional actor and UH alum Brandon Hearnsberger.

"I've always been very pleased to recommend UH's talented and dedicated actors for professional work, especially with a company like the Alley Theatre," Byrnes said. "I'm very proud of all the UH students and alumni who are working on this production. Their contributions have made the process an incredibly rewarding experience."

"Cyrano de Bergerac" won't be the sole Alley production to use UH's student talents. More students will have the chance to learn from the company's creative forces through a new UH MFA program that kicked off this fall. Offered through the School of Theatre & Dance, graduate student actors, directors, designers and dramaturgs will actively participate in Alley productions.

"The energy, enthusiasm and commitment of the UH students were an important part of our "Cyrano." They add much to the process, and we are all grateful for their large contribution to the production," said Gregory Boyd, artistic director for the Alley Theatre and director of "Cyrano de Bergerac."

"Cyrano de Bergerac" runs through Nov. 2 at the Alley Theatre. For more details including ticket information and show times, visit www.alleytheatre.org.

Founded 62 years ago, the Alley serves as Houston's premier theater company offering new plays, classics, re-discovered and rarely performed works and new musical theater. Led by Boyd and managing director Dean Gladden, it is one of the few American theater companies supporting a resident company of actors, designers, artisans and craftspeople. The Alley Theatre's facility consists of two stages - the 824-seat Hubbard Stage and the 310-seat Neuhaus Stage. Each season, the company presents a wide ranging repertoire of productions performed year round. The Alley is also home to programs that engage students around the city and state of Texas in educational theatre activities.

The UH School of Theatre & Dance offers bachelors and master's degrees in theatre and teacher certifications in dance. Its graduate program consists of a master of arts in theatre and masters of fine arts in theatre with specializations in acting, directing and design. Each season the School of Theatre & Dance produces five plays performed in the Wortham Theatre and the Jose Quintero Theatre, two dance concerts, student productions, the New Play Festival, the Houston Shakespeare Festival and the Children's Theatre Festival. The school has benefitted from notable star faculty such as Edward Albee, Lanford Wilson, Sir Peter Hall and Jose Quintero. Among current faculty are Houston Shakespeare Festival founder Sidney Berger, Tony Award-winning playwright Medoff and Tony Award-winning producer Stuart Ostrow.

For details on UH's School of Theatre & Dance, visit http://www.hfac.uh.edu/theatre/default.html.

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

Categories: Arts, Events