Roos in Shakespeare in the Park

Theatre alumni and students help produce the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival's 33rd production
Marisa Tejeda, Jan Rogge, Haddy Wilczewski and Collin Vorbeck onstage for performance of Shakespeare in Love.

A recent In Kansas City article about the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival got us thinking: How many UMKC students and alumni have had a hand in productions over the festival’s 27 seasons?

We reached out to Sidonie Garrett (B.L.A. '94), executive artistic director of the festival, to help us uncover the answer.

Her response? More than 1,000 Roos have helped with the festival’s 33 productions. More specifically, she estimates there have been around 270 onstage actors and musicians and 735 offstage folks, from technical directors to choreographers.

This year, for the first time, the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s production in the park is Shakespeare in Love, a play not written by the man himself but, instead, a fictional account of him writing Romeo and Juliet. We were lucky enough to go behind the scenes and shadow a few alumni to see what goes into putting on the festival’s newest and biggest production to date.

Katherine Gerhlein and Mariah Roady backstage before Shakespeare in Love.
If you’ve attended Shakespeare in the park this year, you’ve likely passed by Katherine Gehrlein (pictured left, M.F.A. ’17), director of operations and community relations, and Mariah Roady (B.F.A. ’15), development and marketing associate. The two work together to ensure everyone is set before the gates open. They serve as run-of-house managers for the nearly 2,000 guests that come to see the play on any given night. Photo by Brandon Parigo.
Petey McGee onstage during a performance of Shakespeare in Love.
Petey McGee (B.A. '17) plays Nol, Benvolio and Samson in Shakespeare in Love. Photo courtesy of Heart of America Shakespeare Festival.
Colin Fowler setting up a bed onstage before Shakespeare in Love.
Colin Fowler (pictured right, M.F.A. '19), assistant stage manager, readies the set by making a bed on the second level with production assistant Joy Covington. Photo by Brandon Parigo.
Afton Earp sets up her space before a performance of Shakespeare in Love.
Afton Earp (M.F.A. '17), production stage manager, sets up her binder which includes lighting and sound cues for the entire performance. Photo by Brandon Parigo.
Marianne McKenzie and Matthew McAndrews onstage during Shakespeare in Love.
Actors Marianne McKenzie (pictured left, B.A. '15) and Matthew McAndrews, who received his theatre and law degrees from UMKC in 2012 and 2018, respectively. Photo courtesy of Heart of America Shakespeare Festival.

See Shakespeare in Love through July 7 at Southmoreland Park!

More information on the play

Learn more about Conservatory

Learn more about College of Arts and Sciences

Published: Jul 1, 2019

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