Drake University’s “Carrie” to be performed at Hoyt Sherman Theater
Drake’s production of “Carrie” last October proved to be a resounding success, not only by the sold-out shows, but by the nomination and subsequent acceptance into the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.
A high honor, “Carrie” was the only musical selected from eight regions to perform at the festival.
Adam Yankowy, assistant professor of Theater Arts at Drake University and director of “Carrie,” spoke highly of the cast’s commitment to the show.
“I was thrilled with the production,” Yankowy said. “I was very proud of the students and the work that they put forth. I felt like it was a community effort. A really good team, student bonding. I felt like the students were connected. It did feel like a family and it was sad to close, so I’m really happy that we get the opportunity to do it again.”
Sophomore Laura Breyen, who played the titular role of Carrie White, also recounted how happy she was with their triumph.
“It was a huge production. So I was very satisfied with the final product,” Breyen said. “I thought we had a really good show. I was kind of nervous just on how we were going to handle everything, but I thought the way that we figured out how to do all the blood and the magic and everything ended up being very, very cool.”
Their performance, which premiered at the Hoyt Sherman Theater in Des Moines last Wednesday, showcased the actors in their element as they performed the entire show once again.
Breyen reveled at the enormous shift in space and energy of the cast and the audience.
“We’ve never performed in front of 1,200 people, which was way bigger than, like, the 80 that we had,” Breyen said. “The energy from them was really great. And they were all theater people, so they all appreciated everything and understood how much work went into it.”
The cast’s winter break was cut short as they took the time to practice the musical, with the mindset that they would be performing in a much different setting than they had originally.
“William S.E. Coleman Theatre is a small black box that seats 90 people and this is moving to Hoyt Sherman, which seats 1,200 people. It’s a premium theater, so it’s less intimate,” Yankowy said. “We had to do some decent restaging and reworking how people enter the stage and exit and all of that kind of intricate work.”
There were a few changes along the way with moving from the William S.E. Coleman Theatre to Hoyt Sherman Theater.
“There were a lot of hiccups like moving the set and getting the light set up and everything, and we ended up having to hang lights right up until the time where we were supposed to start performing,” Breyen said. “So it was quite a process, but once we actually got it and were in the middle of the show, it was so cool to just have that [Broadway-like theater] packed with people.”
Along with the nod of approval for the show as a whole, Chloe Fox, Byrnn Kelly and Laura Breyen were nominated for the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship, with Breyen advancing to the semi-finals.
“I am definitely a singer first. That’s where I’m most confident,” Breyen said. “And I’ve never done any type of acting competition before. So I was very nervous. But for the first round, we just submitted video submissions. Then through that, you advanced to the semi-finals. And I was pleasantly surprised when I advanced.”
In addition to the raving success the “Carrie” cast has experienced, there is still more to come. The New York City composer and lyricist of a new musical titled “Wings” will be coming to Des Moines as part of the William S.E. Coleman Guest Artists series. Selected cast members will join a workshop specifically to unearth the new musical’s raw material and offer their insight into an unreleased show before a full production of “Wings” appears in the fall of 2023 at Drake.
“Not a lot of schools get that opportunity to do new musicals and have them in that workshop for an early pre-production process,” Yankowy said. “They get to continue to connect and collaborate with New York City professionals, and it’s an opportunity for them to create a character that no one else has really done.”
Though “Carrie” has showcased an immense amount of popularity, Yankowy still acknowledges yearning for Theatre Arts to be promoted in student publications and the Drake community.
“I feel like sometimes we don’t always get the love in the newspapers,” Yankowy said. “It’s always great to know that we exist on the other side of campus.”
The best way for Drake students to show their support for the performing arts is to show up to the performances.
There are many student-run productions happening at the end of February, then the Greek tragedy, “The Bacchae,” at the beginning of April and the last musical of the spring semester is “Theory of Relativity.”