Megan was assistant stage manager for the recent Ann Arbor-based Performance Network Theatre production of the David Ives play, Venus in Fur. Megan earned a double minor in French and sociology/anthropology at K. Her Kalamazoo College Festival Playhouse directing résumé included: Bringing Home the Bones, director, and Into the Woods, assistant director. Her acting credits include Violet Venable in Suddenly Last Summer and Clara in Alison Shields (by K alumnus Joe Tracz ’04). She continues her apprenticeship at Performance Network Theatre. Her eventual career goal is to be the artistic director of a small theatre company. Founded in 1981, Performance Network Theatre reaches 40,000 theatre patrons and children each year through its Professional Series and the Children’s Theatre Network. Performance Network Theatre also presents the Fireside New Play Festival and a series of classes on theatre-related topics.
John has written, directed and executive-produced “Heroes on Deck: World War II on Lake Michigan,” a one-hour film documentary that had its world premiere at Kalamazoo College. Heroes tells the story of two makeshift U.S. aircraft carriers on Lake Michigan during WWII, more than 15,000 Navy pilots who practiced landings and takeoffs on their decks, and the pilots who lost their lives trying. The film also reveals recent efforts to recover and restore some of the more than 100 planes that crashed and sank to the bottom of the Lake, including two that are at the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo. “Heroes on Deck” will premiere nationally on public television during Memorial Day 2016 weekend.
June has published, at age 90, From the Inside: A Look at Nursing Homes and Their Patients in Today’s Elder Care System. The book provides her insider look at the day-to-day happenings of nursing homes both as a resident and a friend to residents. Central to those observations is her unique mix of humor, introspection, and occasional depression as she faced the work of getting well and coping with pain.
During the last decade June spent nine months in three different nursing homes in Montana and the Midwest. “People need to know what it’s like to be in a nursing home,” she said.
Though it occurred decades ago, her father’s nursing home stay in New York remains seared into her memory, and was the impetus for the book. “I was so furious,” she remembers. “It was so negative. To be in a nursing home is to truly be someone different.” But, over the years, she says, she learned that “Nursing homes are NOT the worst thing in the world. I came to scorn and stayed to praise,” she concludes.
June enrolled in Kalamazoo College at the age of 16. She majored in English and theatre. The latter may not be surprising, given the fact that she had been a child performer at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. During her student days at K, a weekly campus segment she did on the local radio station eventually became a full-time job with CBS-WKZO in Kalamazoo. She worked on a feature called “News of Women Today,” which carried stories on women’s responses to World War II throughout the world and the effect the war had on women’s status and work.
June and her husband, Wayne, have lived near Whitehall, Montana for 20 years. They spent most of their marriage in East Aurora, N.Y., where Wayne worked for Fisher-Price. June earned her M.A. at Syracuse University and taught there. She also directed plays at both the Buffalo and the East Aurora theaters. And she performed her own material in a series of one-woman shows. She and Wayne eventually moved west to be closer to their two sons and five grandchildren. She helped establish a theatre group in Whitehall. For four years, “Jefferson Valley Presents” staged an outdoor dinner theatre production on the Lewis and Clark expedition. June wrote the script, performed, and helped with the costuming.
Walter died on August 5, 2015. He matriculated to K from Vicksburg (Mich.) High School. He earned his degree in biology and was deeply involved in theatre productions on campus. After graduation he attended Yale School of Drama for a year. On June 2, 1963, he married Lela Davis in Vicksburg. Walter followed his love of theatre as a freelance theatre director his entire career. He directed more than 100 plays in his lifetime and acted in many as well. He also was a founding member of the Festival Playhouse at Kalamazoo College. He was a true liberal arts spirit with many varied interests. He was a member of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors and the American Conifer Society. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather blessed with a very curious mind and insatiable love of the arts. Walter is survived by Lela, his wife of 52 years, their three children and two grandchildren.
Two Muses Theatre (West Bloomfield, Mich.) presents the award-winning play Love, Loss, and What I Wore (by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron), May 30 through June 15, and Lila (in the role of Gingy) will headline the cast of the production’s second weekend. Each weekend’s performance features a unique cast with a local celebrity. A former news anchor, Lila runs a production company, Lila Productions, and currently hosts the award-winning Discover Remarkable series on WXYZ. The Two Muses stagings are a collaboration with Closet NV to raise clothing donations for Dress for Success, a worldwide organization whose mission is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire to help them thrive in work and in life. Lila is no stranger to hard work on behalf of important causes. She swam the Straits of Mackinac (a 5-mile swim) to raise money and awareness for Mentor Michigan, and each fall she climbs from one end of the Grand Canyon to the other (21 miles) and back again. In 2007, she was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness. An avid motorcyclist, Lila was recently named Michigan’s Ambassador of Motorcycle Safety. She is active in many community and charitable organizations, serves on multiple boards, and is currently President of Kids Kicking Cancer. She’s also very involved with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization. She’s been a Big Sister for 20 years.
Lisa will be able see her Tony award-winning Broadway musical Fun Home staged in her home town of Lansing, Mich., next year. The Wharton Center in Lansing announced it will stage a professional production of Fun Home during the Center’s 2016-17 season. The play, based on Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir of the same name, was nominated for 12 Tony awards in 2015 and took home five, including best musical and best original score. Kron wrote the musical’s book. She grew up on Lansing’s west side and studied theater at K before moving, in 1984, to New York City.
Leslie was the editor and co-writer of the documentary The Homestretch, which last month received the News and Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting-Long Form. The film is about three homeless teens as they fight to stay in school, graduate, and build a future. The film follows these kids as they move through the milestones of high school while navigating a landscape of couch hopping, emergency shelters, transitional homes, street families and the Chicago Public Schools system. The film also explores their lives after high school graduation, that crucial transition when the structure of school vanishes and homeless youth struggle to find the support and community they need to survive and be independent. Leslie majored in theatre arts at K and studied abroad in the United Kingdom.
Phoebe is the deck manager at Indiana Repertory Theater in Indianapolis. IRT is the state’s largest equity theater.
Lisa was awarded the 2017 Kleban Prize for most promising musical theater librettist. Lisa won two Tony Awards (2015) for writing the book and lyrics of Fun Home, a play about a lesbian cartoonist coping with her father’s suicide. She also has written and performed the plays Well and 2.5 Minute Ride. At K Lisa majored in theatre arts and studied abroad in the United Kingdom. In other news about Lisa, she is featured in the third volume of The Legacy Project, a series of interviews that focus on prominent contemporary American playwrights. Lisa interviews writer and director James Lapine, who wrote the book for the musical Sunday in the Park With George, one of Lisa’s favorites. Stephen Sondheim did the lyrics and music. It’s a fascinating interview you can see on YouTube. The Legacy Project is produced by The Dramatists Guild.
Emily played Elizabeth Bennet in the Jon Jory stage adaptation of Jane’s Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The play was performed last November at Indiana University’s Ruth N. Halls Theater. Emily is a third-year graduate student in acting at IU. She was a theatre arts major at K, and she studied abroad in India. An enthusiastic Monkapult improvisational artist, Emily also was a frequent performer for Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College. Among her most prominent roles was Hamlet in Festival Playhouse’s all-female version of Shakespeare’s play, and she played the role of fellow alumna Lisa Kron ’83 in the latter’s Tony-nominated play Well.