UF School of Theatre + Dance Students Help Develop Hit New York Musical, Volleygirls

Students at the University of Florida (UF) School of Theatre + Dance will have the unique opportunity this summer to work on Volleygirls, a new musical currently in development by a team of award-winning artists and producers, including UF School of Theatre + Dance alumnus and two-time Tony Award winning producer John Arthur Pinckard.

The School will be working closely with Pinckard and the entire production team for four weeks that will culminate with four workshop performances of the musical June 11-14, 2015. The workshop performances will be held in the Black Box Theatre in the Nadine M. McGuire Theatre and Dance Pavilion on UF’s campus. Performance times are 7:30 p.m. June 11-13, 2015 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 14, 2015.

“The School of Theatre + Dance is thrilled to host this special residency as part of our Summer Repertory Theatre program,” said Jerry Dickey, director of the UF School of Theatre + Dance. “This musical gives our students a unique opportunity to work on an original composition that is in its latter stages of development for the theatre. In doing so, they also have the chance to work with stellar guest artists and three commercial theatre producing organizations, all with significant past productions on Broadway and in professional theatres, film and television. I envision this project as a significant step in the process of turning our summer season into a time for the development of significant new works for theatre and dance.”

In Volleygirls, Kim Brindell, once a world-class volleyball athlete before she choked at the Olympics, is asked to revisit the very sport that shattered her. She must take charge of a team of wide-eyed, misfit, high school girls and turn them into a successful team. In the process Kim overcomes a neurotic P.T.A mom, the insecurities of the girls, and her own fears to become a winning coach.

Volleygirls began as a play commissioned by Craig Slaight and Carey Perloff for the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. After seeing it on its feet, playwright Rob Ackerman realized the play needed to be a musical. Years of development led to a smash hit production at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2013 where it won “Best of Fest” and “Best Ensemble Performance” honors.

In addition to Ackerman, the creative team consists of Eli Bolin (music) whose professional credits include writing music for Sesame Street since 2010; Sam Forman (lyrics), a writer for stage, screen and TV who is currently a staff writer for Netflix’s hit show, House of Cards; Neil Patrick Stewart (director), who recently directed the world premiere of Christian Durso’s Shiner for the IAMA Theatre Group in Los Angeles; Ryan Kasprzak (choreographer), featured on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance and assistant choreographer on NBC’s Smash; Monica Raymund (producer), an accomplished actress, producer, philanthropist and teacher who is best known for her current starring role as Gabriella Dawson on NBC’s long running drama, Chicago Fire; and Jacob Harvey (co-producer), an award-winning director/producer who recently completed the Bret C. Harte Director/Producer Fellowship for Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s 2013/14 Season, under Artistic Director Tony Taccone.

Amy Danis and Mark Johannes of Mars Theatricals (Tony Award, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf) and Suzanne Gilad, David Carpenter and John Arthur Pinckard of Tilted Windmills Theatricals serve as co-producers of Volleygirls. While in residence at the UF School of Theatre + Dance, the producers will offer two panels open to the public. Danis, Johannes and Pinckard will speak on “What Does a Broadway Producer Do?” on Thursday, May 21, 9:30-10:45 a.m. in the McGuire Pavilion, G-10 Studio. On Thursday, June 11, from 9:30-10:45 a.m., Pinckard will join Carpenter for a presentation of “How Broadway Shows are Financially Structured and Who Makes Money in Commercial Theatre,” also in the McGuire Pavilion, G-10 Studio.

“My partners and I are thrilled to inaugurate this new program in partnership with UF,” said Pinckard. “For students of theatre and dance entering the performing arts industry, many of their first professional opportunities will be in the development of new shows, which involves distinct skill sets in which many universities are unable to offer training. We hope this residency continues to make UF an even more competitive presence in the world of collegiate theatrical education.”

Tickets to the workshop performances of Volleygirls are $17 for the general public, and are $13 for students, UF faculty/staff and senior citizens. Tickets are available through the University Box Office located at Gate 1 of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, by calling 352-392-1653 or at ticketmaster.com.

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