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John Kinzer
IU Department of Theatre and Drama

Jennifer Piurek
University Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, April 1, 2009

IU Department of Theatre and Drama celebrates 75th anniversary with gala event

WHAT: IU Department of Theatre and Drama's 75th Anniversary Gala
WHEN: May 2, 6 p.m. dinner, 8:15 p.m. cast party and other events
WHERE: Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center
TICKETS: $100 for entire evening, including dinner. For show and cast party only, tickets are $50 for general public, $25 for IU students. Additionally, $1, $2, $5, $10 and $20 "play bills" honoring the department's chairs will be available in the lobby to spend for beverages, theater boutiques, games and tips. All proceeds from the event will help launch an endowment campaign for the Department of Theatre and Drama. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Patricia Kennedy at 812-855-5568 or

April 1, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- IU's Department of Theatre and Drama will commemorate its 75th year with a gala event Saturday, May 2. The event is preceded by a previously announced appearance by Stephen Sondheim and NPR's Scott Simon Thursday, April 30, at 8 p.m.

The Department of Theatre and Drama's 75th Anniversary Gala features a gourmet dinner at 6 p.m. followed at 7:15 p.m. by a short film about the program's history and evolution (titled Memory Lane) and a performance by Broadway Cabaret -- a group directed by Emmy Award-winner George Pinney -- that features some of the department's top musical stars. After the show, at 8:15 p.m., is a cast party with a sing-along piano bar, a "Dancing with Our Stars" event, photo opportunities, a costume-and-set designer's boutique and exhibits that span the department's entire history.

Successful alumni planning to attend the gala include Tony Award-winning actor-director Stuart Vaughan, who received his Master of Arts degree from the department in 1952. Vaughn was founding artistic director of the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Seattle Repertory Theatre and Repertory Theatre, New Orleans. He was also artistic director of New York's Phoenix Theatre and has directed 45 New York productions since 1955. Vaughan is also a Drama Desk and Obie Award-winning director.

Broadway Cabaret

Photo by: Chris Meyer

The IU Department of Theatre and Drama's Broadway Cabaret will perform at the department's 75th anniversary gala May 2.

Print-Quality Photo

Vaughn, now 83, says he "must be among the oldest of the department's extant graduates still active in the professional theater."

John Mills, who received his doctoral degree from the program in 1961 and his Master of Arts degree in 1959, shared memories of working with Charles Kimbrough on Hamlet. Kimbrough went on to an illustrious acting career, but may be best known for his brilliant comedic turn as the news anchor on TV's hit sitcom "Murphy Brown."

"During rehearsals Chuck (appearing as Hamlet), as we knew him, was in the habit of saying 'something, something, something,' whenever he couldn't come up with a line," recalled Mills. "So, wouldn't you know, at one performance he dried up momentarily and, whether from force of habit or in sheer desperation, said 'something, something, something,' and that got him back on track. It nearly broke up the cast, but the audience, of course, was none the wiser. It sounded quite properly Shakespearean, after all. "

Bloomington's Anne K. Wiley, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1956, recalled, "It has dawned on me that my husband (David W. Wiley, who earned a doctorate from the department in 1974) and I celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary this year and we will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Department of Theatre and Drama."

Among other successful alums of the program:

  • Eric VanTielen, who received his master's degree in fine arts from the program in 2006, performed in A Tale of Two Cities on Broadway in 2008.
  • Nicole Parker, who received her bachelor's degree from the program in 2000, starred on Broadway as Elphaba in the hit musical Wicked.
  • Taylor James, who graduated with a bachelor's degree of arts in stage management (through IU's Individualized Major Program) in 2005, is stage manager for Blue Man Group in New York City.

For more information about the April 30 appearance by Stephen Sondheim and NPR's Scott Simon, visit For more information about the Department of Theatre and Drama, see For an overview of the department's history, see