KINGSTON, R.I. – Sept. 9, 2013 – The big stage at the University of Rhode Island just got bigger.
The theater department picked up four awards from the arts and entertainment magazine Motif at its annual awards dinner last month to honor Rhode Island actors and directors.
URI won all four awards in the college/university theater category, beating out Brown University, Rhode Island College and Roger Williams University. The winners were all involved in URI’s recent production of the musical, Company.
The honors went to:
Andrew Burnap, best actor. Burnap, of South Kingstown, wowed audiences with his acting and singing during his four years at URI and is now a freshman at the Yale School of Drama, where he is tweeting about his great adventure at twitter.com/McDrewBur. Burnap played Robert, a bachelor who begins to question his life as a single man by examining his relationships with his married friends and girlfriends.
Lindsy Bissonnette, best actress. Bissonnette, also from South Kingstown, is a senior with a double major: communications and acting and directing. She played Amy, an anxious woman who gets cold feet on her wedding day. “I’m proud to be able to say that I was part of this amazing production, and I’m so happy the entire group has been recognized for all of its hard work,” Bissonnette says. “This has been an amazing journey. I’m so excited to see where my final year here will take me.”
Company, best production. Company is a musical comedy based on a book by George Furth with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The musical was nominated for a record-setting 14 Tony awards and won six.
Paula McGlasson, best director. McGlasson is chair of URI’s theater department. A professor of stage and theater management, she has managed more than 60 productions and directed dozens of plays and musicals. A native of Peoria, Ill., McGlasson received her master’s degree from Illinois State University and worked on her doctorate at the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana.
“When we won all four awards in our category for Company it was especially satisfying because Company is a show I’ve wanted to direct for a long time,” says McGlasson. “I admire all of Stephen Sondheim’s work but Company is a haunting, challenging show that has been on my wish list for quite some time.
“I enjoyed delving into the complex music, lyrics, relationships and characters right alongside my students,” she says. “There was a large payoff for all of us in the presentation of this material. When that payoff meant as much to the audience as it did to the cast and crew who played out the story on stage, it made everything so much more memorable.”
Mike Ryan, publisher of Motif, a free magazine that circulates in Rhode Island and the region, says the magazine’s readers selected the winners through online voting. Universities and colleges submitted nominees. Winners were announced at an awards ceremony Aug. 26.
Considered by many to have inaugurated the modern era of musical theater, Company follows Robert as he makes his way in New York City through a series of encounters with his three girlfriends, as well as his married friends.
On the night of his 35th birthday, Robert contemplates his life as a single man. In vignette after hilarious vignette, viewers are introduced to “those good and crazy people” – married folks – as Robert weighs the pros and cons of tying the knot. In the end, he realizes being alone is “alone, not alive.”
The theater department at URI offers a bachelor’s of fine arts in acting, directing, design and technology, stage and theater management, and musical theater. Graduates praise the small classes, devoted faculty, internships and instruction by guest artists from as far away as New York.
To schedule a visit or sit in on a class, contact Bonnie Bosworth at firstname.lastname@example.org or (401) 874-5922.
“We are very proud of our students, faculty and staff in our Department of Theatre at URI,” says Winifred Brownell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Their work this past year on Sondheim’s musical Company produced one of their most outstanding productions. Sweeping the prestigious Motif awards provides vivid evidence of their artistic accomplishments.”
Pictured above: TS McCormick comforts Lindsy Bissonnette with her wedding jitters during a performance of Company, a musical at the University of Rhode Island that won four theater awards from Motif, a regional arts and entertainment magazine. Bissonnette, of South Kingstown, is a senior at URI. McCormick graduated from URI last year and is studying theater in graduate school at Minnesota State University. URI photo by Randy Osga.