Rooster – UCO Department of Theatre Arts
FEB. 27, 2023
KCACTF Region 6
The University of Central Oklahoma
College of Fine Arts and Design
Department of Theatre Arts
Written by Skyler Q. Andrews
Director – Michael Anthony Page
Scenic Designer – Devin Scheef
Costume Designer – Becky McGuigan
Lighting Designer & Operator – Sam Cox
Sound Designer – Sam Aldridge
Sound Operator – Bailey Carpenter
Sound Tech – Laila Farmer
Projection Designer & Operator – Skylar Selby-Mullins
Production Stage Manager – Rae Dorlac
ASM Stage Right – Maddey Grant
Crew Right – Joe Dunn, Ian Wehrenberg, Nom Martinez
Crew Left – Ryder Trayah, Huieun Lee, Mads Bertsch
Sometime in the summer of 2011, I sat down in my parents’ study, at my mother’s work desk—as my own laptop had gone out of commission—and with a playwriting format template I found after some hearty googling, began whittling away at what would become the first draft of Rooster.
The idea had incubated for about five years at that point. A classically hardboiled and unabashedly southern murder mystery, redolent with the blues, gospel, and the pangs of old-time religion. A story about Black people, with a Black private detective hero; the ilk of Hammett’s Sam Spade, Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, McDonald’s Lew Archer and Mosley’s Easy Rawlins; set in my hometown of Aiken, South Carolina, in 1947.
I wasn’t a mere visitor to this world. Years’ worth of scribbled notes in tattered Moleskines still attest to humid afternoons in coffee shops wrestling with people I made up, discerning their motivations, indexing their histories and affectations, interviewing them with due diligence.
By the time I finally sat down to write the thing, I was all too sure I already knew this story, this world, and its people like the back of my hand. By the time I had written the second scene, I’d come to accept that, much like my subconscious, I hadn’t actually spent as much time examining the back of my hand as I thought.
But that journey wasn’t a slog; it was all I could’ve hoped for, discovering and rediscovering these characters and their strivings, this tale and its meaning. It is a journey I have undergone many times over the years, revising, note taking, preparing for readings or for a future production that I always believed would happen but only in some distant “one of these days.”
I am grateful, to biblical proportions, that “one of these days” is finally here. Not only because of how long it took to get here, or how it got here, but because this represents the ultimate stratum of “rediscovery.” I will meet these characters, now in the flesh, visit this world, experience this tale, for the first time again, so to speak. I will learn what their journeys mean, read new subtexts, discern new histories, raise new questions. I will not only see the Rooster come to life, but I will get to do so in the proper context of drama—alongside an audience.
I am grateful for this most providential opportunity, I am grateful to the University of Central Oklahoma, the Department of Theatre Arts, and this happy legion of more than capable hands—not least of all Mr. Page, and a wonderful and talented young cast.
And most of all—because why else should this play exist—I am grateful for the audience, with whom I am humbled and honored to share this journey.
There’s much to say about Rooster and, I pray, plenty being said in it as well. For now, let it suffice to say that I look mighty forward to learning and relearning, myself, what this mysterious juke joint has to say to, for, and about us, then and now. I hope you do, too.
Skyler Q. Andrews
Vernon C. Beaumont
Ty “Switch” Williams
Purvis “Shankbone” Grier
Sgt. Dale Marzden
Ronnie Mae Little
Rev. Regina Weaver
Jailer / Hotel Clerk
Blair Hill-Howard, Gianna Brown, Jayden Brown
Time: Fall, 1947
Place: Aiken, South Carolina
We will hold a brief 15 minute intermission after the second act
The human condition in the late 1940’s in the deep south bears some striking similarities to our current societal, racial,and religious norms. When asked, “why did I choose to direct “Rooster”?” I replied, “because at its core it tells the story of how we got where we are today.” Tackling a new piece of work brought excitement and trepidation. However, the strong urge to tell this story has compelled me to bring this experience to the stage for the first time. The racial and religious overtones of this play, coupled with the storylines of infidelity, societal norms, and the emerging status of educated African Americans, is a story I had to tell. Combining this story with the students’ energy and overall intensity has made this an enjoyable experience to direct. I hope you enjoy the journey!
– Michael Anthony Page
Cutter Acker (Eli Cartwright) is ecstatic to perform in the world premiere of “Rooster” at UCO! Other productions of his consist of UCO’s Mainstage production of “Clue” (Wadsworth), the UCO Blackbox APO production of “The Shadow Box” (Mark) and Choctaw High School productions such as “The Crucible” (Reverend John Hale). Cutter would like to thank his family, friends, and co-stars for always being there when he needs them most! “The structure of a play is always the story of how the birds came home to roost.” – Arthur Miller.
Benjamin Barker (Vernon C. Beaumont) is thrilled to bring this staging of Rooster together. Previously seen in Collin Andrulonis’ direction of “Corpus Christi” as John the Baptist and has recently gotten involved with film production at the Film Education Institution of Oklahoma (FEIO). As a senior of performance at UCO, Benjamin is looking forward to creating with collaborators within Oklahoma and beyond.
Davin Bivins (Lincoln Morris) is extremely excited to be part of something bigger than himself. Davin lives in OKC with his parents and attends UCO. He is a current junior in the program and will be performing in his first ever live play on stage. He is very excited about his character and role in the play. Davin’s hobbies include mostly video games and basketball. He can also do a plethora of voice impressions. He wants to make the audience feel something when he performs.
JD Bledsoe (Loretta) born and raised in Spencer, Oklahoma is a third-year theatre performance major. JD currently serves as the President for the Black Student Association, and a lead mentor for the Black Women’s Initiative to name a couple. You’ve probably seen her face around due to her vast amount of campus involvement. In her free time, she enjoys reading books, listening to music and being in nature. JD is furthering her education with a degree in theatre performance with the determination of pursuing a screen acting career.
Gianna Brown (Ensemble) is a freshman theater performance major. She graduated from Mustang High School. She would like to thank her family for their love and support. She is a member of the ensemble as well as understudy for Loretta.
Jayden Brown (Ensemble) is a freshman at UCO. He is very honored to be part of this show. Jayden is a member of the ensemble and plays the bartender. He is very excited to be able to perform on Mitchell Hall’s stage again and to see the other actors shine.
Josiah Campell (Job Cartwright) is very excited to be in “Rooster.” This is his first show on the main stage at UCO. He would like to thank his director Michael Page, his wonderful cast members, and the stage manager Rae Dorlac for a professional yet lighthearted experience.
James Coplen (Purvis “Shankbone” Grier) is a multi-instrumentalist and actor from the OKC area. A songwriter, he is also a member of the band “the confused.” James’ previous roles include Jimmy Ray Dobbs – “Bright Star” and William Blore – “And Then There Were None.” A freshman in UCO’s musical theatre program, James is excited to kick off his college career with “Rooster”!
Rainey Denison (Naomi Cartwright) is ecstatic to be a part of the “Rooster” cast. Rainey is a junior theatre performance major at UCO. She has recently been seen in last fall’s APO production of “The Shadow Box” and in UCO’s spring production of Corpus Christi.” She would like to give a special thanks to her mom and dad for always supporting and encouraging her to do what she loves, her siblings for all the help they’ve given and her friends for having her back. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
Blair Hill-Howard (Ensemble) is a senior Theater Performance major! Blair transferred to UCO two years ago and they have been in productions such as “Corpus Christi” and Laramie Project. They are so grateful and excited to be a part of the premier cast of “Rooster”!
Belle Kaufman (Cindy Cartwright) is a junior and is excited to play the first ever Cindy in the premiere of “Rooster”! Some of her favorite roles have been Shelby from “Steel Magnolias,” as well as a Ronnette, and head choreographer of “Little Shop of Horrors.” She would like to thank her family, friends and everyone involved in this show for their support and hard work.
Taylor Loomis (Susannah Cartwright) is very excited to be a part of this production and share the stage with such a talented cast. She is playing the role of Susannah Cartwright. She is a senior theater performance major. She was most recently seen in Jewel Box Theater’s production of “Brief Encounter.” This is Taylor’s first production on the Mitchell Hall stage, and she is grateful to be a part of the world premiere of “Rooster.” She would like to thank her family, friends and partner for supporting her and her passions.
Brayden Pogson (he/him) (Milton Cartwright) is a sophomore here at UCO as a theatre performance and theatre design and technology major. He has previously been seen in UCO’s “Clue” (Colonel Mustard), Poteet Theatre’s “Footloose” (Dance Captain) and Upstage Theatre’s “Anything Goes” (Moonface Martin). Brayden is a consistent performer at Frontier City as well. He is very excited to be originating this play!
Cole Shoemaker (Jailor/Hotel Clerk) is super-duper excited to be a part of this “Rooster” cast. He is a sophomore theater performance major at UCO. He was previously in “Clue” (cop) and Corpus Christi (Thaddeus). He has never been this close to the sun but swears he will not burn. He likes to thank his abovestudy Braydon Pogson, Stage Manager Rae and the whole cast and crew.
Stepheny Smith (Rev. Regina Weaver) is the Executive Assistant for the VP of Enrollment and Student Success. She has worked at UCO for over 12 years. In her spare time, she loves to sing, read and travel. On two separate occasions while visiting NYC, she was fortunate enough to see “The Lion King” and “The Color Purple” on Broadway. Stepheny was born in Wynnewood, Oklahoma and to her knowledge she is not related to Joe Exotic. Stepheny is a graduate of John Marshall High School and a proud alumnus of Oklahoma State University.
Ethan Sparks (Sgt. Dale Marzden) is a sophomore theater performance major at UCO, and is excited to be part of the world premiere of “Rooster”! You may have caught him in UCO’s fall production of “Puffs” as the dragon, as well as UCO’s Short Play Festival rendition of “Exterminator” playing Willie. He wants to thank Director Michael Page for letting him be part of this production and also wants to thank the cast and crew for all their hard work, he will cherish the memories they’ve made. Finally, he wants to thank his friends and family for always pushing him forward.
Erin Thompson (Ronnie Mae Little) is a sophomore theatre performance major, from Spencer, Oklahoma. Some of Erin’s credits include “Sister Act” and “Puffs” at UCO, Lyric’s “A Christmas Carol,” “Grease,” Lyric Kids’ “Clubhouse” and “The Cat In The Hat” at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. Erin would like to thank all of her friends and family for their wonderful support during her journey!
ARTISTIC STAFF BIOS
Michael Anthony Page (Director) is thrilled at the opportunity to mount “Rooster” for UCO’s Theater Mainstage. Michael is returning to directing after taking a hiatus to pursue acting/film opportunities. Michael has directed productions of “Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope,” “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Purlie Victorious” for the Amani Players in New York City.
Michael has performed Nationally and Internationally in theater and film roles. Some of his local favorite theater roles include Simon in “The Whipping Man” (Carpenter Square), Mister in “The Color Purple” (Pollard Theater), Crooks in “Of Mice and Men” (OKC Theater Co.) and Murray in “The Odd Couple” (Lyric Theater). Other Regional Equity roles include Ken in “Ain’t Misbehavin” (Theatreworks, CA), TonTon in “Once on This Island” (American Musical Theater, CA), Oberon in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Theatreworks, CA), Audrey II in “Little Shop of Horrors” (American Musical Theater, CA) and Homer in “The Lilies of the Field” (Willows Theater, CA). National Equity tours include roles of Martin Luther King Jr. in the musical “Martin” and vocal soloist performances with the Denver Symphony and Philadelphia Pops. Television credits include Soloist at NFL Super Bowl XX Halftime show. A graduate of the School of Performing Arts in New York City, Michael’s recent film credits include “Gremlin” (2017), “The Girl Who Believes in Miracles,” “A Country Romance,” “American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story.” Upcoming films include “Unbreakable Boy” (Lionsgate) and “The Quest for Tom Sawyers Gold” (Lionsgate)!
Sam Cox (Lighting Designer) is a senior theatre design and technology student with a focus in lighting design. She is delighted to be a part of the world premiere of “Rooster”! Her favorite credits include “Wait Until Dark,” which was produced at Stagedoor Manor in New York this past summer, “Corpus Christi,” in the UCO Theatre Department’s black box venue last spring and “Rock of Ages,” which was produced at the UCO Jazz Lab. She also recently worked as an electrician and lighting designer at Stagedoor Manor to produce a total of 31 shows in nine weeks, as well as an electrician and programmer with Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. She’d like to thank all the mentors she’s had over the years and her friends and family for always cheering her on and supporting her dreams.
Devin Pierce Scheef, MFA (Scenic Designer) is the Assistant Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts at UCO. In addition to designing scenery for recent Mitchell Hall productions including “The Consul” and “Puffs,” he has designed for regional and educational theaters across the country, and performed a variety of operational and show-support roles within the theme park, cruise line, and circus industries.
Samantha Aldridge (Sound Designer) is the current sound designer and engineer for University Productions at UCO. Samantha graduated from UCO with a B.F.A. in Theatre Design and Technology with an emphasis in sound design and engineering. She’s done a lot of shows during her career. She plans to stick around Oklahoma for a while and mooch off of her parents as long as she can. If you are anyone other than her Mom still reading this right now then this smiley face if for you. 🙂 Every show is always dedicated to her family and her dog, Banjo.
Becky McGuigan (Costume Designer) is the Assistant Professor of Costume Design at the University of Central Oklahoma and the Head of the Design and Technical Program. Some of her most recent design work for the university includes costumes for “Sweeney Todd,” “Rhinoceros,” “Radium Girls,” “Nine,” “Peter and the Starcatcher,” “Cosi fan tutte,” which was recognized nationally by Opera World for overall production and “Macbeth.” In addition to her work with UCO, Becky is also the Costume Director for Painted Sky Opera in Oklahoma City. Most recently she designed costumes for Painted Sky Opera productions including “Pagliacci,” “Rigoletto,” “Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins,” “Tosca” and “La Traviata.” Becky earned her MFA in Costume Design from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco in 2018 and her Diploma in Handcraft Tailoring from the University of the Arts, London College of Fashion in 2009. While in London she worked as Production Administrator/Costume Assistant for Walking Thoughts, Ltd., a North London based theatre company, during its production of “Anastasia.”
Rae Dorlac (Stage manager) is a sophomore design and technology major with a focus in stage management. Their most recognizable shows include “Consul” and “Clue” in the spring ’22 semester here at UCO. She is absolutely thrilled to be stage managing the world premiere of “Rooster” on the Mitchell Hall stage.
Skylar Selby-Mullins (Projections Designer) is a senior theatre design and technology major at the University of Oklahoma. She is excited to be apart UCO’s wonderful production of “Rooster.” She would like to thank her family for their love and support as she continues to pursue her dreams.
Director: Michael Anthony Page*
Dramaturg: Angelique Bruner
Stage Manager: Rae Dorlac
Assistant Stage Manager: Meagan Klusman
Movement Coach and Combat Choreographer: Kris Kuss
Scenic Designer: Devin Scheef
Technical Director: Patterson Allen
Assistant Technical Director: Christian Heffron
Scene Shop Employees: Lorenzo Butler, Gillian Andersen, Alyssa Cargill
Stage Crew: Rebecca Kauten, Alyssa Cargill, Huieun Lee, Bee Palmer, Joe Dunn, Sueun Kim, Cadence Bristol
Properties Master: Alexis Gass
Costumer Designer: Becky McGuigan
Costume Shop Manager: Brian Butler
Costume Shop Employees: Alexis Gass, Kylee Vera, Riley Hall, Alejandra Carnero, Kennedy Hurst, Bonnye Payne, Lillie Taylor
Wardrobe Supervisor: Riley Hall
Wardrobe Crew: Tae Bradshaw
Wigs Stylist: Brawna Gfeller
Lighting Designer and Operator: Sam Cox
Master Electrician: Ellen Schmidt
Lighting Shop Employees: Samantha Cox, Isabell Hales, Brayden Pogson
Light Board Operator: Madison Kelly
Projection Designer and Operator: Skylar Selby-Mullins
Sound Designer: Samantha Aldridge
Sound Board Operator/A1: Elyse Schmidt
Sound Shop Employees: Elyse Schmidt, Brayden Pogson
Production Manager: Latricia Taylor
Assistant Production Manager: Rox Allen Kerby
Box Office Manager: Matthew Fowler
Box Office Staff: Lamar Burns, Jenna Gaston, Leah Maier, Roberto Lopez Jr., Emma Livingston, Kody Clark, Jacey Nichole, Madeline Young
*indicates member of Actors’ Equity Association
College of Fine Arts and Design
Charleen Weidell, Dean
Jill Priest, Associate Dean
Dr. Sandra Thompson, Interim Assistant Dean
Dr. Kato Buss, Interim Assistant Dean
Department of Theatre Arts
Daisy Nystul, Interim Chair
Devin Scheef, Assistant Chair
Collin Andrulonis, Head of Theatre Arts/Communication Education
Kato Buss, Performance
Rebecca McGuigan, Head of Design and Technology
Sue Ellen Reiman, Improvisation Instructor
Jamison Rhoads, Design and Technology
Sandy Adams, Administrative Professional
Mitchell Hall Theatre
Latricia Taylor, Director of University Productions
Rox Allen Kerby, Manager of University Production
Matthew Fowler, Front of House Manager
Patterson Allen, Technical Director
Christian Heffron, Assistant Technical Director
Brian Butler, Costume Shop Manager
Ellen Schmidt, Master Electrician & Lighting Designer
Samantha Aldridge, Sound Engineer
Scott Roberts, Resident Scenic Designer
Megan Ann Richardson, Resident Costume Designer
This production is part of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), a national organization that exists to celebrate the educational and creative process of university and college theatre.
View the College of Fine Arts and Design Artistic Expression Statement
Learn more about the Theatre Arts Department