Rollins Theatre Department Attracts Multiple Honors for 2019 Season

The Orlando Sentinel praised the creative work of the Rollins theatre department for putting on some of the past year’s top productions.

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

Not only does Rollins have one of the best undergraduate theater departments in the nation, but it’s also being recognized for running one of the best theaters in Orlando. Last year, theater blog OnStage ranked Rollins one of the top 25 BA theater programs in the country and No. 1 in Florida, and now the Orlando Sentinel is praising the College for delivering one of the best theater experiences in Orlando.

The Orlando Sentinel’s recent annual list of the best productions of the year was exceptionally rich in recognition for Rollins students, faculty, and staff. Theatre critic Matthew Palm singled out two productions at Rollins’ Annie Russell Theatre as well as multiple members of the Rollins community, including two student performances, as overall Critic’s Picks.

Respectively, Josh Scott ’19 and Fisher Alexander were named best leading actor in a drama and best featured actor in a drama for their work in the world premiere of John Proctor Is the Villain, which is set during a Georgia high school class reading of Arthur Miller’s classic Salem witch trial play, The Crucible.

“With every twist and turn in John Proctor Is the Villain at the Annie Russell Theatre, Josh Scott showed us a new layer in his character, Mr. Smith, and made us feel differently about him,” writes Palm. “As a hip teacher with a winning smile, Scott seemed utterly real.”

“Receiving this was a huge honor,” says Scott, a theatre major. “To think that I am recognized as the best leading dramatic actor in Orlando is something I couldn’t have imagined. I’m super thankful for all the support from my peers and the Rollins theatre department for allowing me to showcase myself and my talents.”

Two Rollins productions—John Procter Is the Villain and The Humans—were recognized in the Orlando Sentinel’s Best of 2019 theater awards. Photos courtesy Rollins Department of Theatre. Two Rollins productions—John Procter Is the Villain and The Humans—were recognized in the Orlando Sentinel’s Best of 2019 theater awards. Photos courtesy Rollins Department of Theatre.

The Sentinel’s Best of 2019 honors for elevating the art of theater in Central Florida also spotlighted Allie Furlong ’20 twice as best featured actress in drama—as she consistently revealed layer after emotional layer in portraying a high school student in John Proctor and radiated love as a mother in The Humans.

“It’s always nice when our work on campus is acknowledged by the community, and it is truly an honor to have our work celebrated alongside professional companies in the area,” says theatre professor David Charles, who teaches acting and improv and was lauded among 2019’s Best Directors for John Proctor. “Our students, alongside our dedicated faculty and staff, work diligently to craft exciting, challenging, and memorable pieces.”

Thomas Ouellette, producing director of the Annie Russell Theatre, was also celebrated as one of the year’s best directors for The Humans, which tells the story of a middle-class family under strain at Thanksgiving dinner in Manhattan.

The Sentinel gave The Humans a Best of 2019 nod for sound design by Robert Miller, Rollins’ technical director, noting “creepy noises and other sound effects that created an all-important disquieting sensation.”

The recognition also extended beyond campus, naming theatre professor Missy Barnes a Best Leading Actress for her work in The Ensemble Company’s local production of The Niceties.

Charles took the Sentinel’s multiple recognitions as acknowledgment that longtime creative risks made by the Annie Russell Theatre are paying off. For example, John Proctor Is a Villian—written by emerging playwright Kimberly Belflower and presented in collaboration with the New York City Farm Theater’s College Collaboration Project—raised important issues as a post-Me Too examination of power, love, and sex education.

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

Built in 1931, the Annie Russell Theatre houses the state’s longest continually running theater and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Students produce and perform four plays and musicals at the 350-seat proscenium theater each year, where the friendly ghost of Annie Russell is said to still claim her favorite seat in the audience.

To learn more about the Rollins theatre program, visit rollins.edu/theatre.