The University of Michigan’s Homecoming Weekend (Oct. 30-Nov. 2) will feature free concerts and other presentations by celebrated alums from the School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD). No tickets are required and all are open to the public.
The events begin on Thursday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. at the State Theatre with the Ann Arbor premiere of a feature film co-written by SMTD alums Jake Wilson (BFA ’07, musical theatre) and Sas Goldberg (BFA ’07, theatre) titled You Must Be Joking. According to the Seattle Film Festival, where the film screened last spring, Goldberg “gives a frenetic, biting performance” in this edgy comedy, directed by Wilson, about a hapless paralegal who decides to pursue her dream of becoming a comedienne. The filmmakers will attend the screening and participate in a Q & A at its conclusion.
On Thursday, October 30 at 8 p.m. “A Tribute to Bob James” takes place at Rackham Auditorium in honor of the jazz giant, who will take the stage for a free concert with current SMTD faculty members Robert Hurst (bass), Michael Gould (drums), Andrew Bishop (woodwinds), and students from Department of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation. Ron Brooks, former bassist in the Bob James Trio, will also appear.
James (BM ’61 and MM ’63, composition), a two-time Grammy Award-winner, is recognized as one of the progenitors of smooth jazz and is a 2014 SMTD Hall of Fame Award-winner. On Friday, Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. Bob James will take part in a Q & A about his illustrious career, which has included the release of 58 albums over five decades and collaborations with artists from Grover Washington, Jr., to Paul Simon, to David Sanborn. The Q & A takes place in Room 2439 of the Walgreen Drama Center on North Campus.
Also on Friday, Oct. 31, at 1 p.m., in Stamps Auditorium at the Walgreen Drama Center, SMTD Emerging Artist Award-winner James Wolk (BFA ’07, theatre and BA ’07, English) will be joined by class of ’04 alumni to take questions in a Q & A about their careers in film and television. Wolk has enjoyed recurring roles on TV’s Mad Men, The Crazy Ones, Happy Endings and Shameless, and starred in in Political Animals.
Finally, on Sunday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Stamps Auditorium at the Walgreen Drama Center, the composer/lyricist team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, winners of SMTD’s 2014 Paul Boylan Award, will present a free concert. Pasek & Paul, both 2006 graduates of the musical theatre program, met at SMTD and have forged an award-winning career with musicals produced on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in London and throughout the U.S. as well as internationally. The concert will feature highlights from their Tony-nominated score for A Christmas Story, along with songs from Dogfight, Edges, and several of their upcoming productions. Current students from the Department of Musical Theatre will also perform.
The complete list of SMTD Alumni Society award-winners for 2014 includes Bob James (BM '61 and MM '63, composition), and Harriet Berg, Hall of Fame Awards; Rodney Brown (MFA '09, dance), Rachel Hoffman (BFA '99, musical theatre), and James Wolk (BFA '07, theatre), Emerging Artist Awards; and Benj Pasek (BFA '06, musical theatre) and Justin Paul (BFA '06, musical theatre), Paul Boylan Awards.
For more information on SMTD’s Homecoming events and award-winners, visit music.umich.edu.