Wolverine Stew: To The Keene

Tropical shirts and impromptu strings

And a dragon to watch over it all

Plastic ivy wrapped round found/fashioned staves

Tipped with hot-glue pinecones

Dancing screams filling the aisles

Green stars shooting into my eyes

Onto the curtains behind

A place where a rubber chicken

Is a great and terrible power

Paper carefully planted in plots

And watercolor paints

As a library is carried to the seats

And very soon that paper will bloom from

Blank black floors of the stage

That rise to fill the space

When the lights go out

And when they return

The dust rises in a dozen beams

And the show begins  

Looking Forward: Department of Musical Theatre

Happy Friday, arts, ink readers!

Courtesy of SMTD Website

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with Vince Cardinal, Professor and Chair of the Department of Musical Theatre here at the University of Michigan. He offered insights as to what the department does in a typical year, how they’ve been adjusting to the restrictions of this semester, and how students can still view and participate in theatre on campus!

If you didn’t already know, the Musical Theatre program here at Michigan is one of the best in the country. Professor Cardinal told me they accept less than 2% of applicants — roughly 20% less than Michigan’s already-competitive acceptance rate. This is, in part, because of the department’s incredible reputation; they are one of the most represented schools on Broadway and are increasingly being featured in TV and film productions as well. A typical MT major’s schedule is around two-thirds filled with musical theatre courses, with the rest left for general requirements, minors, or even dual-degrees. Through their involvement in University Production shows, as well as participating in a variety of student productions, MT students gain experience performing a wide variety of genres and become equipped for whatever opportunities come their way after graduation.  Check out this video featuring some Maize and Blue alumni:



Of course, like most programs, the Department of Musical Theatre has had to make some adjustments in their teaching and performing this semester. Almost all of their current curriculum has been moved virtual, except for dance classes, which have been reduced in density while utilizing masks and social distancing. Although having to teach and learn the performing arts online is obviously not ideal, Professor Cardinal told me that there have been some silver linings in all of it. For example, they’ve been able to bring in top-tier talent to help their students – including Andy Blankenbueler (the choreographer for Hamilton) and representatives from the Fosse Legacy. The increased access to such impressive professionals via video calls is something the department hopes to continue utilizing in the future. 

If you’re like me and the musical theatre productions on campus are something you look forward to, you may be disappointed that you can’t see them in action at the Mendelssohn, Power Center, or Arthur Miller Theatre. The good news, however, is that there are exciting opportunities to come! The department has been working to film a series of performances by their students called MT Ghostlight 2020, asking them to respond as artists to what’s happening to them at this point in history. These will be streamed on the first three Fridays in December – the 4th, 11th, and 18th – so mark your calendars! If you’re missing theatre in the meantime, you can check out the Senior Entrance of MT21

If you’re interested in participating in theatre on campus, Professor Cardinal recommends auditioning for one of the many student groups on campus such as MUSKET, Rude Mechanicals, Basement Arts, and so many more. He also noted that the Musical Theatre Department sometimes needs crew help for their shows. This semester, specifically, they are in need of videographers, sound editors, and other digital media creators to help them produce content in this new environment. Be sure to follow their Instagram @umichmusicaltheatre to stay up-to-date with what the current MT students and alumni are up to!

That’s all for this week. Special thanks to Vince Cardinal for taking the time to speak with me. Check back next week for a feature on the Shapiro Design Lab!


Stay safe!


The Backstage Experience Part 2

This past week was the tech week of the fourth show I’ve done crew for this semester. That means that for four weeks I spent basically everyday from 6pm-12:30am in rehearsals backstage during a performance.

What was different about this one was the energy. I was on costume crew for Musket’s production of the show BARE. BARE is a show I already knew and loved, compared to the other three shows I’ve worked on this semester. Plus all the people involved were so dedicated an excited that it made me extremely happy to be there. BARE was the first show I’ve worked on in college that I’ve felt 100% invested in.

With the other three I just made sure everything with costumes happened correctly, and answered questions/ fixed things if they broke. While I still did that for BARE, there was the added fact that I really cared about the show itself. It made me more invested in the changes and overall process because I knew the story and the the importance of telling it. It was the first time I actually felt the opening night energy and closing show sadness when working on a show here, and that really showed me a lot.

Some of my favorite moments from working on this show were when a quick change (There were many in this show!) would go right and all of us on costume crew would be so excited and proud giving high fives and cheering silently!

If you didn’t get to see BARE you really missed out on some incredible performances by both cast and backstage crew in making the show come together!

A Reminder


On Friday evening I had the pleasure of seeing Teac Damsa’s Production of  Loch Na Heala (Swan Lake). If you haven’t heard of it, it is and Irish take on the tale of swan lake, with an Irish myth and a true story also mixed into the plot. It was presented by UMS in the Power Center for two nights only, this past Friday and Saturday.

I was encouraged to go see it for one of my classes and I am so glad I did. I managed to get one of only 2 student tickets left for Friday night, which was exciting. Going into the theatre I only knew that it was a take on swan lake and that it had good reviews. But what I actually saw was much different than expected.

For probably the first half of the 75 minute show, I thought I was going to leave the theatre with a sense of disappointment in not liking it. It started in such a strange way, that I’m still not sure what it was supposed to mean. But perhaps that was point.

But as the show continued, things began to click. It turns out that the show deals greatly with themes of abuse and mental illness, and is very raw in its portrayal of each. The sparse set and small cast, many playing multiple personas, was to the shows advantage. It allowed you to hone in on those themes, and to truly see the beautiful dances performed by the cast.

Though the themes were quite dark, it managed to end with an incredible scene of catharsis. At the end of the show, the audience immediately stood up without a pause for a standing ovation, and clapped for so long that the cast had to come back out on stage three times to bow before it died down and people started to leave.

As I left, I couldn’t stop thinking about the show. It was beautiful, haunting, at times disturbing, but mainly it was something different and unique. It wasn’t some American tour of a famous broadway show. It was a work of passion for these dancers and choreographers and they were able to create something that people of all ages and backgrounds seemed to love, despite the themes that are still hardly talked about in today’s society.

That is what this is a reminder of. If you have a story, you can tell it your own way. People will listen. People will care.

Theatre can do this for some people.

And this is the kind of theatre I want to create as a theatre artist.

Chasing Starkid

Ah. The sweet smell of disappointment.

On the morning of October 8th, I woke up, bound and determined to meet Starkid. My plan was this: get up, eat (since I probably wouldn’t get another chance for a while), get dressed, put on make-up/straighten my hair if I so desired (this dependent on the whole waking up thing), and go to class. After class, I’d book it to my apartment, maybe apply more make-up, then take the first bus to the Walgreen Drama Center. Starkid was holding a panel from 2-3, and I had to be there. I even emailed my professor ahead of time; I’d be missing class for this; this is important, duh.

My plan went flawlessly. I wanted to leave my apartment around 1:30, and that I did, right on the nose. On the bus to North, I pulled up the event on my phone to double check the location.

12:30-1:30, the website proclaimed. I could almost read the Ha! You fool! underneath it.

Whether it was a change in time or I had read it wrong (thought my mind rebels against this idea; I couldn’t be wrong, how could I?), as I walked towards the Walgreen Drama Center I saw Starkid shimmer before me, going up into smoke before my very eyes.

I wondered to myself if this was fate putting pieces together. Hearing no word back after getting a polite “We’ll see” about an interview, I’d been stressing, almost panicking about when and where I needed to be to get a golden 30 minutes to conduct my interview. Maybe this would be serendipity, and Darren Criss would walk out, laughing at something incredibly funny, then stop, pointing me out.

“You’re that girl, right? Who wants to interview Starkid, yeah?”

I’d bat my eyes coquettishly.

“What gave me away?” I wouldn’t be hyperventilating; cool as a cucumber.

“I just knew. Hey, come to rehearsal with us – we’ll be done in 30. Then we can chat.” (I’m not sure what my fascination with 30 is; just a solid number I guess).

A younger me would have been mad crying screaming – whatever made me feel slightly vindicated for being stupid and missing this. But senior year Jeannie decided to just sit and write. So I did.

I continued my day waiting for the email that never came. I think some small part of me is still waiting, like I’ll get the email tomorrow or Saturday and I’ll leave the football game to interview Starkid.

But finally, the time came – showtime. I had my ticket in hand, and me and my friend dressed to the nines. I felt good. Maybe not amazing – I didn’t get that interview, but good.

I won’t spoil the concert (review forthcoming by yours truly), but I had a blast – we went back to Hogwarts, but more importantly I went back to Starkid. Nostalgia had a big part of it, but in reality my memory had failed me – I had forgotten how fun Starkid was. The concert ended, and my friends begged me to try and get an interview somehow, someway with the Theatre 100 press pass I had.

Tyler Brunsman, bless his heart, was in the reception room talking to his parents. I waited a good distance away; I wanted to talk to him but I wasn’t about to be so pushy that I interrupt.

After he finished, I stopped him, introduced myself. I was slightly shaking – I’d only ever seen him on screens and now here he was in front of me. Maybe he noticed, but hopefully he didn’t.

The conversation? Well….

Me: *oh gosh oh gosh be cool* How was it to come back to Michigan? *good job Jeannie you got this*

Tyler: It was, like, out of this world…everywhere you walk on campus is, there’s so many memories associated with this campus, so coming back here, it’s really been a magical couple of days. It was like second nature, just being back home.

hoMe. I know the feeling. We kept talking, I asked about his favorite memories, and got an amazing anecdote involving ranch, Pizza House, and a late night mix up (moral of the story – always buy Pizza House. Always.).

For a moment, I slipped back into my old days – I used to be big in the Starkid fandom, talking to girls thousands of miles away from me who bonded over this silly, fantastic group of people. Embarrassingly, I told Tyler that he responded to a Facebook post of mine one time, and little high-school Jeannie died. High School Jeannie died again, shaking hands with Tyler, hearing him say he would stop and talk to me when I thought the closest I’d get to Starkid was the view from Row K in the Power Center.

Even though it was embarrassing, even though it was super unprofessional, in that moment, it was okay. Everything was okay. I left the show, two friends beside me, one freaking out over taking a picture with Eric Kahn Gale, the other begging to stalk Darren Criss (sorry Darren – I tried to curb them as much as possible).

All that mattered right then was I was fresh off the high of an amazing concert, and I had my friends beside me. And I’m sure, walking off the Power Center stage tonight, Starkid felt the exact same way.

Thoughts From Places: Passions, January Edition

So lately I’ve been thinking.

Now, I know as well as anyone how dangerous that can be, so just stay with me here.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my future (like, with jetpacks), and what I want that to look like. Now, I haven’t come up with any definite conclusions, but I do have a few basic requirements:

  1. I have a job. It sucks, but I can’t do anything in this world (like, say, live in an apartment) without money, so I have to have a job.

  2. This job has to be something I enjoy. I can’t be waking up every day, hating my own guts because I have to drag myself to the same old crummy job every week.

That’s it. Since practically my kindergarten days, these two things are all I’ve wanted for my life. But the funny thing about life is that it changes…like, a lot.

I used to think that if I ended up working in an office it would be the death of me and all I consider fun and exciting, but now I’m (slowly) acclimating to the idea of working in an office…as long as it’s an office working on something I enjoy as well.

I also used to think that I’d become an actress, but that dream is almost all but gone. Would I go back to the stage if offered? In a heartbeat. But am I at college just waiting for my big break on Broadway? Not so much.

But recently, I’ve been coming to a different conclusion. I love to write, in case you haven’t noticed the weeks and weeks and weeks of columns I’ve written, and I decided to become an English major so that I can get a degree in something I love so I can get a job in something I love. That fulfills both of my above requirements. I thought becoming an author would make me just as happy as if I were acting on stage.

But I love writing for this blog too. I love writing about art, something that I’m really passionate about (see above potential jobs), and I love getting to have deep, meaningful conversations with other people who love art just as much as I do. And although they don’t make much, being a cultural/pop culture journalist is sounding really, really cool to me as a junior looking at a job market I’ll soon be entering.

I’m not exactly sure what I’m trying to get at, and I know this only loosely coincides with my task of writing about art once a week, but I guess I’d say that finding passions is not something that automatically happens. I didn’t wake up one day knowing I was going to get a job at arts, ink and love it more than any other job I’ve ever had. Passion is a process, which is something I think most people don’t understand. Art is a passion, but it’s also a process.

So I guess I’m saying find your passion. But don’t give up if it takes longer than you expect it to, because all passions are different. And don’t reject something when you haven’t tried it. Did I want this job when I applied for it? Yes. Did I think I was going to like it so much that I’d want to turn it into a career goal? Not a chance. But am I glad I did it?

I think you can answer that for yourself.