is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

RENT is Right Up Tressa Bowling's Alley

Just like anything else, you can always gauge the class of an organization by its management.  A topnotch manager is a good listener who keeps a watchful eye on those under her charge but is always at the ready to help out where needed, no matter how big or small the task. Such is the case with the stage manager for SummerFest's RENT, Tressa Bowling, who is the epitome of calm and cool.  When I met her at rehearsal last week, she seemed to have everything under control, the binder full of music in front her color-coded with post-it notes on each page, following every note and step, all while answering my questions and without distracting the roomful of singers and dancers.  Despite keeping me well advised, she still managed to take detailed notes as per music director Mark Calkins' and director Tracey Bonner's instructions.

If her name strikes you as familiar, perhaps you remember Bowling in her two- year term as residential stage manager at the Singletary Center for the Arts, "and I did everything from LPO performances to school recitals.  Some of my favorites though would have to be stage managing for Cyrano De Bergerac for the Lexington Shakespeare festival.  It was my first time working in the park and it holds a very special place in my heart.  The other would have to be The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.  From the costumes being incredible to having such a great director (Tonda Fields), it was such a fun show to work on."

When I asked Bowling how she came to be involved with RENT, she advised, "Trish (Clark) emailed me towards the beginning of this year asking if I knew of anyone available to stage manage for RENT.  I had gotten to know Trish through the years working in theatre and I think she knew that if I didn't have the time to do it, that I would know of someone who did.  Thankfully, my schedule was wide open and I was looking for a show to work on.  I haven't worked with Tracey before, but I had heard about her through the grapevine and I was excited to work with someone new."

This is the first musical that Tressa has stage managed for, but once she was selected to lead Team Rent, she was more than ready to pick up the ball.  "I've worked on musicals in the past through lighting and sound, but stage managing one is a horse of a different color!  I really love far. :)  There's definitely more for me to do during rehearsals, which is a nice change.  So far, I haven't come across any real big challenges, but you might want to ask again after I set ques for the show," she laughs.

Bowling graduated in the fall of 2007 with a BFA in Theatre Design, "which is a degree that unfortunately no longer exists.  There were only three of us in my graduating class if I remember right.  After RENT is over, I hope to find more theatre work around the area, but I'm also going to be showing my art at a convention in Baltimore come August."

[Tressa provided the photos herein, taken from a video shoot in Cincinnati]

Tressa's not-so-secret talent?  She's not only a superb stage manager, she's also a fantastic artist, and if you go to her blog site, you can see her incredible pencil portraits:

With little time to spare as RENT comes due in a few weeks, seems to me Bowling's got perfect game...coz that's just the way she rolls.

SummerFest concludes with the show that transformed the definition of musical theatre, rocked a generation and changed Broadway forever, Jonathan Larson’s blockbuster musical, RENT, playing July 21 though July 25, 2010. Tracey Bonner, no stranger to the Lexington musical theatre scene, makes her SummerFest directing debut with this Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning musical.

RENT Cast Includes:

Mark | Chip Becker
Roger | Johnny Dawson
Mimi | Jessica Lucas
Tom Collins | Emanuel Williams
Angel | Ryan Briggs
Maureen | Carleigh Griffeth
Joanne | Sharonda Piersall
Benny | Thomas Gibbs
Alexi Darling and others | Katie Berger
Mr. Jefferson and others | Justin Norris
Steve and others | Brandon Smith
Gordon and others | Casey Mather
Mark’s Mom and others | Beth Kovarik
Roger’s Mom and others | Taylor Eldred
Seasons Of Love Soloist and others | Andrea Johnson
Squidgy Man and others | Wood Van Meter
Paul and others | Nick Covault
Mrs. Jefferson and others | Cate Poole
Film Extras | Spencer Smith, Avery Wigglesworth

Director/Choreographer: Tracey Bonner
Musical Director: Mark Calkins
Stage Manager: Tressa Bowling
Assistant Stage Mangers: Ashley McLean,
Lindsay Warnick
Video Designer: Marc Sicignano
Video Assistant: Alys Dickerson
Costume Design: Susan Wigglesworth
Costume Assistant: Avery Wigglesworth
Sound Designer: Richard Jones
Set Design: Dathan Powell
Lighting Design: Jeff Fightmaster
Fight Choreography: Nick Vannoy
Rehearsal/Show Accompanist:Karen Thomas

Jim Gleason
Dave Hamon
Bob Goff

All SummerFest 2010 performances will begin nightly at 8:45 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays, at the Arboretum: State Botanical Garden of Kentucky on Alumni Drive. SummerFest tickets will go on sale in June 2010 and will once again feature very affordable single ticket prices of $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Season Passes to see all three shows will also be available at $25 for adults and $12 for kids.

For more information on SummerFest, or the Conservatory programming, please visit us on the web at

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