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Theater Critic Rousuck Gives Lowdown on Hippodrome Lineup

Theater critic J. Wynn “Judy” Rousuck gave the insider scoop on the productions coming to the Hippodrome Theatre this season in the latest “Broadway 101” brown bag lunch series talk for members of the UMB community Sept. 27.

“The Hippodrome has really been a gateway to Broadway,” said Rousuck, a former theater critic for The Baltimore Sun who is with WYPR radio, where she can be heard every Thursday on Midday.

She told the group of 15 sitting in the historic theater near the UMB campus that all of the Hippodrome productions this season are musicals. Five of the seven shows are adaptations from movies and two are by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The first production of the season, Love Never Dies, is a sequel to Phantom of the Opera and has never been seen in the United States, she said. It was first produced in London, where it did not do well, but later met with success in Australia. Baltimore is its first U.S. stop.

“People who see the show here will be way ahead of the curve,” Rousuck said.

After spending 23 years at The Sun, Rousuck has a wealth of dramatic stories. While discussing Love Never Dies, she recounted the time she interviewed Webber years ago, long before he “became a composing superstar but was still a very big deal,” she explained.

She had her tape recorder going, and Webber pulled out his own tape recorder at one point and told her he wanted to play her a song from a new show he was working on. The show was Cats and the song was “Memory,” sung by Barbra Streisand accompanied by the London Philharmonic.

“I came back to The Sun, and I was playing it for everybody,” she said. “I said, ‘You are going to hear this song everywhere. You are going to hear it in elevators. You are going to hear it in shopping malls.’ Little did I know.”

Other shows at the Hippodrome this season include:

  • The Color Purple, which won a Tony Award in 2016 for best revival of a musical and has a “lovely score,” according to Rousuck.
  • Disney’s The Lion King, which was a hugely successful animated movie and continues to be a popular show, she said.
  • Waitress, which is about a small-town waitress who specializes in pies and is given the opportunity to compete in a baking contest.
  • School of Rock, which is based on the movie starring Jack Black and is about a fifth-grade substitute teacher who turns his class into a rock band.
  • An American in Paris, which was a 1951 Oscar-winning movie and is supposed to have “breathtaking” choreography, she said.
  • On Your Feet, which is the story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan. “It should be a real uplifting way to end the season,” Rousuck said.

Rousuck was the guest speaker at UMB’s first “Broadway 101” brown bag lunch in November 2014. The series, sponsored by UMB’s Council for the Arts & Culture, continues a relationship that dates to UMB’s donation of the Hippodrome before its rebuilding, renovation, and 2004 reopening.

The Hippodrome Foundation, which partners with the Council for the Arts & Culture on the UMB series, also is familiar to Rousuck. She works with the foundation to help introduce schoolchildren to live theater. She leads foundation programs for students, teachers, and senior citizens.

Her curriculum this year will be based on The Lion King, which is one of her favorite shows to teach, particularly because the theme is so closely connected to Shakespeare’s Hamlet and because of the ornate masks in the production.

“It’s a great show to teach in classrooms,” she said.

Her elementary school students will write a puppet show, design the puppets, and stage the show. Middle school students will write their own book that will be published, she said.

Clearly, Rousuck is passionate about turning area children on to the theater. She recounted a story of when schoolchildren filled the Hippodrome for a production of Beauty and the Beast several years ago. The students were fully engaged in the show, and when the teacup character “Chip” was transformed back into a boy and ran across the stage, the theater erupted in cheers, applause, and screams.

“It was really something different, like I have never heard in a theater anywhere. It was remarkable,” she told the UMB group. “I’ve seen a lot of things in three decades, but this was really something new.”

She said she later told her husband, “If anyone doubts the impact that theater, that art, can have on kids’ lives, they should have been there.”

Rousuck encouraged the faculty and staff in attendance to attend the shows and bring their children.

“Truly theater can change lives in all sorts of different ways, but on the most basic level it can awaken a spirit of wonder in children,” she said. “A spirit of wonder for me, as an adult, is rekindled every time the curtain rises, and I hope some of you will share that experience.”

The University offers discounted tickets to Hippodrome productions. For details, visit the Council for the Arts & Culture website.

— Betsy Stein

Betsy Stein Collaboration, For B'more, People, UMB News, University LifeOctober 3, 20170 comments
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Hippodrome 2017-2018 Broadway Series Discounted Tickets

The UMB Council for the Arts and Culture has partnered with the Hippodrome Theater to offer discounted tickets to students and employees for the upcoming season of the Broadway shows.

2017-2018 Hippodrome Theater Broadway Series 

  • Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies, The Phantom Returns, – National Tour, Oct. 3-8, 2017
  • The Color Purple: The Musical – National Tour, Oct17-22, 2017
  • The Lion King – National Tour, Nov. 16-Dec. 10, 2017
  • Waitress – National Tour, Jan. 30-Feb. 4, 2018
  • School of Rock – The Musical – National Tour, Mar. 20-25, 2018
  • An American in Paris – National Tour, May 1-6, 2018
  • On Your Feet! – National Tour, June 5-10, 2018

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the UMB Council for the Arts and Culture Hippodrome Theater Broadway Series page.

Alice Powell Bulletin Board, For B'more, People, UMB News, University LifeJuly 6, 20171 comment
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Ndongai-and Dean Eddington

White Coat Ceremony Welcomes Pharmacy Class of 2020

(Pictured above: Dean Natalie Eddington and George Ndongai)

Family and friends joined faculty, staff, and alumni of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy inside the historic Hippodrome Theatre on Sept. 9 to watch as the more than 160 members of the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) Class of 2020 donned a pharmacist’s white coat for the first time during the School’s White Coat Ceremony. A tradition in which schools of pharmacy across the country participate each year, this annual ceremony marks students’ entry into the profession as student pharmacists.

Pharmacy - White Coat Ceremony 2016

Pharmacy Class of 2020

“The White Coat Ceremony is an opportunity for faculty, staff, and alumni at the School to welcome and congratulate you – our new first-year students – on the journey that you are beginning, and to validate your presence among us as student pharmacists and future colleagues,” said Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the School, as she addressed the students. “The white coat represents your past and current leadership endeavors and achievements, as well as your commitment to deliver the best care to your future patients. Wear it with pride and remember your responsibility to provide honest and accurate information to those in your care.”

From Physics to Pharmacy

From the audience, George Ndongai reflected on his journey to reach this special day. A native of Cameroon, Ndongai was educated in both physics and accounting. However, it was not until he immigrated to the United States in 2013 that he had an opportunity to pursue his true passion – health care. “I have always known that I would rather be an expert in health care than an expert in business. Fortunately, after I arrived in the United States, I was able to gain some exposure to the pharmacy profession. I saw how much pharmacists contribute to the community and how they truly are the most accessible health care professionals. I take pride in serving others and giving back to the community, and look forward to the day when I am able to join the profession and help to improve the health of my community as a practicing pharmacist,” he said.

After accepting a position as a pharmacy technician at Eagle Pharmacy in Marriottsville, Md., Ndongai met customers Richard and Gloria Lepson, who immediately took the then 28-year-old under their mentorship. “The connection was instantaneous. I was being treated for a serious illness, and George would call me at home to see if there was anything that I needed – whether it was dropping off medications at my house or washing the dishes. Every day through my illness, he was there,” recalls Gloria Levinson.

Leveraging their relationships with family members and friends in the local area, the Lepsons worked to introduce Ndongai to the different career opportunities available to him. In 2015, Ndongai began working as a pharmacy technician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he met a number of pharmacists and pharmacy residents who graduated from the School of Pharmacy and sparked his interest in the School.

“After hearing stories from my colleagues about the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, I decided to check it out for myself,” says Ndongai. “I was immediately impressed when I learned that not only was the School the fourth oldest school of pharmacy in the United States, but had also recently been ranked ninth out of more than 130 schools of pharmacy across the country. I knew it would be a competitive admissions process, but that only reinforced my decision to apply. I wanted to be challenged.”

Ndongai completed the necessary prerequisite courses, applied to the School, and was notified of his acceptance just one week after his interview. “It wasn’t always easy balancing school work with my full-time job, but I remembered my goal and made the necessary sacrifices. I am not usually a very excitable person, but after learning that I had been accepted into the School of Pharmacy, I glowed with joy,” he says.

An Unexpected Challenge

Ndogai traveled to Cameroon to celebrate his success with family and friends, but discovered that his father had been hospitalized with complications from asthma and a pulmonary embolism. Ndongai spent eight days in the hospital with his father, using some of the skills that he had learned as a pharmacy technician to help care for him. After his father succumbed to his condition, Ndongai remained in Cameroon to assist with funeral arrangements, returning to the United States just in time to begin classes as a first-year student pharmacist.

“Losing my father was the most devastating experience that I have ever had to endure, and I did not think that I would be able to bear it,” says Ndongai. “My father was my role model and best friend. He trusted me and always encouraged me in my endeavors. Although I have had a lot of support from my family and friends, I am still trying to cope with my grief.”

Gloria Lepson, who attended the ceremony with her husband to support Ndongai, added, “The White Coat Ceremony has been his first jubilant experience since his father passed. This celebration is just what he needed.”

The Need for “Difference Makers”

Pharmacy - White Coat Ceremony 2016

White Coat Ceremony 2016

The theme for this year’s White Coat Ceremony was professionalism, and Ndongai intently listened as Eddington continued her remarks, highlighting the importance of this critical concept. “Professionalism encompasses a variety of characteristics, including altruism, duty, honor, integrity, and respect. It is the cornerstone of who we are as pharmacists. Once you embrace professionalism, you truly become a student pharmacist,” she said.

Lucinda Maine, PhD, RPh, executive vice president and chief executive officer for the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), served as guest speaker for the event. In addition to reflecting on the history of the pharmacy profession over the last 175 years, in honor of the School’s 175th anniversary, Maine challenged students to be “difference makers” in the profession. She encouraged them not to be constrained by professional silos and to use their knowledge, abilities, and professional courage to stimulate change to improve the well-being of individual patients as well as the entire population.

Malissa Carroll Education, UMB News, University Life, USGASeptember 19, 20160 comments
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Hippodrome-Theatre

Hippodrome Theatre Backstage Tour

Join us for an exclusive look behind the red curtain. Stand on stage like you’re the star of the show and see what goes on backstage during a touring Broadway production.

This tour will be lead by a member of IATSE Local 19 – the Hippodrome’s stagehand local. Don’t miss this special event! Space is limited to 30 guests.

Tuesday, April 5  |  Noon  |  Hippodrome Theatre

This event is not a brown bag luncheon.

REGISTER NOW

Nancy GordonBulletin Board, Global & Community Engagement, People, University Administration, University LifeMarch 10, 20160 comments
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