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New blood comes to the CenterStage

Performing Arts Director Stephanie Newman models with a stage prop short sword.
Dennis Wahlman / Mainstream
Performing Arts Director Stephanie Newman models with a stage prop short sword.

New Performing Arts Director Stephanie Newman has come to Umpqua Community College with new ideas and new ways to teach drama students.

Newman taught at performing arts colleges in Hollywood and New York as well as acted in several roles. She came to Roseburg because of the community’s great love of the arts.

“People from Eugene and as far as Portland come to watch plays at UCC, it’s wonderful to be in such a great program,” Newman said.

Newman brings lots of new props and “mirrors” to her role at UCC. She plans to teach drama students to look at themselves in mirrors while they act in order to perfect their ability. Her goal for this season is for her students to focus on the fun of drama.

“She’s young, active, and a really great person, and a great teacher to have,” Sandee McGee, a UCC illustration instructor, said.

“Newman is really excited to teach here and sees great potential for the department,”  Renee Couture, a UCC art instructor, said.

The theater season begins with a play called “Bus Stop” running Nov. 8 through 17. In the middle of a howling snowstorm, a bus out of Kansas City pulls up at a cheerful roadside diner. All roads are blocked and five weary travelers are forced to hold up until morning. Cherie, a nightclub chanteuse kidnapped by a 21-year-old cowboy, a proprietor of the café and the bus driver at last find time to develop a friendship of their own. A middle aged scholar comes to terms with himself, and a young waitress gets her first taste of romance. 

The next play runs Feb. 14 through 22 (just in time for Valentine’s Day) where students can take their sweethearts to William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

The last is a relatively new play written by Newman’s New Yorker friend Catherine Butterfield called “Brownstone.”  It’s a touching drama that examines life in New York spanning 80 years and encompassing the lives of three pairs of people. There are newlyweds Stephen and Davia who long to move to Paris, aspiring actresses Maureen and Deena who struggle to get their big break and engaged Jessica and Jason who find their relationship complicated by an unexpected pregnancy. With nothing in common except the roof above their head, these characters share New York experiences of compromising ambition, falling in love and making memories. This Oregon premiere can be seen May 23 through June 1.

Forever Plaid, with hit songs from the 1950’s, is playing for the Oregon Musical Theater Festival, July 26 through Aug. 5. This cast will perform a spectrum of songs under the stars for seven nights at the Swanson Amphitheatre during the festival.