Thank You, Perry and Paul!

The department of theatre at Hope College will be saying goodbye to Perry Landes and Paul Anderson as they say hello to retirement at the end of this academic year.

Paul Anderson, Theatre’s Technical Director

Originally from Illinois, Paul spent several years working for Wayne State University before coming to Hope.  While at Wayne State, he saw several seasons of productions by the Hillberry Repertory Company; one of the only graduate-level repertories in the country. After his time at Wayne State, and out of a job, a friend invited him to sing in the pit choir for the musical Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  

During scenic strike for the production, Paul thought to himself, “I could do this,” and he enrolled at Hope College, where he was a student from 1986-1988. After graduating, Paul worked as a freelance carpenter around Holland until he received a phone call from Hope professor and  then theatre department chair, Richard Smith.  Richard told Paul that the theatre department had been granted funding for a technical director position, so Paul applied for the job and was hired.

Perry Landes, Theatre’s Facility Manager, Lighting and Sound Designer and Associate Professor

Perry grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and studied music performance and composition at Colorado State University and Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington.  At Whitworth, he caught the theatre bug when he designed and ran sound for Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.  After graduation and a brief stint as a performing musician,  he returned to Whitworth as the Auditorium Coordinator. He then obtained an MFA in Design Technical Theatre from the University of Montana, where he also composed incidental music for plays.  After the MFA was completed, he started a freelance career in Salinas, California. Shortly thereafter, a phone call from Richard Smith brought him on a one-year appointment to Holland starting in the fall semester of 1987.  

“One year.  I was here for a year, I thought,” Perry says. “We see how that worked out!”

Perry is the Lighting and Sound Designer in Residence, Associate Professor and Facilities Manager. He explains that no two days are alike, which has always kept the work fresh and interesting.   There are always plenty of problems to solve, both creative and otherwise. His schedule takes him all over the building and elsewhere, so he admits that he isn’t in his office very often.

Paul says his job as technical director for the theatre department is more regulated than Perry’s job, and he has tried to keep it that way. Despite the depth of the tasks Paul is given, he has managed to keep his work schedule to five days a week:

“Theatre is known to eat some people’s lives, and I have attempted to not let that happen.”  Paul’s main task as the TD is to take Richard Smith’s scenic designs, or drawings, and to interpret and build them in the best manner to safely support the productions.

The Hope College theatre department and community will greatly miss these dedicated departmental members after their 63 years of combined service.

Perry indicates that picking a favorite production from his time at Hope would be equivalent to picking a favorite child. He did, however, name The Nutcracker, a Play, which featured puppeteer and alum Brad William’s giant mice and spiders. The Nutcracker, a Play was presented five times between 1990 and 1995.  Another piece that came to mind was Buried Child, staged in 1992, featuring Professor Emeritus George Ralph. But there are so many, he says, all wonderful memories.  Paul also had a hard time picking a favorite production but was able to identify one of his favorite parts of technical directing. He said that even when the construction of a show seemed to drag on beyond endurance, or if there were real struggles getting the show up, sitting in the auditorium and witnessing everything come together on opening night made all of the challenges worth it:

“If there are functional elements in the set, there is always a moment of anticipation to see if it works, and when it does, I think wow, it worked, it came together.   Seeing the results is the most rewarding.”

We also asked Perry about his favorite aspects of working at Hope College. “Working with students” evolved over the years into a primary interest.  Hope students can be so bright, articulate, intellectually curious, and engaged. Perry explained that he had never planned on becoming a teacher. He intended a career as a composer and designer, and thought he might teach for a year or two, perhaps, later in his career. Here at Hope, however, his relationships with students became as interesting as his design work, often more so. He admits, however, that he loves those rare, precious moments during a production when the audience members forget to breathe because they have become transfixed:

“That’s what it’s all about.  I live for those moments,” Perry says.

Paul’s and Perry’s last working day at Hope College will be June 30th. In retirement, Perry plans on taking some steps away from theatre to follow other creative passions and do more writing, home improvements, and travel. Similar to Perry, Paul hopes to travel, build furniture, and work on a miniature working steam locomotive that runs on real coal. When it’s complete, it should produce enough power to pull a couple of adults on a riding car.

Perry’s advice to new faculty would be to make the most of the ‘honeymoon phase’,  just after being hired. Chairs, deans and provosts are at their most amenable! Be sure to make recommendations, ask for things, and take action. It’s a very valuable time. Paul’s advice to anyone who may fill his shoes in the future is to get to know the students and truly pay attention to them: “They come in with such a wide range of talents.  It will be a challenge, but don’t judge a student based strictly on their initial abilities, give them a chance.”

The Hope College theatre department and community will greatly miss these dedicated departmental members after their 63 years of combined service. We are beyond grateful for all of the wisdom, guidance, creativity, dedication, and love for the arts they have shared with us.

An Interview with Hope Theatre Major Jose Angulo

All theatre majors at Hope College must hold an internship, fulfill a major design or stage management role in a faculty-directed production, or complete an independent project.   For his final capstone experience, senior Jose Angulo is writing a play titled “Bleach.” It is based on Jose’s own experience as well as the experience of other Latino students navigating the opportunities and challenges as minority students at Hope College. Jose will direct a reading of “Bleach” in the Studio Theatre of the DeWitt Center on Tuesday-Wednesday, April 16-17. The readings will start at 7:30 pm and are free.

Jose and I spoke about the impetus of his project and his goals for the performance.  Here are excerpts from that conversation.

Jose Angulo, right, in The Christians

How did you decide to write this play?

Last summer I had the pleasure of attending the Latinx Theatre Commons, which took place in Chicago.  It was there where I got my inspiration to tell stories of people who are like me. I did not realize how under-represented we are until it was right in front of my face.  The Latinx theatre artists presented their work with such passion and finesse at this festival, and I was in awe. For my final independent project as a senior theatre major, I knew I wanted to do something personal that would represent my college journey.  Through my experience in Chicago, I realized that focusing on the Latino culture here at Hope was a perfect point of departure for me.

What story do you hope to tell?

I began writing a play that would tell the story of struggling Latino students – and ultimately, about one in particular, whose attendance is threatened by the reallocation of financial aid funds.  The story is based on my own experience along with that of my friends and highlights some of the issues we have dealt with while trying to graduate.

Whom do you want to reach with this play?

I would like the story to speak to the Latino audiences in the area.  I know many minority students have had similar experiences, and their voices deserve to be heard.

Jose, left, in Love and Information

How did you approach the writing process?

Initially, it was difficult to figure out the path I wanted to take. I was not sure if I wanted the story to be hopeful or if it should serve more critically as a ‘reality check.’ I wanted to portray my generation accurately and appropriately as well. Frankly, I often feel that we are not portrayed with the intelligence we really have or with the responsibilities and pressures that we bear.  For minority students, there are additional concerns rushing through our heads as we live and study in an environment that is quite dissimilar from our own cultures and homes. We recognize a college education as a necessary and valuable step in survival but the obstacles towards graduation can be formidable.

What are your hopes for the artistic future?

I want my piece to be a step in changing what we are so used to seeing in entertainment.  Minorities make up such a huge portion of the United States, and it is only fair that we see people like us up there. We have so much talent that is yet to be seen and appreciated. My piece is truly for the culture and for the opportunity of other Latinos.

Jose as The Miser


Jose has acted in numerous productions for the college’s Theatre Department.  Already as a freshman, he played two major roles: Associate Pastor Joshua in The Christians and Jean in Miss Julie.  He has also performed in Jane Eyre: The Musical, Love and Information, and Shiloh and played the title role in The Miser.  This past fall, he appeared as The Narrator in Into The Woods and will finish his acting training at Hope by portraying Trigorin in the department’s upcoming production of Anton Chekhov’s Seagull.

Recognition Galore for Hope Theatre at the KCACT Regional Festival

At the festival, Hope College students wait for the curtain to rise on the University of Wisconsin La-Crosse’s production of “The Laramie Project.”

In January, a large group of Hope College theatre students embarked on a memorable and enlightening trip to Madison, Wisconsin, to participate in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region III Festival. KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide, a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents. KCACTF hosts festivals in eight regions across the nation. Hope College participated in the Region III festival with other colleges from Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin. At the festival, students have the opportunity to showcase their skills in dramaturgy, acting, stage management, musical theatre, playwriting and design.

This year, KCACTF  recognized Shiloh, a recent Hope production written by the cast and faculty director Richard Perez. The ensemble of Shiloh was awarded a certificate of Merit for Excellence in Collaborative Performance. Theatre faculty lighting and sound designer Perry Landes was awarded a Certificate of Merit for Excellence in Projections Design. Senior Katrina Dykstra designed costumes for this production and received a Theatrical Design Excellence award for her work. As a result of the award,  Dykstra has garnered a coveted, fully-funded opportunity to attend the national festival in Washington D.C. this May.

Senior Katrina Dykstra presenting her winning costume designs from Hope College devised-piece, “Shiloh.”

“I had such a great time at ACTF this year presenting my costume design for Shiloh!,” said Dykstra. “I always love getting criticism from other professors and theatre professionals, so getting to present for so many interesting judges was great. I was so surprised to be selected to be in finals, and even more surprised to receive an award. I’m looking forward to going to Washington D.C. with the national festival. I’m going to learn so much from the seminars and workshops, and meet so many people in the theatre world!”

Hope College theatre also received praise for their work on this year’s production of Into The Woods by receiving a remarkable number of Certificate of Merit Awards:

KCACTF also hosts competitions for students to showcase their work, and several Hope College students received awards for their artistry.

Junior Gracen Barth was the recipient of the Don Childs Award for Excellence in Stagecraft, providing her a fully-funded opportunity to further develop her skills by attending the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas, Nevada, in July of 2020. Barth was also awarded a production manager’s toolkit.

Senior Megan Clark presenting her costume designs for “Arcadia.”

“With production management being a relatively new field, especially on a collegiate level, it was truly an honor to be recognized for my work on this level,” said Barth. “I’m looking forward to being able to further my skills at the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas.”

Senior Megan Clark was recognized for her Into The Woods design presentation for properties, as well as her Arcadia costume design presentation.

As an active member of KCACTF, Hope College receives responses from faculty of  partner schools who attend a performance of each production. The respondent often takes notes during the show and provides valuable feedback to the acting, design, stage management and directing. The respondent then can provide special recognition by nominating production participants for regional awards like those previously mentioned. They also select one or two cast members that they felt had a superb performance. These students each receive an invitation to participate in the annual Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition, which occurs at the festival. Each participant works on a monologue and two scenes with a selected partner.

There is something so electric about spending a few days where hundreds of  like-minded passionate artists are gathered to share and celebrate theatre.

Freshmen Emi Herman was nominated for her portrayal of Laney in Crooked. Madison Meeron was her scene partner. Senior Olivia Lehnertz was nominated for her interpretation of Cinderella in Into The Woods. Gracen Barth was her scene partner. Junior Katie Joachim was nominated for her performance as The Baker’s Wife in Into The Woods. Maxwell Lam was her partner.

Joachim and Lam made it to the semifinals of the Irene Ryan auditions. Joachim also auditioned alongside 100 other students to participate in a Musical Theatre Showcase. She was then selected to join 14 others from around the region to perform in a cabaret-style performance where she delivered a heartfelt performance of  “Mr. Snow.”

Students and faculty had an enriching and fulfilling time at the festival this year. There is something so electric about spending a few days where hundreds of  like-minded passionate artists are gathered to share and celebrate theatre. We are grateful to have had this experience and look forward to attending The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival again in the future.

Student Profile: Theatre Major Katrina Dykstra Thrives in NYC

Katrina Dykstra, left, performs in The Christmas Carol with Titan Theatre. Photo by Michael Pauley

I had the privilege of spending four months in New York City last fall, working with the Titan Theatre Company, a classical theatre company based in Queens. In my time with Titan, I helped set up a fundraising gala, understudied roles and worked on the set and costume designs for their production of The Tempest, and worked on the costumes and performed in their production of A Christmas Carol.

I met Lenny Banovez, the artistic director of Titan, through Hope Summer Repertory Theatre (HSRT) in the spring of 2018. (Lenny is also the artistic director for HSRT so he was on our campus  last spring to get ready for summer shows.) I knew I would be spending a semester in New York with the GLCA New York Arts Semester, a program Hope has had a long association with, so I got up the courage to asked Lenny if I could work for Titan. I am so happy that I took that small risk.  Working for a smaller company like Titan gave me opportunity to use all of my theatre skills, from costumes to performing, and allowed me to work closely with their entire team, from the artistic director to the general manager to the artistic associate. My experience ended up being so personalized to me, and I gained so many friends and professional connections through the process.

I quickly fell in love with New York bagels and the busy sidewalks, and found my routine of daily errands, internship tasks and night-time rehearsals.

Moving to New York from West Michigan was definitely a big transition. I was definitely a little scared when I showed up at LaGuardia Airport in Queens with two bags, my backpack, and myself. From grocery shopping to getting a cup of coffee, life just looks different in New York.  I had to learn how to navigate subways and buses, and I walked more than I ever have in my life! I quickly fell in love with New York bagels and the busy sidewalks, and found my routine of daily errands, internship tasks and night-time rehearsals. Having the opportunity to go to New York for four months and only focus on theatre was such a gift, and I’m so grateful to Hope College and the New York Arts Program for enabling me to do this.

A Christmas Carol scene with Katrina Dykstra, seated back right. Photo by Michael Pauley

My NYC internship was perfect to round out my college career as I was able to put to work all the skills I have learned with my Hope theatre education. Being in NYC also allowed me to bring back some knowledge and experience about the “real world” and share it with my friends and classmates, such as what going to Broadway chorus auditions looks like, or the best place to get soup dumplings.

A highlight of my time in New York was working on A Christmas Carol. A guest director, Tony Clements, came in to work on the production. Getting to work with a director and actors who have Broadway credits was such an incredible experience for me as a student, and as an actor looking to work in the field. I learned so much just by watching them work in rehearsal, whether I was onstage with them in a scene or not. We were lucky enough to sell out most of the shows for A Christmas Carol, and it was an experience I will never forget.

From hemming tablecloths to sewing rope onto sails to performing, I got to experience every part of what it takes to put up a theatre production in a small New York theatre. I am so grateful for what the New York Arts Program and Titan Theatre Company helped me do this past semester, and I’m hoping to go back to New York soon!

Editor’s note: At the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival held in Madison, Wisconsin earlier this month, Katrina won a regional Theatrical Design Excellence award for her costume design for Hope’s production of Shiloh last April.  As a part of this honor, she is invited to attend the national KCACT Festival in Washington, D.C. in April.  She has also been cast as Nina in Hope’s April production of The Seagull so it will be a busy semester for her!

A Professor-Mother And Student-Son’s Journey “Into The Woods”

*Editor’s note: The Department of Theatre at Hope College will present “Into the Woods” on Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 14-17, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Events and Conferences Office and at the door on performance nights.

My life has always been marked by the productions that I have designed. I know exactly what I was working on when I learned my best friend was getting married, when I learned my father had cancer, when I fell in love, and yes, when I was pregnant with both my children.

Production team for “Into The Woods” in 1995: Daina Robins, Director; Michelle Bombe, Costume Designer; Terri Lynn Vaughn (Forte Filips), Choreographer; Mary Kay Samouce, Scenic Designer

Hope College Theatre Department and Hope Summer Repertory Theatre have occasionally produced the same play over the years, but the Theatre Department has rarely repeated a title. In fact, it has only happened once in the 28 years that I have been at Hope.  “Into The Woods” was first produced at Hope in the fall of 1995. I don’t need to look this date up as this is one of those milestone productions for me. I was pregnant and about to give birth in January.  Anne de Velder, the costume shop manager at the time, made a baby quilt for my newborn made out of all of the fabrics I had selected for the costumes in the production.  It is a cherished possession.

I remember the production resonating with me about parenthood, the desire to have a child, and the fierce protection a mother feels about her offspring.

Griffin and me outside DeWitt Theatre

Time passes, dozens of productions grace the stage at Hope, and the baby that was born after the production of Into The Woods is now a senior majoring in theatre at Hope.  What goes around comes around.  The department decides that the time is right to once again produce Into The Woods.  Griffin, who will be 23 in January, is playing Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf.

My husband and I took Griffin to see this production at Utah Shakespeare Festival the summer before his first year of college.  I remember sobbing through most of the musical because this time, what resonated with me is sending your child out into the woods…..it is scary and frightening, but necessary.

Alexander Johnson, Rapunzel’s Prince, and Griffin Baer, Cinderella’s Prince, rehearse “Agony.”

As I watch the dress rehearsals this week, I think about the years that have passed.  It is time for my son to take his next journey.  He is graduating in December and will be starting a contract with the Missoula Children’s Theatre. It is an exciting program and he will be touring the country in the spring connecting with hundreds of young people.  This will be Griffin’s last performance at Hope.

Griffin Baer as Cinderella’s Prince

Every year at graduation, I am heartbroken when my students whom I have shared many hours of collaborative work and have become friends and colleagues must leave Hope. I am, of course, excited for their new adventures and am delighted that I stay in communication with most of them.   But the heart cracks a bit.   Just when I think I can’t do it again, the next fall an enthusiastic first year student appears in my office and I think, “Ok, here we go again.”

“Into the Woods” version 2018:  I will be the one crying in the audience when our beautiful Cinderella, Olivia Lehnertz, sings,  “You Are Not Alone.”

Mother cannot guide you
Now you’re on your own
Only me beside you
Still, you’re not alone
No one is alone
Truly
No one is alone
I wish…
I know
Mother isn’t here now
Wrong things, right things
Who knows what she’d say?
Who can say what’s true?
Nothing’s quite so clear now
Do things, fight things
Feel you’ve lost your way?
You decide, but
You are not alone
Believe me
No one is alone (No one is alone)
Believe me
Truly
People make mistakes
Fathers
Mothers
People make mistakes
Holding to their own
Thinking they’re alone
Honor their mistakes
Fight for their mistakes
Everybody makes
One another’s terrible mistakes
Witches can be right, giants can be good
You decide what’s right, you decide what’s good
Just remember
Just remember
Someone is on your side (Our side)
Our side
Someone else is not
While we’re seeing our side (Our side)
Our side
Maybe we forgot, they are not alone
No one is alone
Someone is on your side
No one is alone

Author Michelle Bombe, professor of theatre, serves as the resident costume designer and the director of theatre at Hope. As director of theatre, she is responsible for the production program of the theatre department.