Young theatre alumni land major roles, earn national and local success

Oct 02, 2015

North Central students have continually proven that the opportunities they’ve had in college have prepared them for success. This fall, some of North Central’s youngest theatre alumni have earned prestige on the professional stage.

Savanna Richardson ’14 (stage name: Savanna Rae) starred in her own play “Daughters of Ire,” Garrett Lutz ’12 has the lead male role in the Boho Theatre production of “Dogfight,” Daryn Whitney Harrell ’12 won a spot in “The Book of Mormon” national tour, and David Musselman ’12 is a stunt performer for the new arena stunt show “Marvel Universe Live!”

Rae wrote and performed in “Daughters of Ire,” which premiered Sept. 2-20 at The Other Theatre Co., where North Central Associate Professor of Theatre Carin Silkaitis serves as artistic director and founder. One critic called Rae “a mesmerizing dynamo with the kind of feminist passion sorely lacking from local stages.”

Inspired by her belief in the importance of stories and the way they are told, this one-woman play depicts a modern storyteller and her ancient characters as they navigate and negotiate worlds characterized by violence. “With the theatre I do, I want to help make this world a more just, equitable and compassionate place,” Rae says.

While a student at North Central, Rae performed in the professional productions “Julius Caesar” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and in “Richard III” and “Inherit the Wind” at Oak Park Festival Theatre.

Lutz’s “winning performance” in the Chicago premiere of “Dogfight” is described by a local theater critic as “handsomely sung, well-acted.” The romantic coming-of-age tale features three fellow Marines set to leave for Vietnam and runs through Oct. 18 in BoHo Theatre at Theater Wit.  

Lutz started performing at age 10 in North Central College’s summer community musicals, so it made sense to pursue a degree in theatre where he first performed. Lutz landed various roles as a student, including Rum Tum Tugger in “Cats,” Nathan Detroit in “Guys and Dolls” and Sparky in “Forever Plaid.” He also performed in “The Producers,” “The Wedding Singer” and more.

Continuing the success as other North Central students before him, Lutz secured a position as performance intern with Chicago’s prestigious Steppenwolf Theatre after graduating in 2012 and appeared in the ensemble for “Three Sisters.” He was nominated for a Non-Equity Jeff Award during the 2014-2015 season for Actor in a Principal Role-Musical in “The Full Monty,” which was staged last spring at Theater Wit.  

Harrell joined the second national tour of “The Book of Mormon,” winner of nine Tony Awards. She debuted as Sadaka with the ensemble in August at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and performs every night on tour. Previously, she landed her dream role as Lorraine in “All Shook Up” and played in the national tour of “Elf, The Broadway Musical” with NETworks Presentations. She also toured with Royal Caribbean International as an entertainer and starred in the musical “Children of Eden” at Timber Lake Playhouse.

A transfer student to North Central, Harrell immediately took her place on stage in several College productions—“Canon Fire,” “The Wedding Singer,” “Elephant’s Graveyard,” “Distracted”—and in the Concert Choir.

Musselman has had a varied career as a performer. In addition to acting and singing, he is a trained utility stunt performer. Those skills opened doors for him to tour with the new arena stunt show Marvel Universe Live! The tour brought him to Chicago Sept. 10-13 at the United Center and Allstate Arena where he performed a variety of live stunts, including fight choreography, high falls, harness flying, acrobatics and a variety of pyrotechnics.

Musselman’s first steps out of college led him to Royal Caribbean International as an entertainer and aerialist on one of its cruise ships. Throughout his college and professional career, he has performed leading roles in the musical productions “Cats,” “The Wedding Singer,” “The Producers,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Guys and Dolls” and “Evita.”

Like Musselman, theatre alumni have taken leaps and bounds during their careers and demonstrated what they’re capable of as graduates of North Central College.  

North Central College offers majors in theatre, theatrical design and technology or musical theatre and a minor in dance. A full range of acting and dance classes is available, as well as opportunities to direct a full-length production. Students of all majors can participate in musical and nonmusical performances, actor showcases and one-act plays and performances in the College’s four theatre venues. Full-time professors and active professionals who are artist-teachers serve as faculty.