Story by Paulene-Wendy Ntsame Assoumou
The Fine Arts Division had a class reunion this year. The latest Spring Choral Music Show at the Eckilson-Mabee Theatre, April 20, welcomed back some alum. While sitting on the front row in the audience, Diane Malan, associate professor of Music and Theatre, invited them on stage as a surprise for the Friday performance.
Fifteen alums and former students of the choir stepped on stage that night. Landon Alexander, Catherine (Hanna) Armbruster, Nicole (Hawkins) Beasley, Tiffany Bergman, Christine (Petri) Centeno, Marylyn Gwatiringa, Genie (Banner) Haggard, Stephanie Glader Lundy, Tom Lundy, Jenny (Bell) Mills, Emilee Murphree, Amanda O’Brien, Lacey Preston, Amanda Swaim, and Katie Zufall answered present to that organized reunion.
It started as a simple thought, how fun would it be to have alumni of the Fine Arts Division back on stage this year, Diane Malan said. But this thought echoed in crescendo for Landon Alexander and thanks to Facebook and other social network, the reunion was possible.
The alum who answered the invitation were ones who really contribute and participate in the department, Malan said.
Malan took back her professor hat with her former students. She sent them the music and audio part via email and made sure that they were learning their parts, Malan said.
The only time that the alumni rehearsed all together was the day of the show. Less than two hours to adjust and adapt to each other, like back-in-the-day. The result was great, the ancient still have it!
Current students were impressed by the challenge the alum met, but it was not as close as the state of fascination the alum were in that night on stage in front of the newer generation.
Marylynn Gwatiringa, who considered Moval her first “home” in America as she was born and raised in Zimbabwe, noticed the fancy costumes. Part of the class of 2007, she also admired how the facilities have improved.
Now the dance and theater areas have proper facilities like the dance studio or the MET to practice and gather, she said. “We all used to rehearse in the small gym that smelled like bat pee,” Gwatiringa said jokingly.
Gwatiringa majored in Musical Theater and went for a master’s in Theatre Performance at Lindenwood University. She is currently the company manager at Starlight Theater in Kansas City.
Amanda O’Brien, class of 2005, said she remembered the squatter-bats that weren’t removed from the small gym for a long period of time because of some protection of animal rules. O’Brien noticed some improvement on the staging and transitions of the songs. It used to be a block of show choir and block of gospel choir, O’Brien said. But every part of the spring show- dance, show choir, concert choir, ensemble, blended well, she added.
O’Brien graduated with a bachelor’s in Accounting and Finance and works as a compliance associate for INTL FCSTone Inc.
Landon Alexander, who earned a bachelor’s in Theatre with a minor in Dance, continues to work for the school since his graduation. He used to be the coach for the MVC dance team, so he witnessed all the improvement of Moval Dance area. Part of the class of 2007, he would have loved to had the space and enjoy the newness of the facility, Alexander said. Even if Alexander is blown away by all the changes, there are two things that hopefully remain the same. First, the type of students on stage is the same. “You can see people who kind of remind you of your young self,” Alexander said.
Then, last but not least, Diana Malan, the best aspect that remains in the department, Alexander said, adding, Diana always has the best interest for her students.