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With a UNC Alumna at the Helm, Little Theatre of the Rockies Enters its 90th Season

In its 90th season, Little Theatre of the Rockies is the oldest professional theater company in Colorado. For alumnaMegan Van De Hey, ’99, the gravity of being the artistic director for the company is not lost on her.

As a Greeley local and University of Northern Colorado (UNC) alumna, Megan Van De Hey, ’99, takes her role as artistic director of Little Theatre of the Rockies seriously. Her passion for the theater company and the students performing in its productions is obvious, working to create opportunities for students as they navigate university and into their careers. Amid its 90th season, Van De Hey reflects on her time as a student, the directors who came before her, and gives insight into what you can expect from their current showing, Every Brilliant Thing. 


Q: As a graduate of UNC, what was your experience like as a student? 

A: Coming to UNC was a no brainer because I grew up in Greeley, but I was also looking for the best program in Colorado for musical theater. For that, it was UNC hands down and I'm still so proud that UNC is the answer all these years later. I knew I was going to get the best education for the field I wanted to go into. 

 I think what sets UNC’s Musical Theatre program apart from so many others is that there's no graduate program to compete with. As an undergraduate, you go to class, then you can apply everything you've learned that day directly to the role you're rehearsing that night. It gives you an opportunity to take the bag of tools you've assembled and apply them. I can't say enough about my time at UNC, it was my foundation. I had phenomenal professors who cared and who are still friends to this day. I always look back on my time at UNC very fondly. 

Q: You have had a long and successful career acting in Chicago, Denver and Houston, what drew you to UNC as one of the directors of Little Theatre of the Rockies? 

A: It was an interesting turn of events. I did my very first Production, The Sound of Music, when I was 13 years old so needless to say, I've been working for Little Theatre of the Rockies for a long time! Years later I came to UNC as a student, and I spent every summer doing Little Theatre of the Rockies. They were some of my most treasured memories at UNC. Later, I was fortunate to be asked back as a guest artist. I know the purpose of being asked back is to be an example and mentor to the students, but I think I learned more from them than they did from me.  

Now as the Artistic Director I try to impart to our company how special this time is. They will soon start their careers and move off to other markets, but right now they get to do theater with their classmates and not have the additional pressure of classes. It is the one time in your life when you're going to experience this freedom and it's so precious. 

Of course, when you're in the moment, you can't recognize that, but looking back, they were such magical days for me because all you do is theater all day long. I'm so happy that I get to provide that same experience to our students now. 

Q: This is Little Theatre of the Rockies 90th season, how do you and the cast feel going into such a milestone year? 

A: It feels like this weighty responsibility because of all the amazing creatives who came before me. I think about the fact that Helen Langworthy created this program and navigated through so many obstacles. Helen Langworthy, from what I gather from stories people have shared, was quite something. She was not one that you'd want to mess with. So, I want to carry on her legacy and make her proud. 

We want to make sure that we honor Helen Langworthy and Welby Wolfe, ’37, M.A. ’47, and Bill Van Loo, and Tom McNally, and so many more who shaped this amazing program for 90 years. We strive to produce the same kind of high quality that our audiences have come to expect. I have audience members that have been patrons for 50+ years and that blows my mind. It’s incredible to me that we've had patrons who are that dedicated to this program. 

I want to make sure that the students truly understand how lucky they are to have this program, this little gem in Greeley, Colorado of all places. We are the oldest company west of the Mississippi, and it feels like this huge responsibility, but I'm also incredibly honored to be a part of it and share in this piece of history. 

Q: As the oldest professional theater company in Colorado, can you tell us about this season’s theme of homecoming? 

A: Dean Goletti, Anne Toewe, Ph.D., and I were sitting, and we were talking about what would be the most impactful theme. Homecoming seemed like a no-brainer to all of us. So, we opened with Almost Heaven. What says home and Colorado more than John Denver? Then the second piece, Every Brilliant Thing, we put together seasoned alumni John Jankow, ’95, and brand-new alumni Evette Srouji, ’23. This is her very first solo directing gig. Putting them together is bringing the past and present of our own UNC history together, and it is really exciting. Then our last piece, A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder brings us back to our roots with comical farce.  

Q: What can the audience members expect from Every Brilliant Thing

A: It's a very unique and engaging theatre experience. The audience becomes the second cast member. It's a one man show, and I know that this sounds like a bizarre topic and theme, but it's taking a very compassionate and candid approach to the ideas of suicide and depression. It's about a son who witnessed his mother's struggle through the years, and it becomes this life-affirming story of how to achieve hope through these tiny little miracles. It's a beautiful story and I can't wait for audiences to see John Jankow in this part. He was born to play this part, and I'm hoping that audiences enjoy this piece as much as I do. 

Throughout her career in the performing arts, Van De Hey has championedher students whenever she could. The pride she feels for them as they grow into their careers, and sometimes perform alongside her, is something she never anticipated when she first took the role as artistic director. There are many aspects of her role that she Van De Hey did not anticipate, but they are part of what makes the position so meaningful. In the long line of Little Theatre of the Rockies directors, Van De Hey will be another who leaves a legacy for those who follow to reflect on.

Little Theatre of the Rockies invites you to attend Every Brilliant Thing showing July 11-13 at 7:30 p.m. and July 14 at 2 p.m. and A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murdershowing July 25-27 at 7:30 p.m. and July 28 at 2 p.m.

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