Bright Lights For Friends

The bright lights of the theatrical stage continue to shine brightly for Martins Ferry friends Matthew Webster and Chasdan Ross Mike.

They graduated in the same class at Martins Ferry High School and in West Virginia University’s Class of 2011. Webster, Mike and Webster’s girlfriend, MaryJoanna Grisso, also a member of WVU’s Class of 2011, were profiled in a news article released this past week by WVU’s news service.

Since the success of his award-winning musical, “Kingdom Come,” Webster has co-created a new musical, “Propaganda,” with Taylor Ferrera, a fellow 2011 WVU College of Creative Arts graduate. According to the university’s news release, they finished polishing the show in Orlando, Fla., and refined the script to take it back to New York City with ideas based on feedback they received.

Meanwhile, Mike landed the supporting lead role of Seaweed in a production of the musical, “Hairspray,” which took him to Fort Collins, Colo., to perform at the Midtown Arts Center. “Since the show’s end in September, he has remained within the area, performing in children’s theater productions and most recently starred in ‘In the Heights,'” university officials stated.

Grisso will return to her native Morgantown Thursday, Jan. 10, to perform the lead role of Maria national tour of “West Side Story.” She will appear at WVU’s Creative Arts Center, which, as university officials noted, is “the very place she got her start.”

Area theater-goers will recall that Grisso played Maria in “West Side Story” for the Broadway at the Capitol series in Wheeling on Nov. 5.

Meanwhile, Jay Malarcher, an associate professor in the West Virginia University School of Theatre & Dance, appeared as a contestant on the popular syndicated game show, “Wheel of Fortune,” in November. WVU officials said his winnings were approximately $20,000, including a vacation to the Caribbean Sea region.

A former high school quiz bowl captain, Malarcher is no stranger to game shows. In the 1980s, he was on “Jeopardy!” while teaching high school in Louisiana. After arriving at WVU, he appeared on “The Weakest Link.”

In addition to teaching theater classes, Malarcher is a playwright and an actor. He also has served as a Fulbright lecturer, teaching “American Comedy as Cultural Mirror” at the University of Zagreb in Croatia.

Dance company and dance school directors in the Mountain State have one more day to enroll their students in the West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s 2013 State Dance Festival, set for Friday through Sunday, April 19-21, at the Culture Center in Charleston.

Company and school directors have until Monday, Jan. 7, to submit applications to the division. Scholarship and dancers’ applications are due Friday, Jan. 18. Adjudications are scheduled Friday through Sunday, Feb. 15-17.

The dance festival, now in its 31st year, will allow West Virginia dancers to perform and take classes from nationally acclaimed dance instructors. State officials said that student applications will be accepted only from directors affiliated with full-time dance establishments in West Virginia.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: