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Beverly Brumm to Direct 'Oklahoma!' for LPI

2012 Summer Director
Beverly Brumm

A veteran theatre director and educator will be part of the Random Lake community this summer for the production of Oklahoma!

Beverly Brumm, who retired recently from the faculty of the State University of New York at New Paltz, will direct the 2012 summer musical by Lakeshore Productions, Inc.

She has directed over 100 productions in various venues in Chicago, Santa Fe, Northampton, New York City and the Hudson Valley.

She recently completed 40 years of college teaching and directing, including 27 years at SUNY New Paltz, where she remains a professor emerita.

"We are very pleased and fortunate to have a director with such outstanding experience and credentials as Ms. Brumm's," says LPI Board President Robert Eichner. "To have a director with ties to the New York stage help Lakeshore Productions to present a classic Broadway musical like Oklahoma! is a rare honor. We look forward to a fun and exciting summer."

Brumm grew up and spent her childhood in North Milwaukee, then lived in Whitefish Bay from sixth grade through high school. After earning a degree in English at Webster College in St. Louis, she taught for three years at North Division High School.

She completed a master of fine arts degree in directing at the Yale School of Drama, and then a Ph.D. in drama at New York University.

Brumm taught theatre at Marymount College and Pace University before joining the SUNY faculty

Her most recent productions at SUNY New Paltz include Hair, Fefu and Her Friends, Cloud Nine, Angels in America, Grapes of Wrath, and The Laramie Project.

Over the years she has taught courses in acting, directing, speech, improvisation, theatre history, dramatic literature, oral interpretation, multiculturism in theatre, women's theatre, theatre appreciation, and drama criticism.

Brumm also has taught professional acting classes in New York City (Harold Clurman Studio and The Actors Institute) and in Chicago (Act One Studios).

After such a distinguished directing and teaching career, why did Brumm decide to get involved with Lakeshore Productions in Random Lake?

"I would like to direct a community theatre production for a very fundamental reason: I love theatre in all its forms," she says. "Working in theatre has been a central part of my life for years. I find it both enjoyable and challenging and I can't stay away from its magic for long."

Brumm also recalls her youth, when she got involved with the Whitefish Bay Players, working backstage and helping out with productions.

"One of the highlights of my high school years was being asked to serve as assistant director for one of the productions," she recalls. "I realize now that I didn't have much real responsibility, but I felt important and I enjoyed myself enormously. It deepened my determination to learn more."

Later on when in grad school she left campus and directed a community theatre production in a little town about 15 miles away. "See How They Runwas the play, a crazy farce comedy, and I had a great time," she says. "The theatre folks were fun, the audience was enthusiastic, and I felt entire successful in directing on of my first full productions."

Brumm did direct some community theatre shows on and off over the years, and it still has a place in her heart.

"I say bless community theatre," she notes. "I hate to seem corny, but I mean it when I describe it as 'theatre for and by the people.' It offers so many riches that can be found nowhere else in contemporary culture."

The new LPI director believes that Oklahoma! is an excellent choice for Random Lake this summer.

"Oklahoma! seems to me to be the ideal show for Lakeshore Productions — perfect for this place and this time," she notes. "It's one of those musicals that everybody seems to love — wonderful songs, exceptional dance numbers, memorable characters, and a great story with romance, humor, heroes and villains. Great fun onstage, backstage, and in the audience."

Auditions have been scheduled for Mon., June 4, and Tues., June 5, from 6 to 9:30 p.m.

Brumm likes the selection of Oklahoma! for other reasons too.

"I have also thought that there might be a certain pleasure at this time in our difficult, complicated national life, to look back on simpler, seemingly more innocent times in America," she says. "For a few hours, we return to a time when our country was young, growing, and filled with promise, optimism, and healthy, vigorous challenge. As I find myself standing in a chaotic 21st century, that time travel feels like a very attractive, if temporary, experience."

Brumm's post degree training in directing included time with prominent East Coast figures such as Alan Schneider, Richard Schechner, Nikos Psacharopoulos and Joe Chaikin.

She also participated in acting training with Constance Welch (who taught at Yale from 1929-67), Austin Pendleton (HBO's "Oz"), Bill Hickey ("Prizzi's Honor), Brad Dourif ("One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" and "Star Trek: Voyager"), and Alice Spivak ("Before the Devil Knows You're Dead").

Brumm moved back to Wisconsin in November after her retirement. By chance she saw the Lakeshore Productions Inc. ad for a director.

She is now working with the LPI Board to complete her production staff, especially music director and stage manager. Veronica Hilke of Kohler will return as choreographer for Oklahoma!.

Watch The Sounder for more information about auditions.