The Department of Theatre will mount the Stephen Sondheim musical “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” featuring a robust group of talented student actors, as well as a set, props, wigs, and costumes designed by students in the Performing Arts Design Program (PADP). This large-scale musical requires planning, preparation, and, according to Professor Michael Horejsi, a PADP instructor, a healthy dose of optimism.

Photo courtesy of Department of Theatre

Photo courtesy of Department of Theatre

As part of its eclectic humor, the play includes a character, portrayed by Olivia Custodio, who has a Roman-style bust made in her likeness to give as a gift to her mother. When theatrical hijinks ensue, her husband drops the bust and the nose breaks off. This comedic situation can be difficult to create on stage with props, as it needs to break during each performance and be “fixed” with a replacement nose.

Faculty members Horejsi and Kyle Becker considered how to best create this moment on stage and decided to experiment—leading them to T.J. Ferrill in the Marriott Library who manages 3D printing technology at the University.

This is not the Department of Theatre’s first foray into 3D printing, although the technology has received incredible media attention in the last couple years. Starting in 2011, the Department received a grant to purchase a small 3D printer to construct 3D set models and replicas. Constructing the bust required some additional support, since it was the largest scale item the Department had attempted to 3D print.

Using facial recognition technology, Custodio wore the wig and headpiece for her character and was simply scanned by an iPad Mini camera, and the dot configuration for the bust was generated. “It was once a complex process, and now just a simple scan with an iPad,” Horejsi explained.

Following the scan, Professor Horejsi manipulated the dot matrix with software to finalize a file for printing. This process allows for enormous creativity in choosing a replacement nose that will have audiences laughing and having this prop as a critical piece of the humor.

With a complete file, the bust will print at the Marriott Library 3D printing lab in several stages and pieces over 3-4 days of print time. Made with what Professor Becker calls “lego plastic,” the bust is surprisingly durable. “Although this is still emerging technology, the material is versatile,” Becker said.

Professor Horejsi will oversee the finishing work of the busts, which require painting to look like a Roman sculpture and not like it’s hot off the 3D printing presses. The final busts are composed of eight pieces, which connect together to form the entire bust.

Ferrill, who oversees the Knowledge Commons at the Marriott Library and its 3D printing lab said 3D printing is in high demand campus-wide. “Creating the environment for students to create their projects. Students create the pieces, we provide the context where it can happen,” he said.

The merging of technology and the performing arts is an exciting enterprise and Horejsi said he can see this being used in multiple ways for the Department of Theatre, from costumes, sets, and, of course, props. To see the 3D bust, as well as a fantastic performance of a well-loved play, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” opens for a special preview and fundraising night on April 2, with a regular run (FREE with ArtsPass to U students with a valid U Card) through April 19.

It’s no wonder the PADP program was just ranked 4th in the nation

Artists understand one another. And perhaps this is why Spring semester’s succession of “Cinderella” productions have become collaborative successes across four of the College of Fine Arts six academic units. The two centerpiece events, Utah Ballet’s “Cinderella” on April 3 & 4 and the Lyric Opera Ensemble’s “Cendrillon” on April 24 & 25, both feature the Utah Philharmonia Orchestra and backdrops by the Department of Art & Art History’s mural class.

Music and ballet effortlessly pair together, while the opportunity for ballet and music students to work together isn’t possible as often with scheduling and rehearsal demands. However, “Cinderella” has Utah Ballet and the Utah Philharmonia sharing the spotlight.

Photo: Brent Rowland

Photo: Brent Rowland

“The students of the Phil have an incredible opportunity to perform a complete ballet,” said conductor Robert Baldwin. “In this case, a score from arguably the finest ballet composer of the 20th century, Sergei Prokofiev.” 

Visually, the Department of Ballet chose a steampunk theme to draw inspiration, for both the choreography and costuming. Jay Kim’s choreography takes sophisticated risks and the stunning custom costumes, made by Steve Rasmussen, brilliantly bring to life the familiar story.

Along with the student ballet dancers, Department of Art & Art History students leant their talents to the incredible backdrops. Choosing from more than 90 sketches, Brent Schneider, Interim Chair of the Department of Ballet, had the difficult decision to narrow the pool of renderings to a final three designs, which were painted by Professor Kim Martinez’ mural class. These backdrops will stay on the Kingsbury Hall stage for the Lyric Opera’s “Cendrillon.”

The prologue for “Cinderella” was developed with Department of Film & Media Arts student Karem Orrego who filmed clips of the ballet students during a final costume fitting, and will make a short introductory film to familiarize the audience with the characters of the ballet before it begins.

Dr. Robert Breault, who leads the Opera, said, “There is nothing quite like this that we’ve done since I’ve been here. The different versions reveal remarkable breadth in the style of storytelling.” The Lyric Opera Ensemble prepared two versions of the Cinderella story this semester, with its fully-staged version of “Cendrillon” as the finale of the College’s Cinderella events. The Utah Philharmonia will again lend its music.

Taking four academic areas and watching all their combined efforts come together towards a common goal illuminates the meaningful experiences and opportunities invaluable to a college education. And we’re proud to see it happening within the College of Fine Arts.  

As part of the University of Utah’s David P. Gardner Lecture in the Humanities and Fine Arts, the College of Fine Arts is bringing to campus world-renowned artist, Naomi Natale.

March 31, 2015 @ 6P (doors open @ 5:30P)
Libby Gardner Concert Hall (David Gardner Hall)
Free and open to the public
Gardner Lecture Series in the Fine Arts & Humanities

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Natale is the founding artist behind One Million Bones — a large-scale social arts practice that fuses education and hands-on artmaking to raise awareness of genocide — and the Artistic Director of The Art of Revolution, which uses art to transform public opinion and inspire social change. A TED Senior Fellow, Natale speaks on art and activism, and what one can do for the other.

Art is an incredibly powerful tool with which to build and inspire a community, and to connect people with an issue in the most personal of ways.
— Naomi Natale

Natale will give a lecture entitled, “The Art of Revolution” about her work creatively engaging communities in experiences that help individuals build a relationship with social issues.

“The act of helping people connect emotionally to a cause is a really fundamental goal of my work,” Natale said. “I’m very excited to be in Utah, and to share my experiences.”

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One Million Bones on the Washington Mall (Courtesy photo)

One Million Bones on the Washington Mall (Courtesy photo)

Student scholarships to attend the Mountain West Arts Conference are now available for current students interested in making connections with leading figures of the arts community in Utah. MWAC will be held on Thursday, May 7 at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. Last year, School of Music student Cindy Chen attended and wrote about her experiences

The 9th annual Mountain West Arts Conference (MWAC) brings together arts leaders, practitioners, administrators, and patrons to engage in networking and educational workshops, as well as celebrate the vibrancy of the arts in the Mountain West. Held each spring, the conference is valuable opportunity for students to learn, network, and hone their artistic skills through a variety of classes that promote professional development and artistic vision. 

To apply for a scholarship to attend MWAC, send an email to David Wicai ( and include your name, address, phone number, and a brief paragraph describing how attendance at this conference would help you further and diversify your artistic education.