Catawba College to recognize outstanding theatre contributions
By Dr. Jim Epperson
For The Salisbury PostThe Blue Masque Hall of Fame will induct its first class of honorees at 10:30 a.m. October 19 in the Peeler Crystal Lounge of the Robertson College-Community Center.
The purpose of the Catawba College Blue Masque Hall of Fame is to recognize and perpetuate the noteworthy theatre tradition of Catawba College by honoring and memorializing individuals who have made outstanding contributions to this tradition. Inductees into the Hall of Fame must have either attended Catawba College as a full time student, been employed at Catawba as a full or part time faculty/staff member, or contributed to the success of the Blue Masque by performing outstanding service as a volunteer. The following individuals are recognized for their meritorious life in theatre.
Florence Fransioli Busby Corriher joined the Catawba faculty in 1925. Shortly thereafter, she founded the Blue Masque drama club, the first club on the new Salisbury campus and directed its first production, The New Poor. In addition to directing high quality productions and developing Catawba's first academic studies in theatre, Corriher was also very active in the state drama association, serving as its president and directing award-winning productions for its yearly play festival. She died in 1979.
Cecile Rowe Bost was Catawba's first theatre arts major, graduating cum laude in 1946. After graduation Bost distinguished herself as a pioneer in radio and television, becoming one of the first female newscasters in North Carolina. She served as president of the North Carolina Chapter of American Women in Radio and Television, was named to the Broadcast Pioneers Library in Washington, and was listed in Who's Who of American Women. Bost died in 1991.
Burnet M. Hobgood joined the Catawba faculty in 1950. He established the department of drama and speech, developing its first full major in drama. Under his leadership, Catawba theatre gained national attention because of its innovative programs, which included bringing budding playwrights to campus for premier productions, and international acclaim when it represented the United States at the first International Festival of Amateur Theatre in Monte Carlo. Hobgood died in 2001.
Hoyt M. McCachren, Jr. spent 41 theatre seasons at Catawba before retiring from its faculty in 1994. An undergraduate theatre major at Catawba, McCachren also holds an M.A. from the University of Oregon and the Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. Joining the theatre faculty in 1957, he served as theatre arts department chair from 1974 to 1983, then served as dean of the school of performing arts from 1983 until 1991. McCachren was recognized twice with the Catawba Trustee Award for Outstanding Service, while the North Carolina Theatre Conference presented him with its Distinguished Career Award.
Robert B. Hill received his degree in theatre from Catawba in 1961. He later gained the MFA degree in theatre from Southern Methodist University before teaching at the University of Southern Mississippi from 1970 until his retirement in 2000. Accomplished in teaching, technical theatre, acting, and directing, Hill received the Mississippi Theatre Association Award for Career Contributions to Theatre and had two USM productions selected to be performed at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington, D.C.
James E. Parker retired from the theatre arts department in 2003 after 33 years of service. Holding the MFA in theatre from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Parker was the department's costume designer for most of his tenure, while also teaching many of its technical theatre courses. As a director, among others, he mounted 14 Shakespearean productions. He adapted plays, taught performance and literature classes, and acted. Parker was awarded Catawba's Swink Award for Outstanding Classroom Teaching.
J. Denise Nuzum Perrino, theatre arts teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia for 30 years, graduated from Catawba's theatre department in 1974. In addition to teaching at two high schools and two middle schools during her career, she has directed hundreds of productions, and is an area theatre leader and mentor. The recipient of numerous teaching and directing awards, Perrino was most recently chosen to direct a production at the American High School Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Scott Holmesis a 1974 Catawba theatre and music graduate. He has appeared in numerous productions on Broadway and in Broadway touring companies, including Evita, Grease, The Robber Bridegroom, Shenandoah, and The Rink. Holmes is best known for his 31-year run as Tom Hughes in the daytime drama, "As The World Turns," for which he has received best supporting actor and best actor awards and nominations. His nightclub act, Alone For The First Time, is another extension of his strong talent.
Attendance at the induction ceremony and brunch is open to the public by reservation only.
Tickets may be obtained through Catawba homecoming registration or by contacting Beth Slate in the theatre arts office at 704-637-4440.
Epperson is Professor Emeritus of Theatre Arts at Catawba College.