Catawba to induct six into Blue Masque Hall of Fame

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 23, 2021

SALISBURY– Six artists will be inducted into the Blue Masque Hall of Fame
by Catawba College’s Theatre Department on October 29 at 7:30 p.m. Two
artists are being inducted in 2021 and four inductees from 2020 will also be
honored at the in-person event. Last year the induction was held virtually due
to COVID restrictions.

Inductees for 2021 include:

  • John Barrett Starmer, Class of ‘96, Director of Production for Jazz at Lincoln Center.
  • Jim Lally, Class of ‘95, a director of change management and professor of organizational development.

Inductees from 2020 include:

  • Scott Burrell, Class of ’94, Director of the Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts, Northwestern State University, Natchitoches, Louisiana.
  • Rae Geoffrey, Class of ’95, Managing Director of the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts, Asheville.
  • William Gilmore, Class of ’85, a Los Angeles-based story producer, writer, editor and sometimes cinematographer.
  • Christopher Zink, Catawba College theatre arts professor.

Starmer has spent the last decade as director of production for New York City based Jazz at Lincoln Center.  After earning his bachelor’s degree in theatre arts from Catawba in 1997, he has had the pleasure of working in the performing arts across the United States and the world including places as far flung as Prague, Seoul, Stratford-upon-Avon and Brooklyn.

In 2006, Starmer earned his MFA in technical design and production from the prestigious Yale School of Drama. After graduation from Catawba, Starmer began work as a carpenter and
production assistant for the Tony-winning American Repertory Theatre, simultaneously serving as a rigger for Glimmerglass Opera. In 2001 he became assistant technical director for the New York City Opera, followed by stints working in a variety of technical and leadership roles with Yale Rep, The New Haven International Festival, Avenue Q Vegas and The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C.

In 2006, he became production manager for the International Premiere Production of the opera Don Juan in Prague presented at the Czech National Theater and Brooklyn Academy of Music. In
2007, he started work as production manager/technical supervisor for Jazz at Lincoln Center, where, in 2012 he was promoted to director of production.

Lally was perhaps best known and enjoyed for his gift of humor. A 1995 graduate of Catawba’s theatre arts program, Lally served as Blue Masque president for the 1994-5 academic year. He served as a scene shop assistant for his time at Catawba and earned leading roles in more than eight productions over his four years. He also co-created and hosted the “Catawba College Talkshow” —  the first and only live, in-person multimedia monthly variety show in Catawba’s history — helping to foster a love and excitement for Catawba’s Theatre Department on the southside of Innes Street. A true Renaissance man, post-graduation he landed roles in many films and tv shows, though he might have been most proud of the fact that James Earl Jones left him a voice mail thanking him for the cornbread recipe that he had shared on set. Friends and colleagues of a certain generation will remember and revel in the accomplishment of his role as stand-in for Pacey in Dawson’s Creek.

He earned a Project Management Professional certification — the first tool he acquired to embark on a career as an expert in organizational improvements. He went on to earn a master’s degree at St. Joseph’s University in Organization Development and Leadership.  He brought those skills to the stages of large corporations and preeminent educational institutions in his roles as director of change management and professor of organizational development.