The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 5, 2013

MSU alumni makes it to Broadway stage

— Minnesota State University has finally made the Broadway stage.

For the first time, an alumni of MSU’s Department of Theatre and Dance has earned an on-stage role in a Broadway play.

Claire Wellin, a 2008 musical theater graduate, will be performing in the Tony Award-winning musical “Once” in the role of “Reza” while Elizabeth Davis takes a break.

A Bismarck, N.D., native, Wellin appeared in many lead roles while at MSU. Her roles included Ophelia in “Hamlet,” Beauty in “Beauty and the Beast” and Dainty June in “Gypsy.” Wellin earned Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship nominations for all three.

Other MSU graduates have worked backstage on Broadway, but Wellin is the first to land an acting role.

“Needless to say, it’s my dream job and I am thrilled and thankful,” Wellin said in an MSU news release.

In addition to singing, the character of “Reza” must be able to play the violin, which Wellin does.

Tentative performance dates are March 26-April 23 with Wellin appearing in all eight shows each week. It’s possible her time in the role will be extended.

“From the minute she arrived in our department, we knew she had a special talent,” said Paul J. Hustoles, department chairman. “Not the least of this was her amazing range — able to play the delight of ‘Peter Pan's’ Wendy to the drama of ‘Hamlet's’ Ophelia with equal aplomb. All of her performances tended to be electrifying.”

“‘Once’ tells the tale of a Dublin street musician who’s about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs,” according to the website. “As the chemistry between them grows, his music soars to powerful new heights — but their unlikely connection turns out to be deeper and more complex than your everyday romance.”

“Once” won eight Tony Awards in 2012, including Best Musical. Davis was nominated for Best Featured Actress as “Reza.”

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