NSU 2011 graduates bring experience to River City Players

Image of Melodie McCay.
Image of Jillian Dunn.

Tahlequah, Okla. — Casts often change with many stage productions, and Northeastern State University’s River City Players has always found talented performers for its Stars in the Summer shows.

But like every stage company, the Players appreciate and cherish the extended enlistments of seasoned entertainers.

Between them Jillian Dunn, who graduates from NSU in December, and Melodie McCay, who graduated in May, have seven summers of involvement with RCP.

“These productions let me gain experience in stage performance,” McCay said. “This year I want to continue to enhance my musical abilities.”

McCay is a fourth-year performer with RCP from Tulsa. She graduated in from NSU with a BS Ed. in elementary education. She is a fifth generation alumnus of Northeastern – her great-grandmother attended the Cherokee National Female Seminary. She wants to teach elementary school and incorporate her music and dance experience into her curriculum.

“Performing with RCP and NSU theatre has enriched my life here in Tahlequah,” Dunn said. “Performing is a passion of mine, and I treasure all of the time I get on stage.”

This is Dunn’s third season with RCP. From Muskogee, she is a senior at NSU and will graduate with a degree in psychology and a minor in theater. She is a member of the Psi Chi National Honor Society and the GoVertigo Dance Company and a volunteer for NSU’s Small Event. After graduation she will pursue a Ph.D. in psychology and wants to be a university professor.
“My favorite part of performing is that it is so raw,” Dunn said. “You can edit and mix a recording, but what happens on stage is real. You can’t fake it.”

Perhaps McCay was destined to devote part of her life to entertaining audiences. Her father Tom is a singer, songwriter and musician.

“I am very much inspired by my father,” McCay said. “He has a rare gift on stage. My first associations with music are watching and listening to my dad sing and play guitar when I was a small child.”

Dunn said familiarity attracted her to performing for the Players.

“Since I was raised in the area I grew up watching the River City Players every summer,” Dunn said. “I knew when I was little that I wanted to perform on this stage.”

With RCP performances, graduation approaching and her wedding set for March, Dunn has a full schedule but still finds the entire university experience exhilarating. She may even extend it a bit.

“One might say I am enjoying the last few months I have as a kid before adulthood sets in,” Dunn said. “Wedding plans are taking up a lot of my time. But RCP is the most fun and rewarding job I could ask for. I would love to come back for another season.”

Dunn cited the friendships forged among the cast as an incentive to return for the 2012 season.

“Aside from performing, the best thing about RCP is the family bond we acquire throughout the summer,” Dunn said. “I have made close friends with cast members this summer, in past summers, and will always cherish my time on the Shawnee Street Theatre stage alongside such strong and charismatic performers.”

The Sequoyah Institute at NSU presents the Stars in the Summer series. Performances run through August 6 with shows every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.

The River City Players venue is the Shawnee Street Theatre at 124 W. Shawnee St. in Tahlequah. River City Classic: Hits of the ’50s and ’60s is put on Fridays and Saturday afternoons. River City Retro: Hits of the ’70s and ’80s is performed Thursday and Saturday evenings.

Also included in the Stars in the Summer series are shows by Downtown Country. A Grande Ole Celebration is performed Fridays and as the Saturday matinee. This is Country Music! is presented on Thursday and Saturday evenings. Shows are at the University Playhouse at 300 N. Muskogee Ave. in Tahlequah.

Tickets remain on sale for Stars in the Summer. Prices are adults $12, NSU alumni and employees $10, seniors 60-over and groups of 12 or more $8, students and children $6. To reserve tickets call (918) 458-2075. For more information visit the Sequoyah Institute

Published: 6/21/2011 3:45:58 PM

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