Center for the Arts Stories: Christopher Andrews ’97

Christopher Andrews '97
Christopher Andrews ’97. Photo by John McCormick.

In my years at Wesleyan, the majority of my life was spent lurking behind the scenes around the CFA. I played a role in virtually every theater and dance production and good number of the music performances as well. While I had good relationships with my professors, and I was part of a number of interesting performances, what remains with me is the time I spent working and, well, not working, with Nelson Maurice and Charlie Carroll and their occasional co-conspirator Mark Gawlak. They were, if you can pardon a Star Trek reference, my Boothby. I considered them to be both mentors and friends.  I think working with Nelson during a summer program on campus is what convinced me to come to Wesleyan in the first place. They provided the connections that got me first an internship at the Goodspeed Opera House and then later my job with fellow alum John Cini at High Output in Boston. It is even my connection with Charlie that led to my wife and I getting together.  I certainly learned a lot about technical theater and practical problem solving working with them—skills that continue to serve me well long after I left the theater. Of course, Nelson would be the first to admit that he didn’t keep up with the technology, and in the end I think I was teaching him things, but the great thing about him was that the reversal never seemed to bother him. He was more like a proud grandfather than a teacher trying to maintain intellectual dominance, and I really respect him for that, especially now that I am a teacher myself.

But for all that, what I remember most is the quiet times, just hanging around the shop listening to them gossip and tell jokes of variable quality, or sitting up in the booth teaching Nelson how to navigate the nascent Internet so he could look up web pages about Panama, Maine, peddle cars and Moxie. I gained from them a certain pragmatism that is lacking in many theatrical environments (and elsewhere). They worked hard, but they never took anything too seriously – nothing is really an emergency, and there is a fix for everything. Of course, this led to one of my fondest memories, watching Nelson emerge onstage and start sweeping the stage in the middle of a curtain call because it had been a long day and he was ready to go home. For all their pragmatism, and the admittedly hard time they gave anyone who came in range, they are some of the Good Guys, dedicated to what they do, and above all dedicated to their students.

This was my Wesleyan.

Center for the Arts Stories: Jonathan Kalb ’81

Jonathan Kalb '81 at Machu Picchu. Photo by his wife Julie Heffernan.
Jonathan Kalb ’81 at Machu Picchu. Photo by his wife Julie Heffernan.

My story is about an annual ritual of storing a god-awfully heavy upright piano that I stubbornly insisted on keeping with me all four years at Wesleyan. I’m sure a psychiatrist, if I ever asked one, would have a lot to say about why I lugged this absurd, quarter-ton, beaten-up, wooden instrument around during the most unsettled and itinerant time of life, hauling it from The Gingerbread House, to In-Town, to off-campus rentals on Washington and Pine Streets. More than three decades on, I can barely remember a time so innocent that moving seemed novel and fun. In any case, because Wesleyan housing had to be vacated over the summers, I had to find a place for my behemoth to stay every year from May until September. Full of freshman chutzpah in the spring in 1978, I walked into the Music Department, where I’d never taken a class, and asked a professor I didn’t know (I think it was Jon Barlow) if by chance I might leave my piano in a CFA practice room. He graciously answered: “Sure, if you can get it here.”

Thus began my yearly rite of bribing four or five friends with a case of beer to help push the damn thing across multiple streets and up and down long paths and sidewalks, on its rickety castors, to and from its summer sanctuary in the CFA. The asphalt pathways by the Music Department never looked the same after these operations and neither did my friends. The piano, however, was in great shape every fall (except for the castors) and I could play it in my room any time of the day or night, which is what mattered to me. Graduation inevitably forced me to focus on the merits of lightening up, and when a friend who had helped push (Joel Kreisberg) offered to buy the beast for fifty bucks, I reluctantly agreed. I saw it a few years later at his country house, nicked, faded, hulking, defiant—a proud old rusty ship just daring us to take it out on one more voyage.

Celebrating 40 Years in 2013-2014; Tickets On Sale July 1

Doug Varone and Dancers will be performing on Thursday, September 12 & Friday, September 13, 2013.
Doug Varone and Dancers will be performing on Thursday, September 12 & Friday, September 13, 2013.

Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts announces the highlights of their 40th anniversary season in 2013-2014, including two world premieres, four New England premieres, and six Connecticut premieres:

September 6 – December 8, 2013: The Alumni Show II exhibition in Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, featuring painting, sculpture, drawing, installation art, video art, performance, and films
September 12 & 13, 2013: Stripped/Dressed featuring Rise and the Connecticut premiere of Carrugi by Doug Varone and Dancers
September 13, 2013; November 16, 2013; and February 15, 2014: Dine/Dance/Discover, a new event designed to bring audiences closer to the work on stage before and after all three 2013–2014 Breaking Ground Dance Series performances
September 27 & 28, 2013: the Connecticut premiere of Who’s Hungry by Dan Froot and Dan Hurlin
September 29, 2013: the first of twelve recitals featuring the complete piano works of Wesleyan John Spencer Camp Professor of Music Neely Bruce, including two world premieres
October 9–13, 2013: the 37th annual Navaratri Festival, including the Connecticut debut of dancer Aparna Ramaswamy
October 15, 2013: the New England debut of Netherlands-based pianist Reinier van Houdt
October 25, 2013: Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré, the “Hendrix of the Sahara”
November 9, 2013: the Connecticut debut of London-based a cappella trio Juice Vocal Ensemble
November 11, 2013: Blood, Muscle, Bone, a performative “teach-in” by choreographers Liz Lerman and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
November 13–16, 2013: Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull directed by Wesleyan Associate Professor of Theater Yuri Kordonsky
November 15 & 16, 2013: the Connecticut premiere of the dance work Pavement by Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion
January 30 & 31, 2014: the New England premiere of the theater work HOME/SICK by The Assembly
February 1, 2014: the Connecticut debut of the Ignacio Berroa Trio
February 14, 2014: the first concert in New England by Ukrainian pianist Vadym Kholodenko after winning the Gold Medal in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
February 14 & 15, 2014: the New England premiere of Times Bones by San Francisco’s Margaret Jenkins Dance Company
March 8 & 9, 2014: the 15th annual DanceMasters Weekend, featuring a Showcase Performance by three dance companies, and twelve Master Classes over two days
March 27—29, 2014: the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States conference, to be held in New England for the first time since 1998

Tickets for the 2013-2014 season at the Center for the Arts go on sale on Monday, July 1, 2013. Tickets will be available online at; and starting at Noon by phone at (860) 685-3355, or in person at the Wesleyan University Box Office, located in the Usdan University Center, 45 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown.

Programs, artists, and dates are subject to change without notice.