ASU Gammage director makes Broadway a Tony affair

June 4, 2015

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2015, click here.

Rock-and-roll tours with the Stones, U2 and Van Halen. ASU Gammage Colleen Jennings-Roggensack Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director for ASU Gammage, has been a Tony Awards voter for almost two decades. She is the only member of the Broadway League from Arizona. Photo by: Charlie Leight/ASU News Download Full Image

Dancing under the direction of legendary choreographer Martha Graham.

White House dinners with the Clintons. And the time Isaac Hayes’ manager set a gun on the table, demanding a recount of tickets.

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack has stories that could mesmerize you for hours, gathered during her years of working in the entertainment industry.

After this weekend, the longtime ASU Gammage executive director will have a new story to tell when she attends the 2015 Tony Awards in New York City.

But first, back to Isaac Hayes and the gun.

Jennings-Roggensack was in her early 20s when she was hired by Shelton Stanfill, the director of cultural programs at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Stanfill despised rock music and assigned the division to Jennings-Roggensack, who teetered around 90 pounds, often wore her hair in pigtails and looked about half her age.

“Back then we didn’t have computerized tickets like we do today, so we had to rack tickets and do a count with the band at intermission,” said Jennings-Roggensack. “Isaac Hayes’ manager thought we were palming tickets and didn’t feel as if he were getting his fair share, so he shut the door, put a gun on the table and said, ‘We’re not leaving this room until I get my cash.’ My rock-and-roll days weren’t always so pretty but they taught me a lot about negotiating, dealing and being under fire and how you react to those types of situations."

With her rock-and-roll days behind her, Jennings-Roggensack is running with a more sophisticated crowd. She is considered one the country’s most influential tastemakers where it concerns the arts, specifically Broadway plays and musicals.

Jennings-Roggensack is the only member of the Broadway League from Arizona and has been a Tony voter for almost two decades. This year, that required her to watch 68 plays and musicals with several flights each month back and forth from Phoenix to New York City. This weekend she’ll actually get to relax and rub shoulders with artists, producers, directors, choreographers and playwrights.

“The show is way more spirited than the Academy Awards, and the people are fun and charismatic,” she said. “Broadway is more alive than ever. It’s the reason why you’ll see Bradley Cooper in ‘The Elephant Man’ or Jake Gyllenhaal doing ‘Constellations.’ Every actor aspires to work on the stage."

They also aspire to come to the Valley, said Jennings-Roggensack, who brings about 20 weeks of touring Broadway shows each year to ASU Gammage.

“Phoenix has really grown up and is considered one of the top three touring stops on the road,” she said. “We have a very well informed public that spans several generations. This is a town where you do your best work or you don’t come.”

The 2015-2016 Broadway season at ASU Gammage kicks off with the Tony Award-winning “The Book of Mormon” on Oct. 20.

Reporter , ASU Now


5 honors students receive prestigious study-abroad scholarships

June 4, 2015

Kaleigh Johnson, an Arizona State University chemical engineering major and student in Barrett, the Honors College, has never traveled abroad – until now.

Her first overseas trip has come courtesy of a prestigious scholarship from the US-UK Fulbright Commission. Kaleigh Johnson Kaleigh Johnson, an Arizona State University chemical engineering major and student in Barrett, the Honors College, will spend four weeks at the University of Exeter, where she will explore climate-change issues, among other topics. Photo by: Kaleigh Johnson Download Full Image

Johnson is one of five ASU students who have been awarded scholarships to participate in the 2015 Fulbright Summer Institute in the United Kingdom. Like Johnson, the other four also are Barrett Honors College students.

The US-UK Fulbright Commission is the only bilateral, transatlantic scholarship program offering awards and summer opportunities for study or research in any field at any accredited U.S. or UK university. The commission is part of the Fulbright program established by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright in the aftermath of World War II to promote leadership, learning and empathy between nations through educational exchange.

Each year, the commission provides scholarships to about 60 undergraduate students in the U.S. and the United Kingdom for programs at leading institutes in those two nations. This year, the commission is hosting nine Summer Institute programs throughout the UK.

“There are only 60 scholarships available, so with these students winning, ASU students will represent 8.3 percent of all 2015 Fulbright UK Summer Institute scholars. That’s a significant achievement,” said Jacquelyn Scott Lynch, Deans Fellow and Honors Faculty Fellow at Barrett Honors College, who assists students with applying for national and international scholarships.

Johnson will spend four weeks, June 27-July 25, at the University of Exeter, where she will participate in Fulbright Week exploring climate-change issues and three weeks at the university’s International Summer School.

“I was thrilled to find out I was selected to attend the University of Exeter. As it will be my first experience with global travel, I am excited to gain a broadened perspective and see what life is like as a university student in the UK,” she said.

“I also hope to learn how universities in the UK are tackling important issues involving sustainability. I hope the knowledge I gain will make me a more well-founded engineer as I continue to research this important field through chemical engineering.”

Brandon Dorr, a biomedical engineering major, will spend June 10-26 at the University of Bristol, where he will study the transatlantic slave trade and its implications on current society.

“As a biomedical engineering major with an interest in economics and trade, the idea of being immersed in the living history of an economic hub such as Bristol will provide an outstanding opportunity to develop as a scholar with a global mind-set," Dorr said.

“I hope to bring my interest in ethical considerations of trade practices into discussion, while studying alongside accomplished students from all over the United States.”

Brittney McCormick, a biological sciences major, will also go to the University of Bristol, where she will learn about the history and culture of Bristol and the UK, including the relevance of 18th-century slave trade and smuggling, and explore the specific role Bristol has played in U.S. history.

Patricia “Patty” Esch, an engineering major, will head to Scotland for a five-week program, July 5-Aug. 8, at the University of Dundee and the University of Strathclyde.

Esch is NASA Space Grant undergrad research intern and has been working on computational models to study the co-existence and competition of mirror life-forms in the emergence@asu group. At the Summer Institute she will study Scottish history and identity, health and society in modern Scotland, and science and technology.

Jane Cadwalader, who is majoring in art and museum studies, will go to Nottingham Trent University on July 6-31 to participate in an academic program that examines local culture, history, architecture, fine art and museum and heritage studies.

Nicole Greason

Public relations and publicity manager , Barrett, The Honors College