Gillian Mackay-Smith – Actor

Gillian Mackay-Smith ’04 is an actor in the Boston area. She has performed regionally with the Lyric Stage Company, Bad Habit Productions, Fresh Ink Theatre Company, and Apollinaire Theater Company, among others, and devised work with New Exhibition Room and Project: Project.  She appeared in the web series Conversations From The Afterlife and the feature film The Beverages, for which she received the award for Best Supporting Actress at the 2009 British Film Festival Los Angeles.  She was nominated for an Independent Reviewers of New England Award for her performance in Apollinaire Theater Company’s production of Greenland and an ArtsImpulse award for her work in Fresh Ink Theatre Company’s The Housekeeper.  She reads with Rhombus Playwrights Group and has sat on the boards of Fresh Ink and Gurnet Theatre Project.  While at Northeastern, she was the 2003 recipient of the Eugene Blackman Scholarship for Excellence in Theatre.

“I am extremely grateful for my undergraduate education at Northeastern.  I was given so many opportunities to learn and explore my work as an actor in a practical environment while simultaneously being challenged intellectually in an academic space.    Exposure to design, dramaturgy and stage management in addition to my acting studies provided me with a greater ability to collaborate professionally and a greater respect and reverence for the art form.  When I enter a rehearsal space, I am prepared and ready to work.  I learned a sense of humility, gained a groundedness and drive; I learned that I am always learning.  My career as an actor would not have been possible without my educational foundation at Northeastern.”

Saheem Ali – Director

Born in Kenya, Saheem Ali ’03 has enjoyed a successful directing career in New York City. 2016 projects include A Lesson From Aloes (Juilliard), The Seagull (NYU Tisch), Hair (Pace University), and The Booty Call (Inner Voices). Last year he was Associate Director of The Tempest starring Sam Waterston and Jesse Tyler Ferguson at the Public Theatre/Shakespeare in Central Park. Saheem has worked on and off Broadway with George Wolfe (The Normal Heart) and Michael Greif (Angels in America). Other directing credits include the Public Theater, O’Neill Musical Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Lincoln Center, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, and Signature Theatre. He received a Presidential Scholarship in Theatre at Northeastern University.

“My under­grad­u­ate edu­ca­tion at NU’s The­ater Depart­ment was instru­men­tal in launch­ing me into the pro­fes­sional world in New York. The com­bi­na­tion of the­o­ret­i­cal in-class learn­ing, prac­ti­cal rehearsal and per­for­mance, and expe­ri­en­tial co-op oppor­tu­ni­ties equipped me with the tools that I needed to enter the pro­fes­sional arena. When I began the pro­gram, I was unde­cided about which spe­cific role I would fit into. All I knew was that I wanted to be in the the­ater. The struc­ture of the pro­gram, where you are exposed to the dif­fer­ent aspects of theater-making, was invalu­able. The abil­ity to try the dif­fer­ent fields — act­ing, design, dra­maturgy — was essen­tial in help­ing me iden­tify that my pas­sion lay in direct­ing. It pre­pared me for the appli­ca­tion and even­tual admis­sion into the grad­u­ate direct­ing pro­gram at Colum­bia. I look back at my time in the The­ater Depart­ment as the essen­tial foun­da­tion to my career as a director.”

Joey Frangieh – Artistic Director

Joey Frangieh ’12 is a director, designer, producer, and the founding artistic director of Boston Theater Company. He was the youngest person to ever direct at the historic Shubert Theatre, when he directed the world premiere of Finish Line, a documentary play about the 2013 Boston Marathon that he devised himself. He has worked on Broadway as the assistant projection designer for On Your Feet: The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan and Allegiance a new musical chronicling the Japanese Internment. 

“Getting a theatre degree from Northeastern was an invaluable experience. The eclectic coursework gave me a well-rounded theatre education and the opportunity to taste many different aspects of theatre. My classes were all taught by top notch professors who help prepare me for the real world. The theatre department helped me grow as an artist in ways I could have never imagined. Many of the experiences and lessons I learned at Northeastern have time and time again proven to be incredibly valuable in my professional work. I went into college unsure of how I fit into the world of theater and I left ready to tackle my career ambitions head on.”

Michael Under­hill – Actor, Administrator, and Arts Entrepreneur

Boston born Michael Underhill ’10 is an IRNE nominated actor and creative leader in Boston’s thriving fringe theatre scene. Committed to the creation of original and devised work, he has been artistic associate with Imaginary Beasts since 2009 and has served on the artistic board of Happy Medium Theatre Company since 2011. “With these roles comes an extra layer of responsibility in administration and production,” he explains. “In return for that commitment, I have a voice in the room where artistic decisions are made.” Michael has received critical acclaim for performances with SpeakEasy Stage Company, Stoneham Theatre, Theatre on Fire, Whistler in the Dark, Heart & Dagger, and ShakespeareNow! He has also worked with the film companies Thompson Films, Greenview Entertainment, Malarkey Films and Joel Marsh Films.

“When I entered North­east­ern, my con­fi­dence as an actor was, shall we say, slim to none. In act­ing classes, I was chal­lenged and pushed to places I thought I could never go — mentally, physically or emo­tion­ally. I received so much indi­vid­ual atten­tion, encour­age­ment and analy­sis because the student-professor ratio is small. In analy­sis class, I learned how to read a script, by crawl­ing over every word of text, for­wards and back­wards, in a quiet room with no dis­tur­bances. In tech classes, I picked up the prac­ti­cal skills required to phys­i­cally put on a play, even though I attended as a per­for­mance concentration. I became pres­i­dent of Silver Masque, and I left my senior year ready to con­quer the world. I have not had more than a month off in between projects since grad­u­a­tion.”

Kevin Deane Parker – Stage Manager, Technical Director

Kevin Parker
Kevin Deane Parker ’15 received a 2016 Arts Impulse nomination as Best Stage Manager for Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them at Company One. While studying industrial engineering at Northeastern, he found his home in the theatre department. Multi-faceted and interested in all things backstage, Kevin has worked with Huntington Theatre Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Boston Children’s Theatre, Bad Habit Productions, Actors Shakespeare Project, Theater Offensive, Ogunquit Playhouse, A.R.T. Institute, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Wooden Kiwi Productions, Argos Productions, and Boston Theater Company. Immediately upon graduation, he served as Technical Director for the Gloucester Stage Company. Favorite projects include stage managing BHP’s Gross Indecency (IRNE Award – Best Fringe Production) and technical direction for Company One’s The Flick (Norton Awards for Outstanding Design and Production).

“The theatre department at Northeastern provided a laboratory for me to not only learn theatre-specific skills, but to apply engineering to a creative setting. My particular interest is translating the principles of industrial engineering (reducing cost, increasing efficiency) to the complex world of theatrical production. The theatre faculty always supported my efforts. Theatre co-ops allowed me to take on projects where I applied these experiments in professional theatre. I was able to develop a cross-departmental relationship at Northeastern that wouldn’t have been possible with other theatre programs or universities.”

Heidi Nel­son – Dramaturg

Heidi Nelson
Heidi Nelson ’06 studied performance at Northeastern and is now a freelance dramaturg focused on new play development and ensemble-based theatre in the Washington DC area. She was Dramaturgy and Outreach Fellow for the inaugural season of ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage and later served as their New York based programming consultant. Heidi’s experience includes working with such companies as Clubbed Thumb (NYC), Transit Lounge (at HERE Arts Center, NYC) Flux Theatre Ensemble (NYC), Gurnet Theatre Project (Boston), and Company One (Boston). She was dramaturg for the A.R.T.’s Elliot Norton Award-winning production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame and the world premiere of Ellen McLaughlin’s Ajax in Iraq. Her article, “Bryan Doerries’s Theater of War” was published in the LMDA Review. Heidi earned her MFA at the A.R.T./MXAT Institute for Advanced Theatre Training.

“My expe­ri­ence at North­east­ern has proven invalu­able. Inter­est­ing course­work com­ple­mented by hands-on pro­duc­tion expe­ri­ence fueled my pas­sion for cre­at­ing mean­ing­ful art that sparks dia­logue and inspires social aware­ness. The men­tor­ship of an excep­tional pro­fes­sor set in motion a chain of events that led to my being accepted into an excel­lent MFA pro­gram and mak­ing cru­cial con­nec­tions with influ­en­tial col­leagues in my field. None of my accom­plish­ments would have been pos­si­ble with­out the edu­ca­tional foun­da­tion and artis­tic inspi­ra­tion I acquired at NU.”