Local stage fave Liz Mikel is the third member of the Brierley Resident Acting Company at the Dallas Theater Center to win a Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship. The prestigious award — which goes to the best regional actors in the country — earns a recipient eight days of master classes and performance at Ten Chimneys, the Wisconsin estate of the celebrated theater couple, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, after whom the Broadway theater, the Lunt-Fontanne on 46th Street is named. The restored estate has been turned into a museum and a “resource” for theater education and performance. Mikel’s stay starts in a week-and-a-half.
Mikel is known not just for her larger-than-life roles at the DTC in such shows as Give It Up and The Wiz, but also for TV’s Friday Night Lights and her singing performances around town, including her regular Monday night gig at the Balcony Club. An example of the caliber of the recipients and teachers involved with Ten Chimneys: Mikel is one of ten fellows this year, who include Nathaniel Stampley — whom Dallasites will recall as the handsome and engaging Porgy in the tour of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, which played the Winspear two years ago. Their master teacher will be Phylicia Rashad, a fellow Texan and a Tony Award-winner best known for her role on TV’s The Cosby Show. Previous teachers have included David Hyde Pierce, Joel Grey and Lynn Redgrave.
The two other Brierley actors who’ve been Lunt-Fontanne fellows are Sally Nystuen Vahle and Chamblee Ferguson, both in 2011. Jack Willis is a former member of the Dallas Theater Center’s acting company under artistic director Adrian Hall who has more recently been a “core acting member” with the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco — he was a fellow in 2009.
NPR’s Jacki Lyden did a feature story on the Lunts and the history and restoration of Ten Chimneys in 2006.