Strumming in the Spotlight

Alumnus brings six characters to life with just his voice and a guitar

ChasePadgett

Chase Padgett, ’07 | Actor and Musician

By Angie Lewis, ’03

While it may appear he’s having an identity crisis during his 90 minutes on stage, Chase Padgett, ’07, is actually just doing what he loves: performing.

For more than five years, from Orlando to British Columbia, and Scotland to South Korea, he’s been bringing six distinct characters to life in his one-man show, titled “6 Guitars.”

Each of his six characters play songs from their genres — blues, jazz, rock, classical, folk and country — while telling the stories of how they fell in love with their music, what they think of other styles of music and what music means to us all. Padgett also incorporates his improv comedy background into the act.

The show premiered in 2010 at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, where it became a breakout hit, winning multiple awards including Best in Venue, Best Musician and Best Solo Show, among several others. It also won awards at fringe festivals in Canada and Scotland.

Before his successful solo career, he performed various roles at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and the SAK Comedy Lab in downtown Orlando, as an actor, improviser and musician.

Padgett says his UCF degree gives him authority when he speaks about music, and sharpened his musicianship, which is a key component of his livelihood.

In 2014, Padgett became the artist-in-residence at the Curious Comedy Theatre in Portland, Ore., which is now the place he calls home — that is, when he’s not on the road, which is where he’ll remain for at least the next couple of years, as he’s touring Canada for “6 Guitars” through 2016. While that will take up much of his next two years, he’s already preparing for his next career move.

“[I want to] develop more material that would make sense as a TV special,” he says. “Also, [I want to have] a legitimate run with one of my solo shows. Over time, I want to transition into more film and television. I just wrapped my first role in a feature film and I’d love to keep doing that. It was a blast!”

Hitting the Notes Q&A

Q. Why do you do what you do?
A. Doing anything else would not nearly be as fulfilling.

Q. Favorite UCF memory?
A. I think the choir performances I did were my favorite memory. Singing in a group like that is a truly intoxicating experience.

Q. What advice would you give to current UCF music majors?
A. Being able to promote yourself in the artistic marketplace is crucial. Putting together a good online resume with videos and graphic design is so important. It could be the difference between really making it in your field and just scraping by. Also, talent has never been, nor will ever be, a substitute for character.

Q. Most memorable work experience so far?
A. Lots of highlights to choose from. I got to workshop a new musical improv show for Wayne Brady recently. Last fall, I did a sketch comedy showcase for the executives of NBC. But, honestly, the feeling I get during the final blackout of one of my live shows is probably the best thing. It’s the moment right after the performance and right before the audience’s applause. Therein lays an accomplished stillness that I still chase to this day.

Q. Who/what inspires your music?
A. Ray Charles is my single greatest inspiration both musically and entrepreneurially. Also, the guitar player Tommy Emmanuel is an enormous inspiration.

Q. First concert you attended?
A. B.B. King at the Naples Philharmonic

Q. Do you play any other instruments besides guitar?
A. Piano. I also beatbox a fair bit.

Q. What instrument do you wish you could play?
A. Chapman Stick!

Q. Who/what inspires your comedy?
A. There’s no better source for comedy than the truth in one’s own life.

Q. Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” in terms of a career in entertainment. Also, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It’s easy to get down on one’s self for not being where you’d like to be, but you’ve got to combat that with gratitude. I’m a successful full-time performing artist making a living doing the material I created for myself. That’s certainly good enough to be grateful for.

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“Six Guitars”

4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassadors Receive Order of Pegasus

jill+gerald-order_of_pegasus
While attending a 4EVER KNIGHTS meeting in March, two of this year’s Order of Pegasus awardees, seniors Gerald Richardson and Jill Dutmers, posed for a photo in front of the Knights for Life wall at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

Jill Dutmers and Gerald Richardson, two of the UCF Alumni Association’s 4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassadors, were awarded the 2015 Order of Pegasus — the university’s most prestigious and significant award a student can attain.

The Order of Pegasus recognizes exemplary performance by UCF bachelor’s degree students in the areas of academic achievement, outstanding university involvement, leadership and community service. Master’s degree students, doctoral, professional or M.D. students are selected separately based on academic achievement, professional or community service, leadership, and publication or research experiences.

  • Jill Dutmers is an undergraduate majoring in English literature in the College of Arts and Humanities, and is a student in The Burnett Honors College. She’s a member of the Honors Congress and President’s Leadership Council, and has participated in numerous service projects for the UCF community. Dutmers also serves as president of 4EK. She’s currently deciding which law school she’d like to attend. (She’s been accepted into seven.)

“My four years at UCF has afforded me incredible opportunities and experiences that have shaped not only how I view the world, but also how I view myself,” Dutmers says. “The education I received and leadership skills I gained have me a stronger, more polished, more confident Knight.”

  • Gerald Richardson is an undergraduate majoring in biomedical sciences in the College of Medicine. He’s a third-generation Knight. He’s involved with the Student Undergraduate Research Council and the President’s Leadership Council. Richardson also gives free, private tutoring, was a member of the 2014 UCF Homecoming Court, and participates in countless community service activities.

“At UCF, I have been afforded the unique opportunity to serve as a university ambassador, contribute to the well-being of the Central Florida community, and explore my passion for research, all while acquiring the scientific foundation necessary to pursue a career in medicine,” Richardson says. “I owe all of my success and professional maturity to the unwavering support that UCF and The Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences have displayed for my academic and extracurricular endeavors.”

The 4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassadors are a group of student leaders, chosen to serve as the liaisons between students and alumni. They operate as an extension of the UCF Alumni Association and oversee the programming and benefits for 4EK general membership. These student ambassadors uphold UCF traditions and leave a lasting legacy.

Two former 4EK Ambassadors have also been awarded Order of Pegasus: Todd Currie, who won it this year, and Jamie Gregor, ’13, who won it during her junior year, in 2012.

Congratulations to these exceptional Knights!

More Info

4EVER KNIGHTS Student Alumni Association
4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassadors

More than 5,000 to Graduate at Fall 2014 Ceremonies

graduation

By Gene Kruckemyer

More than 5,000 University of Central Florida students are expected to graduate Dec. 12-13 during three commencement ceremonies at the CFE Arena.

The ceremonies will be:

  • Friday, Dec. 12, 9 a.m.
    • College of Education and Human Performance
    • College of Health and Public Affairs
    • Rosen College of Hospitality Management
  • Friday, Dec. 12, 2:30 p.m.
    • College of Arts and Humanities
    • College of Graduate Studies
    • College of Nursing
    • College of Sciences
    • Office of Undergraduate Studies
  • Saturday, Dec. 13, 9 a.m.
    • College of Business Administration
    • College of Engineering and Computer Science
    • College of Medicine
    • College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL)

Doors open 90 minutes before the ceremonies, and graduates begin processing 20 minutes before the ceremonies, which are expected to last about two hours each.

The Friday morning speaker will be Alan Ginsburg, a real estate developer who founded The CED Companies, which has built more than 85,000 affordable apartment residences. He is active in many professional and charitable organizations, and his philanthropic contributions have benefited causes all over Central Florida, including The UCF College of Medicine Capital Campaign. The college’s Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library is named in honor of his late wife. During the ceremonies, Ginsburg will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service.

The Friday afternoon speaker will be Rick Walsh, ’77, a founding member of the UCF Board of Trustees and a former senior vice president for corporate affairs of Darden Restaurants. Today he is president of the KnobHill Group, a strategic counseling and development company. He received the 1985 UCF Distinguished Alumnus Award and has served on the UCF Foundation board for more than 10 years. During the ceremonies, Walsh will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Commercial Science.

The Saturday speaker will be Beverly J. Seay, a business executive in the Central Florida modeling and simulation industry for more than 25 years and a member of the UCF Board of Trustees since last year. She also serves as a board member on the Florida High Tech Corridor Council and on the Steering Committee of the UCF Downtown Campus. She chairs the dean’s advisory board for the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science, and has helped to establish the UCF Women in Science and Engineering program.

Of the 5,067 students who filed an intent to graduate, there are 4,308 seeking bachelor’s degrees, 659 master’s degrees, three education specialist degrees, 11 educational doctoral degrees, 80 Ph.D.s, and six Doctor of Nursing Practice.

With these expected graduations, UCF will have awarded 271,257 degrees since classes began in 1968.

Each guest attending the ceremonies, including children and infants, must have a ticket to enter the arena. Tickets are available from graduates. Guests who do not have tickets can view a live telecast of the ceremony via closed circuit television at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, Student Union and on Campus Cable Channel 21.

Parking for guests will be available in garages C, D and H.

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Theatre alumna reprises Off-Broadway role she originated at Orlando theatre

Michelle Knight, '02, poses in front of her Snow White billboard in Times Square.
Michelle Knight, ’02, poses in front of her Snow White billboard in Times Square.
Michelle Knight, ’02 | Performer

Michelle Knight, ’02, stars as Snow White in the Off-Broadway production of “DISENCHANTED!” — a not-for-the-kiddies musical comedy that’s anything but Grimm. Forget the princesses you think you know. Fairy tales will never be the same! The show runs for a limited engagement Nov. 26 through Jan. 25 at the Theatre at St. Clement’s in New York City.

Knight originated the role of Snow White in “DISENCHANTED!” in 2011 at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, and reprised the role (for which she received a Daily Beast Best Actress award) at the Orlando Shakespeare Festival’s Goldman Theater, as well as the Peter Jay Sharp Theater and Don’t Tell Mama Cabaret Theater, both in New York City.

She’s performed on Broadway in “Jersey Boys,” as well as in the first national tour in Chicago and Las Vegas. Her other national tours include “Grease” and the 30th anniversary tour of “Annie.”

Knight is often a starring performer with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, including leads in “My Fair Lady,” “Carousel,” and “Guys and Dolls.” She can also be seen in “Finding Nemo, The Musical” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and with the Voices of Liberty at Disney’s Epcot.

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Visiting NYC during the holidays? Get tickets to see Michelle Knight in “DISENCHANTED!”

College of Arts & Humanities

College of Arts and Humanities Dean Jose Fernandez (left) presents the college's 2014 Professional Achievement Award to Bob Schaer, who accepted the award on behalf of his son, Rob Shaer, '02, who was performing abroad. (PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
College of Arts and Humanities Dean Jose Fernandez (left) presents the college’s 2014 Professional Achievement Award to Bob Schaer, who accepted the award on behalf of his son, Rob Shaer, ’02, who was performing abroad.
(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
Rob Schaer, Ph.D., ’02 | Musician, self-employed

Professional Achievement Award 2014

Before touring the word with the L.A. Philharmonic and performing live for more than a billion people at the Academy Awards, UCF College of Arts and Humanities alumnus Rob Schaer got his start at UCF’s small, but elite, program. His former professors’ emphasis on versatility prepared him to be a marketable professional while doing what he loves, recording countless of soundtracks for movies, shows and video games.

Learn more about Rob:

The Gregg Hale Project

Film alumnus continues to follow his passion for the big (and small) screen

GreggHale-web-crop

Gregg Hale, ’95 | Partner, Haxan Films

By Angie Lewis, ’03

If you were a teenager in 1999, chances are you sat in a dark theater with your friends, peeking at the screen through your hands, while watching the “found footage” of three student documentary filmmakers who disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Md.

“The Blair Witch Project,” by Haxan Films, celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, after grossing more than $248 million worldwide and receiving critical acclaim, which included winning the Award of the Youth for Foreign Film at the Cannes Film Festival and the Golden Orange Award at the Florida Film Critics Circle Awards.

The highly successful indie horror film was the creation of five UCF alumni: Michael Monello, ’92; Robin Cowie, ’93; Daniel Myrick, ’93; Eduardo Sanchez, ’94; and Gregg Hale, ’95.

We caught up with Hale, one of the movie’s producers, in Portland, Ore., where he currently lives with his wife, Adrian (Steinbach), ’00, and their two kids, Amelia, 8, and Decker, 6.

Hale and Sanchez still own Haxan Films and continue to make indie movies, as well as television shows, games and comic books, and also do some creative consulting. Most recently, the pair produced a show for ABC called “The Quest,” a fantasy-based reality competition, which began airing at the end of July and wrapped up in September. In addition, their Bigfoot horror film, “Exist,” comes out Oct. 24.

“It’s a cycle of developing and then producing,” Hale explains. “When we do the indie thing, we have to sell them. So, we’re trying to transition more into television, which is steadier. There’s more money in it now than there is in indie films, and we don’t have that cycle of taking a long time to create something, then make something, then sell something. We can get in and do it and not worry about the sales aspect.”

Hale and fellow “Blair Witch” producer and UCF alumnus, Monello, are also the the founders of Campfire, a marketing agency that shapes perceptions and enhances brand preference through social storytelling, digital content and physical experiences — just like the promotional campaign they did for “Blair Witch,” which had many people believing the movie was real. Hale remains with the company as an advisor, while Monello serves as its full-time chief creative officer.

“I like the work that we did for Campfire,” Hale says. “We did a lot of cool stuff, like the first season of ‘True Blood’ and the first season of ‘Game of Thrones,’ and we did some cool movies and a lot of video games. It’s good work, but I don’t get passionate about that. I’ve still managed to stay somewhat passionate about TV and film. So, I just opted to do the thing that gets me going.”

In 2013, Hale and Sanchez directed a point-of-view zombie segment called “A Ride in the Park” for the horror sequel “V/H/S 2.”

“Being a filmmaker is the only thing I ever really wanted to do,” Hale says. “I’ve known since I was 11 that that’s what I wanted to do, when I saw ‘Star Wars’ (A New Hope). I was young enough to be totally amazed by the movie in that kid way, but old enough to realize somebody made it — there was a camera, and people behind a camera, and somebody decided what the set was going to look like and what Darth Vader looked like. When Darth Vader walks through the door at the very beginning of the movie, it blew my mind — the visuals, the music, everything. That’s the moment I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker.”

As a child, Hale used a Super 8 camera to make short films, stop-motion animation and zombie movies. And, in true young, male filmmaker fashion, he also blew up toy soldiers with fireworks and filmed it.

Before Hale was in the spotlight for “Blair Witch,” he worked as a set dresser for Disney’s “The All New Mickey Mouse Club” and on the swing gang in the art department for the HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon,” both of which were produced in Orlando.

Hale grew up in Kentucky and was on his way to California to pursue his film education at UCLA or USC (“because those are the big, famous film schools”), when he got a call from a childhood friend who was working on “Superboy” in Orlando. That was right before Universal Studios Orlando opened and right after Steven Spielberg told the world via “The Today Show” that Central Florida would be Hollywood East. So, Hale, like all of the other film students who weren’t already working in L.A., decided to head south.

Before starting college, Hale served in the U.S. Army to earn money for school. He’d already been working in the industry when he started taking film classes at Valencia College, where he learned the technical skills necessary for filmmaking. When he got to UCF, he says he enjoyed the opportunity to make his own films in a structured environment, with access to resources and instructors.

His advice to current UCF film students? “There’s talent and intelligence and all of the other attributes that are part of being a successful filmmaker, but you need perseverance,” he says. “It’s a hard business. If you allow yourself to get discouraged, you’re not going to make it as a filmmaker. There have been a lot of ups and downs for me and Ed. Since ‘Blair Witch,’ we haven’t had that level of success we started out with, and that can be a downer at times. Things don’t always go the way you want them to go, but you have to stick with it. It’s a blessing and a curse.”

Let’s Get Reel Q&A

Q. Favorite UCF memory?
A. Going to class. I enjoy learning. The classes I enjoyed the most were film theory and film history. They were non-production classes, where you’re just learning for learning’s sake.

Q. If money was no object and you could make any movie, what story would you choose to depict?
A. We have a couple of properties that we’ve been developing that are “pie in the sky.” So, I’d like to make a big fantasy thing that my kids could go see. The TV show that was just on ABC [“The Quest”], my kids could watch, which I was super psyched about. It’s the first thing I’ve done that my kids could actually see.

Q. Most memorable work experience so far?
A. I feel super lucky to be doing what I’m doing, and to be able to have done it as long as I’ve done it. When “Blair Witch” got into Cannes, we all went, and got to go to some big parties — these crazy, over-the-top parties. And, we’re standing on this beach with drinks, dressed in jeans and T-shirts, and there were guys with Rottweilers on chains guarding the edges of the party. We’re just standing there like, “What in the hell are we doing here?” That was all such a whirlwind.

Q. Last movie you watched?
A. “Kelly & Cal”

Q. All-time favorite movie?
A. “Fellowship of the Ring”

Q. If someone made a movie about you, what would the title be?
A. “One Lucky Dude”

Q. What TV show are you embarrassed to admit watching?
A. “Naked and Afraid”

Q. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
A. Staying in the film business when I wanted to get out of it

Q. What subject do you wish you’d paid more attention to in school?
A. Typing

Q. Favorite place to visit?
A. It’s a tie between Japan and New Zealand. New Zealand is one of the most spectacular visual places I’ve ever been with maybe the nicest people on the planet. And, Japan is just a very foreign culture that I’m really drawn to. I really like the way the Japanese people do everything.

Q. Something you learned in the past week?
A. Salmon stay at sea three to four years before returning to spawn. I just went and watched the salmon run yesterday.

Q. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A. Historian

A Knight of Honor

The UCF Alumni Association will present its annual awards during Homecoming week

(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)

For the past 34 years, the UCF Alumni Association has been honoring Knights who “Reach for the Stars.” Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing the stories of this year’s recipients, who will be presented with their Knighty statues (as seen above) at the 2014 Black & Gold Gala on Thursday, Oct. 23.

The Distinguished Alumnus/a award is the association’s top award, given to someone who has risen in his/her profession to a national level. The Distinguished Student award is given to a current undergraduate student who is active on campus and in the community, and has displayed leadership and academic success. The Service to UCF award is given to an alumnus/a who has served UCF over a number of years either as a volunteer or lifetime employee. The Professional Achievement award winners are selected by each individual college and are given to alumni who are standouts in their respective fields.

Check out this year’s awardees:

Top Awards

Distinguished Alumna

Lesa Roe, ’91 | Deputy Associate Administrator, NASA

Distinguished Student

Cynthia Florentino, ’14 | Google Policy Fellow, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Service to UCF

Melanie Fernandez, ’86, ’91 | Partner, Cross, Fernandez & Riley LLP

Professional Achievement Awards

The Burnett Honors College

David Huffaker, ’97 | Senior Researcher, Google Inc.

College of Arts and Humanities

Rob Schaer, Ph.D., ’02 | Musician, self-employed

College of Business Administration

Mary Merrell Bailey, J.D., ’85, ’89, ’01, ’07 | Managing Partner, Your Caring Law Firm

College of Education and Human Performance

Pam Stewart, ’85 | Commissioner of Education, Florida Department of Education

College of Engineering and Computer Science

Vinod Philip, ’00 | CEO (Generators Business Segment), Siemens Energy Inc.

College of Health and Public Affairs

Lt. Jean-Marc Chanoine, J.D., ’07 | Navy Judge Advocate Corps, U.S. Navy

College of Medicine

James Norman, M.D., ’82 | Senior Surgeon, Norman Parathyroid Center

College of Nursing

Patricia Celano, ’10 | CNO/Vice President, Florida Hospital Orlando

College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL)

Michael Mielke, Ph.D., ’00, ’03 | Chief Scientist, Raydiance

College of Sciences

Gwen Griffin, ’85 | CEO, Griffin Communications Group

Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Stuart Newmark, ’08 | Executive Vice President/COO, Yedla Management Company


Stay tuned for more about these ambitious Knights:

  • Week of Oct. 27 — Lesa, Cynthia and Melanie
  • Week of Nov. 3 — David, Rob, Mary, Pam, Vinod and Jean-Marc
  • Week of Nov. 10 — James, Patricia, Michael, Gwen and Stuart