Department Spotlight

Whitworth Theatre Alumnus Garners Awards, Recognition from Entertainment Industry for High-Tech Sound and Design Work

Since graduating from Whitworth in 1993, theatre major Drew Dalzell hasn't wasted any time monkeying around with his dreams. Well, there has been some monkey business: Dalzell co-owns an L.A.-based production company, Wasted Monkey Productions, which implemented the sound-system design and installation, and show-control design and programming for "The Mummy Returns," an attraction at Universal Studios.

Dalzell's work in a competitive industry is gaining recognition. He was recently nominated in the category of Best Sound in a Larger Theatre for the 2002 L.A. Ovations for his design of "Side Show" at The Colony Theatre. Two shows for which Dalzell did design work are also 2002 L.A. Ovations nominees: "The Laramie Project" for best play and "Side Show" for best musical.

"The L.A. Ovations nomination in particular is pretty amazing," Dalzell says. "I've won a few other awards for my design work, but for this one I'm nominated along with some pretty serious designers who've been working in the field for years. One of the other shows nominated is the production of 'Into the Woods' that transferred to Broadway. I can honestly say that just having my name listed with this group of talented designers feels as good as winning the award."

In addition to his L.A. Ovations nomination, Dalzell has won awards for design work including the 1998 USITT/ClearCom Sound Achievement Award; the 1999 L.A. Weekly Revival Production of the Year Award; and the 2001 Garland Award for Sound.

After graduating from Whitworth, Dalzell attended the California Institute of the Arts, and then finished his graduate work at The College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned his MFA in theatre sound design. He was then hired by Walt Disney Imagineering as an assistant media designer.

During his time at Disney, Dalzell worked on a Winnie the Pooh ride in Florida and Tokyo, as well as other projects. Dalzell left Walt Disney Imagineering in 2000 to form Wasted Monkey Productions with two friends.The trio named their company after Dalzell and his friends' monkey-decorating obsession, which began in graduate school following a professor's reaction to a plastic cocktail monkey Dalzell had on his desk.

Now three years old, Wasted Monkey Productions specializes in freelance work in many areas of design, including location audio, foley effects, and dialog recording and editing. The company also does projects for theme parks, including DisneyQuest and Universal Studios Hollywood. Dalzell has also done show automation for National Amusements CineBridge theatres in Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

In addition to running his company, Dalzell teaches lighting and sound part time at a private high school in Brentwood, Calif. Dalzell enjoys bringing his experiences to the classroom and says teaching keeps him grounded.

Dalzell's Whitworth education has helped him navigate through each new project and design challenge he encounters. Each time he reads a script or talks to a director, Dalzell draws from the knowledge and experience he gained at Whitworth for insight into such areas as time period, social structure, artistic influence, and political climate, he says.

"Whitworth gave me the educational foundation that I built everything else upon," Dalzell says. "Whitworth's solid liberal-arts core has served me so well in my career. The reality is that I can teach most folks to run the equipment and put a show together; what is really difficult to develop is an aesthetic sense about life and art. Whitworth gave me the building blocks for that."

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