“The Music Man” performed at new PAC

UMHB proudly performed its musical of the year with Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” in the Sue and Frank Mayborn Performing Arts Center (PAC) on April 12-14. While other events, such as plays, orchestra ensembles and guest performances, have occurred in the PAC since its opening last year, “The Music Man” was the first Broadway musical to be performed in the center.

Many people were involved with the making of this musical. The entire cast sang, danced and acted as though they were the actual residents of River City, Iowa, where the musical takes place.

The cast featured many UMHB students as well as faculty, recent alumni and community members. Many of the extras and child roles were filled by community members who take lessons at the UMHB Music Conservatory.

Auditions were held in late November 2018, and students who received roles enrolled in the Opera/Musical Theatre class for the spring semester. Producer Dr. Jonathan Gary knew that there were a lot of non-music majors who had experience and love for theater in high school who would be interested in auditioning, and he encouraged them to participate. As a result, many students from other departments on campus joined the cast and crew. Faculty members such as UMHB’s Provost John Vassar and Alumni Relations Secretary Shelly Claybrook also played small parts in the musical. Art professor Hershall Seals and the Painting I class helped create the backdrops.

UMHB brought in Natasha Tolleson, who is the head of Temple High School’s theater arts department, to be Artistic Director for the production. Tolleson had won many awards and directed her fair share of musicals before working with UMHB on “The Music Man.”

“It was a large staff that put all of this together under Natisha Tolleson’s artistic direction and Dr. Gary’s producing,” Lisa Clement, UMHB voice professor and the musical’s Music Director, said.

Even the new student body president, Sarah Fox, participated in the musical as Mrs. Squires.

“It was such a blessing to be involved with the very beginning of a new start here with theater at UMHB,” Fox said. “I am so grateful for everyone who spent so many hours creating something incredible for the campus and the community. I’m so excited to see the future of this program.”

The show itself was spectacular. Set designer Erik Vose and his building team did a great job making the movable and interactive sets. Not only were the sets well-designed, but the crew did a great job seamlessly transitioning between at least six different sets. The backdrops and props were cleverly made and vibrant that every detail stood out on stage.

The cast did a great job singing the tongue-tying lyrics. It was obvious that the cast and crew had practiced very hard to prepare for opening night. Many of the audience members, myself included, were tapping our feet and humming along to the wonderful scores and fun lyrics.

Senior music major Stassny Bickham played the role of Edith Porter in the musical.

“It was a lot of fun being in the musical,” Bickham said. “The cast, crew and directors all loved each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. We prayed together, and we supported each other. It was great to be part of a community so wonderful.”

Freshman physical education major Kyle Parsons starred in the musical as Professor Harold Hill.

“The part of Professor Hill was super fun to play. I have always wanted to portray such an iconic role, and to have the opportunity was fantastic,” Parsons said. “It was a little nerve-wracking being a freshman and coming into such a talented cast and crew, and working with such experienced, professional directors. My worries faded fast though, [as] my fellow castmates were so welcoming and supportive and made it such a great experience.”

“I threw a few just broad ideas at him and he just took it and ran with such talent,” Professor Clements said about Parsons. “[During the April 11 performance] there was an orchestra chord and it was difficult to pull his starting note out of… he sang a note in the chord, then realized it wasn’t the actual starting note. It was in the same chord, so it still sounded good, but he just morphed the beginning so that the first two notes were incorrect and all the rest of them were correct. His ear let him know— [this is] the mark of a good musician.”

The musical took many months of hard work and dedication to prepare, and it was well-received by attendees. Talk of more musicals being held next year is already in the works. One thing the music department is sure about is that “The Music Man” was only the first of many musicals and plays to be performed in the PAC.

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Jeb Zolman: pitcher returns to the mound

Junior pitcher and pre-physical therapy major Jeb Zolman has made a comeback to the mound this baseball season after recovering from an elbow injury. His baseball career at UMHB wasn’t always planned—in fact, he didn’t originally plan on attending UMHB at all. Zolman started his first semester of college at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, but he quickly learned that this wasn’t the right choice for him. After six months there, he decided to return to his hometown of Humble and attend community college for the rest of the spring semester.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. I was at a loss,” Zolman said. “I started touring colleges again. I visited Southern Methodist University and UT Dallas, but on the way home from touring, we came through Belton.”

A few years before this, Zolman’s older brother had toured UMHB. Remembering this, Zolman decided to take a tour himself. After he toured the school, he knew that UMHB would be his home.

“I wasn’t even home yet on the drive back and I told my mom, ‘I think I want to go there.’ UMHB just felt like home,” Zolman said.

Zolman was previously out of the game for almost a year due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), a devastating elbow injury that can take months to heal and typically requires surgery. He received this injury during the beginning of the 2018 season. He first realized that something was wrong during a game against LeTourneau University.

He described how during the first inning of the game, his pitching ability began to suffer. “Through the first inning…I just knew something wasn’t feeling right,” Zolman said.

After having surgery and going through rehab, Zolman made his first appearance at the mound this season during the game against Blackburn College on Wednesday, March 13. Having played baseball since he could crawl, being able to play for UMHB again was a relief. “It was pretty exciting to be back. You work for nine to 10 months just to do one little thing, and you know that in your mind, you worked your tail off to do that,” he said.

Head coach Ben Shipp is excited to see Zolman back on the mound. “Jeb has been a big missing element for this team,” he said. “He had moved into the number one pitching slot for us, and his injury in 2018 was part of our downfall last year. When you lose a kid like Jeb…it was devastating.”

Shipp said that when Zolman started attending UMHB, he approached the team himself about wanting to play. “Jeb has two things that I think you want to look for when you are looking for a player,” said Shipp. “One, he has outstanding ability. He has the opportunity to be a wonderful pitcher for us. The second thing is he has the innate ability to lead.” Zolman has been designated as the Cru’s closing pitcher for the rest of this season. “I’m looking forward to him being our closer for the rest of the way. It’s nice to get to the eighth inning and know that you have someone like Jeb who is able to pitch in the ninth,” Shipp said.

Femicide in Argentina

Argentina is South America’s second-largest country and it was once one of the world’s wealthiest nations. Argentina has a vast variety of agricultural and mineral resources and a highly educated population, but it also has a long history of political and economic instability. With a population of 44.1 million people, Argentina legally has good human rights, but these rights are often disregarded or ignored, especially towards women. Women continue to face economic discrimination, gender-based wage gaps, extream violence, and poor job security.

The world justice report says that women in Argentina are more likely to be employed through informal means, without any social security and find it difficult to access free services. Of all the issues that Argentina faces, the biggest and most well-known issue is the increasing amounts of femicide cases.

Definition of Femicide
Femicide is described as the gender-based killing of women because of their gender and it is the leading cause of premature death for women globally. Femicide in Argentina continues to grow each year. The Council on Hemispheric Affairs reports that in the last decade in Argentina, 2,638 women were killed or have died for the sole reason of being women. Out of this number, 75 percent of the deaths were committed by men close to the victims, either family members, romantic partners or ex-partners. “Every 29 hours a woman is killed in the country,” said Raquel Vivanco, president of the Observatorio Ahora Que Sí Nos Ven at a press conference.

Another chilling fact about femicide in Argentina is that 17 percent of the women murdered had filed a complaint against the assailant and 11 percent even had judicial protection. The Observatorio reported that this happened to all age ranges. Forty-one percent were between the ages of 21 and 40 years old, 25 percent between the ages of 41 and 60, 13 percent older than 60, and 10 percent between the ages of 16 and 20.

Ni Una Menos
There have been numerous mass protests in response to the unjust treatment of women and the governments’ failure to recognize the issue. The biggest movement to date is the Ni Una Menos which translates to “Not one (woman) less.” This movement started in 2015 after a continuous string of murders of women, all in different circumstances but similar murderers and reasoning. This movement against femicide in Argentina continues to run and will have their annual march in June later this year.

Causes of Femicide in Argentina
The advocates for human rights group says that the causes of this type of violence are linked to gender inequality, discrimination, and economic disempowerment and are the result of a systematic disregard for women’s human rights. Femicide frequently occurs in an environment where everyday acts of violence are accepted and impunity is facilitated by the government’s refusal to deal with the problems.

Another theory is the social attitude often associated with Latin American and Hispanic cultures called “Machismo” and can have positive and negative connotations. The positive connotation is associated with protecting one’s family, community and country. The negative connotations are what is commonly associated with the causes of femicide. This being the use of violence as a way to demonstrate physical strength, masculinity and superior over women.

Actions Being Taken
In December 2018, Argentine Chamber of Deputies approved the Micaela Law to eradicate gender-based violence with 171 votes in favor and only one against. The bill, named after Micaela Garcia, a femicide victim who was murdered in 2017, calls for a mandatory gender training for all state officials and workers. This training is much needed because of the insensitivity of public servants while dealing with cases of gender-based violence.

There are six key points of the Micaela Law:

Everyone in public service must go through training on “gender and violence against women.”
The National Institute of Women (INAM) will enforce the law. It will also be responsible for directly training high officials.
The training will be conducted in collaboration with gender offices. New materials and programs will be produced for training.
The INAM will control the quality of the said materials and the training must be imparted within a year of the law coming into force.
INAM will also publish information regarding the degree of compliance of each state agency and do follow-up reports on its impact.
If any public employee refuses to attend the training “without just cause”, they would be subjected to a disciplinary sanction.
Activist groups are getting involved as well. The Latin American Group for Gender and Justice (ELA) has a 12-month program which addresses the two most urgent problems, violence against women and access to reproductive rights. The purpose of this program is to promote a network of individual lawyers, practitioners, organizations, and non-governmental organizations with expertise on women’s rights to provide legal assistance to women facing rights violations and contribute to the cultural transformation needed to end the discrimination against women.

Femicide in Argentia is a big issue and continues to negatively affect the way of life in this beautiful country. However, many activists groups and the Ni Una Menos movement are trying to team up with the Argentinian government to solve this problem and put an end to femicide in Argentina once and for all.


This article was written for the Borgen Project. To learn more about this organization and read more articles like this one go to Borgenproject.org