The Blog @
Southern Virginia University
  1. Thoughts on ‘Mansfield Park’

    February 23, 2015

    “Mansfield Park” is the third play I’ve seen that was written, co-written or musically adapted by Robert Stoddard, and it lives up to the high bar he set for himself with previous shows like “Stone Tables” and “Little Women.” It’s a show with meaningful human themes, a wonderful cast of characters, moral complexity, and fantastic music and lyrics.

    The story of “Mansfield Park” centers on the coming of age of Fanny Price as she leaves her own home — a poor, immoderate one — to live with her wealthy aunt and uncle at Mansfield Park. Fanny’s shyness and reserved nature lead to years of struggle trying to belong in her new surroundings and to find acceptance with her new family. Her cousin Edmund is the first to embrace Fanny as a part of the Mansfield Park family. Fanny never forgets this. Over the years, her attachment to Edmund becomes love, but Edmund, like nearly every other young character in the play, is confused in his own attempts to find romance.

    Some of the main themes in “Mansfield Park” deal with being true to yourself and your values, being cautious in whom you choose to love, and with the individual’s power to influence others for the better. The script, music and lyrics all do a fantastic job of unfolding these themes. One of the show’s strongest qualities is the seamless way the music connects with narrative, driving plot, character, relationships and these major themes forward with nearly every song.

    In contrast to other Jane Austen novels, the novel “Mansfield Park” shows particular depth in the less than noble characters in the cast. This musical adaptation takes that depth to a new level with songs like “Unbidden Feeling” and Maria’s “Set Me Free.” Largely through music, the emotional turmoil of the show’s bitterest characters becomes just as poignant as the struggles of the heroine.

    Ultimately, Stoddard and Stoddard’s new musical left me with a deeper appreciation for the original source. I read the novel “Mansfield Park” once before and didn’t like it. After some fresh perspective and some unearthed gems in the musical, I think I’ll find the novel well worth revisiting.

    (Post by Stephen Taylor ’15. Photos by Leigh Stoddard.)

  2. Photos: A Snow-Covered Campus

    February 20, 2015

    The consolation prize of cold weather is how beautiful it makes campus look. Main Hall seems like it was meant to have snow capping the top of its towers. And it’s always refreshing to see students enjoying themselves with a snowball fight or two on one of the university’s lawns. Though the cold in the winter months can be biting, there’s something unique and almost magical about the way the snow and icicles can transform a lifeless landscape into a sparkling kingdom. Now if we could only get this much snow during Christmas, we’d be set.

    (Post by Hannah King ’13. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’16 and Bronwyn Himes ’17.)

  3. Some Lessons on Love

    February 15, 2015

    Dr. La Rae Carter


    Tips from a 58-year-old marriage:

    Keep your love fresh and as exciting as it was when you fell in love.  Do for each other, little things as well as big.  Never let anyone come between you as a couple, not with advice or in your decisions.  Not Mom, Dad, or friends.   Never take each other for granted.  Put forth effort to renew your relationship every day by being interested in what your spouse has a passion for, whether it be work, recreation, or just plain fun.  With each child that comes, life becomes more complicated, and it is easy to put your spouse on the back burner.    Be unified in all your decisions about raising the children.  Then they will not be confused or manipulative as to the rules of the house or who is in charge.  They NEED you to be in control of the home, to be a parent, friendly, but not a friend.  They have enough friends.  The wife can set the tone of the home, whether she likes it or not.  If you exude a happy, positive and kind spirit, all of the family will pick up on it, have the same outlook, and feel secure.  And never downplay the importance of humor.  An important philosopher once said that if your intended has not laughter  or humor in his/her outlook, run from that person.  You will not be happy.  May I conclude with these words from an old popular song:  “Love Is a many splendored thing,” and its splendors will continue to broaden and amaze you all of your life if you are engaged in what love truly means and the depth, wonder, and possibilities it can open up to you and your spouse.

    Jeremiah and Alison Krites


    Don’t let your relationship become too serious. Learn to laugh during the hard times and be able to laugh at yourself. 

    Professor Morgen Reynolds and Daman Reynolds

    1. Always wear deodorant. Seriously. It matters.
    2. Sometimes, it is actually good to go to bed angry. Pray together before bed, but late night conversations sometimes don’t get anything settled as well as a good night’s sleep might.
    3. Don’t use the toilet while they are in the bathroom. This is my own personal doctrine. I will run out screaming “The magic is gone!!” I’m not kidding on this one. I will sing really loud if I have to do my business while he is in the shower. It’s all about the romance.

    Elizabeth and Tyler Laurent

    Tyler and Liz wedding (5 of 76)

    It is really important to not get offended! Also, take time to find activities that you both enjoy, but also encourage each other to do activities/develop talents individually. I’m sure someone has said this, but put your spouse’s needs above your own, and if they do the same, life will be much easier and more fun.

    Dr. Scott Dransfield and Andrea Dransfield

    wedding pics

    Always leave with a kiss; always return with one.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16.)

  4. A Forum All About Love

    February 13, 2015

    Valentine’s Day isn’t necessarily everyone’s favorite holiday, but today’s Valentine’s Day forum definitely landed on one of the shelves of my memory dedicated to best forums ever.

    The combination of a hilarious speech and expertly performed musical numbers pretty much guaranteed today’s forum a place in the Forum Hall of Fame. We were fortunate to hear from Dr. Ariel Rodriguez, associate professor of family and child development, my bishop, and a generally stellar person. He spoke to us on the theme “What is Love?” and managed to not only enlighten us but entertain — courtesy of his goofy humor and some priceless Powerpoint slides (you had to be there). Not only did I get to laugh, but I am also now aware of the intricacies of hormones and all of the ingredients to the kind of love that doesn’t last (which includes “blanched romantic comedies,” in case you were wondering).

    We also had the pleasure of hearing multiple musical numbers from the Concert Chorale, students, and an alumna. One of the numbers was a piece from “Mansfield Park,” the original musical by Professor Robert Stoddard and his daughter, Leigh, that opens tonight and that everyone should definitely, definitely see (this is a shameless plug coming from one of the assistant stage managers. I’m only a little biased. A little). Andrew King’s incredible performance of “If Ever I Would Leave You” from “Camelot,” Jasmine Anderson’s energetic “Vanilla Ice Cream” from “She Loves Me,” and Caleb Dransfield and Heidi Glauser’s charming “It Takes Two” from “Into the Woods” were all fantastic, and I wish I could rewind life and listen to them again.

    Overall, today’s forum was a fantastic homage to Valentine’s Day, packed with talent, love, and hilarity  and who can turn their nose up at that? Now, if they’d provided us all with chocolate, that would’ve been cool, too, but it was great nonetheless.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’16.)

  5. Shenanigans for the New Year

    February 9, 2015

    Improv. Hilarious. There you have it. I have successfully summed up last Saturday’s Shenanigans performance in two words.

    In all seriousness (or at least a bit more seriousness), though, Shenanigans is quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of the Southern Virginia experience. I know that doesn’t sound like a very high recommendation coming from the girl who confessed in her last blog post that her ideal Friday evening is spent at home reading a book, but it’s true nonetheless. Shenanigans is simply irresistible. This irresistibility was made clear by the fact that they’ve had to relocate to a larger venue, and they still managed to fill that.

    Last Saturday, the talented bunch of intelligent and enthusiastic goofballs kept the entire crowd roaring with laughter. It seems we just never tire of seeing John-John Leake picked up. Plus, one has to admire Spencer Franco for his excellent imitation of a Holmes-ian detective (“That stain in the rug obviously came from a bottle of grape juice because neither of us drinks alcohol because we’re secretly Mormons”).

    If you haven’t yet attended a Shenanigans show, I urge you to do so upon the next opportunity. By then, they might have filled the entirety of the Stoddard Activities Center, though — so come early.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’16.)