Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Backstage in spotlight

Colin McNamee ’04 shines behind the scenes

Colin McNamee ’04 Behind every theater production at Wheaton is stagecraft and lighting mastermind Colin McNamee ’04.

The alum, who majored in studio art at Wheaton, graduated more than 10 years ago, but after working in various theaters and venues, he has found his way back on campus as an instructor and technical director.

“After working at a few other institutions—including several academic ones—I find that Wheaton stands out as a kind and generous place. I don’t know of any other place like it,” McNamee said.

As a student, McNamee secured a federal work-study position under former theater manager and technical director Jeffrey Mailhot. “This is where I got most of my technical training, up through graduation,” McNamee said.

In this role, he worked in the shop to build sets like a massive staircase that filled the whole stage for the production Antigone and a two-story house for the play Tartuffe. [Read more...]

Mesmerizing tales

Smith-Johnson pens book on Cape Cod history

Robin Smith-Johnson ’76Cape Cod enjoys a rich tradition of local lore and legends, including many that predate the arrival of the Pilgrims.

In her recently published book, Legends & Lore of Cape Cod (History Press, 2016), Robin Smith-Johnson ’76 spins tales about love, shipwrecks, murders, hauntings, witches, ancient Wampanoag legends, and much more, from this 339-square-mile peninsula in eastern Massachusetts.

1976 Johnson Smith photo 2Smith-Johnson, who majored in English at Wheaton, is passionate about all things literature and history.

For the past 17 years, she has served as the Cape Cod Times’ librarian, conducting research for reporters and editors, in addition to other duties. She also has served on the faculty of Cape Cod Community College since 2003, teaching various English classes, including English Composition I, Foundations in Writing and Creative Writing. (She received her master’s degree in English at Bowling Green.) [Read more...]

Empowered woman

Ashley Sweeney ’79 publishes Eliza Waite

Ashley Sweeney ’79Not all stories are planned. Often inspiration comes about suddenly or unexpectedly, and the writer never looks back.

For Ashley Sweeney ’79, the idea for Eliza Waite (She Writes Press, 2016) first emerged while was hiking with her husband, Michael, through the dense woods of Cypress Island in the San Juan Islands in Washington State.

1979 Sweeney photo bookcoverThe couple took a wrong turn, and ended up at a sheltered cove on the island’s north side, just below a massive cliff face. There, they spied a long-abandoned, dilapidated cabin. A nearby plaque told of owner Zoe Hardy, a self-sufficient hermit from the 1930s.

It was the first inkling of an idea for Eliza Waite, the main character of Sweeney’s future book.

“I imagined a reclusive woman living in a cabin, and the story that would have led her there, and also the story that would have led her away from there,” Sweeney said. “As a historical fiction aficionado and an American literature and American history major at Wheaton, the find fascinated me and was full of possibility.” [Read more...]

Brick by brick

Lauren Andres ’14 is a model builder at LEGO Systems

Lauren Andres ’14Many children would agree that Lauren Andres ’14 has the best job: LEGO model builder.

At company headquarters in Enfield, Conn., Andres teams up with fellow builders, as well as designers and master builders, to create LEGO models that fuel the imagination of young minds.

“My favorite part about LEGO Systems has been the people and overall culture,” said Andres, who majored in studio art at Wheaton. “Being employed at a toy company, I’ve found there is a ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality. Everyone here is incredibly hard-working, but there is certainly no shortage of fun.”

In her role, Andres assists LEGO designers, helping to turn their digital design into the actual physical model. Designers begin creating their model in Maya, a 3D computer software, and then export the file into the company’s Brick Builder program. In Brick Builder, designers are able to translate their 3D model into a LEGO model. [Read more...]