Santa Fe Alumna Performs Leading Role in New Broadway Musical

“Melissa van der Schyff to play Blanche Barrow in Bonnie & Clyde..."

Date October 27, 2011 at 4:09 PM

Author Tom Maguire

Publication SantaFe.com

Categories Education Lectures & Workshops Entertainment & Nightlife Performing Arts

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Santa Fe University of Art and Design alumna Melissa van der Schyff will play Blanche Barrow in the new Broadway musical Bonnie & Clyde, which begins previews on Nov. 4 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in New York. The musical features music by Tony nominee Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde) and lyrics by Tony and Oscar winner Don Black (Sunset Boulevard). van der Schyff graduated with a BFA in Acting and a minor in Music from the College of Santa Fe (now Santa Fe University of Art and Design) in 1995.

van der Schyff originated the role of Blanche Barrow from the very first reading of Bonnie & Clyde, when only a first act and a few songs had been written. After the show premiered in 2009 at the La Jolla Playhouse, her performance earned her a San Diego Theatre Critics Circle’s Award: the Craig Noel Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical. van der Schyff also played Blanche in the recent regional production of Bonnie & Clyde at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida.

“I’m thrilled to be part of this new, exciting musical and to fulfill my dream of originating a role on Broadway,” said van der Schyff. “Having a successful career as an actor requires patience and relentless work. I owe so much to the Performing Arts Department and especially to [department chair] John Weckesser. I always remember him saying to me and my parents that I would work as an actor. I kept that close to my heart and have drawn on his faith in me throughout my career. I rely on all the skills I acquired at school to prepare for my roles, and I still practice what [faculty member] Gail Springer taught me when I do my vocal warm-ups.”

“Melissa was the consummate student,” said John Weckesser. “From the day she auditioned through to graduation, she never missed a beat. And she continued that seriousness of purpose immediately after graduation, working in a variety of professional theater venues around the country. She remains one of our most talented, tenacious and successful alums in the 46 years of the department’s existence.”

van der Schyff is perhaps best known for her role as Mary Jane in the 2003 Broadway revival of Deaf West’s Big River—for which she and her cast mates received a 2004 Tony Honor for Excellence in Theatre—as well as her critically acclaimed portrayal of Catherine in Deaf West Theatre’s production of Pippin at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

A versatile performer, she has also acted in many plays, including Post Office (by Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson composer Michael Friedman) at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, Los Angeles), Ballad (Ovation Award nomination and Drama-Logue Award, Theatre Geo, Los Angeles) and The Transfiguration of Benno Blimpie (McCadden Place Theatre, Los Angeles), for which Entertainment Today named her one of the top ten talents in L.A. to watch.

Her television and film roles include playing Ashton Kutcher’s sister-in-law in the comedy A Lot Like Love, the leading role of Mary in the Showtime original movie The Great Commission, Tina Corso in the TV series Chicago Hope and herself in Broadway the Movie. van der Schyff was most recently hired as a voice-over artist on the new Muppets' movie The Muppets, playing various roles and the voice of Lily for the Fox animated pilot presentation Family Band.

The multi-talented van der Schyff is also an award-winning songwriter and was voted Artist of the Year on Femmusic.com. She has licensed songs for TV and film, including the feature film The Legend of Tillamook's Gold and Showtime’s The Great Commission, and was nominated for an Independent Music Award for her single “Divine.” Her new pop CD, The Coldwater Sessions, is in production.

Born in South Africa and raised in Canada, she has also studied at the British American Drama Academy in London.

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