Centered on the Arts
A sit-down talk with artists. The staff at the Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts at Pepperdine University sits with different artists and industry professionals to discuss their work, art, and why the arts are important.
info_outline Melanie Allen (Cirque du Soleil, Stage Manager, Alum) 01/12/2021
Melanie Allen (Cirque du Soleil, Stage Manager, Alum) Ending Alumni Month, we have brought in CFA Alum, Melanie Allen. Tyler Flynn chats with Melanie Allen, a Pepperdine alum from Castle Rock, CO who graduated in 2018 with a theatre production/design degree, with a specific emphasis in stage management. During her time at Pepperdine, she served as the CFA Student Marketing Assistant, and supported numerous productions such as Big Fish, Hedda Gabler, The Magic Flute, and Crazy for You. Since graduating, Melanie has received a Master's degree in Stage Management at Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Wales, worked in various backstage roles with Cirque du Soleil productions in Las Vegas, Nevada, and she is currently an Activities Director at a Senior Living Facility. Melanie remarks fondly upon her time in the Pepperdine theater program, highlighting her experiences on the Edinburgh trip, her favorite productions, and her time working for the Center for the Arts. Her commitment to the arts is inspiring, and those interested in the arts will appreciate her insight and advice. Melanie’s Website: More info about the Center for the Arts can be found: Music Composer: Jeremy Zerbe
info_outline Lauren Jennerjohn (Marketing, Artist, & Alumni) 12/29/2020
Lauren Jennerjohn (Marketing, Artist, & Alumni) Continuing Alumni Month, we have brought in CFA Almun, Lauren Jennerjohn. Tyler Flynn sits down with Lauren Jennerjohn, an alumni of Pepperdine who graduated in 2019 after double majoring in theater arts and advertising. During her time at Pepperdine, Lauren was involved in numerous Smothers productions, such as The Taming of the Shrew, Big Fish, and Crazy for You, while also participating in Dance in Flight and working as the CFA student marketing assistant. Currently, she is working as the Sales and Marketing Coordinator for New Tradition, a company that specializes in outdoor advertising. Lauren discusses her time at Pepperdine and what was impactful about her undergraduate experience, specifically within her experience as a double major. Her dedication and passion for the arts come through as she discusses her relationship to theater, and she provides insight into the world of the arts and what they mean for society at large. For more info about Lauren: More info about the Center for the Arts can be found: Music Composer: Jeremy Zerbe
info_outline Paul Dufresne (Scenic Designer & Alumni) 12/15/2020
Paul Dufresne (Scenic Designer & Alumni) Welcome to Alumni Month! A month of podcast episodes dedicated to our CFA Alums, detailing where they are now, how CFA helped them, and their own thoughts of the Arts. Dani Lobello chats with Paul Dufresne, an alumni of the Pepperdine theatre program who graduated with a BA in scene design and went on to earn an MFA in scene design at Boston University. He is based in Los Angeles, though he has also worked internationally and across the United States for theaters such as the LA Opera, The Guthrie, The English National Opera, and the Gary Marshall theater, among others. A few of his credits include designing for Le nozze di Figaro, Angels in America Pt. 1 & 2, and Pelléas et Mélisande, and in 2016, he was awarded the USITT young designers’ national award for outstanding achievement in scenic design. The two discuss Paul’s time at Pepperdine, both as a theatre student and an employee for the CFA, and they chat about Paul’s career and current projects. Paul relays what got him into theater and his journey in the arts, with special attention paid to his time in the Edinburgh program at Pepperdine and his experience with opera. For more information about Paul Dufresne: Website: Instagram: More info about the Center for the Arts can be found: Music Composer: Jeremy Zerbe
info_outline Bryan Yamami (Taiko Drummer/TAIKOPROJECT) 12/01/2020
Bryan Yamami (Taiko Drummer/TAIKOPROJECT) Rebecca Carson sits down with Bryan Yamami, the founder and current Executive Director for TAIKOPROJECT, who has directed the company’s performances on the Academy Awards, the Grammy Awards, NBC's The Voice, Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Iron Chef Gauntlet. TAIKOPROJECT has toured across the United States, and Europe, Asia, and South and Central America, while also collaborating with some of the largest names in music such as John Legend and Stevie Wonder. The group is known for their powerful sound and dynamic performance, something that has delighted audiences since its inception in 2000. The two discuss Yamami’s career in taiko and what led him to found the company, as well as how he continues to inspire the future of the art around the Los Angeles area. Yamami also discusses how the arts are important to him, especially in times such as these that are so trying for many. More info about the Center for the Arts can be found: Original Music Composer: TAIKOPROJECT Music Composer: Jeremy Zerbe To participate in the Holiday Boutique at Home for free visit and register at To learn more about Bryan and TAIKOPROJECT, visit To learn more about Taiko lessons and educational opportunities, visit
info_outline Stewart O'Rourke & Rick Aglietti (Scenic Designer, Technical Director, and Shop Foreman) 11/17/2020
Stewart O'Rourke & Rick Aglietti (Scenic Designer, Technical Director, and Shop Foreman) Dani Lobello sits down with Rick Aglietti, the Resident Scenic Designer and Technical Director of Smothers Theater whose past work includes working as a technical director/lighting designer in Washington D.C and as a technical director/lighting designer in Ohio. They are joined by Stewart O’Rourke, the Assistant Technical Director and the Shop Foreman of Smothers, who previously worked as the master carpenter for the Center for the Arts and the Weisman Museum art installer. They discuss the technical aspects of previous Pepperdine productions, such as Les Miserables and Into the Woods, touching on which presentations were their favorites and which proved to be a bit more challenging. On a more personal side, both Stewart and Rick tell amusing anecdotes about their time with the Center for the Arts, and they talk about why the arts are important to them. More info about the Center for the Arts can be found: Music Composer: Jeremy Zerbe To participate in the Holiday Boutique at Home for free visit and register at
info_outline The Omer Quartet (Strings) 11/04/2020
The Omer Quartet (Strings) Rebecca Carson sits down with the Omer Quartet to discuss their history, as well as why the arts are important to them. With their brilliant and fearless renderings of classical pieces, the Omer Quartet have risen to international acclaim, their skill commended by a multitude of awards. They completed residencies at the New England Conservatory, and currently, they are finishing up doctorate degrees at the University of Maryland while also serving as Visiting Fellows at the Yale School of Music. On Sunday, November 15 at 2:00 pm PST, they will be appearing before Smother’s audiences, hoping to thrill and delight with their interpretations of classical work. The Omer Quartet will perform a virtual recital for the Center for the Arts on Sunday, November 15 at 2 p.m. You can reserve your tickets today at . More info about the Center for the Arts can be found: Music Composer: Jeremy Zerbe
info_outline Melanie Emelio (Soprano & Music Professor) 10/20/2020
Melanie Emelio (Soprano & Music Professor) Tyler Gabbard chats with Melanie Emelio. Known to many as Dr. E, Melanie is a Professor of Music at Pepperdine and has worked on numerous Fine Arts Department productions including operas like The Merry Widow and The Old Maid and the Thief and musicals like Ragtime and Les Miserables. Dr. Emelio is a talented soprano, having appeared in opera, oratorio, and recitals throughout the United States and Germany. She completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Maryland. She earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Abilene Christian University and a Master of Music degree from Rice University. Tyler and Melanie discuss her history in the arts, the work of her students, and why artistic expression is important to her. More info about the Center for the Arts can be found: Music Composer: Jeremy Zerbe
info_outline Chris Lashua (Cirque Mechanics) 10/05/2020
Chris Lashua (Cirque Mechanics) R.J Morgan sits down with Chris Lashua, the director and founder of Cirque Mechanics. They discuss Chris’ history of performing in the Circus Arts, and how his background in riding a BMX bike has influenced his ability to begin his own circus company. R.J. and Chris even go into the intricate engineering needs of the sets and props used within the Cirque Mechanics’ incredible shows. Cirque Mechanics: More info about the Center for the Arts can be found: Music Composer: Jeremy Zerbe
info_outline Nic Few (Actor and Director) 09/22/2020
Nic Few (Actor and Director) Tyler Flynn chats with Nic Few and two students, Jada Henry and KJ Powell, to discuss the play they are currently involved in, Polar Bears, Black Boys & Prairie Fringed Orchids, as well as their personal histories in the arts. Nic Few - Jada Henry - KJ Powell - More info about the Center for the Arts can be found: Music Composer: Jeremy Zerbe
info_outline Alicia Patterson (Stage Manager & Parkening Competition Production Manager) 09/07/2020
Alicia Patterson (Stage Manager & Parkening Competition Production Manager) Tyler Flynn chats with Alicia Patterson, the Competition Production Manager for the 2019 Parkening International Competition, about her role in the Parkening competition and her own experience in the arts.
info_outline Garrett Podgorski (Classical Guitar) 08/24/2020
Garrett Podgorski (Classical Guitar) R.J. Morgan chats with Garrett Podgorski, the 3rd place winner of the 2019 Young Guitarist International Parkening Competition. Garrett discusses his road to classical guitar and how the guitar has impacted and changed his life.
info_outline Jackie Lopez (Hip-Hop Dance/Versa-Style Dance Company) 08/10/2020
Jackie Lopez (Hip-Hop Dance/Versa-Style Dance Company) Rebecca Carson chats with Jackie Lopez, the Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director of Versa-Style Dance Company and the Executive Director of Versa-Style: Performance.Education.Community. Versa-Style is a dance company that operates out of Los Angeles that works to celebrate social dance, as well as promote arts education. More info about Jackie and Versa-Style can be found: More info about the Center for the Arts can be found: Music:
info_outline Rebecca Carson (Managing Director of the CFA) 07/27/2020
Rebecca Carson (Managing Director of the CFA) Paul Vacchiano chats with Rebecca Carson, the Managing Director of the Center of the Arts, about managing the Center for the Arts, purchasing shows, and the 2020-2021 Season Announcement.