Alexander, of Selma, will graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Theatre with a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater arts. After graduation, he will become a full-time member of its professional acting company for the next year.
During his time at UAB, Alexander has been a part of several Theatre UAB mainstage productions, including his last undergrad production, Tom Stoppard’s metaphysical murder mystery “The Real Inspector Hound.” He also performed in Charles Mee’s “Big Love,” which was invited to perform as a select participating production, the highest level of competition and one of only four featured, evening, mainstage productions, at the Region IV Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in 2014. Theatre UAB’s production was one of approximately 180 entered productions from across KCACTF’s 10-state Region IV, and was selected from 42 contending entries.
Alexander says he would never have guessed when he came to UAB that he would excel as much as he has in the department and at the university. He has been honored this month with the Outstanding Senior in Department of Theatre award.
“The faculty and staff of the Department of Theatre have taught me so much about myself and my craft and have been so instrumental in helping me find who I am as an artist,” he said. “I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to perform on UAB stages each semester since I started here in 2012, and how blessed I feel seeing all the doors that have opened in the professional world for me because of Theatre UAB.”
In February 2016, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival honored him as a national award winner in the Most Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Play category for his work as Con in the Theatre UAB production of Aaron Posner’s “SFB.” As a result of this prestigious award, he was invited to attend and work as an acting fellow in The John F. Kennedy Center’s annual Playwright’s Workshop in July 2016.
His other mainstage production performances for Theatre UAB included “Vinegar Tom,” directed by Theatre UAB alumnus Luke Harlan; the Tony-Award winning musical “Spring Awakening”; an exploration of race relations, “Clybourne Park”; Tony Award-winning musical with puppets “Avenue Q,” for which he learned the difficult art of puppetry; the irreverent musical “Urinetown”; and comedy horror spoof “Bat Boy: The Musical,” in which he starred as Bat Boy.
Valerie Accetta, MFA, head of musical theater for Theatre UAB, says Alexander is an exceptional student who is supportive of his peers, offering comments of encouragement when someone is struggling, or praise when someone is excelling.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Russell as a student, an actor and a volunteer, and I have no doubt that Russell will find success as a theater artist because of his deep commitment to the community, his continued desire to grow as an actor and citizen, and his extraordinary presence onstage,” Accetta said. “He enjoys learning new things and cares deeply about his community and his role as an artist.”
Alexander is committed to his community and regularly works with local organizations. He excelled as a UAB TrailBlazer, offering tours of the campus and sharing his experience with prospective students, and he has actively recruited for the UAB Department of Theatre at events like the Southeastern Theatre Conference. He volunteers with local organizations including the Better Basics Afterschool Program and has worked with Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary. His most impressive work was a devised theater piece for the 16th Street Baptist Church that he organized and directed.
Alexander participated in the department’s stage readings and showcases as well as some of Theatre UAB’s Touring Companies, where he was a member of its Disney Cabaret Tour (2013-2014) and Beatles Cabaret Tour (2014-2015). In fall 2015, he joined UAB’s Shakespeare Tour, where he was a performer in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as characters Lysander and Oberon. He most recently was the Shakespeare Tour’s company manager, and in the 2016-2017 touring season was Othello in “Othello, The Moor of Venice.”
Aside from his many productions with UAB, he has worked with both professional and summer-stock companies including Robin Givens’ RSG & Co.’s 2014 touring production of “Joy in the Morning”; Red Mountain Theatre Co.’s 2015 production of “The Wiz”; and The Huron (Ohio) Playhouse’s summer-stock production of “A Chorus Line.”
Alexander made his debut performance with Birmingham’s Terrific New Theatre in its production of Bathsheba Doran’s “The Mysteries of Love & Sex” as Jonny in March.
|“The faculty and staff of the Department of Theatre have taught me so much about myself and my craft and have been so instrumental in helping me find who I am as an artist.”|
He’s very happy to be joining the Aurora Theatre’s Professional Acting Company for the 2017-2018 year.
“I’m super excited to continue working professionally in acting, directing and teaching, and with such a fantastic company,” Alexander said. “I can’t imagine what all awaits outside of Aurora when I arrive in Georgia next month to start this residency, but I’m ready to take on whatever lies ahead. I hope to continue performing for as long as I possibly can, hopefully on Broadway stages and in film. One day I hope to be the artistic director of my own acting company, with hopes of educating and encouraging youth and young adults from humble beginnings such as mine to achieve and excel in their creative dreams as well.
“I am definitely sad to be leaving, but so very excited for what my future holds. I’ll remember and cherish these times for the rest of my life."
Read more about Alexander on his website, russellalexanderii.com.