LOGAN – There was a face familiar to local audiences in the parade of student recipients of 2021 awards from the Caine College of the Arts (CCA) at Utah State University.
During the recent virtual ceremony celebrating that college’s best and brightest, Mollee Barse was hailed as the “Talent of the Year” from its Theatre Arts Department.
Ms. Barse came to USU in 2018 as a graduate of the renowned Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, CA, where she performed in “Mama Mia,” “Beauty and the Beast, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Freaky Friday.”
During her sophomore year at USU, she performed in student productions of “Light Up the Sky,” “Lie of the Mind” and “Anna Karenina.”
But Ms. Barse really hit her stride in the university’s 2019-20 theater season.
First, she delivered a brilliant performance as Yasmine in the bitterly frank coming-of-age fable “Civics & Humanities for Non-Majors,” earning praise from playwright Jeff Talbott.
While Talbot’s script was graphic and grating, it also contained some lovely interludes. The best of those unfolded when Ms. Barse and Kaija Strong shared a vignette set in an abortion clinic. As strangers meeting in frightening circumstances, their desperately casual conversation was punctuated with uncomfortable silences and hysterical laughter that just rang true – it was a beautiful moment of pure, electrifying acting.
Later in the autumn of 2019, Ms. Barse lit up the stage as the virtuous Marina in an ambitious production of William Shakespeare’s seldom-performed soap opera “Pericles, Prince of Tyre.”
She also contributed her talent as a choreographer to that production as its movement director and dance captain.
While Ms. Barse’s portrayal of Marina in “Pericles” was mildly amusing, she was over-the-top hilarious in USU’s spring 2020 production of “She Kills Monsters.” In the midst of that wildly offbeat sword and sorcery romp, Ms. Barse came close to stealing the show as a high school guidance counselor who could never be accused of being politically correct.
Ms. Barse was slated to perform with the local Lyric Repertory Company in the summer of 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic curtailed that, along with most of USU’s public theatrical activities during her senior year.
But that hiatus hasn’t sidetracked her dreams. Ms. Barse will now pursue a master of fine arts degree at Columbia University in New York City in the fall.
USU Theatre Arts professor Richie Call said that he believes Ms. Barse is the first USU graduate to ever be accepted into Columbia’s prestigious MFA program.
Other Theatre Arts majors recognized during the recent CCA ceremony included Jake Hogan, Maya Bowers and Sara Madany, all sharing “Outstanding Senior” honors from that department; plus Aubrey Felty, who was named “Scholar of the Year.”