Theatre alums make mark in movies, TV, stage


You don’t have go far to find McNichols campus theatre alums on television, in movies or on stage.

Examples abound, including Keegan-Michael Key, Ted Raimi, David Patrick Kelly, Angelina Fiordellisi, Anita Barone, Christopher Darga and Amy Yasbeck.

Keegan-Michael Key is the best known of the batch, having been on the cover of Time Magazine after starring in the TV comedy series “Key & Peele.”

Key attended Detroit Mercy as an undergraduate and earned his bachelor’s in 1993.

While at the university he was a Phi Kappa Theta brother.

Key and his sometimes comedy partner Jordan Peele became one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2014.

Key’s breakout role was in the MADtv series, where he began impersonating Barack Obama. More recently he has had a lead role in “Friends from College,” a Netflix series.

Ted Raimi, brother of Spider-Man director Sam Raimi, is another alum.

He has acted in the horror series “Deadwax” as Ian Ullman, which streams on Shudder, and famously in “The Evil Dead,” where he had many roles. (He is the only person other than Bruce Campbell to appear in all three of Evil Dead films.)

Raimi attended two other universities before graduating from the University of Detroit (as it was known then).

David Patrick Kelly, another alum, graduated cum laude with a bachelor of fine arts degree.

Kelly has acted in such works as “Commando,” playing Sully, in combat with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In “The Warriors,” Kelly is Luther, who spoke some famous lines. For one, when he is in a car clacking bottles, he repeatedly says, “Warriors come out to play.”

Another of Kelly’s role is as T-bird in the “The Crow.”

But Kelly may be best known now for his work on Broadway, which prompted a 2017 profile in The New York Times.

Angelina Fiordellisi has done many run of plays on and off Broadway.

She has acted in “Zorba” with Anthony Quinn, “Annie” with Kathleen Freeman, “Out of the Mouths of Babes,” “The Traveling Lady” and “Private Lives.”

Actress Anita Barone has more than fifty TV credits, from shows that include “Friends,” “Curb Your Enthusiam,” “The War at Home” and “The Jeff Foxworthy Show.”

She also earned her BFA from the university.

Christopher Darga is known for his performing in “Bruce Almighty” as Vol Kowolski, which saw him working with Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston and others.

His most recognizeable work, though, might be an advertisement.

For years, he starred as the main Viking in the national “What’s in your wallet?” Capital One ads.

Amy Yasbeck also studied theatre at the university.

Yasbeck acted with Carrey in “The Mask,” where she played Peggy Brandt.

She also played Lady Marian in “Robin Hood Men in Tights,” which had her acting alongside Dave Chappelle.

According to current students, such alums serve a key role.

Deshawn King is a junior theatre major.

“Keegan-Michael Key is one inspiration of mine, motivating me to go towards acting,” he said.

King learned of Key’s connection to the university after enrolling here.

Jake Robinson, a  business major, is part of the same fraternity as Key, who has maintained those ties.

“We didn’t talk with Keegan for long at all,” he said. “I wish I would have gotten a broad perspective on life from him.”

Dalton Hahn, another junior theatre major, is in the same fraternity as Key, too

“Keegan graduated as a theatre major just like me and because of his success, I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” he said. “I found out he was also a brother in Phi Kappa Theta fraternity so I joined as well so I could become his brother too. I’ve listened to countless interviews with him and read up on him and one thing he said he wished would’ve been different was his involvement in his fraternity and that he wished he could’ve been around more. But it was his devotion to his passion that gave him the success he has today.

“I would say even though I’ve never met him, he has impacted my life more than he will ever know,” Hahn added. “He’s shown me that some of the greatest things truly can grow out of the places you least expect it. Therefore, through him, I have hope and confidence in my future.”