Rumors about Steve Carell’s visit to campus in April had been whipping around for weeks. All the elements were aligned: The Burpee Seedy’s Theatrical Company (of which Carell ‘84 was a member back in his Denison days) was gearing up for its 3oth reunion and plenty of Carell’s old college pals would be in attendance. So, on Friday night of that final April weekend, Carell and his wife, Nancy Walls (a star in her own right with a résumé that includes Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show), walked into the Burpee Seedy’s kick-off reception held at the Burton D. Morgan Center and said hello to a few pals. Still, the masses hadn’t heard of the celebrities’ arrival in Granville until The Office star hit Del Mar (formerly Granvilla) for dinner. With that appearance, and subsequent Carell sightings all over Granville, Newark, and Heath the following day, the community took care of getting the word out, largely through Twitter. One tweeter wrote: “why is steve carell in heath?” Another said: “steve carell was at the mall where I work today! Squeeeee!!!!” And another: “Steve Carell just high fived me! Haha.” It didn’t take long for folks to figure out that if Carell was bopping around the area, he’d certainly be a at the Burpee Seedy’s Reunion Show that Saturday night. So it really wasn’t surprising that an hour before the show at Swasey Chapel, every available seat was filled, while latecomers sat on laps or lined the walls. When the Burpees, who included current students and alumni, took the stage at 11 p.m., Carell was among them and played along, giving the audience an hour of laughter. (Carell even took a backseat at times throughout the show to allow his co-stars some of the limelight). After the show, Carell was escorted out the back door by security, where he chatted with several students before heading off to spend some more time with his comedy cohorts and college buddies–without the throng of attentive fans.
Wait, Wait – There’s More
Steve Carell wasn’t the only big star to show up on campus last semester. Here’s a look at the other big names who paid a visit to the Hill:
Renée Fleming: The soprano opera star brought her crystal voice to the Swasey stage as part of the 30th anniversary of the Vail Series. In typical Fleming fashion, the opera diva and pianist Hartmut Höll delivered the complexities of music by Handel, Dutilleux, Kander, Strauss, Puccini, and Zandonai to the masses. Even opera novices were on their feet asking for more. Fleming finally called it a night after five encores.
Karl Rove: The Denison College Republicans welcomed the former deputy chief of staff to Swasey in April. In an hour-long speech, Rove highlighted his work with the Bush administration and discussed the challenges facing President Obama before opening the floor to questions. The College Republicans got more face time with Rove, though, who sat down with them during a prespeech dinner and an evening reception.
Chuck D. and Gaye Theresa Johnson: The founder and lead rapper for Public Enemy and his wife, a black studies professor at Stanford University and University of California- Santa Barbara, brought their knowledge of hip-hop to campus in April for a talk called “Hip Hop in the New Millennium.” Their appearance, sponsored by the Black Studies Program, the Black Student Union, the Laura C. Harris Fund, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and the Women’s Studies Program, was part of The McGregor Connections Initiative at Denison, whose theme for the academic year was “Urbanscapes.”