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Clarion mourns loss of beloved colleague, professor and mentor

The Clarion Call report
Clarion University

Marilouise (Mel) Michel, 56, a longtime Clarion University professor suddenly passed away on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2018 from a brain aneurysm. She is survived by her two kids, Marshall and Emily Powers of Clarion, along with her brother, Marshal L. Michel of Germany and sister, Helen Michel of Pensacola, FL. She was born in New Orleans, LA. to the late Dr. Marshall L. and Nancy (Shaw) Michel.

Mel got her undergraduate degree from Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, in speech and drama. She then became the first graduate of the Master’s in Fine Art Musical Theatre/Directing program at Tulane University in New Orleans. Mel also was active in the Graduate Acting program at Point Park University in Pittsburgh.

Department of Visual and Performing Arts was lucky enough to have Mel for 28 years, serving as department chair from 2002 to 2008. Mel also taught at Point Park University and was an adjunct instructor at Gannon University. She was a registered yoga instructor and a certified holistic life coach.

Mel was a flawless actor, appearing in various roles over the years at Clarion University and beyond. Her directing career consisted of shows at Clarion University, Summer Theatre CUP/Cook Forest, Clarion University Dance Theatre, Pittsburgh Playhouse, Pittsburgh Open Theatre, Gannon University Theatre and the Barrow Civic Theatre in Franklin. Mel also served as an adjudicator for the American College Theatre Festival. One of her infamous claims to fame was a role in the horror movie, The Last Slumber Party. Mel was also a choreographer, director and innovator. She worked to create Yoga for Actors, Theatre of the World Immersion, Women in Global Theatre, Musical Theatre History, Movement for the Actor and Acting the Song. Courses that Mel had taught include: Styles of Acting, Auditioning, Advanced Theatre Production, Theatre Play Production, Acting I, Directing, Theatrical Make-up, Dance I & II, Dance Repertory and Introduction to Choreography. Additionally, she shared her Yoga for Actors program to students in St. Petersburg, Russia.

A woman likely described as, “full of life” left her mark at Clarion University. Faculty, staff and students are having a hard time with the grieving process. Colleague and friend of Mel, Dr. Jamie Phillips, spoke about the tragedy: “She was my neighbor, she lived across the street from me, her whole family.”

Dr. Phillips accounts all the memories had with Mel, watching all of their kids grow up and do theatre together; he says, “we had a lot of interaction.”

“Her family has been involved with us forever, my wife knew her very well,” he states. In terms of professionalism, the two did not sit on committees together, but “she always treated me with real respect,” he said.

He continues on to say, “Her and Ed (Powers) built such a vibrant program in theatre, so many people got impacted because she was really good at what she did.”

Arrangements have been made with Goble Funeral Home and Crematory in Clarion. A celebration of her life will be held at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, in Hart Chapel on Clarion’s campus. Pastor Harold “Jake” Jacobson, of Grace Lutheran Church will be officiating. A gathering will be held immediately following, and her family requests no black in honor of Mel’s vibrancy.

A scholarship in honor of Mel is being established at the Clarion University for Theater Students. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Marilouise Michel Theater Scholarship Fund c/o the Clarion University Foundation, Inc., 840 Wood Street, Clarion, PA 16214. For more information, contact the Foundation at (814) 393-2572.

Students who feel they may need additional support are encouraged to contact the Counseling Center in 256 Becht hall at (814) 393-2255, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays – Fridays, utilize the national crisis text line by texting “help” to 741 741 or use the Clarion County Crisis Line at (814) 226-7223.

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