2016 Ponaganset Distinguished Alumni Award Winner Profile

Congratulations to Michael Thurber and Jamison Odone. 
Their biographies are included below:

Michael Thurber, ‘75

 Michael Thurber starting his theater career and passion while at Ponaganset.    His passion has brought good theatre to Northern Rhode Island with his founding of the Theatre Company of Rhode Island in 1984.

 After graduating from Ponaganset in 1975 he attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma and completed a double major in Theatre & English and a minor in Music.   He moved back to RI in 1982 and began his search for a fulfilling career where he could utilize his talents and passion.

 Michael had a goal of making the theatre experience accessible to more actors.   He formed the Theatre Company  of Rhode Island as an educational theatre, with a goal that through each performance the cast, crew and audience would learn something about what live theatre is all about.

 Theatre is the driving force in his life “I love the theatre and I want everyone to love it.  I want the audience to see every genre of theatre that is available.  If you give the audience a performance they haven’t seen before or something they won’t see somewhere else… that is the reward”.

 Michael is listed in Who’s Who in America, he has worked and toured with Theatre Tulsa and was a member of their Board of Directors.   Locally, he has performed with the Players at Barker, the Community Players of Pawtucket, City Nights Dinner Theater, the Yankee Theater Wing, the Academy Players of East Greenwich and the Granite Theater.   He is also the RI state representative for AACT (American Association of Community Theatre).

 He has produce, directed and/or starred in all of the productions in the 30+ years of the Theatre Company of Rhode Island - including his yearly tribute to Liberace with his “Thurberace” show — all with little or no compensation to himself.

 Micheal encourages many young people from the community to audition and get involved with the theatre.   He has often recruited musicians from both Ponaganset Middle School and Ponaganset High School in numerous performances.

 In 2011 Michael started a new chapter in his acting career by starring in his first horror film - “Exhumed”, where he received numerous accolades on his performance.   The film won first place in the 2012 RI Horror Film Festival.   In 2014, he was nominated for Best Actor for his role in “Dr Frankenstein’s Hungry Dead”.    According to a review by Chad Kaplan, “Naturally, Michael Thurber…… stands out in the titular role and provides somewhat of a new and fresh take on the Dr. Frankenstein persona.   Hell, to be honest, the guy has so much charisma in all the many different film roles I’ve seen him play that I wouldn’t mind (as seems to be the case anyway) if he appears in every subsequent Richard Griffin film”.    To date, Michael has starred in over 15 films, with his latest “Model Hunger” premiering in 2016 at the Macabre Faire Film Festival.   He has also received the 2016 Audience Choice Award.

 Micheal continues to give back to his community by participating in various activities in his hometown of Chepachet and as Musical Director at the Purple Cat Vineyard & Winery.   Theatre will be always be his first love and he has certainly show this love and passion for theatre throughout his distinguished career.




Jamison Odone, ‘98

Jamison Odone was a 1998 graduate of Ponaganset High School and is now an author and illustrator of Children's Books and Graphic Novels as well as an exhibiting artist and university professor. He received his BFA (Bachelor’s of Fine Arts) in 2002 from The Art Institute of Boston in Illustration and his MFA (Master’s in Fine Arts) in 2012 from Western Connecticut State University also in Illustration. With his debut book, Honey Badgers in 2007, Publishers Weekly said, “Odone, tapping into a powerful vein of fantasy has created the kind of book certain children will cling to, years after they abandon the rest of their picture book collections.” Since then he has seen a string of releases which include The Bedtime Train, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Mole Had Everything, Annabel Lee, and Poor Joseph. His books have been reviewed in numerous publications such as Publisher's Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus, The Knight Letter, etc. Before staring out in the world of publishing, Odone spent many years freelancing as a newspaper and magazine illustrator for numerous publications.

 In 2009, Jamison was selected as a recipient of the Connecticut State Fellowship Grant Award for his body of work. In 2011, he was offered a professorship to head the Illustration Focus in the BFA program at Frostburg State University in Maryland. In 2013, he had a solo exhibition at the Mercurial Gallery in Danbury, CT, titled Strange Little Books which focused on the artwork from the book Mole Had Everything. In 2015, Odone co-founded the independent publishing collective, Box Books (www.theboxbooks) with fellow author/illustrator, Timothy Decker.

 Publications for 2015 include the illustrated books, Poor Joseph, Arabian Nights, and a reissue of his Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the book.

 Most importantly, in 2015, St. John’s University in New York held a solo exhibition of Jamison Odone’s work, titled Jamison Odone: A Life Out Of Lines. The university published a book based on his visual art and literary career. Award winning author/illustrater Timothy Decker, provided an essay for the publication, detailing Odone’s career. 

In 2017, a limited edition book titled The Tyger: A Requiem (poem by William Blake/illustrated by Odone) will be released as well as Small Penguins-Big Words, an illustrated book of quotes. The Gilchrist Gallery, in Cumberland MD will hold an exhibition of his work in May of 2017 as well.



Twitter and Instagram    @jamisonodone


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