THEATRE AND DANCE PROGRAMS POINTS OF PRIDE
The School of Music, Theatre &
Dance is a widely recognized and distinguished center of excellence. School alumni and faculty are recognized artists, scholars,
teachers, and leaders in arts and arts education with noteworthy
achievements regionally, nationally, and internationally. Student
achievements are are further evidence of program excellence.
- Twenty-five theatre students received theatre related jobs for the summer (2015) or to start their careers.
- MSU Alum Mitchell Haley (2012) received a Dance Minor while at MSU. He was hired as a professional dancer in September, 2013 with the modern dance company Inaside in Chicago, IL
- Alum Steve Kazee (02) is awarded Tony for Best Leading Actor in a Musical (Once) in 2012. He has played numerous roles in regional theatre from New York to California. He received his M.F.A. from New York University. Played “Lancelot” in Spamaiot on Broadway. He was also in the opening cast of 110 in the Shade on Broadway, and Working Class on CMT with Ed Asner.
- Mac Caudill (92) is a screenwriter in Hollywood. Among his credits
are Men In Black and Starship Troopers.
- Cindy Clifford Saalfeld (79) Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park Marx
Theatre Wardrobe Mistress
- Shannon Convery (96) received an M.F.A. in Acting from Rutgers
University and has appeared in numerous television shows as well as the
feature film, The Secretary.
- Scott Coppock (98) received his M.F.A. in Scene and Costume Design
from Ohio University and is working in design in New York.
- Carl V. Curnutte (94) was an assistant to William Ivey Long in
Costume Design for several Broadway shows (most recently The Producers).
Carl has a number of television and film credits as well as costuming
for the outdoor drama, The Lost Colony. Carl has been nominated for an
Emmy Award for his work on the HBO film, Iron Jawed Angels.
- Josh Daniels (04) completed his M.F.A. in Stage Management at the
University of Iowa. He is currently touring internationally with Cirque
- Tres Dean (00) has worked as a performer at Disney World, Jenny
Wiley Theatre and Palm Canyon Theatre in California.
- Virginia Landreth Etherton (77) is the recently retired Speech and
Drama teacher at Rowan County Senior High School. As coach of the Rowan
County Speech Team she has been recognized with many awards for her
- Edward E. Figgins (88) is Associate Professor and Director of
Theatre at Ashland Community College.
- Octavia Biggs (87) graduated from the National Shakespeare
Conservatory in New York where she appeared Off-Broadway. She is the Director for Shooting Stars Youtheatre with Lexington Children's Theatre. Her program recently was awarded a 2.5 million dollar endowment. She is also Lecturer in Theatre at MSU.
- Durrell “Butch” Hamm (81) teaches drama and speech at Boone County
- Ron Harris (75) graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts
in New York, where he has worked extensively in theatre and television.
- Jessica Hester (94) received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University
of Texas at Austin where she served as Oscar Brockett’s research
assistant. She is currently the Chair of Theatre at SUNY Oswego.
- Will Ingham (93) received his M.F.A. from Florida State University.
He is currently serving as Chair at Shenandoah University.
- Donna Ison (91) is a playwright whose works have been produced
Off-Broadway. She has also been active in film acting and directing.
- Deb Jackson (81) Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park Assistant
- Matt Johnson (97) has worked as an actor in regional theatres
including The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta and The Cincinnati Shakespeare
Festival. He is a playwright whose adaptation of Beowulf has been
produced on tour.
- Tara Lail (88) is currently production manager for One Human Race Theatre in Ohio.
- J.W. Layne (91) received his M.F.A. in scenic design from the
University of Minnesota. He is technical director, designer and
co-founder of Palm Canyon Theatre in Palm Springs, California.
- Se Layne (92) received her M.F.A. in Acting from Michigan State
University. She has many acting credits nationally and is currently
Artistic Director and co-founder of Palm Canyon Theatre.
- Silvia H. Layne (63) received her M.F.A. from Brigham Young
- William J. Layne (63) received his Ph.D. from Northwestern
is also co-founder of Palm Canyon Theatre. He was the recipient of the
Distinguished Creative Productions Award at MS in 1995.
- Derek Mudd (94) received an M.F.A. in Acting from Louisiana State
University and is currently ABD from the same.
- Elizabeth Payne (00) worked at a costumer at Circuit Playhouse in
Memphis. She has received her M.F.A. in Costume Design from New York
- Brian Isaac Phillips (98) is the Artistic Director at The Cincinnati
Shakespeare Festival. Brian won the Cincinnati Arts Awards for Best
Actor and Best Supporting Actor for the 2000-2001 theatre season. He has
been named one of the outstanding young artists in Cincinnati.
- James Phillips (94) received an M.A. in Theatre at Emerson College.
He has worked as a director and designer at New Stage Theatre in
Jackson, Mississippi. He received hi M.F.A. in Directing at Catholic
University of America.
- Susan Ray Gabennesch (77) Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park Associate
- Vickie Riffe Ellis (76) Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park Corporate
and Foundation Associate.
- Karl Ruckdeschel (98) has worked as a costumer in regional theatre
and is currently working professionally in New York City.
- Brian Russell (80) is an award winning actor working in Nashville,
- Shawn Slone (99) has worked as an actor for two seasons at the
Lexington Children’s Theatre and is active in film.
- Daniel Stockton (96) graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic
Arts in New York. He has made a career in musical theatre in London in
Les Miserables and South Pacific, working with producer Cameron
Macintosh and director Trevor Nunn.
- Denise Watkins (96) received her M.F.A. in Design from Michigan
State University. She teaches in the Governor’s Scholars Program and is
an Associate Professor of Theatre at MSU. She is also the current
president of KTA.
- Violet Webster Downy (76) is the Director of Customer Relations at
the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Station.
- Mary Whidden (94) received her M.A. in Theatre from Emerson College.
She has worked as a professional stage manager at numerous theatres,
including the New Stage Theatre in Jackson, Mississippi and Washington
- Billy Wilburn (03) Completed his M.F.A. in Design at Michigan State
University. He is currently an Assistant professor at South Dakota State
- Robert Willenbrink (78) received his Ph.D. from Bowling Green State
University and served as Chair and Director of Theatre at Central
Arkansas University. He has served as Chair of Region IV of the Kennedy
Center American College Theatre Festival, is the founder of ACTS, a
theatre troupe for disabled performers and the national director of the
ARC of Arkansas Performing Arts Institute for disabled artists. He is
currently Chair of the Department of Theatre at Missouri State University.
- Trinidy Williams (97) received her M.F.A. in Lighting Design from
Indiana University. She is currently teaching college theatre in
- Donetta Riley (97) received her M.F.A. in Acting from the University
of Louisville. She is currently a professional actress in New York
- Amanda Simmons (BA and MA) Drama teacher at Martha Layne Collins
High School in Shelby County. She is also on the board for KTA.
- Meg Caudill (BA and MA) is a performer and arts administrator in
- Christina Jeans (10) signed on with an agent in Cincinnati.
- Savanna Varble (10) signed on with an agent in Cincinnati.
- Molly Maynard (10) is an arts administrator in Ashland, KY.
- Paula Creech (94) is a performer in Chicago, and tours with cruise
- Kelvin Amburgey (87) coordinates the dance program at Vanderbilt