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Points of Pride

The School of Music, Theatre and 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 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 (12) 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) was awarded the Tony Award 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. Kazee 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) is the 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). He 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 de Soleil.
  • 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 a 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 work.
  • 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 was awarded a $2.5 million endowment. She is also a lecturer in theatre at MSU.
  • Durrell “Butch” Hamm (81) teaches drama and speech at Boone County High School.
  • 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 State University of New York (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) is the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park assistant production manager.
  • 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 the Palm Canyon Theatre.
  • Silvia H. Layne (63) received her M.F.A. from Brigham Young University.
  • William J. Layne (63) received his Ph.D. from Northwestern University.  He 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 as a costumer at Circuit Playhouse in Memphis. She has received her M.F.A. in costume design from New York University.
  • 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) is th Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park associate wardrobe mistress.
  • Vickie Riffe Ellis (76) is the 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, Tennessee.
  • 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 D.C.
  • Billy Wilburn (03) Completed his M.F.A. in design at Michigan State University. He is currently an assistant professor at South Dakota State University.
  • 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 Michigan.
  • Donetta Riley (97) received her M.F.A. in acting from the University of Louisville. She is currently a professional actress in New York City.
  • Amanda Simmons (BA and MA) is a 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 Louisville, KY.
  • 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 ship lines.
  • Kelvin Amburgey (87) coordinates the dance program at Vanderbilt University.
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Major In You.