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Theatre & Dance

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Theatre & Dance

Since the 1930s, our nationally accredited theatre program has provided students with experience in all areas of theatrical production.

Since the 1930s, our nationally accredited theatre program has provided students with experience in all areas of theatrical production. We are also the only public university in Kentucky to offer a theatre program with teaching certification. Whether you want to be center stage or prefer working behind the scenes, there is a place for you at Morehead State.


Our alums are successful on Broadway, in professional theatre companies, on television and in film. Others continue their studies at esteemed schools like the National Shakespeare Conservatory and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Many of our graduates pursue a wide range of careers in the following:

  • Acting (stage, television and film)
  • Costuming
  • Designing
  • Directing
  • Managing
  • Producing
  • Writing
  • Technical Production
  • Theatre Education


As a student in our program, you will develop an understanding of all aspects of theatre. Learning does not stop the moment you step foot on stage, and you will gain hands-on experiences in all areas of production, including:

  • Performance
  • Costume, set, lighting, sound or prop design
  • Directing class productions
  • Set, costume and prop construction
  • Running crew
  • Dramaturgy
  • Stage management or assistant stage management
  • Hair and make-up

You are an ambassador for the performing arts when you step on stage at MSU. You can be a part of the tradition of excellence at MSU in productions like the classical Greek tragedy "Medea" or the iconic musical "Grease" in either the state-of-the-art Lucille Caudill Little Theatre or our traditional proscenium stage at Button Auditorium.


Each year you will be able to participate in the Kentucky Theatre Association Conference. You will attend screening auditions to prepare for the South Eastern Theatre Conference (SETC) general auditions. At SETC, you will present portfolios and audition materials to theatre professionals for summer employment.

In the past, students from our programs have garnered positions as actors, managers and technicians at theatres such as the Stage Door Manor, Stephen Foster Drama Association, Flatrock Playhouse, and Missoula Children's Theatre. All department shows enter the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) competition as either associate or participating productions. KCACTF is a national theatre education program wherein actors, designers, dramaturgs and stage managers present their work for feedback from a regional KCACTF representative. Selected students are eligible to compete for recognition at the regional and national levels.


The MSU theatre program offers special workshops given by guest artists to our students. In the last two years, we have had two professional guest choreographers for our productions of "Grease" and "Nunsense," a stage combat workshop, and a clowning workshop with professional actors from Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble.

Another essential part of arts education at MSU is allowing you to see arts events in other venues. With this in mind, we occasionally arrange for you to attend field trips to regional museums and theatres.

Theatre & Dance Mission Statement

Our mission, goals, and objectives.

We are an academic program and an artistic and learning community composed of artists, scholars, teachers and students that supports the mission and goals of the School of Creative Arts and the Caudill College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences at Morehead State University, a comprehensive university that serves the eastern region of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

The Theatre and Dance Program at Morehead State University provides an integrated curriculum and preparation for careers and advanced study in theatre, including performance, technical theatre, directing, design and education. The activities and programming reflect an interdisciplinary and multi-cultural perspective commensurate with the goals of a liberal arts education, which include the development of a student who has a comprehensive vision of theatre’s place in the world. We provide artistic instruction and aesthetic experiences for all students through general education. The activities and programming provide services for the University, the community and the eastern region of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The program endorses educational opportunities in conjunction with other departments campus-wide and within the community. We are dedicated to cultivating an open, creative environment that teaches respect of the individual as a person and artist, facilitates understanding of other cultures and celebrates the values inherent in collaborative achievement. We are dedicated to the missions of the school, the college, and the University’s ASPIRE program, and we continually prepare ourselves to meet the diverse challenges and abundant opportunities of the 21st century.

We are dedicated the missions of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance; the college and the University. We continually prepare ourselves to meet the diverse challenges and abundant opportunities of the 21st century. We remain committed to enhancing the quality of life for our community and serving as a quality artistic venue for our service region and the Commonwealth.  

To accomplish our mission, now and in the future, the Theatre Program:

  1. Provides students, faculty and audiences with a challenging academic environment that promotes risk-taking and facilitates an examination of human values, cultural diversity and social issues.
  2. Produce plays and theatrical events of high quality, various style and genre to promote an understanding of aesthetic and broaden artistic tastes.
  3. Teach the importance of high standards of personal and professional integrity.
  4. Educate students in the major components, general practices and opportunities found in theatre.
  5. Deliver a curriculum that provides students with a working knowledge of acting techniques, design processes and directing skills along with a fundamental knowledge of theatre history, dramatic theory and literature.
  6. Support and maintain an active production program where students have the opportunity to learn and develop theatrical skills and participate in a wide spectrum of world drama.
  7. Assist students in the development of a foundation for a career as a theatre professional, graduate student, theatre educator or a professional in an allied field.
  8. Contribute to the education of all students by providing quality instruction and artistic experience in the University's general education curriculum.  

Points of Pride

The School of Creative Arts is a recognized and distinguished center of excellence. School alums 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.



The Department of Theatre & Dance offers a selection of performances throughout the year.

View our current productions.

The Little Company

The Little Company, a trademark of the Morehead State University Theatre Program, is a touring troupe that performs a play for schools in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, with the main focus being on the service region of Morehead State University.

Visit The Little Company



Theatre & Dance Events


Contact Information

Music, Theatre, & Dance

106 Baird Music Hall
Morehead, KY 40351

PHONE: 606-783-2473
FAX: 606-783-5447