Bob Shreve, MFA Technical Theatre, 1980

Bob Shreve is a graduate of the School of Theatre and Dance who has had an outstanding career in theme park design management. Currently corporate vice president for Attractions Development at Herschend Family Entertainment in Atlanta, Georgia, he previously worked for Universal Studios, where he was executive producer for projects such as “Revenge of the Mummy,” “Shrek 4D,” and Universal Studios Shanghai,” as well as the Jurassic Park attractions. At Disney (EPCOT) he worked on projects such as Muppets 3D and the concept phase of Tower of Terror.

Bob was born in Fairmont, WV, but his father was a career army officer, so he grew up all around the US and Europe. When his family returned to West Virginia, he went to Fairmont State to study theater and then came to WVU as a graduate student, which he says were “two of the most thrilling years of my life.”

His advisor was Professor Chuck Neal and professors who inspired him included Craig Martin, who taught him to seek out-of-the-box solutions; JoAnn Siegrist, with her tireless dedication and focus on students; Kathy Brindle with her exuberance and sheer love of theater; and a young Egyptian professor named Adel Mageed, who Bob says was the most talented and earnest teacher he has ever had. “He was the first to recognize that I had worth as a designer. His encouragement and instruction remain with me today, as I can still hear his broken English explaining color theory and line weight. He pushed me to extend myself and believe that, if I only tried, I would do better.”

Bob did the lighting design for Patrick Murphy’s production of “Hamlet,” and lit all of the Orchesis Dance Ensemble shows directed by Kacy Wiedebush.

“I was privileged to work with Phil Faini’s Percussion Ensemble on some of the most thrilling entertainment spectacles I have ever witnessed,” he said. “Also, we had Morris Carnovsky in residence performing “King Lear” and I had to redo the props multiple times to meet his exacting standards. Another memorable experience was the Julliard Acting Studio in residence with a young Patti Lupone as part of the ensemble. Those were some fun parties!

“Most of all, it was the people – students and faculty alike – who will always be with me and who helped me pass from student to teacher to professional. The core of who I am rests in the halls of the CAC.

“Life is such a mixture of so many different things—who succeeds and who fails is just a small part of it and really depends on the definitions you wish to apply. Life is about working to understand those definitions every day and then applying what you have learned. I started out to become an actor and ended up being a designer, a technician, an arts administrator and now an attraction designer turned design manager. The best thing I can advise students is always do your best, keep your eyes and your mind open and adapt. It makes for a very interesting journey. And who knows, you might just end up where you want to be.”


WVU School of Art and Design alumnus Jacob Lewis, the director of Jacob Lewis Gallery in New York City, will be the guest speaker for the College of Creative Arts Commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 16.

The ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre of the Creative Arts Center and is open to the public.

Jacob Lewis was born in Huntington, West Virginia. In 2001, he received a Bachelor of Arts with a focus in painting and printmaking from West Virginia University. Upon graduation, Lewis moved to New York City, where he began a 13-year career with Pace Prints. In 2007, he was instrumental in inaugurating Pace Prints’ Chelsea gallery as its first director.

During his seven years as director, Lewis developed many personal and professional relationships with the artists whose work he has championed. With their encouragement and support, he opened Jacob Lewis Gallery to present a breadth of imagery and artistic mediums that resonate with the aesthetics of the Millennial generation.

In January, Lewis brought the New York artists How and Nosm to the WVU Creative Arts Center, where they showed their works in the Mesaros Galleries, presented the Deem Distinguished Artist Lecture in the School of Art and Design, and created a special mural that will be unveiled at the dedication for the new Art Museum of WVU in August 2015.

For more information, see the Jacob Lewis Gallery website:

Commencement Details
During the May 16 Commencement ceremony, the College of Creative Arts will individually recognize approximately 100 graduates, including those who completed their requirements in August or December of 2014. Alison Helm, director of the School of Art and Design, Keith Jackson, director of the School of Music, and Joshua Williamson, director of the School of Theatre and Dance, will recognize each of the degree candidates by name and they will receive congratulations from Dean Paul Kreider, Associate Dean William Winsor, and Assistant Dean John Hendricks.

There will also be several special presentations, including awards to outstanding students in Art & Design, Music, and Theatre & Dance.

Student Marshals, who lead the procession of graduates, are undergraduates in the College who have achieved the highest cumulative grade point average in their division. The Student Marshals for 2015 are: Lindsay May Dieffenbaugh, School of Art and Design; Ashley Elliott, School of Music; and Lauren Kimberly Waldron, School of Theatre and Dance.

Outstanding Graduating Senior awards for the three divisions include: Emily J. Hersman, School of Art and Design; James David Conkle, School of Music; and Rachael Anne Cowne, School of Theatre and Dance.

The College of Creative Arts Outstanding Graduating Senior for 2014-2015 will be announced by Dean Kreider during the Commencement.

Doors to the Lyell B. Clay Theatre will open at 5 p.m. Tickets are not required for admission and seating is open except where reserved for degree candidates. The academic procession begins sharply at 5:30 p.m. Parking is available at various locations near the Creative Arts Center. Families and friends of graduates are welcome to take photos during the ceremony.

Following the ceremony, there will be a reception in the lobby of the Creative Arts Center for the graduates, their families and friends, and College of Creative Arts faculty and staff.

One night only!


School of Theatre & Dance presents MFA Acting Candidate Original Production of ‘Love, Sweet Love: The Story and Songs of Burt Bacharach’

MORGANTOWN, W.Va—What the world needs now is love, sweet love! WVU School of Theatre & Dance presents “Love, Sweet Love: The Story and Songs of Burt Bacharach,” written by and starring MFA Acting Candidate Vincent Pelligrino, May 2 at 7:30pm in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre, located in the Creative Arts Center on the Evansdale Campus.

One of the most accomplished pop composers of the twentieth century, Burt Bacharach is known for a style all his own. Memorable melodies, unconventional time signatures, and a combination of jazz, pop, Brazilian music, and rock truly made Bacharach stand out among the rest in the 60s and 70s. Bacharach generated over 52 Top 40 hits and primarily collaborated with lyricist Hal David. “Love, Sweet Love” explores his personal life and working relationships with artists such as Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield, and Cilla Black.

Vincent Pelligrino is a third-year MFA Acting student graduating in May. This original cabaret-style production of “Love, Sweet Love,” began as part of the one-man show development course in the MFA program and has grown into a fully realized independent study and research project.

“Singing this music brings me pure joy,” says Pelligrino. “I have always loved Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s music for its ability to be light and joyous but heartbreaking at the same time. I love working with these talented young women who have incredible singing voices, and sound great as a group. It’s a pleasure for me to get to sing, act, and sit at the piano for my final show at WVU.”

Songs featured in the cabaret include such Bacharach classics as “Say a Little Prayer,” “Alfie,” “Don’t Make Me Over,” “A House is Not a Home,” “Close to You,” and “What the World Needs Now is Love.”

“Love, Sweet Love” features Masters of Music in Vocal Performance students Denise Battle and Jocelyn Raychel, along with Theatre students Stefanie Lemasters, Ashley Koon, and Mya Brown.

Lighting design for “Love, Sweet Love” is by Rachel Lake and sound design is by Savannah Yost.

Admission is free for “Love, Sweet Love.” Attendance forms for classes will be made available after the show.


For more information on this production of “Love, Sweet Love,” please visit, call 304-293-2020, or email

The College of Creative Arts is offering a wide variety of camps and workshops during the summer of 2015 for students of all ages. Offerings include:

• Community Music Program (classes for all ages, including babies)
• Acting Academy (ages 10-17)
• Dance Academy (for ages 5 to adult, as well as for teachers)
• Teacher’s Institute: Smithsonian Certification Folkways Course in world music pedagogy (for K-12 teachers)
• Viola Boot Camp (ages 15 to adult)
• Percussion Camp (ages 14 to 18)
• Mountaineer Music Leadership Academy (high school students in grades 10-12)
• Piano Festival and Competition (for artists and students of all ages, as well as teachers)
• International Flute Symposium (featuring Junior High and High School Flute Camps, as well as a Collegiate/Amateur/Professional Category)
• Mountaineer Drawing Academy (ages 14 to 17)

See more information, in order by date:

Community Music Program – June-August, 2015

The WVU School of Music’s Community Music Program provides a comprehensive program of musical training for students of all ages and experience levels. The summer program features many different kinds of classes for children and adults, as well as private music lessons. Some popular classes returning this summer include: Piano For Fun For Adults, Eurhythmics For Children, Music For Babies, Explore & Enjoy for Toddlers, and Harp On It! New offerings include Vocal Choirs, Violin Camp, and more children’s classes and activities. See the entire schedule of classes, coming to the website soon.
Registration: Registration begins Tuesday, May 26 and classes begin June 1. To register, see the website or contact Karen Taddie, director, at, phone 304-293-6946.

Summer Acting Academy – June 22-26, 2015

A one-week professional theater training program for youth, ages 10 to 17, who wish to explore and develop the actor in themselves. Open to students of all levels of theater experience, the academy includes classes in acting, movement, monologues, voice & speech, character masks, improvisation, stage combat and rehearsal/production. All classes will be led by WVU School of Theatre and Dance faculty, and guest artists. Enrollment is limited, so that each student will receive training specifically geared to their experience level. The program culminates in a student presentation at the Creative Arts Center on June 26.
Times: Monday – Friday 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Registration: Please contact or call 304-293-2020. A copy of the registration form is also available on the website.
Deadline: Register by June 8 to guarantee enrollment.

Summer Dance Academy – June 13-20, 2015

Join us for another exciting and danced-filled week of technique classes and special workshops taught by WVU Dance faculty and special guest faculty. The programs include a Young Academy for children ages 5-10 years old, to be held June 15-19; a Teen Academy for ages 12-18 with at least 3 years of previous dance experience, to be held June 14-20; and a Teachers Academy for dance educators K-16, to be held June 14-20. In addition, this year there will be a one-day K-12 Dance Professional Development Intensive on Saturday June 13 (no registration fee). For questions or further information please see the website or contact the Dance Office at (304) 293-8623.
Times: All day; Young Academy daily 9 a.m. to 1 pm.
Registration: For registration information, email or call 304-293-2020. On campus room and board is available. A special tuition discount is offered to teachers who register their students.
Deadline: May 30 for early bird registration. Registration fee on or before May 30 is waived. After May 30 the registration fee is $30.

WVU Teacher Institute: Smithsonian Folkways Certification Course in World Music Pedagogy – June 14-20, 2015

West Virginia University’s School of Music will host its first Smithsonian Folkways Certification Course in World Music Pedagogy (WMP), June 14-20, 2015. Teachers will engage with world music in daily workshops featuring the musical cultures of West Africa, Brazil, and Central Appalachia led by WVU faculty and guest artists. Through this partnership with Smithsonian Folkways, teachers will develop a foundation in world music pedagogy and will have access to the rich ethnographic audio, film, and print resources of Smithsonian Folkways. This course is intended to help teachers build innovative curricula that connect K-12 music programs with local and global musical cultures. Teachers successfully completing the course will receive certification from the Smithsonian Institute documenting specialization in world music pedagogy. A limited number of scholarships are available for WV teachers.
Credits: 3 CEU or graduate credits
Registration: For information contact Dr. Janet Robbins at

Viola Boot Camp – June 15-18, 2015

Viola Boot Camp is a four-day intensive event is for violists, ages 15 to adult. All ability levels are welcome! The founder and director of the camp is Andrea Priester Houde, who is Assistant Professor of Viola in the WVU School of Music. The camp includes daily lessons, master classes, technique classes, lectures and ensembles.
Times: all day
Registration: Registration includes tuition and campus housing. Hotel accommodations are also available for adult participants. To register, contact Andrea Priester Houde, WVU Assistant Professor of Viola, at or call 304-293-5777.
Deadline: Students may register up until the first day of Boot Camp.

Percussion Camp – June 15-19, 2015

This popular week-long event is for young percussionists, ages 14 to 18. The founder and director of the camp is George Willis, who is also director of the Percussion Program at WVU. The camp includes daily workshops and clinics, solo performances, public percussion ensemble performances, and much more. Students will perform with and learn from some incredible guest artists. The camp will educate every level of percussionist and all of the students will perform in a percussion ensemble that will present a public concert at the end of the week.
Times: all day
Registration: To register, contact George Willis at or phone 304-293-5274. In addition to the registration fee, there is a housing fee that includes all meals. The fees will be paid upon checking into camp.
Deadline: Students may register right up until the beginning of camp.

The Mountaineer Music Leadership Academy – June 22-26, 2015

The Mountaineer Music Leadership Academy provides the finest experiential musical leadership training for all interested high school instrumental and vocal/choral students entering grades 10-12. All students attending, especially section leaders and drum majors, will be given increased musical skill and methods and materials for instructing and leading their peers. Our goal is to certify that every student attending leaves with a depth of knowledge and skill previously unknown to them that will provide greater enjoyment in the musical arts and a basis for lifetime accomplishment in leadership, regardless of the chosen field of professional endeavor.
Times: all day
Registration: Applications are available on the website or by calling 302-293-3097. Students should return the application via postal mail with deposit. Entire fee schedule includes instruction, meals and board. Commuter packages available.
Deadline: Reduced fees for early applications until April 30, 2015. Applications and payments in full due by June 8, 2015.

Intersection of Jazz & Classical Music Piano Festival and Competition
June 28-July 1, 2015

During this four-day celebration of the piano, set in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia, students, teachers and audience members explore how both jazz and classical styles inform, inspire and enliven the great art of playing the piano. This festival– the only one of its kind – offers outstanding artists, teachers, workshops, concerts, panel discussions, competitions and more. Guest artists for 2015 will be Ann Schein and Stefan Karlsson, as well as invited presenters from across the United States, and WVU faculty.
Times: all day
Registration: For registration information, contact Peter Amstutz at or call 304-293-4532. Registration fee required. Participants may also register for a Day Pass.
Deadline to register for competitions: May 20, 2015
Deadline for general registration: Attendees may register up until the day the festival begins.

International Flute Symposium – July 15-19, 2015

The WVU International Flute Symposium offers the widest variety of performances, workshops, and masterclasses as well as the largest roster of world-renowned flutists and university professors from the orchestral, classical and jazz fields of any university flute symposium in the United States. IFS is open to flutists of all abilities, ages 12 through adult. Events include daily flute masterclasses, flute choirs, and gala concerts as well as body mapping and flute repair workshops, high school and young artist competitions, and private lessons.
Times: 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, except July 15, which begins with a 7:30 pm concert, and July 19, which ends with a 1 pm concert.
Registration: Register online at the website for the Junior High/High School Camp or the Collegiate/Amateur/Professional Category. Registration fee, plus tuition, housing costs and meals required. Participants may also register for a Day Pass.
Deadline: July 15, 2015 (Discounts apply if register before May 30)

Mountaineer Summer Drawing Academy – July 22-25, 2015

Mountaineer Summer Drawing Academy provides West Virginia youth, ages 14 to 17, with experiences in art, so that they will have improved observational abilities and an understanding of how artistic skills activate an understanding of space, place, perspective, and structure. Campers will participate in workshops that will enhance their personal understanding and artistic skills. Guest speakers and assemblies will emphasize daily themes and field trips will provide the opportunity for artistic exploration inspired by interacting with the landscape and our natural environment. The camp closes with a Student Showcase and Reception on July 25.
Times: all day
Registration: Registration is available on-line at the website. Scholarships are available to those who register by July 1. Registration includes tuition and campus housing.
Deadline: July 22, 2015 (pre-registration deadline). Camp registration is 12:30-1:00 p.m. on July 22.

A tender embrace leads to an unspeakable act of violence in Diana Son’s Stop Kiss, directed by Mya Brown, coming to the Vivian Davis Michael Laboratory Theatre, located in the Creative Arts Center, April 17, 18, and 19 at 7:30pm.


Told out of chronological order, Stop Kiss tells the story of Sara and Callie who share a passionate first kiss while walking late at night through New York’s West Village, which incites an angry bystander to viciously attack them. Sara takes the brunt of the attack and ends up in a coma. The events before and after the attack frame the heart of the story, which concerns the exploration of relationships and the depth of human compassion.


Mya Brown is a third-year MFA Acting Candidate graduating in May. This production of Stop Kiss is her independent study and research project.


“There was a need this semester for a contemporary drama with a powerful message to be presented to the WVU community,” says Brown. “Shannon Uphold (Callie) and Margaret Dransfield (Sara), had a strong desire to sink their teeth into roles of substance this semester. They brought the script to me and I was honored by their request to direct the piece. I hope to educate, inspire, and/or incite the audience with our production, and at the very least get people talking.”

Stop Kiss is Diana Son’s most notable play to date, which won many awards including the GLAAD Media Award for Best New York Production. Son is also a very successful television writer with credits including Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Southland, and Blue Bloods.

Stop Kiss features Theatre students Shannon Uphold, Margaret Dransfield, Isaac Snyder, Ben Forer, Cyerah Zoeller, Kennedy Moser, and Dominic Massimino

Lighting design and technical direction is by MFA Lighting Design/Tech student, Tim Thistleton. The stage manager is BFA Acting track student Adam Demopoulos.

Admission is free, but seating is limited. Class Attendance forms will be made available.


Body image concerns, social insecurity, the lure of over-indulgent parties—it’s just another day for the average college female. Brimming with humor and a powerful message, WVU School of Theatre & Dance’s LAB Theatre will present four performances of Real Girls Can’t Win by Merri Biechler, directed by Professor Bryce Britton, in the Vivian Davis Michael Laboratory Theatre April 10-11 at 7:30pm, April 12 at 2:00pm, and April 13 at 8:00pm, with subsequent performances to be announced around campus in various venues.


College freshman Katie considers herself a “real girl,” but when beauty queen and member of the “Slut Movement” Dakota announces she’s running for “Miss Freshman B Dorm,” Katie joins the race in the name of “Real Girls” everywhere. But in an age of internet images and instant fame, how does a girl stay real? And what does the word “slut” truly mean? As war rages, the battle between the Real Girls and Copy Girls quickly becomes ruthless. Everything from sex for power to body image to drug use and humiliation are at play – that is until the reality of a shamed student’s suicide after a night of binge drinking makes everyone re-evaluate what really matters in life.


Playwright Merri Biechler is an adjunct instructor of Playwriting and Text Analysis in the Theater Division at Ohio University. Her plays include Bombs, Babes and Bingo, (Clubbed Thumb Biennial Commission finalist); Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver (Princess Grace Award finalist); and Real Girls Can’t Win is the winner of the Centenary Stage Company’s 2009 Women Playwrights Series. Below, she answered a few questions about her work:

What inspired you to write Real Girls Can’t Win?

I was really interested in following the Duke Lacrosse rape case of 2006, and became even more readily aware of the cultural pressures on young women. So many academically gifted, bright young women were becoming more and more interested in being seen as “hot” rather than intelligent.

I also saw Ariel Levy on The Colbert Report talk about her book Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture about young women embracing the raunch culture. Levy believes that many women of this generation think sexual liberation means imitating strippers and porn stars. I wish these issues were no longer part of our national debate, but sadly that’s not the case.

But my play is a comedy! It HAS to be a comedy or we’d all end up in a puddle on the floor. The play had to be topical, but could not cross the line into becoming a lecture!

Do you think the issue facing college-age women is ambivalence toward feminism or a misguided notion of confidence and power?

I believe young women today have a misguided notion of what being a feminist truly means. They shy away from the term out of fear that it will make them seem aggressive or unattractive. The media often seeks to demoralize women who want to stand up for themselves. Young women need to remember as far as what generations before them were able to accomplish: if you don’t continue to fight, you will lose what you’ve already gained.

Are you more interested in the morality and ethics of social media, or making a commentary specifically on political theater? (Excerpt from an interview with Kathleen Dennehy,

I wonder what the tipping point will be with the cruelty of social media. Will our grandchildren prefer to talk to people one on one? I hope so! That’s why I think theater will always be necessary; I believe it’s a human need to gather together and tell our story. I suspect in the near future we’ll be treating addictions to social media the way we treat substance addictions today. It is incredibly seductive and is no doubt rewiring our brains in an unhealthy way.

For more information on this production, or to organize a performance of Real Girls Can’t Win, please visit, call 304-293-2020, or email

Four alumni from the College of Creative Arts who have had successful careers after leaving the Creative Arts Center will return to the the CAC in April to work with students as part of the “Alumni-in-Residence” Series. They include: Sage Perrott, a 2010 graduate of the School of Art and Design, Mark Davis, a 1997 graduate of the School of Music, Bob Shreve, a 1980 graduate of the School of Theatre and Dance, and Dan Fisher, a 1986 graduate of the School of Theatre and Dance. All four will be giving presentations that are open to the public. Welcome back, everybody!


Sage Perrott – Thursday, April 9, 2 pm, Litho Studio (Room 507A)

Sage Perrott is a printmaker and illustrator from Morgantown, West Virginia. She is the creator of Haypeep, and co-founder of Eyebag Press. Perrott completed a BFA from the WVU School of Art and Design in 2010, and an MFA from Ohio University. She predominantly creates screenprints, most of which feature a cast of lumpy, cranky, imagined creatures. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally in solo and group shows. Most recently, she had a solo show in Columbus, Ohio, titled “Ghost Alphabet.” She currently teaches at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia. During her visit on April 9, Sage will speak to WVU printmaking students and also critique their works. For more information, see her website at: .

Mark head shot

Mark Davis – Wednesday, April 15, 9 am, Room 440A

Mark Davis, originally from St. Albans, West Virginia, was named Kanawha County Teacher of the Year in 2012 and currently serves as Fine Arts Curriculum Specialist for the Kanawha County school district in West Virginia, where he supervises and manages all of the arts programs county-wide, K-12. Mark earned his B.M. in Music Education in 1997 and his M.A. in Educational Communication in 2009, both from WVU. He went on to earn his Level I and Level II Orff teaching certification from the University of Kentucky and taught elementary general music in Kanawha County for more than 15 years. His presentation at the CAC on April 15 is titled “A Path Worth Travelling: The Real View from the Road of Music Education.” He will also give a demonstration of applied teaching methods and WVU music students will be encouraged to participate in the discussion.

Bob Shreve

Bob Shreve – Friday, April 17, 2 pm, Antoinette Falbo Theatre

Robert Shreve, of Fairmont, West Virginia, is currently Corporate Vice President for Attractions Development at Herschend Family Entertainment in Atlanta, Georgia. Bob graduated from the WVU School of the School of Theatre and Dance in 1980 with a degree in technical theatre. Prior to designing theme parks, he was deputy commissioner for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, taught technical theatre at WVU, and worked as a professional theatre designer and technician. In the 1990s Bob served as SQS coordinator at Walt Disney Imagineering, where he worked to maintain the overall guest experience at EPCOT. Before joining Herschend, he served as executive producer of the design department for all Universal Parks & Resorts. Products developed during his tenure included “Revenge of the Mummy,” “Shrek 4D,” and “Universal Studios Shanghai.” He was also show producer for the Revenge of the Mummy attraction at Universal Orlando. During his visit on April 17, he will speak to students and faculty about his career in theme park design and management. A Q&A session will follow.

Dan Fisher – Friday, April 24 – time and place to be announced

Dan Fisher, a native of Middlebourne, West Virginia, graduated from the School of Theatre and Dance in 1986 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in technical theatre and almost immediately began working in the film industry. One of his first jobs was as production assistant on the popular 1987 John Sayles film “Matewan,” about a West Virginia coal mine strike in 1920. Since then, he has worked in the art departments of many other well-known films, including several by writer and director John Sayles. Some of his credits include “Mississippi Burning,” “City of Hope,” “Passion Fish,” and “Men in Black.” In recent years Dan has worked as property master for some of the most popular TV shows on the air, including “Law and Order,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Mad Men,” “White Collar,” “Girls,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” and most recently the Ed Burns police drama “Public Morals.” While at the CAC, Dan will share his experiences and knowledge about film and television with the students and faculty.

Mark head shot

Mark Davis (BM Music Education 1997)

As a music student at the CAC in the 1990s, Mark Davis was a member of the African Ensemble and Percussion ‘90, two groups that were often on the road performing for a wide variety of audiences and events. But he says it was the performances in the public schools all over the state that really made an impact on him and led to his 15-year career teaching elementary music in the Kanawha County schools.

In 2012, Davis was named Kanawha County Teacher of the year and today he serves as Fine Arts Curriculum Specialist for Kanawha County schools, where he supervises and manages all of the arts programs county-wide, K-12.

During a return visit to the CAC on April 15, he will share his background and “real world” perspective as a teacher, arts administrator and performing musician with current students in the WVU School of Music.

“There are some things I learned at WVU that I still use every day,” he said. “I want today’s students to know that they should take advantage of the many learning opportunities available at the CAC, because you can never predict which direction a career path will go. I think it is beneficial to have a wide range of experiences so students can be ready for whatever opportunities may lie ahead for them.”

'Arsenic and Old Lace' Fun Facts!

Stephanie | March 9, 2015

Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring, directed by Dr. Jay Malarcher, continues Tuesday, March 10 through Sunday, March 15 in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre.

Here are a few fun facts about the show, our designers, and a few characters! For tickets call (304) 293-SHOW or visit the CAC Box Office M-F, 10am-6pm, or an hour before curtain!



In this wickedly delightful farce, the Brewster family is brimming with charming, eccentric—albeit homicidal—characters! Mortimer Brewster is a drama critic whose two spinster aunts’ hobby of poisoning lonely old men with elderberry wine laced with arsenic, a brother who believes he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and another murderous brother on the run from the law, are getting in the way of his plans to marry the woman he loves.


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Costume Design by Cody Lorich.

Arsenic Master 11-28

Scenic Design by Prof. Robert Klingelhoefer. Lighting Design by Rachel Lake. Prop Design by Joe Dotts.


Brianne Taylor (Aunt Martha) is finishing up her graduate training at WVU and will be graduating with her MFA in May. While she’s enjoyed her time on the stage here playing roles like Kate in Seminar, Mistress Quickly in Henry IV, Frau Schneider in Cabaret, and Varya in The Cherry Orchard, she is ready to move on to the next adventure – wherever that may be. Whenever she manages to get free time, she enjoys practicing yoga, singing, reading fiction only if it’s purely for enjoyment, hiking up by Cooper’s Rock, and watching Gilmore Girls (specifically the episode of the Dance-a-thon).

Arsenic & Old Lace has been a unique experience – the cast is a full spectrum of experience and humor – there has never been a dull moment! The worst part about the process for her has been setting the table – it’s what Aunt Martha does for half of Act 1 and it brings to the surface so many childhood chore time memories?.. The BEST part about rehearsal? The night Teddy Roosevelt finally got a bugle to use.

She is very grateful for her husband who has helped her through three years of mainstage production and tech weeks with making meals and cleaning the dishes – without his love and support, she’d be a hot mess!


Did you know? Since we just got done with Oscar season, isn’t it a shame that Arsenic and Old Lace, the classic film version starring Cary Grant and Josephine Hull, wasn’t even nominated? This Oscar snub is a travesty! Luckily, the theatre world knows how to appreciate this laugh-a-minute dark comedy!


Stephanie Freeman (Aunt Abby) is going to be a Master of Fine Art in Theatre with an Emphasis in Acting come mid-May, and she thinks that’s mighty fine indeed. Her first show at WVU was the farce, Lend Me a Tenor and she is delighted to get to take her leave with Arsenic and Old Lace, the most wonderful screwball comedy ever written—a big thank you to Joseph Kesselring for that, and Dr. Jay Malarcher (Director) for letting her be a part of the Brewster Family. Over the past three years, Stephanie has played middle-aged to quite old ladies on stage here at WVU, and is very grateful, because this is all she wants to do when she grows up. “Many thanks to the Arsenic cast and crew for lots of laughter and one of the most fun theatre experiences ever, and to my parents who keep making the long journey, first from Tennessee and now from Arkansas, to see these shows-I love y’all lots!”

Friday Tech. Wig design by Taylor Rouse, Makeup Design by Colleen Schulz.


Stefanie Lemasters (Elaine) is a Sophomore theater major and vocal performance minor at West Virginia University. She is very excited to perform in her first main stage production. Stefanie started acting when she was in seventh grade, and hasn’t stopped since then. Some of her favorite past roles are Reno Sweeney (Anything Goes), Madame (The Maids), and Girl (The Good Doctor). She would like to thank her family and friends for their support.

Character Fact: “Elaine once went to Church with her father, the Reverend, without wearing a brassiere. The only one who didn’t know was her father.”

Ben Stansbery Headshot
Ben Stansbery as Dr. Einstein
“My role as Dr. Einstein marks the fourth time dawning a lab coat and gloves for a play. It’s the most physically demanding role I’ve had to play thus far, but that’s part of the deliciously sinister fun!”


MFA Actors

Students studying for a Master of Fine Arts degree in acting in the WVU School of Theatre and Dance will present MFA Showcase 2015 in New York City on March 23.

Performances are free and open to the public and will be held at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the June Havoc Theatre, 312 W. 36th Street, 2nd Floor, in the heart of New York’s Garment District, just a few blocks south of the Broadway Theatre district and just two blocks from Madison Square Garden.

The students will perform contemporary scenes for invited entertainment industry professionals, including talent agents, casting directors and career managers from the New York City area. The scenes were chosen by the students, who took into consideration personal style, type and casting possibilities.

For the past three years, the graduate acting students have studied in an intense conservatory-style environment at WVU with the goal of preparing them for a professional career in the theatre. Acting, voice and speech and movement classes explored a variety of genres, methods, playwrights and subjects from Stanislavski to Meisner, Shakespeare to Chekhov, and Restoration to contemporary works. Musical theatre, stage combat, acting for the camera, voiceover instruction and clowning techniques were all a part of their graduate education.

The purpose of the MFA Actor Showcase 2015 is to present the graduates to the New York City market with the goals of industry representation and career advancement as well as the chance to produce and present their work in one of the leading centers for entertainment and art.

WVU alumni and other guests in the New York area are also invited to this showcase performance so that they can experience the fine work being done by the School of Theatre and Dance and its current students.

WVU students presenting the MFA Actor Showcase 2015 include:

Mya Brown is a native of Champaign, Illinois. She has a passion for research and developing her own work. Some of her favorite roles include: Gertrude from “Hamlet,” Elizabeth from “Laundry and Bourbon,” Inez Serrano from “No Exit,” Mrs. Mueller from “Doubt,” and Titania from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” She has also done film and voiceover work. She holds a BFA in Theatre from Jacksonville University.

Originally from St. Francisville, Louisiana, Stephanie Freeman holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from The University of Alabama, where she trained as a stage manager, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Theatre Performance from Middle Tennessee State University. She plans to work as a professional actor, and to pursue her passion for teaching as well.

Landon Green hails from Tampa, Florida. After graduation, he plans to establish his base in central Florida and to work anywhere that opportunities arrive. He also plans to expand his experience in theater design and directing. Favorite roles have included: Clinton in “The Liar,” Lysander in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Yasha in “The Cherry Orchard,” Roy W. Selridge in “Biloxi Blues,” Ferdinand in “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” and Valere in “Tartuffe.”

Vincent Pelligrino is from Detroit, Michigan. His favorite roles have included the Emcee in “Cabaret,” the Purser in “Anything Goes,” Robertson Ay in “Mary Poppins,” Gaev in “The Cherry Orchard” and Konstantin Treplev in “The Seagull.” He loves working in theatre, whether it be musicals or plays, but his dream is to cross over into television and made-for-TV movies. He is also an accomplished musician and plays piano, organ and violin.

Nick Ryan is originally from Charleston, West Virginia. A veteran of the regional theater circuits in North Carolina, he performed roles in numerous styles for more than ten years before returning to school to obtain his master’s degree. He has a passion for both contemporary comedy and Shakespearean classics. Some of his favorite roles have included Horton in “Seussical!,” Jud Fry in “Oklahoma!,” Bazzard in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” and Henry Bolingbroke in “Henry IV.”

Brianne Taylor is from Kansas and holds a BFA in Theatre from Emporia State University. She previously worked as performer and tour manager for The Wichita Children’s Theater Touring Company. Her WVU credits include Varya in “The Cherry Orchard,” Frau Schneider in “Cabaret,” Mistress Quickly in “Henry IV,” Kate in “Seminar,” and Hippolyta in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” After grad school she plans to move to NYC, DC, or Chicago to pursue acting, voice work, and yoga.

Beau Harris is from Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and a minor in Theatre from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He then moved to New Zealand where he appeared in “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” and “Legend of the Seeker.” Other credits include titles such as “Marat/Sade,” “Les MisÚrables,” “Almost Maine,” “The Arabian Nights,” “The Magic Hourglass,” and “1000 Ways to Die,” among many others.

Kyle Walter is from Maryville, Tennessee, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from East Tennessee State University. He has worked in theatre regionally in Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, as well as in film and commercials. He has also studied extensive stage combat with the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD). His roles at WVU have included Dorante in “The Liar,” Martin in “Seminar,” and Leonardo in “Blood Wedding.”

A reception will be held after each showcase performance for invited industry guests to meet the actors. The receptions also provide an opportunity for WVU alumni to connect with the current students and reconnect with old friends, faculty and colleagues.

Admission is free, but those attending MFA Showcase 2015 should make reservations in advance. For more information, or to make reservations for seating, please contact Professor Jerry McGonigle, director of Graduate Acting in the WVU School of Theatre and Dance, at, phone 304-293-6969, or Lee Blair, assistant professor of acting at, phone 304-293-6100.

For more information, including photos and full resumes for each of the MFA students performing in the showcase, see the website at: