Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Shenandoah Conservatory Continues to Light Up the Theatre World

Shenandoah Conservatory's Musical Theatre BFA program is recognized for extraordinary artistry and innovation.

Shenandoah Conservatory Continues to Light Up the Theatre World

With BFA programs in Acting, Musical Theatre, and Theatre Design & Production, Shenandoah Conservatory excels as a training ground for young theatre professionals. Intensive training with inspiring and well-connected educators paired with the immersive experience of sharing the hallways with fellow artists in music and dance prepares students to engage with their craft on the deepest levels

Shenandoah has long had a commitment to collaboration-especially in the past few years with ShenCoLAB. Tell us more about this.

Shenandoah is one of the few universities in the country with music, theatre, and dance all under one umbrella. This means that students from all three areas naturally interact on a daily basis. But to make things more intentional, Shenandoah also hosts ShenCoLAB, which is a one-week collaborative arts program where we cancel Conservatory classes and turn the spaces over to the students so they can work on interdisciplinary projects they have dreamed up together. On the last day of that week, we host a big multi-location festival where groups share their work. The results are consistently amazing.

What shows are your theatre students working on this year?

This season's lineup includes Hair, Dracula, Bright Star, A Chorus Line, Nora: A Doll's House, and this spring's Acting incubator Project. As you can see, while Shenandoah has long had a reputation as a "pop/rock school," we make sure our students are well-trained in...everything.

You also recently dedicated a new theatre space, correct?

Yes! The Harold Herman Lab Theatre just opened this past April. It joins our two other spaces, Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre (630 seats) and Glaize Studio Theatre (our black box, 180 seats), as another venue where our students can hone their skills. The Lab Theatre is equipped with state-of-the-art lighting design and sound tools and is meant to be a sort of playground for our tTheatre students as they learn to design, direct, and perform. It is an intimate space with seats for about 60 guests.

Shenandoah Conservatory Continues to Light Up the Theatre World

Tell us about some of your alumni.

Shenandoah has alumni working all over the world. From our Acting program: Taylor Blooma?? ('17)a?? appeared in the national tour of The Simon & Garfunkel Story; Charles Brice ('09) worked on Black Angels Over Tuskegee, Blue Bloods, and Chicago Fire; and a play by Carmen Burbridge ('20) was recently featured in a miniseries produced by Portland Playhouse. From Theatre Design & Production: Greg Iannarilli ('15) has worked as a lighting technician for Le Rêve in Vegas, and Emily VanDervort Heilig ('99) was part of the Broadway premiere of Shrek the Musical. Musical Theatre at Shenandoah continues to place students into high-profile roles: Drew Elhamalawy ('21) and Kelsey Marshall ('24) were cast in Sticks and Stones, a Broadway Benefit Concert starring Audra McDonald to benefit Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation; Jessie Hooker Bailey ('10) has appeared in Broadway productions of Waitress and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical; and Ian Campayno ('08), Emma Benson ('18), and Zachary Bigelow ('18) have all appeared in the Broadway Tour of Something Rotten. In December, Kathy Voytko ('94) received a heartfelt on-stage congratulations from actor Hugh Jackman for filling in at the last minute for Sutton Foster in the role of Marian Paroo.

What do your theatre students do in the summers?

In addition to the many summer opportunities, they land around the country (and around the world if they sign with a cruise ship company), a number of our theatre students from all disciplines have the opportunity to work here in Winchester over the summers as part of Shenandoah Summer Musical Theatre (SSMT). SSMT does three productions over the summer months with multiple performances each week. This summer, we are proud to be presenting 42nd Street, Bridges of Madison County, and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella.

Many people don't know that there are many options within the Theatre Design & Production world. What are some routes they could take at Shenandoah?

While Theatre Design & Production (TDP) is a single degree, Shenandoah offers six emphases based on interest. Students end up learning a good deal about all areas but choose one (or sometimes two) as their specialty. TDP options include Stage Management (making sure everyone involved in the production knows what they are doing), Technical Production (turning the designers' plans into reality), Costume Design, Lighting Design, Scenic Design, and our most recent addition, Sound Design & Reinforcement.

Shenandoah Conservatory Continues to Light Up the Theatre World

Anything else we should know?

Studying Theatre at Shenandoah Conservatory is an incredibly powerful experience, and we are always looking forward to working with those next generations of students who, sooner rather than later, will become leaders in their field.

Shenandoah Conservatory Continues to Light Up the Theatre World

Related Articles

From This Author - Team BWW