Cassie Abate, M.F.A.
Cassie Abate heads our Musical Theatre Dance area. Cassie originally hails from Sarasota, FL and has spent the better part of the last decade working as a professional in New York City. Cassie received a BFA in Musical Theatre from The University of Miami and an MFA in Musical Theatre from San Diego State University.
Deb Alley, M.F.A. - Department Chair
Deb Alley joined the faculty at Texas State University in 2013 and teaches directing to graduate and undergraduate students. Prior to her arrival in Texas, she was head of the Master of Fine Arts directing program at Illinois State University where she received the University’s Outstanding Teacher award in 2005.
Ana Baer, M.F.A.
A Mexican video-choreographer living in the USA, her work encompasses a variety of dance for camera work, as well as interdisciplinary performances and choreography.
Internationally active since 1990, Ana Baer has been commissioned to make video installations, multimedia work and/or choreography by the John Cage Foundation, Stadttheather Giessen and Tanz Compagnie Giessen in Germany, Universidad Michoacana de Morelia and Contra Danza in Mexico, Performance Inventions in France, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Michelle Ellsworth, Syzigy Butoh, and Sweet Edge in the USA, among others.
Natalie Blackman, M.F.A
Natalie is an actor, singer, teaching artist, voice and dialect coach, and creator of community-based theatrical experiences for enabling dialogue and social change. Natalie has been seen on stages in New York City and regional stages such as The Illinois Shakespeare Festival, the Utah Shakespeare Festival, and Pioneer Theatre Company. Her solo show, Disorder, was a bestseller and award winner at the United Solo Festival in New York City, the world’s largest solo theatre festival. Natalie is also certified by the National Council for Behavioral Health as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Natalie holds an MFA in Civic Engagement and Classical Acting from Illinois State University and a BFA from the University of Utah's Actor Training Program. www.natalieblackman.com
Greg Bolin, D.M.A.
Greg has been the Music Director for Texas State’s Department of Theatre and Dance since 2010. He has twice been named Best Music Director by Austin Critics’ Table, and has provided orchestrations for Larry Grossman’s The World According to Snoopy and Andrew Lippa’s A Little Princess, along with Zachary Scott Theater’s Porgy and Bess (special citation, Austin Critics’ Table).
Greg received his doctorate in composition from the University of Texas. His piece, Fleisher Pass (2007), was premiered in Japan, and was included in the sixth volume of Better Teaching Through Performance in Band. He has completed two chamber operas courtesy of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Kaysie Seitz Brown, M.F.A.
Kaysie Seitz Brown is an educator, choreographer, and dancer based in Austin, TX and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre & Dance at Texas State University as well as a proud alumnus of the dance program having received a BESS in 1998. After receiving her MFA in dance performance, choreography, and pedagogy at Case Western University in Cleveland, OH, Brown performed with Antaeus Dance Company in Cleveland and traveled with Anataeus for their world premier in Estonia.
Susan Busa, M.F.A.
Susan currently teaches Screenwriting, TV Writing, and Web Series creation at Texas State University. She was also the co-owner of the family entertainment company, UpStage Theater and has taught writing, creativity classes and drama to adults and children through the Austin Community College RTF Department, Go Dog! Creative, UpStage Theater, Just Imagine Productions and privately for more than 20 years. She studied with famed acting and writing coach Judith Weston and was a James A. Michener Fellow in Screenwriting at the University of Texas at Austin where she was awarded a M.F.A. in Writing in May 2000.
Claire Canavan, M.F.A., Ph.D.
Claire Canavan joined the faculty in 2010 and currently teaches creative drama and contemporary theatre as well as graduate level courses. She studied theatre at Northwestern University, earning a B.S. Magna Cum Laude in Speech (Theatre). She continued her studies at the University of Texas at Austin, earning an M.F.A in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities and a Ph.D. in Performance as Public Practice. She is active in the Austin arts community, writing theatre reviews and features for the Austin American-Statesman and creating multi-media storytelling projects including documentary films. Dr. Canavan’s scholarship has been presented at national conferences and has been published in the journal Theatre Topics and anthologized in the book Collective Creation in Contemporary Performance.
Kiira Schmidt Carper
Kiira Schmidt’s professional performance career in New York City spans over 10 years. Kiira's Broadway credits include the Grammy and Tony Award-winning Anything Goes; The Mystery of Edwin Drood; Irving Berlin's White Christmas; No No Nanette (NYCC); Stairway to Paradise (NYCC); and the Follies revival starring Bernadette Peters, in which her portrayal of "Margie" earned her a feature in broadway.com's GOTTA DANCE photo and video series.
Michael Costello, M.F.A.
Michael served as Head of Acting at Texas State from 2006-2014. He joined the faculty at Texas State University in 2001 having previously taught graduate acting at the Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training and in the FSU graduate Film Conservatory. In addition, he has taught at the University of Texas-Austin, Virginia Commonwealth University, and St. Edwards University.
Michelle Dahlenburg, M.F.A.
Michelle Dahlenburg creates playful, welcoming spaces for creativity, authentic connection, and dialogue. As a theatre artist, facilitator, and audio producer, she works at the intersection of art and community, civic, and social change, often exploring contested or transitional spaces.
Cheri Prough DeVol, M.F.A.
Cheri Prough DeVol is an Assistant Professor of Scenic and Lighting Design at Texas State University. She has her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. To view more of her work please visit www.devol-design.net.
Babs George, M.F.A.
Babs George founded the State Theatre School of Acting in 1993 and has been the Director since its inception. She is a professional actress and has been a member of SAG and AEA for 30 years. Babs graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA in Performance from the University of Utah, and an MFA in Classical Acting from The Shakespeare Theatre’s Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington Univ.
Kate Glasheen, M.F.A.
Kate Glasheen is an actor, voiceover artist, dialect coach, and voice & speech specialist. At Texas State she teaches vocal health and production, verse and scansion, text analysis, the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), and dialects. Kate earned her MFA in Voice Studies from the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, University of London. Member: SAG/AFTRA, AEA, Voice & Speech Trainer's Association (VASTA), Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE).
Austin Haller has been delighted to serve as Associate Music Director of Texas State’s Musical Theatre program since 2016. Hailed as “always remarkable” (Austin Chronicle), Austin is a conductor, pianist, organist, vocal coach, arranger, and tenor who has performed throughout the United States.
Sheila Hargett, M.F.A.
Sheila has been Head of Costume Design/Technology at Texas State University for the past thirty-five years having designed costumes for more than one hundred productions and supervised student designs for as many. She has designed regionally for The Dallas Shakespeare Festival, Southern Methodist University, Eastfield College, Texas Playwrights Theatre Company, Live Oak Theatre, Zilker Theatrical Productions, as well as for Texas State University.
Erin Kehr, M.F.A
Erin has been practicing theatre for over 25 years in various roles including Scenic and Projection Design, Technical Direction, Scenic Painting, Directing and Prop Master/Supervisor. He received his BFA in Scenic Design from The Theatre School at DePaul University and an MFA in Technical Production from Florida State University. In the department of props, Erin has formerly worked as Prop Master at TheatreWorks and Opera San Jose in the Bay Area of California, Seaside Rep in Seaside Florida, and Assistant Prop Master at the Alley Theatre in Houston. Additionally, he was Prop Supervisor and Adjunct Professor at Florida State University’s School of Theatre for 9 years. Erin is currently Prop Supervisor/Lecturer at Texas State University.
Kaitlin Hopkins is the founder of the Musical Theatre program and brings with her over 35 years of experience working internationally, on and off Broadway, regional theatre, film, television, opera and radio. Kaitlin has a half dozen cast album credits to her name, originating the roles of “Meredith Parker” in the critically acclaimed Bat Boy-the Musical, for which she received Drama Desk and Ovation award nominations, “Claire” in the cult-hit Bare: a pop opera, “Jeannie” in The Great American Trailer Park Musical and “Diane” in Disney’s On The Record (National Tour).
Lauren Lane has worked with some of the countries leading theatre artists: Oskar Eustis, Tim Robbins, Suzan-Lori Parks, Lisa Peterson, Ellen McLaughlin and Bob Krakower among many others. She starred in three television series: The Nanny, L.A. Law and Hunter. She has won numerous awards for her work as an actor including the LA Critics award, Austin Critics Circle award and multiple B Iden Payne awards. As Head of Acting at Texas State University she is proud to have former students currently working on Broadway, off Broadway, in Film and Television and regional theatres all over the country.
Nick Lawson, M.F.A.
Nick Lawson hails from Santa Cruz, CA. He received his BFA from Chapman University in Orange County, CA and his MFA from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, Al. As a performer, Nick has performed theatre on both coasts, specializing in Shakespeare. As a teacher, Nick has dabbled in Chekhov and Shakespeare as an adjunct professor at Montclair State University, stage combat for high school students in Austin (Austin Shakespeare), and improv and theatre to elementary and middle schools throughout the country.
EUGENE LEE's career as an actor goes back as far as Good Times, The White Shadow, The Guiding Light, and playing coroner on The District on television to The Women of Brewster Place with Oprah Winfrey and recently Blacklisted, and Coach Carter on the screen to name a few. His stage career goes as far back as the Pulitzer Prize winning A Soldier’s Play by Charles Fuller with the Negro Ensemble Company to a recent Broadway appearance in August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean.
William W. Lewis, Ph.D.
Will is Lecturer in Directing in the Department of Theatre and Dance. He is an interdisciplinary scholar/artist whose work focuses on the fields of intermedial, postdramatic, and devised performance. He conceptualizes, adapts, and directs performance projects that implement site specificity, gaming, interactivity, and social media to explore ethics and politics in the 21st century. His research explores the role of digital interactivity on contemporary audiences and the implications of constant connection to media on how we teach theatre-making.
Sarah EC Maines, M.F.A.
Sarah EC Maines is a Lighting Designer and teacher who has valuable experience, knowledge and passion for theatre. She has worked primarily in commercial theatre, enjoying the high paced atmosphere of Broadway and First National Tours. She earned her MFA in Theatrical Design with a concentration in Lighting from the University of California, San Diego under the mentorship of Chris Parry. Her BA in Theatre and BS in Telecommunications Production were earned from the University of Florida. UF recognized her achievements with the College of Fine Arts’s “Outstanding Young Alumnus” Award in 2006. She is a member of United Scenic Artists – Local 829.
Marqui Maresca began her career as a professional performer while in high school. She graduated with a B.A. in theatre from UCLA and immediately headed to New York to begin rehearsals for the National Tour of Saturday Night Fever. While on this tour she met her husband, Michael Maresca, and after spending several years working in the industry in Los Angeles, they co-founded MMOV Studios in 2010. She began teaching for Texas State University in 2013, and in 2015 she joined the Musical Theater Voice team as a Certified One Voice Coach.
In the last decade, Michael has worked with tens of thousands of singers across the globe changing how they understand the human voice and how to build it. As the creator of the One Voice theories, technique, and training, he has certified multiple coaches who now teach throughout the United States. Michael teaches in person exclusively for the Texas State Musical Theatre Program, and along with the other certified One Voice Coaches, he trains commercial singers worldwide online and in masterclasses.
Brandon R. McWilliams, M.F.A.
Designer, Brandon R. McWilliams holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Theatre Studies from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Fine Arts in Costume Design from the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. He has designed regionally for the past fifteen years and is the recipient of the Zelma H. Weisfeld USITT Costume Design Award and two-time recipient of the Elizabeth Shrader Kimberly Award in Costume Design. His work has been on display at the Prague Quadrennial ’07, as well as at the Carnegie Mellon University campus in Qatar. He has taught at Carnegie Mellon University, Salisbury University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Louisiana State University and currently heads the costume design program and serves as head of graduate studies at Texas State University. www.brmcwilliams.com
Toby Minor, B.E.
Toby Minor is the Stage Combat instructor for the Department of Theatre and Dance at Texas State University. He has been certified Actor Combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD) for 16 years. He has choreographed violence at Texas State for Romeo and Juliet, Fool For Love, Norma's Rest, A Flea In Her Ear, A View From the Bridge, Evita, and Titus.
Nadine Mozon, M.F.A.
Nadine Mozon is an actress, writer and teaching artist whose acting credits include regional theatre, television and film. Mozon earned an MFA in acting from American Conservatory Theatre. Her poems have appeared in magazines, journals and anthologies, including Essence, Ms., Clarity, Lungfull, and A Gathering of the Tribes. Mozon is the Associate Artistic Director for the Black & Latino Playwrights Conference at Texas State University. Member: SAG/AFTRA, Equity, Association of Theatre Movement Educators.
Charles Ney, Ph.D.
Charles “Chuck” Ney is a professor of directing and acting in the Department of Theatre and Dance where he teaches graduate directing courses and BFA actors in Shakespeare and acting styles. He is also program director of TSU's annual summer Shakespeare in England program, working with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford and with London's Globe Theatre. His PhD is from the University of Illinois and has an MFA in Directing from Southern Methodist University as well as a BFA in Theatre from Illinois Wesleyan University.
Michelle Ney, M.F.A.
Michelle has designed scenery and costumes for numerous theatre and opera companies, including Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Texas Shakespeare Festival, Idaho Repertory Theatre, The Colony Theatre (Los Angeles, Austin Lyric Opera and Austin Shakespeare. Michelle is Head of Design & Technology at Texas State University. Prior to joining the faculty at Texas State, she was on the design faculties at University of Idaho, University of Texas at Austin, and St. Edward’s University. www.michelleneydesigns.com.
Phillip Owen, M.F.A.
Phillip Owen has designed sound for the theatre for over two decades, and has been an avid guitar player most of his life. Prior to serving as Lecturer in Sound Design at Texas State, he was the Lead Sound Engineer at the Alley Theatre in Houston. MFA, Yale School of Drama. M.Phil. Trinity College Dublin. www.phillipowen.com
Jim Price, B.A.
Jim Price is currently the head of the MFA Dramatic Writing Program at Texas State. He is a past Lark Playwright’s Fellow, and his work has appeared at the Actor’s Studio(P/D workshop), Stanford University, The Shotgun Players in Berkeley, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, and the Lark Theatre among others. He is thecomposer/lyricist of Cold Feet, a musical (finalist, O’Neill NMTC), which is now licensed by Miracle or 2 Productions in New York. As a performer, he has amassed numerous Broadway, off-Broadway, and national touring credits over his 30 years in show business. He has taught master classes in acting, musical theatre, and playwriting at colleges all around the country.
Jerry Ruiz, M.F.A.
Jerry Ruiz teaches directing at Texas State University. His directing credits include productions at Primary Stages, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Old Globe, Second Stage Theatre, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Playmakers Repertory Company, the Mint Theater Company, and Clubbed Thumb. He has developed work at the Public Theater, Atlantic Theater Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Playwright's Realm. From 2011 to 2015, he served as curator for the Crossing Borders festival of new plays at Two River Theater in New Jersey. He was a recipient of the 2009–2011 NEA/TCG Career Development for Theatre Directors Grant and a Van Lier Directing Fellow at Second Stage, 2007-2009. Member of SDC.
Vlasta Silhavy, M.Ed.
Vlasta Silhavy is the new Head of the BFA Theatre Certification program at Texas State University. She currently teaches creative drama, theatre curriculum development, theatre in education, and directing theatre activities. Ms. Silhavy is also a member of the Texas State University C3 Advisory Board Committee. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Ms. Silhavy is also the sponsor for the theatre co-ed fraternity, Alpha Psi Omega.
Shane Smith, M.F.A.
Shane K. Smith is an Associate Professor and Head of Technical Production for the Department of Theatre and Dance at Texas State University – San Marcos. Shane is also a practicing stagehand continuing to work with various theatre companies in the Austin, Texas area and is often found backstage as Head Carpenter for the Austin Lyric Opera. Shane is a Texas State graduate with a degree in Education and holds an MFA in Technical Design and Production from the Yale School of Drama.
Richard Sodders, Ph.D.
Richard Sodders (Director) is Professor of Theatre at Texas State, where he teaches directing for stage and film. He earned his Ph. D. at Louisiana State University, attended Film School at New York University, and has taught at Texas A&M University as well as Midwestern State University. In addition, he was Managing Director of the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas. For six years, he served as Chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance at Texas State.
Neil Patrick Stewart, M.F.A.
A teacher of acting, characterization, and improvisation at Texas State, as well as an actor, writer, and decorated director. Neil holds a B.A. in theater from Wesleyan University, and a M.F.A. in acting from the world-renowned American Repertory Theatre/Moscow Art Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training (A.R.T.) at Harvard University. Neil is also a writer, with two books on the shelves of major bookstores: Fact. Fact. Bullsh*t! and Headlines! Headlines! Headlines?, and numerous articles in magazines.