Area of Study: BSED Elementary Education with a Minor Theatre Arts
Current City: West Chester, PA and Ocean City, NJ
Graduation Date: December 2002
Current Occupation: Artistic Director of the Greater Ocean City Theatre Company
Why did you choose WCU and/or the Department of Theatre and Dance?
West Chester University’s strong reputation in the field of Education first captured my interest. Upon further research I really loved that I could study education and still pursue my passion for music, theatre and dance. After touring the University and visiting the Borough of West Chester it was clear that WCU was the perfect place for me to grow as an educator and performer.
What training or education did the Dept of Theatre and Dance provide for you that relates to your current occupation?
The Department of Theatre and Dance gave me a solid foundation in all aspects of theatre. Running a Theatre Company that auditions over 500 people each year and hires a technical team of about 15 people, I am so thankful that WCU provided well-rounded education experience. Most importantly I grew a stronger appreciation and respect for all the facets of theatre.
The WCU Dance Program gave a practical experience that offered me a chance to move outside of my comfort zone in a safe and positive environment. I quickly embraced the opportunity to surround myself with people who pushed me to study dance and focus on technique. The WCU Dance Program opened up doors as a student leader on campus to travel to Walt Disney World and network with alumni.
I also had a chance to network with alumni during my undergrad experience. These special networking moments granted me opportunities join the production teams for several special events including the Philadelphia 6 ABC Thanksgiving Day Parade and Miss America “Show Us Your Shoes” Parade.Fortunately, I have also been able to combine my background as an educator and life in theatre. WCU really gave me the tools to create my career path as an educator and advocate for the arts. By studying Children’s Theatre, Children’s Literature and other education courses I was able to fine-tune my philosophy on arts education. Currently, I know work with schools to incorporate drama education into the curriculum and everyday aspects of the classroom. I have also had the opportunity to Direct/Choreograph over 40 school shows across the country. In my role as Artistic Director of the Greater Ocean City Theatre Company I have brought to life my vision of a well-rounded and affordable performing arts experience for students in K-12.
What is a typical day like for you?
There is nothing typical about my schedule. In the arts it is very rare you have a typical day and no two days are alike. During the height of my Summer Theatre Season my day usually includes 2 hours of theatre camp with students in K-8th grade, a 6-hour rehearsal with our non-equity professional cast and a 2-hour rehearsal with our youth company. In between I am checking email, connecting with production team members, meeting with sponsors/donors and interacting with community leaders and Board Members.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to enter your field?
Follow your passion! What makes you happy is what you need to do! You might have to get creative with how you make it a fulltime career but listen to your heart and simply figure out a way to make you goals and passion fulfilled.
What is your favorite memory of being a student at WCU and/or in the Department of Theatre and Dance?
I really am so grateful for the relationship I developed with my mentor, friend and second mom, Barbara J Lappano. Through her leadership as the Division of Dance Director I was able to form lifelong friendships, cultivate an appreciation of dance and experience a ton of laughs! She created a family among her students and in that family I was able to figure out who I really was and become more confident as a performer and person.