Theatre: Acting & Directing


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Undergraduate Admission

(440) 826-2222, (877) BW-APPLY,


Explore your theatrical expression and develop the technical and narrative skills needed for a successful and rewarding career in acting and directing.

Baldwin Wallace's theatre major integrates extensive hands-on learning with comprehensive coursework. You'll build skills in acting, voice, movement, make-up, audition techniques, script analysis, directing, stage management and more. 

Foundation courses in literature, history, performance, technical and collaborative studies help you develop analytical skills and insights into professional theatre. Small class sizes, individual attention and faculty mentoring are at the core of the program. You’ll be encouraged to participate in professional apprenticeship opportunities nationally and abroad.

BW faculty are practicing professionals with contacts at Cleveland’s Great Lakes Theater, Cleveland Public Theatre, Beck Center for the Arts and Dobama Theatre, as well as Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival.

Through these opportunities, you'll gain experience, earn Equity points, network and build an impressive resume. On campus, you can get involved in theatrical productions through performance, design and construction, production, management and marketing.

With both proscenium and black box theatres, BW offers traditional and contemporary audience settings that provide a variety of learning environments, including theatre in-the-round, thrust staging and more.

  • Female music theatre student performing

    "The Two Noble Kinsmen" at Allman Theatre - Fall 2015

    The least produced play by Shakespeare had a widely acclaimed staging at BW in 2015.

  • Music Theatre students embracing during a performance

    "Romeo and Juliet" at Allman Theatre - Fall 2014

    BW takes a fresh approach to the classics, as evidenced by this acclaimed contemporary staging of the masterpiece.

  • Music Theatre student applying makeup

    Backstage at Baldwin Wallace

    Actors prepare in two large, well-lit dressing rooms. BW has an outstanding costume department that treats all students like professionals.

  • Music Theatre students performing

    "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" at Allman Theatre - Spring 2015

    The secret to good theatre is to produce great plays. This masterpiece received a beautiful production at BW in 2015.

  • Music Theatre student dancing during performance

    "What is Love?" - a devised play based on "Romeo and Juliet" - Fall 2014

    Entirely student written and conceived, this production represents one of the many ways BW students benefit from exceptional hands-on learning opportunities. Technical skill, innovation, creativity and a commitment to new works are hallmarks of the theatre major.

  • Male music theatre student kneeling during performance

    "The Two Noble Kinsmen" at Allman Theatre - Fall 2015 

    Stage combat classes are offered as an elective to BA in theatre students. Weapons taught include rapier, dagger, hand-to-hand and broadsword.

  • faculty-student collaboration

    Faculty-student collaboration

    Department chair Adam Heffernan works closely with a student on a research project analyzing Shakespeare’s work. One-on-one coaching and mentoring are at the heart of BW’s theatre major.


    "Enchanted April" at John Patrick Theatre - Spring 2016

    BW was transported to the 1920's Mediterranean in this amusing and wistful play.


  • Actor
  • Director
  • Critic
  • Theatre manager
  • Stage manager
  • Playwright
  • Casting or talent agent
  • Dramaturg


At BW, theatre majors can focus their studies in acting and directing, design and technical and stage management. All programs include a solid foundation of courses designed to give students a comprehensive overview of theatre.


Students interested in a career in the performing arts, dance therapy, dance education or related area can benefit from this minor. It offers an analytical, imaginative and physical study of movement with an emphasis on developing sound technical, compositional and performance skills.


Heighten your understanding and appreciation of British theatre through a study abroad experience. The program is a three-week, credit-earning immersion course in British theatre that includes a nine-day trip to London. It is led by BW theatre faculty.

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Theatre Productions

Baldwin Wallace's theatre and dance department produces two main stage productions and a series of one-acts each semester. Productions include musicals, operas, plays and a dance concert.

Main Stage Season 2016-2017

By J.M. Barrie
Directed by Adam Heffernan
October 5-9, 2016

Book by Arthur Laurents 
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
A co-production with
The Conservatory of Music’s m
usic theatre program
Directed by Victoria Bussert
Choreography by Greg Daniels
Music direction by David Pepin
November 9-20, 2016

fyoo zh en 17:
new music + dance

Directed by Sara Whale
February 1-4, 2017

By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Shinnerrie Jackson
April 5-9, 2017

Studio Series 2016-2017

By Tony Kushner
Directed by Scott Plate
October 19-22, 2016

By Jim Leonard, Jr.
Directed by Dr. Jack Winget
March 16-19, 2017

By Mac Wellman
A co-production with Playwrights Local 4181
Directed by Dr. Leslie Hunter
March 20-21 & 24-25, 2017

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Adam Heffernan
May 26-27, 2017

September 16-17, 2016 

November 29-30, 2016 and April 25-26, 2017

October 28, 2016 and
April 27, 2017


Offered as a major and a minor, theatre offers three programs of study: acting and directing, design and technical and stage management.

There is also a minor in dance and an interdisciplinary program in music theatre.

The theatre major provides a broad perspective of the literature, history and creative practices of the discipline. Courses prepare students to appreciate and participate in theatre at all levels of performance, production, direction, design and management.

You can study acting, directing, voice and movement, scenic and costume design, lighting, stage management, theatre history and more. You also can take special seminars in contemporary topics.

Course Catalog

Course Descriptions

Course descriptions, requirements for the major and additional information can be found in the University Catalog.


Experiential learning bridges classroom study with real-world opportunities. You can enhance your studies through theatre productions, internships, co-curricular activities and student organizations.

Student Organizations

Theatre Arts and Performance

This organization supports student theatre artists and those interested in theatre on campus. It informs students of events and opportunities in theatre, maintains an open forum for student ideas and projects, and raises awareness of on- and off-campus theatrical events.

United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT)

The BW student chapter of USITT is committed to strengthening the skills of technical theatre students while carrying out the mission of the national organization. USITT serves to create vibrant dialogue among practitioners, educators and students.


The Department of Theatre and Dance is located in Kleist Center for Art & Drama. It houses two theatres: John Patrick Theatre and William A. Allman Theatre.

The John Patrick Theatre is a large 512-seat proscenium theatre. The stage has a 67-foot fly loft with a counterweight system. The stage opening is 44' by 24' with an extended 15-foot apron, ample wings and depth measuring 30 feet. This facility also boasts a new lighting system installed by ETC. With over 200 dimmers, lights are operated on an Emphasis board including a WYSIWYG program.

The William A. Allman Theatre is a smaller, flexible theatre with seating between 100-250. This unique studio space is intended to provide a variety of seating arrangements, including proscenium, three-quarter-thrust and in-the-round. The theatre has a balcony around three sides and a lighting grid 23 feet above the stage floor. This space also boasts a new Strand Century Lighting system with a 520 series light board.

Off-Campus Experiences

Baldwin Wallace's close proximity to Cleveland and its nationally ranked arts organizations offers outstanding learning and performance opportunities. BW students worked with many of them, including:


At Baldwin Wallace, you’ll experience personal and professional growth in a supportive community that challenges and inspires you to succeed.

Recent BW theatre acting and directing majors are finding their success in a variety of careers and studying in top graduate programs. 

Cait EnglerCait Engler ’15 is an actor based in Los Angeles. Her most recent credits include roles on Ed Alonzo’s “Psycho Circus” and “Neal Patrick Harris: Circus Awesomeus,” which aired on HBO Canada. She has extensive commercial and independent film credits. Cait is from Waconia, Minnesota.

Kelly SmithKelly Smith ’14 is an actor and a member of Actor’s Equity. She holds an MFA from Florida State University Asolo Conservatory. She performs with the Asolo Repertory Theatre and Dog Days Theatre. Kelly is from Willoughby, Ohio. 

Sarah BellSarah Bell ’14 is an actor based in Chicago. She is recurring actor with We Three Plays and teaching artist with Chicago Youth Shakespeare. She holds a master’s in classical acting from the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in London. Sarah is from Westerville, Ohio. 

Jill TigheJill Tighe ’13 is producer and actor with DC Drunk Shakespeare and company member with a Shakespearean improve troupe at Unified Scene Theatre in Washington, D.C. She played Cat in Jonelle Walker’s "TAME." The production received a Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Play or Musical Adaptation.

Susanne HoustleSusanne Houstle ’12 is MFA candidate at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, where she studies costume design under a full tuition fellowship. At BW, she developed the versatility to work in a variety of capacities in the field. She has worked exclusively in theatre since graduation. Susanne is from Avon Lake, Ohio. 

Caitlin LewinsCaitlin Lewins ’10 is an actor, musician, writer and director based in Cleveland. She was recently awarded a Nord Family Foundation Playwright Fellowship with Cleveland Public Theatre. This prestigious fellowship supports emerging playwrights as they develop new works. Caitlin is from Cleveland. 

Laura BergLaura Berg ’05 is company member with Great Lakes Theater in Cleveland. BW faculty helped her get hired as an understudy with the professional classical theater as an undergraduate. Laura was recently the first woman to play Hamlet in a Great Lakes Theater production. She is from Akron, Ohio. 



(440) 826-2239,

Full-Time Faculty

Adam Heffernan
Chair, Theatre and Dance Program
Associate Professor
M.F.A., The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Victoria Bussert
Director, Music Theatre Program 
M.F.A., M.A., Northwestern University

Gregory Daniels
Associate Professor
A.A.S., Onondaga Community College

Anjanette Hall
Assistant Professor 
M.F.A., Rugers University Mason Gross School of the Arts

Jeff Herrmann
M.F.A., Southern Illinois University

Les Hunter
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Stony Brook University

Brennan Murphy
Associate Professor
M.F.A., Yale University

Scott Plate
Area Coordinator, Music Theatre Program
Associate Professor
M.F.A., The Florida State University

Sara Whale
B.F.A., Pacific Northwest College of Art

Jack B. Winget
Ph.D., Kent State University

Charlotte Yetman
M.F.A., New York University

Adjunct Faculty

Tesia Benson
Costume Draper
M.F.A., The Univeristy of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Melanie Boeman
Costume Shop Manager
B.A., Cleveland State University

Pamela Decker
Ph.D., The Ohio State University

Martin Friedman
Ph.D., University of Michigan

Dylan Fujimura
Technical Director

Fred Gloor
B.A., Kent State University

Todd Krispinsky
B.F.A., Youngstown State University

Rebecca Leuszler
B.F.A., Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts

Lisa Ortenzi
M.A., Roosevelt University Chicago College of Performing Arts

Rachael K. Palermo
M.A., New York University

Corrie Purdum
B.A., Baldwin Wallace University

Bob Taylor
MBA, Case Western University

Dusten Welch
B.A., Ashland University

Alyssa Lee Wilmot
M.F.A., Mills College, Calif.


Yolanda Kennedy
Office Manager