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We're proud of our accomplished theatre and dance alumni!
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Alumni of the Wayne State theatre program include:
George Abud (BFA), George Abud: was most recently seen on Broadway as Karl Schell in the Tony-nominated musical The Visit with Chita Rivera and Roger Rees; (also Original Broadway Cast recording). Off-Broadway he appeared as Charlie Townsend in Allegro at Classic Stage Company. Both productions were directed by John Doyle. Regionally he has appeared as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Geva Theatre Center, The Fiddler in Fiddler on the Roof at Human Race Theatre, and in both Man of La Mancha and Oliver Twist at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. George’s acclaimed solo-show ‘Never Been Young’ premiered at the prominent nightclub 54 Below in NYC this past summer. His celebrated arrangements of classic theatre songs have been performed for Stephen Sondheim and John Kander. He resides in New York City.
Orestes Arcuni, TV credits: Veronica Mars, The Young and the Restless, All My Children, and Another World.
Anton Bassey is a Detroit filmmaker but has more recently been seen on Empire (FOX) and Chicago P.D.(NBC).
Roger Bean may be best known for his off-Broadway success: the Marvelous Wondrettes. Growing up in Seattle, he always had the influence of his mother. He was able to draw from her storytelling and listening to hours upon hours in order to create the Wondrettes. He tried a hand at acting, then directing, then finally found his niche in playwriting. Roger continues to write and has three sequels to the Marvelous Wondrettes.
Anita Barone (MFA, ‘89) TV credits: Daddio, The Jeff Foxworthy Show, Carol & Company, Friends, Chicago Hope, Seinfeld, Caroline in the City, and Ally McBeal.
Larry Joe Campbell-Larry Joe originates from Cadillac, Michigan. He received his Bachelor’s in Theatre from CMU and later received a MFA from Wayne State University. Campbell’s most successful television role to date is in the sitcom According to Jim. It first aired in 2001, and follows the lead’s best friend and brother-in-law, Andy, who is willing to help him in the attempts to find ways of doing things with less effort. He is also always on the lookout for Ms. Right. Larry Joe also makes the rounds in venues across the country performing in improve shows, initially with the comedy troupe Second City Detroit, where comedian Bob Saget expressed how impressed he was with his performance. He later dabbled as a playwright, writing his own one-man show, Terry vs. the Towel Lady, which was staged in Hamtramck, Michigan as part of the comedy troupe 313.
Henri D. Franklin has made it in Hollywood, having guest-starred on NBC’s Days of Our Lives. However, he continues to root himself in his native Detroit, Michigan through his co-founded Project Theatre Company and any opportunities that come to the state. He was a part of Low Winter Sun and the recently shot Detroiters.
Ernie Hudson, Ernie, a native Michigander, is best known for his role as Winston Zeddmore in 1984’sGhostbusters. He has a love for writing and was able to combine that with acting to create the Actor’s Ensemble Theatre in Detroit. He received his B.A from Wayne State University and his M.F.A degree from Yale School of Drama. He has a guest spot on Netflix’s Grace and Frankie has six projects in the works, all due within the next year.Film Credits: Congo, Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Ghostbusters.
Thorsten Kaye (MFA, ‘94), an English transplant, originally coming to America for a track scholarship. He was always active in sports but ended up receiving his Bachelor’s in theatre and his Master’s degree from Wayne State University. He was honored with an Ovation Award as a Distinguished Alumni in the Department of Theatre in 2008. Thorsten quickly uprooted to L.A. where he has continuously been known for his roles on Daytime television. His current stint, since 2013, is on CBS’ daytime drama, The Bold and the Beautiful, as Ridge Forrester. TV Credits: Port Charles,One Life to Live.
Sean Allan Krill, a Michigan native, received the Lily Tomlin Scholarship for Theatre in 1993 at wayne State University. He enjoyed performing the classics at WSUsuch as Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Merchant of Venice,and As You Like It. He made the jump from Detroit to Chicago and finally to New York City. He was part of the first national tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie, toured with Mamma Mia!, was Jack in Sideways at LaJolla Playhouse, and most recently, he is playing Colonel Brandon in a musical version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.
James R. Kuhl is the producing artistic director at the Tipping Point Theater in Northville, MI. He received hisBA in theatre from Alma College and his MFA in acting from Wayne State University through the Hilberry. He completed the Purple Rose Apprentice program as well as a two-year Internship with Alma College where he helped teach classes. James is a winner of the Heck Rabi Playwriting Competition as well as a Wilde Award and Pulsar Award Nominee. TPT directing credits include Last of the Red Hot Lovers andThe Cocktail Hour as well as Northville High School’s production of Romeo and Juliet. James has worked as an area actor with the Purple Rose Theatre, Williamston Theatre, The Michigan Shakespeare Festival, Boarshead Theatre, Icarus Falling, Spotlight Theatre, Croswell Opera House, Magenta Giraffe, The Blackbird theatre and the Summer Studio Theatre in Illinois.
Robert Lambert, is the Associate Casting Director of All My Children. As an actor, he is a veteran of Broadway, Off-Broadway and National Tours, including Gypsy with Tyne Daly, Damn Yankees with Jerry Lewis and the Off-Broadway production of Forever Plaid. Television appearances include: All My Children, Ryan's Hope andAnother World. His casting resume includes 13 years atAll My Children and freelance casting for The View. Also, he assisted on the casting of the revival Broadway production of Annie, the east coast casting of Sunset Beach as well as many commercials when he worked as the Casting Assistant at Stuart Howard and Associates. He taught his On-Camera Soap class for 12 years at the Actor's Connection in New York and for the past year at Act Now in Los Angeles.
S. Epatha Merkerson (BFA ‘76) Having received her B.F.A. degree and Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Wayne State University, S. Epatha is one of the most well-known actors in Dick Wolf’s series Law & Order. She has been recognized with on and off-Broadway productions, received a Drama Desk Award, and has multiple Tony and NAACP Award nominations. She is currently the Head of the Hospital on NBC’sChicago Med, announced earlier this year. Film Credits:Terminator 2: Judgement Day. TV Credits: Law and Order, Pee-wee’s Playhouse, The Cosby Show, andFrasier. Tony Award nominee for The Piano Lesson.
Bobby Pearce is a Tony Award-nominated costume designer for stage, film, and television. Having been raised in Miami, FL, receiving his MFA from Wayne State University, and currently residing in NYC, Bobby has had quite the array of experience and exposure. On stage, his latest credits include: The Marvelous Wonderettes by Roger Bean Tour, Really Rosie by Maurice Sendak and Carol King, and coming soon, America’ Brightest Star by Alex Goldberg.
Mark Pinter, Actor, TV Credits: Guiding Light.
Frank Anthony Polito (BFA, Acting, '93) recently published his second novel, DRAMA QUEERS!, set in the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park during the late 1980s. He received his M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon University in 2006, and is currently adapting his first novel, BAND FAGS!, for a TV series.
David Ramsey (attended, early '90s) David is a Detroit native having attended Mumford High School and Wayne State University to receive his B.F.A degree. David is best known for his roll on Blue Bloods and the current television series, Arrow, as John Diggle. David is also an accomplished martial artist. Film Credits:Pay it Forward,The Nutty Professor, Con Air, Ali: An American Hero, and For Your Love.
Sam Richardson Sam Richardson is originally from Detroit. Sam got into comedy through a comedy theater called Second City. He moved from Detroit to Chicago and now resides in L.A. He is on the HBO show Veep as Richard Splett- Jonah’s “executive assistant.” Sam is a primary writer/creator and co-starring alongside Jason Sudeikis in the Detroit-filmed, 2016 television series, “Detroiters.”
Crystal Reed, a native of Michigan, received her BFAdegree in Acting from Wayne State University. She tried her luck in Chicago but ultimately would up in Los Angeles to pursue a screen career. She is best known for MTV’s Teen Wolf as Allison Argent.
Kelly Robinson (BFA '14) appeared in "Sea Legs: A New Nautical Musical!" in September of 2014.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson is a jack of all trades, having succeeded in acting, playwriting and directing. He earned his Bachelor’s from Binghamton University, his Master’s from Wayne State University and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Buffalo State College. In 2013, he was in the Detroit-filmed Low Winter Sun, 2014 there was the critically acclaimed Selma, and helping to create the world premiere of Paradise Blue by Dominique Morisseau at the Williamstown Theater Festival as director, just this past July 2015. Actor, Tony Award winner for Seven Guitars on Broadway. TV credits:Michael Hayes.
Tom Sizemore (BFA, ‘83) Tom Sizemore, born and raised in Detroit, MI. He attended Michigan State University then Wayne State University, followed by Temple University for his Master’s Degree. He moved to New York City to pursue Acting. Tom is most known for his supporting roles, the most famous being saving Private Ryan (1998). His current project is along Nicholas Cage in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage. Film Credits : Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor,Saving Private Ryan, Heat, The Relic, Natural Born Killers, Enemy of the State, Wyatt Earp, Point Break andChina Beach.
Tom Skerritt, Tom is a Detroit native, having attended Mackenzie High School and Wayne State University. He has appeared in countless television series and films. His latest project re-connect him with Picket Fences co-star, Lauren Holly, in Field of Lost Shoes. Tom is a prominent instructor at TheFilmSchool in Seattle, WA. TV Credits : Picket Fences. TV credits: A River Runs Through It.
Phyllis Sommerville attended Morningside College then transferred to the University of Northern Iowa, studying there and graduating with a degree in English in 1966. In college, she starred in productions such as the Visit, Electra, and Macbeth. She next did graduate work performing classical roles like Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Hilberry Theatre through WSU and later became a resident equity actress with the Arena Stage in Washington D.C. Her first paid job as an entertainer was at Bucksin Joe amusement park over summer break in college. She is an actress best known for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, One Life to Live, and Little Children.
Ingrid Sonnichsen (MA '67) Asssociate Professor of Acting, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, Best Friend on Broadway, Dylan and Measure for MeasureOff Broadwa y, Director of We and Them, State Theatre of Durban, South Africa.
Jeffrey Tambor (MFA ‘69) After receiving his M.F.A from Wayne State University, Jeffrey went on to more episodic roles. He was in Taxi, Starsky and Hutch, and Three’s Company. He continues his theatre work by teaching at local playhouses in Los Angeles. Jeffrey’s latest and more well-known projects are Arrested Development, in which he received an Emmy nomination, andTransparent, a dra-medy following the story of a father’s transition to becoming a woman. Transparent has earned Jeffrey Tambor a Golden Globe award in 2015 and a nomination for this season’s upcoming Emmy awards. Film Credits:Meet Joe Black, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Muppets from Space, Doctor Doolittle. TV Credits: Arrested Development, L.A. Law, The Golden Girls, and Three’s Company.
Barbara Tarbuck- Barbara attended Cooley High School and Wayne State University, upon winning the Eva Woodbridge Victor Scholarship and finished her Bachelors in 1963. While in college, she participated in the production of Where’s Charley, which toured through Europe. She also earned her Master’s Degree in Theatre from the University of Michigan. Barbara then went to Indiana University to work as the lead actress in their inaugural theatre touring company season. She began her work on her PhD and taught beginning acting. While at IU, Barbara was granted a Fulbright Scholarship to LAMDA. She then moved to New York to pursue her acting career.
Lily Tomlin, Actress, Film Credits: I Heart Huckabees, A Prairie Home Companion, Short Cuts, Nashville, 9 to 5. TV Credits:Laugh-In, Murphy Brown.
Michael Tylo (MFA Acting) Michael Tylo currently works at University of Nevada, Las Vegas after a 30+ year career as a professional actor, director and producer. Classically trained, he received his MFA in acting from Wayne State University. Michael has worked on Broadway, television, and film. His stage credits include seasons at The Long Wharf Theatre, The Alley Theatre, The Missouri Repertory, and The Meadowbrook Theatre as well as performing at The Roundabout Theatre and The Lucille Lortel Theatre both in New York City. He worked with many well known directors such as Edward Gilbert, Douglas Seale, Terry Kilburn, John Reich, Cyril Ritchard, and Richard Chamberlain. A chance meeting with the late Sir Tyrone Guthrie led to a summer in Ireland, where he worked with Guthrie as the later mounted a production of Oedipus for a tour in Australia. From that experience Tylo eventually went on to produce shows Off-Broadway including Vikings by Steve Metcalf at The Manhattan Theatre Club. As a founding board member of The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Tylo has produced as well as acted in a number of their productions. He won critical acclaim as Iago in Othelloand as King Henry IV Part I. For the past three years, Tylo has appeared at he Nevada Conservatory theatre. His nighttime television credits include Lonesome Dovewith Robert Duval, Gabriel’s Fire with James Earl Jones, and as the Alcalde in The New Adventures of Zorro. Other credits include feature roles on Murder She Wrote, Even Stevens, and Perry Mason. He worked 18 years on daytime television on Guiding Light, All My Children,General Hospital, and The Young and Restless; all contract roles. Recently Michael has starred in two filmsPrototype and Break the House. A former student of Uta Hagen, Michael now teaches at UNLV in both Theatre and Film.
Mark Tymchyshyn, Actor, TV credits: George Lopez, Crossing Jordan, Boston Legal, Monk & The Gregory Hines Show.
Max Wright (BA ‘66) Film Credits: Grumpier Old Men,Snow Falling on Cedars, All That Jazz, Alf, Friends, Mad About You, Cheers, WKRP in Cincinnati. Broadway Credits:Ivanov, Tony Award Nominee.
Nikki Allen, (MFA Theatre Management '11) Media and Public Relations Manager, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Cedar City, UT.
Michael J. Anderson, (MFA Theatre Management '92)Former Dance Company Member, Joffrey Ballet Company. Currently Association Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Columbia College Chicago.
David Calhoun, Theatre Manager, Marquis Theatre, NY.
Richard L. Fosbrink, (MFA Theatre Management '12) Executive Director, Theatre Historical Society, Elmhust, IL.
Alex J. Goodman, (MFA Theatre Management '12) Audience Development Associate, La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla, CA.
Woody King, Jr., Founder, New York's New Federal Theatre.
Kelly O'Connor Driscoll, (MFA Theatre Management, '10)WSU CFPCA College Officer, Detroit, MI.
Christopher Nelson, (MFA Theatre Management, '10)Assistant Director of Leadership Giving at Oberlin College.
Janine M. Pixley, (MFA Theatre Management, '12) Development Associate, Individual Giving, The Public Theater, New York, NY.
Alan Ribant, Head of Theatre Management MFA, Wayne State University Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance, Detroit, MI.
Joshua Ritter, (MFA Theatre Management, '08)Education & Library Director, Goodspeed Musicals, CT.
Bil Schroeder, Director of Marketing and Communications, South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, CA.
Frank D. Hartenstein, Production Stage Manager, Broadway Shows: How to Succeed...., Into the Woods.
Candance Hemphill (MFA '09) Previous: Production Stage Manager (PSM) Avenue Q tour, PSM of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee tour. Assistant Company Manager for the Rent, Sister Act, and Once tours. Chautauqua Theatre Company (Associate Company Manager).
Donald Hunter, (MFA '10) Production Manager, Bethel College.
Meghan Lynch (BFA '14) Assistant Stage Manager for "Sea Legs: A New Nautical Musical!"
Jen Dyson,TD, Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. Resident Lighting Designer at Wagon Wheel Theatre in Indiana. Color Me Dark, Kennedy Center.
Bobby Pearce (MFA Costume Design) Pearce was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Costume Design and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Costume Design for the 2003 production of Taboostarring Boy George. He also designed; Sign, Sealed, Delivered at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, the award-winning production of The Syringa Tree (New York and London), the National Tour of Tommy, three gowns for Liza Minnelli's appearance in Michael Jackson's 30th Anniversary Celebration, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, (Halloween 1999-2001) and Broadway's Betrayal starring Juliette Binoche (Associate Costume Designer). In addition he designed the films Let It Snow starring Bernadette Peters and The Big Gay Musical. Pearce also designed Chita Rivera's concert tour Chita, And All That Jazz and Off-Broadway'sBehind the Beat starring Vicki Sue Robinson.
Martin Pakledinaz (BFA Costume Design ‘75) Tony Award winner for Costume Design for Kiss Me Kate; Tony Award winner for Thoroughly Modern Millie; Tony Award nominee for The Life and Golden Child;Kiss Me Kate (TV).
Paula E. Trimpey (MFA Costume Design) Current assistant professor of theatre and fashion at Albright College. Additonal experience includes: Costume designer/coordinator and a cutter/draper for the Utah Shakespearian Festival for many summers. Additionally, she has worked as a cutter/draper and project leader for Troika Entertainment; visiting assistant professor of costume design for SUNY Fredonia State University; assistant professor of theatre at Huntington College; assistant professor of theatre/costume at Dixie College and costume shop manager at Pamona College.
Carl Gudenius, Resident Designer for The Washington Stage Guild; Recent work has included Art Direction/Production Design for ABC (including Good Morning America and Nightline), C-SPAN, PBS (including In Performance at the White House), Discovery. His scenic and lighting work has been seen at many Washington theatres including The Kennedy Center, Olney Theatre, MetroStage (All Night Strut, Last 5 Years), Church Street Theatre, Horizons Theatre and Interact Theatre. He owns Pro Scenic, Inc., a union (IATSE local 22) production shop that provides full fabrication services to a diverse clientele of theatrical, corporate and video producers.
Erich Zuern (MFA '82), worked as a scenic artist - sculpting and painting scenery for hundreds of productions in regional, stock, and Broadway theaters and well as for professional scenic shops, movies and television. Since shifting focus to museum exhibitions, Erich has produced dozens of major museum exhibitions across the country and internationally, including projects in Aruba, Lebanon, and Iceland. Erich is currently the museum producer for Xibitz, Inc., where he focuses on assembling creative teams of writers, designers, content experts, and craftspeople to plan, design, produce, and install exhibitions for museums of all types and sizes.
Curtis Colden, CBS Daytime TV casting director
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If you would like to be added here, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, graduation year, a headshot, and your most recent bio.
Selected biographies of former Wayne State dancers:
Toi Banks, '98
Sandra M. Black
Shannon Dugan, '04
Garth Fagan A native of Jamaica, Garth is recognized as “one of the great reformers of modern dance.´ He is a Tony and Olivier award winner. Garth continuously re-invents and creates dance vocabulary thru his extensive repertoire; modern dance, movement and energy of Afro-Caribbean, the technicality and foundation of ballet, and the exploration of post-modern dance. The Lion King may be his most world-renowned choreography, earning him a Tony award in 2011. Garth continues to be celebrated for his contribution to the dance and world community.
Kathryn Gladney Ellis
Rita Honka, '89
Michelle Moscone, '02
Kay Rediers, '81
Liz Schmidt has served as the Artistic Director of Spotlight Dance Works in Chesterfield, Michigan for the past 12 years. During her tenure, her pre-professional training program has grown to the honorable status of “Top 20 Studios” in North America as named by Dance Spirit Magazine in 2011. One year later this achievement was followed by Liz ‘s selection as Dance Teacher Magazine’s, 2012 Dance Teacher of the Year Award. Liz was also a 2012 and 2013 finalist in the Capezio ACE Awards for choreographic excellence and was recently named by Wayne State University as the 2012-2013 recipient of the Arts Achievement Award in dance. Since receiving her Bachelor of Science in dance from Wayne State University in 2004, Liz has served on faculty at Wayne State University and University of Michigan, teaching advanced jazz technique. She has also enjoyed guest teaching positions at Oakland University, Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, and ACDFA as well as being serving on faculty for The Dance Sessions. Liz has performed with Detroit Dance Collective, Gravity Dance Company and is a proud original member of Shifting Sol and Take Root.
Aaron Smith, Born in Garden City, Michigan, Aaron holds a Bachelor of Science from Wayne State University. He is an assistant to River North’s award winning Dancer and Choreographer, Stephanie Martinez. Aaron has created and assisted works for Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre, Piel Morena Contemporary Dance, Washington & Lee University, Northwestern University, Ball State University, and Episcopal High School. He served as the Maggie Allesee Dance Workshop’s Co-President and participated as a choreographer, dancer, and company member (2009-2011). His work "Deterior” was chosen for the 2011 Gala Performance Regional at the American College Dance Festival. Aaron was a recipient for Maggie Allesee Department of Dance Talent Scholarship all four years of undergraduate school at Wayne State University. He has done solo performances at the Joyce Soho in New York City, and at The Joffrey Studios in Chicago,Chicago’s Dance For Life performance and various others. His training also notable includes, on full scholarship, the Joffrey Ballet School’s Summer Intensive, and Joffrey’s Jazz and Contemporary Program in New York City, on full scholarship. Additionally Mr. Smith was cast as a dancer in the film, “Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure” and he has worked with several Guest Artists including Larry Keigwin, Ron De Jesus, Sonya Tayeh, Ray Mercer, Janis Brenner, and Nicholas Leichter.
Bryan Strimpel is a native Michigander and graduated from Wayne State University in 2011 with a B.F.A. in dance. He danced with Nicholas Leichter Dance from 2009 to 2012 as well as the Brian Brooks Moving Company from 2011-2014. Most recently Bryan is dancing with David Dorfman Dance in his first season with the company. He has performed internationally and across the U.S. in venues including: The Joyce Theater, Joyce SoHo, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Jacob’s Pillow, Bates Dance Festival, Joe’s Pub, Hundred Grand SoHo and more. He teaches class in NYC regularly at Gibney Dance at 280 Broadway. Bryan is honored to have been selected as one of Dance Magazine’s 'Top 25 to Watch' in 2013. He is the co-director of B.S. Movement.
Tamara Stone, '84
Sonya Tayeh, A very familiar face to the dance community in Detroit, Sonya Tayeh continues to push boundaries on TV. and on the stage. Since joining Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance in 2002, Sonya has soared. Some of her choreography has been for Madonna, Florence and the Machine, Kylie Minogue, Miley Cyrus and many more. Her latest endeavors include working with the Martha Graham Dance Company and presenting her work at The Joyce in NYC, earlier this year. She more recently choreographed Andrew Lippa’s musical “The Wild Party,” at Encores! Off-Center.
Ann Zurilnik, '41