Alumni Hall of Fame
Are you an alum of East Tennessee State University's Division of Theatre & Dance?
Want to see YOUR NAME in lights as a featured alumni?
Tell us what you have been up to since graduation!
Michael Legg, Class of 1993
Michael Legg is the Director of the Professional Training Company at ActorsTheatre of Louisville. Now in his tenth season, he has directed world premieres by A. Rey Pamatmat, Laura Jacqmin, Dan Dietz, Kyle John Schmidt, Marco Ramirez, Carmen Herlihy, Jennifer Haley, and Allison Moore, among others. Legg serves as guest artist at several universities, including University of Idaho, Ohio University, and Texas Tech University. He also teaches for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival and serves as Artistic Director of the WildWind Performance Lab in Texas, where he’s developed new plays by many noted artists. Legg holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in acting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is a member of Actors Equity Association. He serves on the Board of Directors for Louisville Youth Group, an organization that provides safe spaces for Louisville LGBTQAI+ youth.
Maegan Azar, Class of 2003
Maegan McNerney Azar is a 2003 East Tennessee State University Honors Scholar alum with a B.S. in Theatre. She earned the Bud Frank Award for Excellence and the Outstanding Student in Theatre Award. She received her M.F.A. in Acting Pedagogy from The University of Alabama. Originally from Matlacha, Florida, she is currently the Assistant Professor of Acting & Directing at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. She has trained with Accademia dell’Arte in Arezzo, Italy, the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, and Paul Sills’ Wisconsin Theater Game Center. Maegan has worked as an actor, director, and teaching artist with theatres across the country: Magic Theatre (CA), California Theatre Center, The Warehouse Theatre (SC), Centre Stage South Carolina, Seaside Repertory Theatre (FL), SummerTide Theatre (AL), and Trumpet in the Land (OH). She currently serves as the Secretary of the Southeastern Theatre Conference’s Executive Committee, and is the Past-President of South Carolina Theatre Association (SCTA).
Ed Claudio, Class of 1971
Ed Claudio is a 1971 graduate of the Speech and Theatre program at ETSU. After graduating from ETSU, he trained in New York City with Stella Adler from 1972 to 74. Ed's theatrical career has spanned more than forty years. He has been a Producer, Director, Acting Instructor, Playwright and Actor. Ed has appeared in more than 200 plays. He is a founding member of Tim Busfield's Fantasy Theatre for Children and is the co-founder (with Michelle Barnett) of the Actor's Workshop of Sacramento. Ed has also appeared in two CBS Television movies: Spring Awakening and A Tangled Web, and has appeared off-Broadway in The Country Girl and The Merchant of Venice. In 1999, Ed received the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission Theatre Award for Arts Education, and in 2013, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance.
Edward Breese, Class of 1996
Edward Breese is a 1996 graduate of East Tennessee State University, Edward has traveled the country performing children's theatre and has been involved with numerous theaters in New York and Tennessee. Returning to Tennessee in 2001 to continue his education at ETSU and raise a family, Edward also got involved in the revitalization of Downtown Johnson City. Edward founded the Blue Moon Dinner Theatre in 2008 where he currently resides as Artistic Director. At the Blue Moon, Edward is able to bring the magic of theatre to downtown Johnson City.
Class of 1994 Karen Rowe is the Administrative Associate for Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA and serves as the Assistant to Barter's Producing Artistic Director. Born and raised in East Tennessee, Karen found her love of theatre early (she was a Tiger in her Kindergarten Circus) and took advantage of every opportunity to be involved with performance arts. By the time she joined the theatre program at ETSU, she knew her strengths were in organization, so a stage manager was born. Fresh out of college, Karen started at Barter Theatre as a Stage Management Intern and over the next decade, advanced through the ranks to Production Stage Manager. During this time there were also opportunities to stage-manage for Bristol Ballet and Opera Roanoke. Wanting to spend more time with her family, Karen stepped away from Barter for a few years to live in the "real world", but still kept her theatre muscles toned by helping the Theatre Department of Northeast State Community College train stage managers to handle large productions in their new Performing Arts Center. Then Karen heard Barter Theatre's siren song again and came back to stage-manage during the fall of 2010 and the spring of 2011. Feeling at home again, but wanting some fresh challenges, Karen jumped at an opportunity to put her SM strengths and newly acquired clerical skills to work in Barter's Administration Office where she now happily balances the mix of routine office tasks and artistic atmosphere. 2012
Class of 1987 Johnny Pickett graduated from ETSU in 1987, and earned his M.F.A. in Theatre Design and Technology from UNC-Greensboro. Johnny has served on the theatre department faculty at North Carolina A&T State University and the University of Montevallo. Johnny worked professionally at many different regional theatres around the country as an actor, lighting designer, technical director and tour manager before moving to Las Vegas in 1999 to take a position with the Sigfried and Roy Show. In 2003, Johnny became a full-time Flying Director with Flying by Foy and has traveled the world creating flying sequences for stage and screen, including: Spamalot on Broadway, Taylor Swift for the Country Music Awards, The Black-Eyed Peas for the half time show at Super Bowl XLV, and the musical Wicked in Japan. Johnny is also and ETCP certified arena and theatre rigger. 2011
Celia Pickens Frank
Class of 1975 Celia Pickens Frank has been Artistic Director at Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida since 2007, directing numerous productions there including the recent Tale of the Allergist's Wife, as well as Rose's Dilemma, The Exact Center of the Universe, Ladies at the Alamo, Grace and Glorie, Crimes of the Heart, The Kingfisher, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, and Proposals. Celia earned a B.S. in theatre from ETSU where the campus theatre, the Bud Frank Theatre, is named for her late father-in-law who gave her a large part of her early theatrical training. She went on to work for several theatres in the southeast including Barter Theatre in Abingdon, North Carolina's Parkway Playhouse, and Players by the Sea in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Celia also spent four years as a features writer for the Atlanta Constitution writing theatre reviews, feature stories, and editing the weekly television magazine and weekly entertainment sections. 2010
Class of 2004
Rick McVey has been a full-time member of Barter Theatre’s Resident Acting Company since 2005. Some of his favorite roles at Barter include: Doyle Mayfield in The Doyle & Debbie Show; Robert E. Lee in The Road to Appomattox; Javert in Les Misérables; Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha; Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (2011); George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life; Harold in The Full Monty; The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz (2009); Victor Fleming in Don’t Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell (2008); and Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street (2008). To date Rick has appeared in more than 80 productions on Barter’s stages. He also appeared as the Boss in Barter’s 2009 national touring production of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. In addition to his work in theater, Rick spent many years of his career in broadcasting both as on-air talent and as a production manager in both radio and television. During those years Rick was also performing in and directing scores of shows at Theatre Bristol, where he also served for a time as Producing Director. He was also the producing director of the Don’t Touch That Dial! radio theater company for six years. A native of the region, Rick got his first exposure to live theater attending plays at Barter when he was an elementary school student in Damascus, Virginia. He and his wife Lola have three children and five grandchildren.
Class of 2004 Allison is native to east Tennessee, and moved to New York like all the other lemmings with a dream and a desire for culture to pursue acting in 2004. After many a roommate and many a time sleeping in living rooms and having terrible jobs (once as a singing telegram/Marilyn Monroe impersonator), she landed a role in The Public Theater's 3 day concert of Hair in Central Park. The concert turned into a full run at the Delacorte the following summer, and made its way to Broadway the spring of 2009. She is currently with the production on the West End in London. Allison is also an avid lover of Autoharps, dark comedy, and strange stories her grandmother tells her about growing up in Depression-era Appalachia. 2008
Class of 1983 Judith Woodruff has enjoyed a diverse and challenging 35 years in the art of dance. Woodruff has taught dance at East Tennessee State University since 1980. In 1982 she co-founded Mountain Movers Dance Company, in residence at ETSU, with fellow dancer Doug Newton. Woodruff has taught dance in the private sector at the Kingsport Guild of Ballet (now Kingsport Ballet), Kingsport, Tenn., and the Holloway Dancing School in Johnson City, Tenn.; and as a guest artist for many studios, companies, and institutions. Prior to relocating to Johnson City in 1979 she taught dance at Middlebury College, Vt., and danced with Coincidence Company. Her choreography has been commissioned by Chattanooga Ballet, Virginia Intermont College, Girls Preparatory School (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Chattanooga High School for the Performing Arts, and others. Woodruff was employed as the executive director of the Tennessee Association of Dance from November 1988 through June 2007. Additional honors include the Governor's Award for Arts Leadership in Tennessee (2005); the Johnson City Area Arts Council Outstanding Arts Contribution Award (2005); the Tennessee Association of Dance Margaret Martin Award for Distinguished Service to the Field of Dance (2007); ETSU's first Recognition Award for Non-Regular Faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences (2008). Woodruff has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History of Art from the University of Michigan and a Master of Arts in Physical Education from East Tennessee State University. 2007
Class of 1988 Chris Armbrister originally hails from the Blue Ridge Mountains of VA & his career has taken him from coast to coast (as well as internationally) working as an actor, director, writer, fight choreographer & producer...all of which he has done on The Butte stage. Chris is very proud to be a part of continuing the legacy of theatre in Cripple Creek as Producing Director for Thin Air Theatre Company (TATC). TATC is the 5th theatre company Chris has been a part of founding...including Arthur's Realm Productions (which produced the film Elements of Society & Old Fashion Technology); Vision Factory (located in Los Angeles, CA); and East Tennessee Children's Theatre. Chris holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Alabama and is the Program & Education Director for Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Camp in NY. In 2007 Chris was inducted into the East Tennessee State University Alumni Hall of Fame for his contributions to the continuing development of theatre in America. Some favorite "gigs" include playing Bob Womack in A Cripple Creek Christmas Carol (which he co-wrote with Chris Sorensen) here at The Butte and Uncle Peck in How I Learned to Drive (for which he receive a Garland Award nomination) at the Ensemble Theatre of Santa Barbara; directing Bat Boy The Musical and The Laramie Project, both in NY; and choreographing the fights for Three Musketeers and Rashomon for Sierra Repertory Theatre. Chris has also followed his personal mantra which is: Follow Your Heart and Dare To Dream! 2006
Class of 1972 By living in an environment she loves, Jo Carson has become a success in the difficult literary world. She currently lives in Johnson City, TN. Carson attended East Tennessee State University, graduating with degrees in both theatre and speech. After graduation, Carson began working with the Road Company as a writer and performer on and off for 20 years. Carson began writing and performing what came to be called 'people pieces'; monologues or dialogues gleaned from conversations -- sometimes overheard -- from this region. She did over 600 performances of this work, in this country and others. This is the work published in a book called Stories I Ain't Told Nobody Yet. This book made the Editor's Choice on Booklist and the American Library Association's recommended list. These pieces also ran as occasional commentaries on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, for eight years. Carson has written other books including The Last of 'The Waltz Across Texas', Other Stories, Pulling My Leg, You Hold Me and I'll Hold You, and The Great Shaking. Carson is primarily a playwright; her works include Whispering to Horses, which won an AT&T Onstage Award, one of five given in this country yearly; Preacher with a Horse to Ride, which won a Roger L. Stevens Award from the Fund for New American Plays in 1993; The Bear Facts, which won Carson a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship; and Daytrips, which won the Kesselering Award for best new American play in 1989 and has played all over this country and some others, including Off-Broadway in New York City. Carson is the daughter of Pierce and Marie Carson, both graduates of ETSU. She has made her family and her community very proud by succeeding as a writer. She will tell you it has happened because she's stayed true to her roots. 2005
Class of 1968 Lynn Lockrow is the Head of Design, Technology and Production at Auburn University and serves as scenic and/or lighting designer for nearly every main stage production. Lynn is also an accomplished director and served as Artistic Director for the outdoor drama Horn In The West, and as Production Stage Manager for the outdoor drama Lost Colony. Lynn holds a B.S. in Drama and Speech from East Tennessee State University and an M.F.A. in Design and Technical Theatre from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Lynn also serves as faculty advisor for the Auburn University chapter of Alpha Psi Omega, the national theatre honor society. 2004
Class of 1963 & 1978 Dorsey Whetsil Smith graduated from ETSU in 1963 with a BS is English, Speech, and Drama and in 1978 with an MA in English and Theatre. He began working with the Patchwork Players in 1959 and the Johnson City Little Theatre in such productions as: You Can't Take it With You, The Lark, She Stoops to Conquer, J.B., The Diary of Ann Frank, The Kids, and Dirty Work at the Crossroads. He started teaching at Grundy Senior High in 1963 until 1970 where he taught English, Speech, and Drama later returning in 1978 - 2001. From 1970 - 1974 he taught English and Drama at Andrew Lewis High School in Salem, VA. He has been involved in several events around the area like directing full-length plays like Our Town, I Remember Mama, The Curious Savage, Dirty Work at the Crossroads, Count Dracula, J.B., and The Glass Menagerie, one-act plays like The Wall and The White Dove, and has staged beauty pageants and started a community theatre group. He has also acted in several productions including The Trail of the Lonesome Pine as Jack Hale for 31 performances, and in The Cherry Orchard at Hollins College. While pursuing his master's degree at ETSU, Dorsey worked as a graduate assistant where he performed, taught classes, and designed and built sets for 5 main stage productions being the first student to do so. He was also allowed to direct Eugene O'Neill's Beyond the Horizon for his thesis project, another first. 2003
Class of 1981 John Hardy is an Associate Artist with The Barter Theatre. He has been working around the country as a playwright, actor, and director for over thirty years. Over the course of his career John has directed over one hundred professional productions including Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo & Juliet, Henry V, Julius Caesar, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Tartuffe, Oedipus the King, Man of La Mancha, and others. As an actor John has played many of the great roles including Hamlet in Hamlet, Macbeth in Macbeth, Tom Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Teach in American Buffalo and many others. John has recently returned from a national tour, playing George in Of Mice and Men. As a playwright he has had over forty productions of fifteen plays produced across the country and overseas. John recently received the Sara Spencer Award, for lifetime achievement, from the Southeastern Theatre Conference. John Hardy received his M.F.A. at The University of Alabama, and his Ph.D at Texas Tech University. 2002
Class of 1979 Karen Brewster serves the ETSU Department of Communication as an Associate Chair, and the Division of Theatre & Dance as resident costume designer and costume shop supervisor. She teaches courses in Theatrical Design (Basic and Costume), Stagecraft, Stage Makeup and Theatre History. Karen earned her MFA in Costume, Makeup, and Mask Design from Michigan State University in 1982. After working in numerous theatre companies from Nebraska to Maine, she joined Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia as costume shop supervisor and resident costume designer working full time for them for many years. She still maintains a working relationship with Barter Theatre as a freelance designer and to date has designed well over 50 shows for the company, including her most recent work Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps. Karen is also an author, with a recent release (July 2011) co-authored with Melissa Shafer titled Fundamentals of Theatrical Design: A Guide to the Basics of Scenic, Costume, and Lighting Design published by Allworth Press. Brewster and Shafer are now working on their second book titled Theatrical Genre and Style: A Guide for Designers, Directors, and Performers, also by Allworth Press and due to be published in 2015. Karen currently serves on the Board of SETC as Chair of the College and University Division.