Our students thrive at the intersection of true professional training and the liberal arts, growing into informed, caring, citizen-artists fully prepared for successful employment in the performing arts as well as the world at large.
Department of Theatre & Dance
At Otterbein, you will be immersed in experiential learning, creating theatre while working closely with our experienced artist-teachers and guest professionals. You will learn the techniques of your discipline, the art of our collaborative endeavor, and build the critical networking and professional skills needed for a career in the professional theatre.
Programs of Study in Theatre & Dance
Develop your own personal acting methodology through intensive training and performance capped with the NYC Senior Showcase!
Preparing the true triple-threat actor/singer/dancer through multidisciplinary training, culminating in the NYC Senior Showcase!
Take leadership roles in Scenery, Costumes, Lighting, Sound, and/or Stage Management, utilizing today’s technology to create robust productions!
A flexible program for self-motivated explorers interested in areas such as directing, arts administration, play creation, and stage management, as well as those seeking to double major in theatre.
Theatre & Dance Spotlights
Our five mainstage productions are an integral part of our curriculum, allowing students to put their classroom learning into action while modeling professional production practices.
Our actors have plentiful opportunities to perform for loyal and responsive audiences and provide high-quality theatre to our campus and community.
Students create our striking production designs utilizing our spacious, well-equipped scene shop, costume studio, and recently renovated lighting and rigging systems.
Our mainstage season provides real-world experience from classic and contemporary musicals to gritty dramas, dance, new plays, and devised work.
Our program centers students by getting them involved in production their first semester, and moving them into choice roles, and lead technician, and design positions the moment they are ready.
The greatest value of an Otterbein degree is in the connections made with the real world. We work within a theatre that actually has the technology seen in regional theatres, Broadway, LA and Chicago. The value is in being able to walk in the door of your first job and starting three steps ahead of everyone else.
Jacob Gooch ’23
BFA, Design Technology
My favorite thing about Otterbein has to be the student-produced work. I love seeing the talents and creativity of my friends when given free reign. I’m surrounded by the most amazing artists here, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Abby Messina ’22
I have loved being able to work in leadership positions on shows and being able to collaborate with and learn from my peers. I have also really enjoyed being able to be involved in classes and campus activities outside of my major and department.
Anna Walker ’22
BA Musical Theatre
Specializing in stage management.
I have had opportunities that I never would’ve imagined as a dance minor, including partaking in Main Stage productions, assisting the choreographer on multiple shows, choreographing a piece in Dance 2020: The Wild Within, and completing an advanced choreography independent study.
Rachel Fish ’22
Dance Minor and Communications Major
Nathan Johnson, a celebrity Makeup Artist and Skin Care Specialist, gave a presentation about the importance of the care and maintenance of actor skin and provided consultations with our senior performance majors in preparation for the NY Showcase.
Marcus Wuebker, president of Luminative Design and guest lighting designer for “The Pajama Game,” gave our students a demo presentation of the grandMA lighting console, which is often used for concerts, film, television production, and large events such as the Olympics.
The skills and lessons I acquired at Otterbein are invaluable.
Desmond Fernandez ’21
Desmond Fernandez (BFA Acting ‘21) signed with not one, but two agents before graduation – one for voice over and one for legit acting work.
BFA in Acting
Otterbein helped shape me into the person that I am today, and I am grateful for the knowledge, community, and experiences that I get to take with me for the rest of my life!
Olivia Crawford ’18
Olivia Crawford continues her passion for dance as a teacher, choreographer, and performer on top of her day job as a Program Manager.
The biggest thing I learned at Otterbein was don’t stifle your voice.
Alayna Jacqueline ’13
Alayna Jacqueline (BA Theatre ‘13), Playwright, was commissioned to write a new play for Lakeshore Players Theatre in Minnesota. “An Evening with Ella and Harold” premiered in February 2022.
The theater department at Otterbein is especially helpful in getting you ready for the real world after college.
Jessica Palagano ’19
BFA in Design Technology
Jessica Palagano is an Entertainment Technician for Walt Disney World where she specializes in lighting for special events and WDW concerts.
Otterbein really helped me focus my energy on my dance skills and movement quality, and shaped me into a well-rounded dancer.
Cameron Hobbs ’12
BFA Musical Theatre
Cameron Hobbs (BFA Musical Theatre ‘12), is an Ensemble cast member of Broadway’s Aladdin the Musical, with many other professional credits as well.
T.J. Gerckens, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance, is Lighting Designer for the New York Metropolitan Opera production of “Eurydice,” music by Matthew Aucoin, libretto by Sarah Ruhl, based on her play “Eurydice.”
Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance
Lori Kay Harvey, Associate Professor of Music Theatre, was a featured soloist in “For the Love of Music,” a Valentine’s Day concert, with the Newark-Granville Symphony Orchestra. She sang some of Broadway’s most romantic music from shows including “Les Misérables,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” and “Phantom of the Opera.
Lori Kay Harvey
Associate Professor of Music Theatre
Dr. Aviva Neff, a self-described rustbelt artist-scholar-educator with an expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the arts, is the newest addition to the department as an adjunct instructor for Theatre History and Acting and resident Intimacy Coach for Theatre & Dance productions.
Dr. Aviva Neff
Adjunct Faculty and Intimacy Coach
Department Features & Student Opportunities
Experienced Teaching Artists
All faculty members in the Theatre & Dance Department at Otterbein are professional artists working in their field of study, bringing their experiences and contemporary practices to the classroom.
Learning by Doing
Experiential learning is at the core of our curriculum and a signature part of an Otterbein education. We deliver large-school professional training with the individual attention and opportunities that only a smaller program can provide.
Student Driven Work
Otterbein students are engaged, creative individuals with a passion for generating their own theatre. Our Theatre majors and Dance minors have many opportunities to create the work they are driven to create in the ways they want to create it.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
The Department of Theatre & Dance has made a strong commitment to Equity and Inclusion, outlined in our Departmental Statement. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are works in progress and you can follow our progress on this important work through the updated Timeline Document.
NY Senior Showcase
Each spring, our BFA Senior Showcase is produced for a live audience in NYC and filmed for casting directors and talent agents all over the country. As the capstone experience for eligible Acting and Musical Theatre majors, it is their final audition as college students and their first of many as professionals.
Performance Venues & Facilities
Theatre & Dance performances are primarily hosted in our 1100 seat proscenium house, the Fritsche Theatre at Cowan Hall and the 244 seat black box Campus Center Theatre. In addition to these, our students utilize three dance studios, state of the art classrooms for design and discovery, and Riley Auditorium.
News - May 6, 2022Otterbein Summer Theatre is back in production for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began with a season meant to stir the heart, gladden the soul, and tickle the funny bone. The 2022 season opens with a concert revue of some of Stephen Sondheim’s most well-known works in “Side by Side by Sondheim.” Featuring music from “Company,” “Follies,” “A Little Night Music,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” not to mention the classics written with…
News - December 2, 2021The performance of Eurydice on Saturday, Dec. 4, will be transmitted live to cinemas around the globe as part of The Met: Live in HD series. Otterbein Department of Theatre and Dance Chair T.J. Gerckens will have his work seen by thousands of people as part of this production. T. J. Gerckens Gerckens served as the lighting designer on the crew. He has many years of experience with stage production, which led him to this position. “I have been working with the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant and Tony…
News - October 26, 2021By Catie Duzzny ’21, MBA’23 The study of humanities has a long history at Otterbein University and a new creative and cultural community is bringing first year students together with faculty and students. Dunlap-King Hall, better known as “DK,” is one of many residence halls students call home at Otterbein. DK is the oldest residence hall on campus and was built in 1926. “DK has naturally had a higher concentration of humanities majors in the building; students who are in related areas of study, and these students have gravitated…
Our Institutional Partners
The Otterbein Department of Theatre and Dance is proud to partner with great organizations across the spectrum of theatre education and practice, including:
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Otterbein Theatre & Dance combines conservatory-style training for making a living in the Theatre industry with a Liberal Arts Education for making a life in the Theatre.