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.

How To Apply

Audition Information

Theatre Performances

Ticketing & Information

See Us in Action

Theatre & Dance Video Clips

Programs of Study in Theatre & Dance

Bfa Acting


BFA in Acting​

Develop your own personal acting methodology through intensive training and performance capped with the NYC Senior Showcase!

Learn more >

How To Apply Acting Mt


BFA in Musical Theatre​

Preparing the true triple-threat actor/singer/dancer through multidisciplinary training, culminating in the NYC Senior Showcase!

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Bfa Mt Dance


BFA in Musical Theatre with an Integrated Dance Minor

All the benefits of a BFA in Musical Theatre with enhanced dance training!

Learn more >

Illuminated Lift


BFA in Design Technology

Take leadership roles in Scenery, Costumes, Lighting, Sound, and/or Stage Management, utilizing today’s technology to create robust productions!

Learn more >

Ba Theatre 2


BA in Theatre

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.

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Dance Minor2


Dance Minor

Allows advanced training in ballet, tap, modern, jazz, and musical theatre every day while pursuing your chosen major.

Learn more >

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.


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Otterbein has taught me to embrace what makes me, me. They have taught me to take what I have and hone in on how I can use that to share my art.

Ryan Esparza ’22

BFA Musical Theatre


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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


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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

BFA Acting


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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.


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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

Jonathan Spencer
Our students had the distinct privilege of working with Guest Lighting Designer Jonathan Spencer for our recent production of Cabaret. His work has been seen around the world and in major New York theaters, on National Tours, and in regional theatres throughout the US.

Learn more about Jonathan Spencer >

Bradford Sadler presented a workshop for our Acting and Musical Theatre majors about opportunities in Standardized Patient work which allows performers to use their acting skills to help nursing and med school students polish their interpersonal skills, thereby making them stronger medical providers in the future.

Learn more about Bradford Sadler >

Bradford Sadler


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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

Learn more about Desmond’s story >


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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

Dance Minor

Olivia Crawford continues her passion for dance as a teacher, choreographer, and performer on top of her day job as a Program Manager.

Learn more about Olivia’s story >


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The biggest thing I learned at Otterbein was don’t stifle your voice.

Alayna Jacqueline ’13

BA Theatre

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.

Learn more about Alayna’s story >


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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.

Learn more about Jessica’s story >


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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.

Learn more about Cameron’s story >


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.”

T.J. Gerckens

Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance

Learn more about T.J. >


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

Learn more about Lori >


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

Learn more about Aviva >

Department Features & Student Opportunities

Experienced Faculty 2

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

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

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.

Theatre Diversity Inclusion

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.

Learn more >

Bfa Performance Senior Showcase

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.

Learn more >

Otterbein Cowan Interior

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.

Learn more >

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Student Composer Sets the Mood for Theatre & Dance Production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

News - February 13, 2024
Deep in a magical forest, mortals and fairies collide, resulting in tempestuous love triangles, contagious fogs and moonlight revels — proving that “the course of true love never did run smooth.” Shakespeare’s best-known comedy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” is a fairy tale about the complexities of human relationships and the often-hilarious path to love.  And the path to love in Otterbein’s production is set to music written by senior David Zimmerman, a senior music composition and economics double major from…

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Dance 2023 Escape To Wonderland

Theatre & Dance presents “Dance 2023: Escape to Wonderland”

News - November 10, 2023
The Otterbein University Department of Theatre and Dance presents “Dance 2023: Escape to Wonderland” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday Nov. 16; at 8 p.m. on Nov. 17 and 18; and at 2 p.m. on Nov. 19 in the Fritsche Theatre at Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove St., Westerville. Tickets cost $22. Call 614-823-1109 or www.otterbein.edu/drama.   Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,”the production is a fanciful journey through Alice’s dreams and imagination. With the Mad Hatter as our guide, audiences…

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Everybody is Invited to the Department of Theatre and Dance’s New Production, “Everybody”

News - October 13, 2023
Death has come, but Everybody, an ordinary human, can’t go quietly, and most certainly can’t go alone. Desperate to hold onto something familiar, Everybody looks to Friendship, Kinship, Stuff, Mind, Five Senses, Understanding, and Love to accompany them on this unexpected journey to the great beyond. Based on the 15th century morality play, “Everyman,” this Pulitzer Prize finalist is a wildly funny and heartfelt ride in search of the world’s greatest mystery, the meaning of life. The Otterbein University Department…

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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:

Stage Managers Association
Stage Directors and Choreographers
Actors Equity Association
National Association of schools of Theatre

Department Location

30 South Grove St
Westerville, OH 43081

Contact Us

Dawn Horne
Director of Recruitment
& Administrative Assistant

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.