Program Spotlight: Valdosta State University

Updated: Nov 12, 2019


Valdosta State University's HANDS ON A HARD BODY directed and choreographed by Jacque Wheeler, Musical Direction by Joe Mason. Set and Lighting Design by Ruth Brandvik.

How long has your BFA program been around?

The first students in Musical Theatre were accepted in 2005, graduating in 2009. The BFA Theatre program at Valdosta State has been in existence for over 40 years.


How many students, in general, does your program accept every year?

In general, 5-10 students are accepted each year. We are looking to grow the program so we may accept more for Fall, 2020.


How many students, in total, are enrolled in your program?

There are 22 in Musical Theatre. In the BFA in Theatre there are 100 students within the four tracks (Musical Theatre, Performance, Production and Theatre Management).


What's unique about your program?

We have a liberal arts core curriculum. Within that structure, students have the ability to receive very specific training in the area of Musical Theatre. Musical Theatre is supported by a BFA program in Dance which provides significant dance opportunities. Students have the ability to take elective classes outside of their musical theatre curriculum which include Stage Combat, Aerial silks in the dance area, Acting for the Camera, Stage Dialects, Period Styles of Acting, etc. to enhance their marketable skills.

We have a Professional Connections program that includes Master Classes taught by professionals in the field on campus and there are biennial trips to major theatrical centers in the country. The last several trips have been to New York City. Workshops and mock audition situations as well as alumni connections are the focus of these trips, as well as seeing Broadway productions. Our workshops have been coordinated by Rachel Hoffman, casting director at Telsey & Co. Workshop leaders include agents, choreographers, and casting directors for both film and theatre.

We hold an on campus Showcase for seniors in April. Casting directors, Artistic Directors and Agents are in attendance. We have representatives from New York, Atlanta, Disney, Tampa/St. Pete and Orlando who observe the showcase. A question and answer session follows the formal presentation.

Valdosta State University produces Peach State Summer Theatre, the Official Musical Theatre of the State of Georgia. Three musicals are presented each season in rotating repertory. Over seventy company members are hired each season, including two Equity guest artists. Musical Theatre students have the opportunity to audition for the season and approximately 80% of our VSU musical theatre grads have at least one professional credit on their resumes from PSST!.


Tell us a little about the musical theatre faculty at your school.

Total full time faculty in the theatre and dance programs is 11. There are eight full time faculty in theatre and three full time faculty in dance.

Joe Mason - Assistant Professor of Theatre

· MFA in Musical Theatre The Boston Conservatory

· BFA in Music, Theatre, Dance Brigham Young University

Joe is an Assistant Professor in Theatre from Mesa, Arizona. As an actor, some of Joe’s credits include THE SECRET GARDEN, SHE LOVES ME, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN, FOREVER PLAID, SWEENEY TODD, CANDIDE, RAGS, LITTLE WOMEN, URINETOWN, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT (starring David Osmond), ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, and OLIVER! (Robert Redford’s Sundance, starring Christopher Lloyd). Joe was also a featured soloist in the Rockin’ the Boat Show at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia, and in the Boston Pops’ Holiday Concert at Boston Symphony Hall. As a music director, Joe’s credits include THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD, AIDA, SWEENEY TODD, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, WEST SIDE STORY, CURTAINS, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, CAROUSEL, ONCE OF THIS ISLAND, ANYTHING GOES, INTO THE WOODS, THE PAJAMA GAME, GREASE, ANNIES, LEGALLY BLONDE, PETER PAN, NUNSENSE, HAIRSPRAY, and THE KING AND I. Joe has been fortunate to work with such theatres and companies as Jackson Hole Playhouse, Lagoon Theme Park, Busch Gardens Entertainment, Tuacahn Amphitheatre, Sundance, Disney Theatricals (The Lion King), Boston Theatre Marathon, Walnut Hill School, and North Shore Music Theatre. Before joining VSU’s faculty, he was an instructor, music director, and accompanist at Southeast Missouri State University.

Jacque Wheeler - Professor of Theatre and Artistic Director

· MFA in Theatre Performance Virginia Commonwealth University

· MA in Theatre Southern Illinois University

· BA in Speech & Drama and English College of St. Teresa

Jacque Wheeler is Theatre & Dance Artistic Director/Professor of Theatre at VSU. She also serves as Artistic Director of VSU's Peach State Summer Theatre, the Official Musical Theatre of the State of Georgia. She is an inaugural recipient of the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award. She is also a recipient of the

Leighton Ballew Award for Distinguished Service to Theatre in Georgia from Georgia Theatre Conference.

In addition to performance credits that include MAME, HELLO, DOLLY!, GYPSY, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, WHITE CHRISTMAS, THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA, NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT and CANDIDE, she has appeared as Ouiser in STEEL MAGNOLIAS at Show Palace Dinner Theatre. Recent choreography credits include THE PRODUCERS and HAIRSPRAY for PSST!

Her directing credits include classical pieces, contemporary drama and comedy as well as musical theatre.

A Past President of the Georgia Theatre Conference, she is an active member of the National Association for Schools of Theatre and Southeastern Theatre Conference’s Auditions Committee.

Mrs. Wheeler is the co-author of a musical children’s play, TALL BETSY AND THE CRACKERBARREL TALES and a musical theatre acting text.


Tell us about recent productions you're particularly proud of.

Recent musical productions of VSU Theatre and Dance include: THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD, HANDS ON A HARD BODY, ALL SHOOK UP, OKLAHOMA!, INTO THE WOODS, THE WIZ and EVITA. VSU Theatre and Dance is committed to presenting a variety of musical styles in its musical theatre productions.


How about alumni?

Alumni from the program have been on the following national tours: JOSEPH AND THE AMZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, SOMETHING ROTTEN, PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, FAME, HAIRSPRAY, and VEGGIS TALES, LIVE! On Broadway, alums have been in the revival of ANNIE and 39 STEPS and Off-Broadway in a new musical, ANNE FRANK. Alums have worked with Norwegian, Carnival, and Holland Cruise lines, in Las Vegas, touring with an Elton John show, in NYC in Musical Theatre improv, in Atlanta at the Alliance, Serenbe Playhouse, Aurora Theatre, Georgia Ensemble Theatre, Lyric Theatre, City Springs Theatre, Shakespeare Tavern, Center for Puppetry Arts and the Atlanta Lyric Theatre, in regional theatres and theme parks around the county. Graduates have also done significant film and commercial work.

What is your program's "best-kept secret"?

Best Kept Secret: The reasonable cost of tuition and fees in no way reflects the exceptional quality of the education. Out of State Fee Waivers are available for residents of Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.


To learn more about Valdosta State University's Musical Theatre program, visit: Valdosta State Musical Theatre.


For free resources to help with the college audition process, check out the rest of the College Musical Theatre Guide website!

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