Faculty and Staff
Sharla Cowden, BA, MFA
Department Chair / Managing Director
Hyde Hall, Room 109C
Ms. Cowden was named Chair of the UE Department of Theatre in 2021 and has served as Managing Director and Head of the Theatre Management program since 2000. She coordinates the national recruiting efforts for the department and the marketing of the theatre season’s productions. At UE, she teaches Theatre Management and Principles of Arts Marketing, as well as independent studies in special topics within the field of arts management.
She served as the Managing Director of Connecticut's Hartford Children's Theatre, Marketing Associate at Hartford Stage, and worked extensively for eight seasons with the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival. She also served as the Audience Development Coordinator at the University of Oklahoma School of Drama for six years.
She is a graduate of Leadership Evansville and is regularly asked to make presentations on networking and business etiquette. In addition, she serves as the co-coordinator of the National Unified Auditions, held annually in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Ms. Cowden has a BA from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and an MFA in Theatre Management from Wayne State University’s Hilberry Theatre in Detroit, Michigan.
Diane Brewer, BA, PhD
Theatre History and Criticism / Professor
Hyde Hall, Room 109A
Dr. Brewer teaches theatre history and dramatic criticism, serves as the department’s Resident Dramaturg, and directs text-based as well as ensemble-generated productions. An avid supporter of new plays, she has actively developed new work in venues such as Primary Stages, the Tofte Lake Center, The New Harmony Project, the Utah Shakespearean Company Plays in Progress, the Mark Taper Forum’s P.L.A.Y, and the University of Evansville.
Her dramaturgy has earned published credits in Arlene Hutton’s See Rock City and Gulf View Drive. She regularly dramaturgs for award- winning playwright Mark Rigney, whose plays, including Acts of God and Bears, have been produced in nineteen states and Canada. She is a founding ensemble member and performer with In the Mix, an Evansville-based company dedicated to the collaborative development of new work. Her work as a director is a featured subject in Deaf Side Story: Deaf Sharks, Hearing Jets and a Classic American Musical (Gallaudet University Press).
She has received the Dean’s Teaching Award from the University of Evansville and a Certificate of Merit for Dramaturgy from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Her developmental initiative has generated grants for playwriting, dramaturgy, and directing from the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, the University of Evansville, and the Illinois Arts Council. Her published articles have appeared in The Dramaturgy Protocol, The Dramaturgy Sourcebook (vol. 4), Theatre Topics, PAJ: Performing Arts Journal, and HowlRound at the Center for Theater Commons.
She earned a BA from Tufts University and a PhD from UCLA. She is a member of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and the Network of Ensemble Theatres.
Eric Renschler, BS, BA, MFA
Scenic Design / Associate Professor
Shanklin Theatre, Room 118C
In 2006, Mr. Renschler joined the theatre faculty as the scenic designer and then served as Chair of the UE Department of Theatre from 2015 to 2021. He returned to his alma mater after nearly twenty years of working on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and on regional and international productions.
His Broadway designs include scenery for Mamaloshen and As Long As You Both Shall Laugh (including a subsequent national tour and PBS special). His Off-Broadway credits include designs at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Circle Repertory Company, Pan-Asian Repertory Theatre, Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, and The Juilliard School. His regional design credits include Cincinnati Playhouse, Chautauqua Opera, Barrington Stage Company, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Adirondack Theater Festival, Hangar Theatre, and Seattle Repertory Theatre.
As an associate designer, he worked on over forty Broadway shows, national tours, and international productions, including The Color Purple, Doubt, Chicago, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Footloose, Proof, Wonderful Town, The Redwood Curtain, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
The UE Center for Innovation and Change named Mr. Renschler a 2011 Global Scholar Award-winner. He used his award to expand his experience in the international design arena with a year-long comparative study of national design aesthetics as exhibited through theatrical scenography. He is a former board member for the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana, a member of the Evansville Historic Preservation Commission, and a frequent grant reviewer for the Indiana Arts Commission.
He holds an MFA in Theatre Design from the University of Michigan and is a member of IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) and USA (United Scenic Artists).
Stephen Boulmetis, BFA, MFA
Lighting Design / Associate Professor
Shanklin Theatre, Room 103
Mr. Boulmetis joined the UE Theatre faculty in 2010, bringing with him a wealth of experience in lighting design for television, fashion shows, cruise lines, theme parks, corporate events, and various architectural projects. His Broadway credits include Associate Lighting Designer for The Drowsy Chaperone, Assistant Lighting Designer for Ring of Fire, Whoopi, Old Acquaintance, Butley, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, and Prymate. He has worked at regional theatres such as Utah Shakespeare Festival, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Huntington Theatre Company, South Coast Repertory, American Repertory Theatre, and Westport Country Playhouse.
Mr. Boulmetis received a BFA from the University of Cincinnati–College Conservatory of Music, an MFA from Boston University, and is a member United Scenic Artists–Local 829.
Sarah J Smith, BFA, MEIM
Costume Design / Assistant Professor
Hyde Hall, Room 118 A
Ms. Smith joined the UE Theatre faculty in 2017, after over a decade of professional work as a costume designer, stylist, and project manager in New York City, Los Angeles, and regional theatres across the country, Ms. Smith brings her professional work to the classroom while continuing to pursue professional projects. Her theatre work ranges from small-scale new works to opera and Broadway musicals. Sarah has worked at Disney/ABC Television Studios, styled photo shoots for national print campaigns, and designed costumes for television.
Ms. Smith received her Masters and BFA in Drama/Design from Carnegie Mellon University. She is a proud member of IATSE—United Scenic Artists Local 829 and Theatrical Wardrobe Union Local 764.
Amelia McClain, BFA, MFA
Acting / Assistant Professor
Shanklin Theatre, Room 100B
Ms. McClain has been on the faculty at UE since 2018 and serves as an Assistant Professor of Acting. She teaches all levels of acting, as well as senior-level audition techniques and directs one production each year.
Before returning to her alma mater, she completed a year-long run on Broadway as Sandra in the smash-hit production of The Play That Goes Wrong. Also on Broadway, she worked on Fool For Love, Noises Off, The Heidi Chronicles, The House of Blue Leaves, and the Tony Award-winning Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike. Amelia has been in over 20 productions off-Broadway and in regional theatres across the country.
Her favorites include October/November at Ensemble Stage Theatre in New York, Brooke in Noises Off at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at the Pioneer Theatre Company in Utah. If you don’t blink, you can catch Amelia in the film Inside Llewyn Davis, written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.
She received her BFA from the University of Evansville in 2003 and an MFA from the graduate acting program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She is a member of Actors Equity Association.
During the 2021–22 academic year, Ms. McClain will be performing on Broadway in To Kill a Mockingbird at the Shubert Theatre.
Mitchell Critel, BFA, MFA
Production Manager / Technical Director / Assistant Professor
Hyde Hall, Room 109E
Mr. Critel joined the UE Theatre faculty in August of 2020 as an Assistant Professor of Theatre/Technical Director and Production Manager.
For six years, he was an Assistant Professor of Practice at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where he was named the 2020 Hixson–Lied Junior Faculty Teaching Award-winner. Prior to joining the faculty at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, Mitchell served as the Technical Director at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, from 2010–2014, and as the Assistant Technical Director at the University of Evansville from 2008–2010.
Mr. Critel’s current research includes the “Integration of Computer Numeric Controlled Routers into Theatre Curriculum,” as well as “Adapting Professional Theatre Technical Management Strategies into the College Setting.” He is a frequent presenter at the United States Institute of Theatre Technology’s annual conference and is a member of USITT's Technical Production Commission.
He received his MFA from the University of Missouri–Kansas City and a BFA in Technical Theatre Production from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Stacey Yen, BA, MFA
Guest Artist / Acting / Visiting Assistant Professor
Shanklin Theatre, Room 100C
Ms. Yen is in her second year as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Acting/Guest Artist in the UE Department of Theatre. She has previously been a guest artist at Princeton, Fordham, and New York University, and has extensive performance experience both in theatre and television.
Her professional acting credits include roles at several prestigious theatres including: The Public Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, American Conservatory Theatre, The Goodman, Berkley Rep, Arena Stage, and Williamstown Theatre Festival. Her television guest star appearances include: The Blacklist, The Good Wife, Instinct, Elementary, Madam Secretary, and Treme.
Ms. Yen received her MFA in Acting from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and a BA in American History from Brown University. She is a member of the Actors Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild.
Wes Grantom, BFA
Resident Director / Adjunct Instructor of Directing
Hyde Hall, Room 109 B
Since 2018, Mr. Grantom has served as the Resident Director and Adjunct Instructor of Directing and Stage Management. His directing credits at UE include Once in a Lifetime, Spring Awakening, and Violet.
His recent professional directing credits include beep boop, by Richard Saudek, at Ars Nova and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, A Comedy of Tenors, by Ken Ludwig, at Pioneer Theatre Company, Older Brother's Almanac, by Richard Thieriot, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Toxic Avenger: The Musical, by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, at Pittsburgh CLO, Lone Star Spirits, by Josh Tobiessen, NYC’s Crowded Outlet, Eager to Lose, by Matthew-Lee Erlbach, at Ars Nova, The Steadfast, by Mat Smart, and Mine, by Bekah Brunstetter, for Slant Theatre Project.
He has a number of Broadway credits as resident and associate director, working alongside James Lapine, Emma Rice, John Rando, Anthony Page and Rufus Norris. Mr. Grantom has also directed productions and facilitated workshops at several academic institutions such as University of Evansville, Montclair State University, New York University, Kean College, Centenary College, Professional Performing Arts School, Stella Adler Conservatory, and the Lee Strasberg Institute.
He is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, recipient of multiple Drama League Fellowships, a member of Lincoln Center Directors Lab, a 2003 graduate of the University of Evansville, and the Artistic Director of Crowded Outlet, based in Queens.
Jean Nelson, AA, BA, MFA
Costume Shop Manager
Shanklin Theatre, Room 4
Ms. Nelson has served as the costume shop manager and taught several costuming courses at the University of Evansville since 2002. Previously, she owned and operated Town Tailor, specializing in alterations, tailoring, and custom sewing for 20 years. Also, she has worked for the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Opera, Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, Santa Fe Opera, Baltimore Opera, and Disney; she continues to spend her summers as a stitcher at The Santa Fe Opera and Guthrie Theatre.
Ms. Nelson has an AA in theatre and business from Austin Community College, a BA in family and consumer science from Mankato State University, and an MA in Design, Housing, and Apparel from the University of Minnesota in St. Paul.
Lindsay Halbig, BS
Dance and Movement / Adjunct Instructor
Ms. Halbig began her dance training at the age of 3 and developed a love of ballet at The Ballet Center under the direction of Mark Bush in Evansville, IN. While there, she had the opportunity to perform in several ballet productions including The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Snow White, The Red Shoes, and other original works. It was during this time that she began integrating Pilates conditioning into her dance training, as well as attending a summer intensive worship with David Howard.
She began instructing students at Jan’s School of Dance after graduating from high school and while pursuing her B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Evansville. In 2011, she expanded her instruction to include several classes at Bob’s Gym in Evansville including Pilates, Group Centergy and Burn at the Barre. She continues to perform and choreograph with Legacy Dance Company in Evansville.
Dana Taylor, BME, MM
Adjunct Instructor of Theatre Education
Mr. Taylor teaches music and theatre at the Mt. Vernon Senior High School Fine Arts Academy in Mt. Vernon, Ind. In addition to teaching, he is the technical theatre editor for Dramatics Magazine and Teaching Theatre Journal.
In 2011, he was named recipient of the Founder’s Award by the Educational Theatre Association and in 2014 received the Distinguished Achievement Award for Education by the United States Institute for Theatre Technology.
Mr. Taylor received his BME and MM degree from Indiana University.
Senior Administrative Assistant
Hyde Hall, Room 109
Mrs. Peachee oversees the day-to-day operations of the main office, coordinates prospective student visits, and serves as the clearinghouse for internal and external questions pertaining to the UE Department of Theatre. She serves as an ex-officio member of the UE Theatre Society Board of Directors and facilitates communication on behalf of the executive committee.