Faculty and Staff
Eric Renschler, BS, BA, MFA
Department Chair / Scenic Design / Associate Professor
Shanklin Theatre, Room 102
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).
Sharla Cowden, BA, MFA
Managing Director / Head of Theatre Management
Hyde Hall, Room 109 E
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 a 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
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.
Stephen Boulmetis, BFA, MFA
Lighting Design / Associate Professor
Shanklin Theatre, Room 103
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
Sarah 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
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.
Mitchell Critel, BFA, MFA
Production Manager / Technical Director / Assistant Professor
Hyde Hall, Room 118C
Stacey Yen, BA, MFA
Guest Artist / Acting / Visiting Assistant Professor
Shanklin Theatre, Room 100C
Wes Grantom, BFA
Resident Director / Adjunct Instructor of Directing
Hyde Hall, Room 109 B
His recent 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 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.
Adam Rager, BS
Assistant Technical Director
Shanklin Theatre, Room 108
Mr. Rager also served as Technical Director for Long Island’s Gateway Playhouse, North Carolina Dance Theatre, and the Albany Berkshire Ballet. Most recently, he worked on the national tours of ELF, DAMN YANKEES, PAW PATROL LIVE, and the 20th anniversary tour of SMOKEY JOE’S CAFE.
Locally, he has designed scenery for Evansville Civic Theatre and Think Pink Productions and is a proud member of IATSE Local 102.
Lindsay Halbig, BS
Dance and Movement / Adjunct Instructor
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
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.
John David Lutz, BA, MA, MFA
Acting / Director / Professor Emeritus
During UE’s 38 years of participating in KC/ACTF, 32 productions were invited to perform at regional festivals—with an 18-year uninterrupted streak of regional appearances. Mr. Lutz directed 24 of those 32 productions. Additionally, eight UE productions were invited to the national festival, six of which were directed by Mr. Lutz.
In 2007, by special invitation, the UE production of The Comedy of Errors was one of the Kennedy Center’s contributions to the “Shakespeare in Washington” celebration. Lutz has also directed at regional theatres and the Off-Broadway premiere of Between Daylight and Boonville, by Matt Williams, a UE alumnus.
A few of his awards include: 1982 University of Evansville Medal of Honor, 1984 KCACTF Gold Medallion, 1987 Berger Award for Outstanding Creative Artist, 1994 Evansville Mayor’s Arts Award for Arts Educator of the Year, 1995 Indiana Governor’s Arts Award for Arts Educator of the Year, 2005 Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana’s Mayor’s Arts Award, 2007 induction into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre, 2012 KCACTF Outstanding Career Achievement in Directing, and 2014 University of Evansville Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.
Mr. Lutz graduated in 1964, from what was then called Evansville College. He earned an MA from the University of Denver and returned to UE in 1965 as an instructor and technical director. He later earned an MFA from the University of New Orleans.
Joseph P. Flauto, BA, MA, MFA
Since Mr. Flauto retired from UE, he has designed over a dozen productions, including sets for a production of Skin of Our Teeth at Hope College and costumes for a new play, Bud, Not Buddy at the University of Michigan-Flint.
Mr. Flauto is also active with UE as a President of Friends of Art, a Theatre Society member, and a member of a committee that organizes monthly lunches for the University’s Emeriti Faculty. For many years, he regularly taught at Harlaxton College in the summer. Mr. Flauto currently serves as the Chair of the Preservation Commission of Evansville.
Patti McCrory, BA, MA
She regularly spends summers teaching in England at Harlaxton College and spent a month drawing at the Italia Accademia, in Florence. She received her BA from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, her MA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and joined United Scenic Artists in 1990.
Under the mentorship of Ms. McCrory, students from the University of Evansville have succeeded in garnering regional and national awards for their costume and make-up designs. For many years in a row, an Evansville student won the Kennedy Center American College Theater Region III’s award in make-up or costume design and advanced to the national competition. In addition, two of those students received the national award in make-up design and one student received the national award in costume design.
In addition to receiving the 2004 KC/ACTF National Design Fellowship, Ms. McCrory received the 2010 Region III Faculty Service Award for Indiana, and the Gold Medallion Award for extraordinary contributions to the teaching and producing of Theater. Other awards include the Dean's Teaching Award and the Arts Educator of the Year Award from the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana.
In 2016, she exhibited in Designs for the Theatre and Life: An Exhibit, a collection of set, costume, and lighting designs, at the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana. As a Professor Emeritus, she is teaching cooking classes and baking, with menus inspired from culinary experiences abroad.
She has two unimaginably handsome and talented twin boys and one amazingly talented daughter in law that live in Los Angeles and New York City.
Christia Ward, BS, MFA
Speech and Voice / Acting / Professor Emeritus
She was an actor at the New Harmony Project for five years and originated roles in Mauritius by Teresa Rebeck, Mad City by Meredith Stiehm, and See Rock City and Gulf View Drive by Arlene Hutton. She has done workshops with Cicely Berry, Catherine Fitzmaurice and David Smukler. She is trained in Knight-Thompson speech work, which is rapidly becoming the standard in professional acting programs.
She made her Shanklin Theatre directing debut in the fall of 2017 with William Shakespeare’s The Tempest and has directed several classroom projects, including Elemenopea, August: Osage County, and the premiere of Kill Local, by 2001 UE alumnus Mat Smart.
Ms. Ward has been honored with acknowledgement of meritorious work by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for her dialect work on Jekyll and Hyde, and her text work on The Comedy of Errors and The Winter’s Tale. Ms. Ward received her MFA in Acting from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University.
She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and VASTA (Voice and Speech Trainers’ Association).
Senior Administrative Assistant
Hyde Hall, Room 109