College Theatre Spotlight: Case Western Reserve University

Chris Peterson

Since the beginning of this site, OnStage has made a name for ourselves by highlighting the many fantastic college theatre programs all over the world. In the past we've released rankings of the best BFA programs to the best dance colleges. However, given the amount of research we've done, we can always do more to talk about some of the great things these schools are doing for their students. 

So we're starting a feature called "College Theatre Spotlight" where we highlight a different college theatre program with every column. 

If you know of some great theatre programs out there that deserve more recognition, please email us at


Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA Program - Cleveland, OH

Here at OnStage, we've done plenty to highlight the many BFA and BA programs out there, but we haven't spent nearly enough time on MFA programs. One particular MFA Acting program that is doing some exciting things is the program at Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA Program in Cleveland, OH. 

The CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program has been in existence since 1996 and in that short time has advanced to the forefront of desired programs in the nation and internationally. 

They have a full tuition waiver, which very few schools can boast. This does not mean scholarship or teaching assistantships: there is no work required in exchange for a full tuition waiver. (over $100,000 value over 3 years). Each student is also given a $13,500.00 stipend per academic year (9 months), which is among the highest in the country. Added to that, they are in residence at Cleveland Play House, America’s first regional theatre with new state of the arts facilities. CPH was recently awarded the Regional Theatre Tony Award.

According to Associate Director Donald Carrier, "We only accept 8 students every other year and so the student/faculty ratio is excellent. In their final year, the students do at least one show with Cleveland Play House which gives them their Equity Cards. So, they graduate relatively debt-free with membership in the union that is hard to come by for young artists."
As for their faculty, they are led by Ron Wilson, one of America’s foremost movement instructors. Mr. Carrier is still a working actor, having just performed in CPH's The Crucible and will be in Luna Gale directed by Austin Pendleton in the spring.  He has also worked at the Old Globe under Adrian Noble, the Stratford Festival for 9 seasons, the Shaw Festival, The DC Shakespeare Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre among many others. They also have actor/director Jerrold Scott, a specialist in period styles and dialects, as well as Voice teacher Beth McGee who is past president of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association of America.

Their alumni are quite busy too. They include Rich Sommer, a regular on  Mad Men and is in the New Group's revival of Buried Child, which just opened. Other alumni include, Elizabeth A Davis, who was nominated for a Tony award for, Once and recently starred in Allegro at the Classic Stage Company in NYC directed by John Doyle. 

In the past three years, their graduates have played on Broadway, Off-Broadway, on national tours and at major regional theatres such as The Alliance, St. Louis Rep, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Chautauqua Theatre Company, Florida Stage, The Studio Theatre, Great Lakes Theatre Company, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Rep, Theatreworks, The Cleveland Play House, Cal Shakes, The Magic Theatre, Goodspeed Opera, A.C.T and many more. 
They have one of the strongest New York Showcases. They hire one of NYC's top casting directors (Paul Fouquet) to co-ordinate the presentation for NY Agents and Casting people. 

Once again it's great to see a school provide so many opportunities for their students. I highly encourage you to take a look at their MFA Acting program. For more info visit,