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Vincent J. Cardinal named chair of Department of Musical Theatre


The new chair of the Department of Musical Theatre at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) will be Vincent J. Cardinal, who begins his tenure in September 2016 as the Arthur E. and Martha S. Hearron Endowed Professor of Musical Theatre.

Cardinal succeeds Brent Wagner, who retired at the end of the 2015-16 academic year after serving for 32 years as the first and only chair in the department's history.

Cardinal is currently the artistic director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre and chair of the Department of Dramatic Arts at the University of Connecticut. Previously, he was associate dean of performing arts at Adelphi University (Long Island, NY) and chair of theatre at the University of Miami (FL), where he was artistic director of the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, garnering international attention for his musical theatre productions.

In addition, Cardinal served at Ohio University as director of the School of Theater and head of the MFA Playwriting Program, and was the director of Off-Broadway's Circle Repertory Company School of Theater. He was also an associate artist with the Circle Rep Company, as well as a member of its Projects-in-Progress series, Circle Rep Lab.

"Vincent Cardinal's exceptional combination of academic and professional accomplishment ideally qualifies him to lead our renowned musical theatre department," said Aaron Dworkin, dean of SMTD. "Under Brent Wagner's brilliant leadership, the department became one of the nation's finest, and one of the University's most beloved. I have no doubt that Vincent will sustain Brent's legacy and continue the tradition of excellence that has made the program a model for all others."

"I am honored and humbled to follow in the footsteps of the department's founding chairman and to work with a gifted faculty who have been so influential in musical theatre and musical theatre training in this country," said Cardinal. "I am excited to join SMTD's visionary dean, Aaron Dworkin, and the SMTD faculty, staff, students, patrons, and alumni for the next great era of musical theatre at the University of Michigan."

A graduate in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama, where he was honored with the ASCAP-Cole Porter Award for Best-Collected Work, Cardinal's plays have been produced internationally, including The Colorado Catechism, which premiered at Circle Repertory Company. The Los Angeles production of the play garnered actors Timothy Daly and Amy Van Nostrand Dramalogue Awards for Best Performances.

Cardinal has directed 80 productions from coast-to-coast; premieres under his direction include Killing El Cid by Dan Shea and Disengaged by Anita Gabrowsek. He recently directed Terrence Mann in My Fair Lady and Man of La Mancha; Pat Sajak in The Odd Couple and The Drowsy Chaperone; Steve Hayes in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Jerry Adler and Richard Kline in The Sunshine Boys; and Leslie Uggams in Gypsy.

SMTD's musical theatre department is one of Michigan's most competitive, with only 22-24 freshmen admitted from approximately 1,000 applicants annually. More than 700 artists have graduated from the program over its 32 years, and at any given time many can be found on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in regional and touring companies.

Musical theatre alumni include Jenni Barber, Nick Blaemire, Gavin Creel, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Barrett Foa, Hunter Foster, Alex Gemignani, Doug LaBreque, Brynn O'Malley, Cary Tedder, Toni Trucks, Carlos Valdes, and Helene Yorke. Other alumni include producer Matthew Rego, the songwriting team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, casting director Rachel Hoffman, and choreographer Josh Rhodes. 

Brent Wagner is credited with making the SMTD musical theatre department one of the country's most esteemed. He adapted the curriculum to reflect changes in the industry without sacrificing a solid foundation of coursework in musical theatre history, and he advocated that one-fourth of student degree requirements be in academic classes not related to the arts, encouraging students to reap the full benefits of the University of Michigan.

A tribute concert honoring Wagner was held at the August Wilson Theatre in New York City on May 16. Produced and performed by alumni, "Maize & Blue on Broadway" was a sold-out event that raised funds for the Michigan Musical Theatre Endowment Fund (, founded by alumni. The fund supports educational opportunities for students, including the Brent Wagner Speaker Series.



past news

November 2015
October 2014

Anisha Nandi, from The Michigan Daily, sat down with professor Michael Gould to talk about his "Remember Me" show. The video can be seen on the Michigan Daily website.   10/01/2014

July 2014

Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Dance, Peter Sparling is a recipient of a Distinguished University Professorship. Effective September 1, Sparling will be a Rudolf Arnheim Distinguished University Professor. This appointment is one of the highest honors the University can bestow upon a faculty member.   07/18/2014

Professor Patricia Hall will be presenting her paper, "Alban Berg's 'Guilt' by Association to the Music, Censorship and Meaning in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union conference at the Colburn School in Los Angeles this August.   07/12/2014

April 2014

Prof. Ed Sarath Receives U-M's "Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award" 04/21/2014

Professor Kuster Wins Prestigious OPERA America Grant 04/04/2014

Professor Mukherji to Speak in London this July 04/04/2014

Áine Heneghan, Assistant Professor of Music Theory, will present her research on Schoenberg's Formenlehre at the following conferences, all in 2014: Music Theory Midwest (Appleton, WI), the Eighteenth Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music (Toronto, Canada), EuroMAC (Leuven, Belgium), and the annual meeting of the Society for Music Theory (Milwaukee).   04/01/2014

March 2014

U-M UpstART Festival Begins 03/31/2014

A Multimedia Installation on Climate Change 03/28/2014

Wayne Petty, Associate Professor of Music Theory, will read his paper, "Some Multimovement Designs in C. P. E. Bach's Late Keyboard Sonatas" at the Seventh EuroMac conference, which will gather scholars from all music theory societies in Europe in Leuven, Belgium, from 17 to 21 September, 2014.  An adaptation of the paper will be presented to the Society for Music Theory in Milwaukee in the Fall of 2014.   03/26/2014

Walter Everett, Professor of Music Theory, announces the publication of Los Beatles como músicos: De Revolver de la Antología (Buenos Aires: Eterna Cadencia, 2013), the Spanish translation of his The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver through the Anthology (Oxford University Press, 1999).   03/21/2014

Celebration of Professor George Shirley's 80th Birthday 03/19/2014

Prof. Korsyn presents keynote in The Hague, serves in scholarly appointments 03/14/2014

December 2013

In January 2014 Professor Wayne Petty will read the paper, "Wilhelm Fischer and the Fortspinnung-type Sonata Exposition," at the Seventh International Conference on Music Theory in Tallin and Pärnu, Estonia.  The conference theme is "Musical Form: Mapping the Territories."   12/17/2013

AmeriGrove II, edited by Professor Charles Garrett, is published 12/13/2013

November 2013

Gosman Presents Beethoven Research 11/16/2013

Department of Music Theory Announces Visiting Speakers of 2014 11/16/2013

Everett Launches Beatles Observances 11/16/2013

Interarts professor Holly Hughes presents The Dog and Pony Show (Bring Your Own Pony) in a webcast performance at the Chicago Humanities Festival on Mon., Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. Her newest performance work, the piece offers a poetic and comic meditation on midlife crises in the key of canine.   11/01/2013

September 2013

SMTD Welcomes New Faculty 09/27/2013

Ramon Satyendra, associate professor of music theory, has published his essay, "Morphisms of Generalized Interval Systems and PR-Groups" (co-authored with Thomas Fiore and Thomas Noll), in Journal of Mathematics and Music 7/1.   09/20/2013

Alan Gosman Co-authors New Beethoven Book 09/06/2013

July 2013

Professor Ashley Lucas and three Theatre & Drama students are engaged in an intensive exchange program with UniRio in Rio de Janiero, Brazil this summer, where they are blogging about their experiences in UniRio's prison arts program and more.   07/12/2013

June 2013

SMTD Mourns Professor Emeritus Erling Bengtsson 06/10/2013

Holly Hughes, professor of interarts performance in the Department of Theatre & Drama, was profiled in Hyperallergic, an online magazine about art and culture, which included a Q&A with Hughes about her role as one of the "NEA Four."   06/06/2013

Music theory professor Walter Everett's role as an expert on the music of the Beatles was the subject of an article in      06/06/2013

Hall presents in Copenhagen 06/03/2013

May 2013

Robert Hurst, associate professor of jazz and contemporary improvisation, was featured in a Q&A article in on the occasion of the release of his new CD, BOB: a palindrome.   05/01/2013

November 2012
November 2011
February 2010
Current Faculty News
Prof. Ellen Rowe honored as Arthur F. Thurnau Professormore
Theatre professor's play inspired by deadly incident on Mexican bordermore

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