LU Department of Theatre and Dance welcomes new chair
Deena Conley took over as the new chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance at Lamar University this fall. She looks forward to continuing to build on the partnership between theatre and dance as well as sharing with the community the talents of the department’s students.
“I want people to know the quality of the theatre and dance program at Lamar,” said Conley, department chair and professor of theatre. “The students are excited with the changes in our department, and their openness to trying new things tells me a lot about the quality of the faculty. They wouldn’t be that way unless they were encouraged to do so.”
An accomplished actor and director, Conley has lived and worked all over the country, including New York City, Washington, D.C., Indiana, and Detroit. She has been a professor of theatre for more than 13 years and previously taught at Drake University, where she was chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and head of directing. She has also taught at Wartburg College and Wayne State University.
She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting and directing from Marshall University, a Master of Arts in theatre history with an emphasis in directing from the University of Oklahoma, and a Ph.D. in directing from Wayne State University.
“We’re very pleased to have Deena providing leadership to the Department of Theatre & Dance,” said Russ Schultz, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication. “She brings a wealth of experience, both as a department chair and in the theatrical arena. We’re particularly glad to have someone whose expertise in musical theatre will allow us to pursue that medium as a stronger part of our academic studies.”
Conley has directed multiple productions, both musical and otherwise, including “Chicago,” “Distracted,” “next to normal,” “A Little Night Music,” “Fool For Love,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Picnic” and “The Widow’s Blind Date.”
Next spring she will bring her talents to the Lamar stage when she directs the Tony Award-winning musical “Sweet Charity,” written by Neil Simon, with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields. The production will run April 10 – 13 in the University Theatre.
“I’m excited about ‘Sweet Charity,’” Conley said. “I think having a musical will highlight the wonderful talents of both our theatre and our dance students. One of the things I’m really excited about in this new position is that although I have no training in dance, I love the art form. I’ve missed being around dance.”
Conley moved to Beaumont with her husband Dan Egnor and their three sons: twin 10-year olds and a 9-year-old. She is having a fun time discovering the charms of Southeast Texas and recently enjoyed taking her sons to the beach for the very first time.
To learn more about the Department of Theatre & Dance at Lamar, visit lamar.edu/theatredance.