UNCG Magazine

Celebrating UNCG's 125th Anniversary

On stage

Music. Theatre. Dance. Or a wonderful mixture, such as when master’s student Rhiannon Giddens offered to choreograph the dance scene in David Holley’s production of the opera “Susannah” in 2004. The lights have always shone brightly on this campus’s stages.

Musical Maestro

Dr. Richard Cox arrived at Woman’s College in 1960, at the encouragement of his friend, Dr. Elizabeth Cowling. He would become UNCG’s chorale and opera conductor, and professor of conducting, voice, music literature and diction in singing. He performed frequently with his students and was also the founding conductor of Bel Canto Company and the chorus master of Greensboro Opera.


“I have a very good feeling about all of it,” Cox said about his 42 years at UNCG. “The music I was able to perform, the talented students to perform with and the things they learned from doing it. The most satisfying thing is the success of the students.”

Go For It

Beth Leavel ’80 MFA told theatre students her attending UNCG’s MFA in theatre program was “a really, really smart choice.”


She said, “Being here validated my passion.” She was surrounded by like minds and supportive teachers, she explained. “I felt so privileged to be here.” After graduating, she soon booked “42nd Street” and she was on her way.


Her other Broadway credits include “The Drowsy Chaperone,” for which she won a Tony; “Baby It’s You,” for which she was nominated for a Tony; “Elf;” “Mamma Mia!;” “Young Frankenstein” and “Show Boat.” She encouraged the Spartan actors, destined for the bright lights of big cities. “You’ll have amazing experiences. Just go for it.”

Taylor to ‘Gotham’

UNCG Theatre gave Chris Chalk ’01 MFA his start. Jim Wren, John Gulley and Michael Flannery were his most influential professors, he said. Other memorable professors were Belinda “Be” Boyd, Marsha Paludan and Lorraine Shackleford.


“It was the beginning of a continuing journey to becoming an artist.”


He has starred in Broadway’s “Fences” with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Other credits include “Gotham,” “The Newsroom” and “12 Years a Slave,” which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Home Stage

Graduate school was a whirlwind for James Fisher ’76 MFA.


“We were teaching or working in the shop during the day and rehearsing all night,” he recalled. “I don’t remember much eating or sleeping, but I’d go back in a minute and do it again.”


Esteemed professor Herman Middleton drew him to UNCG. Professor Kathryn England nudged him toward directing. He became a professor and has directed more than 150 plays.


In 2007, Fisher returned to UNCG to join the faculty. He continues to teach and direct.


“When I walked out on that stage (in 2007), it was like no time had passed and it was just time for rehearsal to start,” he said.

image of Wade Brown's Baton circa 1896.

Wade Brown’s baton circa 1896. He was campus’s first renowned music professor.

All the wonderful smells of oily rope, fresh and old paint on sets, the mystery and excitement of the old fashioned light board high above the stage and actors.

Did You Know?

In early 20th century all-women casts, those playing men were not allowed to wear pants. They wore skirts instead.