College of Visual and Performing Arts

Alumni Successes in Theatre

We are proud of the many exciting accomplishments of the more than 100 alumni of the Department of Theatre who live in dozens of states across the country and are practicing, performing and creating in the area of theatre. Many of our graduates have remained in northeast Indiana, where their exciting creativity continues to reflect on VPA as the Center for Arts Education in Northeast Indiana. 

We highlight theatre alumni each semester in VPA Visions, the school newsletter, which is published during the fall and spring semester for patrons, faculty, students, and alumni. 

Theatre alumni are encouraged to provide information on their recent accomplishments and to update their contact information. Please e-mail your information Susan Domer, VPA Marketing and Public Relations Specialist at or call her 260-481-6025.


Stephanie Lochbihler (’12) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and also performed on the Williams Theatre stage in 2010 in the comedy Noises Off! She is currently working on a Ph.D. in psychology at Indiana University Bloomington and was featured in a Compound W commercial on the company's web site. Enoy!

Blane Pressler (’04, theatre) recently appeared in his one-man show It Will Never Happen at Ozark Actors Theatre, developed with NYC music director David Maglione. Late this year Pressler will go back to redevelop his one-man show for its NYC debut in early 2015. In November, he starred in a new musical, Wendy's Shadow, presented at the Irvington Town Hall Theatre’s New Work Series in Irvington, New York. The musical has been in development for more than a year and Pressler was featured on the YouTube channel Famous in New York singing “My Name is Hook,” a number from the show.

Theatre Alumni Celebrate 50 Years

More than 140 theatre alumni and friends gathered on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, prior to the opening night of The Imaginary Invalid to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Department of Theatre. During remarks by College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean John O’Connell, forefathers of the Department of Theatre were honored during the event for their contributions to a department that has grown significantly over the years. Robert Tolan claimed basement space in the new Kettler Hall in 1964 for the fledgling program, which now includes Williams Theatre on the north end of main campus, with 11 faculty and staff serving more than 45 students. Other leaders in the Department of Theatre who were honored included Daniel Cashman, O. Franklin Kenworthy, Larry L. Life, Steven T. Sarratore and Craig A. Humphrey. A commemorative book also was produced and shared with alumni that evening. Anyone who would like to have a free copy of this book mailed to their home, please contact Susan Domer at 260-481-6025 or

Amber Klinker (’13, B.A. in theatre) was selected for a summer internship position with the South Bend Civic Theatre. She will design costumes for A Wrinkle in Time, based on the Newberry Award-winning book, as well as costumes for the musical The Producers, including the Chrysler Building dress and a beer stein costume.

Hamilton's Love of Theatre: Contagious

Department of Theatre alumnus Adam James Hamilton, 26, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and formerly of Fort Wayne, died Saturday, June 7, 2014, at Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne. He was involved in a head-on crash on U.S. 33 in Ohio, as he was returning home for a family reunion. He received a B.A. in theatre from IPFW in 2011 and a M.F.A. in theatre performance from Regent University in 2014. All of Hamilton’s fellow M.F.A. cohorts traveled from Regent University and attended at his funeral on June 12 at Feller and Clark Funeral Home in Auburn, Ind.

Known by many as the “gentle giant,” Hamilton was hard to overlook at 6’8” tall. He performed in a variety of productions while at IPFW including character roles in The Taming of the Shrew, The Lark, The Diviners, The Yellow Boat, Down the Road, Wonderful Town and Shakespeare’s King Lear.

“Adam was a dedicated theatre major while he was at IPFW, certainly loved acting, auditioned for every show while he was here and was cast in many,” said VPA Dean John O’Connell, who was chair of the Department of Theatre during Hamilton’s undergraduate work. “He served his peers by acting as president of the Student Theatre Organization from 2009-11 and as our college's new student orientation representative between his junior and senior year. We were very proud that Adam went on to graduate school immediately after graduating with his B.A. in Theatre with an emphasis in acting. He will be missed by so many in our community.”

Hamilton’s untimely death came as a shock to his peers and educators at Regent University, who had just conferred Hamilton’s Master of Fine Arts degree on May 3, 2014.  “Adam was a wonderful actor who brought joy and laughter both on and off the stage. He was a tremendous stand-up comedian, too,” said Dr. Mitch Land, Dean of the School of Communication and the Arts at Regent University. “We pray for his family, devoted friends and other loved ones during this time.”

His credits at Regent include The Three Musketeers, Blithe Spirit, The Adding Machine, Fiddler on the Roof and Almost, Maine. His M.F.A. thesis role was as Antipholus of Syracuse in Regent’s production of Comedy of Errors.

“After spending the last three years together, I know none of us in the Regent family will ever forget him,” remarked Associate Professor Eric Harrell, who also serves as the producing artistic director of the Tidewater Stage, the professional summer theatre affiliated with Regent University. “He had a heart as big as his stature, a gentle kindness that made him a friend to all and a passion for the theatre that was contagious.”

Kayla Crance  (’11, theatre) most recently had a co-starring role in an episode of Criminal Minds which aired on March 5, 2014. For more information visit:


Jane Frazier (’00, theatre) has accepted the position of assistant professor of theatre at Vincennes University. Frazier will be teaching theatre appreciation, acting, theatre history and directing. This fall she will direct Once Upon a Mattress, which will open in the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center on Oct. 24. Frazier also will be responsible for maintaining the department’s NAST accreditation. Frazier earned a Master’s in theatre pedagogy at Virginia Commonwealth University and most recently has been an associate faculty member at IPFW and Manchester University.

Adam Hamilton (’11, theatre) currently is an M.F.A. candidate at Regent University in Virginia Beach and will be the head intern for the inaugural season of Tidewater Stage, Regent’s new professional theatre company in residence, beginning July 2013. The summer 2013 season includes Forever Plaid July 5-14 and Barefoot in the Park Aug. 2-11. Hamilton currently is playing the role of Lord Biron in Love's Labours Lost at the Tidewater Shakespeare Theatre in Virginia Beach through June 1, then will begin work on his M.F.A. thesis role playing Antipholus of Syracuse in Comedy of Errors in October.


Blane Pressler (’09, Theatre) will join the Actors Equity Association (AEA) and receive his equity card when he begins work this summer with the Ozark Actors Theatre in Rolla, Missouri, just outside St. Louis. He has been cast in The Wizard of Oz, Noises Off and The Diviners. He has also started work as an extra on the Showtime series The Big C starring Laura Linney.

Department of Theatre alumnus Brent Bruin ('09) is now the workroom supervisor for the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, California. Brent manages the costume shop for three theatre spaces including The Kirk Douglas Theater, Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson Theater. Bruin’s shows include Red, Elephant Room and November.

IPFW alumna Elizabeth Burris (’12) is now settled into her new job as an assistant to the director at the National Theater in Mannheim, Germany. Burris worked on Soul City, an experimental art theater project new to the National Theater, with director Lajos Talamonti. Known as one of the most prestigious theatres in Europe the National Theater began in 1779. Friedrich Schiller’s first major drama, The Robbers, was performed at the original theatre in 1782. The theatre’s current home in Manheim, Germany, opened in 1957. The National Theatre features opera, ballet and a wide variety of programs for all ages. 

Brent Bruin (B.A. ’09, theatre) will receive an MFA in costume technology from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts on May 6, 2012. Mentored by Associate Professor Craig A. Humphrey and costume shop manager Jeanne Pendleton, Bruin discovered his love of costume design during his junior year of study at IPFW.

Blane Pressler (B.A. ’09, theatre) will join the Actors Equity Association (AEA) and receive his equity card when he begins work this summer with the Ozark Actors Theatre in Rolla, Missouri, just outside St. Louis. He has been cast in The Wizard of Oz, Noises Off and The Diviners. He has also started work as an extra on the Showtime series The Big C starring Laura Linney.

Aaron Mann (B.A. ’09, theatre) recently completed a national tour of A Christmas Carol for the Nebraska Theatre Caravan.  The lavish production has toured nationally since 1979 and featured lavish costumes and special effects for the four fantastic spirits who visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve. Mann also is featured on the original cast album. 


Breona Conrad (B.A. ’08, theatre) secured work with the Tweetsie Railroad Co. in Blowing Rock, N.C., from May to November following the 2008 Unified Professional Theatre auditions in Memphis, Tenn. She has signed with the Know Theatre of Cincinnati on its national education tour, Calculus: The Musical, which runs through May.

Erica Tobolski (B.A. ’86, theatre) has been appointed as the distinguished visiting professor in the College of Creative and Performance at the Universiti Teknologi MARA in Shah Alam, Malaysia, which is just outside Kuala Lumpur. She is pursuing this opportunity during her 2008–09 sabbatical from the University of South Carolina. The associate professor of voice and acting is teaching beginning
and advanced voice/speech, advanced acting, and script analysis in Malaysia, where she will also study the traditional southeast Asian art of shadow puppets and masks.

Jane Rebekah Frazier (B.A. ’00, theatre) earned an M.F.A. in Theatre Pedagogy from Virginia Commonwealth University in August 2008. She is directing the upcoming IPFW production of The Caretaker on April 3 and 4 in Studio Theatre.

Jenn Nickell (B.A. ’05, theatre) is the new drama and arts teacher at Blackhawk Middle School in Fort Wayne.

Eve Escandon (B.A. ’04, theatre) worked as an intern with the San Diego Repertory Theatre in 2008.

View Alumni Successes by Department: Fine Arts | Music | Theatre | Visual Communication and Design