Department of Theatre

Alumni and Emeritus Faculty


Our graduates go on to work as professional actors, designers, directors, technicians, and educators. Many of our faculty and alumni work under Screen Actors’ Guild and Actors’ Equity Association contracts and at venues like the Alley Theatre (TX); Cherry Lane Theatre (NY); Fulton Opera House (PA); Good Theatre (ME), InterAct Theatre Company (PA); Maine State Music Theatre (ME); Opera House Arts (ME); PORTopera (ME); Seattle Repertory Theatre (WA); State Ballet of Rhode Island (RI); Tulsa Opera (OK); Utah Shakespeare Festival (UT); and Walnut Street Theatre (PA), to name just a few.  

Emmy Award-winning actor Tony Shalhoub (Monk) and award-winning playwright and screenwriter Lynn Siefert are USM theatre graduates; as is Kurt Ela, who recently appeared in All About Steve with Sandra Bullock.  Faculty and graduates have worked on Broadway in Conversations with My Father, The Most Happy Fella, and The Heidi Chronicles; in films in The Big Night, Barton Fink, Blizzard of Ah's, Cool Runnings, Men in Black, Thirteen Ghosts, Mermaids, Pet Sematary, Graveyard Shift, All the Vermeers in New York, Sundowning, and Thinner; and on television: Empire Falls, All My Children, Wings, and Monk.

Many of our majors choose to pursue graduate careers not only in Theatre, but also in disciplines outside of Theatre, a testament to the rigorous liberal arts education provided to our Theatre undergraduates. Recent Theatre graduates have been accepted into diverse graduate programs including University of Kansas’s M.A. in Theatre, Boston University’s M.F.A. in Lighting Design, Simmons College’s M.S. in Library & Information Science, and Antioch University’s M.Ed. in Arts Education.


Emeritus Faculty Profiles


In Memorium
Minor Rootes

Minor Rootes

The Department of Theatre is sad to share the passing of our friend and founding father, Minor Rootes, on June 3, 2017 at the age of 86.

In the Fall of 1966, Minor Rootes was hired as a member of the English Department to teach Public Speaking and Theatre Productions.  By 1968, Minor had created a division of the English Department to teach Theatre/Speech courses independently.  Within two years, he was responsible for creating the new Department of Theatre/Speech, independent of the English Department.  What had begin as two courses was increased within four years to twelve courses and a faculty of three, with five majors.   The Department was soon known as not only the finest Theatre department in all of the campuses in the University System, but also in the Portland community.  At the time of Minor's official retirement as a fulltime professor over 40 years later, the Department of Theatre had a faculty of ten with ninety majors and 48 courses on the books.  Primarily through the efforts of Minor Rootes, the University of Southern Maine Department of Theatre was created.  Teaching was Minor's great passion in life.  
He will be dearly missed.


In Memoriam
Walter Ray Stump

The USM Department of Theatre mourns the passing of its co-founder, Walter Ray Stump, on December 14, 2017 at the age of 83.  

Walter was a distinguished author, playwright and retired theatre professor at the University of Southern Maine.  He grew up in the deserts of the American southwest and moved to San Diego in his teen years. In 1968 Walter moved his family to Gorham, Maine at the urging of his friend, Minor Rootes, who was teaching theatre & public speaking classes at USM.  He took a job as a professor of theater at USM, where he taught until his retirement in 2010. He and Minor are credited with the creation and growth of the USM Department of Theatre, their home away from home

A gifted and beloved theatrical director and university professor, Walter made a real difference in his students' lives. He directed over 120 plays in his career and authored four books; Imitation: The Art of the Theater, Trail of the Mountain God, The Mojave Chronicles, Desert Oases and Anasazi. He wrote and and directed five plays; Cactus Charlie's Saloon, Magnolia Club, Oh Antigone, The Importance of Being Wilde, and Cactus Charlie's Wake.  His most critically acclaimed directorial effort was his final USM production of his friend Peter Schaffer's play Equus.

Walter's optimistic personality, quirky sense of humor and generosity endeared him to all those around him. He was an avid fisherman, mountain climber, traveler, skier, proud father of three children and grandfather to seven grandchildren.  On to the next adventure!





Chuck Kading

Charles Kading

Professor Kading taught design and stagecraft at USM for over 30 years. His professional credits include Titanic, The Wiz, Chicago, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Mary Poppins for Maine State Music Theatre; Big River, My Fair Lady, 42nd Street, Cabaret, and Annie for Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre; Noises Off! and Blithe Spirit at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. He worked extensively at The Alley Theatre in Houston where his credits include the US premiere of Alan Ayckbourne's Henceforward. He has also designed scenery for the Seattle Repertory Theatre and Portland Stage.



Wil Kilroy


Will Kilroy

Having served USM for over 23 years, Professor Kilroy was granted emeritus status in 2015.  Wil continues to serve as the Director of the Southern Maine Theatre Academy, a residential summer program at USM for 13-18 year olds. Currently Professor Kilroy is Managing Director of the American Southwest Theatre Company, in residence at New Mexico State University where he serves as Department Head for Theatre Arts in their new, state-of-the art facility where their stage is named after renowned playwright and colleague, Mark Medoff.



Tom Power


Thomas Power

Professor Power is the recipient of a number of awards for play writing including Small TalkThe Bridge and Grannia, the musical.  He is a member of the Dramatist Guild. At USM, Professor Power taught directing, play writing and acting as well as having directed main stage productions each year for the department’s season. In addition to a career in commercial talent as a voice-over and video actor, his own theatrical play scripts have been widely produced including the award winning Irish musical, Grannia and Children’s Theatre of Maine touring shows.  He was a nationally recognized teacher in the print media campaign to make teachers count, Teachers Count.  His play writing has been influenced by characters met during his summers spent sailing the coast of Maine as a licensed captain. For more information, visit his personal Web site, 



William SteeleWilliam Steele

Professor Steele is an award-winning playwright and drama critic, the author of four books on theater and film and a professional actor with many national and regional filmand television credits. Favorite shows directed include Edward Albee’s The Play About the Baby at Mad Horse Theatre and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Freeport Players; Bernard Slade’s Same Time Next Year at Good Theater; and at USM: Robert Anderson’s Tea and Sympathy, Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love,  David Auburn’s Proof,Machiavelli’s The Mandrake, David Rabe’s Streamers, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, Tennessee Williams’ Small Craft Warnings and A View from the Bridge, Arthur Kopit’s Oh, Dad, Poor, Dad, Mark Medoff’s When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?, and Edward Albee’s Zoo Story. at USM.