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School of Theatre & Dance welcomes Jeremiah Downes

Jeremiah Downes

The West Virginia University School of Theatre & Dance is excited to welcome Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre Jeremiah Downes to the faculty. He received a BFA from Univeristy of the Arts in Philidelphia and a Masters of Music from Oklahoma City University. He is also a member of the Actors’ Equity Association. Professor Downes has spent more than 15 years as a professional performer on stages alongside some of Broadway’s finest performers.

“I am thrilled that we were able to land a teacher-performer as versatile and experienced as Jeremiah Downes,” said College of Creative Arts Dean Keith Jackson. “As both a teacher and performer he has engaged in activities in large metropolitan and in rural cultural centers. As our music theatre program continues to develop into one of the leading programs in the region, his diversity of experiences will be a great benefit to our students.”

Downes has taught successful musicians and performers in fields from Broadway to recording studios to opera houses. He continues to work out of Philadelphia and New York City.

“I come to this position armed with some 20 years of experience in the professional theatre and almost a decade in higher education,” Downes said. “The result allows me to bring to the table myriad strategies and initiatives to ignite the training, and education, of the next generation of 21st century thinkers, artists and theatre makers here at West Virginia University. With our compassionate and dedicated students at WVU this makes for the ideal combination of critical elements necessary in propelling WVU’s musical theatre program to the forefront, nationally and internationally, as a leader among Bachelor of Fine Art programs in musical theatre.”

Professor Downes expressed his excitement about joining us at WVU.

“Having taught at musical theatre programs around the country, I know an exceptional theatre program when I see one, and WVU has an exceptional theatre program. I’m humbled to be joining a team of established, brilliant, colleagues teaching in the School of Theatre & Dance, and I look forward to building on the strong foundation already put in place with this young, burgeoning musical theatre performance program,” he said.

Downes also expressed, “My hope is students leave my classes, and our school, with not just the talent to succeed in the theatre but the knowledge, insight, compassion, collaborative spirit and discipline to alter what the art form can be and do, and its subsequent impact on our society for the better.”

Downes is an accomplished songwriter; his work as a songwriter includes “Highways and Daydreams,” the musical adaptation of Richard Donner’s 1992 film “Radio Flyer,” “Dancing As Fast As We Can” and “Seven.” In January 2019, Farmers Alley Theatre produced his work in “Jeremiah Downes & Friends: Live at Farmers Alley Theatre.” Live recording from that production available online and streaming.

“I believe in higher education as critical piece in the puzzle for the betterment of our society, and our world. And, I take my role in the classroom, studio and on stage seriously. I'm committed to developing craft, imagination and ingenuity in my students,” he said. “But I’m just as dedicated to instilling in them a sense of autonomy and ownership over their thoughts, their knowledge, their creative process and their own singular voice as young scholars and artists.”

Professor Downes will be directing the musical “Head Over Heels” this Spring. The show is part of the College of Creative Arts’ Curiosity Series and will be running April 23 – 25 in the Lyell B. Clay Theatre.