Published on August 28, 2019 by Ashley Smith  

Samford University’s School of the Arts features a variety of theatre, dance and opera performances throughout the year, allowing our students to gain extensive hands-on experience in live production. From set design to acting and directing, our students are involved in productions from day one.

“Working on stage is an essential counterpart to what students are learning in the classroom. Here they apply what they learn in real-world circumstances in front of an audience. The stakes are high.” said Mark Castle, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance.

The theatre and dance season includes six to eight faculty-led main stage productions annually, along with numerous student-run performances. This year, join our students for fairy tales, comedies, histories, musicals and more. 

Emma Taylor Theatre for Youth Series begins with the charming story of Ella Enchanted, the musical, Oct. 4-6. This musical version will “enchant” audiences of all ages. FirstNight, Oct. 3, opens the show with a special event for Birmingham area agencies. According to Laura Byland, director of the Theatre for Youth program, “FirstNight shares the live theatre experience with individuals who may not have the opportunity to see theatre otherwise.” The Theatre for Youth program prepares students to be teaching artists who share learning through theatre. In addition to their annual main stage production, students are immersed in various outreach programs.

Samford’s Department of Theatre and Dance will celebrate the 10th anniversary season of Michael J. and Mary Anne Freeman’s sponsorship of the theatre and dance series. Castle noted their longtime dedication, “The Freemans are one of the first sponsors of events in the School of the Arts and they have paved the way for other generous donors to support the incredible work of our students. They have become part of the Samford family.”

The Freeman Series kicks off with Sylvia, Oct. 24-27. Directed by Don Sandley, Sylvia is a comedy about a man, his wife and a dog. 

Musical and history buffs should mark your calendars for 1776, Nov. 21-24. Directed by Chelsea Nicholson, this musical illustrates the challenges that went into the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

In the spring, the annual dance concert will be Feb. 21-23. This is a collaborative production featuring the Samford Dance Company and students and faculty across the School of the Arts.

The Freeman Series final production of the year will be Shakespeare’s As You Like It, March 19-22, directed by Mark Castle. Set in the forest of Arden, this classic romantic comedy pokes fun at convention, and asks the question, “What is true love?”

The season grand finale will be the Dr. Chandler and Jane Paris Smith Opera Series presentation of Into the Woods, April 23-26. Opera and musical theatre students combine efforts to present this magical fairy tale under the direction of Kristin Kenning. Opera students will also perform at the Opera Workshop Nov. 1-2 in Bolding Studio.

For more information visit the Samford Arts event page. Tickets are available at

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.