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Branding Iron Theatre Hall of Fame

 Branding Iron Theatre Hall of Fame

Past BIT Hall of Fame Classes

Bill Anderson
WT Class of 1974

Wendall Cain
WT Class of ____

Rene Clemente
WT Class of 1972

Mila Gibson
WT Class of 1968 and 1969

Steve Hilton
WT Class of 1974 and 1976

Gene Murray
WT Class of 1956 and 1961

Pat Starr
WT Class of 1957

Royal L. Brantley
WT Faculty 1953 - 1987

Marti Hinson Kirk
WT Class of 1960

Jerome McDonough
WT Class of 1968 and 1972

William A. and Margaret Moore
WT Faculty 1947 - 1977

Eddie Thomas
WT Class of 1959 and 1968

Jerry O. Williams
WT Class of 1955 and 1957

 

 2005 BIT Hall of Fame Class

Joe Anderson
WT Class of 1978

Lee N. Kendle
WT Class of 1976 and 1978

Allen Shankles
WT Class of 1980

Michael Skinner
WT Class of 1990

 

2010 BIT Hall of Fame Class

J. Frank and Melody Davis
WT Class of 1977, 1981 and 1982

Denise Verner Green
WT Class of 1985

James D. Kemmerling
WT Faculty 1968 - 2008

J. Gary and Lyndia Miller-Wyatt
WT Class of 1963 and 1964

 


Bill Anderson

Anderson began his theatre career while attending Canyon High School. After graduating from CHS, he attended WTSU, where he was involved in numerous productions over his four years at WT. He received three BIT awards for his design and technical work and the Alpha Psi Omega Outstanding Backstage Achievement Award Fall 1971. A member of Alpha Psi Omega, he served as Stage Manager and Cast Director. Anderson was also President of Buffalo Masquers. He was actively involved with the production of TEXAS for many years, having served both backstage and with the sound and lighting crew. Bill graduated from WTSU in 1974. Receiving a graduate assistantship from the University of Iowa, he and his wife, Levona, moved to Iowa City where Bill worked toward his Master of Fine Arts degree in theatre design . While at Iowa, Bill also did work with the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. After receiving his MFA degree from the University of Iowa, he took a position with the University of South Carolina, followed by a faculty position at Louisiana State University. At LSU, Anderson was involved in lighting design and technical direction for many productions over a period of five years. It was during this time that Bill moved into the consulting engineering field working for N. B. Traylor & Associates and later for AMX Corporation. Bill and Levona reside in Richardson, Texas along with their daughters Katie, Shawna, and Ashley.


Joe Anderson 

Joe Anderson grew up on a farm outside of Lovington, New Mexico and graduated summa cum laude from WTAMU in 1978, with a double major in Music.  Mr. Anderson was attending WT on an academic scholarship and had intended to major in pre-medicine, but he was hooked on performing after being cast in South Pacific as a chorus member, and subsequently performed numerous roles in the Branding Iron Theatre and in TEXAS.   Mr. Anderson attributes much of his knowledge and success to Royal Brantley (Sr.), who became his teacher, director, mentor, and great friend over the five years he attended WT.  After graduation, Mr. Anderson spent two years in Salt Lake City where he lived most of the year with two of his TEXAS buddies, Joe Clark and Mark Lanham, and performed several roles in the Pioneer Theater Company.  During the first year in Utah, Mr. Anderson auditioned for and then spent the next two summers performing at the St. Louis MUNY Opera, where he became a member of the professional actor’s union, Actor’s Equity Association.  In order to join, Mr. Anderson had to change his name, because there was already a Joe Anderson in the union, so he tacked an “l” onto Joe, thereby becoming Joel Anderson.  He subsequently moved to New York City where he was soon cast in a national touring production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and was eventually asked to join the Broadway production, where he performed until it closed in 1982.  After that Mr. Anderson exclusively pursued his true calling in non-musical theater.   He was invited to become a member of the late, great Circle Repertory Company in New York City, after winning and performing the role of Eddie in Circle Rep’s Japan tour of Sam Shepard’s play, Fool for Love.  Some other Circle Rep members include William Hurt, Judd Hirsch, Jeff Daniels, Swoozie Kurtz, as well as writers Lanford Wilson, John Bishop, and others.  He also became a life member of the famed Actor’s Studio, when he was one of only three unanimous winners out of only six chosen from over two thousand auditioners in 1985. The judges included Elia Kazan, Ellen Burstyn, Harvey Keitel, Joanne Woodward, Estelle Parsons, and Lee Grant.  Mr. Anderson has created more than a dozen leading roles in world premiere productions of plays by some of America’s greatest writers.   These include Horton Foote’s Getting Frankie Married—and Afterwards, at South Coast Repertory Company in Costa Mesa, California, as well as Mr. Foote’s The Widow Claire, at Circle in the Square downtown, in New York City.  Other world premiere productions include John Bishop’s Empty Hearts, and Mr. Bishop directed Mr. Anderson in the premiere of Bill Leavengood’s Florida Crackers—both at Circle Repertory’s main stage in New York City. Other premieres include Jim Geoghan’s Light Sensitive at the Globe Theaters in San Diego, Richard Vetere’s The Engagement, at the George Street Playhouse, and Gil Schwartz’s Taking Care of Business at the Pennsylvania Stage Company, to name just a few.   Mr. Anderson has played leading roles in many of America’s most prestigious regional theaters, in such plays as Burn This, Da, Dancing at Lughnasa, Sideman, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Cherry Orchard, The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, and many others.  To date, television and movie credits include Boston Legal, Cold Case, Boston Public, Judging Amy, NYPD Blue, Dr. Quinn-Medicine Woman, The Client, All About Us, Malcolm in the Middle, West Wing, Cheers, Frasier, 7th Heaven, Family Matters, Curse of the Starving Class, Blood Red, to name a few, as well as several dozen television commercials.  Mr. Anderson is living and still acting in Los Angeles, and is currently attending Loyola Law School, where his article “What’s Wrong With This Picture?  Dead or Alive:  Protecting Actors in the Age of Virtual Reanimation” is slated to be published in the 2005 Entertainment Law Review.    


Royal L. Brantley

Brantley taught at WTSU from 1953 to 1987 as a professor of voice, and was the head of the voice department. He directed, composed, conducted, produced and/or performed in about 54 productions during those years at WT.  He was the director of the opera workshop from 1953 to 1979 and composer of the opera Samuel, produced at WT in 1978. Branding Iron Theatre performances include: The King in The King and I, Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and many others.  Brantley continues to compose and conduct in his retirement. 


Wendall Cain

Wendell lived and attended school in Canyon.  He graduated from West Texas State Teachers College (now WTAMU).  Wendell was an officer in the Marine Corps during WWII, and served in the South Pacific.  During his student days a t WT, Wendell appeared in several drama productions including SOLDIER'S WIFE with his sister, Joy Cain.  He appeared with the Palo Duro Players over several summers in such production as THE SILVER WHISTLE, LADIES IN RETIREMENT, and THE GLASS MENAGERIE with Margaret Moore, wife of William Moore.  Mrs. Moore often assisted her husband in directing, and as they were directing Wendell in THE ROCK,  the story of Simon Peter, Mrs. Moore often commented that Wendell could act with his back to the audience better than most  actors could facing the audience.

 Wendell also taught speech and drama at White Deer High School and helped the school garner several outstanding UIL awards in both forensics and One-Act Play contests.  He left White Deer to join the faculty at WT and for several years was the Technical Director for the Branding Iron Theatre.  He returned to school himself for a doctorate in Speech and Hearing Science for the University of Denver, and upon her return began a division of Speech Therapy and Audiology which was just coming in prominence in the public schools at the time.

He married Scotty Clark in 1964 and they lived east of Canyon.  Since his wife's death, Wendall has remained at the home on the Palo Duro Canyon highway enjoying his grandchild Amy, his show dogs, and his yard. 


Rene Clemente

Upon graduating from WT Rene Clemente went to NY.  They say that you have to wait at least three years for something to happen when you go to NY to perform.  It took Rene three months.  He was cast in the musical of the 70s - - A CHORUS LINE as the incredible Paul San Marco.  He was a sensation and it wasn't a surprise really because A CHORUS LINE fit Rene's triple threat abilities perfectly.  After A CHORUS LINE, Rene went on to yet another Broadway smash: CATS where he was a member of the original NY cast as well as the Dance Captain of the company.   Rene's other professional credits include PLAY ME A COUNTRY SONG, ROMEO AND JULIET, LA BOHEME, and GODSPELL. 


J. Frank and Melody Brown Davis

J. Frank and Melody (Brown) Davis reside in Channing, Texas, and have always had ties to the Texas Panhandle and WTSU. Each began an appreciation and passion for theatre and music at home and in early school years.

Frank attended Pampa High School and Melody attended Channing ISD. Both were active in many school and community endeavors that led them into the creative fields they pursued. In 1973 each came to, then, WTSU, where they began their college careers in music and communication respectively.

In 1974 they met while singing in a religious vocal group and then in 1977, graduated, married, and began a life-long journey of their shared love for teaching and sharing their passion for the theatre and music.

Frank graduated with his B.M. in Vocal Performance/Education under the tutelage of Elsa Porter and performing often under the direction of Royal L. Brantley. He performed in the 1974 production of TEXAS and was a member of Phi Mu Alpha. In 1975 Frank won the National Teachers of Singing competition. His final 1977 senior voice recital was the first recital in the "new" Mary Moody Northen Hall. He then continued his academic pursuits at WTAMU, and in 1981 received a M.A. in Education and thereafter certifications in Orff/Kodaly, Mid-Management, and Superintendence.

Melody received a B.S. in Speech/English Education in 1977. While at WTSU, Melody was taught by Zell Sorelle and was a member of the traveling speech team. She was also involved in Alpha Chi, Pi Kappa Delta, Kappa Delta Pi, Phi Eta Sigma, Sigma Tau Delta, Muses of Iota Pi, University Reader's Theatre for which she received a 1977 BIT award, and was awarded the 1976 Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities, and in 1977 was placed on W.T.'s Who's Who. In 1979 she was named an Outstanding Young Woman of America and later included in America's Outstanding Teachers. In 1982 she received her M.A. in Speech Communication.

In 1977 Frank and Melody started their teaching careers at Channing ISD where Frank worked for thirty-three years, teaching for fourteen years and serving as Superintendent for nineteen years; Melody taught for fifteen years. Along with the classroom instruction came the many hours of extra-curricular work. They had multiple state competitors and champions in UIL One Act Play competition, Poetry and Prose Interpretation, Informative and Persuasive Speaking, Journalism, and Music. Additionally, Melody served on the state UIL Speech Advisory Board and Frank on the State One Act Play Advisory Board.

In addition, for thirteen years Melody directed and Frank acted in a community melodrama raising $100,000 for Channing's Volunteer Fire Department. In 1990 they received KVII-TV's "7 Who Care" award for community service. In short, Frank and Melody have used theatre and music in any and every feasible fashion throughout their careers and ministry and enjoyed every minute.

The Davis' continue to reside in Channing where they continue to serve in various roles in their church and community. They currently operate as independent business owners, and Frank is interim superintendent at Hartley ISD.

They have two children: Elizabeth, who is married to Jordan Richard and they reside in New York City; and Jonathan, who lives in Lubbock and has two Labradors.

"We have had the opportunity to be taught by, work with, and teach many inspiring and gifted people, two of which are our children who each won a Samuel French Award for excellence in theatre performance. Theatre and music have made our life-journey thus far more exciting, demanding, and exhilarating. Success in life begins with relationships, and we have been blessed with the very best--Matt.6:33.


Mila Gibson

Gibson received her Bachelor and Master degrees from West Texas A&M University following a childhood professional performing career, and then performed professionally in musical theater, dinner theatre, concerts and opera. She has won numerous awards as a music educator and has been active in church work and community service. She has won numerous awards as a music educator and has been active in church work and community service. She is a patron of all the Amarillo arts organizations. She has had articles published in state and national publications. Gibson received certification in Non-Profit Management from Texas Tech University. She has extensive business experience and has been successful in fund raising and grant writing. She completed over 40 hours of doctoral work at Arizona State University and completed post-graduate certification programs at several universities. Gibson is Professor of Voice and Opera Workshop at Amarillo College. As Amarillo Opera's General Director she serves as both Artistic Director and Executive Director. Currently, Gibson serves on the Board of Directors and Finance Committee for Catholic Family Services, Inc., and is an Oblate with the Society of St. Benedict. She is a mentor and a Paul Harris Fellow for the Rotary Club. In 1994-1996 she was a performing arts panelist for Texas Commission on the Arts. She is currently on the Board of Directors for both the Panhandle Chapter of Nation Society of Fundraising Executives and the Community Prayer Breakfast. 


Denise Verner Green

Denise Green grew up in Meadow, Texas, and attended Meadow High School, a little class “B” school on the South Plains of West Texas, but a theatre powerhouse in the 1960’s and 70’s. Fortunate enough to participate at the UIL One-Act Play State Meet in 1969, 1970, and 1971 under the direction of Noyce Burleson, Green, along with her fellow cast members, captured the State One-Act Play championship all three of those years. Named the Best Actress and Samuel French Award Outstanding Performer in 1970, Green went on to graduate, marry and begin a family.

While raising three little girls, she decided to return to school in 1976 and get her degree in Education. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in English and speech education, graduating magna cum laude from West Texas State University in 1985. At age thirty, she began teaching English and speech at Boys Ranch High School where she and her husband, Larry, had been house parents for six years. When the theatre teacher quit at semester, Green took over and her cast advanced to the State Meet (no one told her she wasn’t “supposed” to do this because at Meadow High School, that’s just what you did!). Throughout her career, Green’s UL One-Act Play companies advanced to the UIL State Meet fourteen times and captured the State Championship four times with numerous runner-up awards. Five times her students have been named either Best Actress or Actor at the State Meet, and four of those students received the Samuel French Award for Outstanding Performer.

 

Green has coached finalists in all UIL speaking events with numerous championships in speech and debate. As academic coordinator, Green’s students have twice captured the State Academic UIL Championship in class AA. In 1994, The University Interscholastic League awarded Green the Denius UIL Sponsor Excellence Award, an honor designed to recognize sponsors whose students develop and refine their talents through League competitions to the highest degree possible within the educational system. Currently, at West Texas High School in Stinnett, Green hosts one of the largest One-Act Play festivals in the State of Texas, with 25 schools performing each year in the spring in preparation for UIL One-Act Play competition. Along with her school activities, she plays the organ at her church, volunteers with the children’s ministry, and enjoys spoiling her three grandsons.


Steve Hilton

Hilton graduated with a Bachelor's in Music Education in 1974 and a Master's of Music in 1976, both from West Texas State University. While at WT he was a member of Phi Mu Alpha Music Fraternity and Alpha Psi Omega Theater Fraternity. His first professional job was with the Dallas Opera, and was one of only 12 singers selected to back Marilyn Horne in her World Premier of a newly discovered opera by Vivaldi. After Dallas, he moved to Connecticut and sang with the Connecticut Opera. Their "young artist" program enabled him to continue to study while touring New England performing such roles as "The Witch" in Hansel and Gretel, "Melchior"in Amahl, and "The Count" in The Barber of Seville. He sang the small (but pivotal) role of "Guard" in their arena production of Aida. Through the Connecticut Opera he meet Charles Roe, who sponsored him at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara California, where he studied and performed under the direction of Mr. Roe and Tito Capobianco. While in Connecticut he performed with several CT-based groups, including the Simsbury Light Opera Company - the world's longest Gilbert and Sullivan troupe. In 1985 he made a recording featuring the songs of James G. MacDermid. He has composed music for Children's Musicals, song cycles, and more recently his greatest love, hymns. 


James D. Kemmerling

James D. Kemmerling was Professor of Theatre and Resident Scenic and Light Designer at West Texas A&M University for forty years. He also served as Technical Director for eighteen years and for one year as Interim Department Chairman. Prior to his work at WTAMU, he served as Director of Theatre and Designer for the College of Emporia in Kansas, where he received an “Excellence in Teaching Award” there.

He graduated from Adrian College, Adrian, Michigan with a B.A. Degree and received the Outstanding Achievement in Theatre and Best Supporting Actor awards. He received an M.S. Degree from Emporia State Teachers College in Kansas, and an M.F.A. Degree in Set and Light Design from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS. While attending USM, he received the Gilbert Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Theatre. Postgraduate study was at The University of Texas-Austin and Texas Tech University.

In addition to teaching, his professional theatre experience has included being Technical Director for the Holly Arbor Theatre in Michigan, Set Designer/Assistant Technical Director and Actor for the Emporia State Players in Kansas, and Technical Director/ Set Designer for the musical-drama Texas in Palo Duro Canyon for six years and one year as Light Designer. He also served as a scenic painter for the Miss America Pageant in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Throughout his tenure at WT, Kemmerling has served as a UIL critic drama judge throughout Texas. In 2007, he served as the UIL State Respondent and Judge for the Design and Theatre Technology Competition in Austin. He presented numerous presentations and workshops at state and national conferences relevant to design and theatre technology. He was on the Graduate faculty at WT and in 2001 was selected to be on the Honor Faculty. His publications include: A History of the Whitley Opera House in Emporia, Kansas: 1881-1913; (5) articles for The Texas Theatre Notes and several illustrations published by I.E. Clark.

Professor Kemmerling was presented nine meritorious design and technology awards by the American College Theatre Festival. He designed the ACTF set for The Homage That Follows, which was staged at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in 1997. During his career, he designed over two-hundred set and light designs for educational and professional theatre. In 2004, he was the featured Artist for The Texas Educational Theatre Association in Houston, and The Amarillo Globe News named his “Theatrical Exhibit” in Mary Moody Northen Hall Gallery as one of the “Top Ten Exhibits” for Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle. Also in 2004, the Jim Kemmerling Design Scholarship was established by an anonymous donor to aid deserving theatre design students at WT. In 2006, he was the featured Artist for The United States Institute of Theatre Technology Southwest in Huntsville, Texas. In 2010, the Theatre Design Studio in the Fine Arts Complex was dedicated to and named for James D. Kemmerling in honor of his service to the University.


Lee Kendle

Lee N. Kendle began his musical theater career at the Branding Iron Theater during his sophomore year as a Roustabout in the musical Carnival.  He continued with roles in Opera Workshop productions of The Old Maid and the Thief (Bob), South Pacific (Luther Billis), Don Giovanni (Leporello), La Boheme, (Rudolpho), and Tosca (Angelotti).  He directed, conducted, and performed in numerous student productions as well and earned two BIT Awards during his student career.  He completed two music performance degrees while at WTSU (BM in Voice, 1976, and MM in Voice, 1978).  Lee finished his student career on the BIT stage in the Theater Department’s production of JB (Nichols).  Additionally, he accepted numerous assignments in eight straight seasons of TEXAS, from chorus member to sound and light technician to assistant musical conductor to leading role (Dave Newberry).  After completing his master’s degree and a three-year hiatus, Lee returned to the TEXAS stage for one more season as Dave.  He then employed his BIT training in many productions in the early years of Amarillo Opera as a performer and conductor.  Lee returned to the BIT stage as a guest artist in the title role of Man of La Mancha in 1988.  He also performed in the final season of Paul Green’s TEXAS in 2003 and served as the Musical Director for the inaugural season of TEXAS Legacies the following season.    He continues an active performing career with Amarillo Opera and now serves on its Board of Trustees.  Lee is grateful for the many rich years of experience on the BIT stage.  “Almost all I know about performing I learned at the Branding Iron Theater.  My years there formed much of who I am.  I have been very blessed.”  He lives in Amarillo with his wife of twenty-four plus years, Kathy and takes great pride in his two children, Joshua and Hannah, who live and perform in Kansas City.


Marti Hinson Kirk

Kirk attended WTSU from 1956 to 1960. Kirk works in her church Fine Art program. She recently wrote and directed a play entitled Stitches in Time: Tapestries of Heritage which depicted important events in the 100 years of Polk Street Methodist Church. She taught speech and drama for 20 years at Crockett Middle School and Tascosa High School. She is, at present, a librarian at Amarillo High School. Kirk has written and directed short plays of historical events which were performed in the library. Her debut into the BIT was washing the powder puffs. It proved to be worth the effort. She has contributed leading roles in Antigone, The Tender Trap, The Desperate Hours, Hamlet, Midsummer Nights Dream, Bus Stop, The Lady's Not for Burning , Before Breakfast, and Blythe Spirit, to name only a few. Kirk was the winner of 10 acting awards including: Best actress of a 3 Act Play for 4 years.


Jerome McDonough

McDonough attended WTSU from 1966 to 1968. He is the drama director at Caprock High School and the author of the following plays: Addict, Asylum, Dolls, Juvie, Requiem, Roomers, and several others.  McDonough received his B.S. degree from WTSU in 1968 and his M.A. degree from WTSU in 1972.  His interests include: personal computers, music composition and performance, and contemporary liturgical music.  According to the ENGLISH JOURNAL, September 1987, "Presently, Jerome McDonough, the father of young adult drama has written eleven of the most practical-to-produce, and effective plays for the young adult stage. No longer can we afford not to read, if not produce, such works as McDonough's." 


J. Gary and Lydia Miller-Wyatt

J. Gary Wyatt (class of ’63) and Lydia Miller-Wyatt (class of ’64) have sixty-seven years of classroom teaching experience, two-hundred plus productions directed and a combined sixteen Branding Iron Theatre Awards. They both enrolled at West Texas as among the very first recipients of Alpha Psi Omega Scholarships. Gary & Lydia have been at Wimberley High School, Wimberley, Texas, for the past twenty-one years, being active in all facets of educational theatre in Texas.

 

Gary and Lydia co-founded Wimberley’s “Shakespeare Under the Stars” in 1990, an outdoor summer theatre program for high school age and younger, a program still in operation today (although the Wyatts retired from the program after fourteen years in the summer heat). They have a “Children’s Program,” founded in 1989 where children’s plays are produced each October for presentation to kindergarten, elementary and middle schools in the surrounding area. These shows are directed by senior theatre students. The last week in February for the past twenty-one years they have hosted a “festival-of-one-act-plays”, twenty plays in four days, as a pre-season tune up for the UIL One-Act Play season.

 

They have presented numerous workshops for the Texas Educational Theatre Association annual conference, the TETA summer workshop, the UIL Superconference, the Texas Non-Profit Theatre Teen Workshops, the National Council of Teachers of English convention and for various high schools throughout the State. They have both received the UIL Sponsors Excellence Award (2001,2005) and were named Texas Educational Theatre Association Educators of the year in 2001. Additionally, they have been selected as Wimberley Education Foundation Teachers of the year numerous times.

 

Gary served on the UIL One-Act Play State Advisory Committee for six years while Lydia has been a member of the UIL Speech/Debate Regional Advisory Committee for eleven years. The past twenty-one years of competition in UIL One-Act Play has produced the following results: advanced from District competition nineteen times, from Area Competition sixteen times and from Regional Competition to the State Meet elevn times (nine times in the past ten years). They have two State Championships (Dark of the Moon,1993 and Trojan Women,2001) as well as three second place and one third place state award.

In addition to the aforementioned honors, Gary and Lydia are most pleased with being able to assist seventy-eight students in the past twenty-one years in continuing their education with some type of heatre scholarship and in being mentors (cooperating teachers) for thirty-one student teachers.


William A. Moore

Moore has combined academic training with practical experience to gain the directing technique which has characterized the dramas and musicals for which the BIT became well know throughout the Golden Spread. He is now retire from WT. He has done graduate work at North western university, Columbia University, Yale and the University of Michigan, always seeking master professors and directors with whom he could study the various methods of acting and style of production. In London, England, he play opposite the great Helena Siddons. He and his wife worked together as a directing team. He said, "She was so good he had to marry her to remove the competition." Moore was one of the Founding Directors of the original Branding Iron Theatre as well as the musical drama TEXAS. He was the director of Man of La Mancha, Idiot's Delight, South Pacific, Hedda Gabbler, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, Hamlet, The Male Animal, and many others.  


Margaret Moore

Moore received her M.A. degree in theatre from the University of Michigan. Her B.A. is from Oklahoma College for Women (now the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma). She was the nineteenth person to be inducted in the Hall of Fame there. She received a Distinguished Women's Award at WTSU for services to the community which included acting leading roles and directing at the Amarillo Little Theatre and at WTSU. The Moore's served as directors of TEXAS from its opening in 1966 until 1979. They received the Cultural Award from the West Texas Chamber of Commerce. She was the acting coach and one of the directors for the Branding Iron Theatre from 1946 to 1977 and also one of the Founding Directors of the musical drama TEXAS.


Gene Murray

Murray graduated from West Texas University in 1953. He furthered his education in 1960, when he received a Masters of Arts from WT. In 1966 he was in the original cast of "TEXAS". He taught ten different subjects during his 31 years of teaching for the Canyon School District. In 1987 he joined the cast of "TEXAS" again as Uncle Henry. In 1990, he sang his first role with the Amarillo Opera. Since that time he has written twenty-two operas, eight of which have been performed by AO, and two more currently in rehearsals. Gene was honored with a Golden Touch Citation and an Achievement Certificate from the Chamber of Commerce for his contributions to Amarillo Opera. He began direction One-Act Play at White Deer High School in 1993, and in 1995 he took White Deer to State Competition. Gene is an award winning artist, poet, tailor, professional actor and freelance director. Most recently in 1996, he joined the faculty of Amarillo College where he runs the Music Lab. 


Allen Shankles

Allen is currently in his 21st season as Managing/Artistic Director of the Amarillo Little Theatre (ALT) which is currently one of the largest and most successful community theatres in the country.  Allen has directed over 120 plays and musicals and has acted in numerous others during his career.  During Allen's tenure, ALT has registered remarkable growth in attendance, season ticket sales, volunteer participation and staff size, with the ALT budget growing from annual totals of $50,000 to well over $700,000.  Allen has been instrumental in the development of the ALT Academy program, guided the completion of a $300,000 addition to the ALT mainstage facility and brought the ALT Adventure Space into existence.  Before assuming his position at ALT, Allen earned a degree in Theatre from West Texas State University and acted professionally with the prestigious Actor's Theater of Louisville.  Allen played Quanah Parker during the 1976 and '77 seasons of TEXAS Musical Drama.  He currently serves on the Executive Board of Texas Nonprofit Theatres and has been a theatre peer panelist for the Texas Commission on the Arts.  Allen and his wife Carrie have two daughters:  Jordan, a recent graduate of Texas Tech University and Alex, a fashion design and merchandising student at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California.  Allen credits many great people for inspiring his love of the theatre.  Most important among them is Mr. Carroll Killingsworth who introduced him to the art-form at Canyon High School. 


Michael Skinner

Michael Skinner is currently the Lighting Designer at Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Arts in technical theatre from West Texas A&M University (then West Texas State University) in 1990. Michael next attended graduate school at the University of Oklahoma and received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Lighting Design and Produiction in 1993. He has designed the lighting for numerous productions of theatre, opera, and dance in various venues. Michael has had the pleasure of designing dance concerts in Reggio Emilio, Italy; and Trier, Germany. He designed both scenery and lighting for  the Russian premiere of the American musical The Fantastiks which toured to Theatre Koleso in Togliatti, Russia; and the Samara Drama Theatre in Samara, Russia. One of Michael’s most memorable experiences was serving as the lighting designer and production manager for a joint production of Romeo and Juliet where American students played the Montagues and Russian actors played the Capuletes, This production was performed at TCU in Fort Worth and then toured to Togliatti and Ulyanovsk in Russia. Michael also designs professionally for Contemporary Ballet Dallas, with his most recent designs including An Evening with Hans Christian Andersen, Champagne Kisses and Cadaver Dreams, and Terpshichores World. Michael’s work outside the theatre has included consultation services for club lighting in Cancun, Mexico as well as corporate event design and production with companies such as Ignition! Creative Group and ZOOM.7, Inc. in Dallas working on projects for Mary Kay, Inc. and Kawasaki Motors Corporation. As a member of the Southwest Theatre Association, he has presented numerous workshops on lighting, computer technology including 3D modeling, and digital sound editing at SWTA conferences. He is a member of The United States Institute for Theatre Technology and participates in both national and regional activities, having served in a number of regional offices including chair for the Southwest Region. Michael also serves as the faculty advisor for the student chapter of USITT at Texas Christian University. He is a member of the Texas Educational Theatre Association and was most recently the featured designer for Designfest 2005, an exhibit of design work from all over the state of Texas. His exhibit of a selection from his scenic and lighting design work throughout his career was on display during the 2005 TETA conference.

Pat Starr

Starr is from Amarillo. She took her Bachelor of Science degree from West Texas State College where she did her first play under the direction of the wonderful Wendell Cain while the Moore's were on leave, then worked with and was inspired by Bill and Margaret Moore for the rest of her time there. She did several plays for The Amarillo Little Theatre, directed by Margaret Moore and Dick Dye, before becoming one of the original members of Paul Baker's Dallas Theatre Center. There, she took her MA in Drama then moved to New York City where she worked Off-Broadway, and from where she did summer stock seasons and toured across the states as leading lady of The National Shakespeare Company. She has lived in London for 30 years continuing to work in the theatre as well as doing films, television and all kinds of voice work. She has recently taken up jazz singing and sings regularly at a jazz club in London as well as doing jazz society gigs around the country. Of the dozen plays/musicals she has done in London (as opposed to touring and around the rest of the country), two (A Lie of the Mind and Tales of the Lost Formicans) were limited runs in 1996; one (Tea with Liszt) was a one-woman show; and five were long runs. She has done 20 movies, dozens of appearances on television, and a vast amount of voice work including a wide variety of work on radio, reading over 30 books on cassette - some of which are in the WTAMU library, dubbing films, narration, language recording courses and commercial voice-overs.   


Eddie Thomas

Thomas attended WTSU from 1955 to 1959 and 1965 to 1968. He has been at El Centro College for 22 years. He has appeared on stage in all the major Dallas theaters, directed 46 shows at El Centro, produced and directed major productions for several local and state-wide groups, appeared as host of In Our Own Image on PBS for the past 14 years, written screenplays and garnered national medals. He attended Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, where a play of his was produced. He was named Master Teacher by the International Institute for Staff Organizational Development at which he was speaker. he has appeared in 18 feature films, several industrial films and TV shows on all the major networks. He held leading roles in Mr. Angel, Merchant of Venice, HAMLET, Twilight Walk, The Lady's Not for Burning, and The Desperate Hours. 


Jerry O. Williams

Williams is a veteran of 45+ seasons of performance -- 26 of those years as TuckerYelldell, the comedy relief in the Palo Duro Canyon outdoor musical drama, TEXAS. His credits also include featured roles in university theatre, dinner theatre, and community theatre. He is a member of Amarillo Opera and enjoys performing in the opera's outreach programs. He has been featured in movies, promotional videos and television commercials including the first commercial for the TEXAS LOTTERY. He is a licensed speech pathologist.

 

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