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Theatre Department


Theatre Faculty


Tymberley Whitesel

Tymberley A. Whitesel, MFA

Chair, Department of Theatre and Dance

Associate Professor of Theatre Design




Tymberley A. Whitesel teaches the technical theatre courses offered at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., with her speciality in scenery and light design, properties and painting. Along with working in educational theatre, Tymberley has a number of professional design credits and has worked for theatre companies such as: The Ohio Light Opera where she was a resident scenic designer for 9 seasons, Utah Shakespearean Festival, The Florence Little Theatre, South Carolina Shakespeare Company, and The Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Tymberley currently spends parts of her summers on Long Island where she serves as the scenic deisgner for the Airmid Theater company.  Tymberley received her B.A. in studio art from Goshen College, and her M.F.A. in scenic and lighting design from Illinois State University. Tymberley is also an active member of The United States Institute of Theatre Technology. Some of her favorite designs include: Patience, Dead Man Walking, My Fair Lady, Rose Marie, Flyin’ West, Godspell and The Island of Tulipitan.

Ed Cohn

Edward Cohn, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Theatre


Dr. Cohn received his BA in Economic Theory from the State University of New York College at Plattsburg, his MA in Educational Theatre from New York University, and his Ph.D. in Theatre from Bowling Green State University. Dr. Cohn joined the faculty in 2001, and teaches a variety of theatre disciplines including acting, performance studies, design, technical theatre, dramatic literature, theory and criticism, and history. As a theatre practitioner, Dr. Cohn continues to work as an actor, designer, and technician. His directing credentials include theatrical styles ranging from grand scale musicals to experimental and postmodern productions.


Richard Sautter, MFA

Adjunct Instructor of Theatre



Richard Sautter is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Voice and Speech Trainers Association and the Mid-America Theatre Conference. He holds a BA from Bates College, MA from the University of Exeter, and MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. His performing experiences have ranged from Shakespeare to children’s musicals and include stints in regional theatre, summer stock, fringe festivals and a national tour. He has taught at Penn State Lehigh Valley, Ferrum College and Gettysburg College. Richard has an extensive background in historically-based performance. His two biographical one-man shows have been performed at colleges, theatres and libraries in several states. In addition, he has served as a historic interpreter in numerous locations, and has trained living historians for Historic Philadelphia Inc. and for the Pennsylvania Past Players. He has been accepted by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council as a Commonwealth Speaker for 2012-2013, on the subject of the American Theatre during the Civil War.


Valerie Rae Smith, Ph.D.

Professor of Theatre



Dr. Valerie Rae Smith is Professor of Theatre at Messiah College. She received her BA in Theatre/Education from Taylor University, her MA from Miami University in Oxford Ohio, and her Ph.D. in Theatre from Tufts University. In addition to teaching theatre at Tufts and Boston College, Smith served as Artistic Director for Circles of Girls, a pilot performing arts program for at-risk adolescents in Boston. At Messiah College Smith teaches theatre history, theatre and social change, and acting. Recent directing credits include Dead Man Walking, Nickel and Dimed, Noises Off, and Romeo and Juliet. Smith continues to perform and direct professional theatre and is a past member of the Boston chapter of AFTRA. She recently appeared as Lisa Kron in the Open Stage of Harrisburg production ofWell, as Ivy in August : Osage County, and played a variety of roles in the Vagina Monologues for Harrisburg's WomenSpeak Festival. Smith created her one-woman-show, Between 2 Chairs, at Touchstone Theatre in Bethlehem, PA and performed it as part of Harrisburg's Flying Solo Festival in 2009. Between 2 Chairs was published by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Smith is currently working on an original play about human trafficking entitled But What Can I Do? This theatre project is part of the global movement to end modern-day slavery.


Melissa Mendez, BA

Technical Director



Melissa J. Mendez received her BA in Theatre from Messiah College. She is an actor, lighting designer and puppeteer. After graduating, she worked as a freelance technician in the Video and Lighting department for MSNBC. She has had the privilege of working with various theatres and companies throughout the country including the Ohio Light Opera, the Broadhollow Theatre Company, Performance Space 122, The Juilliard School and Drama of Works. Her recent credits include The Talking Show: The Magical Ridiculous Journey of Alien Comic (light design), Little Women (light design), Leaky’s Ladies (puppeteer), A Year with Frog and Toad (light design) and various film and TV projects.





Dance Faculty


Gregg Hurley

Gregg Hurley, MFA

Assistant Professor of Dance



Gregg Hurley is a graduate of Hofstra University and the University of Arizona School of Dance MFA program with an emphasis in choreography and performance. Hurley had the privilege of dancing two works choreographed and originally performed by Douglas Nielsen, Make Someone Happy (solo) and Four Bits (duet). He also danced in the reconstruction of Doug Berkey’s trio, Blind Date presented by Art.If.Act. He is a scholarship student of the Harvard Summer Dance Center, studying with Donald Byrd, David Dorfman, Joe Goode, Ralph Lemon, Victoria Marks, Elizabeth Streb, and Lance Westergard. He performed internationally in the musical revue, The Best of Broadway and nationally in the 50th Anniversary tour of the musical, Oklahoma! He spent over eleven years as the resident choreographer and assistant director at Sight and Sound Theatres where he was creatively involved in the premiere productions of Abraham and Sarah, Daniel, Ruth, Psalms of David, In the Beginning, and Voices of Christmas. Most recently, he performed as the Cow Skull in the world premiere production of Georgia O’Keefe: A Woman On Paper.




Marie Cleaves Rothacker, MA

Adjunct Instructor of Dance




Marie Cleaves Rothacker performs locally with the Grant Street Dance Company and Rev9.

Her extensive dance training includes summer programs at American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, and Ballet Chicago with such artists as Gelsey Kirkland, Duncan Noble, Nina Danilova, Jim Vincent, Amanda McKerrow, and Daniel Duell.  In high school, she attended the year-round program at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she was chosen by Melissa Hayden to dance in Balanchine’s Serenade with the Carolina Ballet.  While dancing at Southold Dance Theater, guest artist Yves de Boutellier set an original work on the company featuring Marie after which she was invited to join Ballet Wisconsin.  After high school, she was a member of the Southold Dance Theater Adult Ensemble which toured elementary schools.  In college, she choreographed for and performed with the African American Dance Company at Indiana University as well as the Franklin and Marshall Dance Company and presented her choreographic work at the American College Dance Festival.  She also attended a workshop with the Tiffany Mills Company and the Movement Intensive in Compositional Improvisation. During her break from Susquehanna Dance Center, Marie choreographed a full-length production for Infusion, an arts ministry based in New Holland. 

Marie is a board member for Contemporary Ballet of Pennsylvania (COBALT) and recently received a Masters degree in Nonprofit Administration at the University of Notre Dame.