Alumni Hall of Fame

2013 - Karen Rowe  


  Class of 1994

Karen Rowe is the Administrative Associate for Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA and
serves as the Assistant to Barter's Producing Artistic Director. Born and raised in East Tennessee, Karen found her love of theatre early (she was a Tiger in her Kindergarten Circus) and took advantage of every opportunity to be involved with performance arts. By the time she joined the theatre program at ETSU, she knew her strengths were in organization, so a stage manager was born. Fresh out of college, Karen started at Barter Theatre as a Stage Management Intern and over the next decade, advanced through the ranks to Production Stage Manager. During this time there were also opportunities to stage-manage for Bristol Ballet and Opera Roanoke. Wanting to spend more time with her family, Karen stepped away from Barter for a few years to live in the "real world", but still kept her theatre muscles toned by helping the Theatre Department of Northeast State Community College train stage managers to handle large productions in their new Performing Arts Center. Then Karen heard Barter Theatre's siren song again and came back to stage-manage during the fall of 2010 and the spring of 2011. Feeling at home again, but wanting some fresh challenges, Karen jumped at an opportunity to put her SM strengths and newly acquired clerical skills to work in Barter's Administration Office where she now happily balances the mix of routine office tasks and artistic atmosphere.

2012 - Johnny Pickett  


  Class of 1987

Johnny Pickett graduated from ETSU in 1987, and earned his M.F.A. in Theatre Design and Technology from UNC-Greensboro. Johnny has served on the theatre department faculty at North Carolina A&T State University and the University of Montevallo. Johnny worked professionally at many different regional theatres around the country as an actor, lighting designer, technical director and tour manager before moving to Las Vegas in 1999 to take a position with the Sigfried and Roy Show. In 2003, Johnny became a full-time Flying Director with Flying by Foy and has traveled the world creating flying sequences for stage and screen, including: Spamalot on Broadway, Taylor Swift for the Country Music Awards, The Black-Eyed Peas for the half time show at Super Bowl XLV, and the musical Wicked in Japan. Johnny is also and ETCP certified arena and theatre rigger.
2011 - Celia Pickens Frank  


 Class of 1975

Celia Pickens Frank has been Artistic Director at Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida since 2007, directing numerous productions there including the recent Tale of the Allergist's Wife, as well as Rose's Dilemma, The Exact Center of the Universe, Ladies at the Alamo, Grace and Glorie, Crimes of the Heart, The Kingfisher, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, and Proposals. Celia earned a B.S. in theatre from ETSU where the campus theatre, the Bud Frank Theatre, is named for her late father-in-law who gave her a large part of her early theatrical training. She went on to work for several theatres in the southeast including Barter Theatre in Abingdon, North Carolina's Parkway Playhouse, and Players by the Sea in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Celia also spent four years as a features writer for the Atlanta Constitution writing theatre reviews, feature stories, and editing the weekly television magazine and weekly entertainment sections.
2010 - Rick McVey  


  Class of 2004

Rick McVey began working in 1974. Since then, he has worked as a writer, director, producer, and performer in radio, TV, and theatre. In 1997, he began a production company called McVey Multimedia Inc. Mr. McVey graduated from ETSU in 2004 with a major in Communication with a theatre concentration and a minor in psychology. Mr. McVey is in his sixth season as a member of the Barter Theatre Resident Acting Company and has appeared in more than 40 productions since 2003, including Barter's 2009 National Tour of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. He wrote a directed the 2007 Film FREEDOM which won numerous awards, including Best Film at the 2008 Virginia Independent Film Festival. While at ETSU, Mr. McVey was awarded the 2002 Murvin H. Perry Award for Creative Excellence. He has been married to Lola McVey since 1977. He has three children and four grandchildren.
2009 - Allison Guinn  


 Class of 2004

Allison is native to east Tennessee, and moved to New York like all the other lemmings with a dream and a desire for culture to pursue acting in 2004. After many a roommate and many a time sleeping in living rooms and having terrible jobs (once as a singing telegram/Marilyn Monroe impersonator), she landed a role in The Public Theater's 3 day concert of Hair in Central Park. The concert turned into a full run at the Delacorte the following summer, and made its way to Broadway the spring of 2009. She is currently with the production on the West End in London. Allison is also an avid lover of Autoharps, dark comedy, and strange stories her grandmother tells her about growing up in Depression-era Appalachia.
2008 - Judy Woodruff  


  Class of 1983

Judith Woodruff has enjoyed a diverse and challenging 35 years in the art of dance. Woodruff has taught dance at East Tennessee State University since 1980. In 1982 she co-founded Mountain Movers Dance Company, in residence at ETSU, with fellow dancer Doug Newton. Woodruff has taught dance in the private sector at the Kingsport Guild of Ballet (now Kingsport Ballet), Kingsport, Tenn., and the Holloway Dancing School in Johnson City, Tenn.; and as a guest artist for many studios, companies, and institutions. Prior to relocating to Johnson City in 1979 she taught dance at Middlebury College, Vt., and danced with Coincidence Company. Her choreography has been commissioned by Chattanooga Ballet, Virginia Intermont College, Girls Preparatory School (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Chattanooga High School for the Performing Arts, and others. Woodruff was employed as the executive director of the Tennessee Association of Dance from November 1988 through June 2007. Additional honors include the Governor's Award for Arts Leadership in Tennessee (2005); the Johnson City Area Arts Council Outstanding Arts Contribution Award (2005); the Tennessee Association of Dance Margaret Martin Award for Distinguished Service to the Field of Dance (2007); ETSU's first Recognition Award for Non-Regular Faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences (2008). Woodruff has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History of Art from the University of Michigan and a Master of Arts in Physical Education from East Tennessee State University.

2007 - Chris Armbrister  


 Class of 1988

Chris Armbrister originally hails from the Blue Ridge Mountains of VA & his career has taken him from coast to coast (as well as internationally) working as an actor, director, writer, fight choreographer & producer...all of which he has done on The Butte stage. Chris is very proud to be a part of continuing the legacy of theatre in Cripple Creek as Producing Director for Thin Air Theatre Company (TATC). TATC is the 5th theatre company Chris has been a part of founding...including Arthur's Realm Productions (which produced the film Elements of Society & Old Fashion Technology); Vision Factory (located in Los Angeles, CA); and East Tennessee Children's Theatre. Chris holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Alabama and is the Program & Education Director for Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Camp in NY. In 2007 Chris was inducted into the East Tennessee State University Alumni Hall of Fame for his contributions to the continuing development of theatre in America. Some favorite "gigs" include playing Bob Womack in A Cripple Creek Christmas Carol (which he co-wrote with Chris Sorensen) here at The Butte and Uncle Peck in How I Learned to Drive (for which he receive a Garland Award nomination) at the Ensemble Theatre of Santa Barbara; directing Bat Boy The Musical and The Laramie Project, both in NY; and choreographing the fights for Three Musketeers and Rashomon for Sierra Repertory Theatre. Chris has also followed his personal mantra which is: Follow Your Heart and Dare To Dream!

2006 - Jo Carson  


 Class of 1972

By living in an environment she loves, Jo Carson has become a success in the difficult literary world. She currently lives in Johnson City, TN. Carson attended East Tennessee State University, graduating with degrees in both theatre and speech. After graduation, Carson began working with the Road Company as a writer and performer on and off for 20 years. Carson began writing and performing what came to be called 'people pieces'; monologues or dialogues gleaned from conversations -- sometimes overheard -- from this region. She did over 600 performances of this work, in this country and others. This is the work published in a book called Stories I Ain't Told Nobody Yet. This book made the Editor's Choice on Booklist and the American Library Association's recommended list. These pieces also ran as occasional commentaries on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, for eight years. Carson has written other books including The Last of 'The Waltz Across Texas', Other Stories, Pulling My Leg, You Hold Me and I'll Hold You, and The Great Shaking. Carson is primarily a playwright; her works include Whispering to Horses, which won an AT&T Onstage Award, one of five given in this country yearly; Preacher with a Horse to Ride, which won a Roger L. Stevens Award from the Fund for New American Plays in 1993; The Bear Facts, which won Carson a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship; and Daytrips, which won the Kesselering Award for best new American play in 1989 and has played all over this country and some others, including Off-Broadway in New York City. Carson is the daughter of Pierce and Marie Carson, both graduates of ETSU. She has made her family and her community very proud by succeeding as a writer. She will tell you it has happened because she's stayed true to her roots.

2005 - Lynn Lockrow  


  Class of 1968

Lynn Lockrow is the Head of Design, Technology and Production at Auburn University and serves as scenic and/or lighting designer for nearly every main stage production. Lynn is also an accomplished director and served as Artistic Director for the outdoor drama Horn In The West, and as Production Stage Manager for the outdoor drama Lost Colony. Lynn holds a B.S. in Drama and Speech from East Tennessee State University and an M.F.A. in Design and Technical Theatre from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Lynn also serves as faculty advisor for the Auburn University chapter of Alpha Psi Omega, the national theatre honor society.
2004 - Dorsey Smith  


Class of 1963 & 1978

Dorsey Whetsil Smith graduated from ETSU in 1963 with a BS is English, Speech, and Drama and in 1978 with an MA in English and Theatre. He began working with the Patchwork Players in 1959 and the Johnson City Little Theatre in such productions as: You Can't Take it With YouThe LarkShe Stoops to ConquerJ.B.The Diary of Ann FrankThe Kids, and Dirty Work at the Crossroads. He started teaching at Grundy Senior High in 1963 until 1970 where he taught English, Speech, and Drama later returning in 1978 - 2001. From 1970 - 1974 he taught English and Drama at Andrew Lewis High School in Salem, VA. He has been involved in several events around the area like directing full-length plays like Our TownI Remember Mama, The Curious SavageDirty Work at the CrossroadsCount DraculaJ.B., and The Glass Menagerie, one-act plays like The Wall and The White Dove, and has staged beauty pageants and started a community theatre group. He has also acted in several productions including The Trail of the Lonesome Pine as Jack Hale for 31 performances, and in The Cherry Orchard at Hollins College. While pursuing his master's degree at ETSU, Dorsey worked as a graduate assistant where he performed, taught classes, and designed and built sets for 5 main stage productions being the first student to do so. He was also allowed to direct Eugene O'Neill's Beyond the Horizon for his thesis project, another first.

2003 - John Hardy  


 Class of 1981

John Hardy is an Associate Artist with The Barter Theatre. He has been working around the country as a playwright, actor, and director for over thirty years. Over the course of his career John has directed over one hundred professional productions including Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo & Juliet, Henry V, Julius Caesar, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Tartuffe, Oedipus the King, Man of La Mancha, and others. As an actor John has played many of the great roles including Hamlet in Hamlet, Macbeth in Macbeth, Tom Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Teach in American Buffalo and many others. John has recently returned from a national tour, playing George in Of Mice and Men. As a playwright he has had over forty productions of fifteen plays produced across the country and overseas. John recently received the Sara Spencer Award, for lifetime achievement, from the Southeastern Theatre Conference. John Hardy received his M.F.A. at The University of Alabama, and his Ph.D at Texas Tech University.
2002 - Karen Brewster  


 Class of 1979

Karen Brewster serves the ETSU Department of Communication as an Associate Chair, and the Division of Theatre & Dance as resident costume designer and costume shop supervisor. She teaches courses in Theatrical Design (Basic and Costume), Stagecraft, Stage Makeup and Theatre History.

Karen earned her MFA in Costume, Makeup, and Mask Design from Michigan State University in 1982. After working in numerous theatre companies from Nebraska to Maine, she joined Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia as costume shop supervisor and resident costume designer working full time for them for many years. She still maintains a working relationship with Barter Theatre as a freelance designer and to date has designed well over 50 shows for the company, including her most recent work Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps.

Karen is also an author, with a recent release (July 2011) co-authored with Melissa Shafer titled Fundamentals of Theatrical Design: A Guide to the Basics of Scenic, Costume, and Lighting Design published by Allworth Press. Brewster and Shafer are now working on their second book titled Theatrical Genre and Style: A Guide for Designers, Directors, and Performers, also by Allworth Press and due to be published in 2015.

Karen currently serves on the Board of SETC as Chair of the College and University Division.


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