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Celebrating 100 Years as the College of Fine Arts



Centennial Events

1 Oklahoma with Pastoral Dreamer

We are excited to announce our schedule of centennial events! Each school  has selected a special production or exhibition to celebrate 100 years as the College of Fine Arts at the University of Oklahoma.


AME Programs

Arts Management and Entrepreneurship Program

The Arts Management and Entrepreneurship (AME) programs are designed for students interested in building a career in the arts in an exciting but ever-changing marketplace. The programs are built on a flexible structure of arts, entrepreneurship and business courses to develop skills needed for career success.


Engage Calendar

We invite you to check out the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts ENGAGE calendar for the 2023-2024 academic year. The calendar lists hundreds of public events that showcase the diverse talents of our students, faculty and guest artists.


College of Fine Arts News

The Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts has very talented faculty and successful alumni. Read about their latest achievements.

NORMAN, OKLA. – An evening of powerful contemporary dance is promised during the upcoming Contemporary Dance Oklahoma production, presented by University Theatre and the School of Dance at the University of Oklahoma. The production will open at 8 p.m. Friday, April 26, with additional performances set for 8 p.m. April 27, 28 and May 2 and at 3 p.m. April 28 and May 4.

All performances will be held in the Reynolds Performing Arts Center, 560 Parrington Oval, on the OU Norman campus. This production is suitable for all audiences.

Contemporary Dance Oklahoma is the resident modern dance company of the University of Oklahoma's School of Dance. This year’s program will include Ulysses Dove's iconic Vespers. Vespers premiered in 1986 and is still being performed internationally. Also being presented is former director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Robert Battle's Awakening. Awakening was created by Battle and the Ailey company in 2015.

Additionally, there will be new creations by School of Dance faculty choreographers Austin Hartel, Leslie Kraus, and Roxanne Lyst. Lyst also serves as artistic director for CDO and Hartel is coordinator of the modern dance area.

“The works we are curating for this year's Contemporary Dance Oklahoma production represent a high level of world-class choreography, from our amazing guests to our talented in-house faculty choreographers,” said Michael Bearden, School of Dance director. “Their vision, combined with our students' artistic and technical prowess, will make for an incredible experience for all.” 

Contemporary Dance Oklahoma is comprised of more than 50 students from the School of Dance. The dancers are supported by a talented design and production staff from the OU Helmerich School of Drama.

“The dancers in our program are performing at a high level and are continually dancing on the edge of what they believe they are capable of. The results of the dancers’ and choreographers’ exploration will be on full display in our Contemporary Dance Oklahoma production,” Bearden added.

Navy and gold graphic of man and woman dancing under a giant moon

Exhilarating tap dancing, a glorious score, cowboys, showgirls and more will be presented in University Theatre’s upcoming production of Crazy for You. The show hits the stage April 5-7, 12-14 on the University of Oklahoma’s Norman Campus.

Crazy for You is an ebullient romantic comedy about a city slicker who falls for a hometown girl. A winner of three Tony Awards, Crazy for You features a glorious score from George and Ira Gershwin and is based on the book written by Ken Ludwig.

Crazy for You is crazy big!” said Lyn Cramer, who serves as both director and choreographer for the show. “With production number after production number, audiences will delight in the sensational tap dancing, the gorgeous Gershwin music and the hilarity that ensues in scene after scene.”

Opening night will be at 8 p.m. Friday, April 5 with additional performances scheduled for 8 p.m. April 6, 12, and 13 and at 3 p.m. April 7 and 10. All performances will be held in the Elsie C. Brackett Theatre, 563 Elm Ave. This show is suitable for all audiences.

Patrons will also enjoy a pre-performance birthday surprise in honor of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts’ centennial year.

The Crazy for You cast includes Jessie Hanks as stage struck Bobby Child; Sydni Moon as smalltown girl Polly Baker, whose father owns the decaying local theatre; David Prengler as Bela Zangler, head of the most popular show in New York City, Zangler’s Follies; Sofia Macaluso as Irene Roth, Bobby’s domineering fiancé; Merrick Theobald as gruff saloon owner Lank Hawkins; Christian Tinajero as English tourist Eugene Fodor and Lydia Campbell as Patricia Fodor, Eugene’s sister; Vince Leseney as Polly’s father, Everett Baker; and Marilyn Govich as Mrs. Lottie Child, Bobby’s controlling mother. Also performing are an immensely talented and entertaining supporting cast of Follies Girls, Cowboys, and the Naughty Baby Quartet.

“We invite everyone to join OU Musical Theatre for a toe-tapping night of dazzling dance numbers, gorgeous Gershwin ballads and side-splitting humor,” Cramer added. “Led by senior talents, Jesse Hanks as Bobby Child and Sydni Moon as Polly Baker, it’s a treat for the entire family.”

In addition to her roles as director and choreographer, Cramer is a Weitzenhoffer Endowed Professor in the Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre, specializing in tap, jazz, and theatre dance styles. As an accomplished director, she’s a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and has created shows for Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma and Casa Manana.

Joining her in leading this production is Paul Christman, music director and conductor. Christman has served on the School of Musical Theatre faculty since 1999, taught masterclasses internationally, and has taught, conducted, and music directed throughout the United States and across the globe.

Purple and gold graphic of eye for Life is a Dream play

An epic story of destiny, reality and illusion will be presented during OU University Theatre’s upcoming production, Life is a Dream. The show will run March 1 – 3 and again March 7 – 10 on the University of Oklahoma’s Norman campus in the Weitzenhoffer Theatre, 563 Elm Ave.

Pedro Calderon de la Barca’s dramatic play sees main character, Segismundo, embarking on a journey to discover who he is and his place in the world, after a life of imprisonment and crafted circumstances changes for one of a world of nobility and bizarre excess.

“My focus on Life is a Dream has been on creating a world from the outlook of Segismundo and his new path into duty in a dream-like world,” said Julia Rosa Sosa Chaparro, the play’s director. “The classic nature of the play gives us ample room for creativity, exploration and transformability,” she added.

Life is a Dream will open 8 p.m. Friday, March 1 with additional performances scheduled for 8 p.m. March 2 as well as 3 p.m. March 3 and the following weekend, March 7 – 9 at 8 p.m. and March 10 with a 3 p.m. start. This show contains adult themes.

“I aim to foster a world that truly draws you in, a place capable of transforming into many forms,” said Chaparro. “I’ve encouraged all designers and actors to be playful, to explore, and to capture the beauty of a place that makes us contemplate dreams and their reality,” she added.

The cast for Life is a Dream includes Xaiver Gutierrez as Segismundo, King Basilio’s son and the protagonist of the story; Sydney Bartolome as Rosaura, a noblewoman looking for revenge and to restore her honor; Noah Slicer as Clarin, Rosaura’s talkative servant; Aubrey Miller as Clotalda, Segismundo’s jailer and Rosaura’s father; Kristin Dickey as Estrella, King Basilio’s niece and a princess hoping to ascend to the throne; Eli Farney as Basilio, the King of Poland and Segismundo’s father; and Cooper Smith as Astolfo, King Basilio’s nephew and the Duke of Muscovy who also has his sights set on the throne.

Julia Rosa Sosa Chaparro is a special guest director for this production. Along with serving as director, Chaparro is a storyteller and performing artist originally from the border region of Cd Juarez-El Paso, Texas. Julia's work mostly focuses on stories with impactful points of view that are entertaining and highlight BIPOC perspectives. Recent directing credits include In The Time of the Butterflies and Marisol at Cleveland Public Theatre, both productions in Spanish; Native Gardens at Creede Repertory Theatre, Arrivals & Salidas at Latinx Theatre Project, and New Native Theatre's A Christmas in Ochopee.

Learn more about the 23-24 University Theatre season.


The Merry Widow February 15-18

An inspiring story of love and misadventure will be presented in University Theatre’s upcoming production of The Merry Widow. The show will run Feb. 15 – 18 on the University of Oklahoma’s Norman campus.

Franz Lehar’s uplifting opera is a delightful story of a woman’s quest for love and how her burgeoning romance is hampered by deception, mishap, and comedic misadventures.

"The Merry Widow is the kind of opera that has you humming tunes and feeling a little lighter when you step out of the theatre,” said Nicole Kenley-Miller, D.M.A, who serves as the opera stage director and assistant professor in the School of Music. “From the lavish costumes dictated by our 1920s Parisian setting to the dance numbers featuring show girls and operetta’s calling card, the waltz, the world of The Merry Widow is one of glamour and romance," she added.

The Merry Widow will open at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, with additional performances scheduled for 8 p.m. Feb. 16 and 17 and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18. All performances will be held in the Reynolds Performing Arts Center, 560 Parrington Oval. The opera is sung in German, with English supertitles and dialogue. The show is suitable for all audiences.

“When we play the enchanting, graceful, and delicate music of Lehar’s Merry Widow, it’s as if we’re transported to another planet in which the gravest of life’s problems are forgotten and a kind of beautiful radiance surrounds us,” said Dr. Jonathan Shames, artistic and creative director for The Merry Widow. “An intricate series of variations on love plays through the opera, and the alternately hilarious and extremely touching music brings to every performer and, I hope to every audience member, excitement and a new sense of joy.” Shames also serves as Director of Orchestral Studies, Music Director and Conductor of the OU Symphony as well as Artistic Director and Conductor of OU Opera Theater in the OU School of Music.  

The cast for The Merry Widow includes School of Music students Julia Pace (Thursday/Saturday) and Amanda Kosi (Friday/Sunday) as the wealthy widow Hanna Glawari; Matt Corcoran (Thursday/Saturday) and Matt McKinnon (Friday/Sunday) as Danilo, Hanna’s former flame; Lane Elliott as Baron Zeta; Elena McKenna (Thursday/Saturday) and Rachel Gilliam (Friday/Sunday) as Valencienne, the flirtatious wife of Baron Zeta; and Marcos Ochoa (Thursday/Saturday) and Lorenzo Butler (Friday/Sunday) as Camille, Valencienne’s suitor. Thomas Chavira, OU School of Drama faculty member is included in the cast as Njegus, Danilo’s assistant. Also performing are an immensely talented supporting cast, chorus, and orchestra from the School of Music.

"I'm excited to show what our students have accomplished in this production,” Kenley-Miller said. “The Merry Widow is, in some ways, closer to a musical than an opera, and so our students have been challenged to learn spoken dialogue and perform a lot more choreography, all while still producing the gorgeous tones that we love so much in opera singing. They have risen to the challenge and will offer the audience a show that is funny, entertaining and beautiful."

In addition to Kenley-Miller as stage director and Shames as artistic director and conductor, the production includes choreography by OU School of Dance instructor Rebecca Herrin; Lorne Richstone and Taylor Hutchinson serve as vocal coaches; Giovanni Corrodus as chorus master; Katie Noelker is assistant conductor and Lloyd Cracknell from OU School of Drama serves as costume designer.

Mary Margaret Holt is the producer of OU University Theatre with Kasey Allee-Foreman as associate producer.

Learn more about the 23-24 University Theatre season.

Yuanting Zhao

Costume designer and drama professor Yuanting Zhao has been named the new director of the Helmerich School of Drama in the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts at the University of Oklahoma.

A native of Jinan, China, Zhao comes to OU after previously serving as chair of the Nazareth University Theatre and Dance Department in Rochester, New York. She joined the Nazareth faculty in 1996 as assistant professor and costume designer and earned associate and full professor titles before moving into the department chair role in 2013.

As a passionate educator, Zhao has taught costume design, costume construction, makeup and acting at the collegiate level.

“After 27 years at Nazareth University, I am thrilled to join the Helmerich School of Drama and become a Sooner,” Zhao said. “I am committed to working alongside the faculty, staff and students to propel our school forward, building on the already excellent acting, design, dramaturgy and stage management programs OU is known for. Our students show such great enthusiasm for learning, and I look forward to helping facilitate incredible opportunities for them.”

During her time as chair at Nazareth, Zhao launched several new majors and helped build the existing programs through innovative partnerships. One such partnership was with the REV Theatre Company which brings professional guest artists to Nazareth as well as opportunities for students to perform at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse/Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival.

Zhao also helped increase the number of artists and agents based in New York City coming to Nazareth’s campus to direct and design productions and conduct master classes and workshops, fostering relationships and networking that benefitted students upon graduation.

“We are delighted to welcome Professor Zhao to the leadership team of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts and to the position of director of the Helmerich School of Drama,” said Mary Margaret Holt, dean of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts. “As one of the oldest and most established schools of drama in the country, it is uniquely poised to continue to expand its excellence in all programs with the added benefit of Zhao’s significant experience and expertise in program development, partnership development and outreach.”

As a costume designer, Zhao has designed more than 90 collegiate productions, ranging from plays and musicals to dance performances. Professionally, she has designed costumes for Rochester City Ballet’s original production of Blood Countess and Nine Parts of Desire for Geva Theatre Center.

Zhao received her master of fine arts degree in costume design from the University of Arizona and bachelor of fine arts degree in acting from Shandong University of Art in Jinan, Shandong, China.

Jonathan Nichol

Accomplished saxophonist, educator and administrator Jonathan Nichol, DMA, has been named the next director of the University of Oklahoma School of Music. He previously served as interim director for the 2022-2023 academic year and has been on faculty as professor of saxophone since 2013.

“The OU School of Music is home to a remarkable community of dedicated faculty, staff and students,” Nichol stated. “As the director of the School of Music, I am thrilled to lead a program with such a rich history of academic and performance excellence. Teaching and working with our more than 450 amazing students is the best job in the world! I look forward to continued collaboration with my faculty colleagues as we not only uphold our longstanding tradition of excellence but develop new programs to improve the human experience and intersect with modern trends in music education, research, performance and technology.”

As an accomplished saxophonist, Nichol has performed extensively in the United States and abroad as a featured soloist with several orchestras and has premiered compositions by renowned composers. Additionally, Nichol is a founding member of the h2 quartet, a dynamic chamber ensemble that won the Gold Medal at the 2007 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and the First Prize at the inaugural North American Saxophone Alliance Chamber Music Competition in 2008. Nichol has recorded and released seven studio albums with the h2 quartet, two solo albums and several more with other artists.

Nichol is the recipient of the University Distinguished Teaching Award (2017), recognizing teaching excellence at the undergraduate level. His saxophone students are highly accomplished and have won prizes in prestigious competitions such as the Music Teachers National Association National Chamber Music Competition, the MTNA Young Artist Solo Competition and the NASA Quartet Competition.

“It is a pleasure to announce the appointment of Jonathan Nichol as director of the OU School of Music,” said Mary Margaret Holt, dean of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts.

“He is without question an accomplished musician and educator with achievements on the international, national and regional levels,” she said. “As interim director of the School of Music during the 2022-2023 academic year, his leadership resulted in the addition of a popular series of faculty recitals, the appointment of an exciting new cadre of faculty members and success in undergraduate student recruitment. We welcome Dr. Nichol to this position with enthusiasm and confidence and look forward to the continued excellence of our School of Music."

Nichol has served the School of Music on numerous committees at OU including the Strategic Planning committee, Graduate and Undergraduate Studies committees and the Outreach and Community Engagement committee. He is also a member of OU’s Faculty Evaluation Working Group, the Fine Arts Council, the Faculty Senate Advisory Committee to the Vice President of Research and the Faculty Appeals Board.

His regional service includes Region IV coordinator of the North American Saxophone Alliance and serving as the site host and co-chair of the Oklahoma Music Educators State Competition from 2018-2020.

Nichol is also director of the Great Plains Saxophone Workshop, the premier summer camp for high school and collegiate saxophonists. The workshop has grown into one of the largest single-instrument workshops in the country, starting with 38 students in 2014 to over 150 saxophonists from 20 states in 2019, ranging from middle school students through DMA candidates.

A Michigan native, Nichol received his doctor of musical arts and master of music in saxophone performance at Michigan State University. He studied with his father, John Nichol, professor of saxophone at Central Michigan University, where he received his bachelor of music education.

Nichol is a Yamaha and Vandoren Performing Artist.

Mary Margaret Holt

MARY MARGARET HOLT, dean of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts, was selected in 2020 for a lifetime achievement award in honor of her significant contributions to ballet excellence in higher education. 




Our 5 Schools


OU School of Dance is considered one of the leading programs in the nation for training in ballet and modern dance technique.

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Helmerich School of Drama is the second oldest established school in the nation, behind Yale University.

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Oklahoma’s only comprehensive music school with world-class faculty, state of the art facilities, and a broad array of performance and academic opportunities.

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Musical Theatre

The Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre is one of the top musical theatre programs in the country.

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Visual Arts

OU School of Visual Arts is the only institution in the state to offer a graduate degree in art history at both the master’s and doctoral level.

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