Past Guest Speaker Series (by School Year)

The WGHS Advanced Acting Class 
Little Theater Guest Speaker Series
from the local and national theatre scene.
Each guest is invited to come to the last hour of our day and join the Advanced Drama Class. The purpose of these visits are to broaden the spectrum of exposure for the variety of work in theater. The WGHS Drama students are a great crowd, and each guest is asked to show and/or share what they know regarding theater, performance, design, tech, music, management, training, etc. They sometimes just talk to us and we ask a lot questions or they hold a workshop. Sometimes they'll even perform for us! 

                     The 2015 -2016 Guests

Brian Peters
Stage Combat (Swords/Rapiers)
We met Mr. Peters at ITS conferences and then decided he needed to come in and give us a private lesson

Jake Schutt and Jacob Noce practicing their combo 

The swords we got to play around with and he taught us a lot about safety.
We also learned about the parts that make up the sword and how they all function

They fought like pros by the end

These workshops allow the students additional perspective on a topic and it allows us to bring in the experts when their are elements of safety involved. Brian is nationally certified to teach stage combat. He works on Chicago Fire and now lives in chi town. 

Strike a pose!

                                        We also had a guest come talk about WRITING...

                             Matthew Kern - Playwrighting Workshop with Advanced Drama
                                        (New Director of the St Louis Fringe Festival)

We hosted Matthew for a special 6 week workshop for developing original work. He allowed the students to write on any topic, but he spent a good deal of time on talking about L.G.T.B.Q issues and topics. The workshop required every student to write a play by the end. Almost everyone got one done. Several of the plays were fabulous and may get a staging in the near future.

Everyone with their scripts!
Several of the students had their work given a simple staged reading during the workshop.

                                       We also danced!!!

  Tyra (Webster U Dance) came over and gave a wonderful two class- Intro to "Partnered Dancing" workshop with Advanced Drama. 

They loved it and got on their feet with some historical dances.

We were also treated to a wonderful hour 
with a Broadway actress!

Niki Snelson
is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and received her training at the Boston Conservatory. Snelson's first major role on Broadway came as "Winnie Tate" in the 1999 Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun (musical), opposite Bernadette Peters. She has been very busy since then...

Mrs. R. secured us a wonderful talk back session with her friend Niki and the class was given time with her to ask about auditioning, working on Broadway, and building effective resumes. 


The 2013-2014 Guests

Leah Ashley (and also joined by John Acosta)Leah (WG Alumni '11) just wrapped up a Production Assistant position with a series on OWN called "Welcome to Sweetie Pies" that filmed in St Louis of Manchester in the Grove, and she is currently is attending Webster University for film. She talked about the show, her time at WG and how to find a path into the business. John Acosta (Professional TV Cameraman) has a long resume in the production world that has taken him all over, but he shared some advice on how to make it in "the business of hard work." Visit the TV show's website at

 Spencer Milford- (WG student at the time) currently was preparing for a Broadway role in the show "Winslow's Boy" that opens Sept 2013. He Skyped with us from his Apartment in NY. He shared with us the day to day activities as he prepared to open in his first Broadway role.

Lakeetha Blakeney - Joined the class for a very interesting conversation about being a working artist and making your own art as an actor. Lakeetha shared her stories about being union, and working with ITC in St Louis. She also talked about writing and collaborating on a new project called "Sweet Jenn" with Todd Schaefer and SAA.

*We also had two days of shows with Redeeming History Theatricals performing the world premiere of "Sweet Jenn" for classes four different times during the day and then for two evening performances for the WG public. They are now taking the show on various other stops.

Ashley Fields - (WG Alumni) - Dropped in to chat with us about a day in the life of a working NY Actress. She is living in Brooklyn and is currently in the process of building a reel, solidifying her online presence and has been involved in some smaller film projects. She talked to us about her day to day operations, how she markets herself and what it is like to work a job and attend auditions. She also shared some of the details of the auditioning process. Visit her profile at

Emily Gorsuch - She was a very special guest of Mrs R. and came into our class to speak to us about working for a Disney park as Rapunzel, Marilyn Monroe and others. She talked about being a working actor in FL, her Stephen's College theater experience, how she landed the audition for Disney, her skill set as a theme park character actress, and the path she took to get where she is in the company. It was an engaging talk back with Emily and her parents, and it was a great view into the life of a theme park actress and the schedule she has to keep.  

We had a wonderful visit from the St Louis Shakespeare Festival performing "As You Like It" (reduced to 50 minutes) in the Little Theater for classes to come down and see. It was a great production and the students really liked it. It had a great cast and the staging was unique, they used few actors to play many roles and the set transformed into many locations with simple shifts of the set units and furniture.

Jesse Gaffney - (WG Alumni) She is a professional working Props Mistress in the Chicago Theater scene. She spoke to us about creating, finding, and designing props for local theater in Chi Town. Specifically her work with The 16th Street Theater where she is an associate (  She talked about the way her day looks, what she does in the field of props design and construction, and how production schedules look for that type of work. Her insight into freelance design work was fabulous and to hear about some of her designs helped create a very clear view into her world. (visit her blog at:

The 2012-2013 Guests

Kate McDoniel-  (Aug)
in class visit with an Equity/ Stage Manager Union member. She has worked on Broadway with productions of "Our Town" and "the Color Purple" and has been with the national tour of "La Cage" which had stopped here last season in St. Louis at the FOX. She is a fellow graduate of Truman State University. She spoke to the students about professional productions, jobs, working and living in NY and strating out with a Rep theater in Georgia as an intern. We learned a lot from her talk and the students had great questions. Thanks Kate!

Vernon Goodman- (Thursday Sept 13th) in class visit from professional actor/dancer who has performed on Broadway with The Color Purple, worked with several national tours (Lion King, Mama Mia, and others), performed locally here in St Louis, and started as a child actor in California. Vernon is now holding several degrees in the arts and is Admissions Director for CAP21 New York Conservatory.Visit their website at

Richard Yoder -  (Monday Oct 1st) (WG Alumni) Actor/performer at Stages St. Louis this Fall in My One and Only. Richard spoke with the students about living in New York, getting his union card, acting professionally on Broadway and working on several tours. He also shared stories and some video of his start with a tour of 42 Street  in Asia. Visit his website at

Larry Pry - (The Muny) - (Assistant Marketing Director of the St. Louis Muny Opera Theater. Formerly the Music Director of Webster University. Larry brought with him a plethera of industry examples, stories and tidbits of advice for the young artists. Larry also was very generous in providing some time with the students to workshop song performances of three of the students in class. visit the Muny's site at:

Teresa Doggett -  (St. Louis Actor, Costume Designer, and Director) -  As an actor Teresa has worked at The Repertory Theater of St. Louis, StrayDog Theatre, St. Louis Shakespeare, The New Jewish Theatre, HotCity, STLAS, ACT Inc and others. Her incredible costuming credits are too extensive to try to list here. For a fun interview with Teresa visit

Olive B. Luewing- (Webster Groves's very own performance artist) - Olive gathered the students around her for a very intimate chat about herself and her art. Her journey was funny, insightful and poignant. We appreciated her giving up her time to come and share her work with us. Visit her FB page at:!/profile.php?id=100002241412151&fref=ts

The Mizzou Clan- (Webster Theater Alum) - (Tues Nov 20th) Back from their final year at Mizzou, these three Troupe 191 Alumni visited and shared their experiences at a MO liberal arts university and their time in that exciting theatre department. This was a great opportunity. Each of them brought a different focus. We had Scott McDonald and Jarrett Seifert who have been focusing on lighting and set design in their studies. They each had wonderful drawings and pictures to share. Their time has been well spent and productive. 

Then we had the fabulous Maddie Byrne and all of her wonderfully crass behavior on full display...a truely passionate individual. She talked about her discoveries and perspective changes as a performer, and her plans to locate a bigger city after graduation. So thankful for our alumni, and we love that they still want to see us! Visit the Mizzou theatre site at

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