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  • Writer's pictureTracy Jordan

Alan Shorter is a busy man...

Alan Shorter, Texas Christian University Theater Department Associate Chair

Though College Audition Prep Weekend 2019 is just concluded (photos to follow soon!), we wanted to be sure to share with you about a late addition to our faculty for 2019. When Harry Parker of Texas Christian University asked if Associate Theater Department Chair Alan Shorter could be included in our faculty for 2019, we jumped at the chance to have him. Alan, as you will see, is a very busy man and the opportunity for our students to get to work with him was a great boon. His softspoken direction is always professional and to the point.

Alan attended Minnesota State University – Moorhead, received his B.A. in Theatre & Drama from Indiana University – Bloomington, and holds an M.F.A. in Directing from Minnesota State University – Mankato. He also served as Interim Chair for the TCU Department of Theatre for the Fall Semester, 2018.

Alan’s work as composer, music director, stage director, actor, conductor, and pianist has been seen at numerous regional theatres and in the national tours of The 1940’s Radio HourThe Desert SongA Christmas Carol, and The Student Prince.  In 2011, he was a winner of TCU’s prestigious Deans’ Award for Creativity & Research and a year later was a finalist for the Wassenich Award for Mentoring in the TCU Community.  He served as the Music Supervisor and an Artistic Associate for eight seasons of The Trinity Shakespeare Festival.

In 2015, Alan was Music Supervisor for TCU’s “Festival of American Song” featuring Jason Robert Brown and provided music direction of the student performances for “An Evening with Susan Egan.”  He has been honored to provide piano accompaniment for public performances by Susan Egan and Beth Leavel during their visits to TCU.  Alan also serves as the music director, arranger, and pianist for the TCU Senior Showcase presented in New York City.

Alan directed Circle Theatre’s productions of Under the Skin (regional premiere) and Mass Appeal, as well as their critically acclaimed Opus, for which he received a Dallas/Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum Award for “Outstanding Direction” and two Fort Worth Weekly Best of 2010 awards: “Best Production Staged by a Local Theatre” and “Best Director.” He has also served as stage director for Circle Theatre’s High School Playwriting Project since 2011.

At TCU, he has been the stage director for productions of Tartuffe, The Women of Lockerbie, Closer Than Ever, The Elephant Man, Doubt, And the World Goes ‘Round, The Laramie Project, and Anything Goes. Other stage direction credits include WingsFiddler on the RoofCabaretChildren of EdenThe Good DoctorTartuffe, … and They Dance Real Slow in JacksonNancy Drew: Girl DetectiveThe 500 Hats of Bartholomew CubbinsSherlock Holmes and the Baker Street IrregularsSylvia Plath: A Memoir, AntigoneThe DivinersLonely Planet, and A Night in November.

Alan was music director and conductor for Lyric Stage’s production of Hello, Dolly! in Dallas, as well as served as their associate music director for Carousel.  (Both productions received the Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum Awards for “Best Ensemble.”)  He also provided music direction for the Theatre TCU/Circle Theatre co-production of The Fantasticks.  Since 2010, he has composed, arranged, and recorded music for Trinity’s productions of King Lear, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merry Wives of Windsor, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo & Juliet, and Twelfth Night.  A partial list of Alan’s other theatre credits includes The Central Children’s Theatre of Moscow (Russia), Theatre Three, Stage West, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, The Cricket Theatre, The Ordway, Hey City Stage, and two Tony-Award-winning theatres: The Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis (where he was both Artistic Associate and Composer-in-Residence) and Theatre de la Jeune Lune.

He has provided music direction for over 100 professional and academic productions ranging from Sondheim’s A Little Night Music to Elton John’s Aida. His music direction for TCU has included Fiddler on the Roof, Sweeney Todd, Pippin, Guys and Dolls, Spring Awakening, Assassins, The Fantasticks, Oklahoma, Seussical: The Musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, A Chorus Line, We Need A little Christmas, Little Women: The Musical, and No, No, Nanette.

As a composer, Alan has written over a dozen original scores for the theatre, including Anatomy of Gray, Spinning into ButterHamletDracula, The Hobbit, The Voice of the PrairieThe Troubles: Children of BelfastStrega NonaThe Velveteen Rabbit, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (produced in Russian at the Central Children’s Theatre of Moscow).  Alan’s adaptation of Tomie dePaola’s Oliver Button Is a Sissy for the concert stage has been performed by over fifty major choruses nationwide and was featured at Carnegie Hall in New York City and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.  The concert work was also the centerpiece for the documentary “Oliver Button is a Star!” produced by Emmy Award winning producers Dan Hunt and John Scagliatti.  The documentary aired nationally on PBS and has been given the National Association of Multicultural Education’s Media Award, Action for Media’s Pixi Award, the National Gay & Lesbian Journalist Association’s Excellence in Journalism Award, and Excellence in Media’s Silver Angel Award.

“Changing Hearts,” a work for men’s chorus, seven soloists, and small orchestra, debuted in Washington, DC, and Montreal by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC, and was featured in their 25th Anniversary Concert at The Kennedy Center.  Individual songs from that work have been featured on several CDs. “The Great Ends of the Church,” one of Alan’s choral works, premiered in Dallas, TX, in June of 2003.  That same year, the Heartland Chorus in Kansas City commissioned and performed “Country Angel Christmas,” based on the book by Tomie dePaola.

The GALA Association of Choruses has included “They Sang to Me” (from “Changing Hearts”) in their songbook SONGS OF COURAGE, a collection of the top twenty-five songs from twenty-five years of commissions by 185 GALA choruses.  In 2009, Alan’s composition Pascha nostrum for mixed chorus and French horn was released on the CD “O Vierge, Sois Clémente” by the Chœr de Saint-Louis. His compositions “Make the Earth Your Companion” and “Every Great Dream Begins with a Dreamer” premiered at the 2016 GALA Festival in Denver.  In 2008, Bayou City Performing Arts commissioned Alan for three works, “Norm,” “Love’s Song,” and “The Gathering Storm,” and has performed the pieces in both Houston and Miami.

Alan has also written two short plays, The Best of Intentions and It’s Just the Way Things Are. Dealing with the issues of eldercare, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and end-of-life/quality-of-life issues, the plays were written to provide a stepping stone for panel discussions with experts in these fields and have received numerous performances in Fort Worth (featuring TCU actors), including the Tarrant County Academy of Medicine’s “Speak for Yourself” series attended by members of TCU’s Harris School of Nursing, Brite Divinity School, the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, Texas Health Resources, Community Hospice of Texas, Baylor All Saints Medical Center (Fort Worth), Tarrant Area Community of Churches, JPS Health Network, and North Texas Specialty Physicians.

As an actor, Alan Shorter played James Apanomith in the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s 2018 production of Ellis Island: The Dream of America and Father Stanley in Circle Theatre’s production of Hail, Mary!  Other favorite roles include Noel Coward in OhCoward!, Hermann van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank, and Jimmy Powers in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.  He also appeared on stage as Father Alan in the world premiere of Sister Amnesia’s Country Western Nunsense Jamboree (for which he was music director and pianist for the original cast recording) and Nunsense II: The Second Coming.

Alan is a member of the American Federation of Musicians (AF of M), Music Theatre Educators Alliance International (MTEA), the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), The American Composers Forum (ACF), the Educational Theatre Association, and was an Artistic Associate of The Trinity Shakespeare Festival.

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