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OnStage Blog: UW-La Crosse Theatre Arts Department atop Wisconsin programs

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'It's A Wonderful Life'

The UWL Theatre Arts Department staged a radio version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in December. It was the department’s second streamed performance for the fall semester without a live audience. Three streamed performances are planned for spring: a Zoom production, a created children's show and a musical.  

A national theatre blog puts the UW-La Crosse Theater Arts Department center stage in Wisconsin — and one of the best in the country.

OnStage Blog says UW-L has the best theatre program in Wisconsin in listing the top programs in all 50 states.

OnStage editors say identifying top college programs begins with finding those doing “amazing things and giving their students fantastic preparation for their various industries.”

The OnStage lists were researched and compiled by a committee of students, educators, parents and alums. All degrees within the programs were adjudicated including both performance, design and technology, as well as direction, writing, and any other areas of training. Factors taken into consideration were quality of faculty, variety of curriculum, facilities, career support, performance opportunities, scholarships, among others.

Professor Joe Anderson, chair of the department, isn’t surprised by its high marks. He says department faculty have quickly pivoted during COVID-19 to continue hands-on teaching while practicing safety.

Most theatre classes have been taught using a hybrid model, which has required faculty to be creative, particularly when teaching courses that focus on performance and movement, voice, singing, and technical design.

Rehearsals were also redesigned for flexibility and safety. Productions this spring are being fully rehearsed and performed via Zoom — a completely new style and technique for faculty and students.

“Our top priority in the classroom and during rehearsal has been to keep students engaged, as well as safe,” Anderson explains.

He says UWL’s traditional six academic year shows were cut to two streamed performances in fall, while three streamed performances are planned this spring, including the Zoom production, a created children’s show with access being given free of charge to -elementary schools in the region, and a musical.

The Theatre Arts Department has done an amazing job doing more than others nationwide, says Anderson. But, he says it’s not the same as performing for a live audience.

“The only solace, and it is not a very comforting one, is that the entire world of theatre is in the same situation in regard to live performances,” he says.

For more about the UW-L Theatre Department and it’s spring productions visit:

See the complete list of top programs in each state at:


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