UNCSA designers and technicians offer a glimpse into backstage world of arts and entertainment

Graduating seniors in the School of Design and Production (D&P) at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts will present their first ever public Senior Portfolio Review from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 29 at the Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem.

portfolio review

Students prepare for portfolio review.

Artists who design and execute the scenery, properties, costumes, wigs and makeup, sound and lighting for campus performances and the entertainment industry will be on hand to discuss their creative process. Sketches, renderings, diagrams and models will be on display, said D&P Dean Michael J. Kelley.

“This might be your last chance to see the work of these talented artists here in Winston-Salem,” Kelley said. “The next time you see their work, it could be on Broadway, at the Metropolitan Opera or a major theme park.”

Florencia en el Amazonas

"Florencia en el Amazonas," February 2017. Scenic design by Andrew Licout. Lighting design by Joseph Naftal. Projections by Patrick Angle. Costumes by Amy MacDonald.

D&P expects to award 15 Master of Fine Arts and 50 Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees at the university’s 51st annual commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6. Graduates typically record a 96 to 98 percent employment rate in their disciplines within months of graduation. Alumni have worked with organizations including Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Berkeley Ballet Theatre, Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre and The Walt Disney Company.

 Prominent graduates include Paul Tazewell (Costume Design ’86) winner of a Tony Award for Hamilton and an Emmy Award for NBC’s The Wiz! Live; Al Crawford (Lighting ’97), resident lighting designer for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Elisheba Ittoop (Sound ’07), who has worked with New York City’s Shakespeare in the Park, NPR’s StoryCorps, Chautauqua Theatre, Guthrie Theatre and Columbia University; and Milton Davis (Lighting ’83), an electronics engineer who designed the lighting system for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and brought to life every Cirque du Soleil show on the Las Vegas strip since the mid-1990s. 


Photonapalooza, December 2016. Lighting design by Abby May.

D&P students support many of UNCSA’s 300 annual public performances with design, technical direction and stage management. “You see our names in the program, but you might not understand what we do,” Kelley said. “You might not realize what all goes into that dance concert or play. Portfolio Review will give you a greater understanding of what happens back stage and off stage, in studios and labs.”

Every student in D&P participates in an annual portfolio review with the entire faculty, Kelley said. “It teaches them to present and discuss their work in a professional manner,” he said. “That is how you get jobs in the industry.” 

Kelley said friends of the school have attended portfolio reviews over the years and found them fascinating. “We’ve been encouraged to invite a larger audience. So this year we decided to do it.”

In keeping with the behind-the-scenes nature of the work, entry to the portfolio review will be by the backstage door on Marshall Street. Admission is free.

by Lauren Whitaker

April 20, 2017