Internationally Renowned Director/Choreographer in Cape Preparing for Opening Night at River Campus


Courtney Guest Directs ‘The 1940s Radio Hour’

Editor’s NoteTo schedule an interview or guest appearance with Dennis Courtney, please contact River Campus Marketing Manager Amanda Thornberry at (573) 651-2682 or Director of Development Angie Wilson at (573) 986-6845.



Sept. 4, 2008 – Little more than one month ago, Dennis Courtney’s landmark production of “Fiddler on the Roof” opened in Tel Aviv, Israel, as the official theatrical production for the 60th Anniversary of the State of Israel.  Presented in Hebrew (Courtney had to work through an interpreter), the $10 million production is expected to run for no less than four years.

Now, less than one month after returning to the United States, Courtney is in Cape Girardeau, Mo., spending the next five weeks visiting Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus as he directs the Department of Theatre & Dance’s production of the hit musical, “The 1940’s Radio Hour.”

“The 1940’s Radio Hour,” sponsored in part by a special grant from the Missouri Arts Council, will be presented by the Department of Theatre & Dance at the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall located in the Cultural Arts Center at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus.  The production runs Wednesday, Oct. 1, through Sunday, Oct. 5.

Last fall, the Department of Theatre & Dance conducted a nationwide search for a guest director with national or international credentials for “The 1940’s Radio Hour.” 

Courtney read about the opening and says he was attracted first to the show.

“I love the music and spirit of the 1940’s, and I’ve done several other 1940’s shows,” Courtney said.  “I also look for opportunities to work with talented college-age actors.  Their energy and enthusiasm are infectious and a joy to be around.”

Courtney is a critically acclaimed director/choreographer of stage and television as well as corporate and special events. Based in New York City, N.Y., Courtney has won numerous awards as the director/choreographer of more than 150 stage productions including “Peter Pan” with Cathy Rigby and “Can-Can” with Leslie Uggams.

The award-winning regional premieres of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” and “Summer of ’69,” along with the premiere productions of “Red Hot Mama,” “Beggar’s Holiday,” “The Beethovens,” and numerous other musicals and plays highlight Courtney’s impressive depth of experience.  These performances have taken place throughout the United States as well as in Canada and Europe.

The Department of Theatre and Dance regularly brings in outside professionals to direct, choreograph and design during its regular season.  Recent guest artists include Pat Atkinson (designer), Nana Shineflug (choreographer), Sean Curran (choreographer), the Jump, Rhythm, Jazz Project, and Judith Farris, who is now the Department’s renowned Broadway vocal coach.

Courtney also feels it is important to give back. 

“I’ve learned so much throughout my career so far, and want upcoming actors to learn about ‘show business’ outside the classroom,” he said.

On stage, Courtney has directed such stars as Bette Midler, Celine Dion, Quincy Jones, Warren Beatty, Carol Channing, David Hasselhoff and Helen Reddy.

Courtney has been in Cape Girardeau just a few days, holding auditions for “1940’s Radio Hour.”

“I can see in the students’ eyes the enthusiasm and willingness to learn and work hard.  They are very talented and it’s great to audition so many who are already becoming triple threats (actors, singers and dancers),” Courtney said. 

The New York Daily News described “The 1940’s Radio Hour” as “an exhilarating evening of singing, dancing, and fun.”  Filled with 1940’s big-band music, swing dancing, patriotism, and old-fashioned sound effects, this show is a musical treat. 

“Audiences will fall in love with ‘Radio Hour,’ and they will delight in Mr. Courtney’s extraordinary talent and unique vision for this musical,” said Kenneth Stilson, professor of acting and directing, from the Department of Theatre & Dance.  “You don’t want to miss this one.” 

Courtney said, “You can expect not only a great evening of music and comedy, but you’ll also see some of the future’s major actors on the stage.  I’m looking forward to all of us doing our best work to create a terrific show.” 

Courtney also has had a successful performing career including on Broadway, television and in concerts. He appeared on Broadway and on tour in “Starlight Express,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Peter Pan” with Sandy Duncan, “Roza” with Georgia Brown, “The Fantasticks,” “Grease” with Andrea McArdle and regionally in many other shows.

Some of Courtney’s past television experiences include several national commercials and Afterschool Specials, along with “All My Children”and “The Wonder Years.”

Tickets may be purchased by contacting the River Campus Box Office, located in the Cultural Arts Center, 518 S. Fountain Street, weekdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by calling (573) 651-2265.  Tickets also may be purchased online at, keyword “radio” or by calling toll free: (800) 293-5949.