Robert Chapel

Robert Chapel

Professor Emeritus, Musical Theatre, Directing

Robert Chapel is a former professor of Drama and former chair (1990-2005) of the University of Virginia’s Department of Drama. He was also with the Heritage Theatre since 1987, first as a stage director, then as managing and stage director and, from 1995 - 2015, its producing artistic director. Bob also chaired the Virginia 2020 Commission on the Fine and Performing Arts. In addition, he has served as executive director of the Virginia Film Festival. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Bob has directed over 130 plays and musicals and has acted in over 60 more in New York, Los Angeles, regional, and university theatre.

Prior to joining the U.Va. faculty, he taught and directed at San Diego State University (head of MFA Musical Theatre Program and recipient of an outstanding teaching award), New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (coordinating director of the MFA Musical Theatre Composing and Writing Program), the University of Michigan (head of BFA Musical Theatre Program), and the University of Alabama (assistant professor in Theatre).

While in New York, he created and produced, with Brooks McNamara, a series of shows out of the Shubert Archive, culminating in Shubert Alley that was performed at the Players Club and the “Performathon” at Lincoln Center. In addition he has served as artistic director for Music Theatre North in Potsdam, NY. During an eight-year residence in Los Angeles, he served as vice-president for a film company, assisting in the production of three feature films shot in Australia, Canada, New York, and Los Angeles. During that time he also received the Drama-Logue Award for his direction of Genet’s The Balcony at the Company of Angels Theatre. While in Los Angeles and New York, he also acted in a number of films, prime-time television programs and commercials, as well as theatre.

While at U.Va., he was awarded membership into the Raven and ODK honor societies and in 2014, he received one of two faculty Raven Awards for Outstanding Service to the University of Virginia.  In 2005-2006 while on sabbatical leave from U.Va., Bob taught musical theatre at two prestigious acting academies in Moscow, Russia, directed The Laramie Project for the University of Michigan’s Department of Theatre and Drama, and directed She Stoops To Conquer at the University of Tasmania’s School of Visual and Performing Arts in Launceston, Tasmania (Australia). Having been awarded a Fulbright grant, he returned to Moscow in November, 2006 and directed Sweeney Todd for the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts at the GITIS Theatre. In 2007 he returned to Ann Arbor and directed the opening production at the University of Michigan’s new Arthur Miller Theatre, that being Miller’s stage adaptation of his teleplay, Playing For Time. In December of 2007 he received a Fulbright Emeritus grant to create a Broadway musical revue, Broadway X 3, which he toured with three singers and an accompanist to eight cities, traveling over 6,000 miles in Russia over a period of 14 days and, in the spring of 2008, he was summoned back to Moscow by the U.S. Embassy there to give a lecture and teach a workshop in musical theatre performance at an international theatre festival. During the summer of 2007, he served as a faculty member for Semester at Sea and then went on to serve as academic dean for the Fall, 2009 Semester at Sea around the world voyage. In 2014 he was invited back to the University of Michigan to direct Lope de Vega’s Fuente Ovejuna in the Power Center for the Performing Arts.  In 2015 he was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation International.  Bob’s biography is included in Who’s Who In America.