Shenandoah Conservatory has appointed Jacob Brent, M.F.A., as assistant professor of jazz dance and musical theatre styles beginning fall 2016.
On behalf of the search committee, Chair of Dance Division and Associate Professor of Dance Ting-Yu Chen, M.F.A., expressed that “Jacob Brent is a powerful force in the professional industry, and equally strong in his teaching methods.” Chen continued, “His work provides the necessary foundational knowledge base for jazz dance and musical theatre styles that empowers our students to navigate the pressures and complexities that characterize much of today’s contemporary jazz and commercial dance opportunities.”
Brent comes to Shenandoah Conservatory as a veteran Broadway performer with extensive experience in directing, choreographing and teaching. As a performer, Brent is probably best known for his portrayal of Mr. Mistoffelees in the Broadway, London and DVD productions of “Cats,” where he worked closely with its creator, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. He is the only performer to have appeared in all three and the only actor to have performed in both of the record-breaking performances of the longest running Broadway and West End show. He also had the privilege of working with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber when he opened the original cast of “Starlight Express” in Las Vegas.
Brent’s commitment and passion for theatre fuels his work and is evident in his previous productions such as “Fiddler on the Roof,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “Avenue Q” for the Weston Playhouse. He served as the choreographer for West Coast regional premiere of “The Producers” for the Diablo Theater Company, directed and choreographed “Cats” at the Gateway Playhouse, and revived “Rags” for Marymount Manhattan College, working closely with Charles Strouse on this production.
His all-star cast of “Guys and Dolls” for the Indianapolis Symphony was met with much acclaim. The cast included Gary Beach (“The Producers”), Ashley Brown (“Mary Poppins”), Hugh Panaro (“The Phantom of the Opera”) and Megan Lawrence (“Damn Yankees” and “Hair”). He later returned for “Hello Dolly!” starring Sandi Patty.
Other directing and choreographing credits include, “Xanadu,” “Peter Pan,” “Sweet Charity,” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” “Mack and Mabel,” “Starting Here, Starting Now” working with the original writers Richard Maltby and David Shire, “On The Town,” “Seussical,” “Children of Eden,” “Cinderella,” “Big River,” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” as well as the workshops of “ALICE,” a musical based on “Alice in Wonderland” in both New York and London. He has been invited to choreograph ballets for the New York City Ballet and the North Carolina School of the Arts where he is a graduate and serves as guest artist.
When not working on productions, Brent taught in New York City at both Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway.
Brent completed his M.F.A. in musical theatre at San Diego State University and his B.A. in theatre arts and dance from Empire State College in New York.