Conservatory of Theatre Arts 50th Anniversary Celebration A bow to the past and a spotlight on the future.

We invite you to join with Conservatory alumni for Saturday evening's Conservatory Celebration event, and the Conservatory production of Brigadoon on Friday evening, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Festivities are planned throughout the weekend, including special recognition of Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts Dean Peter Sargent's many contributions to both the Conservatory and the University.

Join us April 20-22 for show-stopping performances!


Conservatory Celebration

with host Jerry Mitchell

Saturday, April 21, 7:30 p.m.

Tony Award-winning choreographer/director and Conservatory alumnus Jerry Mitchell (La Cage aux Folles, Kinky Boots) will serve as emcee for a festive evening of performance and heartfelt sentiment. Among those appearing are Webster alumni Hunter Bell (Tony Award nominee, [title of show]), Rocky Carroll (NCIS), Kevin Earley (Broadway’s Les Misérables, Tale of Two Cities, Death Takes a Holiday), Nathan Lee Graham (LA to Vegas, Sweet Home Alabama), Sigrid Wise (soon-to-be Juliet in Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ Romeo and Juliet), and Peter Sargent, along with other Conservatory faculty, alumni, and students. While honoring Sargent, dean of Webster’s Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts, the Conservatory remembers 50 years of great theatre and begins its journey toward many more.

Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts

General admission tickets: $25

Brigadoon Conservatory Performance

Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts

  • Friday, April 20, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 21, 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 22, 2 p.m.

For all Brigadoon performance tickets, please call (314) 968-7128 to reserve seating.

Theatre Training

The Conservatory offers a sequential and intensive program for training young artists for theatre. The Conservatory at Webster is a professional training program for acting, musical theatre, directing, theatre studies and dramaturgy, design, technical theatre and stage management.

Webster University Student Theatre Chronology

Student theatre has been a part of Webster University since its earliest days. Known as the Loretto Players for many years, the theatre program evolved over time to become the Conservatory of Theatre Arts in 1967 under the leadership of then-department chair Peter Sargent, now dean of the University’s Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts.

Sr. Marita Michenfelder (later Marita Woodruff) chaired the drama department from 1957-1969 and was involved in the design of the Loretto-Hilton Theatre. The Marita Woodruff scholarship was later established through a gift from Marsha Mason, an alumna of the Webster Theatre and Dance Department, to acknowledge the outstanding teaching contributions of Marita Woodruff during her 41 years at Webster. (Left) Peter Sargent came to Webster in 1966 to serve as resident lighting director. He would go on to become assistant to the Rep's artistic director, chair of the Theater Arts Department, and in 1995, the first ever Dean of the College of Fine Arts (now Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts).

Loretto-Hilton Center Construction

For the college's first 50 years, theatre students primarily performed on what is now known as Stage 3, located in the bottom floor of Webster Hall. That all changed with the opening of the Loretto-Hilton Center in 1966.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Loretto-Hilton Center was held on Feb. 2, 1964, and attended by Conrad Hilton (far right).

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Loretto-Hilton Center was held Feb. 2, 1964, and the facility was officially dedicated May 8, 1966. The late Conrad Nicholas Hilton contributed $1.5 million of the $1.9 million that the center cost. Inside there was a 952-seat main stage theatre and a 125-seat Studio Theatre.

Hilton’s original speech at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Loretto-Hilton Center Expansion

On June 25, 2001, construction began on a $5.4 million expansion and renovation of the Loretto-Hilton Center. In addition to new backstage facilities, the addition featured The Hobler Center for Dance. The expansion was made possible in part due to the generosity of Trustee Laurence L. Browning, Jr., and his wife, Virginia, who offered a $1 million challenge that fostered a fund-raising partnership between Webster, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, all of whom use the facility. The addition to the Center was completed in 2002. That same year the main stage was named the Virginia Jackson Browning Theatre in honor of the contributions of Larry and Jinny Browning.

The Browning Mainstage provides an intimate atmosphere for a multitude of artistic activities, with seating for nearly 1,000 people.
Jinny Browning (center) with Webster’s Provost Julian Schuster and President Beth Stroble following the "Pajama Party" performance in April 2016.

About Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts

Located in St. Louis, Missouri, the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University has been training theatre students for the professional world for over half a century. The Conservatory at Webster is a professional training program for acting, musical theatre, directing, theatre studies and dramaturgy, design, technical theatre and stage management.

Conservatory alumni have won a number of awards including Golden Globes, Tony Awards, Obie Awards and Emmys.

One of the distinguishing elements of Webster's Conservatory is its integrated association with professional theatre companies, two of which are located on campus: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Webster also enjoys a one of a kind association with St. Louis professional theatre organizations including, the Muny, Variety: the Children's Charity, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis and the Lyceum Theatre in Arrow Rock, Missouri, the state's oldest Equity Theatre.

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