photo of Joe DeerContact Information

Distinguished Professor of Musical Theatre

Head, BFA Musical Theatre Program

Director, The Musical Theatre Initiative at Wright State University

Phone: (937) 775-2424
Personal website:


MFA in Directing, Carnegie Mellon University


Joe Deer is Distinguished Professor of Musical Theatre and heads Wright State University’s Musical Theatre program. He is the award-winning director or choreographer of more than 150 productions in off-Broadway, regional and university theatres, including regional premieres of Parade, Only Heaven, Park Your Car in Harvard Yard and others. For Wright State, Joe has directed more than a dozen productions, including The Light in the Piazza, Spring Awakening, 42nd Street, and Hairspray. He is a resident artist with The Human Race Theatre Company, with whom he directed and choreographed Avenue Q, The 39 Steps, Seussical, The Underpants, Big River, and many others. In a former life, Joe appeared in Broadway and national touring productions of Anything Goes, The American Dance Machine, Singin' in the Rain, The Music Man, and Brigadoon. Before they were stars, Joe had the pleasure of directing Kristen Chenoweth, Patrick Wilson, and Nicole Scherzinger. Somewhere along the way, he was also a Broadway and touring stage manager, and artistic director of three theatre and dance companies.

Professor Deer is Director of The Musical Theatre Initiative at Wright State University, a center for the study of the culture, history, practice and training for this art form.

Professor Deer is sought internationally as a master teacher and education consultant, working with students and faculty at many of the world’s top institutions, including New York City Center, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, the Danish Academy of Musical Theatre, Stage School of Hamburg, Germany and others. His book (written with Rocco Dal Vera), Acting In Musical Theatre, has been called “the preeminent book in its field” and was nominated by the Association for Theatre in Higher Education as Book Of The Year. It is selected as a core text for more musical theatre programs than any other book. He has written dozens of articles for a range of publications and lectures frequently on musical theatre. His most recent book, Directing in Musical Theatre: An Essential Guide was published by Routledge in 2013.

Professor Deer was the recipient of Wright State University’s Trustees Award for Faculty Excellence and the College of Liberal Arts Award for Faculty Excellence. He has received more than two-dozen awards from local media for Best Production and Best Direction for his work throughout Southwest Ohio. Joe holds an MFA in Directing from Carnegie Mellon University and was the founding president of the Musical Theatre Educators Alliance. His former students populate dozens of Broadway, National Tour, Regional and international stages.