College of Communication and Fine Arts Department of Theatre & Dance
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Anita Jo Lenhart

Associate Professor

Anita Jo Lenhart
229 Theatre Building
(901) 678-1350

Associate Professor Anita "Jo" Lenhart holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Eastern Kentucky University and an MFA in Theatre (Directing) from Florida State University. She completed her professional apprenticeship in acting with Actors Theatre of Louisville.

At UM, "Jo" mentors and teaches graduate directing students; she also teaches in the BFA in Peformance concentration, focusing on Voice for the Stage, Somatics, and Acting. Her work in the classroom is informed by her professional career as an actress and singer, as well as her work in yoga. "Jo" is a Certified Trainer in the Lessac Voice and Bodywork. She also holds internationally recognized teaching certifications in Bikram yoga and Kundalini yoga (as taught by Yogi Bhajan.)

Her professional work outside Memphis includes a variety of venues,including The Barter Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Oklahoma Shakespeare Festival, Mill Mountain Theatre, The Lamplighter's Musical Theatre, Pennsylvania Centre Stage, Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, The Neil Simon Festival and The Great Plains Theatre. She has performed professionally with local companies such as Opera Memphis, the Memphis Symphony, Playhouse on the Square, Voices of the South and Theatre Memphis. Trained in classical voice, as well as musical theatre, she is a Metropolitan Opera District winner and was awarded for Artistic Excellence in the Regional Competition. She performs in musical theatre and has held the professional position of Soloist in Residence for the Third Church of Christ, Scientist for over fifteen years. She has earned several awards for her work, including a performance award in Musical Artistry from the Metropolitan Opera regional auditions. Her directing career includes several shows for the University of Memphis, as well as ten seasons for the Memphis Moving Line, eight seasons with The Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts, and four seasons with The Moving Company in Tallahassee, Florida. Jo was awarded the 2012 Best Director Award for her production of King Lear, produced by Memphis' New Moon Theatre and her 2014 Theatre Memphis production of As You LIke It received multiple nominations for Memphis Theatre Awards, including Best Director, Best Production and Best Ensemble.

"Jo” made her directing debut with Circuit Playhouse in 2015 with Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon and recently co-directed a short film with UM Professor Steve Ross, Scenes from King Lear. The film debuted at The Memphis Film Festival, has been shown at the University Film and Video Conference (Orange, CA) and can be viewed via Vimeo at

Department of Theatre & Dance
144 Theatre Building
Phone: (901) 678-2523
Fax: (901) 678-1350

Box Office: (901) 678-2576
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Last Updated: 1/20/15