Anita “Jo” Lenhart

Professor, BFA Performance Area Head, Department of Theatre & Dance

Phone
901-678-3183
Email
alenhart@memphis.edu
Fax
901-678-1350
Office
3745 Central Ave., Theatre, Room #229
Office Hours
S 2015 Monday 3:30 – 5:00, Tuesday 3:30 – 5:00 and by appointment – please email for an appointment

About Anita "Jo" Lenhart

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.

Jo mentors and teaches graduate directing students; she also teaches in the BFA in Performance concentration, focusing on Voice for the Stage, Somatics, and Acting. Her work in the classroom is informed by her professional career as a director, actress and singer. 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 Audition 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.

Jo Lenhart's directing career includes several shows for the University of Memphis, as well as ten seasons for the department's touring group 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 has directed in San Francisco, Galveston and Louisville, Kentucky. She 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 Ostrander 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 http://vimeo.com/71052078

Education

BFA in Musical Theatre, Department of Theatre, Eastern Kentucky University 1981
MFA in Theatre (Directing,) School of Theatre, Florida State University, 1985

Experience

Professional

  • Florida State University
    • Graduate Teaching Assistant 1983 – 1985
    • Visiting Professor 1985 – 1987
  • The University of Memphis
    • Assistant Professor 1987 - 2005
    • Associate Professor 2005 – Present
  • The Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts Faculty and Stage Director, Theatre Division 1993 – 1998, 2001
  • International Certification: Bikram Yoga Teacher, Bikram's Yoga College of India, 2002 – renewed 2005, 2008, 2011
  • International Certification: Lessac Certified Voice and Body Trainer, The Lessac Institute, 2006
  • International Certification: Level I, Kundalini Yoga, 3HO, 2009
  • Professional Apprenticeship in Acting, Actors Theatre of Louisville, under Larry Deckel and Rob Sperra, with Jon Jory
  • Shakespeare Levels I, II and III with Patsy Rodenburgh, completed at Michael Howard Studios, NY, NY 2015
  • Lessac Training Intensives, Fredonia 1999, Mercersburg 2003, "Certification Continuance, 2015"
  • Wustman at Valparaiso Intensive 1992
  • Masterclasses: Yanci Bukovec, Bikram Choudhurry, Rajashree Choudhurry, Emmy Cleeves, Ronlin Forman, Jon Jory, Barry Kurr, Nancy Krebs, Arthur Lessac, Kristin Linklater, Joseph Papp, Roger Rees, Gail Robinson, Shozo Sato, Richard Schechner, John Wustman

Honors and Awards

  • Winner, Metropolitan Opera Auditions, District Level – Award for Musical Artistry, Metropolitan Opera Regional Auditions
  • Winner of Two University Faculty Research Grants, 1998 and 2014.

Ostrander Awards in Memphis Theatre – Professional/Community Division - Directing

  • King Lear - Seven Nominations, and Winner of Best Supporting Actor, Best Sound Design and Best Director
  • As You Like It - Six Nominations: Best Production, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supposrting Actress, Best Costume Design, Best Ensemble Performance. Named by The Commercial Appeal as one of the top theatre events in Memphis for 2014.
  • The African Company Presents Richard III - Winner of Best Ensemble
  • Something's Afoot – Winner, Best Choreography

Ostrander Awards in Memphis Theatre – Professional/Community Division – Acting

  • Nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Queen Margaret in Richard III, Charlotte in A Little Night Music and Peaches/Baby Jane in Jerry Springer the Opera.

Research and Scholarly Activities

Research Interests

Teaching interests: Somatics, Performance, Voice for the Stage, Acting, Theatre for Youth, Directing, Stage Dialects, Singing

Creative Research In Performance:

Stage Direction:

** denotes also writer of original script
† denotes play with music/musical

  • Bad Jews, Circuit Playhouse, Memphis, TN
  • As You Like It, Theatre Memphis, Memphis, TN†
  • King Lear, New Moon Theatre, Memphis, TN
  • Film Direction: Scenes from King Lear, Co-Director, with Steve Ross, The Memphis Independent Film Festival
  • Killing Stalin, The Chameleon Theatre Ensemble, San Francisco, CA
  • Naughty Marietta, Beethoven Summer Opera Theatre, Memphis, TN †
  • Once Upon a Mattress, The Quincy Music Theatre, Quincy, FL †
  • Annie, The Quincy Music Theatre, Quincy, FL †
  • Shelebration!, adapted from Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic, The Barn Theatre, Stuart, FL †
  • The Sneetches, adapted from Dr. Seuss, The Moving Company, Tallahassee, FL
  • **Jack and the Bean Talk, The Moving Company, Tallahassee, FL †
  • **Dragon Tales, The Moving Company, Tallahassee, FL †
  • **Cinderella and the Prince: The Untold Story, The Moving Company, Tallahassee, FL †
  • Horton Hatches the Egg, adapted from Dr. Seuss, The Moving Company, Tallahassee, FL †
  • Horton Hears A Who, adapted from Dr. Seuss, The Moving Company, Tallahassee, FL †
  • ABZs, adapted from Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Moving Company, Tallahassee, FL †
  • A Company of Wayward Saints, George Herman, Tin Can Alley Theatre, Galveston, TX
  • The African Company Presents Richard III, Director, The University of Memphis
  • Godspell, Director, The University of Memphis. †
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream, Tucker Theatre, MTSU, Tennessee Gov's School for the Arts
  • **Revolution Romantique, The Memphis Moving Line , Memphis, TN
  • **Write on the Edge 2000, The Memphis Moving Line, Memphis, TN †
  • The Taming of the Shrew, Assistant Director, The University of Memphis, Mainstage.
  • **Write on the Edge, The Memphis Moving Line, Memphis, TN †
  • Macbeth, Director, Tucker Theatre, MTSU, TN Governor's School for the Arts (TGSFA)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream, The University of Memphis, Mainstage
  • The Comedy of Errors, Tucker Theatre, MTSU, TN Governor's School for the Arts †
  • The Crane Wife, The Memphis Moving Line, Memphis, TN
  • Romeo and Juliet, Tucker Theatre, MTSU, TN Governor's School for the Arts
  • Something's Afoot, The University of Memphis, Main Stage †
  • **Anything But Grimm, Tucker Theatre, MTSU, TN Governor's School for the Arts †
  • Private Words: The Hiding of Anne Frank's Diary, Reconstruction of Lesley Chafetz' award-winning production, The Memphis Moving Line, Memphis, TN
  • Hin und zurück, Hindemith, Director, University of Memphis Opera Theatre †
  • Antigone, Director, original adaptation based on Sophocles, The Memphis Moving Line, Memphis, TN
  • **Why Do Fools Fall In Love: Shakespeare?, Director, adapted from works by William Shakespeare The Memphis Moving Line, Memphis, TN †
  • **Legend: The Rainbow Warriors The Memphis Moving Line, Memphis, TN †
  • Inside Out, Upside Down, The Memphis Moving Line, Memphis, TN
  • Richard Schechner's Version of Molière's Don Juan, Assistant Director to Richard Schechner, Artistic Director, Lab Theatre, Tallahassee, FL †
  • Beyond Therapy, Florida State University
  • Antigone, Florida State University
  • Comings and Goings, Florida State University
  • Lone Star, Eastern Kentucky University
  • **Pedestal, Florida State University

Acting, Opera and Musical Theatre

  • "Victoria." Sex Please, We're 60, Cornwell Theatre, Marshall Michigan, Dennis McKeen, Director
  • "Susan," Sorrow's End, Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights, Barter Theatre, Carrie Smith Lewis, Director
  • "Loretta," Welcome Back to Ivy Gap, The Barter Theatre, Katy Brown, Director
  • "Nurse," Romeo and Juliet, Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, Curt Tofteland, Director
  • "Mayor Matilda," All Shook Up, Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, David Colacci, Director
  • "Signora Nacarelli," The Light in the Piazza, Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, Daina Robbins, Director
  • "Luvey," Luvey: Threads, Voices of the South, Alice Berry Director
  • "Cinderella's Step-Mother," Into the Woods, Mill Mountain Theatre, Patrick Benton, Director
  • "Peaches/Baby Jane", Jerry Springer: The Opera, Playhouse on the Square, Bob Hetherington. Director
  • "Queen Margaret," Richard III, Theatre Memphis, Bo List, Director
  • "Veta Louise Simmons," Harvey, The Neil Simon Festival, Cedar City, Utah, Susan Lane, Director
  • "Charlotte, " A Little Night Music, Theatre Memphis, Mark Stephensen, Director
  • "Paulina," The Winter's Tale, The Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival, Stephen Hancock, Director
  • "The Duchess of Gloucester, Captain of the Guard," Richard II, The Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival, Stephen Hancock, Director
  • "Aristocratic Lady, Enchantress" Beauty and the Beast, The Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival, Durant, OK
  • "Mrs. Phagan,: Parade, The University of Memphis, Mainstage, Bob Hetherington, Director
  • "Lady Angela," Patience, Lamplighter's Musical Theatre, San Francisco, CA, Jane Hammett, Director
  • "Frauline Kost," Cabaret, Pennsylvania Centre Stage, Dan Carter, Director
  • "Lily," On The Twentieth Century, The University of Memphis, Ken McCullough, Director
  • "Edith," The Pirates of Penzance, Opera Memphis, Bob Driver, Director
  • "The First Spirit," The Magic Flute, Opera Memphis, Bob Driver, Director
  • "Helene," Hin und Züruck, Memphis Opera Theatre, AJ Lenhart, Director
  • "Suzanna," "Manon," Opera Vignettes, Memphis Opera Theatre, Sharon Papian. Director
  • "Letitia," The Old Maid and the Thief, Memphis Opera Theatre, Michael Conwill, Director
  • "Janice," Suddenly Single, American College Theatre Festival (ACTF) Regional New Play Reading Competition, Bob Burns, Author, Josie Helming, Director
  • "Storyteller," Whale, The University of Memphis, Lesley Ferris, Director
  • "Narrator," Alice's Adventures in Understand?!, Our Own Voice Theatre Troupe, Bill Baker, Director
  • "Nurse," Kabuki Medea, The University of Memphis, Shozo Sato, Director.
  • Leading Player, Threadneedle Theatre, Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA, Don Cox, Director.
  • "Jessie," Night Mother, Tallahassee Little Theatre, George Judy, Director
  • "Sguanarelle"and "Donna Elvira Soloist" Richard Schechner's Version of Molière's Don Juan, Florida State University, Lab Theatre, Richard Schechner, Director
  • "Solome," The Robber Bridegroom, Tallahassee Little Theatre, Ray Tolar, Director
  • "Barbara Flores," Lone Star, Lone Star Outdoor Drama, Galveston, TX
  • "Mrs. Schuyler-Adams," Annie Get Your Gun, Lone Star Outdoor Drama, Galveston, TX, Jimmy Stoker, Director
  • "Nancy," Oliver!, Heritage Theatre, Louisville, KY
  • "Annabel Sims," Wilderness Road, Wilderness Road Outdoor Drama, Paul Powers, Director
  • Soloist, King's Island Live Shows, New York / New York
  • Soloist, Story Theatre, Wilderness Road Outdoor Drama
  • "Sganarelle," Richard Schechner's Version of Molière's Don Juan, The Lab Theatre, (Tallahassee), Richard Schechner, Director
  • "Miss Prism," The Importance of Being Earnest, Florida State University
  • "Christine," My Sister in this House, Florida State University
  • "Barb," Toes, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Larry Deckel, Director
  • "CC," Rites of Passage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Wynne West, Director
  • "Jenny," Approaching Lavender, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Rob Sperra, Director
  • "Mims," Stateline Casino / Hwy 40, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Rob Sperra, Director
  • "Maid to Calpurnia," Julius Caesar, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Norris Houghton, Director
  • Stand Up Comedienne. Three time First Place Winner of "Comedy Contest," Funny Pages Club, Louisville, KY. Personal Tours managed by Tom Sobel of TSM management.
  • Principle Ensemble, Celebrate!, Young Actors Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Carolyn Bezenek-Gratton, Director
  • Principle Ensemble, Dragontales, Young Actors Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Carolyn Bezenek-Gratton, Director
  • "Princess Lotus Blossom," Fox In A Fix, Louisville Children's Theatre, Mic Scroi, Director
  • "Mary Todd Lincoln," Lincoln, Walden Theatre of Louisville, Nancy Niles Sexton, Director
  • Principle Ensemble, America!, Young Actors Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Carolyn Bezenek-Gratton, Director
  • Principle Ensemble, Horton Hears A Who Young Actors Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Carolyn Bezenek-Gratton, Director

Soprano Soloist

  • Soloist in Residence, Third Church of Christ, Scientist, Memphis, TN 2008 – Present
  • Guest Soloist, St. James Episcopal Church, Abingdon, Virginia, 2014
  • Guest Soloist, Epiphany Episcopal Church, South Haven, Michigan, 2013
  • Soloist in Residence, First Church of Christ-Scientist, Memphis, TN 2004 –2008
  • Soloist in Residence, Second Church of Christ, Scientist, Memphis, TN 1995 – 2001
  • Southern Opera Theatre, Regional Touring Company, Aria Soloist, "Arts in the Parks Festival," Memphis
  • Musical Artistry Award, Metropolitan Opera Regional Competition
  • Winner, Metropolitan Opera Bi- District Competition
  • Soprano Soloist, various performances, The Memphis Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Director, Larry Edwards
  • Soprano, Bartok: "Three Village Songs," Quartet, Memphis Symphony Chamber Orchestra, New Music Festival
  • Soprano Soloist, Chancel Choir, St. John's Methodist Church (Memphis)
  • Soprano Soloist, Chancel Choir Soloist, Christ United Methodist Church (Memphis)
  • Soprano Soloist, Oratorio Series, Christ United Methodist Church (Memphis)
  • Guest Soloist, Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts (MTSU)
  • Lead Vocalist, "Grand Slam," Hyatt Regency House Band, Agency: Dan Greene, Louisville, KY
  • Lead Vocalist, "Mellotones," Big Band Orchestra, Louisville, KY