COLUMBUS, Miss. -- Even though Alyssa Algee, Suzanne Allmon, Juniper Wallace and Chelsea Petty live in different parts of the state, curiosity about the arts brought them together in Mississippi University for Women’s three-year, 60-hour terminal-degree MFA program.


The love for learning shared by Algee, Allmon, Wallace and Petty was on display Jan. 16-19 when they participated in the Mississippi Theater Association Festival and Conference at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

Wallace, who works at Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, won the outstanding directing award and the Dominic Cunetto award for best production for her work on “Badger,” a play set in 1944 that focuses on five women who take new jobs at Badger Ordinance Works, one of the largest munitions factories in the United States.

Allmon, who is a teacher at Oak Grove High in Hattiesburg, won the ensemble acting award for her work on “Peter and the Starcatcher,” which is a play based on the 2004 novel “Peter and the Starcatchers” by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.

Northwest Rankin High will be one of two high schools that will represent the state of Mississippi at the Secondary School Theater Festival that will be a part of the 71st-annual Southeastern Theater Conference on Feb. 26-28 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Petty, who is a theater teacher at Columbus Middle School, served as an adjudicator for youth individual events at the MTA Festival and Conference. She judged Musical Female Solos in the first round of the competition and female acting monologues in the finals.

Algee, who is technical director of fine arts at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, served as chair and manager of the adult individual events. She also served as an adjudicator for the preliminary musical theatre duets, the preliminary musical theatre groups and the finals for the acting duets for the youth individual events and was responsible for running the adult version of the individual events.

“Our Theatre Education MFA students, which range from middle school teachers to high school teachers to college/university professors, are incredible individuals,” said Lee Crouse, associate professor of theatre and graduate studies director of MFA, theatre education at The W. “Not only do they demonstrate artistic excellence to their students and communities, but are instilling within their students that hard work and commitment are required to be successful, no matter what their future careers entail. But their service to theatre in Mississippi does not stop there. The willingness of Chelsea to offer her time and talents to adjudicate for MTA events, Alyssa’s willingness to serve on the board of directors and adjudicate MTA events make a difference in our state. I am proud to say Suzanne is a past president for the MTA Board of Directors and Juniper is president of the MTA Board of Directors. Our MFA students lead by example in so many ways.”

Allmon, who is originally from Mobile, Alabama, is in her second semester in the MFA program. She entered the program because she is always looking for ways to strengthen her knowledge of her art. She said she would like to be able to teach dual credit classes and to teach new teachers how to be theatre teachers.

Allmon said she selected “Peter and the Starcatcher” because she was looking for a show that would challenge her students and one they would remember and fall in love with.

“I was very proud of their performance and believed they totally deserved the best ensemble award,” Allmon said. “This group worked so well together and it came through on stage.”

Algee, who lives in Sardis, received her associate’s degree in speech and theater from Northwest Mississippi Community College and her bachelor’s degree in theater from The W. She earned her master’s degree in theater from Regent University. Algee is in her first year as a graduate student at The W. She loves the flexibility the MFA in theater education provides because it allows her to continue to work full time and to keep learning about her craft so she can give back to her students.

“I have been a practitioner in theatre for over 15 years, and the most rewarding thing I have done in the field is teach,” Algee said. “I was hugely inspired by my instructors over my time in education and their inspiration caused me to want to be that inspiration for others. It is something I am striving for every day.”

Algee stayed busy in several roles in her third MTA Festival and Conference. Her willingness to assist in numerous areas fits with her love for school and the fact she considers herself a “junkie” for learning.

“I enjoy the MFA program in that it is structured in a way that allows me to continue to pursue my passions and career while continuing to better myself and set the example for my students that one should never stop evolving and striving,” Algee said. “I enjoy that I’m learning things that will enhance my professional career and in the teaching of my students; I am enjoying working with professors I know and respect, and I am greatly looking forward to the residencies on campus.”

Algee anticipates completing the MFA program around 2022. She will continue to work as a teacher and to pursue a more active career in professional summer theater. Algee also hopes the program will spark the initiative to keep working in and out of school.

The W’s MFA in Theater Education features online courses in the fall and spring semesters and a two-week summer residency for two years., followed by a thesis project. For more information about the program, go to

Feb. 3, 2020
Contact: Adam Minichino
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