Jeremiah Downes is an American stage director, songwriter for the theatre, musician, and lauded teacher. Born in North Jersey, and growing up in the Pocono Mountains, the influence of nearby Manhattan was inevitable and he spent his formative years crossing paths or studying with legendary theatre and music artists including Marni Nixon, Bob Dorough, Peter Howard, and Pattie Darcy Jones. He has enjoyed a fruitful artistic and academic journey that has taken him far and away from his New Jersey roots to the South, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, High and Southern Plains: a pilgrim soul with a polymathic mind.
Jeremiah serves as Instructor of Musical Theatre at Chadron State College, Nebraska where he teaches courses in acting, acting for musical theatre, directing, applied voice for musical theatre, and directs in the main stage season. He is a musical theatre specialist with expertise in contemporary musical theatre, the development of new works, and pedagogy for the twenty-first century singing actor. Just some of his representative works in his myriad avenues of creative scholarship as a theatre artist and musician have been featured on NPR, in Music + Lyrics by Ryan Scott Oliver: Volume 1 (Hal Leonard, 2010) and The Complete Book of 2000’s Broadway Musicals (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), and published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, Philadelphia City Paper, Pocono Record, Playbill, among many others.
Engagements on stage as an actor include leading roles and world premieres alongside some of Broadway’s finest both in New York and regionally. Highlights: critically acclaimed Philadelphia debut in Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World, Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years at Philadelphia Theatre Company, Philadelphia regional premiere of Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party, the world premiere of Albert Innaurato and Charles Gilbert’s Gemini, the Musical originating the role of Randy alongside Linda Hart and Robert Picardo at the Prince Music Theater, appearing on stage with Tony Award nominated actress Emily Skinner and Jeff McCarthy in the role of Pirelli in Sweeney Todd at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, NYC reading of Bollywood and Vine with Ann Crumb and Robert Cuccioli. He’s performed at a long list of clubs, concert halls, and cabarets in New York and Philadelphia, including The Duplex, The Triad, Rose Hall at Lincoln Center and The Tin Angel, to name a few, and has had the honor of appearing in concert for President George W. Bush and Philadelphia’s Mayor John Street.
Instrumental in the development and inception of the Walnut Street Supper Club in center city Philadelphia, Jeremiah served as music director and entertainment manager there for three years. He appeared nightly on stage as the headlining vocalist, pianist, and personality where his keys poured over everything from Gershwin to Pat Benatar. On nights off from the club, he was often found moonlighting behind the keys and on vocals at Philadelphia’s iconic piano bar, Tavern On Camac. He was the Founding Artistic Director of Philadelphia Music Theater Works where he successfully led the organization through a sold-out inaugural season and where he served as either actor, director, producer and/or writer for various new musical initiatives, including; Watch the Birdie, The Ryan Scott Oliver Project, and This Thing Called Love. For two seasons, Jeremiah directed the New Theater Collective in Philadelphia modeled after New York City Center’s Encores. Recent professional and academic work as a stage director includes The Fantasticks, Head Over Heels, Pippin, The Rocky Horror Show, Goblin Market, and Once Upon A Mattress.
As a songwriter for the theatre his credits include; Highways and Daydreams, the musical adaptation of Richard Donner’s 1992 film Radio Flyer, Dancing As Fast As We Can, and Seven. His songs have been performed by artists from the worlds of Broadway and commercial music. His songwriting, “… dense, immediate, visceral…,” (Multi-MAC and Bistro Award Winner Stearns Matthews) was most recently produced at Farmers Alley Theatre, Jeremiah Downes & Friends: Live at Farmers Alley Theatre. A live album of that production is available through all major streaming outlets online.
A sought-after teacher and master class clinician of musical theatre performance, vocal technique, acting, and song interpretation he teaches domestically and internationally through his online studio and continues to maintain a private studio in New York City and Philadelphia. He was the co-creator of Get Real: The Broadway Training Center, an innovative educational platform that offered elite online and on-site training for aspiring and professional musical theater performers with faculty from the worlds of Broadway and higher education. Academic appointments include serving as Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre at West Virginia University where he led the B.F.A. in Musical Theatre program, Assistant Professor of Theatre and Head of Voice for Musical Theatre at Western Michigan University, and Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre and B.F.A. Coordinator at Emory & Henry College in association with Barter Theatre in Virginia. He served as Director of Theatre at Wyoming Seminary’s Summer at Sem Creative Arts program in Northeastern Pennsylvania where he led a dynamic and rigorous upper school theatre program for five seasons. His teaching and writing have been featured in the Musical Theatre Educators’ Alliance Journal (MTEA). His forthcoming book, Musical Theatre Performance Training for the 21st Century: A Holistic Guide for Actors and Singers, is currently in development.
Jeremiah holds a Master of Music from Oklahoma City University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of the Arts where he served for three years on the staff of the Pre-College musical theater program, additional study in acting at Circle in the Square. He is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, ASCAP, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (Associate), American Federation of Musicians (Local 580), Dramatists Guild, and Musical Theatre Educators’ Alliance.
Currently: Directing Working and Lucas Hnath’s The Thin Place at Chadron State College (Spring 2023). Development and writing of book, music, and lyrics for Suddenly, a new musical.
M.M. in Musical Theatre Performance & Pedagogy, Oklahoma City University
B.F.A. in Musical Theatre, University of the Arts
C.V., Directing, and Acting Resumes available upon request.