John Staniunas

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - School of the Arts - Theatre
Primary office:
Murphy Hall
Room 228
University of Kansas
1530 Naismith Drive
Lawrence, KS 66045-3140

John Staniunas has taught at KU since 1997, spear-heading new courses in musical theatre. He teaches Fundamentals of Directing, Play Directing, Musical Performance for the Actor, Acting, and Mask and Movement. His is founder of Musical Theatre for Kansas.

As a professional director and choreographer, he has a long list of credits from regional and university theatres. He has staged over 125 musicals and plays from original works to classics. Most recently he directed My Fair Lady, Merrily We Roll Along, The Beaux' Stratagem, the world premiere of an original musical The Girl The Grouch and The Goat by Tony Award winner Mark Hollmann (Urinetown), The Fantasticks, Jacques Brel, G.B. Shaw's You Never Can Tell, Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, and Rodgers' and Hammerstein's South Pacific for the University Theatre. Other credits include directing/choreography at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre in Kansas City, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and Madison Repertory Theatre in Wisconsin, The Willows Theatre and the Sacramento Theatre Company and Contra Costa Music Theatre in California, The Hippodrome State Theatre in Florida and the Gaslight Theatre in Tucson, AZ. John is also a professional actor and has been a member of A.E.A. the Actor's Equity Association since 1985. He recently played Oberon in KU Theatre's original pronunciation production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

John is the co-author of Between Director and Actor: Strategies for Effective Performance with Mandy Rees of CSU-Bakersfield. The book offers a set of strategies to help directors and actors work together more effectively, from starting the first rehearsals to maintaining a long-running show. The major portion of the book consists of 65 notes, both beginning and advanced, that a director might communicate to an actor during the rehearsal process. The book is published by Heinemann Press. John is also the associate editor for The Encyclopedia of Stage Plays into Film, concentrating specifically on adaptations of musicals into film. The encyclopedia is published by Greenwood Press.

He received his degrees from the University of Arizona: a B.A. in Dramatic Theatre with a minor in Musical Theatre Performance and an M.F.A. in both Acting and Directing. He has taught at the University of Florida, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, the University of California at Davis and the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was the Head of the Acting Specialist Program

A Fulbright scholar/artist, John spent 2005 in Lithuania teaching musical theatre, acting and directing techniques. He worked at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, Kaunas Music Theatre (professional), and other venues across the country. John has brought three artists from Lithuania to KU, Egle Perkumaite (Fulbright scholar/artist in musical accompaniment) Romas Viksraitis, Artistic Director of Elfu Teatras and Algis Mazeika, Chair of Theatre at the Lithuanian Academy. John has performed solo concerts in Lithuania and Denmark. He has also traveled to London, Oslo and Canada to do research on specific projects.

John also teaches tap dance. He grew up on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

Teaching Interests

  • Musical Theatre
  • Acting
  • Directing

Research Interests

  • Musical Theatre
  • Acting
  • Directing

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