Faculty and Staff

Linda Nell Cooper - Playwright/Librettist/Lyricist

Department Chair and Associate Professor
Phone: (434) 582-2078
E-mail: lncooper@liberty.edu

Mrs. Cooper, a graduate of Liberty University, holds a Master of Arts in Humanities from Hollins University, has completed ABD of her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, and has continued education at The College of William & Mary. Mrs. Cooper is a registered songwriter with BMI in New York City, and is a member of both The Dramatists Guild of America, and The Gospel Music Association. Mrs. Cooper also works professionally as a director and choreographer, and is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.  She was the Executive Producer of The Miracle at The Miracle Theater in Pigeon Forge, TN, and is a commissioned writer/director for Fee-Hedrick Family Entertainment, Inc.

Besides being a winner of the Charles M. Getchell national award for playwriting, her lyrics for Rebel Cry were a finalist in the national Lehman Engel Musical Theater Competition in New York City in the fall of 2002. Rebel Cry was a national finalist in the 2003 David Mark Cohen Playwriting Competition sponsored by the Kennedy Center, and April Morning was a 2004 semifinalist in the Appalachian Festival of New Plays. Besides the recently completed musical, The Miracle, other works include Monte Cristo: The Musical, April Morning, Ribs for Dinner, June & Judd of the Blue Ridge, Fireflies, Who’s Your Best Friend, Shenandoah Christmas, Christmas at the Five & Dime, One Holy Lamb, and To Each His Own. She is currently working on a new Christmas musical, and a concept for a new musical based on the Holocaust. She and her husband own Greenbrook Productions, Inc.

Mrs. Cooper teaches Playwriting, Advanced Acting, Musical Theatre, and Advanced Musical Theatre. Most recent directing credits include Into the Woods, and Peter Pan and Tarzan for the Alluvion Stage Company. Mrs. Cooper has received five Kennedy Center American College Theatre Merit Awards for excellence in directing.

Neal Brasher

Assistant Professor
Phone: (434) 582-7621
E-mail: nbrasher@liberty.edu

Mr. Brasher is a native of Alabama and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and History from Samford University in Birmingham and a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. His professional credits include multiple roles with Shenandoah Shakespeare, Alabama Public Television, and Oklahoma Shakespeare Festival where he recently played Macbeth.

Mr. Brasher joined the Liberty faculty in 2004. He teaches a range of courses including Acting II, Foundations of Theatre History, Voice for the Stage, Stage Accents, and Classical Acting Styles. Most recent directing credits include The 39 Steps, The Glass Menagerie, and All My Sons. Mr. Brasher also enjoys joining his students on-stage in such productions as Parade, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Shadowlands.

Chris Nelson

Assistant Professor
Phone: (434) 582-2627
E-mail: cnelson@liberty.edu

Mr. Nelson holds a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from Regent University. As a professional actor, some of his credits include Chris in Terrence Malick's The New World, starring Colin Farrell, Davey Boy Smith in the independent feature Judges, David in the independent feature As It Is In Heaven and multiple other film and commercial appearances.

In 2011 Mr. Nelson had the privilege of directing The Miracle at the Miracle Theater in Pigeon Forge, TN.  In 2007 he also had the honor to direct and produce 1607: First Landing, an outdoor drama located in Virginia Beach, VA to pay tribute to America's 400th Anniversary.  For six years he worked as an artist-in-residence for Spring Branch Community Church, a part of the Willow Creek Association, where he performed and directed as part of their drama ministry.  Since then he continues to work with the church as an independent performer.

He currently oversees the Liberty University Summer Arts Program, which welcomes nearly 200 local and out-of-state students to the campus each summer.  Similarly, he worked four years as the Summer Arts Coordinator at Regent University where he designed multiple theatre and film camps. Mr. Nelson also sits on the board for the Hollywood Youth Theatre, a new children’s theatre company in Burbank, CA.

He teaches Acting I, Acting II, Drama in the Church, Introduction to Motion Picture Directing, and Acting for Film. Most recent directing credits include Ragtime, Little Shop of Horrors and Carousel.  He has received Kennedy Center American College Theatre Merit Awards for excellence in directing for both Little Shop of Horrors and Ragtime.  

Andrew Geffken

Assistant Professor
Phone: (434) 592-5771
E-mail: asgeffken@liberty.edu

Mr. Geffken received his Masters of Fine Arts in Acting at Regent University. In 2008 he graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Theatre Arts. He appeared in numerous LU Theatre productions during his undergraduate career.

Throughout graduate school he helped start the Regent Shakespeare Company in Virginia Beach, Virginia and currently he spends his summers acting with the Americana Theatre Company in Plymouth, Massachusetts where he also serves as Marketing Coordinator. Professional and graduate credits include: Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps, Victor Prynne in Private Lives, Paul/Duke in a stage adaptation of Francine Rivers’ best-selling novel, Redeeming Love, Jack Palmer in The Boys Next Door, Jesus in Godspell, Joe Farkas in The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Brian Rivard in The Runner Stumbles, and Conrad Birdie in Bye Bye Birdie. His affinity for Shakespeare has been a big part of his acting career having played Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, and the title roles in both Macbeth and Hamlet, among others.

Mr. Geffken teaches Acting I and II, Theatre Appreciation, Voice for the Stage, Senior Project, Stage Movement, and Stage Combat; also serving as Fight Director for all main stage and Alluvion productions. He has studied Stage Combat for several years, training with some of the world’s premiere combat instructors through the Society of American Fight Directors in which he is also a member. Mr. Geffken is excited to be the director of the Fall Workshop production that features the department’s underclassmen; last fall the comedy, Leaving Iowa was presented and Shakespeare’s, The Taming of the Shrew will be this fall. He also is grateful to be a part of bringing back Liberty’s Summer Shakespeare production which he hopes to see become a staple of summer theatre in the Lynchburg area.
He and his wife, Erica, are overjoyed to be back in Lynchburg with their sons, Rhett and Flynn, to raise their family and reinvest their lives in the department where they met and fell in love.

Barry Gawinski

Assistant Professor
Phone: (434) 592-6307
E-mail: brgawinski@liberty.edu

Mr. Gawinski received an MFA in Technical Theater from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

He has been actively involved in theater technology and design since 1989.  He has been a professional lighting designer for dance, theater and opera working both nationally and abroad. He has been the Resident Lighting Designer for the Dance Department at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Adjunct Lighting Designer for James Madison University’s Dance Department.  Prior to coming to Liberty, Mr. Gawinski was the Systems Division Manager and Lead Integrator for Barbizon, in Washington, DC, having worked on many projects for prominent television studios, theatres, government facilities and worship facilities in the DC/MD/VA/PA region.  Recent projects have included the Eisenhower Theater renovation at the John F. Kennedy Center, CNN, the Paramount Theatre in Charlottesville, and multiple projects for the office of the President of the United States and the Pentagon.  Barry had the pleasure of working for Dr. Falwell when he was Barbizon’s lead designer for the theatrical and broadcast lighting system for the new 5,000 seat sanctuary at Thomas Road Baptist Church.  A few years later he was again Barbizon’s lead designer for the lighting and rigging systems for the Tower Theater here at Liberty University. 

Outside of Liberty, Barry enjoys writing and directing Gospel-based dramas for churches and Outreach.  He is thrilled to be able to combine his love for theatre with his personal desire for advancing the Gospel through the dramatic arts, and loves that he has the opportunity to help raise up young designers to bring Christian world-view into secular arts.  

Barry and his wife Rachel have three girls: Abby, Emma, and Lily.

Amanda Poch

Administrative & Budget Manager
Phone: (434) 582-7080
E-mail: alpoch@liberty.edu

Ms. Poch received a Master of Business Administration, as well as a Bachelor of Music from Liberty University. She serves as administrative supervisor and manager of budget development, manages all ticket sales in conjunction with the University Ticket Office, and assists the Summer Arts Coordinator with all summer program details. 

She also directs the orchestras for all Main Stage academic productions, as well as Alluvion Stage Company productions. In 2007, she was awarded the Excellence in Theater Production award, as well as being chosen on several occasions to perform in the Department of Music and Humanities Piano Showcase both as a soloist and accompanist. She was also named a University Employee of the Month in July of 2012.

In her spare time, she works as Assistant Worship Leader at Living Word Baptist Church, works as a curriculum writer & music teacher for the Liberty Online Academy, and spends as much time as possibly with her adorable puppy Thor.

David Steele

Media Specialist
Phone: (434) 582-2628
E-mail: djsteele@liberty.edu

David is a graduate of Liberty University with a degree in Visual Communication Arts (VCAR),  and a concentration in Graphic Design (2011). While at Liberty, David also studied Psychology, Computer Science and Theatre Arts, and worked part time in the Theatre as the Media Assistant before getting hired full time in July, 2011.

As Media Specialist, David provides quality designs for the Department of Theatre Arts in the form of posters, programs, billboards, radio and tv commercials, and other advertising signage. David also produced the department's first Radio Drama, written and performed by students within the Department of Theatre Arts.

David lives in Lynchburg with his wife, Katelyn. Together they are expecting their first child.

Mark Howieson

Production Manager
Phone: (434) 592-6305
E-mail: mhowieson@liberty.edu

Mark holds an MFA from Carnegie-Mellon University in Technical Production. He has previously held faculty positions in the theatre departments of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, the University of Florida, and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. His professional credits include the Grove Shakespeare Festival in California, Great Lakes Theatre Festival in Cleveland, Minnesota Opera in Minneapolis, and Sea World of Ohio. As a technical director he has over 175 shows to his credit.

He and his wife Stephanie reside in Staunton, VA.

April McWilliams

Technical Director: Lights & Sound
Phone: (434) 592-6306
E-mail: almcwilliams@liberty.edu

Mrs. McWilliams graduated from Liberty with BS in Communication. She continued her technical education with LDI Institute and Broadway Master Classes. April is pleased to return to Liberty Theater after a five year hiatus where she worked all over the East Coast as well as Colorado and Wyoming doing production work. Professional credits include George Winston, John Deere, MLB Commissioner's party and the Colorado Film Commission.

Nathan Klein 

Assistant Technical Director: Props & Rigging
Phone: (434) 582-2016
E-mail: nklein@liberty.edu

Mr. Klein, a Lynchburg native, graduated from Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC with a B.A. in Communications, with an emphasis in Television and Radio.  He was first introduced to Theatre through the GWU work study program as a student.  It was during those four years he developed a stronger passion for Theatrical arts, film, graphic design, and special effects.

GWU production credits include Children of a Lesser God, The Adding Machine, Dogfall, The House of Bernarda Alba, Medea, Skin of our Teeth, Purging Mary.  He received a nomination for best lighting designer from the Metrolina Theater Association for the musical Baby. Mr. Klein and his good friend Robert Vilushis were recently awarded Best Editing for their work on the animated short film “Winterland.”  

Mr. Klein humbly thinks of himself as a jack of all trades when it comes to theater and film.  He is always ready to lend a helping hand, and constantly looks for ways to refine his craft.

Nicole Campbell 

Assistant Technical Director: Light & Sound
Phone: (434) 582-4690
E-mail: wnfranklin@liberty.edu

Nicole Campbell  graduated in 2008 with a BA in Theatre Arts from Christopher Newport  University where she studied Design and Technical Theatre.  While originally intending to pursue a career in acting, Nicole fell in love with the production side of the theatre.   Shortly after finishing her BA she received her M.Div. degree in Christian Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  

Nicole has done prosthetics and FX makeup for VCU film school.  Her love for the church has brought her to assist in technical production in multiple church venues in Virginia and North Carolina. 

Rachel L. Webb

Costume Manager
Phone: (434) 592-4689
E-mail: rlscott2@liberty.edu

Mrs. Webb is a graduate of Liberty University, earning a B. S. in Fashion Merchandising and Interiors. Her main concentration being fashion, Mrs. Webb developed an eye for style, a love of color, and mind for design.  While a student, she was very involved with the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and participated in the school's annual fashion show.

As head costumer for the Department of Theatre Arts, Mrs. Webb designs and styles costumes for all main stage shows. She is also responsible for making, ordering, renting, buying, and managing all costumes.