James Zager, Carroll University faculty

James Zager

Professor of Theatre and Dance 262.524.7303 jzager@carrollu.edu Otteson Theatre 104


Theatre Arts


James Zager received a BS degree in Musical Theatre at the University of Wisconsin Steven’s Point and an MFA in Theatre for Youth: Directing/Playwriting at Arizona State University. He worked as a professional actor, director, and choreographer in theatre, film and television for over 15 years in the greater Chicago area. Currently he is a freelance director/choreographer collaborating with the likes of Milwaukee Rep, Milwaukee Ballet, Florentine Opera, In-Tandem, and serves as an Artistic Associate with Milwaukee Opera Theatre. Zager has created new works based on the writings of Wilde, Homer and Shakespeare and his body of work includes the youth plays Juliet, The Shakespeare Project, Stories Gone Wilde, and What You Will, all published by Dramatic Publishing. In addition, as an Associate Professor of Theatre, he teaches Intro to Theatre and Intro to Performance in the Pio-core here at Carroll University.


  • Arizona State University, M.F.A. in TFY Directing/Playwriting
  • University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, B.S. in Musical Theatre

Areas of Specialization

Theatre as a Liberal Art; Musical Theatre; Voice & Movement.

Scholarly and Professional Achievements

Award Winning Professional Director & Choreographer with several plays published by Dramatic Publishing, including Juliet, The Shakespeare Project, Stories Gone Wilde, and What You Will.

Service to Carroll University and Profession

Professional Service

  • Artistic Associate, Milwaukee Opera Theatre
  • Member, Stage Director and Choreographers of America (SDC)
  • Member, American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA)
  • Member, Actors Equity Association (AEA)
  • Member, Dramatist Guild of America (DG)

Honors and Awards

  • 2016 Ernest In Love Choreography included in Best Designers of 2016 by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
  • 2012 Phi Kapa Phi Induction
  • 2011 Norman and Louise Allhiser Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • 2005 Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society Award for “Outstanding Professor of Freshmen”
  • 2002 Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination for Best Choreography for Joseph…
  • 1999 Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for Cosmo
  • 1999 AriZoni Award for Best Choreography for West Side Story
  • 1998 ASU President’s Award for Innovation for creation of ASU Repertory Troupe (ART)

What is your teaching style?

Lecture/discussion followed by practical projects with a ton of student interaction.

Why do you do what you do?

Teaching is the act of nurturing learning, while the basis of the theatre arts is the ongoing study of what it is to be human, therefore teaching theatre is facilitating the exploration of the human condition. What could be more vital and exciting?

How do you make learning engaging?

Authentic assessment. No written exams! Students are asked to present practical projects in class to assess mastery of material.

What should students know about you?

We have a ton of fun and laugh a lot in my courses!

pano of main campus