Michael Nehring

Michael Nehring

College of Performing Arts; Department of Theatre
Expertise: Acting; Voice & Movement; Directing;
Office Location: Moulton Hall 224
Phone: 714-997-6677
Scholarly Works:
Digital Commons
California State University, Fresno, Bachelor of Arts
University of Oregon, Master of Science


Professor Michael Nehring is an award-winning actor, director, and educator. He is a Full Professor with tenure at Chapman University and received the Chapman University Scudder Award for Outstanding Teaching, Creative Activity, Service in 2013. More recently, Michael was awarded the Outstanding Teaching Senior Professorship Award for 2016-1017, the most prestigious teaching award bestowed on a faculty member.  He served multiple terms as Theatre Department Chair. He has been a founding member of several important theatrical companies in Southern California including Friends and Artist’s Theatre Ensemble (FATE), Shakespeare Orange County (SOC), Son of Semele Ensemble (SOSE).   Michael is a proud member of Actor’s Equity and has been performing and directing professionally for over thirty years.  He recently served as Associate Artistic Director and Educational Director for The Portland Shakespeare Project in Portland, Oregon. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre from Fresno State University, and Master’s Degree in Theatre from The University of Oregon, and is certified to teach Meisner performance techniques.

Michael began his professional work as an actor during several seasons with the Hollywood Theatre Ensemble, a summer-stock theatre company housed in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.  In Southern California he was a founding member of FATE, for which he played several leading roles including the Herald in Marat-Sade (Los Angeles Weekly Award and Drama-logue Award for Performance), Semyon in The Suicide (Drama-Logue Award for performance), Precious in the world premiere of Dolores and Her Loved Ones, and supporting roles in The Firebugs and Balm in Gilead.  He went on to become a founding member of Shakespeare Orange County (SOC), a classical theatre company based in Garden Grove operating in compliance with Actor’s Equity.  As an SOC company member he played Friar Laurence in the 2015 production of  Romeo and Juliet.  Past performances for the company include  Benedick, Shylock, Prospero, Iago, Malvolio, Caliban, Polonius, Feste, Lear’s Fool, Touchstone, Horatio (Drama-Logue Award for performance), and Bottom.  He played supporting roles in Henry V, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, and Merchant of Venice.  He accompanied SOC to Prague, Czech-Republic, to perform Venus and Adonis as the opening production of the Prague Shakespeare season in 2012.

In 2000 Michael worked with Matt McCray founding Son of Semele Ensemble (SOSE), a Los Angeles based theatre company.  The company was recognized on a 2004 cover photo in American Theatre as one of the twelve “up and coming” theatre companies in America.  For SOSE he performed the lead role of Nanny in the world premiere of Earthlings and Napoleon in Animal Farm (Ovation Award for Best Musical), the father in On Emotion, and recently played Abram in the critically lauded production of Our Class (Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for Performance, 2014).  Michael has also performed for The Center Theatre Group, The Kirk Douglas Theatre, Shakespeare Santa Barbara, A Noise Within, Pensacola Shakespeare,  and for the ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop.  Film/television acting credits include Off Hollywood, a comedy pilot for NBC, Sticks and Bone, a film directed by Everett Lewis, and Necropolis, a film directed by Sal Romeo.

Michael is a versatile stage director and choreographer, comfortable in the genres of musical theatre, Shakespeare, social-realism, and various styles.  His professional directing credits include Romeo and Juliet (Recommended List in the Los Angeles Times) and A Shakespearean Christmas for SOC, The Mysteries for SOSE (Recommended List for the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Weekly), Looking Glass for Laughing Horse Repertory, and The Threepenny Opera for FATE.  He has a twenty year history of directing for Chapman University including productions of HAIR,Oklahoma!, Brigadoon, Little Shop of Horrors, The Crucible, The Bacchae, The Playboy of the Western World, Die Fledermaus, The Fantastiks, The Creation, She Loves Me, Madwoman of Chaillot, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Cloud Nine, and The Grapes of Wrath.

Michael has taught and coached actors for The Disney Channel, Cal. State Fullerton, Orange Coast College, The Portland Actor’s Conservatory (Portland, Oregon), Sal Romeo Workshops (Los Angeles), and The University of Oregon.  He has been teaching at Chapman University since 1982 and he recently celebrated thirty years of teaching the Chapman University London Theatre Tour, a course he created in 1986 that brings students to London for three weeks in January to study live performance.

Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications

During the spring of 2023 I participated in the creation of a podcast entitled The Player King with Chapman Emeritus Professor Thomas Bradac. During the nine part podcast I was featured as the interviewer fielding questions to Tom Bradac about his 59 year professional career in theatre with specific emphasis on his work as a producer and director or regional Shakespeare theatre. This was non scripted and while I was fielding questions I also added structure to the podcast by bringing discussions back to the pre determined subject.
I rehearsed and performed, under an Actor's Equity contract, the role of Alaskan in Ibsen's ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE in a staged reading directed by Nick Gabriel. The production was staged at the Laguna Playhouse to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
I was honored to deliver a spoken word performance of a David Whyte poem for Grammy award winning musician, persussionist, and composer Nick Terry (Professor of Music at Chapman University). We rehearsed the performance with co-performer Professor Liz Maxwell of Chapman's Dance Department for two weeks. Terry refers to his work as an Opera. It was performed at Los Angeles' Monk Space, a venue devoted to promoting new music, on September 6, 2022 in front of a sold out audience. Associate Dean Louise Thomas was in the audience and congratulated me on the performance stating "I always knew you were a musician!" This collaboration certainly qualified as an interdisciplinary project.
Directed Thornton Wilder's OUR TOWN for Chapman University. I began working on the production in 2021 with dramaturgical research of the play and playwright. I spent spring semester of 2021 interviewing designers for the production, and began an early collaboration with Professor Kristen Campbell as the scenic designer. I cast the production during the spring of 2021 and rehearsed the production during the fall of 2022. I was proud of the run, especially proud of the student performers, This will probably be the last production I direct for Chapman University and I am happy to say that I was very satisfied with the production in performance.
The most surprising performance opportunity of 2021 and 2022 was provided by Chapman Alums Taylor Owen and James Neal. They created a very successful series of Tic Tac satires of popular television productions. Their most successful piece is entitled SucessionToc, a satire of the popular television series SUCESSION. Taylor and James play all the parts, write the episodes, provide the musical score and the editing. The SuccessionToc series became very popular and soon reached an audience of over a million people. They asked me to do a guest artist spot as the patriarch of the series, Logan, played by Brian Cox for SuccessionToc number 5 and the addition of a third cast member seemed to cause even greater interest and the episode reached an audience of three million people. I still shake my head as I write this as more people saw this quick 45 second SuccessionTok performance than those who attended all the performances I have given during my entire career as a stage actor. I must admit that there was a learning curve for this work... I was quite nervous and in my head during the first episode as the shooting style is very fast and there is little to no time to prepare for the performance. Due to the success of adding a third actor Taylor and James wrote me into four more SuccessionToc performances including a Thanksgiving and Christmas special for 2021 and the Christmas special for 2022. If you are curious all of these performances are in Tic Toc and Instagram. I laugh as I write this, but my 'street cred.' wth the students rose considerably because of the SuccessionToc success and I actually find myself referring to these performances in my acting classes (they really do represent the new post-Covid opporunities for actor promotion and content creation). Taylor and James' SuccessionToc was chosen by the producers of the Emmy Awards as one of ten excellent Tic Toc series based on television productions.
I rehearsed and performed, under an Actor's Equity contract, the role of Enobarbus in Shakespeare Orange County's production of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA. I was offered the role in March and spent April and May learning the lines, rehearsed during June and performed the role in July and August of 2019.
Currently performing, under an Actor's Equity contract, the role of Maitland in Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum production of Enid Bagnold's THE CHALK GARDEN. I auditioned for the role in April, was cast in May, rehearsed in June and have been playing the part since early July. Our closing performance is 30 September, 2018.
I rehearsed and performed several roles in a Chapman University Theatre Department reader's theatre production of THE LARAMIE PROJECT to celebrated the anniversary of Matthew Shephard's death. the cast and crew included several students and faculty members Assistant Professor Nick Gabriel, and Professor Tom Bradac
Performance, under an Actor's Equity contract, Shylock in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE for Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum, October 2017. I was hired with a five day notice to cover the role when an actor quit the company. I performed the role at the closing performance of the run with one rehearsal. Ellen Geer, Artistic Director of the company, sent an email about my performance and wrote: "So fine....I cannot thank you enough...you are so brave and such a strong, fine, complete actor....the company felt so comfortable and safe...wonderful Shylock!"
I directed CABARET at The Musco Center, which played during October 2018 with a cast of Chapman University students. I also acted as a CO-CHOREOGRAPHER creating additional choreography with our choreographer, Jenny Backhaus. Dean Ongaro shared several letters he received concerning the quality of the production, from which I've collected the following: " attended last night’s performance of Cabaret and I’m still feeling very moved by it. Definitely the most thought provoking and shocking performance I have seen here at CU. If I was not already committed the next two days I would see it again. I’m urging all my friends to attend...That performance helps move CU to top of the heap" Linda Corcoran, Anderson Centre for Economic Research; "I accepted and appreciated the opportunity to attend your students production of carbaret and found it exceptional as to portraying a time of confusion, change and division. So beautifully done and the ending profound. I so think a collaboration of some type would be most beneficial between Chapman and Laguna Playhouse." Melinda Mason, Scrip Sense Inc.; "The quality of the show was just breath-taking. It made me feel proud to be part of the same institution as COPA and also reinforce by firm belief that Musco and COPA are OC’s best kept secret for top notch shows and musicals!", George Viegas, Chief Information Security Officer, Chapman University
I accepted an offer from the Chapman University Theatre Department to direct its Fall 2017 production of the musical CABARET, to be performed in The Musco Center. From February to August 2017 I have been securing the designers, choreographer, and musical director for the production and have been working to develop set, lights, sound, and costume designs. The production was cast in April and rehearsals began in late August. I worked with the choreographer and musical director over the summer in pre production meetings.
I performed three Shakespearean monologues for the Helena Modjeska Estate Open House event, directed by Professor Thomas Bradac and featuring several peers from Shakespeare Orange County. The event stimulated discussion about future Shakespearean productions on the property.
I rehearsed and performed the leading role of Shylock in a production of Shakespeare's THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, the first theatrical production performed during the premiere season of The Musco Center at Chapman University. The production was directed by Professor Thomas Bradac and featured a student cast from the Chapman University Theatre Department.
I was asked to perform the live on site narration for the Inauguration Ceremony of Chapman University President Daniele Struppa. This vocal performance of a prepared script detailing each aspect of the ceremony for the in house audience was rehearsed with the event director, Chapman alum Matthew McCray
I was hired to perform in the Chapman University WINTERFEST ceremony, honoring the winter holiday season and the Doy Henley tree lighting ceremony. I performed the poem A NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS as I have for several WINTERFEST past celebrations, but this year I was asked to serve as the Master of Ceremonies for the event.
I was hired, again, to perform in a fundraising production of IF ALL THE SKY WERE PAPER at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles starring Laura Dern, Common, Gary Cole, and Annette Benning. The production was directed by Chapman University Theatre Associate Professor John Benitz. May, 2015
I was hired by Chapman University and Pacific Symphony "Shakespeare Re-Imagined" program to create a performance of scenes from Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM to be performed with Mendelssohn's MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM conducted by Associate Professor Daniel Wachs.
I was hired, under an Actor's Equity union contract, to perform Friar Laurence in Shakespeare Orange County's summer 2015 production of ROMEO AND JULIET, co-directed by John Walcutt and Mike Peebler.
Directed Terrence McNally's THE WIBBLY WOBBLY DANCE THAT CLEOPATERER DID for the Chapman Universtiy McNally festival in April, 2014.
Performed in a fundraising production of IF ALL THE SKY WERE PAPER at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles starring Laura Dern, Ken Howard, and Gary Cole. The production was directed by Chapman University Theatre Professor John Benitz. I played three characters. June, 2014
I was hired to play Friar Laurence under an Actor's Equity union contract, for a production of ROMEO AND JULIET for Shakespeare Orange County to be directed by the new artistic director John Walcutt.
AWARDS: 1. LOS ANGELES DRAMA CRITICS AWARD: OUTSTANDING FEATURED PERFORMANCE- for my performance as Abram in Son of Semele Ensemble production of OUR CLASS. 2. LOS ANGELES DRAMA CRITICS AWARD: OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE- for my part of the ensemble work in Son of Semele Ensemble production of OUR CLASS.
Taught Master Class for Portland Shakespeare Project, Portland, Oregon: CHEKOV PERFORMANCE TECHNIQUES FOR SHAKESPEARES CHARACTERS, 19-23 June, 2013
Directed a staged reading of THE TAMER TAMED for the Portland Shakespeare Project, Portland, Oregon June/July 2013
Performed Abram, OUR CLASS, Son of Semele Theatre, Los Angeles, Feb-May 2013
Associate Artistic Director, Director of Education, Portland Shakepeare Project, Portland, Oregon October 2012- August 2013
Performed Benedick, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, Shakespeare Orange County at La Mirada Civic Theatre, November 2012