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Graduate Spotlight

Jeff Sherwood, MFA Theatre: Sound Design, 2020

Jeff Sherwood (MFA Sound Design, 2020) is a sound designer graduating from the Purdue Department of Theatre. After completing his BFA in design and production at Oklahoma City University in Oklahoma, he worked professionally for three years nationally and in New York City before coming to Purdue. Though Jeff came into his MFA program with a substantial professional portfolio, he wanted to increase his depth by further exploring music composition. Jeff is known for his wide versatility in the sound area and his enthusiasm and passion for teaching.

Jeff has completed assistantships at the Purdue Hall of Music, in theatre sound (guiding the installation of sound systems for productions), and in the recording studio (supervising the use of the studio by students). In the classroom, he has been instrumental in curriculum development, acting as both instructor and mentor to students.

“Jeff is probably the most experienced professional sound designer to ever enter our graduate program in theatre sound. During his time here, he has taken our program to another level. We will all miss him.” – Faculty mentor Rick Thomas

At Purdue, Jeff has been busy, working on four mainstage productions: Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (terminal project as sound designer and incidental music), She Kills Monsters (composer), By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (sound design and composer), and The Beaux’ Stratagem (composer). Of his work on Miss Bennet, faculty advisor Rick Thomas relates fondly: “Jeff did extraordinary work with a show that doesn’t, to the average listener, really have sound. There is a scene where the title character, Mary Bennet, is frustrated and plays “Nobody Coming to Marry Me” on the pianoforte. Well, Jeff was asked to produce two versions of the song: one in the style of Muzio Clementi, and the other in a late Beethoven style. The music he composed really illustrated her arc – moving from a person living in her head, confined by societal rules into something much bigger, more expressive – really reaching for something beyond her known world.”

Jeff also produced a radio drama for “A Theatre in Your Head,” which was aired on WBAA in 2019, and original music composition for the Division of Dance. His professional portfolio is diverse, working for the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Chautauqua Theater Company, Cape Playhouse, Masque Sound, Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF), and Totem Pole Playhouse.

“Winning the national USITT Robert E. Cohen Sound Achievement Award provides testimony about Jeff’s extraordinary abilities in all areas of theatre sound and composition.” – Faculty mentor Rick Thomas

United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) awarded Jeff with the USITT Robert E. Cohen Sound Achievement Award in spring of 2020. Winners of this award have completed work that creatively applied sound in the performing arts and executed their vision with respect to artistic and technical choices, process, and product. He also was awarded the Purdue University Department of Theatre Excellence in Teaching Award for graduate teaching assistants.

Jeff has been a devoted student at Purdue, and has never backed down from a challenge. His successes have brought great honor to the university, and we have no doubt that he will continue to do so in his next career steps. We are delighted that Jeff has earned a fellowship to teach full time at Wake Forest University next year, where we are sure he will bring to his students there the best of himself and of his Purdue sound program education. To hear some of Jeff’s work and to explore his portfolio, visit