I'm Charlie Gilbert.
For over fifty years, I’ve endeavored to enlighten, to delight and to empower audiences through the medium of music and theater. From my earliest years, I’ve been a polymath and a progenitor of projects, many of which you can read about on this site.
Known more formally as Charles Gilbert, Jr., I sign my name Chas Gilbert, which is also my URL, and some of my students call me “chazzyg,” but I’m “Charlie” to my friends.
In the 70’s, while grooving to Herbie Hancock’s “Headhunters” and attending Frank Zappa concerts, I attended the University of Delaware (B.A., Theatre, Dean’s Scholar in Musical Theatre, 1975) and Carnegie Mellon University (MFA, Directing, 1977). I worked for a couple seasons at Theatre Express, a Pittsburgh-based company founded by some of my CMU pals that produced my musical Assassins and stoked my passion for experimental theater.
In 1979 I began my teaching career at my alma mater, the U of D, where I was mentored by several generous colleagues, and taught there til 1985. That year, I headed to Syracuse University to head their musical theatre program, only to be fired from that gig after a year. After a period of wound-licking, freelancing and freaking out, I began to work at The University of the Arts as an adjunct faculty member in 1988 and joined the full-time faculty in 1990 to start a BFA program in Musical Theater. That program flourished and grew, and I eventually earned my tenure at UArts and served for 30 years at the institution where I now hold the rank of Professor Emeritus.
I connected with Marjorie Samoff and Eric Salzman, the founders of the American Music Theater Festival in Philadelphia, in the early 1980’s, and I did some of my most significant professional artistic work with that company, which was rebranded as the Prince Music Theater when they moved into permanent digs on Chestnut Street. Over the years, I’ve also had the chance to work with Enchantment Theater Company, the Arden Theater, Opera Delaware, the Philadelphia Theatre Company, and People’s Light and Theatre Company.
In the late 1990’s, I joined forces with a couple of my colleagues at other schools to create the Musical Theater Educators Alliance, an organization which has grown to include hundreds of schools and teachers all over the world. I began seeking international opportunities to share my expertise starting in 2000, and I’ve presented workshops on musical theater pedagogy in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the U.K. and Australia.
Along the way, I’ve continued to crank our original musicals and work with an array of talented artists on new work for the musical stage. I’ve been married to the amazing D’Arcy Webb since 1980, and her continued support for my endeavors has been a wonderful gift. We are blessed to have two sons with beautiful wives, families and musical ambitions of their own. Over the years, I’ve come to recognize the wisdom of Marie in Sunday in the Park With George: what matters most is “children and art.”