Orchestrating a Miss America pageant at age six—in which she was the only contestant and thus assured a win—was the beginning of Melissa Alpers-Springer’s directing career. The List is the 41st production Melissa has directed.
Melissa is assistant professor of communication and theatre at William Woods University in Fulton, Mo. Initially she taught so she could direct, but has found a deep love for her students and enjoys William Woods and her colleagues very much.
Always one who relishes a challenge—and finding herself with a very different life than she’d anticipated after her husband died—Melissa has sought new experiences. She was delighted to attend the directing intensive workshop at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., last summer, and she directed a student-written ten-minute play at the Region 5 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Minneapolis in January. In the fall, Melissa will facilitate a devised theatre piece around the themes examined in last summer’s Twitter conversation #yesallwomen and #notallmen.
In 2011, The List playwright Jason Cavallone presented Melissa with the challenge of mentoring him in an independent study on playwriting. She agreed, but made sure he understood she had no prior experience guiding a playwright. She did, however, turn to two friends—playwright Dave White and director Eric Love—for advice. During the yearlong independent study, Jason wrote eight full-length plays, two one-acts, and eight ten-minute plays. Most of the plays were given a reading using Williams Woods theatre majors; several ten-minute plays were given a full production by the student-run Jesters theater club. Since Jason graduated, he and Melissa have produced his senior project A Pickle Between Brothers and The List.
Melissa and her late husband/personal scene designer Dan Springer have three children who are creative in their own right: Paul is a baker/pizza maker/studio artist, Emily has a fashion design degree and expresses her love of Dr. Who and Supernatural by working at Hot Topic, and Kate is an actor/television anchor/reporter. They are among those who can say they grew up in the theatre, tagging along to rehearsals when their parents worked on a show together.
Casting her father as the emcee and her mother as the judge of the Miss America pageant was a stroke of genius and began Melissa’s directing career.