SU theater professor dies at 83

Longtime contributor to Shenandoah University’s performing arts and Shenandoah Conservatory Distinguished Professor Emeritus Harold “Hal” Herman passed away on Wednesday at the age of 83, the university announced in a news release.

“Hal’s passing is not just a loss for our university community, but also one for theatre-lovers throughout the region,” Shenandoah University President Tracy Fitzsimmons stated in the release. “He will be missed by every person who had the pleasure to work with or learn from him. His legacy, through SSMT, is secure. At this time, our condolences go out to Hal’s family and all those who loved him. This is a sad day for Shenandoah.”

Herman taught theater for 33 years at SU since 1973 and founded the university’s Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre program in 1984. He retired and took a new role of artistic director emeritus last March.

“For the actors, [SSMT] gives them the opportunity to prove their skill, knowledge and talent in a full-scale production before an audience that may not know them and will judge their quality based on what it sees,” Herman had stated in a news release announcing his retirement. “For the audience, it gives them a full-scale musical production with live orchestra – which many summer music theatres do not have – at affordable prices.”

The music theater group put on performances of 124 shows in the 31 years that Herman led it. He appeared in a few productions himself, including playing the role of Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” in four different productions from 1985 to 2008.

“To paraphrase Jerome Kern on Irving Berlin, Harold Herman has no place in Shenandoah theatre,” Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre Artistic Director Thomas Albert stated in the Wednesday release. “He is Shenandoah theatre.”

On the university’s website, donors can still allot money toward the Harold Herman SSMT Endowment Fund or the Harold Herman Chair in Music Theatre. Share memories of Herman at http://tinyurl.com/hbxoddn.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com