January 30, 2018 - February 4, 2018
Western Connecticut State University
Danbury, CT 
avatar for Debra McWaters

Debra McWaters

Broadway Theatre Project
President, Co-Artistic Director
Tampa, FLorida
Despite an enviable career directing and choreographing on stages around the world – and, most significantly, on Broadway – Debra McWaters’ life mission has always involved helping young people. Her passion is the artistic development of aspiring actors, singers, dancers, and performers of all types, but with a particular fondness for dance.

Dance is the discipline from which Debra has drawn inspiration, from the likes of Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. In particular Deb’s inspiration came from Mr. Bob Fosse, whose work has been so inspiring to Deb that after being mentored for 15 years by Ann Reinking, then by Gwen Verdon as they worked (and traveled in the US and in London) on BTP and on a Fosse project she was told by Gwen that she was ready to teach the style, and she not only became one of the foremost teachers who passed on what she learned of his unique choreography as taught to her by Ann Reinking and Gwen Verdon, but wrote one of, what has been called, the definitive books on the subject: The Fosse Style (2008, University Press of Florida, with a foreword by Ben Vereen).

For more than 15 years, Debra was first the Assistant Choreographer and then Associate Choreographer for director, choreographer and legendary Fosse protégé, Ann Reinking. Because of Ann, her Broadway career began with the mounting of both the New York City Center Encores! production and the (still-running) Broadway production of the Tony Award-winning, smash hit Chicago The Musical, which originally starred Ann Reinking and Bebe Neuwirth. Debra’s involvement in this now-iconic show continued on with the London, Australian and Viennese companies as well as the two simultaneous first U.S. National Tours, one of which became housed at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort for more than a year and originally co-starred Chita Rivera and Ben Vereen.

She then careened into yet another award winner, Fosse, assisting Ann Reinking on the Broadway, West End, and National and European tours. The show won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Musical. Later, Debra herself became the Director and Choreographer of the second National and International tours of Fosse, in addition to a special post-touring engagement presented by The Gateway Playhouse in New York.

Debra was Ann Reinking’s Associate Choreographer on Applause at Papermill Playhouse, No Strings! at New York City Center Encores!, The Look of Love at Roundabout Theatre Company, the original version of The Visit,at the Goodman Theatre with Chita Rivera, Legends at Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, Suite Kander at Missouri State Ballet, Tonight at 8:30 at Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Caution: Side Effects with Melissa Thodos Dancers. She is proud to be an associate member of SDC.

Debra also was Associate Director & Choreographer for Broadway Under The Stars at Bryant Park, choreographer for Ben Vereen’s one-man shows, and choreographer for the workshops of two of composer Frank Wildhorn’s musicals: Wonderland, which eventually ran on Broadway, and Havana. In addition Debra had the distinct pleasure of working with 2014 Olympic Gold Medalists. Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
Earlier in her career, Debra served as Chair of the University of South Florida Dance Department. She holds a Masters degree in Math with a specialty in probability and statistics. She worked two short but exciting stints at NASA on the Apollo and Skylab missions, Her name appears on those two monuments on the Space Workers Walk of Fame in Titusville, FL.

It was with Ann Reinking in 1991 that Debra co-founded the Broadway Theatre Project, which has developed into a world-class training ground for young artists. The success of BTP inspired her to author Musical Theatre Training: The Broadway Theatre Project Handbook, published in 2009 by University Press of Florida.
Debra’s passion for ballroom dancing infused bits of the style into her original choreography. Her work was influenced by what she learned by her, as well as BTP’s,. Latin instructor, Rastio Sida. She is now learning West Coast Swing, as well as moving more deeply into the study of International Latin ballroom dance which will bring yet another element to her work.

Debra thanks her dance partner of years ago, Rob Hertenstein, Director, Entertainment Production for Norwegian Cruise Line for his continued support of Broadway Theatre Project. Debra is readying herself to begin teaching master classes around the country, in particular at Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and is looking forward to the future opportunities and adventures awaiting her.