Dean Nolen, M.F.A.


Ronald Dean Nolen, Assistant Professor of Theatre and Artistic Director of University Theatre, received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting from the School of Drama, Yale University where he was honored as a Constance Welch Scholar, and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and Music from Hardin-Simmons University. An award-winning actor, Mr. Nolen has originated roles in over a dozen new plays and musicals from Broadway, where he co-starred as Harry Bright in the original Broadway cast of the smash hit Mamma Mia! to off-Broadway where he created the roles of Terence in Theresa Rebeck and Alexandra Gersten-Vasillaros’ critically-acclaimed Pulitzer-Prize finalist Omnium Gatherum, as well as the role of Jeffrey in Rob Ackerman’s Tabletop, for which he received a 2001 Drama Desk Award. His other New York credits include performances at Manhattan Theatre Club, The Working Theatre, VOICETheatre, and Naked Angels Theatre Company as well as some of our nation’s most prominent regional theatres including Yale Repertory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Geva Theatre, The Wilma Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Lyric Stage, Shakespeare Theatre, D.C., Virginia Stage Company, TheaterWorks, and New Stage Theatre, among others.

Internationally, Mr. Nolen traveled in 1999 to St. Petersburg, Russia, where he joined in a collaboration between graduate students from Yale School of Drama and the St. Petersburg Academy of Theatre Arts, led by David Chambers and Nikolai Pesochinsky, respectively, in a reconstruction of Meyerhold’s 1926 production of Gogol’s Revizor (The Inspector General), which was ultimately performed at the International Theatre Festival in Amsterdam, Holland. On television, Mr. Nolen guest-starred as Dan Enright opposite Sam Waterston on “Law & Order;” as Philip Montrose opposite Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni on “Law & Order: SVU;” and as Nigel Hammaker opposite James LeGros and Margo Martindale on “Mercy.” Other television appearances include “Fling” (Pilot), “Crossing Jordan,” “Criminal Intent,” “All My Children” as well as a performance as Harry Bright on the 2001 Tony Awards in the original cast of Mamma Mia!

As a director, Nolen’s work includes the World Premiere of Division Avenue at the June Havoc Theatre in New York City (MITF Awards for Outstanding Direction and Production) and the play's subsequent production for Contemporary Theatre of Dallas in November of 2013; productions of Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (Or What You Will), Wilder’s Our Town, Horton Foote’s The Roads to Home, Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s Hello, Dolly!, and the World Premiere of Shauna Kanter’s Birds on a Wire in both the United States as well as the International Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland. In March 2013, Nolen directed Country Music icon Larry Gatlin and co-wrote with Gatlin the book of his original musical Texas Flyer.

Prior to HSU, Mr. Nolen taught Acting at Eastern Connecticut State University and has conducted theatre workshops at Wilkes University and Old Dominion University as well as teaching privately while maintaining a professional career as an actor and singer. He has trained under the late master teacher Earle Gister, Evan Yionoulis, Wesley Fata, Walton Wilson, Barbara Somerville, David Chambers, Dr. Patricia McAdams, Dr. Jaynne Middleton and Larry Wheeler. Also an accomplished writer, he will soon begin work on the 8th Edition of The Film Encyclopedia, published by HarperCollins.

Mr. Nolen served as Producer on the documentary film “None Less Than Heroes: The Honor Flight Story,” which chronicles the journey of World War II veterans traveling free of charge to Washington, D.C., to experience the memorial built in their honor. The film, narrated by Oscar-nominee Gary Sinise, made the rounds on the festival circuit after being completed in summer 2011.

A member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG/AFTRA), Theatre Communications Group, Texas Educational Theatre Association, Musical Theatre Educators’ Alliance, Tau Alpha Phi and Alpha Psi Omega, he is also one of three recipients of Hardin-Simmons University’s 2006 Outstanding Young Alumni Award.


  • Drama Desk Award – Outstanding Ensemble, Tabletop (2001)
  • MITF Award – Outstanding Direction, Division Avenue (2013)
  • MITF Award – Outstanding Production of a Play, Division Avenue (2013)
  • Critics’ Forum Award – Outstanding Lead Actor for The Winner at Lyric Stage (2007)
  • Critics’ Forum Award – Outstanding Supporting Actor for The Philanthropist at The Open Stage (1991)
  • Outstanding Young Alumni Award, Hardin-Simmons University 2006
  • Constance Welch Scholar, School of Drama, Yale University 1999-2000
  • Irene Ryan Acting Nomination KC/ACTF 1988
  • Irene Ryan Acting Nomination KC/ACTF 1985


  • Nolen, Ronald Dean, ed. The Film Encyclopedia 7th Edition. New York: HarperCollins, 2011
  • Nolen, Ronald Dean, ed. The Film Encyclopedia 6th Edition. New York: HarperCollins, 2008
  • Klein, Fred and Nolen, Ronald Dean, eds. The Film Encyclopedia 5th Edition. New York: HarperCollins, 2005
  • Klein, Fred and Nolen, Ronald Dean, eds. The Film Encyclopedia 4th Edition. New York: HarperCollins, 2001
  • Klein, Fred and Nolen, Ronald Dean, eds. The Film Encyclopedia 3rd Edition. New York: HarperCollins, 1998

Degrees Earned

  • Bachelor of Arts, Theatre/Music, Hardin-Simmons University, 1989
  • Master of Fine Arts, Acting, Yale University, 2000
  • A Princeton Review Best Western College  
  • Council for Christian Colleges & Universities  
  • Center for Student Opportunity: Promoting a College-Bound Culture  
  • US News Best Colleges  
  • The Chronicle on Higher Education, Great Colleges to Work For: 2011  
  • Military Friendly  
  • Colleges of Distinction  
  • University and College Accountability Network