FUSE Productions brings together local actors, Penn State alums, current students, and faculty, and professional actors from around the country, creating exciting professional theatre in the Centre region. Based in State College, PA, FUSE produces contemporary plays like 4000 Miles to ground-breaking musicals like A Chorus Line, bringing some of the finest theatre in the area to our audiences.
Richard Biever (Producing Artistic Director) has spent his life creating theatre, as an actor, director, composer/lyricist, and music director. He attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, received a Bachelor of Music Education (voice and choral conducting) from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, and an MFA in Directing for the Musical Theatre at Penn State.
His professional career began at age 16 when he acted and music directed shows for Enchanted Hills Playhouse in Syracuse, Indiana, near his home town of Nappanee. While at IU, he music directed the first non-union production of Little Shop of Horrors. That show’s book writer and lyricist, Howard Ashman, was to direct the IU production but was hired by Disney to write The Little Mermaid. Instead, Howard’s assistant, Albert Tavares, directed and subsequently hired Rich to music direct both the national and international tours of Little Shop.
Rich spent nearly two years as the resident music director a Circa 21 Playhouse in Rock Island, Illinois, and two years as resident music director for the Downtown Cabaret in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
He and Heidi Dittmar were married in 1990 and lived in NYC for 2 years, before moving back to State College, PA to start a musical theatre training program. Their son Marshall was born in 1993 and daughter Madeline in 1996, while the family was living outside Philadelphia, PA. Rich and Heidi were working in Boston, MA in September 2001 and Rich was inspired to create a musical tribute to 9/11 called The New Normal: A Spiritual Response in Words and Music, which played to over 1500 people on the plaza of the Christian Science Center on September 11, 2002.
The Bievers returned to State College in 2003 and have remained there since. Daughter Olivia was born in 2004. They re-opened their musical theatre studio, called Singing Onstage. Each semester, Singing Onstage produces 8 shows with 150 students, ages 4-18. Singing Onstage also produced several full-length musicals with adults and students. Following Rich’s completion of his MFA in Directing at Penn State (with mentor Susan H. Schulman), he began a musical theatre development company, Singing Onstage Productions, in NYC and produced readings of new works and forgotten gems of the past. He directed two new musicals: Harmony, Kansas and Nightfall and a reading of the Howard Ashman/Marvin Hamlisch 1985 musical Smile.
In 2012, Rich became the Executive/Artistic Director of The State Theatre in State College, and revitalized the programming and energy there. In July of 2013, Rich started FUSE Productions, The State Theatre’s own resident theatre company. When the board of The State restructured the management of the theatre, Rich left to make FUSE an independent theatre company.
Jill A. Brighton (Resident Choreographer/Stage Manager) is the Director of the Central Pennsylvania Dance Workshop (www.cpdw.org) in downtown State College. She is a professional dancer, dance teacher, choreographer, and stage manager, and has worked on a more productions than she can count in a wide variety of venues.