Dionne O’Dell

(517) 884-7794

FacultyTheatreArts Cultural Management and Museum Studies

Academic Specialist
Children’s Theatre; Theatre for Audiences that are Neurodiverse; Arts and Cultural Management; Outreach and Engagement


Dionne O’Dell specializes in teaching Children’s Theatre, and writing and directing plays for youth and community. She also teaches in the Arts and Cultural Management-Museum Studies Program at MSU.  Previously, Dionne was the Associate Director of Education at Lincoln Center Theater where she trained NYC public school teachers to incorporate theatre into their classrooms, and directed students in the Lincoln Center Theater High School Intensive program productions. 

She has also designed curriculum for numerous stage productions including: QED, starring Alan Alda, and Kevin Kline in the Shakespeare Thing, both for Lincoln Center Theater and OTHELLO, for the Aquila Theatre Company’s Shakespeare in American Communities program supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. Dionne has published articles on classical theatre in the English Journal, and has written numerous plays and screenplays. In February 2010, Dionne’s short film script, Dreadful Sorry was awarded a $100,000 grant by the SC Film Commission. Dionne served as an Associate Producer on the film and Chief Accountant.  Dreadful Sorry was an official selection in the Orlando Film Festival in 2013. Dionne is a proud member of Actors Equity Association, and has worked as a performer in regional theatre productions, in industrial films, and television commercials.

At MSU, Dionne serves as Artistic Director of the Sense-Ability Ensemble, a group that creates innovative, multi-sensory, interactive theatrical performance for neurodiverse audiences. In the Spring of 2017 Dionne wrote and directed FARM! A MUSICAL EXPERIENCE, a musical written specifically for students with ASD and other diagnoses.  FARM! toured special education classrooms in Michigan in 2018 & 2019. Her second play for neurodiverse audiences, SODA POP SHOP, was performed online during the pandemic in 2020 & 2021.  In 2018 Dionne was an artist participating in Lincoln Center Education’s Big Umbrella Festival, a festival dedicated to theatre for neurodiverse audiences.  There she met Sean Ahlquist, a researcher in socio-sensory architecture from the University of Michigan School of Architecture and they subsequently collaborated on a piece titled POND ADVENTURE. Her latest project, WHAT IF WILHELMINA, is a musical adaptation of the award winning children’s book by author and illustrator Joseph Belisle. Dionne served as the lyricist and book writer on the project and worked with the extraordinary composer, Chelle Peterson. WHAT IF WILHELMINA toured in 2023, performed at the East Lansing Arts Festival, and will be a part of the MSU Department of Theatre 2024 Main Stage season.

University News

Proposals Now Being Accepted for 2024 CREATE! Microgrant Program
Published May 20, 2024 in College of Arts & Letters
The Dean’s Arts Advisory Council in the College of Arts & Letters is now accepting proposals for the 2024 CREATE! Microgrant program, in which seven winning proposals will be awarded $500…Read now »
Theatre Alum Continues to Create Sensory-Friendly Productions as Artist-in-Residence in Georgia
Published March 13, 2024 in College of Arts & Letters
Since early childhood, Evan Hill Phillips has always enjoyed the spotlight as he craved an outlet to create, entertain, and perform. At Michigan State University, the BFA in Theatre graduate…Read now »
Chasten Buttigieg to Discuss Theatre, LGBTQ+ Rights and Representation at March 16 Event
Published March 7, 2024 in College of Arts & Letters
New York Times bestselling author, teacher, arts enthusiast, and LGBTQ+ rights advocate Chasten Buttigieg, who also has a theatre background that includes working with kids with autism, will share,…Read now »
MSU Theatre Presents ‘What if Wilhelmina,’ a Sensory-Friendly, Interactive Musical 
Published February 20, 2024 in College of Arts & Letters
The public is invited to come experience What if Wilhelmina, the latest production of the Michigan State University Department of Theatre’s Sense-Ability Ensemble, which creates multisensory,…Read now »
Dionne O’Dell Named Interim Director of Arts, Cultural Management, and Museum Studies Program
Published June 2, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
Dionne O’Dell, Academic Specialist in the Department of Theatre at Michigan State University, will lead MSU’s Arts, Cultural Management, and Museum Studies (ACM&MS) program as Interim…Read now »
Faculty Receive Outreach and Engagement Awards
Published February 21, 2020 in College of Arts & Letters
A collage image of a man and a woman
The annual MSU Outreach and Engagement Awards honor faculty, students, and partners working together to produce diverse benefits for others in their communities. Among this year’s recipients…Read now »
MSU Researches a Neurodiverse Approach to Theatre Education
Published July 23, 2019 in College of Arts & Letters
A man in a white shirt is kneeling and talking to a child that's sitting in a chair. Behind him, a man also wearing a white shirt is bending over to talk to a child sitting down.
One of the first of its kind in the world, Michigan State University’s Department of Theatre has produced a play that is written specifically for an audience that is neurodiverse,…Read now »
2019 Alumni Board Awards Presented
Published April 1, 2019 in College of Arts & Letters
Photo of four people standing smiling standing in front of a window with the left person wearing a medal and the two middle people holding awards
College of Arts & Letters faculty and students were recognized for their outstanding achievements in leadership, teaching, innovation, and community engagement at the College of Arts &…Read now »
Recent Grad Takes Leading Role in Memphis
Published September 13, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
Recent MSU graduate Ryan Duda, who received his B.F.A. degree in Theatre in May, is now preparing to play the lead role in the upcoming production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the…Read now »
2018 College of Arts & Letters Alumni Board Awards Presented
Published April 17, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
close-up of flowers with a blue sky and brick building in the background
The College of Arts & Letters celebrated its outstanding faculty, staff, and students for their accomplishments in teaching, research, and community impact at the 2018 MSU College of Arts &…Read now »
Graduate Students Aid in Budget Increase for National Art Agencies
Published April 6, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
group of people in lanyards posing around a woman in the center for a picture
Graduate students in MSU’s Arts & Cultural Management program, along with adjunct faculty member Sarah Triplett, attended the Arts Advocacy Day conference in…Read now »
Department of Theatre Freshman Showcase Kicks Off Tonight
Published November 30, 2017 in College of Arts & Letters
shot of six people looking down at the camera with books open toward the camera
Michigan State University’s Department of Theatre will present, as its Freshman Showcase, a magical production ofGiants Have Us in Their Books and Other Works by Jose Rivera,…Read now »
Divergent Voices Theme of 2017-2018 Department of Theatre Season
Published May 25, 2017 in College of Arts & Letters
graphic grid of theatre posters
In a time where debate may be equivalent to yelling, where respect means only similar points of view, where we all seem to only agree on disagreement, theatre must do what it was created to do:…Read now »
2017 Alumni Board Faculty & Student Awards
Published April 3, 2017 in College of Arts & Letters
Linton Hall
In recognition of their outstanding achievements in leadership, teaching, innovation, and community engagement, five deserving individuals were presented with CAL Alumni Board Awards at the…Read now »
The College of Arts & Letters Funds Community Projects in Flint
Published February 11, 2015 in College of Arts & Letters
three students in a classroom
The College of Arts & Letters has funded four collaborative community projects that were proposed by CAL faculty and in which they will collaborate with Flint citizens who served on the Arts and…Read now »