Friends' paths to theatrical success began at WVU's College of Creative Arts

Three recent College of Creative Arts graduates have all tasted early success in their careers, and share their video diaries.

Every aspiring college actor dreams of moving off to a big city to see their name in lights, and for three close friends from West Virginia University’s class of 2011, getting a taste of that success didn’t take too long.

MaryJoanna Grisso, Matthew Webster and Chasdan Ross Mike, College of Creative Arts graduates, moved off to New York City together and found success in less than a year.

Grisso hit it big when she attended an open call for Troika Entertainment’s national tour of West Side Story, beating out approximately 600 other actors for the lead role of Maria. The company will perform in about 70 different cities from London, Ontario to Clearwater Beach, Fla.

One stop brings Grisso back to her native Morgantown, where she will perform on Jan. 10 for 1,400 at WVU’s Creative Arts Center – the very place she got her start.

Grisso graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in vocal performance and a minor in theater and was featured in leading roles within several of WVU’s mainstage productions.

Webster entered WVU’s theater program without a focus, but came into his own in a playwriting course in 2008. What began as a class assignment turned into a full-blown production titled Kingdom Come, a musical that won the highest honor at a New York theater festival.

Since the success of Kingdom Come, Webster has co-created a new musical with fellow 2011 College of Creative Arts graduate Taylor Ferrera titled Propaganda. They finished polishing the show in Orlando, Fla., refining the script to take it back to NYC with some ideas based off of the feedback they received.

Webster received his bachelor of fine arts degree in theater from WVU along with friend Chasdan Ross Mike, with whom he graduated high school in Martins Ferry, Ohio where they grew up.

Mike attended an audition in NYC and landed the supporting lead role of Seaweed in the musical Hairspray, which took him out to Fort Collins, Colo. to perform at the Midtown Arts Center. Since the show’s end in September, he has remained within the area, performing in children’s theater productions and most recently starred in In the Heights.

Grisso, Webster and Mike have shared video diaries, illustrating part of what their days are like. You can view them starting here.

These friends are just a few among the many successful alumni to come out of the College of Creative Arts. To learn more, visit



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