Grace College Associate Professor of Communication Mike Yocum calculates 2019 as his 36th year at Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts in Warsaw, Ind. He has performed almost every summer since 1983. Yocum has been a part of 80 shows, and recently participated in the musical, “Oklahoma!” as Andrew Carnes.
Yocum looks forward to other productions this summer such as “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “Hands on a Hardbody.” His involvement in the theatre is three-fold: to connect with people, to perfect his craft in the performing arts, and to apply what he learns from directors, actors, designers, and technicians to the theatre program at Grace College.
Wagon Wheel Executive Director Jay Michaels says, “Mike is a huge asset to the Wagon Wheel. His dedication to ensuring the top-notch quality of our productions is so valuable and he helps teach that to others.”
Yocum’s experience is invaluable for Grace students who want to pursue professional theatre as a career, as well as for those who do it for fun. “A former student, David Lepor, has designed at least one set a year over the last 10 years for the Wagon Wheel. Other students have worked on stage and behind the scenes over the last 20 years. It’s always a great learning experience for them,” stated Yocum.
Yocum’s expertise results in a healthy theatre program at Grace. He helps direct or produce about six productions at Grace each year. He also coordinates the campus improv comedy group and traveling theatre group. These groups allow students to learn under a professional performer. It’s not surprising that Grace theatre sees a steady interest from students year to year.
Ultimately, Yocum attributes his continual involvement at Wagon Wheel to relationships. “My favorite part of working there is connecting with the people. My goals are to do the best work I can do, and love and serve everyone to the best of my ability,” said Yocum.