Real Story: Kenny Waters

Kenny Waters

CSM Class of 2014, Theater and Dance, Arts and HumanitiesA selfie of CSM alum Kenny Waters, wearing glasses with rainbow colored frames and holding a fan reading "WERK"

Current Job Title: Educator, designer, and production stage manager, Roxy Regional Theatre; co-founder, We Thr3e Queens Productions; host, The Whole Note podcast
Transfer Institution: Frostburg State University
Accolades, Accomplishments, and Highlights: First recipient, C. Emmitt Woodey Theater Scholarship; Bachelor of Science in Theatre (summa cum laude), Frostburg State University


I originally started in 2000, when it was called Charles County Community College, right after high school, because I didn't have a college lined up and because that's what I thought I had to do. I didn't have any direction or motivation to really continue school. The professors then—namely theater director Emmitt Woodey—gave me a purpose and a reason to continue school.

But, life got in the way. I dropped out in 2004 after switching majors from theater to computer science—because outside influences told me a theater degree wouldn't amount to anything—then only taking one class a semester before just stopping.

In 2010, a year after the death of Emmitt Woodey, I was introduced to Keith Hight, the new theater director and advisor for the Theater Department. He was putting together a show for the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington, D.C., something that CSM hadn't done before. Thanks to a friend who was still in the department, Deidre Locklear, I auditioned. Keith looked at me and said, "Do you have your four-year degree?" I said no. He looked confused and asked why. I couldn't answer. That got me thinking, "Maybe it's time to come back."

The department had grown; the courses had become more rigorous and that was truly intimidating.! I was already in my late 20s at this point, in a career that I had been building for over a decade! But I heard Emmitt's voice in my head saying, “You know this is what you are supposed to be doing.” I couldn't argue with that: “He’s right. I should be doing theater. I should have my degree by now.” But I put it off. I didn't want to give up my cushy job to go back to school. 

In November of 2010, I was cast in "Pirates of Penzance," a wonderful Gilbert and Sullivan operetta full of farce and song and dance. A good friend of mine, Bobby Balint, came to see the show. I had known this man since he was seven years old, and he played one of the dwarves in CSM's production of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” At the time, he was a senior in high school, getting ready to graduate and go to a four-year university to pursue his dreams of being on Broadway. After the show he came up to me and said, “You should really get your degree. You are too good to not have your degree in this.” Again, someone else had said it to me, and again, I ignored it.

On March 26, 2011, Robert Edward Balint passed away in his sleep at 17 years old, a week before opening night for his final high school musical performance—playing Tony in “West Side Story.” His words echoed in my head again. I knew what I had to do.

To honor their memory, in 2012 I quit my cushy job, worked part time for another, and re-enrolled at the College of Southern Maryland. This place was my home, and it was the obvious choice for continuing my education.

One of the most emotional moments at CSM was being the first recipient of the C. Emmitt Woodey Theater Scholarship. Between grants and this scholarship, my final year at CSM was completely paid for. It meant the world to me because I saw it as Emmitt saying, “You got this Kenny! I'm proud of you!”

Needless to say, I am a proud College of Southern Maryland alum. I owe a debt to this place. Thank you, CSM, for not only believing in me but pushing me to become my absolute best!

I work for Roxy Regional Theatre Clarksville, Tenn., where I am an educator, a designer, and the production stage manager. I'm currently teaching sound design, livestreaming, and stage management. Every Wednesday and Saturday we do a live book reading series on our Facebook page.

In addition, several others and I started an online production company in June 2020 called We Thr3e Queens Productions, creating content and productions for the LGBTQIA+ community offering educational information, entertainment, and interviews with members of the community.

And finally, I host a weekly podcast called The Whole Note where a guest and I introduce people to a musical that they have probably never heard of.

The advice I’d give to prospective and current CSM students is to never give up on your dreams at any age! It's never too late, you are good enough, and if you work hard, you will get the benefits. Stay amazing you beautiful creatures!

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Last updated: 11/16/22

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