(Founder & Producing Artistic Director)
James has lived, studied and worked as a professional actor, singer, director, producer, theater consultant, administrator, and performing arts educator in Western PA for most of his life. Jim, along Mary Chess Randolph (Former Artistic Director), had produced professional live musicals, comedies, dramas, and high quality children’s theater for three seasons as the professional theater in residence in the Baverso Theater at the Father Ryan Arts Center of Focus On Renewal. As the Program and Education Director, Jim had been a major player for many years in numerous facets of bringing the Father Ryan Arts Center to life by helping to create the arts center’s mission, vision, goals, operations, programming, curriculum, and the art center’s facility design. James holds degrees in Theater Arts/Acting and in Children’s Theater in Elementary Education both from Point Park University.
Mr. Critchfield isn’t only an accomplished administrator but is also a professional artisan in his own right. He has been a proud member of Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States and has a very successful career performing leading roles with many of the professional performing arts companies in
region. His performance credits include - but are not limited to – Actors Civic Theater, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, The Opera Theater of Pittsburgh and many productions for Pittsburgh Musical Theater. Some of his favorite roles include (Tevye) Fiddler on the Roof, (Stage Manager) Our Town, (Professor Marvel/The Wizard) The Wizard of Oz, (The Pirate King) The Pirates of Penzance, (Jim) Pump Boys and Dinnettes, (Jonathan Brewster) Arsenic and Old Lace, (John Falstaff)“Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man” (excerpts from Merry Wives’ of Windsor), (Richard Henry Lee) 1776 (Sheriff Reynolds) Bat Boy, (Audrey II ~ The voice of the Plant) Little Shop of Horrors, (Lank Hawkins) Crazy for You, and (Ebenezer Scrooge) in A Christmas Carol, for which he has received audience and critical acclaim for 18 Christmas seasons since December 1991 including 2 productions of ACT’s new version co-authored by Jim.
Besides directing for ACT he has directed for the Pittsburgh Savoyards, Prime Stage, South Park Theater, Pittsburgh Musical Theater’s Richard E. Rauh Conservatory, and Duquesne University’s Vincentian Academy to name a few. He has taught for The University of Pittsburgh’s Falk Laboratory School, Point Park University’s Playhouse School and PPU’s Community Outreach Partnership Center (COPC), Actors Civic Theater (ACT), Father Ryan Arts Center, Pittsburgh Musical Theater’s Richard E. Rauh Conservatory, East Liberty Presbyterian Church’s Hope Academy, The Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, Pittsburgh Children’s Festival Chorus, Pittsburgh Performing Arts Theater, The Joy School of Dance, Joyce’s School of Dance, Camp Deer Creek, and The Kids Theater Project. James served as the Program Director and Education Director at the Father Ryan Arts Center of Focus On Renewal for over 10 years and also the Education Director for Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theater for a short time.
Jim enjoys singing in professional musicals, operas, concerts, and at The Church of the Ascension, where he is presently a soloist and tenor section leader.
Mary Chess Randolph
(Former Artistic Director)
has a BFA, with a concentration in theater from Point Park University. She has performed at The Pittsburgh Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Little Lake and many others. Most recent acting credits include: Alice Russel, in The Best Man, Mattie Fae Aiken in August: Osage County, Big Mama in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Prudie, in Pump Boys and Dinettes, Aida, in Over the River and Through the Woods; Gertrude, in The Seahorse, Mary in The Melville Boys; Mother Superior, Nunsense I and II; Mrs. Cratchit, A Christmas Carol and Betty Meeks in the The Foreigner. Mary won the best actress in a supporting role at Mckeesport Little Theater for her portrayal of Norma Hubley in Plaza Suite. Directing credits include: I Do! Do!, A Christmas Carol , Our Town, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, among many others. Ms. Randolph teaches drama and music at numerous venues. She has taught at local schools, including Vincentian Academy and St. John of God. She has served as drama teacher for the Peace Camp at the Father Ryan Arts Center, and also as drama coach for the Father Ryan Arts Center Readers Theater program. In the summers Mary can be found as teacher, director and music director at the Jewish Community Center’s (JCC) Performing Arts Camp. She is a private voice and drama coach for students of all ages and levels of experience. Mary is also a standardized patient with the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. She has performed on television and film, and industrials and voiceovers. Mary is alto section leader and a soloist for East Liberty Prebysterian Chancel Choir.