Michigan State University
Michigan State University
College of Arts and Letters Logo
Department of Theatre
Department of Theatre



Saturday, October 18, 2014

Charley Beal Alum Photo

Meet Charley Beal

Major and degree earned: B.A. in Theatre
Graduation year: 1978
Current role: Art Director, Production Designer
Hometown: East Lansing, MI
Now living in: New York City, NY
Website: IMDB
Spartan Saga

Why did you choose Michigan State University?

I chose Michigan State University because as a local resident I had great experiences there in High School and because I received multiple scholarships including a scholarship specifically for theatre.

How did Michigan State University help you prepare for your career?

Michigan State helped me prepare for my career by giving me a broad based education that went beyond theatre to include art history and history of interior design as well as a summer study abroad in London. 

What was the most memorable experience at Michigan State University?

My most memorable experience would be my time studying a production of Jacque Brel we produced in the Arena Theater and our senior year musical Jesus Christ Superstar produced in the Auditorium.

What advice do you have for today’s students?

Take as much art history as possible to supplement their theatre education and get professional experience.

Portfolio Samples:

 Gotham Logo

Charley is currently the Art Director for the TV series GOTHAM.

Charley Beal - Laboratory Set for a Mad Scientist

Sample Project: Laboratory Set for a Mad Scientist


Charley Beal (MSU '78): received a BA degree with high honors in Theatre in 1978. Upon graduation he worked for the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, The Milwaukee repertory Theatre and The Meadowbrook Theater before moving to New York City where he studied for 2 years at The Lester Poliakov Studio and the Art Students League.

In 1984 He started working for Tony Walton, an award-winning designer in both theatre and film. Charley’s first film experience was on the CBS production of DEATH OF A SALESMAN starring Dustin Hoffman that went on to win Numerous Emmy awards including for Best Art Direction. He also worked on many theater and film projects with Tony and the Director Mike Nichols including the HEARTBURN, REGARDING HENRY, WAITING FOR GODOT at the Lincoln Center Theater and SOCIAL SECURITY on Broadway and the national tour.

Charley went on to art direct 7 films for the Designer Peter Larkin including GUARDING TESS and THE FIRST WIVES CLUB. For Ken Adam he art directed BOYS ON THE SIDE, IN & OUT and THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS. For Arthur Max he worked on AMERICAN GANGSTER (Art Director’s Guild Nomination) and art directed BODY OF LIES, both for the director Ridley Scott.

Other art direction credits include SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, GODZILLA, MILK (Art Director’s Guild Nomination), EAT, PRAY, LOVE and the New York portion of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

Television work includes designing THE MOTHER for Great Performances, NOW AND AGAIN and FLING for Glenn Gordon Caron and art directing SMASH, season two and BOARDWALK EMPIRE, season two (Art Director’s Guild Win for best period design).

In 2004 Charley had the opportunity to teach set design for the fall semester at Colorado College.
Other awards include designing the Emmy award winning “Fight For Your Rights” HIV Prevention Campaign for MTV.

Currently Charley is Art Directing the TV series GOTHAM.

Anything else you might like to add:

Go Green! Go White!


Interested in being featured in the MSU Department of Theatre Alumni Profile Series? Click here!