Theater, Arts Garden & "Prof"
About the Documentarians
George Hillow began teaching at Christopher Newport University after his wife read an ad in the Sunday Richmond Times for a theatre teaching position. He claims to have seen nearly a thousand musicals in his lifetime, ranging from Broadway in New York City to theatre shows in London. His all time favorite musical is "Chicago," which he became infatuated with after hearing the soundtrack in 1975. CNU first performed "Chicago" in 1996 and most recently in February of 2013 as a salute to "Prof." Although TheaterCNU was at first denied the rights to the musical because of the nationwide tour, they fought for them and were finally granted permission to perform it as their spring 2013 musical. The subtitle for "Chicago" in the 2013 performance was “A Salute to Prof George Hillow.” Prof immensely enjoyed being the scene designer for the show. After he retires in 2014, he plans on happily freelancing and continuing to stay involved in theatre. He and his wife Judy, whom he married in 1991, have two dogs named Jane and Stella, and they currently reside in Newport News, Virginia.
As a scene designer for the theatre, it comes naturally that Prof likes to design sets. For this reason, he designed and helped build the beloved Arts Garden in the center of CNU’s Ferguson Center. This project became one of his most proud endeavors, and his office in the Ferg overlooks the beautiful and serene garden. Students enjoy gathering in the garden for picnics, to practice lines, or just to relax. A wedding reception was even held there one year. Prof helps maintain the garden and enjoys taking pride in knowing he designed it to perfection.
“There’s no other place we’d rather be, but you never know. I would love to say, ‘No, we have our eye on a little piece of mountain top out in West Virginia,’ but we just do not have any other plans. Vern, who works in the building, has a dream to move out to Alaska and build a house out in the wilderness. He was talking about that the other day, and I listened and I thought, ‘What a great dream,’ but we’re so happy where we are. We love our house, we love our neighbors, our friends. What’s not to like?”
-Professor George Hillow, on Virginia
Alyssa André grew up in Woodbridge, Virginia as the oldest of four children. From a young age, she has had a passion for politics, journalism, and mass media. She is currently a junior at Christopher Newport University majoring in Political Science and double minoring in Communication Studies and Journalism. She hopes to work for a broadcast journalism company after graduation. Alyssa is a member of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority and holds the executive position of Panhellenic Affairs Vice President.
Cori McDaniel is a senior at Christopher Newport University majoring in Design/Technical Theater with a focus in Sound Design. She is also a Film minor. She has been the Sound Designer for six productions with TheaterCNU, as well as with The Aracoma Story Inc. in Logan, West Virgnia, and will be the Sound Designer/Engineer this summer for New Harmony Theatre in Evansville, Indiana. Cori has loved learning more about her professor, George Hillow, and having the opportunity to tell his story.
"Up for the Challenge (of Retirement)"
audio documentary by Alyssa André & Cori McDaniel
George Joseph Hillow III was born in Hilton Village, Newport News, Virginia on February 16, but he did not disclose the year. He majored in psychology at Duke University and never had any intention of getting involved in theater. Today, Professor George Hillow—"Prof"—teaches theater and scene design at Christopher Newport University. In fact, CNU dedicated its 2013 musical, “Chicago,” to Prof, as the students so fondly call him. Prof plans to retire in 2014 and enjoy a quiet life with his wife in Newport News. When he talks about retirement, coldness sweeps over him. Maybe it scares him, but he says he’s up for the challenge.
Audio interview with "Prof":
"Up for the Challenge" (8:56)