Alumnus Joe Hanrahan enjoying life on stage and behind the scenes

Dec 09, 2021

Alumnus Joe Hanrahan ‘71 discovered his interest in theater at Kansas Newman College — now known as Newman University — when he was asked to join the cast of an upcoming production.

Fifty years later, he is still indulging in his favorite hobby-turned-career as the owner of The Midnight Company, a theater company in St. Louis.

The Midnight Company will celebrate 25 years in 2022.

More than just a career

Hanrahan credits the size of Newman University for his opportunity to become involved in the craft.

“At Newman, one thing I really loved was the small size,” he explained. “It had only recently become a co-ed university, too. I was really lucky to be able to do a little bit of everything because it was a smaller school. I hadn’t done any theater before college. But when I was a sophomore, someone asked me to be in ‘You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown’ and a student was the director. I learned a ton of stuff and learned to really like it. I wound up minoring in theater, and acted in several plays as well as directing.”

Theater hasn’t always been Hanrahan’s full-time job. He was in marketing and advertising for many years until theater took over. He said even though theater isn’t a big money-maker, his passion for storytelling through stagework is the reason he has never stopped.

“Theater isn’t just a job, something to do; it’s an advocation,” said Hanrahan. “I love telling stories and that’s why I do it.”

After finishing his undergraduate work at Kansas Newman College, Hanrahan attended grad school at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. He returned to his hometown of St. Louis and started his advertising career while staying busy in his personal life by acting in local theater productions.

He even moved his advertising career into the theater setting for a bit by working for The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. As his marketing and advertising career advanced, Hanrahan always made time for acting.

Celebrating 25 years

Opening his own company, he said, was the next natural step for his theater career.

Joe Hanrahan in the production of “It Is Magic” by Mickle Maher.
(from left to right:) Joe Hanrahan, Michelle Hand, Chrissie Watkins, Nicole Angeli, Carl Overly

“It was kind of like, ‘Nothing is happening, let’s do it.’ I’d been involved with several groups in town. I’d just finished a play and we were sitting around having a drink and decided to start one. There weren’t really many companies here back then and it seemed like a good idea. We started with a show we knew and liked and step by step went from there.”

The 25th-anniversary season promises three great shows currently scheduled, including something out of Hanrahan’s “normal” — a musical.

He is excited to get back to live theater after having to switch to virtual online shows for a period of time when COVID-19 changed in-person gatherings. Performing for a live audience is where the excitement lies, he said.

“I’ve worked with many other companies in town and there is nothing that I love more than acting in another company’s play. This show I’m doing now, I’m producing, directing and acting in it. You worry about everything.”

“But ultimately, I love what I do,” Hanrahan added. “I love producing. I love having my own company because I can choose what I tell. I love writing. It all boils down to telling a story. It’s what keeps me going.”