John C. McIlwee, 1947-2022

When John McIlwee arrived at NC State in 1986, he agreed to a two-year commitment. But he quickly grew to love the challenge of working in an environment with brilliant students who were not theatre majors and stayed until his retirement in June 2018, leaving an extraordinary legacy as a stalwart of the Triangle theatre community.

John C. McIlwee, the longtime director of University Theatre, died on Oct. 2 at age 74.

In his three decades at NC State, the theatre program grew by leaps and bounds, producing shows that rivaled those at institutions with degree programs. Regulars know that McIlwee – with his training and experience in design – did not skimp on wardrobe, creating some of the finest, highly detailed costumes you would see this side of Broadway.

McIlwee molded the University Theatre program into an environment where NC State students felt a profound sense of community and belonging.

When John McIlwee retired in 2018, Arts NC State published a magazine story – available here online – where you can read reflections on his career in his own words.

A celebration of life gathering will be scheduled in spring 2023 in Stewart Theatre. His family requests no flowers but invites you to consider a donation in his honor to the John C. McIlwee Theatre Endowment, to benefit the NC State theatre program for future generations of students, staff and patrons.