Following a long acting career in New York and around the world, Ashton earned his MFA in Directing with an emphasis in Musical Theatre from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) in 2010. He then went on to coordinate the Musical Theatre Performance program and serve as Associate Chair and Academic Director for the Theatre Department at Columbia College Chicago. He’s had the privilege of working with students that have gone on to Broadway, National Tours, Regional and stock theatres all over the country. His research on pathways to success for Musical Theatre actors has been published in Dramatics magazine and the blog: www.musicaltheatretraining.com.
Ashton's acting credits include three seasons on Broadway in Susan Stroman’s annual A Christmas Carol starring Tim Curry, F. Murray Abraham and Jim Dale, and he was featured in the National Touring companies of The Producers (US and Tokyo), Fiddler on the Roof with Theodore Bikel, the Tommy Tune revival of Grease! with Adrian Zmed, Sutton Foster and Marissa Jaret Winokur, Will Rogers Follies with Larry Gatlin, I Love New York, and My Fair Lady (Europe). Ashton has also played roles in many regional and stock productions around the country including: The Music Man and 9 to 5 (Little Theatre on the Square), The Spitfire Grill (Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Arkansas Rep.), Forever Plaid (Flat Rock Playhouse, NC), Joseph…Dreamcoat and Cats (Ogunquit Playhouse, ME), Will Rogers Follies (Cape Playhouse, MA and Jupiter Theatre, FL), West Side Story (Westchester Broadway Theatre, NY), Kingdom (World Premiere with the Denver Center Theatre Company), and he earned his Equity card in The Secret Garden at the Paper Mill Playhouse.
His directing work includes Hello, Dolly!, Disney's Beauty and the Beast and How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at The Little Theatre on the Square, (title of show) and The Marvelous Wonderettes at Open Door Theatre in Chicago, Bye Bye Birdie and Annie Get Your Gun for the Wilmette Starlight Theatre; Anything Goes, Orpheus Descending, Urinetown and Godspell at CCM, and Rent, Victor/Victoria, Oklahoma!, Once On This Island, and Sweet Charity as well as several Freshmen/Senior Showcases at Columbia College Chicago. Professor Byrum earned his undergraduate degree in Musical Theatre from Catawba College in Salisbury, NC. Originally from Winston-Salem, NC, Ashton, his wife Gina, and their 9-year-old son, Dylan, moved to Norman from Oak Park, IL.