Meet Festival Theatre's 2015 Company!
Elizabeth Albers (Assistant Stage Manager for Little Shop, Woman/Urchin in Streetcar and Poppy in Noises Off) has appeared in The Memory of Water, and Treasure at the E. Melba Johnson Kirpatric Laboratory Theatre. She also appeared in The Drowsy Chaperone and Where in the World is Frank Sparrow at Illinois Wesleyan University’s McPherson Theatre. She has a BFA in Acting from Illinois Weslyelyan. Special thanks and lots of love to her mom and dad for always supporting her.
Cassidy Atchison (Chiffon in Little Shop) is making her Festival Theatre debut. Cassidy is from Parker, TX and just recently earned her bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from Waldorf College. She would like to thank her parents for their constant love, support and inspiration to be better.
Aleta Anderson (Music Director and Piano for Little Shop) is glad to be a part of Festival Theatre this summer.
Brad Anderson (Band Leader/Trumpet for Little Shop) is excited to work with Festival this summer.
Lis Athas (Mrs. Luce in Little Shop and Neighbor in Streetcar) is a recent graduate of Luther College where she achieved a BA in Theatre and a BA in Management. At Luther she appeared in Much Ado About Nothing (Beatrice), Arcadia (Lady Croom), Cabaret (Ensemble), La Dispute (Katherine Mesrou), Sister Angelica (The Monitor), A Thread in the Dark (Nurse), Overtones (Hetty), and God of Carnage (Veronique). She would like to thank St. Croix Festival Theatre for their teaching under the Apprentice Program, and she gives special thanks to her family and partner for their unyielding support.
Mark Baer (Director of Streetcar) always feels at home when returning to Festival Theatre. In addition to serving as Managing Directing in 2002-05, Mark directed the recent Festival productions of To Fool the Eye, Once Upon a Mattress, and Man of La Mancha. Originally from Ohio, Mark holds an MFA in Directing from Illinois State University. He is currently Asst. Professor of Acting and Directing at Indiana University Northwest, where he has recently produced and directed Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl, Dracula by Steven Dietz, and The Miser by Moliere. He is a founding member of Gary Shakespeare Company, where he will be directed Twelfth Night last summer. He would like to thank his wife Kelly and daughter Samantha for their steadfast support.
Andrew Bradford Benson (Choreographer of Little Shop, Andrew in Complete Works, Steve in Streetcar, Frederik in Noises Off, and Ensemble in Christmas Carol) is a theatre artist, dancer, biking enthusiast, and Festival Theatre’s Development Director. He holds a BA in Theatre and a Minor in Management from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. Andrew holds credits from several theaters in the Midwest including Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse, Davenport Junior Theatre, and The Curtainbox Theatre Company, and he also performed his one-man show, Andrew Bradford Benson is Losing His Mind, while living in New York City. After first coming to St. Croix Festival Theatre in 2012, he has now worked as an actor, director and choreographer for three seasons and was asked to join the administrative team in 2015.
Kimberly Braun (Stella in Streetcar, Belinda in Noises Off and Ensemble in Christmas Carol) is delighted to be part of Festival Theatre's 25th Anniversary Season. Kimberly has been an actor with Festival Theatre since 2011. Favorite roles have been Polly in Crazy for You Adelaide in This Untoward Generation! and Lady Larken in Once Upon a Mattress. Kimberly has performed at Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre, Iowa Theatre Artists Company, Great Plains Theatre (KS), and Wayside Theatre (VA). Kimberly is grateful for the love and support of her husband Darrell Johnston who she met and married in St. Croix Falls, for her host home family, Don Hansen and Sydney Paredes, and to the theatre staff and Falls community for allowing her to share what she loves in this beautiful place.
Gina Bonin (Costume Advisor for Little Shop) is excited to continue her work with Festival Theatre this summer.
Megan Clark (Crystal in Little Shop, ensemble in Streetcar and Brooke in Noises Off) is a returning actor to Festival Theatre, you may have seen her as Patsy in their production of Crazy For You. She has appeared in Oklahoma! (Ado Annie), Xanadu (Calliope), Bat Boy the Musical (Mayor), and I Hate Hamlet (Deidre) at Western Illinois University; last summer at Shawnee Summer Theatre she appeared in The Drowsy Chaperone (Kitty) , A Year with Frog and Toad (Bird), The Three Musketeers (Queen Anne), and Death of a Salesmen (Woman). She is so excited to be back at Festival Theatre!
Steven Czajkowski (Wino/Snip in Little Shop and Mitch in Streetcar) appeared in last summer’s productions of Almost, Maine and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and was part of the Sew Good Improv team. He is excited to return to Festival this summer and be re-united with the Festival team. Steven is from Skokie, IL and currently attends Illinois Wesleyan University. He is perusing his BFA at IWU to be completed next spring. At Illinois Wesleyan he has been in Treasure, The Drowsy Chaperone, A Lie of the Mind and the “Losing It” Dance Concert.
Caitlin Featherstone-Priester (Audrey II in Little Shop) is double majoring in Theatre Arts and English with a minor in Secondary Education at Simpson College in Indianola, IA. She appeared most recently in Smoke on the Mountain (June Sanders), Don’t Tell Mother (Cinnamon Schmidt) and Over the Checkerboard (Ida) at the Brownville Villiage Theatre in Brownville, NE, as well as in numerous productions through Theatre Simpson, including Carosel (Louise) Lysistrata Jones, the Musical (Lampite) and Alice’s Trip: a Movement Adventure (Alice). Caitlin would like to send a special thank you to her family, for their everlasting love and support.
George Free (Percussion for Little Shop) has been playing the drums since 1963. He enjoys playing a variety of styles on the trap set but favors Latin-Jazz. He studied hand drumming at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago from 2008 -2010 with the main focus on the traditional polyrhythms of the Malinke people of West Africa. This is his second appearance in a Festival Theatre production, having performed in the 2014 madcap comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
Kelly Harris (Audrey in Little Shop) is excited to be in her first show with Festival Theatre this summer. She recently graduated from Luther College with a BA in Music and Theatre. While at Luther, some of her favorite productions included Spring Awakening, On the Verge, God of Carnage and Cabaret. She would like to extend a huge thank you to Festival for the opportunity to be a part of this incredible company and to all her friends and family for their constant love and support.
Scott Hensiak (Band Leader/ Saxophone for Little Shop) is currently the high school band teacher at Unity Schools. Scott has performed with groups such as the Kids From Wisconsin, the Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra, and the Grammy-nominated Jazz Ensemble I at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. He joins the Festival Theatre on reeds for Little Shop.
Janet Holdt (Rehearsal Accompanist/ Piano for Little Shop) is currently the K-6 General Music Teacher and 7-12 Choral Director at Luck Public School. She is an organist/pianist at Luck Lutheran Church. Janet sings with the Woodland Chorale. She has a BA from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and certificates in Orff and Voice Care Network.
David Holmes (Bernstein in Little Shop, Pablo in Streetcar and Scenic Carpenter) is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse with a BA in Performance and Sound Design, and is ecstatic to be involved in St. Croix Festival Theatre. He has recently appeared in such roles as Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol (UW-L), Inspector Kemp in Young Frankenstein (UW-L) and Douglas Panch in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (UW-L). He thanks his family and friends for their love and support, as well as St. Croix Festival Theatre for this amazing opportunity and his first foray into the “real” world!
Jaclyn Johnson (Director of Little Shop, Blanche in Streetcar, Dotty in Noises Off and Director of Christmas Carol) is a theatre and visual artist, and Festival Theatre's Artistic Director. She holds a BA from Cornell College and credits across the country, including Riverside Theatre (IA) and Creede Rep (CO). Jaclyn came to Festival Theatre as an actor in 2008, and in addition to her administration leadership, Jaclyn shares her talents on stage, acting, directing and improvising, now in her seventh season at Festival. Originally from Minneapolis, MN, Jaclyn now resides in Dresser, WI, where she lives with her two lovely cats and her equally lovely fiancé. When she is not in rehearsal or working at the theatre, which is rare, Jaclyn enjoys taking in the beauty of the St. Croix River Valley, painting, drawing and writing. Jaclyn wishes to send thanks to her lovely family, friends, colleagues, teammates and to you for your support and attention to the arts.
Darrell Johnston (Lloyd in Noises Off and Ensemble in Christmas Carol) is grateful to be back at Festival Theatre performing in Noises Off and A Christmas Carol. Past shows at Festival include, Red, White and Tuna, Proof, A Christmas Story and many others. Originally from the small town of Leon, IA, Darrell is now a professional guitarist and actor with regional credits from across the country. In 2011 he co-founded “Highway Walkers Media”, an adventure documentary team. National Geographic called their film, “A journey of heart”. Darrell would again like to thank his parents for the love and support! He is overjoyed to be sharing the stage with his amazing wife, Kimberly Braun.
Seth Kaltwasser (Seymour in Little Shop and Gary in Noises Off) is an actor, playwright, teaching artist, and arts administrator, recently serving as St. Croix Festival Theatre’s Director of Arts Education & Development. The world premiere of Seth’s new play, This Untoward Generation!, was staged at Festival Theatre in August 2013. When you can’t find Seth in the St. Croix Valley, he’s likely revisiting his stomping grounds around the Quad Cities, where he recently became a company member at The Curtainbox Theatre Company. Seth holds a B.A. in Theatre from St. Ambrose University.
Rachel Kuhnle (Audrey II in Little Shop, Director of Complete Works and Stella in Streetcar) is thrilled to be making her Festival Theatre debut. A second year MFA Acting Candidate at the University of South Carolina, Rachel most recently appeared as Milady in The Three Musketeers, Bridget in Translations and Helena in Midsummer Night's Dream. She has also worked in many capacities with Trustus Theatre (SC), the Commonweal Theatre (MN), and CLIMB Theatre (MN.) She would like to thank Festival Theatre for the great summer and her favorite person ever, Josiah, for being awesome.
Emma Kravig (Costume Design for Little Shop and Complete Works, and Costume Design Assistant for Streetcar) is excited to work her first summer at Festival Theatre. She works at the Beloit College costume stop during the school year and works as an assistant to the designer for Beloit College productions. She was involved with the college’s production of Learned Ladies as well as creating dance costumes
Jerry Kurek (Martin in Little Shop, Jerry in Complete Works and Young Solicitor in Streetcar) most recently appeared as Hans Brinker in Festival Theatre’s production of Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates. Before then, he has appeared in numerous productions with Festival Theatre, namely The Miser, The Frogs, The 39 Steps, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He recently graduated from Ripon College.
Josiah Laubenstein (Orin in Little Shop, Josiah in Complete Works, Stanely in Streetcar and Tim in Noises Off) is happy to return to Festival Theatre after a five year hiatus in which he got married, graduated with an MFA in Acting from the University of South Carolina, worked at Texas Shakespeare Festival, and completed a Professional Acting Internship at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. In addition to theater, Josiah co-founded Highway Walkers Media, which has produced two feature films, The Highway Walkers and Passage. He is very grateful to be back, this time with his loving wife Rachel.
Abi Leveille (Stage Manager for Complete Works and Eunice in Streetcar) is thrilled to join Festival Theatre onstage this summer. Originally from Iowa City, IA, she graduated from Lawrence University last year with a BA in Theatre Arts. There she appeared in As You Like It (Rosalind), Street Scene (Greta Fiorentino), Show Your Face(s) (company) and was a member of The Optimistic Feral Children improv team. Last year she joined Black Dirt Improv and was a founding member of Greyfell Theatre Company, where she directed Jonah and Sitting with Strangers.
David Markson (Scenic Design for Little Shop, Complete Works, Streetcar and Noises Off) has been doing set design and scenic painting for Festival Theatre for the past five summers, as well as occasional work throughout the seasons. He also does similar work for River Falls Community Theatre and River Falls High School; which is where he learned, “on the fly” - having not studied theatre craft in college. He is also a sign and mural painter, a musician, an arts advocate and organizer, and a varsity tennis coach in River Falls, where he makes his home.
Bailey Markuson (Bass/Keyboard for Little Shop) is a 9th grader at Unity High School. She plays in both band and jazz band. She also sings in the choir. This is her first year doing anything with the Festival Theatre.
Steve Modena (Mr. Mushnik in Little Shop) is pleased to be making his debut here at Festival Theatre. He has performed with various companies in and around the Twin Cities area in Minnesota. He has appeared most recently in Shrek the Musical at Curtain Call Theatre, The Diary of Anne Frank at Park Square Theatre, Romeo and Juliet with Classical Actors Ensemble, Othello with Gadfly Theatre, Now I See with the Minnesota Fringe Festival, and Twisted with CLIMB Theatre. He would like to thank his parents for their constant love and support as well as his ridiculously talented fiancée Sarah for being his inspiration.
Ed Moersfelder (Doctor in Streetcar, Selsdon Mowbray in Noises Off and Scrooge in A Christmas Carol) first appeared in Festival’s 2008 production of Arsenic and Old Lace. Most recently he appeared as Harpagon in The Miser and Erronius in Forum, and directed Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates. In 2012 he co-wrote the script for the Festival production of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman and has written two one-acts produced at Festival. In 2010 Ed interned at The Iowa Theatre Artists Company. When not at Festival, he hangs out at Windy Hill with Karel, Andrew, Buddy and Carter the Cat.
Kim Murphy (Costume Design for Streetcar and Christmas Carol) graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Science degree in Apparel Design. One requirement of the program at Madison was to study at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, in their one year program. On completing FIT’s program she received a Associate in Applied Science /Fashion Design degree. After graduation Kimberly worked as a designer specializing in children’s wear. Presently she works with her husband James Shoop at their business Shoop Sculptural Design Inc. producing sculptures for the toy and gift industries.
Sydney Paredes (Nurse in Streetcar) made her community acting debut was in Festival Theatre's 2011 hilarious production of "Inspecting Carol" in which she played Betty Edwards, the National Endowment of the Arts inspector who paid an unexpected visit to the Soapbox Players. She gained a whole new level of appreciation of what it takes to create live theatre, and discovered affinity between theatre and her work as an executive leadership coach, especially as it relates to empathy, emotional honesty and deep listening. Sydney and her husband, Don Hansen, live in Taylors Falls, MN, where they regularly provide guest housing to Festival Theatre's artists. She currently serves as Festival Theatre's Board President.
Todd Reemtsma (Light Design for Little Shop) has designed lighting for several Festival productions over the past 4 years including The Mystery of Irma Vep, Inspecting Carol, Man of La Mancha, Playing With Fire, Crazy for You, Foreigner, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Previous design work includes American Repertory Theatre-Director's Lab (Cambridge, MA), Gallery Players (Brooklyn, NY), Footsteps Theatre (Chicago, IL), and Surflight Summer Theatre (Long Beach Island, NJ). Todd lives in St. Paul with his wife and two children. Todd received his MFA in Theatre from the University of Illinois and his BA in Theatre from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Laura Seed (Properties and Costume design for Little Shop, Properties design for Complete Works, Streetcar, Noises off and Christmas Carol) grew up in Polk County WI, and was taught by her parents and herself about creating art since she could walk. Always loving to dress up herself and others, she has worked on short films, fashion runway shows and many photo shoots. She is looking forward to doing much more theater work. Laura paints, sculpts, models, sews and everything in between. Laura loves dolls, makes her own characters and makes dollhouses and other miniatures.
Maggie Mae Sulentic (Ronette in Little Shop) is a Theatre Major going into her senior year at Luther College. This is her first summer with Festival Theatre. Favorite past roles include Myrrha in Metamorphoses (Luther College) Mme. Thenardier in Les Miserables (The Grand Opera House) and Ariadne in A Thread in the Dark (Luther College). She would like to thank her family and friends for their never-ending support, love and belief.
Peter Weber (Technical Director and Stage Manager) is a St. Croix Falls native who graduated from Northland College in Ashland, WI with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Arts. Peter has explored photography, printmaking, and ceramics. Hired as Festival’s summer stage manager in 2008, Peter quickly attained the status of a much loved and much respected member of the production team. 2011 marked Peter’s entry into the management team at Festival Theatre where he is excited to help cultivate space for the theatre arts to flourish.