Meet Festival Theatre's 2016 Summer Company!
Zoe Allen (Carrie in Laura Ingalls) made her Festival Theatre stage debut at age 6 in Beatrix Potter Tales. She has also appeared in Aesop’s Fables and Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates at Festival Theatre and numerous Prairie Fire Theatre productions at Luck and Unity Public Schools.
Elizabeth Albers (Properties for Clue, Sibyl in Private Lives, Shelby in Steel Magnolias, Assist. Director for On Golden Pond, Ma in Laura Ingalls) graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University with a BFA in Acting and has been with Festival Theatre since summer, 2015. At Festival, she has performed in A Streetcar Named Desire, Noises Off, A Christmas Carol, The Grapes of Wrath, Private Lives and Steel Magnolias. She would like to thank her family and friends for being such stellar support!
Natalie Allcock (Detective in Clue, Louise in Private Lives) has traveled the world with her family, but she has lived most of her life in Britton, South Dakota. She recently graduated from Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, with a B.A. in Musical Theatre and a B.A. in Voice Performance. At NSU she performed in many musicals, among them Les Miserables, Spring Awakening, and Murder Ballad. After Festival Theatre, Natalie is determined to become a member of Taylor Swift’s “squad” so she can make millions of dollars. Her backup plan is becoming fluent in German so she can star in her favorite musical, Tanz der Vampire. Her backup backup plan is to write music of all kinds.
Ella Anderson (Carrie in Laura Ingalls) appeared in last fall’s Festival Theater production of My Name is Rumpelstiltskin. She was also in Treasure Island, Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates and Aesop’s Fables. Ella is 10, homeschooled and enjoys playing softball, the flute and drawing.
Mark Baer (Director of Clue) always feels at home when returning to Festival Theatre. In addition to serving as Managing Director in 2002-05, Mark directed the recent Festival productions of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Streetcar Named Desire 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 Failure: A Love Story and Hedda Gabler. Other recent directing credits include Perfect Wedding at Towle Theatre in Hammond, IN and Sweeney Todd at City Circle Acting Company of Coralville, IA. He is a founding member of Gary Shakespeare Company, where he will be performing the role of Macbeth later this summer. He would like to thank his wife Kelly and daughter Samantha for their steadfast support.
Denise Baker (Truvy in Steel Magnolias) is back for her third season at St. Croix Festival Theatre but her first time on it’s stage. Previously she has directed Suessical the Musical, choreographed Once Upon a Mattress and costumed Proof and To Fool the Eye. Her most recent stage credits are Number the Stars at the Old Gem Theater, A Night Under the Ives at Intermedia Arts, and The Milk lady’s Son for Moonlight Starlight Productions. Denise performs Steering into the Skid for the Remember Project, whose mission is to build dementia friendly communities, and continues to roleplay with police officers and first responders for Crisis Intervention Training. She is also active in Film and is a Voice Over Artist. Steel Magnolia’s is one of her favorite plays and she is thrilled to be cast with such a great group of talented women. She continues to thank her husband for all his love and support as she pursues this crazy acting career!
Andrew Bradford Benson ((Choreographer for Clue, Elyot in Private Lives) is a theatre artist, dancer, biking enthusiast, and Festival Theatre’s Interim Artistic Director. He holds a BA in Theatre from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. Andrew holds credits from Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse, Davenport Junior Theatre, and The Curtainbox Theatre Company. He also performed his one-man show, Andrew Bradford Benson is Losing His Mind, while living in New York City.
Liam Gallagher (Billy Ray in On Golden Pond)is a returning youth actor who has appeared in several shows including Cinderella, Beatrix Potter Tales, Alice in Wonderland, Tom Sawyer, James and the Giant Peach, Ichabod Crane, Hans Brinker, A Christmas Story, The Grapes of Wrath, and is thrilled to be a part of On Golden Pond. He would like to thank Jackie, Ed, his wonderful family and his good friends Stephen Rice, Christopher Lewis and Frances Miller for all of their support.
Marjorie Gast (Amanda in Private Lives) is new to Festival Theatre's stage. She is currently a student at the University of Northern Iowa (Class of 2019) majoring in Theatre Performance. Most recently she has appeared as Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins at the Oster Regent Theatre, and her TheatreUNI credits include Kess from Independence and Kassandra from Euripides' The Trojan Women.
Megan Hankel (Mary in Laura Ingalls) is a homeschooled 9th grader and lives in St Croix Falls, WI. She has thoroughly enjoyed acting in several Festival Theater productions, including Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates, Aesop's Fables and James and the Giant Peach. She also enjoys playing cello and piano, performing in the Luck String Ensemble, volunteering at SCRMC and playing on a local volleyball team.
Anna Hermanson (Miss Scarlet in Clue, Annelle in Steel Magnolias) is making her Festival Theatre debut. Some of her favorite roles include Snug/Puck(u/s) in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Miss Daisy in Driving Miss Daisy. She will be a senior at Viterbo University this fall and is working on a BFA in Theatre (Acting Emphasis) and a minor in dance. She would like to thank this wonderful cast and crew, Anita and Steve for giving her a home this summer, and her family for always supporting her.
Cory Johnson (Director for Private Lives) is a professor of theatre at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and has also taught at Luther College, Augustana College and The University of Minnesota. As an actress and company member of the The Curtainbox Theatre she has been seen as Virginia in Three Viewings, Aunt Julia in Hedda Gabler, and as Virginia in W;t (under the direction of Broadway director, Phil McKinley). She has performed at Riverside Theatre in Iowa City, and numerous times at The Old Creamery Theatre and Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse. Favorite directing experiences include: A Streetcar Named Desire, Pippin, Glengarry Glen Ross and the world premiere of her dear former student, Seth Kaltwasser’s play, TUG: This Untoward Generation at Festival Theatre. She lives in Davenport with her husband, Don and their two ill-behaved dogs.
Jaclyn June Johnson (Mrs. Peacock in Clue, Director, Costume Design for On Golden Pond, Set Design SantaLand & Laura Ingalls) is a theatre and visual artist, and is excited to have returned to Festival Theatre's staff. She holds a BA from Cornell College and credits across the country, including Under The Gun Improv Theatre (Chicago, IL), Riverside Theatre (IA) and Creede Repertory (CO). Jaclyn came to Festival Theatre as an actor in 2008, and in addition to her administrative leadership, Jaclyn shares her talents on stage, acting, directing and improvising, now in her ninth season at Festival. Originally from Minneapolis, MN, Jaclyn now resides in Lodi, WI, where she lives with her two lovely cats and her equally lovely husband. Jaclyn wishes to send thanks to her lovely family, friends, colleagues, teammates and to you for your support and attention to the arts.
Seth Kaltwasser (Crumpet in SantaLand, Director for Laura Ingalls) is an actor, playwright, and teaching artist currently serving as one of Festival Theatre's Co-Artistic Directors. The world premiere of Seth's play, This Untoward Generation! was staged at Festival Theatre in August of 2013. He recently spent a year serving on the management team of Minneapolis' Frank Theatre, and is thrilled to be back making theatre in the St. Croix Valley!
Addie Koenig (Laura in Laura Ingalls) is happy to be returning for her 10th show with Festival including Grapes of Wrath and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She is on the competition team for her dance studio in Luck and was Miss Wisconsin in 2013. She likes crafting and music in her free time and is excited to keep on performing.
Emma Kravig (Costume Coordinator for Private Lives) is excited to work her second summer at Festival Theatre, after assisting with costumes last year. 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
Rachel Kuhnle (Costumes for On Golden Pond, Director of SantaLand) is thrilled to be returning to Festival Theatre. A third 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 and Josiah, for being awesome.
Zack Lee (Colonel Mustard in Clue) grew up in Glenburn, North Dakota. He received his undergraduate degree from Valley City State University and his Masters of Theatre Arts from the University of North Dakota. He is based out of Minneapolis and is excited to be in his second show at Festival Theatre after performing as Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath. When he's not busy at the Theatre he enjoys disc golf and the scenery of the St Croix Valley.
Abi Leveille (Stage Manager and Properties for Private Lives, Properties for Steel Magnolias, Props Design for On Golden Pond & SantaLand, Stage Manager for Laura Ingalls) graduated from Lawrence University with a BA in Theatre Arts. Since starting with Festival in 2015, she has worked as an actor, stage manager and properties designer. Some favorite shows include Steel Magnolias (Props), Private Lives (Stage Manager, Props), Treasure Island (Auntie Nan), and A Streetcar Named Desire (Eunice). She would like to thank her friends and family for their incredible support from near and far.
Robbye Lewis (Ouiser in Steel Magnolias, Ethel Thayer in On Golden Pond)moved to the Twin Cities in June, 2015 from Tennessee to pursue her acting career. She is currently an ensemble member in the mystery improv troupe, Dinner Detective and has recently completed a TV pilot for a drama series, For Art's Sake. She is also a member of The Actor's Workout at the Guthrie. This summer she appeared as Ouiser in Festival's production of Steel Magnolias. Recent favorite roles include Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Ethel Savage in The Curious Savage and Dora Strang in Equus. She is a 2005 graduate of the Chattanooga State Professional Actor Training Program.
David Markson (Scenic Design for Clue, Steel Magnolias, On Golden Pond) has been doing set design and scenic painting for Festival Theatre for the past seven 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.
Greg Marsten (Charlie Martin in On Golden Pond) is new to the Festival stage but has a lengthy background in regional radio and voice production. He has worked as a radio host, emcee, bartender, sports writer, author, photographer, columnist, narrator, elected official and even as a nanny. Greg is currently a feature writer and news reporter for the Inter-County Leader, while writing a novel (for five, ahem, years). He lives outside Luck with two dogs, two cats and a slowly falling mouse population. Acting on the Festival stage is on his 'Bucket List' - "Starting at the top, like going to the Prom with a supermodel/scientist!"
Ed Moersfelder (Norman Thayer Jr in On Golden Pond) first appeared in Festival’s 2008 production of Arsenic and Old Lace. Most recently he appeared as Grandpa in The Grapes of Wrath, and Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. 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, wonderful Festival Theatre Artists, Buddy, and Carter The Cat.
Kim Murphy (Costume Design for Clue, Laura Ingalls) 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. 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.
Elliana Naegelen (Mary in Laura Ingalls) is a Freshman grown up in the St. Croix Valley, and has been involved in 8 Festival Theatre productions within the last 4 years, Aesop’s Fables, Snow White, Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, and most recently A Christmas Carol. She just wrapped up her 6 year piano experience, and is interested in learning guitar. After trying multiple athletics she has concluded that acting is her sport. She thanks her mom for doing her various hair-dos for every performance, and everyone else in the community who has been kind enough to support her over the years!
Daniel Olson (Mr. Boddy in Clue, Bill Ray in On Golden Pond) is thrilled to be back at Festival Theatre in On Golden Pond having had so much fun this summer as Mr. Body in Clue: The Musical. His most recent work includes Petruchio in Kiss Me Kate with Fridley Community Theatre, Fridley, MN, Bamatabois/Brujon in Les Misérables with Artistry, Bloomington, MN, Jack/Jesus in Reefer Madness the Musical with Minneapolis Musical Theatre, Minneapolis, MN. Favorite roles include, Harold Hill in The Music Man, Sir Evelyn Oakley in Anything Goes and Don Quixote, in Man Of LaMancha at Festival Theatre. Daniel thanks his husband Tom for always being willing to run lines and for his unending love and support.
Jessica Passaro (Chelsea Thayer Wayne in On Golden Pond) is making her Festival Theatre debut. Jessica has a BFA in Musical Theatre from Shenandoah Conservatory. She has worked in theatres in MN, VA, NYC, MO, and the UK in a variety of capacities, and is currently the Stabilizer (aka Accountant) for CLIMB Theatre. Regional: Walking Shadow: The Christians; Trompe L'oeil: The Non-Producers; SPOG: If Only; Fitzgerald Theatre /Cardinal Theatricals: The Wild Party, Signature Theatre (VA): Follies; Way Off Broadway Theatre (MD): FORUM; Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre: West Side, Peter Pan, Secret Garden; NYC: SI Shakespearean: Midsummer, Night of the Iguana; Snug Harbor Theatre: OLIVER, Guys & Dolls, The Studio Theater: Three-Play; Sundog Theatre Co: Charlotte’s Web.
Sherry Pearce (Clairee in Steel Magnolias, Mrs. Starr in Laura Ingalls) began studying theatre and auditioning for professional shows after retiring from her secretarial job at the North Branch School District. She writes and performs Christian Bible-based dramas throughout nearby states. When not engaged in theatrical pursuits, Sherry busies herself taking care of her husband, Chuck (kind of a mutual caretaking process); singing at a local nursing home; and making one-of-a-kind jewelry.
Ryan Pierce (Professor Plum in Clue) is making his Festival Theatre debut! He has appeared in In the Next Room, Metamorphoses, Love & Information, and several other productions at Luther College where he is majoring in Theatre. He would like to thank God for all His blessings and second chances, his family for their endless support, and his loving friends and girlfriend for giving him a reason to perform. Enjoy the show!
Tyler Reinert (Scenic Design for Private Lives) is a scenic designer currently based out of Chicago. He gratudated from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA and is excited to work with Cory and Andrew again. Enjoy the show!
Laura Seed (Costume Design for Steel Magnolias) has lived close to St. Croix Falls most of her life. She is a local artist who was taught in many mediums from a young age. Laura is a surealist painter and sculptor who also loves to create sets, props and costumes. She is currently working on her 18th play for the local wonder that is Festival Theatre. Some of her past shows with Festival include, Crazy For You (Properties Design, 2013), The 39 Steps (Properties Design, 2014), Little Shop of Horrors (Properties Design/ Plant Costumes, 2015), and Treasure Island (Costume Design, 2016).
Sharon Seo (Piano for Clue) is an accomplished and experienced Korean-Canadian pianist. Sharon has performed recital, chamber music, choir, and opera throughout South Korea, Canada, United States, Germany, and Italy. She graduated with her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance at Brandon University in Canada. In 2014, she studied and played at the Belcanto Summer Program in Munich, Germany. In 2015, she participated as an opera pianist of the Accademia Europea Dell’Opera, in Lucca, Italy. She recieved her Master of Music, Collaborative Piano & Coaching at University of Minnesota and is continuing for her Doctorate.
Alexis Slater (Laura in Laura Ingalls) appeared in Festival Theatre’s production of Treasure Island las spring. She has appeared in 101 Dalmations as Perdita, Sleeping Beauty as Aurora and Gertrude McFuzz in Seussical Jr with the Grantsburg Summer School program in Grantsburg, WI. Alexis is a 7th grader in Grantsburg who is also involved in 4H, basketball, volleyball, band, choir and soccer.
Josh Stirrat (Johnny Steadman in Laura Ingalls) has been involved with many Festival Theatre Christmas productions since 2012, including It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates, and A Christmas Carol. Josh loves theatre and improvisational comedy and rarely misses an opportunity to be involved in either one. He's excited to be back this season to work again with the Festival cast and crew.
Jennie Ward (Director of Steel Magnolias) has directed many shows at Festival Theatre, including Proof, The Mystery of Irma Vep, Voice of the Prairie, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Noises Off. Locally, she has assisted at the Guthrie and the Jungle, directed readings at the Playwrights Center, and taught for the U of M’s BFA Acting Program, the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, and Hamline University. Jennie was a Robert Moss Directing Resident at Playwrights Horizons (NYC) and is a member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab (NYC.) She earned her MFA in Directing from the American Repertory Theatre/Moscow Art Theatre School Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University.
Peter Weber (Technical Director, Stage Manager, Lighting and Sound Design) is a St. Croix Falls native who graduated from Northland College in Ashland, WI with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Arts. At Northland Peter 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. He has become an integral part of the Festival team and has a hand in every production in some (if not many) capacities.
Josh Weisenburger (Mr. Green in Clue, Victor in Private Lives) is appearing in his first summer with Festival Theatre. He is in the process of getting his BA from Luther College. Josh would like to thank his cast mates for making the process a wonderful experience, his parents for feeding and clothing him, and Lis, Kelly, and Maggie for all their help and advice.
Shelley Whitehead (Mrs. White in Clue, M’Lynn in Steel Magnolias) is a Colorado native who has made Minnesota her home. She has a Master’s of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in directing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Throughout the years her favorite roles have been Lotty Wilkins in Enchanted April, Bloody Mary in South Pacific and Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. She is so excited to be working with Festival Theater this summer. Shelley would like to thank her boys for their love and support. She would not be able to follow her dream without them.
Per Wiger (Pa in Laura Ingalls) is a writer and actor currently based out of Las Cruces. He is thrilled to be working with Festival Theatre for the first time. He has previously worked for the National Theatre for Children and theatres across the midwest.