Meet Festival Theatre's 2016 Summer Company!
Elizabeth Albers (Properties for Clue, Sibyl in Private Lives, Shelby in Steel Magnolias) 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, and A Christmas Carol. This spring she also played Rose of Sharon in The Grapes of Wrath. She would like to thank her family and friends for being such stellar support!r.
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.
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.
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.
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) is a theatre and visual artist, and Festival Theatre's Former 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 eighth season at Festival. Originally from Minneapolis, MN, Jaclyn now resides in Madison, 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.
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
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) graduated from Lawrence University and has worked with Festival since early 2015. At Festival she has appeared in Treasure Island, The Grapes of Wrath and A Streetcar Named Desire. Last year she stage managed for A Christmas Carol and Complete Works. She loves doing improv and has performed with Sew Good Improv, Black Dirt Improv, and the Optimistic Feral Children. She would like to thank her family and friends, near and far, for their amazing encouragement.
Robbye Lewis (Ouiser in Steel Magnolias) moved to the Twin Cities a year ago from Tennessee to pursue her acting career. She is currently an ensemble member in the mystery improv troupe, “Dinner Detective” and has just finished a TV pilot for a drama series, “For Art's Sake”. She is also a member of The Actor's Workout. 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) 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.
Kim Murphy (Costume Design for Clue) 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.
Daniel Olson (Mr. Boddy in Clue) is thrilled to be back at Festival Theatre. He last appeared during the summer of 2012 as Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha. 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 and 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 of course Don Quixote. Daniel thanks his husband Tom for always being willing to run lines and for his unending love and support.
Sherry Pearce (Clairee in Steel Magnolias) 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.
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. 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.
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.