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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato
Theatre & Dance

Alumni

Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/theatre/alumni/

Department alumni featured in Today magazine.

Most Recent Alumni (and Former Student) Updates

Claire Wellin

Degree: BFA Musical Theatre
Graduation Date: 2008
Comments: Claire Wellin performed the role of "Reza" in the Broadway production of Once in March, April and May 2013. Although a planned short-term substitution, it has led to her reviving the role on a national tour of Once beginning in October 2013. A Bismarck, ND, native, Wellin appeared in many lead roles while at Minnesota State Mankato.  Among those were “Ophelia” in Hamlet, “Beauty” in Beauty and the Beast and “Dainty June” in Gypsy, earning Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship nominations for all three.  She was also “Elma Duckworth” in Bus Stop, “Jamima” in Cats, “Wendy Darling” in Peter Pan and “St. Joan” in The Lark, among others.

Erin (Drevlow) Weichel

Degree: B.S. Theatre
Graduation Date: 2005
Comments: Erin (Drevlow) Weichel is a now a music and theater teacher at a Private school in Bismarck, North Dakota.  She has been the artistic director for Capitol Shakespeare for the last five years, directing Twelfth Night, Merchant of Venice, Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.  She has also directed and choreographed shows for colleges in the Bismarck area including The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Titanic and A Man of No Importance. She also was recognized at the regional American College Theater Festival convention for her movement/dialect coaching of the play Comic Potential.  She teaches "Shakespeare in the Classroom" for Capitol Shakespeare in which she goes into classrooms and helps the students decipher and understand Shakespeare.  She lives in Bismarck with her husband Justin.

Stacy (Lipps) Hanson

Degree: B.S. Dance
Graduation Date: 2009
Comments: Stacy lives in Red Wing with with husband, working as a dance instructor for Shoreline Dance Studio in Red Wing since 2009. She has nannied for two years, and acted in three dramas (each drama consisted of five days start to finish). She also taught a High School Dance workshop. Stacy was also recently hired as the Director of the Arts Alive Program in the Red Wing, Public School District, charged with choosing the Arts Alive theme, getting kids excited about participating in various areas of the arts, writing grants, marketing, working with the kids (elementary age) by choreographing group numbers, coaching (encouraging) their creativity, and directing the stage show at the historic Sheldon Theatre.

Akia Shenise

Degree: MFA Musical Theatre
Graduation Date: 2006
Comments: Akia Shenise currently lives in New York City and has been in shows such as Smokey Joe’s Café, Beehive: A '60s Musical, A…My name is Alice, a national tour with American Theatre Arts for the Youth’s Black Journey and a New York-based  company, Grandparent’s Around the World,  production of Dinner At Grandma's. She was recently a featured artist in 4 Divas of the Wiregrass production. Akia will start her upcoming production I Am Woman February 2012 at the Dothan Opera House. She is currently a member of the band Gypsy Moon Experience and Professional Step Team, Soul Steps LLC, specializing in make-up artistry, graphic arts and costumes. Akia is also writer and creator of Gluten-Soy-Dairy-Free Food Blog Diva's Delicious Delights. As a choreographer, she choreographed for several live events, musicals, videos, dance productions, performing arts schools and recording artists such as Brooklyn R&B Group Krowz Hill.

Received July 2011

Laura Yost

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2005
Comments: Directly after graduating Laura went on the road with Broadway Jr. on Tour for nine months. Following that, she spent time at Millbrook Playhouse in Lock Haven, PA, where she was Company Manager, andwas also in the productions of Bye, Bye, Birdie and A (tooth) Fairy Tale. In New York City, she has made touring theatre her profession, currently serving as the Equity Tour Manager for The Booking Group, representing such touring shows as Book of Mormon, Memphis, Anything Goes, Beauty and the Beast and Mamma Mia, among many others. (Thank you, Paul Hustoles, for everything I learned in Theatre Management!) She I can't say the acting bug has gone away completely; this spring she was in a production of Avenue of the Americas, more recently, she was able to work with fellow alums Chris Kind and Oliver Thrun in Oliver's play Dead-Nosed, which was featured in the Samuel French Off Off Broadway Festival.

Bryan Gerber

Degree: BA Dance
Graduation Date: December 2006
Comments: Bryan Gerber is currently a company member with Ballet of the Dolls which is home at the Ritz theater in NE Minneapolis.  Since graduating he has performed with companies like Arena Dances, Off-Leash Area, Jeffrey Peterson Dance, Christopher Watson Dance Company, Cade Holmseth, Cathy Wright, InKline Dance and Kinetic Evolutions.  He had the pleasure of performing in a production of The Pearl Fishers on the Ordway stage at the Minnesota Opera with Zenon Dance Company and was guest artist at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls for three years.  During his time there, he also taught dance part time.  His choreography has been presented at the American College Dance Festival, Kinetic Kitchen, Dances at the Lakes Festival, Patrick's Cabaret, the Ritz Theater, North Hennepin Community College, and the Midwest Arts Conference.  Recently, he was guest artist for the Zenon Dance Company and School Block E scholarship program.  Bryan recently produced Project 515, a collaborative work of song, theatre and dance, with the Flower Shop Project, at Patrick's Cabaret in the fall.  Further, he is now producing a touring version of Project 515 that was awarded funds through the General Mills Foundation.  This fall, he is looking to make his big break in NYC on Broadway.

Andrea Bilkey

Degree: BS Theatre Production
Graduation Date: 1995
Comments: The fall of 2011 will be the start of Andrea Bilkey’s 10th year at Texas Tech University where she is an Associate Professor teaching lighting, sound and 2D/3D computer drafting.  A 2002 MFA graduate in Lighting Design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002, she continues to design lighting and sound for the department as well as a local singer/songwriter/playwright/director.  Last year she began serving as the Vice Commissioner for Communications for the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) and will continue in the role for this year.  While learning about communication/promotion through social media, she began writing guest spots for iSquint.net, entertainment lighting news and review.

Nikki Swoboda

Degree: MFA Directing
Graduation Date: August 2010
Comments: Immediately after graduating from Minnesota State Mankato, Nikki Swoboda worked at the nationally renowned theatre, Kansas City Starlight Theatre, as Assistant Director for The Producers (also featuring Minnesota State Mankato alum Jerry Jay Cranford) and starring Tony Award-winner Roger Bart as Leo Bloom.  She directed and choreographed a sold-out and extended run of White Christmas at the Duluth Playhouse in Duluth, MN, and then moved to New York City and attended professional networking workshops at Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Performance Space 122 and the New Dramatists before going to Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, as a guest artist to choreograph Babes in Arms under the direction of Melissa Rainn Anderson, who appeared in the Babes in Arms remount on Broadway in 1999.  While at Nazareth the she was asked to take over the course load for the injured head of dance became injured.  After finishing the semester, she directed Reasons to be Pretty by Neil LaBute at the Renegade Theatre Company, then choreographed Falsettos at the Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis.  This summer, she took over as Summer Theatre Director at Breck School and Director/Choreographer for Yellow Tree Theatre’s Treehouse Production, a program that, through the help of the Legacy Fund, enables 40 metro high schoolers to write, tech, design and perform an original musical in four weeks.  In September she is choreographing Miss Nelson is Missing for Stages Theatre Company in September.  Most recently, she has accepted a wonderful (and challenging) task at St. Catherine’s University as Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre for a brand new program.  She will design and implement curriculum as well as do everything she can to grow the program.

Pat Rowan

Degree: BS Theatre
Graduation Date: May 1997
Comments: After graduating, Pat Rowan traveled around the country for close to a year performing a self-produced children’s theatre show in 26 states.  Back in Twin Cities, he spent time performing and working at various regional theatres including Theatre L’Homme Dieu, The Peninsula Players, St. Croix Valley Summer Theatre, Season’s Dinner Theatre and Hennepin Stages.  For two years he performed in multiple national tours with Minneapolis-based National Theatre for Children, where he has worked his way up and now holds the position of Vice President, Production and Operations.  NTC creates, develops and tours professional quality educational children's theatre programs for clients all across the country.  Pat is responsible for all aspects and distribution of NTC programs including but not limited to: live events, television, video, digital media, social media and printed materials.  Also as a contributing member of the NTC Executive staff, he is responsible for overseeing the daily operations and all aspects of NTC Production, including but not limited to: budgets, directing, casting & hiring, actor training, troupe logistics, on-the-road tour management, travel, print/web development and leading weekly tactical staff meetings.  NTC hires up to 80 young professional actors every year so he attends all the regional auditions, such as TCUTA, SETC, UPTA and even holds their own auditions in New York City twice a year where he does all the casting.  He also had the pleasure of being the Producer for the nationally syndicated weekly TV show M@dAbout®, filming Season 1 in the summer of 2010 and set to air Season 2 in September 2011.  He says he has hired and worked with many Mankato theatre students throughout the years.  He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife of 10 years, fellow Minnesota State Mankato Music alum, Jennifer (Geelan) Rowan, their 8-year old twin daughters and in May of 2011, they welcomed a baby boy into their family.

Seth Larkin

Degree: BS Theatre Production
Graduation Date: 2007?
Comments: Seth Larkin has been touring with Networks Presentations for the last three years.  Thanks to Paul Finocchiaro for opening that door to me via fellow alum Corey Krolikowski.  He has toured as an assistant on Annie and South Pacific, and as the Head Carpenter (TD) on Annie (second season) and Spring Awakening, and is currently Head Carpenter on Disney's Beauty and the Beast.  He has toured with Minnesota State Mankato alumni Corey Krolikowski, Tim Bergstrom and Cheryl Hoffmann.  Life on the road was preceded by stints as Master Carpenter at the Tennessee Repertory Theatre in Nashville, TN, and ATD at Alpine Theatre Project.

Kate (Gilhooly) Szczepaniak

Degree: BS Theatre
Graduation Date: 2000
Comments: After touring with CLIMB Theatre, Prairie Fire Theatre & Missoula Children's Theatre, Kate (Gilhooly) Szczepaniak fell in love with teaching and out of love with living in hotels.  She earned a Master of Arts in Education and is now a Drama Specialist with the Evanston School District in Illinois.  She’s been directing several plays a year and is active in the Illinois Theatre Association where she planned a Theatre In Or Schools conference in conjunction with IEA and AATE (the American Alliance for Theatre in Education).  Right now she’s also being kept busy by the cutest baby in the world—she and her husband Mike had their son Connor in early July!

Randy Wyatt

Degree: MFA Directing
Graduation Date: 2007
Comments: Randy Wyat, is heading into his fifth year of chairing the Theatre Program at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI, which includes plenty of teaching, directing and administrating.  Last year he directed Life Is A Dream, the new musical Nevermore, about Edgar Allan Poe, and Melanie Marnich’s These Shining Lives.  Also the Literary Manager for Actor’s Theatre of Grand Rapids, he has been in contact with a wide variety of playwrights.  He created the Pipeline Reading Series last year and directed readings of new work by Audra Lord, Vince Delaney, Steve Feffer, Jacqueline Goldsmith and Noah Haidle.  Next year he directs a premiere of Vince Delaney's new work Ampersand at Actor’s.  He’s staying busy as a playwright too.  He just received word that his award-winning adaptation Alice in Wonderland (And Back Again) has been picked up for publication by YouthPLAYS Inc, and his children’s play Robin Hood and the Heroes of Sherwood Forest ran to sold-out audiences at Magic Circle Theatre this past June.  In early July he was in Silverton, CO, working on his latest play, Black Friday as part of the New Artists’ Series sponsored by A Theatre Group.  In addition, he’s working on a self-published collection of short work called “Tiny Catastrophes.” 

Jessica (Haug) Fillbrandt

Degree: BS Theatre Production
Graduation Date: 2005
Comments: Since graduating from Minnesota State Mankato, Jessica Haug Fillbrandt has stage managed for St. Croix Festival Theatre in St. Croix, WI, and New Breath Productions in St. Paul, MN; was the technical director for Brave New Workshop for almost a year and currently is a volunteer for Minnesota Fringe Festival.  She lives in beautiful urban St. Paul (represent!) with husband and fellow alum Mike Fillbrandt and works as an accountant for a computer hardware wholesaler.

Matt Davis

Degree: BS Theatre Performance
Graduation Date: 2007
Comments: Matt Davis worked for two years out of Minnesota State Mankato as the Associate Artistic Director for Playhouse Merced, in California. Currently he lives in Denver and is the Managing Director of Theater Hikes Colorado as well as a director and choreographer for the Rocky Mountain Theater for Kids. He also works for a school district in Denver as a paraprofessional and after-school activities director.

Cheryl Hoffmann

Degree: B.A./B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2001
Comments: In August and September 2011 appeared in Oklahoma! at Bloomington Community Theatre, appearing with 2010 alum Mathias Becker.  In April 2010 she finished touring with the national tour of Annie (which was directed by Tony Award winner Martin Charnin and choreographed by Liza Gennaro) completing 551 performances in 202 cities in the U.S. And eight provinces of Canada in 81 weeks over a three-year period.  She had the privilege of working with two Minnesota State Mankato alumni on the road as well who worked on the crew: Corey Krolikowski and Seth Larkin.  She is now back in Minneapolis after nine years on the road.  She works at UnityWorks!Media in Bloomington doing voiceover work and some web video work.  Check out some commercials and voiceover work at her web site: www.CherylHoffmann.com

Jim Schiffman

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1989
Comments: Jim Schiffman and his company, Schiffelly Puppets, won three Upper Midwest Emmy Awards Sept. 25, 2010, at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis.  They won for Children (12 and Under) single story/feature segment for “Kids & Government’s Biggest Fan” and program/special/series for “Lakeville Kids & Government” program.  In addition, Schiffman won for on-camera talent, performer/narrator. This is not the first Emmy win for Schiffelly Puppets.  They won in 2008 in the Children/Youth category for their Lakeville Kids & Government program that appears on the Lakeville Government Channel and on the city’s website.  That was their second Emmy.  While attending Minnesota State Mankato, Schmiffman appeared WITH a puppet, the man-eating plant Audrey, in Little Shop of Horrors.  He played the dentist.

Christopher Arn Kind

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2001 to 2005
Comments: Christopher Arn Kind of Mankato starred in the Minneapolis Musical Theatre (MMT) production of Evil Dead: The Musical in October 2010 at the Illusion Theater in downtown Minneapolis.  MMT presented the area premiere of this humorous Off-Broadway show.  He appeared as “Ash,” the lead of the story who wavers between cowardice and heroism.  MFA Lighting Design alum Grant Merges did lighting design for the production. Evil Dead: The Musical combines the zaniest elements of the classic Sam Raimi horror films, Evil Dead 1, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, and sets them to music to create a campy, high-energy theatrical experience that comes complete with a Splatter Zone.  Minnesota State Mankato presented the show in December 2010 in its second Studio season show of this academic year.

Mick Coughlan

Degree: BFA Design/Technology
Graduation Date: 2007
Comments: Mick Coughlan just completed his fourth season with the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC, where he works as the properties run crew for one of their two spaces.  In his typical workaholic fashion, he is working on the first few shows (two new musicals in repertory) at the 2008 Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre (where he has worked as a Properties Artisan for three seasons).  In his abundance of spare time, Mick also works at Ford's Theatre, Arena Stage and occasionally other DC metro area theatres and production companies.  Mick has two cats, Caligula and Rasputin, and is still with his partner of five years, Bach.   He enjoyed sharing in the department's successful performance of The Odyssey in April 2011 with his alma mater.

Steve Corona

Degree: MFA Acting
Graduation Date: 2004-2006
Comments: Since his last update, Steve Corona has added another Corona to the family, a son, Liam.  She joins 2-year old daughter Ava.  Steve had guest starring roles on the TV shows “Crash” and “Breaking Bad,” and last year did voiceover for an animated, educational golf video for kids in which he played TWELVE different characters!  He also narrated the documentary “Proving Grounds,” which is about MMA & the world-famous Jackson’s Gym in Albuquerque, and for a few months did some voiceover for a company that had a contract with the South Koreans and their English as a Second Language program.  He played professors giving lectures at an American University.  This year he played two roles in the pilot webisode of “Netskits,” a sketch comedy web series, and acted in the SAG short film “Low Tide in the High Desert” – which won the Audience Favorite award at this year’s Roswell International Sci-Fi Film Festival.  His comedy improv group, “Chain of Fools,” performs live in New Mexico.  He continues to do as much voiceover, stage and film acting as possible while also dialect coaching and teaching various acting classes.

Zillah Glory (Langsjoen)

Degree: B.A./B.S. Theatre Arts
Graduation Date: 2002
Comments: Zillah Glory (Langsjoen), who appeared in Death of a Salesman and Lion in Winter, among many others, returned to Highland Summer Theatre 2011 to star as “Doris” in Bill Manhoff’s The Owl and the Pussycat.  In 2002, she earned top Classical Acting honors at KCACTF’s Region V Festival.  Among her stage credits are the title character in Eurydice and “Eliante” in The Misanthrope for The New Repertory Theatre and Smokey Joe’s Café at Circa ‘21.  In addition, she was “Carly” in the film adaptation of the popular books “Conversations with God” and has done several commercials and voiceovers.  She received the Metrolina Awards’ Best Actress in a Comedy 2006 for her portrayal of “Alex” in On the Verge.  This was her first appearance at the Minnesota State Mankato Department of Theatre & Dance since the Andreas Theatre’s opening production Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in summer 2000, in which she played “Maggie.”

Allen Wright Shannon

Degree: MFA Scene Design
Graduation Date: 2009
Comments: Allen Wright Shannon has completed his first year as Assistant Professor of Theatre/Resident Scenic Designer at Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y.  This followed one year as Assistant Professor of Theatre at Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas.  He returned for Highland Summer Theatre 2011 to serve as Scenic Designer for Annie.  While a student here, Shannon designed sets for several shows, including Hamlet, Lysistrata and Cats, as well as starring as “Old Deuteronomy” in the latter.  Nazareth College has been named one of the top 10 schools (of its size) in the nation and is ranked 6th for Undergraduate Theatre education.

Dani Friedman

Degree: B.A./B.S. Dance
Graduation Date: 2009
Comments: Dani Friedman has been hired as the Dance Specialist at Linwood Monroe Arts Plus in the St. Paul Public Schools.  Linwood Monroe Arts Plus provides arts-infused curriculum for children pre-K through grade 8 on two campuses. She will be working at the 4-8th grade campus at the school where she did an internship.  Before graduating in December 2009, she spent the summer interning for the National Dance Educational Organization in Silver Spring, MD.  While interning, Dani attended the NDEO National Conference in New York City and the ClancyWorks Dance Educators Institute Conference in Baltimore, MD.  After graduation, Dani has taught in many schools in Minnesota, including Brooklyn Center Junior/Senior High School, Southwest High School (Minneapolis) and St. Clair Elementary.

Michael James

Degree: MFA Directing
Graduation Date: Spring 2011
Comments: Michael James will return to his dancer/choreographer/musical theatre roots as he takes a position at Texas Christian University this fall.  In his first semester he will teach Beginning and Advanced Jazz for Musical Theatre and the Honors course in Survey of American Musical Theatre.  At TCU Michael will be joining two other faculty with ties to MSU: Alan Shorter, a 2001 MFA Directing graduate and Jennifer Engler, former theatre/dance faculty member who directed such plays as Guys and Dolls and The Philadelphia Story.  Most recently, James directed Clue: The Musical and appeared as FDR in Annie for Highland Summer Theatre 2011.

Benji Inniger

Degree: MFA Sound Design
Graduation Date: 2010
Comments: Since graduation, Benji's primary full-time job has been as sound engineer at Trinity Rep Company in Providence, RI.  Trinity is a big and historic LORT (League of Resident Theatres) B and D theatre in downtown Providence. During the year he was also the resident sound designer for the Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA Program also in Providence.  For his fourth summer, he was sound engineer and designer at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, CT.  During his time at Minnesota State Mankato, Benji did sound designs for such shows as Miss Saigon and Hamlet.

J. Alexander Coe

Degree: BFA Musical Theatre
Graduation Date: Spring 2011
Comments: J. Alexander Coe, who just completed his four-show Highland Summer Theatre 2011 marathon, will spend the next nine months in Louisville, KY, as part of the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Acting Apprentice Company.  It is the same program that Katharine Moeller, 2008 BFA Musical Theatre graduate, participated in following graduation.  Now in its 40th year, the Acting Apprentice Company is one of the nation’s oldest pre-professional training programs.  Each year more than 2,000 young artists audition but only 22 are selected for the season-long residency at the Tony Award-winning home of the Humana Festival of New American Plays.

Jake Nathan

Degree: BFA Design/Technology
Graduation Date: Summer 2011
Comments: Jake Nathan, from Owatonna, MN, has been hired as a rigger for the Cirque du’Soleil “O” production in Las Vegas, NV.   Riggers are responsible for inspection, maintenance and fabrication of all of the cables and equipment that handles cables.  Because the rigging crew works both in the 1.5 million gallon tank of water and on dry areas of the sets, he underwent SCUBA, CPR, First Aid and other diving certification before joining the crews that run the show.  The job offer came about when Nathan was interviewing for an internship.

Jerry Jay Cranford

Degree: MFA Directing
Graduation Date: Spring 2010
Comments: Jerry Jay Cranford has been busy since he graduated.  His life in his home of Kansas City, MO, has been filled with acting, directing, choreographing and teaching, including:
     He performed numerous roles in The Producers at Starlight Theatre; appearing as Max and dancer/ensemble in Cabaret for Kansas City Repertory Theatre; appearing as Man 1 in 39 Steps at American Heartland Theatre; and playing Jacob and Potiphar in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at The New Theatre in Overland Park, KS.  He directed the Equity production of Forever Plaid for The American Heartland Theatre; Schoolhouse Rock Live! for The Barstow Academy (also choreographed); choreographed The Fantasticks for The Jewish Community Center; musical staging for Equity production of No Way To Treat a Lady at The American Heartland Theatre; and choreographer for Once on This Island for The Jewish Community Center.  And he has taught musical theatre camps for The Barstow Academy and The Jewish Community Center; adjunct faculty at Johnson County Community College in spring 2011; and taught movement for the George Caleb Bingham Academy of the Arts, Independence, MO.

Jill (Starzecki) Flaherty

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1993-1998
Comments: Jill Flaherty is living la vida loca in Lakeville, MN, along with the orange-belted ballerina 1st grader (Meagan), her wonderful spouse of 10 years and counting (Brady), and a large cat that resembles a pillow with legs.  She is working as an IT contractor; she finished an assignment with US Bank as a Project Coordinator and is proud to have just started her latest assignment, Quality Assurance Lead at 3M.  She also teaches group fitness classes at Olympus 24 and tries to promote the use of jazz hands as much as humanly possible.

Rick Anderson

Degree: Other Degree Minor - Theatre
Graduation Date: 1988
Comments: Rick Anderson will rejoin the National Tour of Mamma Mia! in October 2011.  He has been touring with Broadway productions for the past 20 years.  Productions he has been part of include Rent (original Broadway company), The Producers, Stomp, and Legally Blonde: The Musical.  He is the Executive Producer of Gaydar Productions, which has had productions in Minneapolis and Seattle, including the box office record-breaking production of Naked Boys Singing! (directed by Minnesota State Mankato alum Trent Boyum).

Stephanie (Gould) Jeffrey

Degree: B.A./B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2000
Comments: Stephanie (Gould) Jeffrey and her husband, Joe, continue to perform weekly with the murder-mystery dinner theatre company that they've now been with for over seven years — even though Stephanie is pregnant, with twins!  She was also recently cast in the original drama “Pulling Leather” at the Actors’ Forum in North Hollywood, which opens in September.  After that, Stephanie plans to focus on getting a new TV agent for both herself and the babies.

Oliver Thrun

Degree: B.A./B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2002
Comments: Oliver Thrun, a native of St. Clair, is a resident actor/writer at Theater for the New City in New York where his first two full-length plays, Adam of the Apes and Gods at the End of the World, premiered.  Adam of the Apes received its second production by Haberdasher Theater Inc. for their 2011 season.  His third full-length play, Daniel and Spencer: Friends Forever, was produced by The Claque for their inaugural Quick and Dirties workshop performance series.  His short play, Dead-Nosed, was a finalist in the 2011 Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival.  He is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.

Shannon (Zeig) Ryan

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1999
Comments: Shannon Zeig moved to the Twin Cities after graduation, where she worked at WCCO Radio and performed in Tony & Tina's Wedding at Hey City Stage.  In 2000, she moved to San Jose, CA, and started working at eBay.  She continued to do theatre steadily and landed her first Equity role.  In 2007 she married Tim Ryan (who she'd met playing softball) and they welcomed their first child, Zoe Marie Ryan, this past September.

Tharen Callanan

Degree: BA/BS in Theatre Arts
Graduation Date: 2007
Comments:
Tharen Callanan is currently deployed to Afghanistan and is working for the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan on a Movement Team (moving personnel from A to B and providing security).  He has been accepted to George Washington University for graduate school when he returns to the U.S.

Sara Nett

Degree: Women's Studies, with a minor in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2004
Comments:
Sara Nett got married two years ago and currently lives in her hometown of Burlington, ND.  After returning to North Dakota in 2008, she spent 18 months developing and heading a Supervised Visitation Program in Minot.  In the summer of 2009 she left that position, and currently owns Nice Designs, Inc., which will be releasing its first line of women's clothing under the Repurposed and Original Artistic Rags (ROAR) Clothing and Accessories label in the spring of 2012.  She is also working on a line of all-natural bath products and candles under the Prairie Naturals label.  She and her husband have two cats and a dog, and are currently rebuilding her parents’ home in Burlington that was damaged in the June 2011 flood.

Ashley FitzSimmons

Degree: BFA Musical Theatre
Graduation Date: 2006
Comments:
Ashley Fitzsimmons is working as a performer, teaching artist and choreographer in the Seattle area.  As of this writing in late July 2011, she was about to finish a run of Jesus Christ Superstar at Village Theatre, directed by Tony Award and Puliter Prize winner Brian Yorkey (writer/lyricist of Next To Normal).  Over the past few years she has worked for Village Theatre in many shows and readings.  Some of her recent Northwest credits include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee as Olive with Contemporary Classics/RK Productions, The 5th Avenue Theatre's AMT original musical Rosie The Riveter, Village Theatre's The Full Monty as Pam Lukowski and film/commercial work for many local companies, including Microsoft.  She also teaches creative drama, creative movement, musical theatre and dance for Youth Theatre Northwest, and is a freelance choreographer in the Seattle area.  She has performed in several editions of Contemporary Classics’ New Voices series, which showcases brand new songs from up-and-coming writers, featuring many world premiere performances.  Check out the Contemporary Classics YouTube channel at http://youtu.be/hFXMZ5YuvW8.  

Kelly Wells

Attended: 1996-2000 in Theatre Arts
Comments: Kelly Wells is married to Kathy (Thorne) Wells and has two daughters, the first of which happened unexpectedly and stopped a planned move to New York, besides derailing the whole theatre thing for a while.  From 2005-2007 Kelly performed in LICK!, Cannibal: The Musical and Psycho Beach Party, all productions of The Mechanical Division, in Minneapolis and St. Paul.  Kelly made his feature acting debut in a troubled film called “Forbidden Fruit,” which went straight to video and taught him that almost 90% of the people in the industry are full of BS, though it's still loads of fun.  Kelly wrote and directed a comedic murder mystery play called Playing Possum that was met with popular acclaim in Eastern Washington and he currently has a sitcom called “Public Access” in development while he polishes a feature film script, “Ten Deaths,” that he hopes to sell in the coming year.  His IMDb page is very widely searched, although this is probably due to the fact that he shares his name with a female porn star.

Hollie Ackerson

Degree: BA in Theatre Arts
Graduation Date: 2000
Comments: Hollie Ackerson is working at 50 Below Sales & Marketing in Duluth, MN, primarily as host to all of their online seminars (webinars).  In addition, she does a lot of coaching for the staff to improve their ability to communicate effectively with our large variety of clients.  Other varied tasks include company voiceovers and web commercials, writing presentation content and some newsletter content for their clients, launching website programs for new clients and presenting marketing seminars at trades shows.  She writes, “When I began working here over four years ago, my boss said he planned on putting all of my acting and directing experience to use.  He has done a good job so far creating this position for me and utilizing what I learned at MSUM.”

Kalie French

Degree: BA/BS in Dance
Graduation Date: 2007
Comments: Kalie French is a tenured Performing Arts teacher in the Minneapolis Public School District.  Currently, she teaches dance at Sheridan Arts Magnet School as well as doing freelance choreography around the Twin Cities area.

 

Received September 2010

Justine Carroll

Degree: BA/BS in Theatre Performance
Graduation Date: 2007
Comments: Justine writes to tell us about her latest show, just in time for Halloween: Vampires! Horror! Table Salt Productions brings to Minneapolis the terrifyingly hilarious original musical: Vampires! Horror! It is a campy rock musical that gleefully rides the popularity of the "Twilight" series, the Anne Rice vampire books and such TV series as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel, "Moonlight" and "True Blood." Performances are Oct. 14-30 at Old Arizona, 2821 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis. Justine urges people to get tickets SOON!

Shawn Ashley (Howland)

Degree: BA/BS in Theatre Performance
Graduation Date: 2007
Comments: Shawn Ashley is working on a webseries called "Hollywood Girl" set to premiere at 9 p.m. on Oct. 3, 2010, on http://www.cineplexstudios.com Due to the overwhelming response to just the trailer, it has been picked up for a Season 2 already! She reports that this project earned her a SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card. See the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/user/HollywoodGirlTV?feature=mhum

Yvonne A. K. Johnson

Degree: MFA Directing
Graduation Date: 2000
Comments: For the five years leading up to September 2010, Yvonne has been "helping a theatre to reach its potential and beyond," which is Spokane Civic Theatre. She directed The Pirates of Penzance last fall and got good media coverage; this fall she's directing Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story and West Side Story. It seems to be all about "Stories" for Yvonne.

Received December 2009-January 2010

Paul Davidson

Degree: BFA in Technical Theatre
Graduation Date: 2008
Comments: I was the A2 in the AV Department at the Santa Fe Opera for the 2008 and 2009 season, from the fall of ‘08 to the spring of ’09. I worked for Royal Caribbean Cruise lines as an audio technician on the Mariner of the Seas, and now i am the head of the Audio Department for Northlight Theatre in Chicago IL. Just living the life and working in Chicago. You’ve gotta love full-time theatre jobs.

Joe Fellman

Degree: B.S. in Theatre B.S. in Theatre Arts
Graduation Date: Graduated 1998
Education Since MSU: MFA in Acting from Rutgers
Comments: Joe currently lives in the Bronx, NY. After graduating from MSU, Joe entered the MFA Acting program at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ, receiving his masters in 2002. For the past year he has been a company member of Radio Theatre (see www.radiotheatrenyc.com). The company is currently preparing for the 2010 season with a production of H.P.Lovecraft stories and "The Haunting of 85 E. 4th Street.” He was brought into the company by fellow MSU alumn, Anthony Crep, for a production of "Dracula" (which, coincidentally, they had done a production of together at MSU). Joe has appeared in numerous Off-off-Broadway shows in NYC as well as the television shows "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and "All My Children."

Mimi (Clausen) Gassert

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1997
Comments: It's hard to believe it has been 13 years since I graduated from MSU! I am currently living in Minnetonka, MN with my husband Gregg. We have 3 children. Joey is 4, Maddie is 2 and Macy is 4 months old. I have been a stay-at-home mom now for 4 years and absolutely love it! Before children, I worked full-time in the ministry with my husband at our church. For the past ten years, I have been singing/leading worship in my church as well as heading up the drama ministry. I have also done various print work and acting through agencies in Minneapolis for fun on the side since I graduated. Life is awesome!

Gina (Roberts) Geving

Degree: B.A in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1998-2002
Comments: Since my last update we welcomed our second child, Milo William, on March 14th, 2009. He is a wonderful little addition to our family!

Peggy (Michaelson) Lushine

Degree: Other Degree BS Humanities theatre & dance minors
Graduation Date: 2001
Comments: I'm working in the Box Office of Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, both in individual sales and group sales. I'm still event planning as Chief Creative Officer of Uncommon Gatherings and I'm doing lots of costuming for Eden Prairie Players.

Danielle Jennrich Merschman

Degree: B.A in Theatre BFA- Tech, lighting and scenic painting, minor in Art
Graduation Date: 2002-2006
Comments: This year I got married, moved to Winter Park, CO. Worked on my sixth year of shows at Centennial HS in Blaine, MN—“Zombie Prom.” OK, not my first choice. I just added my husband’s name to my last.

Lisa Nanni-Messegee

Graduation Date: Graduated in 1998
Comments: Lisa Nanni-Messegee is currently the Resident Director and Playwright for AFYP Stages, a non-profit, 501 C3 professional theatre company, based in Fairfax, VA. She has two shows currently on tour in Northern Virginia: “Street Smart: The Adventures of Polly Pedestrian” (traffic safety) and “Sally Surfer and the Wild Wild Web” (internet safety). “Polly” also had a premiere at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. in October. In addition to the touring repertory, her play “Doister 2000” (which had its world premiere in Mankato) performed in TheSpace at George Mason University and was produced by AFYP Stages in conjunction with Mason Festival of the Arts. She co-wrote another play called “Carol vs. Christmas” — which was set to open Dec. 19, 2009! The show had been postponed until the massive storm abated. Lisa is also co-screenwriting with her husband Todd. They work for Larry Levinson Productions and are currently in development for film projects with The Hallmark Channel and The Bible Network. Lisa continues to teach. She's an Adjunct Professor in the Theatre departments of George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College on Manassas and Annandale campuses.

Jacleen Olson

Comments: I've performed at Lyrics Arts in "Pump Boys In Dinettes" (directed by Shawn Ashley), in "Fiorello" at the Bloomington Civic Theatre, was in "Tony N' Tina's Wedding" with Actors Theatre of MN (with EJ Subkoviak), and most recently did A LOT of performances of "Let's Scrap Christmas" with the Seasons Dinner Theater. Keeping busy!!! Oh, and that whole wedding thing too.

Andy Owen

Comment: After college I lived in Mankato for about 7 more months and then moved back up to the Twin Cities to be a video game tester (my other passion apart from theatre). Within a period of a little more than a year I had been laid off, brought back as a Customer Support Lead, and then got a job as an Assistant Producer. Today I am working as an Associate Producer. The latest game I produced is Bakugan Battle Brawlers, based off a kid's toy and TV show. It’s not exactly what I had in mind when I was in the MSU Department of Theatre and Dance, but I do get aspects of that. I frequently work with voice actors, artists and writers to try and make the game as best as it can be. I also use some of the deadline, scheduling and budget management skills I developed in my time at MSU. One thing that I really learned in my time in the theatre is that there is nothing better than finishing a project and watching people enjoy what you've worked on so hard. To celebrate the Christmas spirit, I recently met up with Jennifer Steiskal to see one of the more interesting theatrical experiences I've had: “A Klingon Christmas Carol” at the Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis. I'm no Trekkie, but: QAPLA\'!

Jim Schiffman

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1989
Comments: 2009 was an interesting year for the Schiffman family. I won my 3rd Emmy Award for our Lakeville Kids and Government program. I also began serving on the Upper Midwest Emmy Chapter Board of Governors. Hey, I'm a Governor! I survived a really bad car accident at work when a deer jumped out of nowhere and came through the driver side window and knocked by co-worker out cold. We hit another car and the lady was hurt pretty bad. I got only some bumps and bruises. Thank god! My wife Sue is still working for Burnsville School District's preschool program. She has been teaching there for 20 years. My daughter Olivia has the acting bug. She is into singing, dancing and acting. She is in 8th grade and getting close to learning to drive. HELP! My son Ethan is 11 and is into baseball, football and basketball. He has also had the opportunity to act in dramas at church and in video segments for school. We are still living in Apple Valley, MN where we live close to both our parents. All for now. Take care and stay safe!

Brent Teclaw

Degree: Theatre Performance
Graduation Date: 2001
Comments: Here's what I've been up to: I did a commercial for Explore Minnesota that ran across several markets this spring, summer and fall. Got quite a workout on that shoot, pulling a guy around in an office chair. Earlier this year I did "Baseball Saved Us" for Stages Theatre / Theatre MU / Mixed Blood. Then in October I went back to Stages Theatre to do "Nancy Carlson's — I Like Me." I love doing theatre for kids, best audiences in the world! Recently, I played Digger in "Holy Bells... A Deer Camp Christmas" at Actors Theatre of Minnesota. This spring and summer I'll be playing Dwight Babcock in "Mame" for Minneapolis Musical Theatre. Visit my website: www.brentteclaw.com

Cathy (Thorne) Wells

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: May 2004
Comments: Kelly and I will have been married six years on December 20 and now have two girls, Mariana (5) and Miette (2). We're living in Yakima, WA, for the time being and working "real" jobs while Kelly is also working on a few TV shows currently in pre-production. 2009 has been quite a building year for us and are hopeful that 2010 will bring many things we're worked toward to fruition.

Colin Woolston

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2000
Comments: After a few years of travel followed by a few more of unprecedented domesticity, during which a hiatus from theater occurred, I enjoyed two great years on stage and in the studio. My favorite roles during this time included Bo in "Bus Stop,” the title character in “Hamlet” and Astrov in “Uncle Vanya.” These two years were brought to a close by the birth of my son, Fenimore, who is now 6 months old and yells a lot. Currently I am letting the corporate world chip away at my soul until I can find a job in the theater or at least in higher education.

Those below were received between August 2008 and January 2009

Richard "Rick" Hammitt

Degree: BS
Graduation Date: 1972
Comments: I am a personal and business coach/trainer—soft skills. Check out www.whoyoubecome.com

Duke Durfee

Degree: B.A in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1975
Education Since MSU: MFA Penn State U.
Comments: Duke and Susan Durfee (they met when Ted Paul assigned him to be her tour guide to the MSC Campus) married in Mankato after he go a BA and she got an MFA, then moved on to Penn State where Duke earned his own MFA in Set Design. They then worked at the Cinncinati Playhouse, where Susan was General Manager and Duke was Production Manager/Assistant Designer before moving to New York where they lived and worked for 20 years doing design and creative work for films, television, Broadway and off-Broadway plays, advertising projects and interiors. See www.dmdgroup.com. In 2000 they moved to Northern California where they continue to work in the arts and in commercial production. No kids, but they’re on their second pair of dogs.

Robin Walker

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1974
Education Since MSU: Living!
Comments: After graduating from Mankato in 1974, I had a number of different careers — was a full-time substitute teacher at Centennial High School in Circle Pines; worked for educational psychologist, Dr. Richard Woodcock, heading up the gathering of normative data for the Woodcock-Johnson Battery of tests; worked with an alternative program for high school drop-outs (70001) in Washington/Anoka counties in the Twin Cities which took me to Delaware to their national headquarters. Met the love of my life, Richard Walker, to whom I have been married for 28 years. We relocated to Washington, DC, with 70001 and lived there until moving back to Minneapolis in 1984. In December of 2007, I retired from Target Corporation after an exciting 22 1/2 year career as an internal consultant in the Talent Management area. During my last 11 years at Target, I worked on a joint partnership with Target's Community Relations area and the Theatre Communications Group out of New York. Each summer for those 11 years I facilitated a two-day seminar called "Expanding the Theatre Manager's Repetoiré" exposing regional theatre directors from around the country to common leadership principles that could aid them in operating their companies. This was always such a renewing experience for me as I felt like I had "come home" being around all those theatre folks! My degree in theatre from Mankato prepared me to create an exciting, interactive and often times entertaining training experience for the many participants I got to work with over the years. My husband and I have survived our first year of "refirement" spending time at our lake place in Crosslake in the summer and still enjoying our comfortable home in SW Minneapolis; traveling as much as we can in the winters; and taking on intriquing projects through our newly formed leadership development/diversity corporation, The Walker Consulting Group. We try to catch as much theatre and live jazz that we can in the Twin Cities, and yearly trips to NYC, in addition to our weekly movie dates. We enjoy the Dominican Republic so have committed to improving our Spanish and Meringue/salsa lessons are a possibility for the New Year. I am so sorry that I did not know about Ted Paul's Memorial Service this past September. It would have been so wonderful to honor him amongst old friends. My warmest and most sincerest regards tp Becky and the rest of the Paul family — "Doc" was a class act and will not be forgotten!

Karen Kalton

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1975
Comments: My husband, Robert Brown, and I are in the film business in the Los Angeles area. I work as his Business Manager and legal representative for our corporation (Chimere, Inc.) and also for our small book company (Chalk Hill Books). In 2006, we self-published my husband’s book, “Planning the Low-Budget Film,” which is a text used for his Production Planning class he teaches at USC. Our daughter is a recent grad from Laguna College of Art & Design, and works at Meteor Games as a 2-D Artist. Our son will be a sophomore majoring in Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena and has worked in a chemistry lab since last December as a research assistant.

Paul Hurley

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1978-1982
Education Since MSU: Tony Barrs Film Actors Workshop
Comments: I went to California to study acting for the camera and ended up opening my own business selling computer supplies. I have been married 17 years and have three boys, 13, 16 and 23. I live in Credit River, MN (Prior Lake) and plan on living there forever.

 

Audrey (Pacholski) Kintzi

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1979-1983
Education Since MSU: MS - 1994
Comments: Audrey Kintzi is the Vice President and Chief Development Officer for Courage Center in Golden Valley, MN. In addition, Audrey is also a member of the faculty for the University of St. Thomas College of Business Excellence and St. Mary’s Master of Philanthropy and Development program. Audrey and her husband Ron and their children Nathan and Amanda live in Rosemount, MN.

Tom Hendricks

Degree Other Degree Minor: Psychology
Education Since MSU: Urban Bible Institute, 2 years from Northwestern University
Comments: Tom Hendricks is still single and a kid at heart, and has his finger in several areas. “My job is to help people along on their journey, to help pick them up and bring them along. To encourage them while having fun.” His touch with fame first hit the yellow brick road as a celebrity impersonator on the Ted Paul stage for an annual gala and he graduated from Katharine Hepburn and Gabby Hayes to syndicated Jenny Jones show in 1995, almost a half hour of him in and out of characters: Lily Tomlin’s Ernestine the telephone operator and the now not-so-famous Pee Wee Herman, Cher and Madonna. He opened up the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN, as Lily Tomlin’s favorite operator Ernestine, greeting people and asking them to party their phone bills. He was brought back as singing sensation Buddy Holly, complete with a strato guitar and white sport coat and his date…a Marilyn Monroe Look-Alike. Since then he has retired several characters and is content with voices. He has met Red Skeleton, Brenda Lee, Daddy long legs Neil, and performed at Grand Rapids, MN, for three years as the Scarecrow at the famed Judy Garland Museum. He was featured for a Hollywood Minute on Last Comic Standing in summer of 2008 and also got to the second round in America’s Got Talent semi-finals. Since then he has done numerous stage plays and closed another show, “Pieces of the Past,” at the end of September 2008, where did not act, but was co-producer, assistant director, costumer and scene designer. He has a Facebook account and welcomes contact from people in his past, present and future. 

Siobhan (Fusillo) Bremer

Degree: MFA in Acting
Graduation Date: 1988
Education Since MSU: workshop training
Comments: I am currently teaching theatre at the University of Minnesota, Morrris out on the prairie. I direct one a year at the U and generally one other one at an area theatre. I also find time to act whenever possible. I just performed in the Cities at the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theatre in an original script by Matthew Everett called “Leave.” I played the mother of a gay Marine. I am happily married to Peter Bremer who is a reference librarian at the U. A few years back I pull out my dance shoes and performance at our U with nine students to the song “I Run for Life” by Melissa Etheridge. One of my best memories at Mankato was dancing in “West Side Story.” That is until I broke my rib when I was dropped by a fellow performer. Ah, well, memories.

Gary Benson

Degree: MFA in Technical Theatre
Graduation Date: 1991 or thereabouts
Education Since MSU: Hard Knocks University
Comments: I'm currently teaching at Brigham Young University-Idaho. I teach Scene Design, Scene Painting, Props, Technical Theatre and Introduction to Film Art and Analysis. I have six children and two grandchildren. I have also been blessed to be able to design sets, lights and costumes for many productions here. We do six mainstage productions each year, two per semester. (BYU-Idaho is a year round school.) Currently I am working on a set and lighting design for “Caucasian Chalk Circle,” a set and costume design for the Music Department’s annual Halloween Concert, and I have dusted off my acting shoes and am playing Mr. Maraczek in “She Loves Me.” I have a webshots page with photos of some of my recent work posted. The address for that is http://community.webshots.com/user/GaryCBenson

 

Spence Kramber

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1998
Education Since MSU: MFA in Theatre at UCLA
Comments: Graduate of MSUM-Theatre in 1998. Living in Los Angeles as an actor, teacher (www.cas123.com) and also working in commercial casting. Received MFA in Theatre from UCLA in 2003. Member of the Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble (www.latensemble.org).

Sheila Tabaka

Degree: MFA in Technical Theatre
Graduation Date: June 12, 1998
Comments: I am still in Marshall, MN, teaching at Southwest Minnesota State University. I am in my tenth year here and have had the joy of being both the costumer and also a director. Our production of “To Kill A Mockingbird” received a Meritorious Award for Ensemble Acting at KCACTF, thanks to John Paul. My husband Jim (MSU ‘99) and I have five children: Eukariah, Sally, Margaret, Lillian and Jedidiah Finn. If you’re out on this edge of the prairie, please look us up.

Dacia (Schoenfeld) Hinkhouse

Degree: Other, Mass Communications B.S.; Theatre minor
Graduation Date: Graduated 1999
Comments: I live in Bloomington, MN. Married. No kids yet. I am the Administrative Assistant to the Chief Clerk’s Office for the House of Representatives. On occasion I do tech work for Bloomington Civic Theatre. I stage managed “Jekyll and Hyde” as well as “West Side Story.” I do freelance TV directing at Bloomington Community Television.

Daniella (Bennett) Teuber

Comments: I’m the owner of Candles By Dani (www.candlesbydani.com) and AEA stage manager. I have two kids, 1 boy and 1 girl, and moved from Hastings to East Bethel.

David Craven

Degree: MFA in Directing
Graduation Date: 2000
Comments: Recently played “Curly” in “Oklahoma” (third time as Curly) in CO. Earlier this year was “Sister Mary Amnesia” in “Nunsense Amen!” in AR. Last year directed and played “Smudge” in “Forever Plaid” (fifth time as “Smudge”) in GA, “Jerry” in “The Full Monty” in TN, “Joe Hardy” in “Damn Yankees” and “Riff” in “West Side Story” in NC. My caroling company, Like the Dickens, in Atlanta (www.LiketheDickens.com) is entering its 17th year, with branches in Chattanooga and Nashville, TN.

Sarah Bizek

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1996-2001
Education Since MSU: Masters of Social Work
Comments: Sarah Bizek recently completed her Masters of Social Work at the University of Minnesota. Despite spending all of her undergraduate time stage managing at the Ted Paul, Andreas and Phoenix Theatres, Sarah has come to realize that her true calling is working with at-risk youth. Sarah was married last October to Sarah Cohn, and owns a home in St. Paul. She is currently job-searching for her “dream” job!

Brian Flanagan

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1997-2001
Education Since MSU: Columbia University Teachers College
Comments: I live in New York and have acted in a few shows since moving here in 2006. I am currently attending Columbia University to receive a Masters Degree in Arts Administration with the hope to work with a theatre company in a hands-on capacity in an administrative capacity. I currently serve on the Board of Directors of The Gallery Players which is an Off-Off Broadway theatre that just started its 42nd Season with Steve Martin’s adaptation of “The Underpants.”

Greg Johnson

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1997-2001
Education Since MSU: Bachelor of Applied Science in Mortuary Science
Comments: After pursuing theatre in the Chicago area for 2 years, I went back to school to become a mortician. Along the way, I got married to my wonderful wife Holly. We currently live in Greenfield, IN (right outside of Indianapolis), own 3 homes, 2 dogs, and have a baby on the way. I’ve been working as a funeral director about 3 years and I like it. Recently, I was featured in our hometown newspaper as one of the “20 under 30” business people in our community. Also featured in Minnesota State alumni magazine, Today (see link above). I am involved in the local Rotary club, and am currently obsessed with politics. I hope everybody is doing well!!!

Kristina Miller

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1997-2001
Comments: I currently live in Minneapolis and have spent the last three years working for VEE Corporation, the company who produces the tours of "Sesame Street Live." I am the Ticketing Coordinator and my job is to set up the ticketing systems and set the scaling and pricing based on sales history and competition for all of our domestic tour dates. (About 150 cities a year) I still work for the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, where I have been employed since I graduated from college. I am currently there part-time as a Performance Supervisor running the box office during events.

Jenny (Heckendorn) Olson

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: May, 2001
Education Since MSU: Master of Education and AMI certification
Comments: Currently a teacher at Highland Park Montessori school in St. Paul, MN (have been teaching there for 5 years). Married to Cody Olson and have one child, Gavin Olson who is 2.

Peggy (Michaelson) Lushine

Degree: Other, double minor Theatre & Dance
Graduation Date: 2001
Comments: I’m working part time in the Box Office and Group Sales Department of Chanhassen Dinner Theatres and continuing to plan weddings and events with Uncommon Gatherings, which I co-own with my mom. I’ve been doing costuming, some directing and a little bit of acting/dancing with Eden Prairie Players community theatre and I’m still happily married to my MSU sweetheart Joe.

Travis Richardson

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2001
Education Since MSU: MFA-SDSU
Comments: Am the Production/Lighting Supervisor for an internationally touring, critically acclaimed ballet company. Check us out www.treymcintyre.com. Having fun touring around the country and around the world with 10 fantastic dancers.

Brent Teclaw

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2001
Comments: Living in St. Paul with my partner. I'm currently rehearsing "Man of La Mancha" here in the Twin Cities. Last year I shot two national commercials for Rapala (check them out on my website: http://www.brentteclaw.com ) and I can be seen in two print ads for Travelers Insurance & Buffalo Wild Wings. In February I start rehearsal for "Baseball Saved Us" with Stages Theatre Company, Theatre Mu and Mixed Blood. Lived in NYC for nine months and did a staged reading, a small film and a BUNCH of temping. Love being back in MN around family and friends!

Gina (Roberts) Geving

Degree: Theatre
Graduation Date: 2002
Employer: Self-employed
Comments: After graduation I moved to New York, then back to Iowa. I did dinner theatre in Rock Island, IL, for two years. While doing shows I obtained my massage therapy license. I got married in 2003 to Jeff Geving and we moved to Des Moines in 2004 where I did massage therapy and taught pre-school. I had a baby boy, Griffin, in January 2007. My husband Jeff, my son and I moved to Algona, IA, in November 2007 where we own a chiropractic/massage clinic (my husband is a chiropractor). We love being in Algona; we are expecting our second child in March.

Elizabeth (Gormley) Landgraff

Degree: Communication Disorders
Graduation Date: 2002 and 2004
Employer: Speech Language Pathologist at Pediatric Therapy Services
Comments: After graduating I moved to Eagan and worked at a private pediatric clinic. Two years later, I moved back to Mankato with my fiancé. Mark and I were married in October 2007. Along with working at Pediatric Therapy, I have worked as an adjunct teacher at Minnesota State, teaching Diagnosis & Treatment of Stuttering.

Dana Hazen

Degree: B.A in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2002
Comments: Currently live in Brooklyn Park, MN. Work at R&D Systems, Inc. as a Facilities Clerk (Administrative). www.rndsystems.com Referee for the North Star Roller Girls www.northstarrollergirls.com

Danae Schniepp

Degree: B.A in Theatre
Graduation Date: Spring 2002
Comments: Danae has remained busy working as a stage manager and assistant stage manager at The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis. She has been there for nearly six years, working on over 20 productions. Her work has also been showcased at The Park Square Theatre (with fellow alum, Dani Bennet Teuber), The Jon Hassler Theater, The Guthrie Theater and she will add The Mixed Blood Theatre later this winter. Danae is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.

Justine (Carroll) Simonson

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1999-2003
Comments: The past year and a half has been great for both Justine and her husband and fellow alumni Peter Simonson. Justine was in The Mechanical Division's production of "Matt and Ben" as Ben Affleck, was seen in The Ordway's production of "The Rocky Horror Show" as a "Miscreation" and an understudy for "Janet" (went on) as well as "Columbia." During that time she worked for Stages Theater Company teaching elementary children in their community outreach program. Peter landed a great role in Chanhassen Dinner Theater's production of "Les Miserables" as "Enjolras." Justine has also been featured in some commercial and print; Rainbow Foods (Roundy's), Target, Best Buy and Traveler's Insurance. In the late winter of last year she directed and choreographed a production of "Once On This Island" for a local middle school. Peter and Justine were both seen in Theater Latte Da and MJTC's spring production of "Parade" at The History Theater directed by Ivey Award-winning Peter Rothstein. For the summer they were both seen in the "Pride" of North Dakota's Medora Musical where Peter was seen twice a day as "Teddy Roosevelt" and Justine as "Praire Dog Pattie," a character created by MSU's own Gretta Grosch! This fall Justine was lucky enough to workshop and sing in "Passage of Dreams," Theater Latte Da's producion that will be mounted in March-April at The Southern Theater in Minneapolis. Peter learned a lot about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur singing in a Synogogue for the Jewish holidays. He has been studying voice and is currently performing with The Minnesota Opera at The Ordway Center for the Arts in "Faust." Peter is a Chef at Senor Wong's in St. Paul and Justine works as a server/bartender at Ciao Bella in Bloomington. They currently reside in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Andrea Bilkey

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1995
Education Since MSU: MFA Lighting Design from University of Wisconsin - Madison, 2002
Comments: In the fall of 2002 I began teaching at Texas Tech University. This past spring I was granted tenure, and am enjoying my first year as an Associate Professor. In the meantime I've designed lighting and sound for many of our productions, and for a local singer/songwriter/playwright/director, affording me a lucky opportunity to meet many people that I never dreamed I would meet. Also, this past year I began serving on the light lab committee for USITT's lighting commission. While it is busy and hectic, nothing beats a west Texas sunset!

Shawn Ashley

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 1996-98; 2002-04
Education Since MSU: Improv, On-camera work
Comments: Besides doing a feature film, "Generation Mason," and other on-camera work (including a music video for P.O.S. and Atmosphere) I've done some theatre but now I have morphed into more of the production side of things. I directed "Pump Boys and Dinettes" at the end of September for Lyric Arts Main Street Stage, for which I also did some of the choreography (Jackie Olson starred!! She was AWESOME!) , I assistant directed/choreographed/starred in "Oliver!" for ERCT this past summer, and now I am doing choreography coming up for the Off-Broadway Music Theatre's production of "Once Upon a Mattress."

Michael Fillbrandt

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2001-2004
Education Since MSU: Hamline University, 2008-present
Comments: 2005: married Jessica (Haug) Fillbrandt 2006; inspired by my role as Donald in “You Can’t Take It With You” (2004), decided to adopt a baby corn snake named Skulle Heller; 2005-2007: Worked as a Special Education paraprofessional at Mankato East High school; 2007-present: Worked as a Special Education paraprofessional at Oak-Land Junior High School in Lake Elmo, MN. Also serve as the Drama Club director. http://oakland.stillwater.k12.mn.us/Drama_Club.html ; 2008 - present: Attending Hamline University in Saint Paul, pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree to get my teaching license for K-12 Theatre and Dance.

Jennifer (Steiskal) Johnsen

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2004
Education Since MSU: none yet
Comments: I got married to a wonderful guy this last September 2008. Been doing Theatre in the Twin Cities since 2005. Been in such shows as “The Tempest,” “The Hollow,” “Anton In Show Business,” “Evita!,” Second,” and I am currently working on “Cabaret” for Chameleon Theatre Circle. I am also working a 9-5’er as a Customer Service Rep for 3M’s Disability Program with a part-time job at Lane Bryant in Roseville. Currently live happily with my husband Brian and our Cat, Delilah, in Roseville. We’re still in an apartment but looking to buy a house soon. Hopefully in 2010 I will be enrolling in graduate studies somewhere in the Cities or Minnesota area for a Masters in Theatre Arts. I’m still looking for options... if you know of any let me know!

Tanya (Peterson) Laumann

Degree: BS Theatre Performance
Graduation Date: 2006 (attended 1998-2004)
Employer: Park Nicollet Medical Center
Comments: Married in 2006; freelance directing for various children’s theatre companies; a wee bit of acting (“The Lovely Liebowitz Sisters,” Plymouth Playhouse/Troupe America); paying off student loans!

Erin Drevlow

Degree: B.A in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2005
Comments: After graduation I moved home to Bismarck, ND, and staged and costumed Bismarck’s first full-length opera since the late 1920s. The production was “The Magic Flute” and I had the pleasure of working with a guest artist from Juilliard. I then moved to New York where I played “The Baker’s Wife” in “Into the Woods” in an off-off Broadway house. I was even reviewed for the role! Then I went on a two tours with Hampstead Stage Company, which is a Children’s Theater Company that only does Classical literature. I had the joy of playing “Robin Hood” and various Greek Gods in the two shows on my first tour and then “King Arthur” and “Lady Macbeth” in my second tour. I then came home to Bismarck to help with my father (he had a stroke) and directed the first production of a new company to Bismarck called “Capital Shakespeare.” I directed “Twelfth Night.” (I ended up having to play “Fabian” as one of my actors had to drop out; directing yourself is not easy.) I then choreographed and costume designed “School House Rock Live Jr.” I am currently playing “Sister Robert Anne” in “Nunsense” and will be teaching a class in Musical Theater this fall. I am looking into attending graduate school in the 2009 school year.

Jessica (Haug) Fillbrandt

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2003-2005
Comments: Since graduating from MSU, I’ve stage managed for St. Croix Festival Theatre in St. Croix, WI; New Breath Productions in Saint Paul, MN; and I was the technical director for Brave New Workshop for almost a year. I currently live in Saint Paul and am considering alternative career options, which prompted my return to school this fall to pursue my interest in French.

Nickolaus Early

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2005
Comments: After graduation, Nick moved to Minneapolis and started working with Sedgwick CMS. He performed as the “Cowboy” in the show “Boys in the Band” in 2006 by Starting Gate Productions. In November of 2006 he put in a request to be transferred to Chicago and in December he made the move. His original plan was to pursue acting, but he got involved in triathlons. In August of 2007 he completed in his first Olympic distance Triathlon in Chicago and won his age-group, finishing 5th overall in the open amateur divison. He raced several times in 2008, with his last race being the Age-Group National Championships in Portland, OR, where he qualified for the Age-Group World Championships in Brisbane Australia. Nick still works for Sedgwick CMS where is the Assistant Unit Manager for FMLA supervising the FMLA specialists and Claim Assistants. He also coaches and swims with the Chicago Blue Dolphins Masters program, where in April of 2008, he and members of two relays set two Illinois Masters State Records. He is currently training for the Triathlon Season and is looking forward to competing in the Age-Group World Championships on Sept. 13, 2009, in Australia.

Kari Appel

Degree: Other, B.S. in Dance/Theatre Education
Graduation Date: May 2006
Comments: I’m currently ASM at Lane Bryant in Edina, MN; working towards SSM (manager). I’m taking dance classes here and there, and trying to start my own company as a professional organizer.

Danielle Jennrich

Degree: BFA Technical Theatre
Graduation Date: 2006
Employer: Centennial High School (TD) and Dillards
Comments: Can be contacted via pages on Facebook and MySpace.

Philbert Warren

Degree: BFA Design/Technology
Graduation Date: 2006
Education Since MSU: Life
Comments: Phil has been working steadily throughout Wisconsin as a freelance technician. He has been spending his summers on beautiful Chequamegon Bay on the south shore of Lake Superior. He will be returning to Milwaukee this fall to serve as the Light Board Op for the Skylight Opera Theatre. Phil has recently enjoyed a trip to Eastern Europe visiting countries such as Poland and Romania. He is hope to travel again soon, possibly somewhere in Asia or the South Pacific (not the musical).

Callie "Cathryn" Johnson

Degree: BFA Design/Tech
Graduation Date: 2007
Employer: Landmark Edina Cinema, C.L.I.M.B. (summers only)

Jason Rasinowich

Degree: B.S. Theatre Production
Graduation Date: 2007
Employer: University of Minnesota, Morris
Comments: I’m the Tech Director and Event Technical Manager at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

Danielle (Mann) Barnum

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date: 2007
Comments: My current projects:
• Title role in the northwest premiere of "Jane Eyre" at the Seattle Musical Theatre
• Local musical theatre choreographer for secondary education
• continued commercial and film work
Happily residing in Seattle with Eric, who is in his second year of his doctoral program in Choral Conducting at the University of Washington. He is getting increasing recognition at a national level for his compositions, and will be traveling often to work with various choirs and conventions around the country this year that are featuring his work.

Brianna Richmond

Degree: BFA Theatre Design/Tech
Graduation Date: 2008
Comments: This last summer I worked on the Stage Operations crew at the Glimmerglass Opera Company in Cooperstown, NY. Currently, I live in Elkton, MD, and work as a fabricator for a custom fabrications shop in Glassboro, NJ, called Proof Productions. The company does a lot of construction for Broadway shows and tours. I’ve been focused mostly in the metals shop, but I have worked a little bit with carpentry, painting and sewing.

Francis Farrington

Degree: B.S. in Theatre
Graduation Date:
Comments: I have worked at University of Massachusetts, Fine Arts Center as the Technical Director and more recently as Associate Director of Operations for the past 30 years.