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Company Bios

Company Bios

Commonweal Resident Ensemble

Stela BurdtSTELA BURDT is thrilled to share this season with you. Theatregoers may remember her from last year’s Souvenir and 2015’s Woody Guthrie’s American Song. Some of Stela’s favorite roles were in Crimes of the Heart, Zombies from the Beyond, Bus Stop, A Midnight Dreary, Harvey, and Man of La Mancha. Past offstage work includes props and sound designs, stage managing, music directing and administration. Stela is a freelance vocalist, pianist and music director, and currently co-stars with her husband, Scott Dixon, in the role of a lifetime as mom to Kieran. Stela has a B.A. in Theatre from Luther College.

Hal CroppHAL CROPP is grateful and amazed to be celebrating his 26th season here. Favorite on-stage roles include Outside Mullingar, Around the World in 80 Days, Sherlock Holmes, The Drawer Boy, To Kill a Mockingbird, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Christmas Carol, Groucho and Talley’s Folly. Directing credits include Brand, Bullshot Crummond, Heartland Portrait, Peer Gynt, Charley’s Aunt, Hedda Gabler, Midnight Dreary, and Little Shop of Horrors. The 2006  Sally Irvine Award winner for Initiative, Hal holds his B.A. from Brown University, M.B.A. from Santa Clara University and M.F.A. from National Theater Conservatory. Originally from New York State, Hal now calls Laneboro home and looks forward to many more Commonweal adventures.

Scott DixonSCOTT DIXON has been with the Commonweal since 2001 and currently serves as Director of Development. Favorite onstage work has been in The Master Builder, Pillars of Society, Arcadia, The Turn of the Screw, Parfumerie and Blithe Spirit. Scott has also directed Enemy of the People, Miss Julie and Scotland Road. As a playwright, produced scripts include A Midnight Dreary and adaptations of The Nutcracker & the Mouse King and Little Women. He earned his M.F.A. in Acting at Wayne State University, and makes his home in Lanesboro with his wife, Stela Burdt, and their son, Kieran.

Ben GormanBEN GORMAN returns to the Commonweal after a long absence, thanks to funding provided by the Common Roots campaign. Last season, Ben appeared in The League of Youth (Daniel Hejre), Pride’s Crossing (West Bright, Frazier Tidings, Pinky Wheelock, David Bloom), and as Scrooge. Past productions here: Twelfth Night and A Moon for the Misbegotten (2001), Dracula and The 1940’s Radio Hour (2002), and Scapin and The Importance of Being Earnest (2005). In 2014-15, he toured the eastern U.S. with the American Shakespeare Center. Offstage, Ben is Commonweal’s graphic designer.

David HennesseyDAVID HENNESSEY serves on the Commonweal’s development team and has appeared in more than 45 shows over 19 seasons, including last year’s The League of Youth and The Three Musketeers. Other favorites are Around the World in 80 Days, Tigers Be Still, Ghosts, The Drawer Boy, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Rainmaker. David designed costumes for Ice Maidens and A Streetcar Named Desire and directed Brothers Two for 2015’s short play series. He has performed at Park Square, Jungle and American Players Theatres, among others. He lives in Preston with Linda, his favorite scene partner for 42 years.

biopic3_Eric_LeeERIC LEE came aboard in 2015, appearing in Charley’s Aunt and Arsenic and Old Lace, and is now a resident ensemble member. Last year, he performed in The Three Musketeers and A Christmas Carol. A Des Moines, Iowa, native with a bachelor’s degree in Theatre from the University of Evansville in Indiana, Eric comes to Lanesboro by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Rather fortuitously, he is delighted to say that he now lives in Harmony with his beloved Jen, Nemo, and Vampirella.

KIT MAYER (Scenic Designer) is Commonweal’s Resident Designer and is pleased to mark his 16th year with the theatre. Kit’s work as a lighting designer was seen in A Christmas Carol (2012) and Wait Until Dark (2007). Past scene designs include The Drawer Boy, The Philadelphia Story, Pillars of Society, Parfumerie, To Kill a Mockingbird, Enchanted April, A Midnight Dreary, Man of La Mancha, Uncle Vanya, and Ice Maidens. His work has been seen from Maine to Alaska, as well as internationally in Australia, Canada, Germany, and the U.K. Kit is a designer and founding member of the Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre in Fairbanks, Alaska.

BAILEY OTTO returns to the Commonweal for her fifth season as Production Stage Manager. Her favorite Commonweal credits include The Memory of Water, Arcadia and Woody Guthrie’s American Song. Bailey holds a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Northern Iowa where she stage managed such shows as Bat Boy: The Musical and She Stoops to Conquer. Other related credits include stage managing two shows for the burlesque troupe Sissy’s Sircus, associate production managing for her alma mater, and assistant production managing for the Des Moines Metro Opera.

STAN PEAL (Video Writing & Editing) has been part of the Commonweal family since 2007 when he was commissioned to write Ice Maidens. He performed in numerous productions at the Commonweal, including Enchanted April, Little Shop of Horrors, and An Enemy of the People, before relocating to North Carolina with his wife and fellow Commonweal alum, Laura Depta. He continues to be a vital part of the company, writing and editing the trailers and enhancement videos. Visit him at www.StanPeal.com

Megan K. PenceMEGAN PENCE is in her seventh season here. Last year, she appeared in The League of Youth and Pride’s Crossing and directed A Christmas Carol. Favorite roles include Gerd in Brand, Reba in The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Christine in A Doll’s House, Donna Lucia in Charley’s Aunt and ensemble roles in Woody Guthrie’s American Song and A Christmas Carol (2012). Megan also directed Mary’s Wedding and The Metal Children. Twin Cities’ credits include assistant directing at Park Square Theatre. She also worked for Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre as Associate Director. Megan has a Theatre Education degree from Bradley University.

Brandt RobertsBRANDT ROBERTS is thrilled to return to the Commonweal for a fourth season! Last season Brandt played Eric Brattsberg in The League of Youth and D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers. In 2015, he was in The Master Builder and Charley’s Aunt. In 2014: Teddy in Arsenic and Old Lace and Richard Noakes in Arcadia. Favorite regional credits include The Woman in Black, Treasure Island, A Christmas Carol, Measure for Measure, Henry IV Part I and Greater Tuna in New York. Roberts holds a B.A. in Theatre from Harding University and an M.F.A. in Performing Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Adrienne SweeneyADRIENNE SWEENEY is grateful to be in her 17th season with the Commonweal, serving as the Associate Artistic Director and Director of External Relations in addition to artistic roles. Originally from Philadelphia, she holds an M.F.A. in Acting from the University of Arizona. A commercial voice talent, Adrienne can be heard on radio and TV locally and nationally. Favorite roles at the Commonweal include Mabel Tidings Bigelow in last season’s Pride’s Crossing, Rosemary in 2015’s Outside Mullingar, Passepartout in Around the World in 80 Days, Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird and Sylvia. Thank you for sharing stories with us.

JASON UNDERFERTH (Photography & Lighting Design) has been lighting shows professionally for more than 15 years with such companies as the Commonweal, Chinese Dance Theatre, Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts, Minnetonka Arts Center, St. Mary’s University, St. Olaf College, and the University of Minnesota. Favorite designs include Man of La Mancha, Enchanted April, and A Midnight Dreary, all at the Commonweal. Jason is the Production Manager and Lighting Design lecturer at Saint Mary’s University of MN Performance Center. More info at his website: www.UnderferthDesign.com

Jeremy van MeterJEREMY van METER is thrilled to be enjoying his sixth season at the Commonweal. Last season, Jeremy played Aramis in The Three Musketeers and multiple roles in Pride’s Crossing. Favorite credits on the Commonweal stage include C.K. Dexter Haven in The Philadelphia Story, the title role in Ibsen’s Brand and Anthony Reilly in 2015’s Outside Mullingar. Jeremy began his professional acting career at the Barter Theatre in Virginia and has appeared regionally at Riverside Theatre, Lexington Children’s Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival and Great River Shakespeare Festival. Jeremy holds an M.F.A. in Acting from the University of Iowa.

THOMAS WHITE (Production Manager) hails from Ames, Iowa, where he worked as the resident lighting designer for the Oster Regent Theatre in Cedar Falls while earning a B.A. in technical theater from the University of Northern Iowa. Thomas is a founding member of Sissy’s Sircus, a burlesque troupe that pushes the boundaries of gender identity and sexuality through drag, dance, and theatre. In addition to extensive work with theatre, dance and other organizations in central Iowa, his professional experience includes work with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and the Telluride Film Festival.

biopic_APP_Abbie_CathcartABBIE CATHCART is delighted to return to the Commonweal for another season! She was an apprentice in 2015, and last season performed in The League of Youth, Pride’s Crossing and A Christmas Carol. She recently graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi, where she earned her B.F.A. in Theatre Performance. Favorite roles in college include Dull Gret/Angie in Top Girls and Millie Owens in Picnic. On the Commonweal stage she has appeared as Kitty in Charley’s Aunt, Beth in Little Women, and The Woman in Scotland Road. Abbie is pleased to say she survived her first Midwestern winter, and sends all the love she has to her family and friends both near and far.

biopic_APP_Elizabeth_DunnELIZABETH DUNN is grateful to be joining the Commonweal for a second season following her 2015 apprenticeship, when she appeared as Amy in both Charley’s Aunt and Little Women as well as playing Frances Kittle in the apprentice capstone production, Scotland Road. Last season she performed in The League of Youth and A Christmas Carol. A 2010 graduate of Valdosta State where she earned her B.F.A. in Theatre Arts, Elizabeth spent the last few years touring with Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre. She has lived in Chicago doing experimental theatre and studying improvisation at iO (formerly ImprovOlympics). Elizabeth hails from Georgia, but loves Minnesota and the Midwest.

The 2016 – 2017 Apprentice Company

Lewis YoungrenLEWIS YOUNGREN Originally from Hastings, Lewis received his B.A. in Theatre Performance from U.W.-La Crosse. For the past year he has worked at Park High School as an assistant director and speech coach. Most recently seen as Carthage Kilbride in Concordia’s By the Bog of Cats, some of Lewis’ favorite roles include William Barfee in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Paul Katami in 8 (The Play), Stacey Kinsella in The Metal Children and Mr. Reed/Leonard Grossman in These Shining Lives. Lewis sends his love and thanks to family and friends.

Also Featuring

Miriam MonaschMIRIAM MONASCH returns to the Commonweal to direct Steel Magnolias after last season’s work playing Mrs. Monsen in The League of Youth and several roles in Pride’s Crossing. In 2015, she played Aoife in Outside Mullingar. Other favorite roles include Amanda in The Glass Menagerie for Park Square, Linda in Death of a Salesman for Starting Gate and Mama in ’Night Mother for Workhouse (which won an Ivey Award in 2008 for Overall Excellence). Miriam has worked as an actor and director, primarily in the Twin Cities, for 40 years. In 2012 she won an Ivey Award for direction of Our Class for the Minnesota Jewish Theatre.


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