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Company Bios

Company Bios

Commonweal Resident Ensemble

Stela BurdtSTELA BURDT has been with the Commonweal since 2000. Theatregoers may remember her from last season’s Souvenir. Stela’s past Commonweal work includes roles in Woody Guthrie’s American Song, Crimes of the Heart, Zombies from the Beyond, A Midnight Dreary, Harvey and Man of La Mancha. In addition to her onstage work, Stela manages the Commonweal box office and is a freelance vocalist, pianist and music director. Currently (co-starring with her husband, Scott Dixon) in the role of a lifetime as mom to Kieran, Stela has a degree in Theatre from Luther College.


Hal CroppHAL CROPP is in his 27th season, where favorite 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. Selected directing credits include Brand, Bullshot Crummond, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), The Wild Duck, Charley’s Aunt, Hedda Gabler, Midnight DrearyEnchanted April and Little Shop of Horrors. 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.

Elizabeth DunnELIZABETH DUNN is grateful to be joining the Commonweal for a fourth season. Last year she performed in When We Dead Awaken, Steel Magnolias and The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge. She is a 2010 graduate of Valdosta State University where she earned her B.F.A. in Theatre Arts. Before coming to the Commonweal, she toured with Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre. She has lived in Chicago, studying improvisation at iO (formerly ImprovOlympic). Elizabeth originally hails from Georgia, but loves Minnesota and all of the Midwest

Ben GormanBEN GORMAN returns to the Commonweal after a long absence, thanks to funding provided by the Common Roots campaign. Last season, he played three roles in The Elephant Man and reprised his 2016 Scrooge in The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge. He first worked for Commonweal for 2001, performing next door at the St. Mane. In 2010-14, Ben helped build and run Columbus Civic Theater in Columbus, Ohio. In 2014-15, he worked for the American Shakespeare Center (Staunton, VA), touring the eastern half of the U.S. Offstage, Ben is Commonweal’s graphic designer.

David HennesseyDAVID HENNESSEY serves on the Commonweal’s development team and has appeared in more than 50 shows over 20 seasons, including The Elephant Man and The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge last year. Other favorites: Around the World in 80 Days, Ghosts, The Drawer Boy and The Rainmaker. He designed costumes for Ice Maidens and A Streetcar Named Desire, and last year directed Ben Gorman’s The Bottle for our H2O ten-minute plays. He has performed at Park Square Theatre, Jungle Theatre and American Players Theatre, among others. He lives in Preston with Linda, his favorite scene partner for 44 years.

biopic3_Eric_LeeERIC LEE is in his third year as a member of the Commonweal ensemble. A Des Moines, Iowa, native with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre from the University of Evansville in Indiana, Eric came to Lanesboro by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. He now calls Harmony his home, along with his beloved Jen and Nemo. He most enjoys discussing the things one is generally advised to avoid in polite conversation.

Philip MuehePHILIP MUEHE proudly rejoins the Commonweal for his 3rd season. He enjoyed his onstage debut last season in The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge as Fred/Future. His favorite directing credits include 2.5 Minute Ride, Constellations, and apprentice capstones Tigers Be Still and I Am My Own Wife. He is also the producing artistic director of In Heart Theatre, based in Rochester. He holds a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from the University of North Dakota. Love and thanks to his family, friends, and incredible coworkers!

BAILEY OTTO returns to the Commonweal for her sixth 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 three 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 PenceMEGAN PENCE is in her eighth season here. Favorite roles include Gerd in Brand, Mrs. Rundholmen in The League of Youth, Constance in The Three Musketeers, Reba in The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Donna Lucia in Charley’s Aunt, and ensemble roles in Woody Guthrie’s American Song. Megan also directed last year’s The Elephant Man and the 2016 version of A Christmas Carol. Regional credits include assistant directing at Park Square Theatre and touring with Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre as their Associate Director. Megan has a Theatre Education degree from Bradley University.

Brandt RobertsBRANDT ROBERTS is in his fourth season at the Commonweal. Favorite roles include D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers, Ragnar Brovik in The Master Builder, Lord Fancourt Babberley in Charley’s Aunt, Teddy Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace and Richard Noakes in Arcadia. Cherished regional credits include The Woman in Black, Treasure Island, Measure for Measure, Henry IV Part I and Greater Tuna in New York City. 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 (and amazed!) to be in her 18th season with the Commonweal, serving as the Associate Artistic Director andDirector of External Relations in addition to artistic roles. From Philadelphia, she holds an M.F.A. in Acting from the U/AZ. A commercial voice talent, she can be heard regionally on radio and TV. Favorite shows here include Steel Magnolias, Outside Mullingar, Around the World in 80 Days, To Kill a Mockingbird and Sylvia. Adrienne believes that the act of sitting together in the dark, sharing stories, can help bring light to the world. She thanks you for being a part of this story.

Jeremy van MeterJEREMY van METER is enjoying his seventh season in residence at the Commonweal. Favorite credits here include C.K. Dexter Haven in The Philadelphia Story, the title role in Ibsen’s Brand and, most recently, Frederick Treves in The Elephant Man. His professional career began at The Barter Theatre in Virginia (1991-94) and he 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 U. of Iowa and makes his home in Lanesboro with his lovely wife, Catherine Glynn.

THOMAS WHITE (Production Manager) is grateful to be in his fourth year at the Commonweal. Originally from Ames, Iowa, Thomas was 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.

The 2018 – 2019 Apprentice Company

Brandon CayetanoBRANDON CAYETANO is thrilled to be a 2018 apprentice at Commonweal! He recently graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a B.A. in Theatre Arts and a B.S. in Economics. Favorite past credits include Ram Sweeney in Heathers: The Musical, Horton in Seussical, and Moonface in Anything Goes! Recently, Brandon was seen in Native Gardens at the Guthrie Theatre. He thanks his friends and family for their support, and looks forward to growing and learning as an artist at Commonweal.

GABRIEL PEÑALOZA-HERNANDEZ graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a B.A. in Theater Arts and a minor in Psychology. His past credits include stage manager for Nine and Twister, master electrician for Festival of New American Plays, lighting designer for Pitching to the Star, and Claudio in the production of Lydia. He is thrilled to be a part of the Commonweal family, with the support his friends, advisors, and family, but most importantly his sister, who has truly supported his dream.

Lauren SchulkeLAUREN SCHULKE is a Minneapolis native and received her B.F.A. in Theater from the University of Duluth. She is excited to join Commonweal as part of the 2018 apprentice program. Lauren was recently seen in Mosaic Production’s Fringe show Gruesome Playground Injuries, as well as Uprising Theater’s These Shining Lives. In Duluth, her favorite productions included The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Legally Blonde: The Musical, and Spoon River Anthology. She will forever be thankful for her college professors and ever-supportive parents.

Ian SutherlandIAN SUTHERLAND is a recent graduate of St. Olaf College, where he studied Theater and Physics, and is overjoyed to be working at Commonweal! Having been an actor since he was 12 (parental estimates aim closer to age 8), Ian hopes to work professionally in the Twin Cities and aspires to start a theater ensemble with a close friend. Ian has recently appeared in Julius Caesar, A Very Potter Musical, Red Noses, and Fuddy Meers.

Also Featuring

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

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