Our Company

The Commonweal Resident Ensemble 2019

Our unique artist administrator model allows us to employee more than a dozen theater professionals annually.

Commonweal Resident Ensemble

Lizzy AndrettaLIZZY ANDRETTA is in her third season at the Commonweal. Past roles here include Mrs. Kendal in The Elephant Man, Schwartzy in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Mina in Dracula: Prince of Blood and Sally in It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. Favorite credits elsewhere include The Secret Garden, Bottled Up and Othello. Originally from New Jersey, Lizzy received a B.S. in Theatre from Skidmore College and her M.F.A. in Acting from the East 15 Acting School in England.

Stela BurdtSTELA BURDT has been with the Commonweal since 2000. Theatregoers may remember her from 2106’s Souvenir. 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 in the role of a lifetime as mom to Kieran, Stela has a degree in Theatre from Luther College. Both Stela and Kieran will forever and always be #TeamScotty.

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 Lanesboro home and looks forward to many more Commonweal adventures.

Elizabeth DunnELIZABETH DUNN is grateful to be joining the Commonweal for a fifth season. Favorite credits include The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge, Scotland Road, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Dracula: Prince of Blood. She has done multiple tours with Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre, and lived in Chicago for a stint, where she studied improvisation at iO (formerly ImprovOlympic). Originally hailing from Georgia, Elizabeth is a 2010 graduate of Valdosta State University where she earned her B.F.A. in Theatre Arts.

Ben GormanBEN GORMAN joined the Commonweal ensemble in 2016, having previously performed next door at the St. Mane as a seasonal actor in ’01, ’02, ’05. Favorite roles and productions here include The Elephant Man, Scrooge (twice), Pride’s Crossing; elsewhere, Hamlet and King Claudius in Hamlet, Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, Hannay in The 39 Steps and Torvald Helmer in A Doll’s House. In 2014-15, he toured with the American Shakespeare Center, indulging his lifelong passion for Shakespeare. Ben eagerly promotes sustainable living and renewable energy.

David HennesseyDAVID HENNESSEY serves on the Commonweal’s development team and has appeared in more than 50 shows over two decades, including It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play 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 provides audio descriptions of shows for the visually impaired. He has performed at In Heart Theatre in Rochester, Park Square Theatre, Jungle Theatre and American Players Theatre, among others. He lives in Preston with Linda, his favorite scene partner for nearly 45 years.

Rachel KuhnleRACHEL KUHNLE is happy to return to the Commonweal seven years after completing her acting apprenticeship in 2011-2012 when she performed in To Kill a Mockingbird, Parfumerie, and the apprentice capstone project The Metal Children. Since then, she’s performed and directed regionally with St. Croix Festival Theatre, Savage Umbrella, WLDRNSS, Pacific Performance Project/East, Theatre South Carolina, and Trustus Theatre. Rachel completed her M.F.A. in Acting from the University of South Carolina in 2017. She loves her cat, Suzuki, and is grateful to her husband, Josiah, for being awesome.

Josiah LaubensteinJOSIAH LAUBENSTEIN is happy to be at the Commonweal for his first season ever, having arrived late last year. Before moving here, Josiah worked for two years at Festival Theatre in St. Croix Falls, WI, as their Marketing Director and acting in nine productions over two years. Prior to that, Josiah lived in Columbia, SC, where he got his M.F.A. in Acting from the University of South Carolina. Josiah is a proud member of Glassbox Theatre Group, a co-founder of Highway Walkers Media Company and is happily married to Rachel Kuhnle.

Eric LeeERIC LEE is in his fourth 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. His favorite role at the Commonweal was Peter Shaw, in Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky. He most enjoys discussing the things one is generally advised to avoid in polite conversation.

Philip MuehePHILIP MUEHE proudly rejoins the Commonweal for his fourth season! Audiences may remember him as Leaf from last year’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, or his work as director for It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. Other favorite directing credits include Constellations, I Am My Own Wife and Tigers Be Still. He holds a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from the University of North Dakota. He is also the producing artistic director of In Heart Theatre, based in Rochester, and a proud associate member of SDC. Hugs and thanks to his loved ones!

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

Brandt RobertsBRANDT ROBERTS is in his fifth season at the Commonweal. Favorite roles include John Merrick in The Elephant Man, D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers, Ragnar Brovik in The Master Builder, Fancourt Babberley in Charley’s Aunt, Teddy Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace. Cherished regional credits include The Woman in Black and Treasure Island at the Shawnee Theatre and Measure for Measure and Henry IV Part I at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Roberts holds a B.A. 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 19th season with the Commonweal, serving as the Assoc. Art. Dir. and Dir. 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 Silent Sky (director), Steel Magnolias, Outside Mullingar, 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—something she learned from her dear friend Scott Dixon. She dedicates this season to his memory.

Jeremy van MeterJEREMY van METER is enjoying his eighth season in residence at the Commonweal. Favorite credits here include C.K. Dexter Haven in The Philadelphia Story, Anthony Reilly in Outside Mullingar and the title role in Dracula: Prince of Blood by Scott Dixon. His professional career began at The Barter Theatre in Virginia 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 2018-19 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-HernandezGABRIEL 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 2018-19 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 — Our 2019 visiting artists and designers.

NICOLE DELPIZZO (Scenic Designer, Holmes and Watson) is a set designer and scenic artist based in the Twin Cities. After graduating this past spring from the U. M.-Twin Cities, she entered the theatre community with full force, with recent work at Yellow Tree Theatre, the Jungle Theatre, Theatre Latte Da, Mixed Blood Theatre and Sandbox Theatre. This spring she will be expanding her reach as an assistant designer at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. This is Nicole’s first show with Commonweal and she is excited to be connected with the company! See more of her work at www.nmdelpizzo.com

KATHY KOHL (Costume Designer, Boeing Boeing)

JANIS MARTIN (Costume Designer, Holmes and Watson) In 19 seasons at Commonweal: Souvenir, Last Night of Ballyhoo, Drawer Boy, To Kill a Mockingbird, Midnight Dreary, and 40 more. Locally: Theatre du Mississippi (The Hired Girl Gets Married), Saint Mary’s University (Bach at Leipzig, Uncle Vanya, Playboy of the Western World—which costumes were also seen at Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, Ireland), Viterbo University (On the Verge, Spitfire Grill, Blithe Spirit, Great Expectations), Mixed Blood Theatre (Take Me Out). Janis has created over 135 designs nationally, and taught at St. Mary’s University, Luther College, Marshall University, and UC Santa Barbara.

PETER MOORE (Director, Holmes and Watson) lives in Minneapolis where he has directed at the Guthrie, Torch Theater, Park Square, Actors Theatre of Minnesota, Hennepin Stages, History Theatre, Illusion Theater, The Playwright’s Lab, the U. of M., and Theatre in the Round. Other directing credits include Off-Broadway’s York Theater, the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, the Winter Garden Theater in Toronto, Virginia Stage in Norfolk, the San Diego Rep, and the Star Wars: Dark Forces audiobook series for Lucasfilm. He is also an actor, stunt coordinator and playwright; his comedy A Trick of the Light will premiere this June at the Peninsula Playhouse in Door County, WI.

In Memoriam

Scott DixonSCOTT R. DIXON was a member of the Commonweal family from his first arrival, as a seasonal actor in 2001. He passed away in November, 2018, after a battle with cancer. He spent the last 17 years of his life at the Commonweal in Lanesboro, where he was an actor, playwright, director and served the company administratively in several capacities, last as Director of Development. He met and married his wife, Stela Burdt, here and they had a son, Kieran. Scott’s wit and capacity for understanding made him a friend to all. We will miss him and remember him with love. To read more about our friend Scott, CLICK HERE.