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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.

Philip MuehePHILIP MUEHE a Rochester native, returns to the Commonweal after completing the Apprenticeship Program in 2014, which saw him direct their capstone production, Tigers Be Still. After his time in Lanesboro he completed the Emerging Professional Residency at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and freelanced as a director and producer. Other favorite directing credits include 2.5 Minute Ride (In Heart Theatre), Come Back (Rochester Repertory Theater), and Neil Bartlett’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol (Empire Theatre Company). Also an actor, he holds a B.F.A. in musical theatre from the University of North Dakota. Love and thanks to his family and friends!

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

Megan 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:

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 in her 3rd season at the Commonweal. During her apprenticeship and subsequent year in the resident ensemble, Abbie appeared in A Christmas Carol, Pride’s Crossing and Scotland Road, among others. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, where she earned her B.F.A. in Theatre Performance. Favorite acting credits from college include Top Girls, Picnic and Dancing at Lughnasa. Hugs and kisses to her family and friends. You guys are the best.

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 2017 – 2018 Apprentice Company

Megan HanksMEGAN HANKS graduated from the University of Arizona with a B.A. in Theatre Arts and a minor in Poetry in May 2016. She won the “Outstanding Lead Actress” award at the Zed Fest Film Festival in Hollywood for her role as Sonya in Gun Driver. She was also seen in MN as Amos Mouse in the hilarious children’s show Twas the Night Before Christmas at Lyric Arts. She thanks her family and boyfriend for their endless support, and is extremely grateful to explore theatre with the Commonweal family! Megan dedicates her work this season to the life and heart of Harper Black.


KELSEY HEATHCOTE is excited to join the Commonweal as an apprentice for the 2017 season. Kelsey recently graduated with a B.A. in Theatre with an emphasis in Design and Production from the University of Northern Iowa. Her past show credits include assistant stage managing for Into the Woods and the burlesque troupe Sissy’s Sircus, sound designing for The Trojan Women and assistant sound designing for Rent and Dead Man’s Cell Phone. Kelsey has also worked for the last few years as a scenic carpenter in the U.N.I. scenic studio.

AMANDA PYFFEROEN is ecstatic to be a member of the 2017 apprentice class. She holds a B.A. in theatre from the University of MN/Twin Cities and a M.A. in acting, directing, dramaturgy and stage management from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Amanda hails from Rochester, MN, where she recently worked for In Heart Theatre, Rochester Repertory Theatre, Minnesota Theatre Company and the Rochester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale. A huge thank you to her family and friends for their unending support and love.

Patrick VaughnPATRICK VAUGHN, graduate of University of Louisville School of Music, has gone on to perform in Three Tall Women at Bunbury Theatre, Cabaret at Actors Theatre Indiana, 1776 at Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre, Dreamland Drive-In at Dollywood, Assassins and Les Miserables at Trumpet in the Land and the world-premiere of Lucas Hnath’s award-winning The Christians at Actors Theatre Louisville’s Humana Festival, among many others. Film: 50 to 1, Girl Number Three and the upcoming For Sale by Owner. Television: Unusual Suspects. He is honored to be making his Minnesota debut.

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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