Commonweal Resident Ensemble
LIZZY 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 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 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 Dreary, Enchanted 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 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 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.
KELSEY HEATHCOTE serves on the Commonweal’s production team. Since completing her apprenticeship in 2018, her work here has been seen onstage in Silent Sky, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Dracula: Prince of Blood and It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, for which she constructed the set and created the sound design. This season, Kelsey designed the set for the Wealhouse production Bakersfield Mist and served as tech director for the apprentice show in a word. Kelsey has her B.A. in Theatre with an emphasis in Design and Production from the University of Northern Iowa.
DAVID 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 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 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.
PHILIP 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!
BRANDT 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 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 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 2019 – 2020 Apprentice Company
MATT DONAHUE has been performing since he was three years old! He just wrapped up acting in a production of The Three Musketeers as Athos. Some of his favorite roles he’s played include Jud Fry in Oklahoma! And Smee in Peter and the Starcatcher. He graduated from East Carolina University with his B.F.A. in Professional Acting. He would also like to thank his ever-supporting family, and his professors for helping him along the way. He is thrilled to be joining the 2019-2020 Apprentice Company!.
ALICIA EHLERINGER is a recent graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College with a B.A. in Theatre and a Communication Studies minor. Her favorite past credits include Laura in The Glass Menagerie, Electra in Iphigenia and Other Daughters, and Marty in Grease. Alicia grew up watching Commonweal shows and she is delighted to be a part of the 2019-2020 Apprentice program! She is grateful to everyone who has supported her passion, especially her parents.
CAROLINE HAWTHORNE is an actress, singer and comedian from Los Angeles. She graduated from Oklahoma City University with a B.F.A. in acting, and studied opera at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. Favorite credits include Cendrillon, Company, Julius Caesar, and Clown Bar. She has also acted professionally with Texas the Outdoor Musical Drama, Oklahoma Children’s Theatre and Oklahoma Contemporary. She is extremely excited for to be an apprentice for Commonweal, and is thankful for the opportunity to continue her craft. Love always to Mom, Dad and Julien.
JODI RUSHING is a recent graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she received a B.A. in Theater and Film and a minor in Business. Her past credits include stage manager for Eurydice and Assassins, conference manager for American College Dance Association 2019 South, and makeup designer for Macbeth and She Kills Monsters. She thanks her family, friends, and college professors for all of their support as she continues to grow as an artist at Commonweal.
Also Featuring — Our 2020 visiting artists and designers.
ALAN BAILEY (Director & co-author, Sanders Family Christmas) has directed the Commonweal productions Souvenir, Around the World in 80 Days, The Memory of Water, The 39 Steps, Sylvia, Harvey, Inspecting Carol, A Christmas Carol, The 1940s Radio Hour, Art, A Walk in the Woods and Man of La Mancha, and he is the co-author of Sanders Family Christmas. His New York credits include the long-running Off-Broadway musical Smoke on the Mountain. Alan is an undefeated Jeopardy! champion. A Georgia native, he now lives in Los Angeles.
JUSTIN HOOPER (Scenic Designer, Boeing Boeing, Peter and the Starcatcher, On the Verge) holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre from Augsburg College. He began his professional career as a Stage Manager for Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, New York. He returned to Minneapolis to accept a job as a Scenic Artist for the Guthrie. Later, he took side-gigs as History Theater’s Technical Director, Pioneer Place’s Production Manager, and Audio-Visual Technician for AVEX. He has designed scenery (and occasionally lighting) for a myriad of Minnesota theater companies, and has even branched into Interior Design.
CRAIG JOHNSON (Director, Boeing Boeing) directed Dracula: Prince of Blood here last year, When We Dead Awaken in 2017 and several other productions prior to that. Commonweal also produced his adaptations of A Doll’s House and Uncle Vanya. Based in Minneapolis, Craig’s work can be seen at many area theaters this summer including The Importance of Being Earnest at Rochester Civic Theatre, and Oklahoma! and 9 to 5 at Cedar Summerstock in Osage, Iowa. Recognition includes Ivey Awards for acting (2013) and directing (2011), and he has been named Theater Artist of the Year by City Pages (2014) and Lavender Magazine (2011, 2015).
SCOTT 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.