Click on a picture to read the bio.
*Member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers
Grant Adkins is a Missouri Western senior majoring in Computer Information Systems with a minor in Video Production. Grant was the sound designer for Missouri Western's fall 2011 production of A Christmas Carol, the spring 2012 production of Arsenic and Old Lace, and the spring 2012 production of Little Shop of Horrors.
Grant will be graduating after the upcoming fall 2012 semester and will be pursuing his Master of Fine Arts in sound and audio production for film and theatre. Check out Grant at www.grantcolton.com.
Man - I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
Musical Direction - I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
Shaun Agnew, a 2004 alumnus of Missouri Western, joins the Western Playhouse in its inaugural season as musical director and actor. After earning his B.S. in Vocal Music Education with a performance emphasis from Western, Shaun became the Director of Music and Worship Arts at Ashland United Methodist Church, where he is responsible for all church programs related to worship, music, and worship arts, including directing the Chancel Choir, Bell Tones handbell choir, and serving as the worship leader for the contemporary praise team. In December of 2009, Shaun completed his M.A. degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music.
Outside of Ashland and Missouri Western, Shaun currently serves as the President of Robidoux Resident Theatre, a local community theatre organization, as well as a frequent actor and musical director. He had significant roles in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Forever Plaid, and South Pacific. Shaun most recently musically directed Chicago, Honk, Forever Plaid, Holiday in Plaid, Fiddler on the Roof, and Bingo: The Musical, where his then-fiance artistically directed the show. Shaun joined the Missouri Western faculty as an adjunct voice teacher in the fall of 2009 where he teaches private voice as well as beginner's voice class. Shaun joined the Missouri Western theatre team as musical director of this past spring's production of Little Shop of Horrors and is slated to fill the same role with Annie this coming fall.
This past March, Shaun married his great love, Jessica, and is immensely grateful for the opportunity to share the stage once again with her. Though he and Jessica are actors in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, Shaun reassures us that the title of the show in no way depicts his feelings about his lovely new wife.
Bio coming soon...
Shaun Allison is a senior cinema and theatre major from St. Joseph, MO. Prior to designing lights for You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Shaun participated as lighting crew for the Missouri Western productions of Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Phantom, Romeo and Juliet, and Christmas Carol, was light designer for Arsenic and Old Lace, and most recently worked lights for Little Shop of Horrors.
He also worked on the student-directed production of The Vagina Monologues and Switchblade Wars. Shaun is extremely excited for the Western Playhouse season. He hopes everyone enjoys You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and plans to attend the remaining two productions this season.
Sally Brown - You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Morgan Breckenridge is a junior at Missouri Western studying vocal music performance. She is originally from Cameron, Missouri.
Her most recent roles have been Christine Daee in Missouri Western's production of Phantom (spring 2011) as well as Audrey in Missouri Western's production of Little Shop of Horrors (spring 2012) for which she received a nomination for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship through the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.
Past roles include Go to Hell Kitty in Chicago, Tumptim in The King and I, and Sister Amnesia in Nunsense. Upon graduation, she plans to either attend graduate school for musical theatre performance, become a goat farmer, start a bee farm, take up knitting, or open a cupcakery.
Bio coming soon...
Linus van Pelt - You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Erik Burns-Sprung is a student at Missouri Western majoring in Theatre/Cinema. He just finished his freshman year and has a lot to show for it. He was involved in all four main stage productions, performing in three and operating the light board for the fourth.
He is very involved in technical theatre as well and can be found working frequently in the scene shop. Over the course of the past school year he earned two Irene Ryan nominations for his performances in A Christmas Carol and Little Shop of Horrors. These nominations gave him an opportunity to represent Missouri Western at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival this past February, as well as the opportunity to compete at next year's festival.
Erik is very excited to be a part of the inaugural season of Western Playhouse.
Delivery Man - Barefoot in the Park
Larry Clifton started his stage career at Robidoux Resident Theatre in St. Joseph playing in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Sound of Music.
He wanted to improve his acting skills and enrolled in acting classes at Missouri Western. Since starting classes, he has performed in Romeo and Juliet, A Christmas Carol and Arsenic and Old Lace.
Before starting his acting career, he retired from Union Pacific Railroad and is living in Saint Joseph with his wife of 41 years. He has used his spare time helping build the sets for both RRT and Missouri Western productions.
Corie Bratter - Barefoot in the Park
Woman - I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
Jessica (Elder) Agnew is thrilled to be back onstage. As a 2009 graduate of Southwest Baptist University with a B.A in Theatre, Jessica has hands-on experience in acting, directing, playwriting, front of house and stage management.
After graduation, Jessica returned to St. Joseph and began working with Robidoux Resident Theatre as a board member. She designed the set for The Jungle Book, directed Bingo: The Musical, and acted in several productions. Some of her favorite roles over the years include: Ado Annie in Oklahoma, Jesse in ‘Night Mother, Meg in Little Women, Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, Guard in Burial at Thebes, Caitlin O’Hare in Over the River and Through the Woods, Ida in Honk, Marcy in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Ruth in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. She was also a 2009 Irene Ryan Region 5-Regional Finalist.
While she is not onstage, Jessica serves not only as Office Manager for the St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau, but living the role of wife to her real newlywed husband Shaun Agnew. She is honored to embark on this new adventure with Western Playhouse, and to be working alongside her husband in the final show of the season. She is thankful to God for the passion of theatre, and to family and friends for their support.
Lucy van Pelt - You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Choreographer - You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Alisha Marie Garnier is so honored and excited to be a part of the very first season here at Western Playhouse.
She has recently returned from New York, where she attended the NY Film Academy's Musical Theatre Conservatory on scholarship. She has studied with Broadway performers from Lion King, Wicked, Legally Blonde, Jersey Boys and Book of Mormon, to name a few.
She has been seen around the Kansas City area in shows such as How to Succeed (The Barn) in which she played Hedy La Rue, one of her favorite roles, Titanic (Leawood Stage Co.), Children of Eden (Music Hall), Wedding Singer (TTIP), and You're A Good Man , Charlie Brown, where she played Snoopy (SheShe&Heramp;Her).
Look for her in the Kansas City Fringe Festival Show Sing, Sing, Sing! in July! She would like to thank her parents for their continued support through her journey. Jer 29:11. Enjoy the show!
Victor Valesco - Barefoot in the Park
Allan studied theatre at KU, was an apprentice at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, PA, for two summers, and continues to study acting at the Actor Training Studio with Andy Garrison in Kansas City. For more than half a century, he has appeared in concert halls and beer halls, from Pennsylvania to the Moose Lodge in Centralia, KS, in roles ranging from the classics to vaudeville.
He has played Norman in On Golden Pond at Auburn and Topeka where he won the annual best actor award. He played Weller in The Gin Game in Kansas City. Also in Kansas City, he has appeared in the Equity Showcase, The Time of Your Life, The Crucible and several other plays. More recently, he appeared in the world premier of The Salt Beat which was written by a former Mork and Mindy writer and directed by the Emmy Award winner of the first 5 seasons of Seinfeld. Most recently, he was Grandpa in You Can’t Take it With You at the Midwestern Ensemble Theatre He’s also done several short videos. He played the title role in the staged radio drama Dracula on KTWU which won an EMMY. At Topeka Civic Theatre and Academy, where he is a member of the Hall of Fame, some of his favorite roles were McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Richard in Lion in Winter, and George Schneider in Chapter Two. He appeared as Andrew in Sleuth at the Showcase Dinner Theatre.
By day, Allan is an adoption attorney and past president of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. He works with his wife, Peggy, who makes it possible for him to sleep late so he can rehearse at night. He also teaches the Adoption Law class at Washburn University. Allan and Peggy have three children and six grandchildren.
Dallas Henry* is super excited to be wearing multiple hats this summer at Western Playhouse and making his return to the stage in Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. Dallas received his BA in Theatre from the University of Saint Mary and a MFA in Theatre from Wayne State University and the prestigious Hilberry Repertory Theatre Program in Detroit, Michigan. While in graduate school, he received additional theatrical training from the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford Festival of Canada and Second City of Chicago. While performing professionally on-stage, Dallas won numerous awards including a Backstage Regional Theatre Award and an Oakland Free Press Award. He was also part of the Fountain Theatre’s long running production of Master Class that won a Los Angeles Ovation Award for Best Production. Some of his most memorable professional on-stage credits include Orlando in As You Like It, Torvald in A Doll’s House, Simon Stimson in Our Town, Cosmo Brown in Singin’ in The Rain and fast-talking Harold Hill in The Music Man performed at Lincoln Amphitheatre in Indiana. Dallas currently is an assistant professor of theatre and cinema at Missouri Western State University. He recently directed Little Shop of Horrors, A Christmas Carol and Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor here on the Potter Hall Stage.
On the film side, Dallas successfully owned and operated his own production company, Wheatfield Productions, in Los Angeles for eight years. He directed and produced numerous award winning films, network television shows, music videos and national commercial campaigns. His direction on Craig Morgan’s “International Harvester” music video was a 2008 CMT Top 20 Video of the Year. In 2009, Dallas directed a national commercial campaign for Tennisset.com, which was a winner of three Golden Addy Awards. His film, Relapse, was a multiple festival winner and a red carpet screening at the Beverly Hills Film Festival in 2010.
Under the umbrella of Wheatfield Productions, he then created WebHoundGang Digital Media. This company produced over 50 cutting edge digital media shorts and viral videos. These too have also received national awards and merit, and one led to a pilot production with NBC.
He is very familiar on the other side of the camera having starred in numerous television shows, films and commercials. Dallas showed his dog whispering skills in a very popular Bud Light Commercial spot that aired during the Super Bowl in 2008. Or you might have caught him as a goofy guest star on the last episode of “That’s so Raven.” Don’t ask him to recreate that character! Dallas continues to be an avid member of Actors Equity, SAG and AFTRA.
A special thanks to President Vartabedian and the Administration; their continued support and drive is the reason for the continued success of the arts at Missouri Western. The vision and dream of having Western Playhouse started over a year ago with tacos at the downtown Taco Bell. From there, it has had multiple visions, budgets, shows and ideas; but the one constant has been Dean Gordon Mapley of Western Institute. When he picked up the tab that day for tacos, he was Dean Mapley, but today I am happy to call him my friend. This summer, I dedicate these shows to him, as it’s my way of saying “thank you” for believing. Hopefully, the performance and direction will pay for those tacos!
On August 11th, Dallas will be getting married to his best friend and biggest fan, Claudia Cruz. He looks forward to the best day of his life and finally calling her “wife.”
Mrs. Ethel Banks - Barefoot in the Park
Elisa James has been in the entertainment industry for 35 years, beginning her journey as a pianist, ice skater and champion baton twirler in Sydney, Australia. Her youth was spent performing on stage in revues, musicals and plays as part of the famous Australian John Young Talent Team, where she shared the stage and studio with Nicole Kidman and, at the age of 14, starred opposite Mel Gibson on stage in her first leading role. Her first love was always acting and she appeared in dozens of TV shows, soaps, TV commercials and films as a child. At age15, Elisa became a professional acrobatic dancer and trapeze artist and spent many years on the road touring with musicals, revues and shows.
Eventually singing became her specialty, and as a solo performer, she sang on stage in musicals, revues, rock bands, jazz bands, and show orchestras. She was also a popular studio session singer for many years, laying tracks for EMI and BMG records Australia, singing backing vocals and jingles and touring with many Australian Pop stars in the 90s. In 1995, Europe beckoned with a record deal for CNR/Red Bullet records, so she and her husband moved to Holland.
After eight years in Amsterdam recording and touring with Top 40 pop/dance acts such as Twenty4 Seven, Alice DJ and Papa Bear, Elisa, left Europe for the high seas. She developed a lounge act and series of one-woman cabaret shows which she performed in just about every country in the world while sailing on luxury cruise vessels as a full-time cabaret artist. The six star lines they sailed on include Silversea, Radisson, Regent, Celebrity, and Oceania. A few years ago they sailed into America and performed their shows on land in cabaret venues in Florida. Elisa opened for many famous comedians from Los Angeles and New York including, Renee Taylor & Joe Bologna, Jimmy JJ Walker, and Wendy Leibman.
Elisa and her hubby recently moved to Kansas City, MO, and she is currently completing a master's degree in transpersonal-psychology. She also teaches her unique Holistic Vocal Coaching programs (HAPSTM) and is filming a lead role in a feature film this summer. After many years away from her first love - acting - she is happy to be back treading the boards and being part of this fabulous play.
Schroeder - You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Raymond B. Johnson is thrilled to be a part of the inaugural season of the Western Playhouse. Having lived in St. Joseph for only three years, he has been seen locally as Wonka in Robidoux Resident Theater's production of Willy Wonka and as the Phantom in Missouri Western's production of Phantom.
He studied musical theater at The Hartt School of music, and played JJ Peachum in The Threepenny Opera, and JP Morgan in Ragtime. Other favorite roles have been Tevyeh in the Town Player's production of Fiddler on the Roof and Nicely Nicely in Taconic High School's Guys and Dolls.
Ray would like to thank the cast and crew for their marvelous work, Dallas Henry for his clear vision, and his wife, Mindy, for her love and support.
Telephone Repair Man - Barefoot in the Park
Jeff Jones is an up-and-coming comedian in the region. He is studying theatre at Missouri Western to better his knowledge and control of the stage. He has played Servant in Romeo and Juliet, Bert, the fruit and cider vendor/Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol, and was the voice of Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors, all at Missouri Western.
Mark Pennington returned to St. Joseph in 1996 after 20 years entertaining (thirteen in NYC) and began working at Central High School. In 1999, he was awarded a Mayor's Award for the Arts as Individual Artist. The St. Joseph School District recognized him as para-professional of the year in 2002.
He studied theatre/music/dance at Kansas State University. He toured nationally with Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly! and sang back-up for Eddy Arnold. In NYC, he worked with the Tony-award winning director/choreographer, Susan Stroman. He has worked in television, nightclubs, cabarets, dinner theatres, and on cruise ships travelling the world.
Here in St. Joseph, he has appeared in Sound of Music and Music Man with the Robidoux Resident Theatre and in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Wyatt Park Christian Church. He has sung with and narrated for the St. Joseph Symphony. He is also worship director at Wyatt Park Christian Church. He is privileged to be a part of the inaugural season of Western Playhouse.
Tee Quillin* is a classically trained professional actor and Assistant Professor of Theatre & Cinema at Missouri Western. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from the University of Alabama and a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the Meadows School for the Arts at Southern Methodist University. He is pleased to add the title of Artistic Director of Western Playhouse to his resume.
His professional on-stage credits include performances with the Dallas Theater Center, Kitchen Dog Theatre, WaterTower Theatre, as well as the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Tee has also stared in various national television commercials, (7-Eleven, Krystal, Tennessee Lottery, & CMT to name a few) and voice-over spots including audiobooks for Audible.com including American Entrepreneur by Larry Schweikart. Tee has had the pleasure of working with Barbara Somerville, Ben Furey, Cecil O’Neal, Michael Connolly, and Patsy Rodenburg. While working with the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Tee taught acting workshops and during his tenure with the Tennessee Shakespeare Festival, he served as Director of Education working in partnership with television star, Lane Davies.
Tee has been an active member of the Southeastern Theatre Conference by participating on various discussion panels and conducting workshops. He has also participated as a production respondent for Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival (KC/ACTF). Tee was actively involved with the Tennessee Governors School for the Arts as Auditions Coordinator, Adjudicator and Interviewer.
Tee was the co-founder and co-host of the weekly theatre podcast, The Inexplicable Dumb Show. He has also been an invited guest of The Humana Festival of New American Plays (2008-2010) at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in Louisville, KY, where he has interviewed playwrights and professional actors for this weekly podcast. The website also plays host to Tee’s partnership with Shakespeare Monologues, where he created and hosts scansion-ready, printable PDF files of all of the major monologues from the Shakespearean canon.
Recently, Tee was invited to present a paper at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association (MLA) Conference. He presented his paper, “Some Things Never Change: Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and American Politics in the 21st Century.” Tee is a member of the Actors Equity Association and has been recognized by the Society of American Fight Directors as an Actor Combatant on multiple occasions.
Among the productions Tee has starred in, he counts Hamlet in Hamlet, Decius Brutus in Julius Caesar, Lopakhin in The Cherry Orchard, George Tessman in Hedda Gabler, Peter in the musical Company, as well as Billy Crocker in the musical Anything Goes among his most memorable. The favorite productions he has directed include, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night, Oliver! and Phantom.
Tee wishes to thank his amazing wife, Bekah, and two phenomenal children, Morgan and Ian, for their years of support and encouragement. This is for them. He would also like to extend special thanks to President Vartabedian and the administration of Missouri Western for their continued support of all the arts and their belief in Western Playhouse. Finally, thanks to Dr. Gordon Mapley without whose support none of this could have happened.
Rita Sobbing graduated from Missouri Western with a degree in Theatre and Cinema. While at Missouri Western, she stage managed shows such as Phantom in the spring of 2011 and Laughter on the 23rd Floor in the fall of 2010.
Shortly after graduating, she was blessed with the opportunity to spend six months in Kentucky as a professional stage manager at Jenny Wiley Theatre in Jenny Wiley State Park.
She is honored to come back to her alma mater to kick off the first season of Western Playhouse. Rita is excited to be spending the summer with such great people. She hopes you enjoy the show and hopes you come back to Missouri Western again soon to see many seasons to come.
Box Office Guru
Blair Stalder is a box office employee and a super senior at Missouri Western. She recently finished her last year of eligibility on the softball team and is focusing on her major, convergent media. In her free time she likes to hang out with her friends, watch movies and go bowling or do anything that involves competition.
Woman - I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
Choreographer - I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
Leah Swank-Miller, a 2006 music theatre graduate of Wichita State University, is thrilled to be joining the Western Playhouse for its exciting new summer season.
Recent credits include Anna in The Baltimore Waltz and choreographer for Urinetown, the Musical, both at She&Her Productions. Last summer, she was the understudy for The Honky Tonky Angels at the American Heartland Theatre. Some of Leah's favorite shows include the off-Broadway revival of A Little Night Music, the regional premier of Urinetown, the American College Theatre Festival national finalist Pippin, Taffetas, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Leah and her husband, Brian, are pleased to announce their newest "production" due in late December. Special thanks to her entire I Love You cast and crew.
Scenic Designer/Technical Director
Eric Scot Voecks has been kicking around the theatre world for the better part of 25 years, designing and building sets or props for The Brownville Village Theatre, The Rose Theatre, The Blue Barn Theatre and The Grande Olde Players, Steve Thompson and Associates, The Delaware Theatre Company, TheatreVirginia and The Black Hills Playhouse.
He is currently a third year MFA candidate at The University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he is earning master's degrees in lighting, projection and scenic design. In Kansas City, Eric has designed lights for The UMKC Theatre Department and the Conservatory of Music and Dance, as well as lighting designs for the Coterie and Unicorn theatres.
This fall, Eric will spend four months in residency with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
Associate Director of Marketing and Audience Development
Andy Tyhurst is Associate Director of Marketing and Audience Development. He is currently a Theatre and Cinema student who enjoys writing screenplays, acting and directing. He is planning to graduate in December of 2012 and seeks a career in the theatre or film industries, or both!
Before enrolling at Missouri Western in 2010, Andy worked at Access Advertising in Kansas City for seven years and has worked in Sales and Marketing over 10 years. Andy was raised in New Orleans and loves baseball, boating and baby-sitting his five nephews. Charlie Brown was his favorite cartoon and comic strip growing up and he is very excited to be part of this production.
Box Office Guru
Marketing and Public Relations
Chance Umstatdt graduated from Missouri Western this spring with a Bachelor of Science in Theater & Cinema. He is working in both the box office and Marketing and Public Relations for Western Playhouse. He is proud and excited to say his first work out of college is at a professional summer theater at his alma mater.
He has worked in the theatre at Missouri Western throughout his four years and has seen almost every production. He also acted in a few productions while at Missouri Western. He wants to thank everyone with Western Playhouse for giving him a chance to work with this amazing new professional theater. With this summer's new productions, he is excited to see what will come of it and hopes it will become an annual event.
Kelly Vogel holds an MFA in Scenography from the University of Kansas and is a costume and scenic designer living in Lawrence, Kan.
She currently teaches at Johnson County Community College in both the theatre and fashion departments. Kelly designed costumes for all four productions at Missouri Western for the 2011-12 theatre season. Kelly has designed for the KU Theatre, the KU Opera, the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, Kansas City Kansas Community College and Johnson County Community College. Productions at these theatres include costume design for productions of Rocky Horror Show, Dreamgirls, Richard III, Intimate Apparel, and Love's Labour's Lost.
Film credits include working as a costumer for the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Skylark and as wardrobe supervisor on The Blind Man music video for Aerosmith. She was a selected exhibitor at the 2007 Prague Quadrennial in costume design for The Fantasticks. She received awards from the Kennedy Center-American College Theatre Festival that same year in costume design for Something's Afoot and in scenic design for Hay Fever.
While at the University of Kansas, Kelly received the Ethel Hinds Burch Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award for two consecutive years, as well as the Clarence Seaver Technical Theatre award. Most recently, she was recognized with an achievement award in scenic design for Johnson County Community College's production of Anatomy of Gray at the 2012 Region V Kansas City-American College Theatre Festival.
Snoopy - You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Kyle Minx began his involvement with theatre in 2006 with his debut performance as Tony Forte in Copa Cabana. Since then, he has taken every opportunity to develop his theatrical experience by taking part in musicals, plays, short films and operas.
Kyle is currently in his senior year at Missouri Western studying to receive a B.S.E in vocal music with a vocal performance emphasis. He most recently played the role of emcee in Robidoux Resident Theatre’s production of Cabaret and Orin Scrivello in Missouri Western’s Little Shop of Horrors this last spring.
For that role, he received a Musical Theatre Initiative Nomination from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. After graduation, he plans to continue his education in the direction of theatre performance.