Monday, February 12, 2018

Announcing the Principal Staff of Annie!

We are proud to wrap up our season with the crowd favorite, Annie! Sponsored by RSM, Annie will run August 3-5, 8-12. A heart-filled production of a family favorite, Muni’s 2018 production of Annie will be full of poignant comedy and attention to historic detail as it explores the question of what makes a family.   

Plucky and optimistic, little orphan Annie charms everyone's hearts despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. She is determined to find the parents who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City orphanage that is run by the cruel Miss Hannigan. With the help of the other girls in the orphanage, Annie escapes to the wondrous world of NYC, making her way from the Hooverville shantytown to the palatial mansion of billionaire Oliver Warbucks. Along the way, with the help of Warbucks’ personal secretary Grace Farrell and a lovable mutt named Sandy, Annie foils Miss Hannigan's schemes, befriends President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and finds a new home and family. The sun’ll come out this summer at the Muni!

Director: Carly Shank
Carly directed Muni's Sweeney Todd and Oliver! and appeared on stage last summer as Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins. She has also directed Next to Normal and Joseph... for the HCFTA, The Crucible and Mr. Lincoln for TIP, and STC's production of Rent.  Carly works as Director of Audience Development for Sangamon Auditorium, and is delighted to lead the team for this summer's production of Annie, having been in the casts of three previous Springfield productions of Annie, going back to Springfield's very first first production of the beloved musical in 1983. 

Producer: Dennis O'Brien
Dennis has been involved in Muni productions onstage, backstage, and as board member of both the Board of Managers and Board of Trustees for several decades. A three time President of Muni, he knows where most of the bodies are buried, and it is rumored he planted several of them personally. That makes him a perfect candidate for the position of Producer.  He is an attorney with Livingstone, Mueller, O’Brien & Davlin, P.C., and he is the proud father of Sean, Kate, Betsy and Conor, all of whom have graced the Muni stage on numerous occasions. 

Assistant Director: John Sivak
John is very excited to be on the staff of Annie this summer! This is his 20th year of involvement with the Muni, he previously directed Muni’s South Pacific in 2016 and has performed in and directed several shows around the area. This is John’s third production of Annie, he was in the chorus of the 2003 STC production and was FDR in the 2010 Muni production. He is very much looking forward to creating new memories with the cast and staff of this year’s show.

Vocal Director: Christie Lazarides
Christie is so excited to be a part of the Annie team! This will be Christie’s 11th year on staff for Muni, having most recently vocal directed Muni’s RENT, Shrek, Spamalot, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and Mary Poppins. This will be Christie’s fourth time being involved in a production of Annie. She performed as an orphan twice, including once as Pepper in one of Muni’s productions. Annie was also the very first show Christie ever vocal directed. 

Choreographer: Casey Tester
Casey is an English teacher at Riverton High School where she has directed, assisted with, and/or choreographed nearly twenty shows, including most recently Legally Blonde, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Shrek; but this is her first time participating in a community theater production, other than supporting and enjoying it from the audience. She is thrilled to be joining the Muni family, and especially for the opportunity to work with Carly, who is the first person to inspire in her a love of musical theater through an unforgettable camp during the summer of 1992 (where she just so happened to perform Annie's "Maybe"). Twelve years ago, Annie was Casey's first opportunity to try out her choreography skills, and she is so grateful to revisit its magic again this summer! 

Assistant Vocal Director: Haley Muller
Haley is thrilled to be on staff for Annie! She is a vocal music education major at Millikin University where she is in multiple student and music organizations. She has been in numerous Muni performances including Les Miserables, Little Mermaid, and Mary Poppins. She has been a cast member in many shows in the Springfield area and is excited for her first time on staff, especially for Annie, having played the role of Annie in sixth grade at Cantrall Intermediate School and it being the first show she was in as an orphan at the Muni in 2010.

Stage Manager: Seth Wheeler
Seth served as Assistant Director for Mary Poppins, Apprentice Director for The Little Mermaid, and Stage Manager for Shrek the Musical and Les Miserables in previous Muni seasons. Long ago one might have found him on the Muni stage, faking his way through tap dances with Kevin Kulavic in Crazy for You or trying to pass as a Shark in West Side Story. While he likes being on stage and performing, he's going back to his comfort zone which is backstage, bossing people around and making sure that the audience gets a great show every night. During the day, Seth is the Facilities Manager at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. This will be Seth's eleventh consecutive summer at the Muni and he is excited to work on Annie with yet another amazing Directing team. It may be a hard-knock life, but not when you're doing what you love!   

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Announcing the Principal Staff of Legally Blonde the Musical!


We are excited to have Legally Blonde the Musical make its Muni debut as our third show this summer! Sponsored by UCB, Legally Blonde will run July 13-15, 18-22. Oh my God, oh my God, you guys! Based on the fabulous movie, Legally Blonde the Musical is a fun, award-winning show that is follows the transformation of Elle Woods as she bends and snaps stereotypes and scandal in pursuit of her dreams. You guys. We can’t. Elle has like the ultimate #TransformationTuesday. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. When the musical starts, Elle literally has it all: she’s in a sorority, she has a killer wardrobe, she owns an adorable Chihuahua named Bruiser, and she snagged a hottie boyfriend with Roman numerals after his name. But her life is totally turned upside down when her boyfriend Warner dumps her so he can attend Harvard Law! It’s like, so sad. So Elle charms her way into the prestigious law school to win him back, but gets totally bummed out when her fellow classmates, professors, and ex are total haters completely underestimate her. Ugh! But with the support of some new friends, Elle quickly realizes her potential and sets out to be so much better than before.

Director: Anna Bussing Maisenbacher
Anna has been involved with The Muni for approximately 25 years. She has directed and choreographed West Side Story and All Shook Up, choreographed Hairspray and High School Musical, and was most recently on stage at Muni as Betty Haynes in White Christmas. Anna works as the coordinator for the audiology department at SIU Medicine. 

Producer: Jake Smith
Jake is thrilled to join this staff. This is his sixth show to produce for the Muni most recently producing Disney’s The Little Mermaid. In addition, Jake is serving a co-chair for publicity this year for the Muni. He is excited to see this season materialize and share it with his family (Mary Kate, Stella, Jesse, and Jude.)

Assistant Director: Cory Blissett
Cory Blissett has been performing in the local theater scene for over 20 years.  Some of his favorite performance moments at The Muni include Angel in RENT, dean Hyde in All Shook Up, Huck Finn in Big River, and Younger Brother in Ragtime.  Cory is a licensed counselor and the Director of Outreach at Hope, which is a non-profit in Illinois serving individuals with developmental differences.  Fun fact, a part of that job includes co-directing the spring musical each year.  Cory is also a youth group co-leader at Phoenix Center and an actor at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  This is Cory's first time on staff at the Muni and he is excited to be working alongside some truly talented artistic innovators. 

Assistant Director/Choreographer: Julie Ratz
Julie is the Artistic Director of the Springfield Ballet Company. She has performed with SBC; ISU Dance Theatre; Twin Cities Ballet Company; Scottish American Ballet in Edinburgh, Scotland; and Harvard University Summer Dance. Julie holds a B.S. in Dance Performance/Choreography from Illinois State University (ISU); and she has studied dance in Chicago at Lou Conte and Joseph Holmes dance studios, and the Ruth Page Foundation. She has received the Springfield Area Arts Council choreography award, and has been a member of the Illinois Arts Council Partners in Excellence and Dance panels. Julie has performed in, choreographed and directed many productions for Over the Moon Productions (OTM), Springfield Theatre Centre (STC), Muni and the Hoogland Center for the Arts (HCFTA).

Vocal Director: Mary Kate Smith

Mary Kate is excited to be back on Muni staff for the first time since 2011's Wizard Of Oz. She has been on stage at Muni in the meantime starring, most recently, in the title role of last season's hit Mary Poppins.  She has long been a vocal coach, teacher and instructor as well as a musician and recording artist. Her favorite thing about Muni is sharing it with her family (Jake, Stella, Jesse and Jude) as well as her extended Muni family.  That, and the peach green tea you can only get there and, like, two other places.

Apprentice Director: Craig McFarland
Craig is extremely excited that Legally Blonde marks his first time on a Muni staff. He's been involved in Springfield area theatre for the past eight years, playing numerous roles from Hubert Humphrey in HCFTA's All the Way to Patsy in STC's Spamalot. This past Muni season he was in our White Christmas. Craig also has directed and assistant directed shows for Springfield Theatre Centre. He's currently a member of the Muni Board of Managers, where he is serving as Co-chair to the Muni's publicity committee. He works as an Academic Advisor at UIS. When he's not busy with theatre he is at home with his lovely wife, Anna, and his adorable son, Liam.

Stage Manager: Kevin Kulavic
Kevin most recently played Roger in our production of Grease. His resume is very extensive from performing and staffing numerous shows throughout the area. To pay his bills, Kevin is Deputy Director at the Illinois Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. He will be busy this summer at the Muni, Kevin is also the assistant director of our Little Shop of Horrors.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Announcing the Principal Staff for Sister Act!

Sister Act will make its Muni debut as our second show this season! Sponsored by Edward Jones, Sister Act will run June 22-24 and 27, July 1. When disco diva, Deloris Van Cartier, witnesses a murder, she is put in protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won't be a found: a convent! Disguised as a nun, she finds herself at odds with both the rigid lifestyle and uptight Mother Superior. Using her unique disco moves and singing talent to inspire the choir, Deloris breathes new life into the church and community but, in doing so, blows her cover. Soon, the gang is giving chase, only to find them up against Deloris and the power of her newly found sisterhood.
Co-Director/choreographer: Morgan Kaplan
Morgan is co-Director/choreographer for Sister Act. By day, she is an Associate Director for Tri Sigma National Sorority. She has been active in local theatre for more than 15 years. Morgan most recently co-directed A Chorus Line for STC with Andrew Maynerich in 2017. She has been on staff and on stage for numerous productions at Muni, STC, SHS, HCFTA and SHG. Favorite shows include Chicago (HCFTA), Cats (OTM) Hairspray, The Producers, and Shrek at Muni; Hair, Rock of Ages, Gigi in Miss Saigon, Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes, Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie (STC) and 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (HCFTA); Beauty and the Beast and Ragtime at SHS.  She is most proud of the role of Mommy to Sawyer. Get ready for a heavenly summer!

Co-Director/choreographer: Andrew Maynerich
Andrew is excited to make his Muni Co-Director debut of Sister Act with Morgan Kaplan!  After Co-directing A Chorus Line for STC's 2017 season, Andrew and Morgan and stoked to the heavens for this show!  No stranger to the stage, however, Andrew has been performing at the Muni since 2003, and has most recently performed as Emcee in Cabaret (2015), Jimmy Winter in Nice Work (2016), and Bert in Mary Poppins (2017), and many others throughout the community.  Having choreographed and assistant directed many shows over the years, including Shrek, Spamalot, South Pacific, and Rocky Horror, Andrew is excited to put on a new hat!  Andrew is an advanced tap instructor for Springfield Dance Company, and owns and operates Maynerich Financial where he works as a Financial Advisor.  

Producer: Greg Donathan
Greg is a hospital administrator at a mental health center. Greg has directed several local productions, including Sister Act, The Sound of Music and Legally Blonde. Greg has been seen on the Muni stage as Phil in last summer’s White Christmas, the Tinman in the Wizard of Oz, Josh in Big, Billy in Anything Goes and Henrik in A Little Night Music. Greg played the title role in Pippin and Lt. Cable in South Pacific at TIP and Adam/Noah in Children of Eden and Bobby in Company st STC. Greg loves sharing his love of theatre and music with his wife Elizabeth and children Edward, Cecilia, Matthew and Mary.

Assistant Director: Stacy Kolaz
Stacy has been involved in theater most of her life. Stacy has appeared in and worked on many different shows throughout the Springfield theater community. She recently assistant directed for HCFTA Charlie Brown Christmas and apprentice directed for Muni’s Marry Poppins.  Stacy is currently the Makeup/Hair co-chair for the Muni and has coordinated make-up and hair for many productions around the area, including Muni’s The Little Mermaid, South Pacific, Seussical, Shrek, Dream girls and Beauty and the Beast. Stacy is looking forward to spending her summer under the stars.


Vocal Director: Damien Kaplan
Damien Kaplan is Vocal/Music Director for Sister Act. By day, he is the Director of Choral Activities at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School. He is also the Director of the Lincoln Troubadors. He has conducted and Vocal directed numerous productions for The Muni, HCFTA, STC, SHS and SHG. Favorite credits include vocals for Les Miserables (Muni and HCFTA), Big River (Muni), Forever Plaid (HCFTA), Music Direction for Parade (HCFTA), Urinetown (OTM), Hairspray, Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins (Muni), and the role of Lord Farquad in Muni’s Shrek. His most recently added credit (and his favorite one) is dad to Sawyer!

Stage Manager: Jennifer Gronewold
Jennifer is the Learning Lab Coordinator at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School. She has worked behind the scenes for several shows at SHG, Muni, Legacy, and STC. She is beyond thrilled to stage manage for Sister Act and provide props for Legally Blonde this summer at Muni. A big thank you to the staffs of these shows for these exciting opportunities. She is sincerely grateful to be surrounded by family and friends, who continue to inspire her love of all things theatrical.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Announcing the Principal Staff of Little Shop of Horrors!

We are happy to announce the principle staff of our first production "Little Shop of Horrors." The show is set to open on June 1 at 8:30 PM. Sponsored by Springfield Clinic this will be a wonderful production to open our Muni season!

The meek floral assistant Seymour Krelborn stumbles across a new breed of plant he names "Audrey II" - after his coworker crush. This foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore promises unending fame and fortune to the down and out Krelborn as long as he keeps feeding it…blood! Over time, Seymour discovers Audrey II's out-of-this-world origin and designs for nothing less than global domination.

Director: Laurie Barnes
Laurie teaches Physics and Astronomy at Glenwood High School  where she also directs the school musicals.  She was in her first show at Muni in 1975 and has been involved with Muni ever since.  She has directed a number of shows here, including Ragtime, Aida, The Secret Garden, Once On This Island, and Jekyll and Hyde. She is very proud that all 4 of her children have been involved in Muni and she absolutely could not do a show without brother Dave on the piano!

Producer: Mary Matheny

Mary has performed on stage several times, including last summer's Mary Poppins and appeared as Mother in STC’s A Christmas Story. She is grateful for the opportunity to be part of another Muni show and looks forward to taking on this new role.

Assistant Director: Kevin Kulavic
Kevin most recently played Roger in our production of Grease. His resume is very extensive from performing and staffing numerous shows throughout the area. To pay his bills, Kevin is Deputy Director at the Illinois Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. He is looking forward to working with Laurie in bringing Little Shop to the Muni stage.  

 Vocal Director: Steve Rotello
Stephen Rotello takes on the role of vocal director after having spent many summers working at the Muni for shows such as Jekyll & Hyde, Hairspray, Ragtime, and Seussical. Steve is a long time member of the Muni Board of Managers. 

Choreographer: Ronda Brinkman
Ronda Brinkman has been a member of the Springfield arts community most of her life as a dancer, actor, choreographer and volunteer. Ronda danced with Springfield Ballet Company for 16 years, dancing many leading roles, including Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow White and held staff and board positions with SBC. Teaching for 30 years, she is the owner of Springfield Dance and the Artistic Director for Springfield Dance Theatre, a large children’s arts organization dedicated to enriching the community through the performing arts.  

Stage Manager: Kelly Franklin
Kelly has been with Muni since 2009 and is excited to be back for another season! Kelly is a senior at Illinois State University majoring in Theater and Legal Studies and can't wait to graduate in May. Muni was her first opportunity backstage and she hasn't stopped working since! Over the years, Kelly has crewed, sponsored, and managed shows at Muni, GHS, and ISU. She was the Asst. Stage Manager for Muni’s Mary Poppins and Shrek The Musical. She is the former President of Theatre of Ted and Captain of the Mock Trial Team. Kelly is thankful for the opportunity and is excited to make new friends and memories with Little Shop!