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Meet the Resident Company of 2018

Posted on Jun 29, 18 in The Resident Company, TLP News

TLP has long held our Resident Company as the pride and joy of our summers. Each year, we do a national search to select our company that consists of all departments that go into putting on a great show for our patrons. From our actors to designers to stage management and front of house staff, we are delighted to present our talented Resident Company:


The Acting Company:

Olivia Belfie (Resident Performer)

Olivia is a musical theatre major at Western Michigan University.  At WMU she played Kim in Showboat, Alice in Thoroughly Modern Millie, and the Little Girl in the United States premier of Witches of Eastwick. Olivia had her Chicago debut this past summer in the new work Box Step at the Chicago Dramatists Theatre. She can currently be seen in a number of commercials and feature films. Check out her IMDb to see her latest projects, one of which will be submitted to Netflix in the Fall of 2019.


Danielle Bessler (Resident Performer)

Danielle is making her debut at TLP in Beauty and the Beast (Babette),  Born Yesterday (Helen), The Full Monty (Susan), Fiddler on the Roof (Tzeitel), and Madagascar.  REGIONAL: Seussical (Mayzie), D2D Productions; Oklahoma (Ado Annie), Kincaid Regional Theater; Blackbird (Girl), Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park; Christmas in Columbus (Maggie Holiday), Short North Stage.  TELEVISION & FILM: (SAG-AFTRA) Big Time Rush (Shanya), Nickelodeon; Barbie In A Perfect Christmas (Stacie-Singing Voice), Mattel VOCALIST: North Pole Musical, Hal Leonard; “Hanukkah Duet,” Disney Home Entertainment. Danielle is a recent summa cum laude graduate of Wright State University in musical


Max Bahneman (Resident Performer)

Max is making his TLP debut this summer.  Originally from Milwaukee, Max spent the last four years at Webster Conservatory in St. Louis where he just graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre.  Favorite credits include Henry in Next to Normal, and Britt Craig/Young Soldier in Parade. In the fall Max will be moving to New York to pursue an acting career.


Corinne Gahan (Resident Performer/ Front of House)

Corinne recently graduated with her BFA in acting from Northern Illinois University. She has also previously attended MXAT in Moscow, Russia, for training in acting, as well as two years studying Vocal Performance at Western Michigan University before she decided to transfer to NIU. She has worked at both Primary Stages in NYC, and Oak Park Festival Theatre in Chicago. Previous credits include: Mrs. Mi Tzu in Good Person of Szechwan; Edith Wharton in Daughters of Waterloo; and Christine de Pizan/Susana de Trimarco in Women In To Light. To learn more about Corinne visit her website at


Dylan Goike (Resident Performer)

This fall Dylan will start his senior year at Central Michigan University, where he expects to receive a BFA in musical theatre. His performance opportunities at CMU include Mike (A Chorus Line), Hanschen (Spring Awakening), and Tuc (Mother Hicks) to name a few. His regional work includes Curly (Oklahoma!), Riff (West Side Story), Sir Robin (Spamalot), and a traveling company member of the Team Hyena Dance Puppet company (For Larry Craig). He works at a theatrical costume shop back at home, and spends his free time writing plays.


Richard Gomez (Resident Performer)

Richard is an actor, director, and aspiring playwright currently pursuing his B.F.A. in musical theatre performance and directing at Abilene Christian University.  He has performed in various productions in the Houston and Abilene area. Credits include: The Wizard of Oz, CATS, Man of La Mancha, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Annie, Schoolhouse Rock Live! Tour, Hairspray, Peter and the Starcatcher, Shrek, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Little Mermaid and many more.  Richard’s one act play, Special Needs, was chosen as an award recipient and read at the TETA Festival in Galveston.


Ben Greiner (Resident Performer/ Front of House)

Ben is originally from Iowa, but is now based in the Chicago area. He is a sophomore acting/directing and stage management double major, with a minor in dance at Rockford University. Some of his favorite credits include: the Duke of Clarence in Richard III, Tommy Boy in Newsies, Ray in Blackbird, and Rugby in A Flea in Her Ear. A skilled barista, Ben is as big into coffee as he isinto theatre!


Rebecca Marowitz (Resident Performer)

Rebecca hails from Seattle, currently lives in Chicago, where she became a graduate of the Chicago College of Performing Arts, receiving a B.F.A in musical theatre. Recent credits include Maggie (Lend Me a Tenor), Christine Colgate (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), Fraulein Kost (Cabaret) and Denise (The Baker’s Wife). You can catch her singing jazz standards in her free time. 


Lily Autumn Page (Resident Performer)

Lily is currently studying musical theatre at Marymount Manhattan College and will be a senior in the fall. Some previous credits include Gypsy (Sharon Playhouse), Big River (Sharon Playhouse), and The Secret Garden (Mac-Haydn Theatre).


Alex Rudd (Resident Performer)

Alex’s list of favorite roles includes Daniel in Once on This Island, Rex in Working, the Musical, Benny in Rent with Theatre Under the Stars, Houston (TUTS), Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, and Gaston in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Alex grew up in England and Singapore but calls Texas his home. He plays guitar, banjo, ukulele and writes his own songs that you can hear on iTunes and SoundCloud. Alex is currently a BFA musical theatre major at Webster Conservatory of Theatre Arts in St. Louis.


Ben Senneff (Resident Performer)

Ben is a rising sophomore music theatre major at Baldwin Wallace University. Some of his favorite credits include Farquaad in Shrek, the Musical, Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, and Bobby Strong in Urinetown. You’ll probably find him at the piano playing standards and impersonating the voice of Frank Sinatra. His music editing business, “Edits by Ben,” just opened recently and now edits music for dancers nationwide. 


Anna Catherine Smith (Resident Performer)

Anna is currently a sophomore BFA musical theatre major at Pace University, NYC. Her favorite roles include Hope in Urinetown, Wednesday in Addams Family, Ariel in Footloose, and Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Other credits include Mary Jane in Big River and Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat. Most recently, Anna had the honor of performing as a soloist for the James M. Nederlander Memorial concert at the Minskoff Theatre (Broadway).


Erin Stapleton (Resident Performer)

Erin is a recent graduate of the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University, St. Louis. Some favorite roles include: Meg Brockie in Brigadoon, the Chaperone in The Drowsy Chaperone, Phoebe in As You Like It. Originally from Milwaukee, she has also been seen at First Stage, Skylight Music Theatre, and Milwaukee Rep.


James Tweedale (Resident Performer)

James is a British-American actor and improviser. He received his BA in theatre from Western Washington University (‘11) and is currently pursuing his MFA at Western Illinois University (‘20). This season marks James’ debut at TLP.


Olivia Ursu (Resident Performer)

Olivia Ursu is a recent graduate of Oakland University’s B.F.A. musical theatre program and an Actors Equity membership candidate since 2017.   Some of Olivia’s previous credits include Val in A Chorus Line (Oakland University), Ellen in Bullets  Over Broadway (Oakland University), and her ensemble work in Memphis: The Musical (Mason Street Warehouse). A Michigan native, Olivia is looking forward to moving to New York City in the fall to continue her acting career.


Trevor Vanderzee (Resident Performer)

A graduate of DePaul University, Chicago, Trevor is making his TLP debut.   Most recently he was seen in Theo Ubique’s production of Sweeney Todd.  Favorite roles include Sid (Pajama Game, Highland Park Players), Belcore (L’elisir d’Amore, Opera for the Young),  Papageno (The Magic Flute, DePaul Opera Theatre), and Tony (The Most Happy Fella – Theo Ubique). In 2017, he won 1st place in the Hal Leonard Competition and the NATS Chicago Musical Theatre Competition, and received an Emerging Artist Award through the Lotte Lenya Competition. 


Ryan Wagner (Resident Performer)

Ryan is a proud student of Western Michigan University where he has been seen in Blood Brothers (Sammy), Witches of Eastwick (Ensemble U/S Michael), Lucky Stiff (Man 1 U/S Harry), and more. In his free time, he enjoys hammocking, watching Game of Thrones, and writing songs.  Check him out on Soundcloud at Ryan.Wagner


The Technical Company:

LAURA KROUCH (Production Stage Manager)

Over the years, Laura’s gypsy boots have taken her to all but three states in the U.S. and across an ocean.  Some adventures include: In the Heights (John w. Engeman Theatre) Ajijaak on Turtle Island (Ibex Puppetry), Jesus Christ Superstar (Bristol Riverside Theatre), and third national tour of John Tartaglia’s ImaginOcean (Gables Grove Productions).  She would like to thank her family for being there for her and encouraging her gypsy antics, and to Kirk, Weston and Emily, her Apartment 4 Family.  Enjoy the show!

Will Hughes (Tech Director)

Will’s a BFA Musical Theater major at Rockford University, originally from Pittsburgh PA. He’s worked the past two summers as a professional carpenter, most recently at Weathervane Playhouse in Newark Ohio. Though this is his first summer here, he already loves this theater and is extremely excited for this rewarding experience.

Spencer Gjerde (Scenic Designer)

Spencer is a Loyola University Chicago graduate with degrees in both theatre and English. He spent much of his time at Loyola designing sets and props for a wide variety of shows. He built dragons For She Kills Monsters he built dragons, then designed playgrounds for Eurydice, and turned Loyola’s black box theatre into a cabaret diner for the musical Tin Types. He is happiest when he is building worlds, whether they be on the stage or on the page.


Sarah Lake-Rayburn (Costume Designer/ Head of Wardrobe)

Sarah Lake-Rayburn graduated from Goshen College in 2015 with a major in theatre performance.  Sarah has been designing costumes since her junior year.  Credits at Goshen College include The Marriage of Figaro and The Boys Next Door.  Sarah has spent the last year-and-a-half as the resident costume designer at Thunder Bay Theatre in Alpena, MI.  Favorite credits at Thunder Bay include The Marvelous Wonderettes, A Grand Night for Singing, and Robin Hood.  After this season at TLP Sarah will begin pursuing her MFA in costume design and technology at Lousiana State University.


Jacob Almanzar (Sound Designer)

Jacob is a graduate of the College of Saint Rose music industry degree program. As an audio engineer, he has recorded, mixed and mastered multiple albums, including working as the sound engineer for Roundtable Records in Brooklyn. As a sound designer, he recently designed the play Life Line for the Strawberry One Act Festival in New York City. He also works audio and production at the Off-Broadway venue, New World Stages in New York City. In addition, Jacob is a songwriter, guitarist and producer for his own musical projects.


Cameron Strandin (Lighting Designer/ Master Electrician)

Cameron is currently pursuing a BFA in theatre design and technical production at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a Rockford native, and has several local lighting design credits including Snow White and Turning Pointe for the Rockford Dance Company, House of Blue Leaves, Assassins, and Hair for [Usual] Suspects, and other productions at Guilford, Belvidere, and Winnebago high schools. For three years, Cameron was a part of the light crew for the Illinois HS Theatre Festival’s All-State Productions. When he’s not doing theatre, Cameron enjoys sailing on Lake Geneva and listening to music.


Hai Alverez-Millard (Stage Manager)

Hai is a recent graduate of Purchase College, where she received her BFA in theatre design/technology with a concentration in stage management. Her past credits include: Great Lakes (PSM), The Bacchae of Euripides (PSM), The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (PSM), Seven Guitars (SM), Ben, Virginia, and Me (ASM), and Icon the Musical (ASM). During her free time, she loves to draw, dance, and hang on aerial apparatuses, including silks and trapeze.


Elisha Beston (Stage Manager/Costume Shop)

Elisha is originally from Singapore, but she spent the last four years at Rockford University, where she graduated with a BFA in musical theatre, with minors in dance and political science. A stage manager and costume constructer, Elisha looks forward to combining both interests this summer.


Stephen Higginbotham (Carpenter)

Stephen is a rising sophomore at Oklahoma State University where he studies mechanical engineering and technical theater with a focus in technology. He has been building sets and props for four years now. Two of his proudest achievements are designing and building Joseph’s chariot for his high school’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat and being props master for OSU’s student production of Barefoot in the Park.  Stephen has a number of hobbies, such as sculpting, writing, gaming, and internet content creation.


Brett Nelson (Assistant Tech Director)

Brett is originally from DeWitt, Iowa, but he has spent the last five years at college earning his degree at Illinois State University with a major in design/production and a focus in scene design.  Brett is at home waist deep in scenic dope, covered in paint, with a fine layer of saw dust. He loves the act of creating beautiful worlds for the stage, and it is what he has committed his life pursuit to be.


Nick Peoples (Carpenter)

Nicholas graduated from Goshen College in August of 2017 with a BA in theatre

(acting/performance concentration). His prior build credits include The Marriage of Figaro, RedHerring, Robin Hood, The Boys Next Door, Songs for a New World, Kindertransport, The Odd Couple, and Godspell.  His past acting credits include Father in Eurydice, James/Harry/Woody/Bartender in Red Herring, Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, and Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. When not working in theater, he enjoys martial arts training, drumming, and video gaming.


Zandra Siple (Assistant Costumer/ Designer)

Zandra is a design and technical theatre major from Western Michigan University, focusing in costume design and construction. She loves to sew and design her own clothes. Her previous college credits include: costume designer for Fish in the Dark, costume coordinator for Waiting to be Invited, and costume designer for Blood Brothers.


Alexa Wiljanen (Scenic Artist)

Alexa, a veteran scenic painter will soon be a Junior at Western Michigan University studying theatre: design & technical production with focus in scenic/lighting design. Previous credits: Charge Artist,  Angels in America.


Jasmine Elam (Directing Intern)

Jasmine is a junior theatre major at Eureka College from Tolono, Illinois. She is currently the Production Assistant for Pritchard Theatre at Eureka College. Some of her favorite roles include: Dragons in Talking With… (Eureka College), God in On the Corner of Bodhisattva and Shangri-La (Parkland College), and Robert Ann in Nunsense (Metamora Thespian Society).  She has directed 12 Angry Jurors, Blithe Spirit, and This Isn’t a Musical. She plans to direct She Kills Monsters at Eureka College in the spring of 2019.


Kaitlyn Meriam (Stage Management Intern)

This is Kaitlyn’s first summer with the TLP.  Kaitlyn comes to Illinois from Long Island, New York and is now a rising junior at Long Island University. Her most recent stage management credits include Assistant Stage Manager of In the Wake with Post Theatre Company at Long Island University, and Production Assistant of The Rover with Ithaca College’s Department of Theatre Arts.

Eliza Kang (Choreography Intern)