Big Fish Production Team – Summer, 2017
Director: Ruben Van Kempen
Ruben Van Kempen is a freelance director and the recent director of theatre at Roosevelt High School, Seattle where he taught and directed for 38 years. He is proud of his many students who have gone on to work professionally on Broadway (Tony winner Memphis); in London, Europe, and Japan; and in the opera, music, film and television industries. His directing work has been seen at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Gates Performing Arts Center in Hawaii, Village Theatre, Seattle Civic Light Opera, the Thespian Festival at the University of Nebraska, University of Evansville, Western Washington University, Seattle Pacific University, Intiman Theatre/Seattle Children’s Museum, the International Thespian Festival in the Leid Theatre, Nebraska, as well as in several industrial shows.
Some of his favorite directing credits include: And Then They Came For Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank, On Your Toes, Me and My girl (receiving The Seattle Times Footlight Theatre Award for best Musical Revival 1993), Thoroughly Modern Millie, The School for Scandal, The Children’s Hour, Watch on the Rhine, She Stoops to Conquer, 42nd Street, and the Northwest premier of Good News.
He is proud of the many students who have worked professionally on Broadway, in London and in the television/film industry. Former student Noah Racey ’89 created the role of Bobby in the Broadway version of Curtains, also in and creating the tap choreography for Thoroughly Modern Millie. Chad Kimball ’95, Tony Nominee for Best Actor in the Tony Winning Memphis (2009), in the upcoming Come From Away, two more students playing roles in the following new Broadway shows this season: A Bronx Tale and The Great Comet. Other shows include A Chorus Line, Oklahoma, Never Gonna Dance, Wicked, Into The Woods, Lennon, West Side Story (Hollywood Bowl and Papermill Playhouse), Sunday in the Park with George (New York City Center) to name a few. His technical students are in the: Lighting Design (NY, Regional), head carpenters (Seattle Opera, Seattle Children’s Theatre, ACT – Company Management, Broadway/Regional/National Tours – Costume/Dressing/Stitching, Broadway/Regional/National Tours – Las Vegas and Cruise Ship tours.
Ruben received the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Fine and Performing Arts at Western Washing University. He was inducted into the Educational Theatre Association National Hall of Fame in September 2012, is a 2011 inductee into WA State Thespians and a 2008 inductee into the WIAA Hall of Fame. He received the 2007 Gregory A. Falls Sustained Achievement Award, which honors an individual who has devoted time, energy and talent to Seattle’s theatre community over the course of their career, influencing theatre locally and beyond. He was also honored with the first annual Ruben Van Kempen Arts Educator from the Intiman Theatre, The 5th Avenue Theatre Educator of the Year 2013. He was named a recipient of the Christa McAuliffe 2000 teaching award, and in 2013 received the Phi Beta Kappa Pathfinder Award.
Music Director: Mark Press
Born into a musical family, music has always been an essential part of Mark’s life. His father Bernie toured the country in many prominent big bands before settling in Seattle in 1959 as staff arranger and lead trombone in the Seattle World’s Fair band. His brother David was an accomplished jazz bassist/pianist who performed with many jazz greats.
Mark grew up in Edmonds, attended Edmonds CC where he was a featured soloist with Soundsation. He graduated from WWU where he also directed the Jazz Choir. He has been a music educator at every level from Kindergarten through University and has taught in the Edmonds School District since 1990. He is a very busy singer, trombone player, vocal coach and conductor. He has performed with many premier groups in the northwest including the Everett Symphony, the Sno-King Chorale and the Seattle Jazz Singers. He is currently the lead trombone player and featured vocalist for the North Sound Jazz big band.
He has Music Directed and conducted dozens of shows at many venues including Shorecrest High, Seattle Musical Theater, Woodinville Repertory, and many with Madrona Children’s Theater – that he also founded in 1993. He has been Music Director at Driftwood since 2010 starting with Annie and will be MD once more for The Drowsy Chaperone which runs April 28-May 14.
Mark is thrilled to share most of these musical adventures with his bride of over 23 years Nancy, a very talented pianist/accompanist. They are excited to be a part of the expanded education program at EDP.
Choreographer: Sheri Lewis
Sheri Lewis is the founder and director of Westlake Dance Center. Sheri’s desire to travel and dance led her to perform in exotic places like Bermuda, Puerto Rico and cruise ships right out of high school. This chance to perform and continue to study dance all over the world opened her eyes to different dance styles that influence her teaching today. Sheri got her license in massage therapy in 2001 where kineseology and study of anatomy gave her awareness to dance injuries and rehab to help dancers in class and out.
Besides teaching at WDC, Sheri choreographs several musicals each year and local conventions working with entertainment companies. Sheri is thrilled to have been guest teaching and choreographing for YWAM and Project Dance New York.
Honk Production Team – Summer, 2017
Director: Dorothy Pierce (Dorothy will also be directing our week long camps of Beauty & the Beast and Musical Theatre Mayhem)
Dorothy Pierce is an artist, teacher, and performer – a proud Teaching Artist. She has been teaching theatre in Puget Sound schools for over 15 years. She is happy to be returning to Driftwood after directing Thoroughly Modern Millie last summer. As an actor, Dorothy has played roles ranging from Annie in Annie Get Your Gun to the Witch in Into the Woods. She has performed for over 10 years with interactive improv company Events on the Edge and is a proud member of the cabaret group, Broads of Broadway. Dorothy currently directs at several local schools and teaches drama and musical theatre at Edmonds Heights K-12.
Music Director: Jordyn Meeker
Jordyn Meeker, a firm believer in performing arts education, is a voice teacher and music director in the Seattle area. She owns and operates EDGE Performing Arts & Dance in Shoreline which provides drama programs and classes to Greater Seattle area schools. Jordyn music directs for the University of Washington Musical Theatre program, including Pippin (2017) and 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (2016).
She has also served as adjunct faculty for UW in the School of Dance. A certified teacher through the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Jordyn sits on the board as the director of student adjudications.
Choreographer: Ulyber (UJ) Mangune,
UJ is a professional dancer, actor, teacher, and choreographer. He made his professional debut with the world premiere of Secondhand Lions at the 5th Avenue Theatre, where he has also performed in two educational tours, A Christmas Story, and the new revival and tour of Paint Your Wagon. He has taught and choreographed all over Seattle, most recently for ArtsWest’s production of The Little Match Girl Passion.
Summer Drama Camp Staff
Brian Toews: Fairy Tales Forever (July 5 – 7) & Playwriting for Teens (August 14 – 18)
Brian is a Pacific Northwest native hailing from Snohomish County. He caught the “theatre bug” when he played Ebenezer Scrooge in a 5th grade class production; the show changed his life forever. Since then he has been a fierce advocate for the arts. Brian is a director, actor, playwright, producer and theatre educator. He received his BA in English and Theatre and his Master in Teaching from Western Washington University.
Brian has worked with the following institutions and companies in various creative and administrative capacities: Western Washington University, Idiom Theater, The Pocket Theater, The Slate Theater, Eclectic Theater, Roosevelt High School, Glacier Peak High School, Mount Baker Theatre, and Seattle Repertory Theatre. When Brian is not doing theater (which is rarely) he teaches full time at a local area high school. Last summer, he successfully led our Annie and Peter Pan drama camps!
Kaelyn Langer-Mendonca, Ph.D.: Acting Up (July 10 – 14) & Acting Out (July 17 – 21)
Kaelyn is a licensed clinical psychologist who has been involved in theatre and film production for over 20 years. She has appeared on stage and run youth education programs in New York and Washington states. Dr. Langer-Mendonca brings blended expertise to her teaching; helping students explore their innate ability to imagine, play, and create characters while supporting social skills and emotional intelligence. She believes in the powerful effects of art and creativity, which cultivate relationships, support positive emotional development, and inspire strong community connection. It is a joy to watch students flourish with pride and self-esteem when they are given a place to tell their stories. She also led our spring break camp and students had a terrific week with a wonderful performance at the end!
Dorothy Pierce: Beauty & the Beast (July 24 – 28) & Musical Theatre Mayhem (July 31 – August 4)
Please see complete bio listed above!
Edmonds Driftwood Players’ Education Staff
Education Coordinator: Lauren Ruhl
Lauren is thrilled to join the Driftwood Family! As a theatre artist she has had the privilege of working with the 5th Avenue Theatre, La Vie Productions (NY, LA), J&B Productions (NY, London), Seattle Opera, ArtsWest, Seattle Musical Theatre, Lyric Light Opera, Ballyhoo Theatre and of course Driftwood Theatre! She has also spent many years as an independent teaching artist, and as a coordinator for the 5th Avenue Theatre’s youth programs. She currently works with the 5th Avenue Theatre’s Education & Outreach Department, coordinating the “Adventure Musical Theatre” tour which focuses on arts outreach to elementary and middle schools all over the Pacific Northwest. If you’ve been coming to Driftwood for a while, you may remember her face from way back in the day – in high school she performed in Bye, Bye Birdie and Oklahoma!