Quincy Community Theatre announces guest directors for 2024 season ticket shows

guest directors

| Photo courtesy of Quincy Community Theatre

QUINCY — Quincy Community Theatre will feature four visiting directors helming the remaining season ticket productions of “Shakespeare in Love,” “Newsies,” “The Trip to Bountiful” and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.”

In a press release, QCT’s artistic director Brandon Thomsen said, “Having talked with and personally selected each one of these directors, I can say with confidence that each guest director will bring integrity and artistry to QCT. These directors are committed to their craft and will provide our volunteers with a thoughtful, uplifting experience. I am so excited for our community.”

Elissa Wolf (“Shakespeare in Love”) is a creative practitioner and actor, splitting her time between the Midwest and the East coast. She has worked as a teaching artist and educator with organizations such as Chicago Youth Shakespeare, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company and the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company.

Notable recent projects include her role as the Dramaturg for Two River Theater’s captivating production of “A Little Shakespeare Love’s Labour’s Lost” and her involvement in assistant directing and Dramaturging PrideArts’ production of “R&J.’ Wolfe’s passion for Shakespeare extends beyond the stage as she has presented her research on the use of asides in Shakespeare at many conferences, including the Wooden O Symposium at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Ohio Valley Shakespeare Conference, BritGrad, the Blackfriars Conference at the American Shakespeare Center and the Australian and New Zealand Shakespeare Association Conference.

Armed with a master’s degree in Shakespeare and Creativity from the Shakespeare Institute, Wolfe’s Shakespeare journey continues as she plans to pursue a doctorate in England in September.

Stephen Santa (“Newsies”) is an award-winning theater director whose work has been seen across the United States and internationally. He is making his directorial debut in Quincy. Santa is the co-founder and former artistic director of Jumping Jack Theater, a children’s theater production company that creates original sensory theater experiences for audiences with developmental disabilities and sensory sensitivities. He received the “Stand Out Moment” Award in 2019 from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society for his work with the company.

His favorite recent credits include “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Rent” (which saw a seven-week sold-out run at the Omaha Community Playhouse, for which he is the former artistic director), “Mamma Mia!,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Avenue Q,” which were voted “Best Local Theater Production” by the Pittsburgh City Paper three years in a row.

New York credits include “Abduction,” a new musical comedy for the New York Musical Festival, which went on to receive a fully-produced production in 2021, “Teeth” by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael R. Jackson and “Uncharted: The Music of Anna K. Jacobs,” both at the famed Ars Nova Theater.

Santa was the assistant director of the “Flashdance” national tour, the North American premiere of “The Monster in the Hall” and ‘Pop!,” a new musical choreographed by Billy Porter at City Theatre, respectively. His critically acclaimed “Dani Girl,” a new musical production, traveled to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, where it received multiple five-star reviews. Santa is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and an associate member of The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

Phil Funkenbusch (“The Trip to Bountiful”) has been directing community theatre for many years in Havana, Jacksonville, Lincoln, Petersburg and Springfield. Favorites include “Having Our Say,” “Our Town,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Laramie Project,” “Walking Across Egypt,” “Morning’s at Seven,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” “The World of Carl Sandburg,” “Dividing the Estate,” “Mark Twain’s Diaries of Adam and Eve,” “The Glass Menagerie,” “Big River,” “Godspell,” “Gypsy” and “My Fair Lady.”

Funkenbusch was director of theater at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum from 2004 until he retired in 2020. He previously produced theater projects for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency at the state’s historic sites.

Alison Shafer (Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella”) is the volunteer coordinator for QCT and a freelance director/choreographer who has worked on 130-plus shows collaborating with high school, university, community theatre and professional performers from New York to Seattle, especially in the Midwest.

She most recently choreographed QCT’s “Matilda” and directed and choreographed “Dream Roles Reimagined” for QCT’s 100th anniversary celebration. For QCT, she also has choreographed “Peter Pan,” “Rent,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “Mame,” “Elf,” “She Loves Me” and “Beauty and the Beast,” and she directed “Stuart Little.”

Other director/choreographer credits include productions for The Des Moines Playhouse, Theatre Cedar Rapids, Epic Stage Productions and Market House Theatre. Shafer has performed with several theatres and choreographers, including the Minnesota and Kentucky Operas, On the Boards (Seattle) and in England and Scotland as a member of the Pat Graney Company.

Professional highlights include a Cloris Award for Best Choreography for The Des Moines Playhouse’s production of “Young Frankenstein” and a collaboration with director Anne Bogart on “Marathon Dancing,” an original production for En Garde Arts in New York.

QCT executive director Burgundy Hill said, “We have selected such a group of top-notch individuals to collaborate with in our 2024 season, each bringing unique voices and experiences that will benefit our upcoming lineup of shows. It is truly an incredible opportunity for the QCT community to learn new approaches to story-telling in the upcoming year while producing high-quality entertainment for the Quincy area.”

The directors will be on site during the run of each show, providing fresh, new creative eyes while Thomsen enjoys his sabbatical from QCT.

Auditions for “Shakespeare in Love” are March 4-5 with registration currently open at 1qct.org.

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