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QCT Announces 2024 Guest Directors for Season Ticket Shows

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 & HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA.

“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,” said QCT’s Artistic Director Brandon Thomsen

Elissa Wolf (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE) is a creative practitioner and actor, splitting her time between the Midwest and 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 an MA in Shakespeare and Creativity from the Shakespeare Institute, Wolfe’s Shakespeare journey continues as she plans to pursue a PhD in the UK this upcoming September.

Stephen Santa (NEWSIES) is an award-winning theater director whose work has been seen across the United States and internationally. He is thrilled to make his directorial debut in Quincy with NEWSIES. 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, and RENT, which saw a 7-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 (NYMF) 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.

Of the opportunity to directed NEWSIES, Santa said, “I am beyond thrilled to meet and collaborate with the amazingly talented performers, crew, dedicated staff, and volunteers at Quincy Community Theatre. Together, I know we can create a high-energy and truly memorable production of Disney’s NEWSIES. Let’s get ready to Seize the Day!”

Phil Funkenbusch (THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL) has been directing community theatre for many years in Havana, Jacksonville, Lincoln, Petersburg & 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 & Museum from 2004 until he retired in 2020. Prior to that, he produced theater projects for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency at the state’s historic sites.

When asked about coming in to direct at QCT, Funkenbusch said “THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL is one of my favorites. This play, beautifully written by Horton Foote, shows us that no matter what our age, or where we are in life, we’re all on a journey to some kind of home-place.” 

Alison Shafer (RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA) is the Volunteer Coordinator for QCT and a freelance Director/Choreographer who has worked on 130+ shows collaborating with high school, university, community theatre and professional performers from New York to Seattle and all points in between, especially in the Midwest. She most recently choreographed QCT’s MATILDA THE MUSICAL and had the privilege of directing and choreographing DREAM ROLES REIMAGINED for QCT’s 100th Anniversary celebration. For QCT, she has also choreographed PETER PAN, RENT, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, MAME, ELF, SHE LOVES ME AND BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and 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 Minnesota and Kentucky Operas, On the Boards (Seattle) and in England and Scotland as a member of The Pat Graney Company. Two 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.

“I am thrilled to help bring this enchanting story to QCT’s stage. Delightful musical numbers, endearing characters and a beautiful message of kindness and respect make this a wonderful production for the holidays,” said Shafer of her upcoming directorial adventure.

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 Brandon Thomsen enjoys his sabbatical from QCT.

Auditions for SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE are March 4-5, with registration currently open.

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