Part of the Williamston Theatre’s mission is to create a nurturing and supportive environment in which our artists can thrive and do their best work. Though we don’t maintain a formal “company” in the traditional sense, many of our artists have worked with us on an ongoing basis. Below are some of the folks whose work you have seen on our stage.

“As one of the founders of the Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea, I had the opportunity to work with Tony, John, Emily and Christine on different productions.  It was there that I learned to appreciate their talents and began to build a friendship based on mutual respect and a desire to work together. I was given the pleasure of designing WT’s first production, Additional Particulars, and am blessed to be asked back time and again. It’s always such a great honor to be asked to design and collaborate with such incredible artists. It never ceases to amaze me how we have continued to nurture, grow and challenge each other in our individual craft.  Over the years WT has provided me with opportunities to create an assortment of environments for their productions, allowing me to help guide the audience into the mood of the play. As set designer, creating an environment that draws the audience into the story, even before the first word is spoken, is very gratifying. I strongly believe that I have done my job well if my set becomes the foundation of the production.”Bart has lent his talents to numerous WT productions, including: The Decade Dance, The Art of Murder, Miracle on South Division Street, Frankie & Johnny in the Clair De Lune, The Woman in Black, Tuna Does Vegas, 10:53, The Understudy, Eleemosynary, Blue Door, Five Course Love, This Wonderful Life, Panache, Tally’s Folley, Flap, Rounding Third (2006), and Additional Particulars. He is the Kitchen and Bath Design Department Manager at Chelsea Lumber, where he has worked for the past 30 plus years. He is a life long Chelsea resident.

“Williamston Theatre is an extension of my family. Enough said. The fact that I am not the only artist to say it just strengthens my sentiment. I started as an apprentice, right out of college, looking to absorb as much knowledge as I could about theatre craft. Little did I know, I was going to be getting a heck of a lot more than that. As soon as I stepped into the Williamston Theatre, I was accepted into an environment full of joy, camaraderie, collaboration, and respect (some might call that a theatre artist’s dream). But I was also adopted into a support network for my life outside of my theatre work. When you join the Williamston family, you are instantly surrounded with a vast group of people that will laugh with you, tease you (lovingly, of course), hug you, cry with you, and provide for you when you need it the most (and even when you don’t). This balance of quality in the professional and familial, in a way, sets you free, whether you are a fellow artist, an audience member, or both. It is this that truly sets the Williamston Theatre apart from the rest. Though I may have moved away from them for the time being, part of my heart is with my Williamston family and I look forward to a time when I might be able to create with them again.” Mara was the WT Apprentice for the 2013-2014 Season and during that time work in any number of roles on The Woman in Black, Over the River, The Lion in Winter, Frankie and Johnny, Old Love, and The Big Bang. Mara is currently a Production Coordinator at VIVA Creative, in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

“Williamston Theatre quickly turned into a second home for me. I love being able to work with a wide variety of artists who have all helped me learn and develop my skill as an aspiring designer as well as create great role models to look up to. I enjoy spending full days hanging lights or painting at the theatre. My favorite times were listening to designers like Dan Walker, Alex Gay and Genesis Garza guide me not only through the practicals of lighting but also the artistic reasoning and motivation behind each lighting cue on each particular show and allowing me to assist in my own way. Other fun times were learning how to properly paint and texture a backdrop with John Lepard and helping stencil the entire floor with Mara Berton. It’s awesome to know I can help out in other areas than just design too, such as volunteering to assist with auditions or house managing a production. I don’t know what I would do without Williamston Theatre, it helps keep me active and I love being able to work in various aspects of theatre. Williamston provides the perfect outlet for that and I will always think of it as home away from home as much as I feel Tony, Chris, Emily and John have all become a large part of my own family.”  Heather was the WT Apprentice for the 2012-2013 Season and during that time work in any number of roles on boom, Ebenezer, End Days, Shirley Valentine, 10:53, and Tuna Does Vegas.She’s also served as either the Assistant Lighting Designer or the Master Electrician, or both on the following shows: Woman in Black, Over the River and Through the Woods, The Lion in Winter, Frankie and Johnny in the Claire De Lune, Old Love, The Big Bang, The Gravedigger: A Frankenstein Story, Miracle on South Division Street, and The Best Brothers. You might see Heather in our lobby tearing tickets before a show, as she often serves as House Manager.

“Whenever I walk into Williamston Theatre, I feel like I’m coming home.  I am proud to say that my first professional design gig was at Williamston Theatre, working with Tony Caselli, and that is one of many reasons that it will always hold a special place in my heart. I’ve worked on a variety of productions at Williamston Theatre, and I can honestly say that with every experience, professionalism, creativity, and a true collaborative spirit are mainstays.”  Amber’s design credits at WT: Costume Design- The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), HOME: Voices of Families from the Midwest,  Dead Man’s Shoes, Boom!, The Lion in Winter, Frankie and Johnny at the Claire de Lune, Outside Mullingar. Scenic Design- The Best Brothers.  Amber is the costume and scenic designer at Albion College.

“As a Scene Designer in the state of Michigan, there are few professional theatres in the area for which to work. However, being able to design for the Williamston Theatre on a regular basis allows me to fulfill my creative urges. Better yet as an artist/educator at MSU the expertise available at the Williamston Theatre has been a tremendous asset for future theatrical artists. Working at Williamston Theatre has allowed me to design white paintings worth 200,000 francs, paint a 130-foot backdrop for a stage one-sixth that size, create a forest out of burlap, a couch out of a bowling alley ball return, a table out of an industrial cable spindle and several see-though walls. Having freelanced at many different professional theatres throughout the US, I have not come across a more collaborative, innovative, creative AND nicer group of artists that are located right here in Williamston, MI.” Kirk was the Set Designer for The Gravedigger, The Big Bang, End Days, Dead Man’s Shoes, While We Were Bowling, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds, and Art. He designed the Projections for Five Course Love, and was the Scenic Artist for Leaving Iowa. Kirk is the Chairperson and Associate Professor of Scene Design at Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI).

“My time at the Williamston Theatre can best be described as an extended Thanksgiving dinner where your family is composed of the most talented people that you know. Stories are consistently being told of past shows, past jobs, and even anecdotes about what various antics certain children were up to the previous morning, and that level of comfort creates an incredible amount of trust that flows seamlessly into the work. When you’re in that building, you know that every person there has your back whether it be Tony helping you craft a moment or Stef coming to get you out of a ditch after a late night performance (which, at one time, legitimately happened to me). You’re not afraid to leave yourself completely vulnerable on that stage, because each pair of eyes watching you truly wishes your success and growth as you wish the same for them. When I was in college, the importance of the “ensemble” was continually stressed to the students, and this theatre has perfected that idea time and time again from the table read to the cast dinners, and of course…tape ball. Williamston not only brings together the best artists — they bring together the best people, and I can’t express how thankful I am to have started my professional career with four best friends that wanted to make some plays.” Eric’s Acting Credits at the WT: The Dead Guy, End Days. Eric’s PASM Credit at the WT: Ebenezer.

“The consistently excellent work done by the staff and artists at Williamston Theatre is a delight to watch as a member of the audience, and when I have the privilege of acting on or designing for this stage I know I am going to be involved in something really wonderful. There is a palpable respect for everyone in the room and a love of great storytelling that I can feel every time I’m here. I love this place and the people in it; with them, the work we do never feels like work.” Julia’s Acting Credits at the WT: 10:53 & Art of Murder. Julia’s Sound Design Credits: The Understudy, The Woman in Black, Old Love (co-pro w/ TPT), The Decade Dance, & Pulp. Julia’s full time job is Group Sales & Box Office Manager at the Purple Rose Theatre.

“Williamston Theatre has that perfect combination of professional and familial. Tony, John, Emily, and Chris are a great team. They get things done. It’s a pleasure to work at Williamston. Everyone works really hard, yet the environment feels calm and relaxed. You sense you are in good hands. An example of this: I had the wonderful opportunity to play Shirley Valentine, directed by the insightful Lynn Lammers (Associate Artist). Acting in a one person show is always challenging because they are so difficult to rehearse. It’s lonely without the give and take of another actor. But you’ve got to keep exploring, and you don’t know what you’ve got until you get that audience. On a personal note, my mother had passed a few months before rehearsals began. She had really wanted to see me play this role. I learned my lines at home in between vacuuming and bursts of grief. I was missing her terribly. Needless to say, I started rehearsals with a heavy heart. Thank goodness for the people at Williamston Theatre. They created the perfect atmosphere for me to delve into the work at hand. Before every performance, I felt like my mom was right there with me. The very last performance, near the end of the show, I experienced one of those rare actor moments where I had not a clue what was next. But this was different; I was peaceful, calm and very still. When I finally moved, the correct line came out of my mouth. The line was ”and the silence was deafening.” When I came off stage after that last performance, I didn’t know what to think. Now I do. Maybe it was my unconscious desire to pause and savor the moment before I had to let go. I’m sure my mother loved that.” Julia’s Acting Credits at the WT: Shirley Valentine, Eleemosynary. Julia is currently an Adjunct Lecturer at Eastern Michigan University.

“It’s hard to put into words how much working at Williamston has meant to me. The Williamston Theatre has given me so much, not just a way to make sure my rent gets paid and my lights stay on. They give me the opportunity to play, to learn, to grow as an artist. To mature. I’m sure most people who have seen me in any of the Tuna plays will find that hard to believe, but it’s true. Williamston is continually challenging me, always pushing me beyond my own limits, never settling until I am the best actor I can be. I love performing at Williamston. In many ways, they are family, and that includes the audience. I once performed a one-man show for an audience of three, and it was just as fulfilling performing for them as any of the numerous packed houses I was lucky enough to be there for. As an actor your job…your desire…is to make a genuine connection with an audience. At the Williamston Theatre I get to do that, and for that, I am forever grateful.” Aral’s Acting Credits at the WT: The Woman in Black, boom, Tuna Does Vegas, Dead Man’s Shoes, Red, White and Tuna, Greater Tuna, An Infinite Ache, The Complete Works of Wm Shakespeare (Abridged), Every Christmas Story Ever Told!! (2006-2008), Hate Mail, Fully Committed. Aral’s Sound Design Credits at the WT: Over the River and Through The Woods.

“Being a part of the Williamston Theatre means you’re a member the larger Central Michigan theatre family. Whether I’m there as an artist or a patron, I’m always happy to be welcomed back and to be experiencing another stellar production. WT isn’t just a company that cares about creating theatre, but they care about creating lasting bonds among theatre artists. I’m proud to belong to that community.” Andy’s Acting Credits at the WT: End Days, The Lion in Winter. Andy is currently a third year Master of Fine Arts in Acting candidate at Michigan State University.

“I have always heard actors talk about their ‘artistic home’ and it has always seemed like a strange concept to me.  Actors are, by nature, nomads – gypsies – people of the night, here one show and gone the next, but when I was afforded the opportunity to work at Williamston Theatre I finally understood what that meant.  It is a place where you feel respected, for your craft, for your time, for your input and ideas. It is a place where you feel comfortable, cared for, and free to create beautiful, fun and funny moving art. It is a place where you love the people you work with and are inspired by them, beyond the project or performance you are a part of.  These are all things I felt while working with the folks at in Williamston.” Leslie’s Credits at the WT: Onstage in The Usual: A Musical Love Story and A Charlie Brown Christmas Fundraiser, dialect coach for Ebenezer, ASM for While We Were Bowling. Leslie currently splits her time between Chicago and Detroit, as a teacher, acting coach, audio book narrator and photographer.

“What I enjoy most about working at Williamston Theatre is the real sense of family. It is a very nurturing environment, not only as an actor, but as a director as well. They maintain a consistently high level of quality in every single one of their productions.”  Tobin’s Acting Credits at the WT: Rounding Third, Flyover, USA: Voices from Men of the Midwest. His Directing Credits are The Woman in Black and The Art of Murder. Tobin is currently the Production Manager for the Encore Musical Theatre Company in Dexter.

“I can’t say enough about the experiences I have working at Williamston Theatre.  I continue to work with talented and organized directors, designers, and performers dedicated to bringing live theatre to Michigan.  The shows inspire and entertain our audiences. The rehearsals are always so much fun and it is like a family get together whenever I come back to work at WT. The laughs are never ending and the friendships continue to grow.  No drama creating drama.” Nan’s Stage Management credits at Williamston are  10:53, And The Creek Don’t Rise, The Art of Murder, Best Brothers, Big Bang, Eleemosynary, Old Love, Outside Mullingar, Red White Tuna, Tuna Does Vegas, and The Understudy.  Nan has been a freelance professional Stage Manager since 2005.  Nan Stage Manages at the Detroit Opera House, Meadowbrooke Theatre and Performance Network regularly, as well as in Milwaukee, Florida, Chicago, Atlanta and Indiana.

Creative home is the appropriate term for my relationship with the Williamston Theatre, but as an artist it is even more intimate than that. It’s kind of like an old, true friend. A friend that makes me feel safe so I can take the necessary risks. A friend that is always gonna tell me the truth whether I like it or not. A friend that doesn’t abandon me in failure, but challenges me to pick myself up, to embrace the fall, and try again. A friend that shares my passion and is always up for a good debate/discussion. A friend that can strongly disagree, but respect me. A friend that opens my eyes to different ways of seeing the world. A friend that allows me to continue to evolve. That’s Williamston Theatre. We all understand that theatre is a business (this is a profession for all of us), but the true connections and trust are what make it so special. The things that stick out in my memory are not so much about technical aspects of working there (although there are many), but rather the magic moments of laughing so hard I cry, or the joy in problem-solving a moment in the script with the directors, actors, stage managers, or the pleasure of unlocking a little of life’s mystery with a cast. As a writer, one aspect of my job is to observe people and life, and let me say, observing this theatre and their work is one of the favorites.” Annie Martin has written Flap and 10:53, and co-written Maidens, Mothers, and Crones, Home, and Oedipus. Annie is a Senior Acquisitions Editor at Wayne State University Press, specializing in African American studies, film and television studies, fairy-tale studies, Made in Michigan Writers series, and TV Milestones series.

“What I think is so amazing about Williamston is that it is so drama-free. Not onstage– the productions are great. But backstage– the entire process is free of any drama. Everyone there is so kind, caring and compassionate that working is like no other professional experience I have had. Too often backstage politics interfere with the goal of creating the best show for the audiences. At Williamston the entire organization is so dedicated to making a positive experience that processes remind all involved why we got into the theatre business in the first place.” Rob’s Directing Credits at the WT: The Understudy, The Big Bang and Miracle on South Division Street. Rob also coordinates MSU Department of Theatre Students who are working as Production Assistants to the Stage Manager. Rob is the Head of Acting & Directing at Michigan State University.

“Working with the Williamston Theatre is a joy. Plain and simple. The community of artists they attract is unlike any other. It really does feel like a family. Everyone is treated with so much respect and the friendliness is infectious. The shows they create are significant, and moving, and the process of creating them is just fun. They’ve managed to somehow create a theatre company that has all the best parts of theatre without the backstage drama that seems to accompany it in so many other places. It is a pleasure every time I return there, and I am so immensely proud to get to say that I worked with them. ” Zev’s Williamston Theatre credits include on stage in The Big Bang, and the fight choreography for The Gravedigger. Zev received his MFA in Acting at MSU, and works as a fight director.

“It was either Tony or John – when we were rehearsing “The Effect of Gamma Rays…”, one of them referenced a quote by Michael Chabon that I have always remembered: “Art increases the sense of our common humanity.” My experience working at Williamston Theatre was the very meaning of that quote. I remember feeling cradled by the rehearsal environment in a way that I had never quite felt before. John Lepard directed the play and he made us feel so safe and supported. The whole vibe of the place is positive and the whole team is dedicated to making art that is incredibly intimate. It felt true. Yes, every part of the experience, from the auditions to the rehearsals, from backstage interactions to the performances alongside other actors – it felt authentic…it felt so true. And that truth, when shared with one another and with an audience – it absolutely increased the sense of our common humanity. It felt like we were striving to make art that would be a beautiful service to the community.” Kellyn‘s Acting Credits at the WT: The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds. Kellyn is currently a Guest Instructor and Choreographer of dance and musical theatre at Michigan State University. She makes her home in Lansing where she works as a dancer therapist, actor, and freelance photographer.

“There are so many joyful moments I’ve had at Williamston, it’s hard to pick a single one. So I won’t. Every single show I’ve been involved with there has been a delightful experience. That’s part of what makes Williamston such a treasure. I’ve worked on 10 shows with the theatre. Each time, the level of collaboration and professionalism and sheer joy was through the roof. Working at Williamston is more than a job; it’s something to look forward to with great excitement. Every time I walk through the door, I know that the work with be of the highest caliber, the teamwork will be ever-present, and the show will be something that stays with you for a long, long time.” Joe’s Acting Credits at the WT: Music from a Sparkling Planet, The Usual: A Musical Love Story. Joe’s Plays at the WT: Flyover U.S.A.: Voices of Men of the Midwest (with Dennis North), It Came from Mars, And the Creek Don’t Rise, Dead Man’s Shoes, Ebenezer, The Gravedigger: A Frankenstein Story. Joe’s Fight Choreography Credits at the WT: Flap, Art. Joe is also an Adjunct Lecturer at Eastern Michigan University in Dramatic Composition, an Artistic Ambassador for The National New Play Network, and an Artistic Associate for the First Folio Theatre.