Since 1970, TIP has been producing great musical theatre and engaging the community in performances under the stars. Thousands of performers, directors, designers, musicians, and crew have graced our stage, and brought true live art to the citizens of the greater Kansas City area. Below are some thoughts and memories of not only those that have appeared on our stage, but from many theatre lovers who have supported our love for the arts over the years. Thank you to you all! If you are reading this, and would like to send us YOUR memories of TIP over the years... drop us a note at alumni@theatreinthepark.org. we'll be very happy to hear from you, and share your story! Here's to 50 more seasons!

 

Debbie Blinn - TIP PerformerDebbie Blinn in 9to5

First TIP Role: Clown in Carnival - 1978
Debbie met her husband, Mike (the show's director) that summer and has stayed involved with Theatre in the Park ever since.  A prolific Kansas City community theatre performer, Debbie has been onstage with The Barn Players and Leawood Stage Company in addition to eight more TIP productions including 2007's Fiddler on the Roof and 9 to 5 in 2013.  The whole Blinn family has been involved with Theatre in the Park over the years with daughters Katie and Renee working both onstage and off.

 
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Catherine Boone in cast photo of 1776Catherine Boone - TIP Actress & Professional Opera Singer

 

First TIP role: Abigail Adams in "1776" in 2000

Other memorable roles: Penelope Pennywise in "Urinetown" in 2012


Theatre in the Park was my first step back into "Community Theatre" after spending 4 years performing as a young professional opera/musical singer. Like many amazing people who have been onstage at TTIP, I fell in love with teaching my craft, and for the last 20 years I have been grateful to not only continue performing, but to also see so many of my current and former students performing at TTIP as well.
 

My most memorable moment from TTIP would have to be the night that my 1776 female costar was ill and unable to perform. I didn't know her dance (nor could I wear her costume). Our choreographer went on as Martha Jefferson that night (she spoke all the lines, and danced the dance) and I sang the song from stage left behind the column. Barb was so nervous, she couldn't even watch! My husband (fiance at that time) was in the audience that night, and the people behind him had a pretty heated argument over who was the better female singer that night. Apparently no one outside the cast picked up on the fact that I had sung both roles!!

The first musical that my oldest son, Mason, ever saw at the park was "Peter Pan" starring Eric Huffman, and my students Molly Wetzel and Alex Johnson were also in the cast.

 

Catherine Boone with Eric Geil in URINTOWNCatherine currently teaches a full studio of private voice lessons at her home and at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, and music directs musicals when time permits. She sings professionally in local performances of cantatas and music festivals. Catherine and her husband are kept busy by raising their two sons and their oldest has been working backstage on props and set crews at TTIP since 2016.

Catherine's most recent project involved a collaboration with the world renowned glass sculptor, Hasna Sal. They performed together a program called "Emmanuel: God is with us! A Celebration of the Nativity in Sculpture and Song". Hasna explained the inspiration behind her phenomenal work "Nativity Triptych" and Catherine sang songs relating to each of the three panels. They are now working to put together another program celebrating women, and featuring her "La Femme" Collection.

 
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Tim Braselton - TIP Performer

First TIP Show: The Sound of Music - 2004

I was a college student who had given up theatre to focus on more "serious" music. I got a call from a friend who was desperate. They needed a pianist for the show and I didn't have anything better to do. I came in at the final dress rehearsal to sight-read the score, most decidedly overwhelmed at what I'd gotten myself into, but the cast, crew, orchestra and staff were so appreciative and loving that I fell in love with theatre all over again. I got hired that same first weekend to play for "Fame" later that summer (TIP), "The Sound of Music" again that fall (Olathe Northwest), and to direct music for "Oklahoma" (Blue Valley Youth Players) and "The Robber Bridegroom" (The Barn Players) the next spring. It was a busy, wild, first experience, and I wouldn't change it for the world. Read More

 
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Christina Brewer PhotoChristina Brewer - TIP Performer

First TIP Show: Oliver! - 1995
I still remember my mother coming to my elementary school to tell me I had been cast. This was back in the days where you waited patiently for a phone call to know if you had made the show. I was so excited, and it truly was a wonderful summer that began my love for TIP. I went on to do many shows (13) where I made my closest lifelong friendships. Some of my favorite TIP roles included playing Wendy Jo in Footloose in 2002, Glinda in Wizard of Oz in 2004, a Silly Girl in Beauty and the Beast in 2005, Jellylorum in Cats in 2006, Sandy in Grease in 2006 and Brooke in Legally Blonde in 2012.

My favorite TIP summer, however, will always be 2003. In 2003, I was a wife in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. From years of doing TIP, I knew most of the actors well. However, there was a first time TIP actor, Brian Brewer, in the show who I met during some downtime at one of first rehearsals. He asked me out at that rehearsal to go on our very first date to see Cinderella at Theatre in the Park that weekend. We had a wonderful time, and that was the start of our now 16 year relationship (and 12 year marriage). We got engaged the summer of 2005 while I was the Theatre in the Park Marketing Intern, and we were both performing in Beauty and the Beast. One night off between performances, he took me out to dinner on the Plaza and then made a detour. We ended up in the parking lot where we rehearsed Joseph. The rest is history. The staff always joked that I turned my TTR (Temporary Theatre Romance) into a PTR (Permanent Theatre Romance).

While we have taken the last several years off from performing at TIP to raise our little girls, I am THRILLED that my husband has traded in blondes for his theatrical return. My husband and my 8 year old daughter, Kaitlyn, will be performing in her first TIP show this summer in the Wizard of Oz. It is so special for us to share this important and magical place with our children. We are looking forward to the day our youngest is old enough to audition, so we can all perform together and makes years of new TIP memories.

 
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Marsha Canaday - TIP Musical Director

The first show I was involved in was Mame in 2001. I was brought in towards the end of the rehearsal schedule since the accompanist that had been with the show had to drop because of a physical problem. I was also doing KU music camp at the time so I was driving from Leavenworth to Lawrence and then to Miller Marley for rehearsals and then back home to Leavenworth. It was quite the schedule and when I look back I wonder how in the world I kept it without collapsing! But during all of that I met some wonderful people whom I still remain friends with. And as trite as it may seem and as often as it may be mentioned, theater does create families and those families do enrich our lives. Since that first show I have been involved at TIP yearly except for 2011 and 2012 when my job at the time (being GM for my daughter and her husband's business) didn't allow it.

The first show I music directed was My Fair Lady. After that I either accompanied or music directed for several years in a row sometimes doing more than one show in a summer. Then I ended up conducting and playing for a couple of shows and after that I moved into conducting only. I am so grateful for the opportunities that I have had at TIP and how they have helped me grow into a more versatile musician. I am thankful for the patient and understanding directors, countless incredible actors and actresses and extremely talented musicians I have had the privilege of working with over the years. I am truly blessed to have been a small part of TIP's history.

 
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Kaitlyn Davidson headshotKaitlyn Davidson - Broadway Performer

 

Kaitlyn was cast in her first show at Theatre in the Park as a clam and a hedgehog in ALICE IN WONDERLAND in 1996. She was also in the cast of MAME in 2001. In 2004 she played Polly Baker in CRAZY FOR YOU, her all time favorite role.

Kaitlyn attended Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and after graduation, headed straight to NYC.  She has been seen on Broadway in NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT with Matthew Broderick and Rodgers & Hammerstein's CINDERELLA with Fran Drescher.  Kaitlyn went on to the play the title role in R&H's CINDERELLA on the first national tour after playing Judy Haynes in Irving Berlin's WHITE CHRISTMAS on the road.  Most recently she launched the tour of Steve Martin's BRIGHT STAR as Lucy Grant and now is on tour with CATS THE MUSICAL as Jellylorum. 

Photo of Kaitlyn Davidson as Cinderella on BroadwayNew York favorites include developing AUSTEN'S PRIDE & PREJUDICE as Caroline Bingley and THE BUBBLY BLACK GIRL at NYC Center Encores!. Select regional credits include Roxie in CHICAGO at The Riverside Theatre, Marian Paroo in THE MUSIC MAN at the Cape Playhouse, Laurie in OKLAHOMA at the Engeman Theatre and The Kennedy Center in HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS. Kaitlyn is forever grateful to her teachers, artists and theaters in Kansas City that gave her a wonderful start.

 
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Ed Downes - TIP Patron & Performer

First TIP Show: Guys & Dolls - 2014
My memories of Shawnee Mission Theater in the Park go back to the mid-70s. I was a student at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School and a member of the drama program.  Although I did not participate in the TIP shows at the time (I didn't want to give up my summers), many of my friends would and I would attend some of the shows they were in.

Performing in live theater was never my 'thing' I had a couple of severe anxiety attacks while venturing into public speaking and decided I didn't want to put myself through that again. I was perfectly content working back stage and helping the magic happen.

Fast forward 44 years to 2014...as I've grown and matured throughout my adult life, I battled my demons and overcame (or at least learned to manage) my anxiety issues (most of them). I had started ballrooms dancing as a hobby and began competing in pro-am dancesport competitions. A mutual acquaintance I met through the ballroom community, Rob Reeder sent me a text and asked if I could fill a role in "Follies" being put on by The Barn Players. Did I mention I was told at a young age I was tone deaf and can't sing?

I took it as a personal challenge and long story short, I ended up in the TIP production of "Guys and Dolls." Wow, was it overwhelming! A huge cast of veteran performers with so much talent. Here I was a literal green horn. A lot of choreography (and let me tell you, learning ballroom choreography and theatrical choreography are two different worlds).

Anyway I ended up playing 4 different roles in the show: the "Texas Tourist" in the opening scene, gambler "Scranton Slim," the "Hot Box Waiter," and "Havana Dancer."

It was one of the hardest things I've done, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the people I've met through the process. I was told once I got bitten by the theater bug, I'll be back. The lifestyle and commitment of theater people and my current situation of a 9-5 career just aren't conducive to a theater lifestyle, but things change and the thought has crossed my mind.

Happy 50th Anniversary to Shawnee Mission Theater in the Park and all of you who have made fifty years of memories for thousands of people possible!

 
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Krista Eyler headshotKrista Eyler - TIP Performer & Teacher


First TIP Role: West Side Story in 1994
I did 9 shows at the Park including lead roles in Evita (Eva Peron), The Sound of Music (Maria), Annie Get Your Gun (Annie), South Pacific (Nellie), and my favorite, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Narrator, 2003). I was pregnant during "Joseph," so we named our first boy Joseph. Theatre In the Park holds some of the dearest summer memories I have, I met some of my best friends there, and I was so grateful to have had those experiences under the summer stars!

Krista is currently a professional actress, vocalist and composer. Her show, Overture, of which she is the composer, lyricist, and co-book writer (w/TIP alumna director Barb Nichols!) won entry into the New York Musical Festival in July, and she will be performing in the show in NYC this summer. (Fun fact: Every person in the Overture cast going to NYC is a TIP alum!)

 
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David Gomez Headshot

David Gomez - Composer/Lyricist/Librettist


First TIP Role: Annie - Newsboy and Hooverville kid
Other Memorable TIP Roles: Winthrop - The Music Man

I met so many kids in the chorus who also loved singing and dancing and some of the people would go on to be my best friends for life and essential professional contacts as I began to pursue theatre in college and in New York City. I also remember that while singing 'Gary Indiana', a fly flew into my mouth while I was singing a long note, so I quickly swallowed it and learned that the “show must go on.”
 
I was lucky to live close by Shawnee Mission Park and truly felt that in the summer our public park turned into a magical, musical place where my biggest dreams were in fact born on summer nights. Theatre in The Park was one of my earliest memories of seeing a musical onstage. This was a transformative experience. I had worn out my VHS of The Sound of Music and I knew every lyric, song, and moment by heart.  I’ll never forget seeing Maria arrive on the stage and having goosebumps when I heard the beautiful orchestra swell up and begin the title song. I had no idea before this moment that musicals existed onstage - I thought that song and dance and storytelling only existed in old movies and in Disney cartoons.
 
I’m currently pursuing a career as a composer/lyricist for musicals. I still get the same goosebumps whenever I hear a song I’ve written played by an orchestra, a small band, or even see a show with a big musical sound.
 
I feel it’s worth noting, that as a gay child growing in suburban, and conservative Kansas, that this was a place where I saw queer people in positions of power who were spotlighted, celebrated, and connected to their friend ands neighbors in a happy and healthy environment. There was a dearth or positive gay representation in the modern media at the time, and TTIP provided a beacon of light that was both emotional, and also literal in that they gave me access to literal spotlight. Through these shows I was able and encouraged to imagine a bigger world that might embrace me and celebrate my talents at a time when I felt scared, small, and had a desire to hide myself from the world. The people in this community said: no, Come! Join! Dance with us! And I will always be grateful for that.

 
David Gomez is a composer/lyricist/librettist who has been based in NYC for seven years. His music/lyrics have debuted at Joe’s Pub, 54 Below, and Birdland. His newest musical co-written with actor/songwriter John-Michael Lyles, SHOOT FOR THE MOON, received a developmental workshop through Musical Theatre Factory in NYC. With Brittish composer Jude Obermüller he has crafted the lyrics/libretti for THE BLUE SHOES, MALINCHE, and FEET KEEP ME FLYIN’. In Kanas City, his latest musical, co-written with Obermüller and bookwriter, Laura Barati, MISS HAVISHAM’S WEDDING received a development workshop through Music Theatre Kansas City. With Julie Danielson he co-wrote a musical called THE TRUTH AND OTHER LIES in 2010, which featured the real life stories of local teenagers. He has a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from Pace University, and an M.F.A. in Graduate Musical Theatre Writing from NYU Tisch. David‘s songs have been recognized and showcased by the NYMF’s Student Leadership Program, at The York Theatre’s “Tune In Time,” and at “A Little New Music” in Los Angeles.

 
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Courney Halford HeadshotCourtney Halford - Professional Actress


I think my favorite role that I played at the Park was Minnie Fay in ‘Hello Dolly!’ She is so precious & that cast was a dream. That being said, I think the Park show which influenced my life the most, &

inspired me to pursue Musical Theatre as a career, was ‘West Side Story’ (2005.) It challenged me as a dancer & storyteller. We left it all on the stage each night. Plus I had the great privilege to perform alongside my Dad, Chris Halford. I will forever cherish those memories under the stars.


Theatre in the Park represents more than just theatre to me; it represents community. When you get involved at TTIP- whether you are performing on that stage or selling cotton candy or playing in the orchestra or taking tickets, you are now a part of the Park family. I spent many of my formative years at the park. It’s where I did my first book musical. It’s where I met my first boyfriend. It’s where I made lifelong friends. It’s where I made memories with my parents. It’s what summer in Kansas means to me.

Courtney performed and traveled the world with Disney Cruise Line for 5 years, which included being a part of the Original Cast of ‘Tangled, The Musical.’ New York Theatre: Heartless Bastard at HERE Arts (Off-Broadway.) TV Shows: Courtney Halford in productin shot from The Marvelous Mrs. MazelThe Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Carrie Diaries, Royal Pains. Webseries: ‘Nightwing: Escalation’ (Poison Ivy), ‘Catwoman: Ataraxia’ (Veronica Vreeland) Music Video: ‘Red Cloud’ by WINDHAND (Scarlett Woman.) Regional Theatre: Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The Muny. Graduated from Webster Conservatory with a BFA in Musical Theatre. *Big Victory: *On Christmas Eve 2018, I was featured, pictured, & Quoted by the New York Times as a Featured Model on ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.’

Professional Unions: AEA

 
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Rob Halifax - TIP Performer

It was 1990 & I was going through a career & life change. The first constructive action I took was to audition for Theatre in the Park. I was scared to death. I hadn't sang in front of anyone for 20 years. My first show was "The Sound of Music." I was in the male chorus and they give me a role of a Priest. I was hooked! The experience of meeting so many talented, warm & loving people involved in theatre & performing in front of a couple thousand people was something I wanted to continue doing. 1991 was Mark Swezey's production of "Jesus Christ Superstar." This was a wonderful experience for me. Again, I loved being part of another talented cast. And I knew I wanted to be in more "Swezey" shows!

Rob Halifax in CabaretI've performed in over 20 shows at the Park since 1990. Some of my favorites are Big River, Guys & Dolls, Into the Woods, Cabaret & Jesus Christ Superstar.

Brad Zimmerman directed one of the early shows I was in. Brad also operates the professional group, The Dickens Carolers. Brad took me on as one of his Carolers & I performed with them for 21 seasons.

I'm so grateful that I pushed through the fear and auditioned for Theatre in the Park in 1990. I still haven't been discovered yet for Broadway. But I've seen a lot of the young people that I was lucky enough to be in a show with, move on to perform in many venues in New York City & Broadway.

Thanks for letting me get up on The Theatre In The Park stage!

 
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Monica Hutcheson - Professional Musician

First TIP Show: Seussical the Musical in 2011
My most memorable role at TTIP was Judy Bernley from 9 to 5 in 2013. Not only was it one of the most fun roles I ever played.
 

Since my park days, I have moved to Nashville to pursue a career as a professional singer/songwriter. In 2015, I recorded and released my very first EP, “Firefly Nights,” which is available through any streaming service or music platform. In 2017, I graduated from Belmont University with a degree in Commercial Vocal Performance. Later that year, I spent 5 months in Orlando, participating in the Disney College Program! While I was there, I got to perform in their semi-annual talent competition, Night of Stars, and won first place for the instrumental category with a self-accompanied performance of my original song, “It’s a Good Life.” Here’s a link to that video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-YY3x2Gg5GI
 

Most recently, I got married in August 2018 and my husband is an audio engineer (a fitting match!). I have released 8 songs since 2015, one of which (“Favorite Place”) won first place in the 19th Annual Great American Song Contest in the singer/songwriter category (2017). Right now, I perform at assisted living facilities, coffee shops, bars, and wineries in Nashville, lead the middle school worship team at Forest Hills Baptist Church, record songs and readings for children’s books, and I am currently in the process of making my first full album! Here’s a link to my music on Spotify! https://open.spotify.com/artist/7Cw1E6pIjrxQPPEwjezHNQ?si=kyi9D2VCSLm4sYrHavWJ_A

 
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Eric Huffman - Profession Performer

My earliest memory of The Theatre in the Park was seeing The King and I in 1996. I remember loving every minute of it, even though we had to leave early since it was past my bedtime. As my parents carried me out, I told them “One day I will perform on that stage. And then maybe Starlight.”

 

I performed in my first full-fledged musical at The Theatre in the Park in 2001 when I was 11 years old, playing Young Patrick Dennis in Mame. After that I was completely hooked. I came back every summer until I went to college, performing in 7 Park shows total. My biggest highlight was in 2006 when I was fortunate enough to play the title role in Peter Pan, which is still one of my happiest teenage memories.

 

I ended up studying Musical Theatre in college at the University of Cincinnati (CCM). After graduating, I went on to be an original cast member of the Chicago production of The Book of Mormon. The production played Chicago for a year before becoming a National Tour. I stayed with the show for 6 years (2,200 performances in 95 cities). Now I am living in New York City playing keyboards in the pit for The Book of Mormon on Broadway. I am a member of both the Actor’s and Musician’s unions, so I have the flexibility to move back and forth.
 

The Theatre in the Park is a truly remarkable organization. I didn’t realize until I left Kansas City just how rare a community theater of this caliber is. Sure, there is theater all over the country, but very few organizations operate on the scale of TIP. TIP was a major inspiration for me on my current career path, but you don’t have to grow up and become an actor to appreciate how important TIP is. The feeling of camaraderie and community that it creates in Kansas City is vital. I am thrilled to have been a part of its 50 year history, and I wish for 50 more beautiful years!

 
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Bob Jensen - TIP Patron

I am not a alumni just a very very long patron. Back in the 60s when I was in attending Southwest High School in KCMO, Starlight use to have a first nighters program designed for the students I believe to get us interested in the theater. Back in those days the productions were somewhat similar to Theatre in the Park by using local talent primarily with bringing in a named artist to headline the production. They always were great productions.

 

After I got married my wife and having moved to Overland Park, my wife and I started to attend the Theatre in the Park back when the productions were performed in Antioch Park. Though we did not have a lot of money being newly married we still made contributions to the campaigns as I remember for the future of the Theater in the Park which eventually led to them being able to move to Shawnee Mission Park. Somewhere along the way when attending shows at the current site I noticed a sign that had listed my wife at the time and I "Jo & Bob Jensen" as being early contributors. I always felt proud to have been part of the beginning days and for many many years would be part of the "Friends" program that Theater in the Park would have.

I have always enjoyed the productions and proud of how the Theater has grown throughout the years by continually adding and expanding. I am very glad to have been apart of the Theater for all of these years and look back to my high school days that really got me interested in musical productions. So glad to have had a local community Theater to take my kids to so that they also could enjoy the musical theater. Happy 50th!

 
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Lydia Krause - Professional Stage Manager

I started at TTIP in 2004. I was a nun and a marionette in The Sound of Music. Yes, I was still a performer back then! Eek! In 2005 I auditioned again and was cast in Singin’ In the Rain as ensemble. And l’il Miss diva Lydia was not happy about this. I thought I was better than chorus. CHORUS! Ugh! SO I told the director, Jay Coombes, that I was better than that and I wasn’t going to be just in the chorus. He offered me the Assistant Stage Manager position instead. And that was it for me. That was when I knew what I was truly good at. I’m a decent dancer, a good singer and a terrible actor. Backstage was my calling and I’ve been doing it ever since.

2006 I was the Stage Manager for Bye Bye Birdie. 2007 Stage Manager for Hello Dolly and finally 2008 Stage Manager for Oklahoma. During Oklahoma, someone told me I was really good at this and should go to school and do it professionally. Ok!

 

I attended 1 year at CCM for stage management before moving to St. Louis, continuing to stage manage, and earning my way up the old school way, with blood, sweat and tears. Joining AEA was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I would never had made it here without TIP. I’d still be auditioning and “trying to make it” if I hadn’t been offered that ASM position in 2005. And now, nearly 15 years later, I have “made it”. This is my career. My life. It pays my bills and gives me insurance. It’s not a hobby, it's what I do. And I’m so incredibly lucky. I always tell people that I get to play for a living.

 

Lydia is currently an ASM at the Unicorn Theatre, KC Rep, and Starlight Theatre and has been a Production Stage Manager for Spinning Tree Theatre.  Past credits include San Francisco Shakespeare Festival and Maples Repertory Theatre.

Professional Unions: AEA

 
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Mickey Levey - TIP Volunteer

In 1988 my daughter was in Anything Goes. Demmaree Carnes was the producer of TIP and she said, ‘you are here a lot, why don’t you volunteer?’ I jumped at the chance because I can’t sing, act, or dance but I liked theatre & I could be around talented people.

For 20 years I had the privilege to be at the park. Was on the Friends Committee & we got to help set policy to make the park more customer friendly. Got to sell cotton candy every summer & met some great people.It was a privilege to be part of the largest outdoor community theatre in the country & it’s right here in our back yard. What a treasure TIP is. Congrats on 50 years of fabulous shows.

 
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Eric magnus headshot

Eric Magnus - Professional Performer & Drama Teacher


First TIP Role: URINETOWN: THE MUSICAL in 2014 as “Caldwell B. Cladwell” directed by David Hastings


Other memorable TIP Roles: THE DROWSY CHAPERONE IN 2016 as “Man in Chair” directed by David Hastings


I came to The Park very late in my Kansas City career. I had a terrific time performing both in URINETOWN and THE DROWSY CHAPERONE.  During URINETOWN, I remember watch Eric Geil, who played “Bobby”, with a sense of awe at how talented and composed he was as a young actor on that big stage. I remember telling someone during my time working with him that he would be professional someday and furthermore that he would be perfect for THE BOOK OF MORMON…which is the show he’s touring in today! During THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, I loved working with that marvelously talented and positive cast, even though my character didn’t directly interact with any of them until the end of the show every night. It was a joy to share the stage them and to interact with the audience every night. It was particularly fun to reprise both of these roles, as I had played both characters on the relatively tiny Barn Players stage. The challenge was finding a way make sure these characters translated to a much larger venue and to reach out to those audience members seated way out there on the grass on the side of that hill.


Eric moved to KC in 1991 and jumped into the theatre scene within a couple of years, performing at The New Theatre, The Chestnut Theatre, Bell Road Barn, JCCC, The White Theatre at The Jewish Community Center, Olathe Civic Theatre and The Barn Players.  Eric served as the Director of Theatre at Frontier Trail Middle School for 24 years and is currently the Director of Theatre at Shawnee Mission West High School. He has also had the honor of being a member of the Board of Directors for the past 12 years and working as The Artistic Director for the past 10 years at The Barn Players.  Originally from Arkansas City, Kansas, graduating in 1982, Eric holds an undergraduate degree in Education from Emporia State University and Master’s degree from Rockhurst University. he has been a teacher for 33 years.

 
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Amber Mak headshotAmber Mak - Broadway Performer

My parents taking me to Theatre in the Park since I was a baby in a playpen has certainly been instrumental to my life. I speak often of growing up watching musicals at the Park as well as performing in them. I think my first one was in the ensemble of Fiddler on the Roof. My mom and dad were both in the show with me. I might have been 11 years old?  I have been very fortunate to make my career out of musical theatre for the past 20 years.

Amber is still very much involved in theatre. She is a professional director/choreographer based out of Chicago working full time as the Creative Producer for the Paramount Theatre. Amber performed for 15 years professionally before going to the creative side of the table. She has worked on Broadway as an assistant to Susan Stroman for Big Fish. Currently, Amber is getting ready to open the World Premier of August Rush directed by John Doyle at the Paramount Theatre.

 
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Jeanne Marx - TIP Actress

Back in 1991, I was in my second show at TTIP, playing Grandma Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof. It was a large cast that included many children. For the rest of that season and the next, when in the audience, occasionally a young former Fiddler castmate would see me, yell "Grandma," and run up and hug me. Trouble was, I was only 37 years old at the time! We got a lot of strange looks. I went on to participate in ten more TTIP shows to date. I've loved every minute!

 
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Mindy Moeller headshotMindy Moeller - Radio City Rockette


First Show at TIP: Peter Pan - 2000 (Lost Boy)
Mindy Moeller in Radio City Christmas Spectacular as a RocketteTheatre in the Park was a huge staple of my childhood memories. I remember going to see every show of every season when I was very young. I remember feeling the rush of running down that massive hill to claim the perfect patch of land for the evening, hopping from blanket to blanket saying hi to friends. I remember being able to play frizbee in the unclaimed grass, and running to the concessions stand at intermission to get nutritional snacks like nachos and pixie stix. I also remember thinking how much fun it would be to perform on that stage in front of thousands of people. In my 4 seasons of performing at the park the experience definitely surpassed the expectations. Not only is it a picturesque place to perform, I got the chance to meet so many actors of different ages and walks of life. A summer at Theatre in the Park brings people together. There was this overwhelming feeling of community, happiness, and support for the arts, and Theatre in the Park was always the mecca for it all.

Mindy Moeller, a native of Overland Park, Kansas, began her training at Miller Marley School of Dance and Voice where she studied tap, jazz, ballet, and pointe. She then continued on to earn her BFA in dance at the University of Arizona. Upon graduation in 2011 Mindy moved to New York where she is currently a full-time employed Rockette and has performed in 7 Christmas Spectacular seasons at Radio City Music Hall. During her time at the Showplace of the Nation, Mindy has had the privilege to perform on special events such as the Today Show, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Rockefeller Tree Lighting Ceremony, Video Music Awards, and the Tony Awards.

Professional Unions: AGVA

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Michael Murphy - TIP Performer

My first show at TTIP was my first actual community theatre show, when I was well into my 40’s. It was TTIP’s audition seminar that gave me the courage to do something that I had always wanted to do - be in a musical. I was lucky enough to be cast in Music Man, as Oliver Hix in the quartet. It was a delightful affirming experience and I met so many wonderful people that I still count among my friends. It was my only show at TTIP, but it opened the door for me to do shows at The Barn Players, JCCC, and other theatres in the Kansas City area. Thank you TTIP helping me to kick the door open!

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Preston O'ffill - Tom SawyerPreston O'ffill - Professional Performer

First TIP Role: Tom Sawyer in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - 2014
Other Memorable Roles: Pinocchio in Shrek - 2015

The Park was the first theater to hire me out of high school and WOW do I owe them a HUGE thank you for that chance. I was on the fence about if I was good enough to be an actor after high school and on a whim auditioned for TIP, and got in. If it weren't for the park I wouldn't have moved to Chicago four years ago to follow my dreams and advance my career in ways 18 year old me would have never believed. I've gotten to perform with such theaters as IO Chicago (Actor in an 18 month run/ Director for the writing program), The Comedy Shrine (Main stage improv actor) , Second City (Actor/Director/Producer), Tinderella (Improv actor/ Producer), and Citadel (For the world premier of "Scrooge and the Ghostly Spirits" and my first OCA.) I moved to Chicago to study comedy from the best people in the funniest town and looking back regret none of it... though I do miss the BBQ..
 

Happy 50th season to an incredible theater that gives so much opportunity to such a deserving community. I've said it 100 times and will say it again, Thank you, thank you, thank you, Theater in the Park.

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Beth Peters - TIP Volunteer

I used to work at Theatre in the park when I was 18 . I checked back stage passes. Then I saw the plays. I am still going to Theatre in the park to watch the plays.

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Alex Peterson headshot

Alex Peterson - Professional Performer

First TIP Show: High School Musical - 2009
I appeared in the All High School Production of Les Miserables as Marius, and met many people who became close friends after. It was amazing to be in a show during Tim Bair’s first year at The Park in the first show he picked to be on that stage! A fun anecdote about that show comes from the callbacks. I had been cut for that role, however Ann McCroskey, who was choreographing the show, and I had worked together many times; and she convinced the director David Hastings to bring me back in and I got the part! I was very thankful for that since it led on to one of the best experiences I have had in theatre, either professional or community. Another two years passed and I was in Damn Yankees as Smokey. It was in this show where I got to perform with some amazingly close friends. I attached a picture of myself, Dalton Homolka, Guy Gardner, and Keegan Rice. We became very close during this show and I thank The Park for bringing us together. I have also attached pictures from Les Mis and Damn Yankees.
I have Theatre in The Park to thank for giving me so many amazing memories and helping instill a love for theatre in me. I am still working in the business and I may not be if it wasn’t for the passion and performance quality The Park has for giving amazing theatre to Kansas City.

Alex Peterson dancing in group
Alex earned a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Theatre from Oklahoma City University.  At school, he portrayed Clyde Barrow in the musical Bonnie and Clyde and Frederic in Pirates of Penzance. After graduation Alex has worked at several professional regional theatres around the country and for the better part of the last two years, he has been performing for Norwegian Creative Studios on two different cruise ships. This experience has taken Alex aroud the world, first on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner which toured Alaska, Canada, and Central America and then on the Norwegian Sun, as the Vocal Captain, which took him to the Caribbean, South America, and Cuba. It was for Norwegian that Alex worked for amazing choreographers like Chase Benz who has choreographed for the likes of Donna Summer and Britney Spears. Alex is now back living in New York City continuing to audition and work towards his goals.

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Patrick Pribyl - Director & Acting Coach

I would be remiss to not mention Brad Zimmerman’s children’s casting in 2002’s Music Man. There’s no way he could have known that he was casting so many future success stories in our own right. From David Gomez’s musical theatre writing and directing career, to Eric Huffman’s Broadway stints, AJ Pflumm, Nathan Helming, Sarah Cline, the list goes on of those of us who have made a living doing theatre.

Patrick is currently the director for TIP's inaugural StagePlay prodution of The Light Burns Blue.

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Jim Rider - TIP Peformer

I was an original cast member in the first production of Mame in 1970.  I played the part of Jr. Babcock (Patrick's college roommate).  That same summer I also a traveling salesman in The Music Man.

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Show Picture - Brian SearsBrian Sears - Professional Performer

First TIP Show: Big River
I had just begun acting earlier that year and I had no clue what I was doing, or what I was getting myself into. Barb Nichols took a chance on this little towheaded kid and cast me as Tom Sawyer. I learned an incredible amount that summer and the summers that followed. Theatre in the Park laid the foundation for the actor that I am today and the person I strive to be offstage, which is equally as important. I met the most wonderful human beings and gained friends for life. It’s also the place where I got to perform with my brother. And for that, I will always be grateful.

Brian holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music. He has performed all over the world since graduating. He’s been in many Broadway shows, including All Shook Up, Grease, Finian’s Rainbow, Lend Me a Tenor, and The Book of Mormon, as well as many regional theatres (Paper Mill Playhouse, Goodspeed Musicals and the Asolo Rep, to name a few). He spent four years starring as Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon in London’s West End and on Broadway. His voice can be heard on the original Broadway recordings of Grease and The Book of Mormon. He is the spokesperson for the energy drink E-ON overseas, and has starred in more than a dozen commercials for them. He has made TV appearances on the Tony Awards and Kevin Can Wait.

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David thompson in Peter PanDavid Thompson & Family - TIP Performers

My family has been attending Theatre in the Park since I was a kid in the 1980's. I remember they used to charge $1 per head in each car! There were no fences and dogs were allowed in the bowl! My parents brought my brothers and me to shows every Summer, and it became a love of mine hoping someday I would be in a show on that huge stage!
 

Before ever auditioning for the Park, my brother and I started dance and voice clasDavid thompson show photo montageses at Miller Marley School of Dance and Voice. A bunch of kids from our studio auditioned to be munchkins in Starlight Theater's "Wizard of Oz" in 1990. My brother and I auditioned but did not get cast. In 1992, Starlight was once again looking for local kids to be in "Peter Pan" and this time, I got in! My younger brother, Drew, didn't audition because he remembered how upset he was when he was rejected from "Wizard of Oz." When he heard I got cast as a Lost Boy at Starlight he was disappointed he didn't audition. That was when Drew auditioned for TTIP! That Summer, Drew was in "Gypsy" as one of the newsboys and was the first of our family to do a show at our family's favorite theater!  Read More

 

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The walberg family on stageMatt Walberg & Family - TIP Performers

Theatre In the Park has been a summer tradition for many years for myself and my family. Who else can say that they have been on the stage in shows with their father, mother and four children?
 

It all started in 1981, I received a phone call asking if I wanted to be in Annie Get Your Gun. I said yes and was hooked. During one of the shows, I can remember the cast gathering backstage listening to a transistor radio of the news and reports of the Hyatt Sky Walk collapsing. It was a very somber evening.
 

Matt Walberg as a Pirate on stage82’ brought on Fiddler on the Roof followed by West Side Story in 83’. This was my first of two productions of WSS at the park for me (Picture #1 & #2 The Sharks in “Tonight.” I’m on the far right, #3 The dance at the gym scene. I’m on the far left). **Also in the center of the picture is Maria played by Constance Ramos. Constance later went on to have a successful acting career and is known for her time as one of the hosts of ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover.  Read More