As Dean of the School of Performing Arts, I am dedicated to the rigor and discipline of performing arts training that develops artistry on stage and values the significance of truly robust arts training.
At Stephens, we know the arts have the ability to challenge us to exceed and respect our similarities and differences in culture, age, class, gender and capabilities. In short, the power of the arts is unequivocal.
Stephens has a rich history in the performing arts, and it is a privilege to honor that legacy and expand the vision for the arts. The performing artists who emerge from Stephens in the years to come undoubtedly will make significant contributions to the field and society.
Please take a moment to learn more about Stephens College and explore our programs.
Gail Humphries Mardirosian
“It is the artists of the world, the feelers and the thinkers, who will ultimately save us; who can articulate, educate, defy, insist, sing, and shout big dreams.” - Leonard Bernstein, composer
Dr. Gail Humphries Mardirosian, Dean, School of Performing Arts; Artistic Director, Okoboji Summer Theatre; Fellow, College of Fellows of the American Theater
Dr. Gail Humphries Mardirosian is in her third year as dean of the Stephens College School of Performing Arts and the artistic director for Okoboji Summer Theatre. Last year at Stephens, she directed Cabaret on campus; To Kill a Mockingbird and The Diary of Anne Frank at Okoboj; and the original production Traces in the Wind. She is professor emerita at American University in Washington, D.C. Mardirosian’s broad experience encompasses academic administration, program development and fundraising and the direction of over 150 productions, including drama, musical theatre, children’s theatre, the classics and new works. She is also the past chair of the AU Department of Performing Arts, having opened both the Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre and the Katzen Arts Center during her chairship. She has taught and directed in countries, including Greece, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and the Czech Republic, where she was a Fulbright Senior Scholar teaching at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. She is also a recipient of the Likhachev/Yeltsin Cultural Fellowship at the St. Petersburg Performing Arts Academy in Russia. For over two decades, she was the team leader for an arts integration research project titled Imagination Quest (IQ), a collaboration between Imagination Stage and American University. Mardirosian has won several outstanding teaching, faculty and directing awards, and has published articles in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Teaching Artist Journal and Current Issues in Education. In 2013, she was invested into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre. Her book, “Arts Integration in Education: Teachers as Agents of Change,” was published by Intellect, Ltd. in Spring 2016. She earned a Ph.D. and M.A. from American University and a B.A. from Allegheny College.
Timuchin Aker, Assistant Professor of Theatre
Timuchin Aker is a resident actor/teacher at Stephens, where he teaches all levels of acting, directs, acts in various productions, and fight directs. Professionally, Aker has worked across the country at Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Cleveland Playhouse, Great Lakes Theater Festival, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, American Theater Company, Okoboji Summer Theatre, among others. He completed the acting apprenticeship at Actors Theatre of Louisville, following which he lived and worked in N.Y.C. and Chicago. He also worked as an actor, director and writer on various world premieres while a member of The Ruckus, a Chicago-based theatre company. While in Chicago, he taught several classes based in Meisner Technique at Green Shirt Studio. While earning his M.F.A. at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, he taught a variety of classes and also studied the Alexander Technique at the Alexander Technique Center Urbana. He earned an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a B.A. from Kalamazoo College.
Tom Andes, Instructor of Music
Tom Andes is the co-director of the Velvetones, Stephens’ vocal jazz ensemble. Andes was the musical director for The Spitfire Grill and Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at the Okoboji Summer Theatre, Cabaret on campus in the spring and Winter Wonderettes in the fall semester. He composed an original score for Traces in the Wind, a tone poem by Stephens School of Performing Arts Dean Gail Humphries Mardirosian, which Stephens took to Washington, D.C. He recently submitted his original musical Color Blind to the New York Musical Festival for production. Andes performs as the house pianist at Murry’s Restaurant and performs there weekly with his jazz trio. He earned a B.S. from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a 2-Year Certificate in Piano Performance from Berklee College of Music.
Emily Edgington Andrews, Visiting Guest Artist, Music
Emily Edgington Andrews conducts the Stephens Concert Choir, and teaches beginning piano classes and private voice lessons. In 2015, Andrews joined the music faculty at the University of Missouri and recently became the director of community outreach. She is in her eighth year as a vocal music teacher at Columbia Independent School, where she conducts two ensembles for students in grades 4-12. Andrews is in her 11th season as conductor at the historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where she maintains the music program and conducts a 45-member adult choir of musicians. In 2013, she was appointed artistic director for the Columbia Chorale, and has helped to expand the organization to include more than 350 singers, 10 staff members, and 10 additional choral ensembles under the umbrella Choral Arts Alliance of Missouri. Andrews is the assistant conductor for Prometheus: An American Vocal Consort, managing the ensemble and assisting in conducting the 12-member professional ensemble. She regularly serves as a guest clinician and adjudicator, and is the former Northeast Missouri High School choral vice president. Andrews is a member of the American Choral Directors Association and the Missouri Music Educators Association. She earned an M.M. from the University of Missouri and an M.A. and a B.A. from Truman State University.
Julie Douglass, Visiting Guest Artist, Costume Design
Julie Douglass is a visiting guest artist in costume design. Douglass has a diverse theatrical background with experiences, including roles as costume designer, music director, pianist, pit orchestra member, prop master and actor. She has worked with several theater companies in Lincoln, Neb., and designed for more than 40 productions at Belvoir Terrace, a summer arts camp for girls in Lenox, Mass. As a Hixson-Lied Graduate Fellow, Douglass was honored to be the first to design costumes for Agravio: Courage, Betrayal, and a Woman Scorned, a translation and adaptation of Ana Caro’s Valor, agravio y mujer. She also designed the costumes for Digs, a short film produced by the Johnny Carson School for Theatre & Film. She has an M.F.A. in Costume Design and Technology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Robert Doyen, Professor of Theatre
Rob Doyen is a resident actor/teacher at Stephens, where he teaches Acting and Directing. He has spent the last 39 summers at Okoboji Summer Theatre. Last summer at Okoboji, Doyen was featured in There Goes the Bride, You Can’t Take it With You and The Odd Couple. This past year at the Playhouse, he was featured in Clybourne Park, Hay Fever, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike, and Cabaret. He earned an M.A. from Illinois State University and a B.F.A. from Stephens College.
Rusty Elder, Program Coordinator for Music, Instructor of Music
Rusty Elder teaches courses in Music Theory, Music History, Music Fundamentals, World Music, Rock & Roll and Drum Set. As coordinator of the Stephens Music program, he is excited to work with faculty to expand musical opportunities for Stephens students with new classes and programs. Elder, a percussionist, performs for numerous musicals, revues and recitals throughout the year. He has received the Stephens College Distinguished Teaching Award. He earned an M.M. and a B.S. from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Pamela Ellsworth-Smith, Associate Professor of Voice
Pamela Ellsworth-Smith teaches voice at Stephens and is the director of The Velvetones, Stephens’ vocal jazz ensemble, who recently performed at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tenn., and the Jazz Standard in New York. The group made its Carnegie Hall debut in 2004. She also directs Stephens’ A Class Act: Musical Theatre Troupe. Ellsworth-Smith is the artistic director of the Stephens Summer Musical Camps for middle school through high school students. She has performed roles with New Orleans Opera Company and Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera, as well as regional companies on the West Coast. Ellsworth-Smith has studied and performed at The Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. She has been appointed as the Missouri District Governor for the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Ellsworth-Smith has been an active adjudicator for voice/choral festivals and taught master classes in various high schools in the Midwest. Her students have attained high honors in regional and national competitions, performing in professional companies and apprenticeship programs across the United States. She earned an M.M. from Loyola University and a B.M.E. from Arkansas State University.
Lamby Hedge, Associate Professor of Theatre Arts
Lamby Hedge hails from N.Y.C. and boasts a 30-year career as a professional director, actor and producer. Her directing credits include The Missouri Repertory Theatre, The American Heartland Theatre, Mount Baker Theatre, and the famed Unicorn Theatre where her direction/choreography won her a Kansas City Drama Desk Best of Theatre Award. She also served nine years as artistic director of the Marple Theatre; 10 years as artistic director of the Equity touring company Shakespeare-On-Stage; and artistic director for Okoboji Summer Theatre (65 productions). Hedge directed and choreographed the national tour of the newly revised musical Babes in Toyland. This summer, Hedge guest directed/choreographed Nunsense for Western Summer Theatre. Hedge is the recipient of both the Governor’s Award for Teaching Excellence and the Stephens College Distinguished Teaching Award. She is a proud member of Actors’ Equity and SAG-AFTRA. She earned an M.F.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.A. from State University of New York, Fredonia.
Mimi Hedges, Associate Professor, Lighting, Scenic & Properties Design
Mimi Hedges has served as the interim dean of Performing Arts (2013-2014), director of advising and Liberal Arts (2012-2013), dean of Liberal Arts (2008-2012) and interim chair of Psychology (2009-2012). She was a resident scenic designer/scenic artist at Stephens from 2002-2006 and resident and guest designer for over 50 productions at the Okoboji Summer Theatre. She has taught and designed at the University of Wyoming and Montana State University, and acted as the head of design and technology for theatre and dance at the University of Montana. Hedges has judged for the Iowa Skills/USA VICA competition in graphic design, taught drawing and design in the art department, and designed productions for the music department at Iowa Lakes Community College. Her professional credits include designs for the Unicorn Theatre and Young Audiences in Kansas City, Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, Tri-Cities Opera, The Montana Rep, Shakespeare in the Parks, and Okoboji Summer Theatre, as well as art direction for the Stephens Summer Film Institute. Last fall, Hedges was the scenic designer for Clybourne Park. She has taught and designed for the Summer Theatre Institute. She earned an M.F.A. from Case Western Reserve University, a B.A. from The College of Wooster and an A.S. from Iowa Lakes Community College.
Lee Heinz, Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre
Lee Heinz has performed on Broadway as “Tiger Lily” in Peter Pan and in national and international tours of Dancin’, Once Upon a Mattress, West Side Story, Cabaret and A Chorus Line. Regionally, some of her favorite roles have been “Annie” in Annie Get Your Gun, “Drood” in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, “Hermia” in Dead Man’s Cell Phone, “Charlotta” in The Cherry Orchard, “Ruth” in Blithe Spirit, and “Puck” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She has also been a frequent guest artist with the Chautauqua Opera, has worked in film, and was a regular on two soap operas. Heinz started her professional acting career at the age of eight on the Kenley Circuit, performing with such stars as Jo Anne Worley, Paul Lynde, Brenda Lee and Juliet Prowse, among others. She has directed at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and at the Triad Theatre, and choreographed and directed a number of off-Broadway, regional and international shows. Heinz served as the assistant director for the original production of Zombie Prom at the Variety Arts Theatre. Heinz has a M.F.A. from George Washington University, an M.A. from Wayne State University and a B.A. from Vassar College.
Darrell J. Jordan, Visiting Guest Artist, Music
Darrell J. Jordan, a lyric baritone, has been praised for his “resplendent presence” (Chicago Classical Review) and his “shinning, beautiful voice” (Broadway World), as well as called the “star of the show” (Columbia Heartbeat). A St. Louis native, Jordan’s recent solo engagements include J.S. Bach’s Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, Vaughan Williams’ Hodie, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Handel’s Messiah and Mozart’s Coronation Mass. He recently was a resident opera artist with the Missouri Symphony Society. Jordan has also appeared with Winter Opera Saint Louis, Haymarket Opera Company, Gateway Opera, Amherst Early Music Festival, the Institute for 17th Century Music, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, the Choral Arts Alliance of Missouri, and the Odyssey Chamber Music Series. Jordan will make his debut with the St. Louis Opera Collective this fall. He has been selected as a national semifinalist for the Orpheus Vocal Competition, and has been a national finalist in The American Prize Vocal Competition. Jordan is a member and co-founder of Vox Nova, a nationally recognized vocal chamber ensemble. In addition to Stephens, he is also on the faculty at Columbia College and Central Methodist University. He earned an M.M. and a B.A. from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Paige Porter, Visiting Guest Artist, Dance
Paige Porter has a diverse and rich history as an educator in dance, performance and art making. Porter’s choreography and teaching methods reflect her unique integration of commercial industry, concert dance and developmentally based experiences. Through her extensive experience and knowledge in multiple jazz styles, ballet, contemporary, musical theatre, hip hop, somatic practices and anatomical knowledge, she creates programs and curricular design that enhance the physical training, expressivity and education of the whole human being. A range of teaching and choreographic opportunities around the U.S. allows Porter to create works for theatre, competitive, site specific, commercial and concert stages. She recently adjudicated the 2016 American College Dance Association Mid-Atlantic Festival. Her work in pedagogy, dance literacy, inroads to personal artistry, and research findings on cognitive processes in the jazz dance classroom has been presented at the National Dance Education Organization since 2012. She is excited to choreograph Sweet Charity, work with the Starlets competitive dance team, and collaborate with A Class Act: Musical Theatre Troupe. She earned an M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a B.A. from Loyola Marymount University.
Trent Rash, Assistant Professor of Music
Trent Rash teaches applied private voice lessons and the musical theatre repertory class at Stephens. He is also the director of A Dicken’s Victorian Christmas and the musical theatre coordinator for the Summer Theatre Institute. Rash has directed, music directed, or been onstage in more than 40 musicals. Outside of Stephens, he is the assistant director of music ministry at the St. Thomas More Newman Center and teaches a handful of students of all ages through RashMusik, his private voice studio. Rash is also one of the co-founders and singers in the mixed vocal ensemble Elan, which performs a varied repertoire of choral music. He worked with Jerry Herman in an auditioned master class as an undergraduate. Other solo engagements include concert appearances at The Missouri Theatre, in the Odyssey Chamber Music Series, with the Missouri Contemporary Ballet, and as the tenor soloist in Bach’s Magnificat and Handel’s Messiah. In 2014, his musical, Starting With My Voice, written with friend and colleague Audra Sergel, was selected and featured in the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival. He earned an M.M. and a B.S. from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Jill Womack, Executive Artistic Director, TRYPS Institute at Stephens College; Assistant Professor of Children’s Theatre
Jill Womack is the founder and executive artistic director of the TRYPS Institute (Theatre Reaching Young People & Schools) and has directed over 60 children’s theatre productions. TRYPS Institute celebrates its 17th season and its second year at Stephens. The Institute produces a year-round education program for young people ages 10 months through college. In 2002, TRYPS’ original play The Selfish Giant was chosen as one of eight new plays for the Kennedy Center’s New Visions/New Voices Festival. Womack has worked professionally in L.A. and N.Y.C. and was a member of SAG and AFTRA. She studied at British American Drama Academy and is an alumna of the FSU/Asolo State Theatre. She has received the Kennedy Center’s Coolfont Scholarship and the Kennedy Center’s Award of Excellence. She earned an M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a B.A. from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Sarah Aker, Staff Artist, Lighting Design
Sarah Aker teaches, designs, serves as the master electrician, and advises students at Stephens. This past year at the College, she designed Clybourne Park, Hay Fever, Senior Dance Concert, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Spring Dance Concert and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. This past summer, Aker designed The Spitfire Grill and A Murder is Announced at Okoboji Summer Theatre. Before Stephens, Aker was the staff space coordinator and lighting designer for the University of Illinois Department of Dance. Other recent lighting design credits include Black Comedy (Bristol Valley Theatre); Wintertime, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and White People (Station Theatre); The Fantasticks, The Sparrow and Around the World in 80 Days (Parkland College); Frankenstein (South Bend Civic Theatre); and seven summer seasons at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. She has an M.F.A. from Florida State University with a major in Lighting Design. Her B.A. is from Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, Ind., with a double major in Theatre and Psychology.
Michael Burke, Director of Production, School of Performing Arts; Director of Production & Operations, Okoboji Summer Theatre
Michael Burke returns to campus following the successful 59th season at Okoboji Summer Theatre. At Stephens, he oversees all production departments for the School of Performing Arts; is the resident sound designer; supervises all student stage managers and sound designers; and teaches Introduction to Stage Management, Stage Management II and Sound Design. Burke is also an adviser to the Warehouse Theatre Company. Prior to his return to Stephens in 2007, he spent 15 seasons at the 5th Avenue Musical Theatre in Seattle as a stage manager and as the company manager, working on more than 35 productions, including the pre-Broadway runs of Jeckle & Hyde, Hairspray and The Wedding Singer. Other regional credits include the American Heartland Theatre in Kansas City and The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Burke is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and the Production Managers’ Forum and a graduate of Stephens College. He earned a B.FA. from Stephens.
Ruth Ann Burke, Executive Director, Okoboji Summer Theatre; Business Manager, School of Performing Arts
Ruth Ann Burke serves as the executive director for the Okoboji Summer Theatre, where she recently completed her 18th summer. During the school year, she is the business manager, overseeing box office operations, marketing and corporate sponsorships for the School of Performing Arts. Before returning to Columbia in 2007, Burke worked in marketing and public relations in Seattle. She is also a proud alumna of the Stephens College School of Performing Arts. She earned her M.B.A. from Stephens College, an M.A. from Drake University and a B.F.A. from Stephens.
Ken George, Visiting Guest Artist, Scenic Designer
Ken George works as a freelance scenic/entertainment designer in Southern California and the Midwest. He teaches design courses at Stephens, designs for the theatre program’s mainstage productions and mentors student designers. George has served as a scenic designer for various theaters and schools in the Midwest over the last 18 years, earning him the Wyoming Arts Council’s 2005 Performing Arts Fellowship Award. He is also a professional member of the United State Institute for Theatre Technology. His design credits include California State University, Los Angeles; Deaf West Theater, Los Angeles; Oklahoma State University’s Department of Theater, Stillwater, Okla.; Casper College’s Theatre and Dance program, Casper, Wyo.; University of Wisconsin-Madison; and PBS of Missouri. He earned an M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a B.S. from Northwest Missouri State University and an A.A. from Coffeyville Community College.
Herbert Moore, Scene Shop Foreman
A 2008 Stephens College graduate, Herbert Moore just completed his ninth summer at the Okoboji Summer Theatre, which includes several years as the assistant to the director of production, lighting supervisor and facilities manager. His previous work includes stage staff for Royal Caribbean International and as an electrician for Dallas Theater Center and Kansas City Repertory Theatre. He earned a B.F.A. from Stephens College.
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