Stephens College theatre students had the unique opportunity to work with Broadway actor Jennifer Hemphill for the Playhouse Company production of “Mamma Mia!” in September. Hemphill, who is an assistant professor of musical theatre and coordinator of musical theatre at Stephens, directed, choreographed and acted in the hit musical.

“The caliber of students in the Acting and Musical Theatre programs at Stephens is outstanding,” said Hemphill, who for three years performed “Mamma Mia!” on Broadway at the Winter Garden and Broadhurst theaters and for two years on the national tour. “The actors are passionate and dedicated to their craft. They are truly a joy to work with.”

Natalie Irlmeier ’20, a third-year musical theatre major, is no stranger to performing with Hemphill. This past summer, they performed together at Okoboji Summer Theatre (OST), the College’s summer stock theatre in Spirit Lake, Iowa. Theatre arts students perform at OST as part of their three-year, two-summer B.F.A. program.

“It was so amazing to do this show with somebody who worked on it for so many years on Broadway and on the national tour,” Irlmeier said. “Every rehearsal with Jenn was like a master class. She is so passionate about helping young artists and she helped me so much. I became a more grounded artist and Jenn really instilled in the cast to be ‘real people’ and not performers.”

“Working with Jennifer Hemphill was such an honor and pleasure,” said Stephens second-year theatre major Danielle Simpson ’21, who performed in the production’s ensemble. “She knew how to bring this show to life and was very professional but also caring toward everyone in the cast to make it a success.”

Simpson shared about the wonderful “experience” in an Instagram post following the last performance:

DanielleSimpson InstagScreenShot

More: Read a Columbia Missourian story about Hemphill and the production.

Tags : Student Success, School of Creative & Performing Arts, Theatre

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