THEATRE DEPARTMENT STAFF
Benjamin Stuart (bStu), Theatre & Dance Department Co-Director
In 2015, Ben Stuart and Katie Greve took over the RHS Theatre Department from long-time directors, Ruben Van Kempen and Beth Orme. Mr. Stuart earned his BA in Theatre Education from Seattle Pacific University, where in 2006, he met Ruben Van Kempen who directed him as Linus in a production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. Ben did his student teaching with Ruben in 2009 and was thrilled to assistant direct Irving Berlin’s White Christmas with VK and Mrs. Orme.
While completing his Master’s in Education and frequently substitute teaching at Roosevelt, Mr. Stuart was invited to guest direct the otherworldly (and very wet) 2011 winter production of Metamorphoses. In the fall of 2012, Mr. Stuart became the Theatre Director at Seattle’s Aki Kurose Middle School, where he built up their program while continuing to guest direct at universities and high schools around the region. Three of his most recent productions at Roosevelt received Double Superior honors at the Washington State Thespian Festival, and he is proud to have Roosevelt produce the Seattle premiere the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Medea Macbeth Cinderella. Ben has brought Roosevelt Theatre students on numerous trips to the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln Nebraska, to New York City to take master classes and see Broadway shows, and to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
In 2015, Mr. Stuart was elected by the national membership of the Educational Theatre Association to serve on their governing board. He also serves on the board of Washington Thespians, where he coordinates the Washington Unified College Auditions, hosted at Roosevelt. He teaches and directs professionally in the summer with the Seattle Children’s Theatre Drama School and other academic theatre organizations around the Pacific and Inland Northwest.
Katie Greve (Gronk), Theatre & Dance Department Co-Director
Katie Greve is thrilled to codirect the Roosevelt Theatre Dept. with Ben Stuart after student teaching for Ruben VanKempen in 2012-2013. Katie earned her BA in Theatre Education, Directing, Acting and English Literature from Western Washington University in addition to her Masters in Teaching. While at WWU, she also studied Voice Performance and Dance, having studied and competed various forms throughout her life at WWU, Marysville Performing Arts, Westlake Dance, Northwest Ballet Theatre, and Exit Space. Katie discovered her love for teaching while instructing Ballet, Jazz, and Musical Theatre for seven years at “Dancing for Joy” in Bellingham.
In 2018, Ms. Greve's cast of “Spring Awakening” was awarded Superior Honors in addition to taking home the "Best of Fest" award for the Washington State Thespian Festival. The following year, her cast of “The Wolves” was adjudicated at the International Thespian level and brought home a Superior Honor at State. She is very proud of establishing the first public high school dance program in SPS, followed by attaining her PE endorsement so students can study dance while fulfilling graduation requirements. Over the past six years, Ms. Greve has led Roosevelt Theatre’s Troupe #5832 to Gold Honor Troupe Status, helping to plan and support the various community outreach and inclusion events, including field trips to the annual Thespys Individual Event Competitions and State Festival. During the pandemic, Katie spent the year in conversation with current and past BIPOC theatre students to investigate systems of inequity and began the department’s evolving “Commitment to AntiRacist Theatre & Dance Education” action steps document. In 2017, she was also the recipient of the student-nominated Symetra "Heroes in the Classroom" Award for engaging curriculum and attention to student’s personal as well as academic lives.
Throughout her time in Bellingham and Seattle, Katie has taught, directed and/or choreographed at Village Theatre Kidstage, Mt. Baker Theatre, Broadway Bound, Fairhaven Middle School, Everson Elementary School, LaVenture Middle School, Squalicum High School, All That Dance, Seattle Children’s Chorus, Shorecrest High School, Dancing for Joy, Jr. Thespians Festival, coached the RHS Lyrical Dance Team, and won Best Director and Best Show for “Private Eyes” at WWU.
Jeff Pierce, Roosevelt Theater Facilities Manager
Jeff Pierce has been working as a professional theater actor for nearly 20 years. In that time he has worked across the country with such companies as Mill Mountain Theatre Company, Oregon Cabaret Theatre, Willamette Repertory Theatre, Fusion Theatre Company, Idaho Repertory Theater, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In the Puget Sound area, Jeff has performed with Island Stage Left, Key City Public Theatre, and Greenstage. After overseeing the transition of the Intiman Theater to the now Cornish Playhouse, Jeff came to Roosevelt High School to manage the busy stage schedule. He likes to joke that if he is doing his job well, you never even know he is here.
RESIDENT & GUEST TEACHING ARTISTS
Rachel Atkins, Playwriting Teaching Artist
Rachel Atkins is a Seattle-based playwright and teaching artist. She is the scriptwriter for Living Voices/Theatreworks USA, the educational theatre company with whom she has twelve different multi-media shows in ongoing national touring repertory. Her plays have been seen on numerous professional stages around the country as well as locally with Book-It Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Children's Theatre, and Seattle Public Theater among many others. Rachel graduated from Dartmouth College and holds her Masters in Educational Theatre from New York University. Rachel is a 2010 Theatre Puget Sound Gregory Award nominee for Outstanding Playwright. Her play Black Like Us (Original Works Publishing) received the 2014 Gregory Award for Best New Play, two Seattle Times Footlight Awards, including Top World Premiere, and was a 2014 American Theatre Critics Association Steinberg New Play Award nominee.
Roberta Colburn, Volunteer Stitcher, Costuming Mentor, & Designer
After a 20-year professional career, Roberta traded in her suit and heels for yoga pants and sneakers after her daughter Maggie (RHS graduate 2013) was born. She’s been volunteering at her daughter’s schools ever since. From field trip chaperone to auction organizer to PTA officer to school board member. In 2009, Roberta found her true passion working on costumes at Roosevelt HS. She started with White Christmas knitting sweaters, sewing dresses and working in the costume shop with students. Roberta has been volunteering on every play since, including acting as head costume coordinator for Beauty and the Beast (2013) and for The Little Mermaid (2015). Roberta also teaches students the fundamentals of sewing and costume construction and design.
Jon Lutyens, Vocal Director
Jon Lutyens is an actor, musician, and educator around the Puget Sound region. He has appeared on stage with ACT Theatre, 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle Childrens Theatre, Intiman Theatre, and many others, in roles ranging from soldiers to poets, from ill-fated Frenchmen to an East African elephant. Jon has taught and directed with Village Theatre's KidStage program, Seattle and Everett Public Schools, and Seattle Opera. He is currently serves as Literary Associate for Showtunes Theatre Company, and Producing Director for Eckstein Middle School. Jon holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Western Washington University.
Maureen Harley, Volunteer Stitcher and Costuming Mentor
Maureen and her husband John are the parents of two Roosevelt grads, Sarah in l991 and Erin in l993. Both participated in four years of drama and many plays. After seeing her first Roosevelt musical, 42nd St., Maureen was amazed at the talent and professional standards of the cast and crew. Starting with sewing only a few costumes for her daughters, Maureen has since become much more involved. Twenty years and many costumes later, she still can’t wait each year to hear what the next musical will be and to mentor costume students in our shop. Some notable projects include sewing thousands of pearly buttons on black busker outfits for Me And My Girl, chaperoning a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, scouring Goodwill for vintage neckties, argyle sweaters, cowboy boots, and for Mary Poppins, sixty caps suitable for chimney sweeps. When not stitching, Maureen enjoys volunteering at The Seattle Repertory Theatre, The Seattle Opera, and spending time with her three grandchildren, ages four to eleven.
Lee Ann Hittenberger, Stage Combat & Costume Teaching Artist, Designer, & Shop Manager
Lee Ann has worked with RHS Theatre for over a decade and wears (as well as makes!) many hats. Her costume design credits include Village Theatre, Civic Light Opera (where she was shop manager for 2 seasons), Coeur de Alene Summer Theatre (2 seasons), Virginia City Opera House in Montana (2 seasons), Tacoma Little Theater (where she was awarded "Outstanding Costumes for a Play" in their 2001 season), Burien Little Theater, Tacoma Musical Playhouse, The Mountaineers and more. At Freehold, Lee Ann has participated in the 9 month Meisner program with Robin Smith and Cathy Madden. She's also enrolled in ETI (Ensemble Training Intensive), and has studied Audition Technique with Jessica Marlowe Goldstein. Lee Ann holds a BS in Occupational Therapy from the University of Washington and an AA in Fashion Design from the Art Institute of Seattle where she was also an instructor in Industrial Sewing Techniques. Lee Ann also taught Costume Construction at the University of Minnesota and is on call list B with the Seattle Wardrobe Union, having worked for Seattle Opera, Pacific NW Ballet, Intiman, the 5th Ave, and the Paramount.
Kelly Kitchens, Book-It Teaching Artist
Kelly Kitchens is a professional director, actor, adaptor, and teaching artist. She was the recipient of the 2014 Gregory Award for Outstanding Director and was named Best Director by the 2015 Seattle Weekly Readers Poll. She is the Associate Artistic Director at Seattle Public Theater, a member of the Sandbox Artists Collective, and a member of Actor's Equity Association. Recent projects include: performing as Jaques in As You Like It (Seattle Shakespeare Company, Wooden O); directing Slowgirl (Seattle Public Theater); Tall Girls (Washington Ensemble Theater); Black Comedy (Strawberry Theater Workshop); and adapting and directing She's Come Undone (Book-It Repertory Theatre). Upcoming directing projects include: The Art of Bad Men (MAP Theater); Chekhov’s “The Little Trilogy” (The Seagull Project, Great Soul of Russia); and The Other Place (Seattle Public Theater). Kelly earned her B.A. in Theater and English from Vanderbilt University and her M.F.A. in Acting from the University of Texas at Austin. RHS Theatre is thrilled to have Kelly return with our long-time Book-It Rep partnership on Theatre 5.
Paul Linnes, Voice Program Instructor
Paul Linnes has performed principal roles in many operas, including two world premieres, and been a soloist in concert works with orchestras throughout the West Coast and Far East, including international tours as a featured soloist with the Roger Wagner Chorale. Recordings include the Roger Wagner Chorale, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, motion picture soundtracks for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Jurassic Park (under the direction of John Williams), Ghost Rider (2007), and various video game titles including Halo and Age of Empires. Mr. Linnes has a M.M. in Vocal Performance (Opera) from USC, and is a former student of famed Metropolitan Opera bass Giorgio Tozzi. He has taught voice for the RHS Theatre Department since 2009, maintains a private studio, has appeared frequently as Musical Director/Pianist for theatre companies throughout the region, and is a founding member of the UW’s Advisory Board in the Performing Arts. While he doesn't have much time to pursue performing anymore, he absolutely loves the “intersection of disciplines” which music direction provides.
Kristi Matthews, Electrics Teaching Artist and Lighting Designer
Kristi is the Master Electrician and Box Office Manager at Taproot Theatre Company and also designs, stage manages, teaches, or is a technician at many local theatres, high schools, and universities. She is delighted to join the Roosevelt team more fully this season after working with them in a variety of capacities since 2007. Recent design credits include: Kiss Me Kate, Disney's The Little Mermaid, Disney's Mary Poppins (Roosevelt High School); Nunsense, Death by Design, Lost in Yonkers, As It Is In Heaven, Elephant’s Graveyard, The Spitfire Grill (Seattle Pacific University); The Amish Project, The Mark of Immediacy, Jeeves Intervenes (Taproot); Jane Eyre the Musical, The Spitfire Grill, Comedy of Errors, Our Town (Northwest University); You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (Black Box Theatre at EdCC); You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, On the Razzle, Almost, Maine, Harvey (Nathan Hale High School). Kristi holds a BA in Theatre/English/Secondary Education from Seattle Pacific University.
Jordan McClellan, Voice Program Instructor
Jordan McClellan made her 5th Avenue Main stage debut in The Sound of Music, as well as singing in Cry To Heaven part of 5th Avenues New Works Department, in collaboration with Anne Rice and music written by academy award nominated composer Matthew Wilder (whose credits include the music of Mulan). She was thrilled to be in the world premiere of Yoshinaka, by Garrett Fisher with the Fisher Ensemble as Tomoe in an adaptation of the traditional Japanese, Tales of Ise, which made it’s world premiere at Seattle’s ACT Theater. She was excited to be a part of Seattle’s Folklife Festival, and performing in a solo recital with Music Northwest, Second City Chamber Series and as an upcoming guest recitalist with Loyola Marymount University in LA. She also continues to be involved in recording sessions for Hollywood’s top video game soundtracks, including Starcraft and World of Warcraft. Past credits include a 3 month tour with Portland opera singing Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, Phylo in the West Coast premier of Pénélope by Fauré with Vespertine Opera, 2nd Lady in, The Magic Flute, Rosina, in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and her Italian concert debut in Urbania, Italy at the Teatro Bramante.
Paula O'Halloran, Volunteer Stitcher, Costuming Mentor, & Designer
Fabric and clothing construction have been important to Paula since she started sewing for herself many years ago. Her theatre experiences in high school solidified her identity as a “clothing person who fell into theatre.” Undergraduate activities at Western Washington University included a stint as a costume shop assistant, giving her the opportunity to design costumes for a number of WWU productions. Paula’s first design effort, a Summer Stock production of The Children’s Hour, had a guest performer by the name of Ruben Van Kempen. Paula interned at The Costume Collection in New York City and she reconnected with Ruben after moving to the Roosevelt neighborhood in 2001. Not deterred by sewing innumerable sequins onto pants for 42nd Street, Paula has regularly volunteered stitching support for RHS since 2004. Show design credits at RHS include The Children’s Hour, Mad Woman of Chaillot, A Murder is Announced, Midsummer Jersey, and Grapes of Wrath. Paula's career with the UW School of Medicine keeps her busy yet she treasures working with the incredible RHS Theatre program.
Teague Parker, Improvisation Teaching Artist
Teague is an actor, playwright, improviser, producer, and teaching artist focused on bringing art to new audiences! A graduate from Western Washington University, he founded “Come Up Productions” which highlights up-and-coming artist, while bringing Free Theatre & Live Events to the Washington community. He has developed an original “Improv for Wellness” Curriculum, won the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 7 award for best student written play, and has performed internationally and around the country. His main goal is to unite artists and audiences together to form mindful communities.
Craig Wollam, Technical Director, Teaching Artist, & Scenic Designer
Craig is co-founder and Technical Director of Seattle Scenic Studios, a non-profit serving non-profits and education throughout the western Washington including Seattle Public. He and his studio have been working with the Roosevelt Tech class since 2000. He has designed scenery for dozens of recent RHS Theatre productions including Mary Poppins, The Grapes of Wrath, and Titanic. As a freelance scenic and lighting designer, Craig’s work has been seen at NWAAT, Seattle Public, Langston Hughes, Wooden O, Intiman, Seattle Opera, Centerstage, Seattle Rep, Book-It, the Village, Seattle Children’s, Spectrum Dance, Civic Light Opera, ArtsWest, Bellevue Opera, Seattle Shakes, React, Tacoma Actors Theatre and others here in Washington. Out of town, Craig has designed for Arizona Theatre Co., Chicago Theatre Center, Atlanta’s 14th Street Theatre, Boston’s Lyric Theatre, Dance Theatre Workshop of NY, the Colony in Miami, the Zephyr in LA, and the Actor’s Playhouse NY.
Ruben Van Kempen, Theatre Department Director from 1979 to 2015
Ruben Van Kempen ran the Roosevelt Theatre Department for an unprecidented 36 years. Current students and staff owe a tremendous amound of gratitude for his vision and enthusiastic championing of theatre at Roosevelt and in schools throughout Washington. Ruben was inducted into the Educational Theatre Association's Hall of Fame (2012), the WIAA Hall of Fame (2008), and awarded the 2007 Gregory A. Falls Sustained Achievement Award, which honors an individual who has devoted time, energy and talent to Seattle's theatre community. He was also honored in 2006 with the first annual Ruben Van Kempen Arts Educator Award, from the prestigious Intiman Theatre. He is also the recipient of the 2004 Butch Blum Award of Excellence, the 2000 Christa McAuliffe Washington Award for Excellence in Education Award and the 1986 Seattle Excellence in Education Award.
As a theatre director he has directed for Seattle Pacific University, the Village Theatre, Seattle Civic Light Opera, Western Washington University, Intiman Theatre/Seattle Children's Museum. For Roosevelt High School Theatre he produced/directed two shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As an actor he has performed extensively in regional theatre. Some performances include work with television actress Jean Smart (Designing Women, High Society, Style & Substance), Broadway's Harry Groener, and as a back-up vocalist singing for Pat Boone, Debby Boone and TV personality, Kathie Lee Gifford.A proud educator, he has seen former students perform on Broadway, on national tours, and performing on stage and screen around the world. His wife Myrnie taught strings for the Edmonds School District and his children both play classical violin and cello. Basically, they have the arts covered in their household. Ruben is listed in the 2006, 1998, 1996 & 1992 editions of Who's Who Among America's Teachers.
Elizabeth Orme, Theatre Teacher & Director
Elizabeth Orme continues to teach mathematics at Roosevelt after teaching theatre, directing shows, serving as Thespian Troupe Director, and choreographing the musical for nearly 20 years. The Roosevelt Theatre Department is indebted to Beth's high expectations for student dancers and creating a culture of professionalism and kindness that continues to this day. In addition to teaching math, she continues to serve on the board of the Washington State chapter of the International Thespian Society. She also stays busy as the “stay at home/go to work Mom" of her two fabulous children, Grace and Henry.
Beth was the class advisor for the 2003 graduates, organized and administrated the Homework Center, and was a committee head for the Gates Foundation for Transformation. Along with Ruben, she took 45 students to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1996.Some of Beth’s Regional Theatre Performances include the roles of Nina in the 5th Avenue Theatre production of A Day In Hollywood A Night in the Ukraine, Miranda from The Tempest, Rosemary in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Marianne from The Miser, Polly from Crazy For You, Peggy Sawyer from 42nd Street (twice!), Nanette from No, No, Nanette, Tiger Lily from Peter Pan, and Vera in On Your Toes. A few of Beth’s professional choreography credits include Meet Me in St Louis, Crazy For You, 42nd Street, Mame, Tempest, Music Man, and a Starbucks National Meeting Industrial. In 1996 she won the Seattle PI's Best Choreography of the Year for her work in Crazy for You. She has directed The Matchmaker, The Mousetrap, Quilters, and Our Town to name a few. A couple of Beth’s most interesting and unusual experiences include being cast as a Hip Hop Dancer by Adam Arkin for the TV series Northern Exposure, playing Raggedy Anne and Sweet Tooth Sal for the Bon-Macy Christmas shows, and dancing in the King Dome for the Mariners as a Mariners’ Moosette! Go M’s!!!. Beth received her BA in Theatre and Math from the University of Washington and her Masters in Theatre Production from Central Washington University.
Norma Wills, Theatre Department Director from 1961-1979
Ms. Norma Wills served as the beloved Theatre Department Director for eighteen years. Known for building up the straight theatre side of the department, Ms. Wills developed the "Animal Unit" (still used in the Theatre 1 curriculum today) and created the Theatre 6/7 model for running Dramafest. In the last years of her career, she mentored an up-and-coming Ruben Van Kempen. Still remembered fondly by her former students, Ms. Wills lives on First Hill in the U-District and is as big a fan of Roosevelt Theatre as ever!
Lillian Britton & Helen Winter, Theatre Teachers & Directors
Ms. Britton and Ms. Winter taught in the Theatre Department along with Ms. Wills until 1979. Ms. Britton was a second, full-time theatre teacher who brought musical theatre to Roosevelt and taught intermediate acting courses. Because there was so much demand for Theatre classes in the 60's and 70's, Ms. Winter came on board to teach the beginning classes.
Aristelle Macdonald, Theatre Department Director from 1954-1961
Ms. Macdonald ran the Roosevelt Theatre Department for seven years and taught Theatre at Franklin High School for dozens of years before. Ms. Macdonald founded Dramafest in 1955 and directed a "Senior Play" each year.
Minnie Moore McDowell, Theatre Department Director from 1923-1954
Ms. McDowell founded the Roosevelt Theatre Department with its first play in 1923 (the school opened in 1922) and ran the program for a remarkable 31 years. Ms. McDowell was a leader in the theatre education community and well-known actor and radio personality in Seattle. The ealry years of Dramafest featured a "Minnie Moore McDowell Award" in her name—a tradition that will be resurrected this year!