THEATRE DEPARTMENT STAFF
Benjamin Stuart (bStu), Theatre & Dance Department Co-Director
Ben Stuart and Katie Greve took over the RHS Theatre Department from long-time directors, Ruben Van Kempen and Beth Orme in 2015 after several years of working closely with the program. Mr. Stuart earned his BA in Theatre Education from Seattle Pacific University. While completing his Master’s in Education, Mr. Stuart guest directed for universities and school theatre programs around the region before becoming the full-time Theatre Director at Seattle’s Aki Kurose Middle School in 2012. In 2015, Mr. Stuart was elected by the national membership of the Educational Theatre Association to serve on their national governing board of directors. He also serves on the board of Washington State Thespians as the incoming Co-Chapter Director where he spends a week each summer in Washington D.C. advocating for theatre education in our Washington and across the country.
At Roosevelt, six of his most recent productions received Double Superior honors at the Washington State Thespian Festival, including four Best of Fest honors—most recently Shakespeare’s R&J in rep with Mac Beth in 2023. He is most proud of having Tony-winning composer, Jason Robert Brown, visit Seattle in early 2020 to conduct the Roosevelt company and orchestra of his show, The Trumpet of The Swan! Another favorite was producing the Seattle premiere of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Medea Macbeth Cinderella in 2016. Mr. Stuart has brought Roosevelt Theatre students on numerous trips to the International Thespian Festival at Indiana University, to New York City to take master classes and see Broadway shows, and to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Looking ahead, he is excited about the continued growth of the Intermediate Theatre class as an incubator for new student-written Dramafest scripts—with more and more of Roosevelt’s annual Dramafests featuring world premieres by student writers from this class!
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.
Kristi Matthews, Roosevelt Theater Facilities Manager, Production Manager, & 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: Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, Shakespeare's R&J, Mamma Mia (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.
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.
Jon Lutyens, Music Director & Voice Teacher
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.
Kelly Kitchens, Narrative Theatre 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.
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 that served non-profits and education throughout the western Washington including Seattle Public. He has been working with the Roosevelt Tech class since 2000. He has designed scenery for dozens of recent RHS Theatre productions including Mac Beth, A Chorus Line, Sweeney Todd, 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.
Ivy Zhou, Voice Teacher & Assistant Music Director
"Sparkling high soprano" Ivy Zhou performs with opera companies across the country and is active in the Seattle area as a church singer and private voice instructor. Most recently, Ms. Zhou was seen as Mrs. Lee in Tacoma Opera’s world premiere production of Tacoma Method, Ming in the operatic world premiere of Stuck Elevator at Nashville Opera, Fraulein Silberklang in Opera Bend’s The Impresario, Tisbe in Opera Columbus’ La Cenerentola, and Adina in Opera Unbound’s The Elixir of Love. In spring of 2022, she made her debut with Nashville Opera singing Countess Ceprano and the Page and covering Gilda in Rigoletto Noir. In 2021, she made a tour-de-force role debut as Queen of the Night at Pacific Lutheran University, later reprising the role at Duke Opera Theatre. She also made a splashy company debut with Opera Columbus in 2021as Musetta in La Bohème. Aside from singing, Ms. Zhou enjoys antique jewelry, art museums, cuddling with her cats, and good food.
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!