Candidates for the 2018 Executive Board Election:
Aaron Wilkinson –
Born and raised in Big Rapids, Aaron Wilkinson has been involved in the Big Rapids theatre community for over a decade. He started as an actor in STAGE-M’s A Christmas Story playing the role of Schwartz. Since then, he has worked as a technician, designer, and a manager on over 35 productions in Big Rapids. Aaron was the youngest Director hired by STAGE-M when he directed Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 2014. He has gone on to direct seven productions in the area including Mary Poppins, Doubt, Sherlock Holmes, Cabaret, and STAGE-M’s most recent production, The Hunchback of Notre Dame which he co-directed with Laura Taylor. He serves on several committees, including a small group dedicated to revitalizing and modernizing the STAGE-M bylaws. He also serves as the Social Media Coordinator and Digital Administrator for the organization. Aaron has been an active member on the Executive Board for several years. He would like to thank the organization for fostering his love of theatre and for providing him with the opportunity to help steer STAGE-M toward a brighter future.
Vice Chair –
Laura Taylor –
A native of New Jersey, Laura Taylor moved to Michigan in 1991 to study cello at Western Michigan University, and after 27 years in the state now considers herself an honorary Midwesterner. Laura, her husband Jon, and their two sons have made their home in Big Rapids since 2004.
Her first show with Stage M was as Mrs. Gloop in 2014’s Willy Wonka, and in the four years following she was involved in eleven more Stage M productions, either as an actor, assistant director, co-director, musician, music director, or pit conductor. Favorite on-stage roles include Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins, and Gwendolyn Pigeon in The Odd Couple. Most recently, she was co-director, music director, and pit conductor of 2018’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She has been a singing member of Voca Lyrica for five years and has served on the executive board of that organization for the past three years.
Laura is excited for the opportunity to help attract new people to Stage M, to foster growth and expansion, and allow for the continued flourishing of this wonderful creative outlet for mid-Michigan residents.
Philip Himebaugh –
Philip Himebaugh has been involved in community theatre for the majority of his 33 years. Getting his start as a mouse in a production of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” at the age of 5, he continued on to appear in over 50 productions, received his Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Dance from Alma College in 2007, and worked professionally for several years on stage and in film as an actor’s equity membership candidate. While obtaining his degree from Alma College, Philip served as treasurer for the Alma College chapter of Alpha Psi Omega theatre honorary society. Additionally, Philip has experience working in consumer banking as well as sales. He obtained his Masters Degree in Counseling and Counselor Education, as well as an Educational Specialist Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Indiana University in 2015 and currently works as a therapist at Community Mental Health for Central Michigan in Big Rapids. STAGE-M audiences may recall seeing Philip as Claude Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Father/Loudspeaker in I Never Saw Another Butterfly. Philip also served as Assistant Director for the Intimate Theatre production of Steel Magnolias. Philip is very excited for the potential opportunity to serve on the STAGE-M executive board, where he hopes to bring new perspectives and ideas to the organization. Philip would like to thank the voting membership for their consideration of his candidacy.
Jerena Keys –
I am interested in remaining treasurer for STAGE-M. I have performed in approximately 35 shows and have assisted several other shows as production coordinator.
My main duties are to help the organization to keep track of its financial items. I am currently chair of the Budget committee which meets in December prior to the next financial year. Directors, board members and members are asked to attend the meeting and help decide how much we will earn for the fiscal year and how much we need for income and expenses for the upcoming shows, scene shop items, publicity, fundraising, education and administration. At that point we will suggest the expense amount for each upcoming show.
After the year’s budget is approved, I ask all people involved in purchasing items for STAGE-M to send me receipts, so I can post the expenses on the proposed budget for that year. To help directors, I send copies of former show budgets to help them set up a budget for the upcoming new show. After the show’s budget is approved at the general meeting, I place that in Excel and receive all of the receipts for the expenses of the show. The total expense of the show is presented to the general meeting to help plan for upcoming shows.
I maintain a data base with a list of members, advertisers, sponsors, and people requesting a newsletter. From the data base I create labels for mailing invoices, newsletters and membership requests.
For Michigan I submit information and money to continue STAGE-M’s Michigan Incorporation. At the end of the year I update the list of all expenses, so I can complete and submit the 990-EZ for US IRS taxes.
Since I have been involved with STAGE-M since it began I keep copies of reports, minutes, budgets, and additional information to help give information to STAGE-M committee members.
Emily Aslakson –
Emily Aslakson is thrilled to be running for secretary of STAGE-M. Emily has been heavily in the Big Rapids theatre community over the past year, appearing as Irena Synkova in STAGE-M’s production of I Never Saw Another Butterfly and Annelle in the Intimate Theatre’s production of Steel Magnolias. Additionally, she was the Assistant Director for STAGE-M’s most recent production, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Emily has been involved in theatre for over 20 years and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and Dance from Alma College, where she was a staple in almost every mainstage production during her tenure. In addition to her love for the theatre, Emily has taken on many leadership roles in her personal and professional lives. While obtaining her Doctor of Optometry degree from Indiana University, Emily received a special designation as class note-taker for several of her courses. She served as secretary of the Alpha Psi Omega theatre honorary at Alma College, as well as for the Kappa Iota sorority. Most recently, Emily has served as the secretary for the Election Committee as STAGE-M and is involved in a small task force working to re-write the bylaws and STAGE-M Constitution. Emily is a professor at the Michigan College of Optometry, Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, and a published author. Emily would like to thank the STAGE-M organization and the voting membership for considering her for this position.
Member at Large –
Lisa Bondarenko –
My first experience with community theater was as the pianist for Stage M’s Mary Poppins. I’ve been involved in one production every year since. I don’t have an extensive background in theater, but I have a deep love for it. As a financial planner for Edward Jones, I’m becoming more involved as a leader in the Big Rapids community and feel I am ready to take on more responsibility in the STAGE-M family. Also, as a music leader and pastor’s wife, I have experience bridging the gap between congregants who prefer tradition and congregants who prefer more contemporary ways. I believe it is important to find a balance between the two.
Sarah Kirby –
I have been involved in many Stage M productions over the past 5 years, including Willy Wonka, Return to the Forbidden Planet, Cabaret and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I have appeared in several productions with the Canadian Lakes Players, and this year I began serving on the board of Voca Lyrica. My job as a Career Development Specialist at the local Michigan Works office has afforded me the opportunity to serve on several committees and county groups. In my free time I enjoy singing with my brother’s band. I am looking forward to the upcoming Stage M season and possibly serving in other areas instead of just on the stage!
Chris Lamar –
Chris Lamar has performed in the STAGE-M productions of Forever Plaid, The King and I, Love Letters, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. For Tuba Bach, he has performed by singing, acting, and playing euphonium a handful of times, he has also performed on stage with BRHS Drama. Chris has been the Auditorium Manager at BRHS for the past 6 years where he has worked closely with the STAGE-M production team and performers during summer shows. Chris and his wife Jeanna have three beautiful and talented children. They are all active in the Big Rapids community.
Courtney Piercey –
My Name is Courtney Piercey, and I am pleased to be on the ballot for Stage-M this year to serve on the board as a Member-at-large. As a professional performer, I understand the lasting impact that theatre has on society. As a member of many community theatre productions in my hometown of Schenectady, NY and here in Big Rapids, Grand Rapids, and Cadillac, I know just how important it is to provide quality experiences for cast members, technical crews. It adds to the very fabric of our communities. I have many connections in my background which make me uniquely qualified to be a member of this particular board on which I have served as education chair. I have degrees in voice performance with minors in Acting and French. I am a voice teacher/musical director/choir director/elementary music teacher/adjunct faculty member and Musical Theatre and voice adjudicator in our community, and surrounding communities. My hope for our theatre here in Big Rapids is to offer top quality shows with high production values highlighting the wealth of talent we have here in our community. I am looking forward to being a part of keeping that tradition of excellence alive and strengthening it for future generations of STAGE-M actors, musicians, and techies.
Current Committee Members:
Aaron Wilkinson – Chair
Emily Aslakson – Secretary