Philip Himebaugh has been involved in community theatre for the majority of his life. After debuting as a mouse in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at the age of 5, he appeared 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 film as an actor’s equity membership candidate. He obtained both his Masters Degree in Counseling and Counselor Education, and an Educational Specialist Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Indiana University in 2015, and currently is owner and counselor at Northwest Counseling and Wellness 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 served as Assistant Director for the Intimate Theatre production of Steel Magnolias, and directed Little Shop of Horrors in 2019. Philip is excited at the prospect of continued service on the STAGE-M executive board, where he has been serving as President since 2019, and was Treasurer for the year prior. Philip would like to thank the voting membership for their consideration of his candidacy.
A native of New Jersey, Laura Taylor moved to Kalamazoo in 1991 to study cello at Western Michigan University, and after 29 years in Michigan now considers herself an honorary Midwesterner. Her first STAGE-M role was as Mrs. Gloop in 2014’s Willy Wonka, and in the six years following she has been involved in fourteen more STAGE-M productions, either as an actor, assistant director, co-director, director, cellist, music director, or pit conductor. Laura’s STAGE-M highlights include playing Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins, Dr. Livingstone in Agnes of God, and serving as music director and pit conductor for Cabaret and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Most recently, she was the voice of Ivana Rockmoninov as well as the music coordinator for the original radio play Punchdrunk Fortune. Laura is excited for the opportunity to help attract new people to STAGE-M, to foster growth and expansion, and to allow for the continued flourishing of this wonderful creative outlet for mid-Michigan residents. She currently serves on the board as Vice President and is the Social Media Coordinator and Digital Administrator. (Follow us on Facebook!)
Chris Kesting has been active with STAGE-M, ArtWorks Intimate Theater and various independent projects for 13 years; fulfilling roles as a performer, writer and director. He has previously served on the STAGE-M board as a member of the Program Selection Committee and most recently as a Member-at-Large. Chris is the author of STAGE-M’s most recent production, August 2020’s original radio play Punchdrunk Fortune.
Emily Aslakson is very excited to run for the STAGE-M Executive Board as secretary; she has served as STAGE-M secretary since 2018. Emily has been involved in theatre for most of her life and has been in numerous productions across the country, both on stage and behind the scenes. Big Rapids audiences may remember her from Punchdrunk Fortune as Lucy, The Realization of Emily Linder as Jennifer, Agnes of God as Agnes, The Hollow as Gerda Cristow, an actress in Love, Loss, and What I Wore, Annelle in Steel Magnolias, and Irena Synková in I Never Saw Another Butterfly. She also served as assistant director for Little Shop of Horrors, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Complete History of America: Abridged.
Tillie Balkema is an alumni of the Big Rapids HS Drama program, and studied Theatre Performance at SVSU. She has been involved in STAGE-M on and off-stage for over 10 years; most notably playing Miss Dorothy in Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Tillie is currently furthering her education and getting her cosmetology license.
Lori Hathaway’s involvement with STAGE-M began in the beginning as she performed in the very first official production. She remembers the performances at School Section Lake and Williams Auditorium fondly. Besides acting in many productions, she has worked as lighting designer, sound designer, scenic artist, and also directed several musicals including Cinderella, Little Shop, The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz and The King and I. She has also presented workshops on technical direction and directing. This is Lori’s 31st year of teaching high school theatre. She is honored to have received the STAGE-M’s Gordie, MIFA’s Michigan Theatre Teacher of the Year, and for her inductions into the Michigan Educational Theatre Association and the National Theatre Association Hall of fame. She is passionate about the power of theatre to help people build life-impacting skills, to foster community and ensemble, and to create an artistic experience that touches hearts and minds.
Devann Hattis teaches Language in Action, a drama-centered communication class of her own design, at Big Rapids Middle School. She had been involved in drama and the performing arts for the majority of her life, performing in 25+ productions from 2002-2010 and directing 13 shows since 2012. Originally from the Lansing area, Devann spends her summers running and directing for a youth theatre organization in her hometown. This theatre program ballooned from 55 participants to putting a needed cap at 105 under her supervision. She looks forward to continuing to enrich the lives of others and herself through drama and the performing arts.
Chris Lamar is a Michigan native who graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Music Education. He has lived in Big Rapids for 9 years and he has been on stage and back stage for many STAGE-M productions. Chris has had the pleasure of managing the Big Rapids High School Auditorium for the past eight years where he lends his technical skills to school and community productions. Chris loves helping bring theatre to the community and has thoroughly enjoyed his past two years serving on the STAGE-M Board as Member-at-Large
Amy Walling, a Big Rapids native, is currently the choir director for Big Rapids Public Schools. Amy has been involved in STAGE-M since she was a teenager, both as an actor and on the production team. She has also directed and produced musicals at the middle and high school levels. Amy knows how the art of theatre is a key part of any community, and she is excited to be involved in Big Rapids’ theatre community once again.