Notable Recent Theatre & Dance Alumni

Dance Alumni

Rush Benson
Rush Benson '13
Rush Benson is an actor, dancer, teacher, musician, and choreographer originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 2013, Benson graduated from Gustavus Adolphus and received degrees in Theater and Dance. Benson currently performs and tours regionally with the Flying Foot Forum, a percussion based theater and dance company, and works as a musical theater choreographer and dance teacher at multiple high schools and middle schools in Minnesota. Benson recently appeared in "The Music Man" at the Guthrie, "The Wedding Singer" at the Old Log Theater, and "A Chorus Line" at the Ordway. Benson has performed in choreographic works by Jamal Sims (Choreographer of the “Step Up” film series), Phillip Flickinger, Heather Klopchin, Stephan Koplowitz, and Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater. He has also performed locally with the Minnesota Dance Theater, James Sewell Ballet, Keane Sense of Rhythm Tap Company, and Youth Performance Company. Benson is currently teaching at Washburn High School in Minneapolis. He enjoys a solid jam session, ciphers, colored pencils, animals, communing with nature, and the feeling you get from a deep intellectual discussion.

Maddie Burnham
Madelyn Burnham '19

Photo Credit: Crown of Life Photo and Video

Madelyn Burnham '19 showcased her company, 8:20 Dance Company, in the InBox at the ArtBox COVID friendly performance in October 2020. She collaborated with several other Gustie alumni in this show. Her company performed their first full length show in July 2021 at The Southern Theatre with additional Gustie alums. Check on their website for more information on additional company members, past work, and upcoming performances. Madelyn is also thrilled that she is a Choreographer in Residence at Zenon for their Zone program. On top of that, Madelyn is also teaching a musical theatre and modern class at Waconia Center for Dance Arts along with being a Fall Dance Club coach at Holy Family High School. Gustavus has given Maddie the drive and dedication to pursue her dance career professionally, and she is forever grateful for the education she received at the college.

Brian EvansBrian Evans '07

See a great profile on Brian here!

Brian J. Evans is a Professional Performing Human. For the past eight years, Evans has had the privilege and pleasure of engaging in a vast array of fields. Teaching in public and private institutions, working with healthcare providers in the US and abroad, performing as a singer, actor, dancer in churches, theaters, basements, outdoor stages, any space provided that encourages the arts to thrive. An artist striving for social justice, Evans places high value in process and product, having had most of his training out in the 'Arts field' of the Twin Cities, working with over 50 artistic directors on more then 200 projects from solo endeavors to collaborating as a self-employed professional performer & teaching artist. Primarily as a principle dancer and musical director for Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater, Evans has continued to investigate the idea that connections exist between us all and it's the responsibility of the Arts to rediscover those connections, and highlight them to allow us to feel holistically human. Evans was the recipient of the prestigious McKnight Fellowship for a solo artist in 2015. 

Philip Flickinger
Philip Flickinger '01
Philip Flickinger earned a Sociology/Anthropology and Dance degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2001. He continued his studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, with an MFA in Dance. While living in Colorado, he danced with Frequent Flyers Productions, Third Law Dance/Theater, and the Hannah Kahn Dance Company. In 2006, Flickinger joined Diavolo Dance Theater in Los Angeles, CA, and performed throughout the world with them for six years including originated roles in “Foreign Bodies” and “Fearful Symmetries”, each of which premiered at the Hollywood Bowl and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He also co-directed and choreographed “Watashi Niwa Jishinga Aru”, performed and written by Leslie Lishi. Flickinger currently teaches at California State University, Sacramento, and co-directs D.I.G. (Dancers Investigation Group) with Lorelei Bayne.
Renee Guittar
Renee Guittar '12
Renee Guittar is a professional dancer, choreographer, and dance educator based in Minneapolis and originally from Lincoln, Nebraska. Renee received a B.A. in Dance with Honors from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2012. Renee has performed with Collide Theatrical Dance Company since 2013 and has worked for professional theaters such as The Guthrie (The Music Man), The Ordway (A Chorus Line), and The Old Log Theater (The Wedding Singer). Renee has worked as a producer, choreographer, and performer with nationally touring illusionist Jared Sherlock. Renee has presented choreography with Young Artists Initiative, the Zenon Dance Zone, Gustavus Adolphus College, North St. Paul High School, Highland Park Senior High School, Ramsey Middle School and at venues such as Patrick's Cabaret, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, Theatre in the Round, and The Ritz Theater. Renee produced the MN Fringe Festival Productions “CLOCKED” and “CIRCULATE” as well as an interactive dinner theater, "COOKED" which were co-directed by Renee, Benjamin Kolis '12 and Sarah Jabar '10. Renee teaches at numerous dance schools including Zenon Dance School and the Phipps Center for the Arts.
Kelsey Charlotte Hanstad
Kelsey Charlotte Hanstad '14
Kelsey Charlotte Hanstad is a dancer/choreographer based in Minneapolis. She received her BA in Dance from Gustavus Adolphus College.Throughout her time at Gustavus her choreography has been performed at ACDFA in 2012 as well as performing in the 2014 ACDFA Gala Performance. Kelsey attended Accademia dell' arte, a performing arts conservatory in Arezzo, Italia. Who she now works as a recruiter for the undergraduate dance program. She has worked with artists across Europe and the States including Stephan Koplowitz, Mark Allen , Girorgio Rossi, Rita Petrone , Ashai Lombardo Arop, Philip Flickinger and Heather Klophchin. She has worked with D.I.G / Dancers Investigation Group in Sacramento, California. Current work includes teaching at Zenon youth program, Northland School of Dance and setting work at Lyric Arts. Kelsey currently dances with Christopher Watson Dance Company, a multigenerational modern dance company celebrating its 25th year of dance. Recently having the opportunity to perform in St. Louis for a collaborative show. SEVEN, which she co-founded in 2014, premiered at the Minnesota Fringe Festival and will be collaborating on projects throughout the summer (keep your eyes peeled). And most recently, this is Kelsey's first season as a company member of STRONGmovement, directed by Darrius Strong. STRONG physically and musically embodies identity. The StarTribune referred to the work as "investigating intimacy, competition and the struggle of human connection." There are a variety of freelance projects and opportunities constantly in the works and every single one has felt like a dream job so far. Or at the very least, a very interesting life experience that chalks up to the hodge-podge list that is an artist's resume.
Jordan Klitzke
Jordan Klitzke ‘10
Jordan is a professional dancer and choreographer currently based in Guayaquil, Ecuador. During his time in Minneapolis he danced with Christopher Watson Dance Company, ARENA Dances, Jeffery Peterson Dance, and Eclectic Edge Ensemble, among others. He completed a 15-month residency at the Escuela Profesional de Danza de Mazatlán in March 2014 and started his own company, La Gringa Danza, in December 2013 with a focus on creating collaborations between Latin America and the United States. Recent professional work includes co-creating two original Minnesota Fringe Festival shows, Entre Nosotros (Between Us) and Judge Me. Hate Me. Love Me., and the original work, La Parodia de La Culpa, with the Ballet Contemporáneo de Cámara de Ecuador, which premiered at the National Theater in Quito, Ecuador. Jordan will be working with the Ballet Contemporáneo de Cámara de Ecuador for the next three months, then he will be going to Arizona State University for his MFA in the fall of 2016. He returned to Gustavus to teach a J-term course in January 2016, during which he created the piece I Practice Not Feeling a Thing with fifteen dancers.
Betsy Maloney
Betsy Maloney '97
Betsy Maloney, PhD, MFA, teaches in the Arts in Education program at the University of Minnesota. She works with the interarts (visual art, dance, theatre arts) initial license program and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the department of curriculum and instruction. Maloney Leaf's research examines the intersection between dance education, culturally relevant pedagogy, and educational policy. She has presented her research at several regional and national conferences, including DEC, NDEO, AATE, AESA, NAEA, and AERA. Her work has been published in the Youth Theatre Journal, Journal of Dance Education, Review of Research in Education, and Arts Education Policy Review. Prior to teaching at the University, Maloney Leaf taught dance at Main Street School of Performing Arts, a public performing arts high school in suburban Twin Cities for 10 years. She also served on the school board and as both a mentor teacher and a Q Comp coordinator. In 2007-2008, she served on the Minnesota State Arts Standard Review Committee. She served as co-chair for both the dance and theatre committees in the most recent revision of the Minnesota Academic Standards in the Arts. Maloney Leaf earned her PhD in curriculum & instruction from the University of Minnesota, her MFA in dance performance and choreography from the University of Colorado, and her BA in dance and English from Gustavus Adolphus College.

McKayla Murphy
McKayla Murphy '16

McKayla Murphy graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2016 with a B.A. in Communication Studies and a minor in Dance. McKayla was very active in the Theatre and Dance Department throughout her time at Gustavus, taking advantage of many of the wonderful opportunities offered, including J-Term intensives, ACDA Conferences, and as many choreography and performance opportunities as she could fit in her schedule. The Theatre and Dance Department’s focus on creative ways of addressing issues through social justice theatre combined with the Communication Studies department’s focus on critical analysis of media representation, social norms and dominant ideologies, pushed her to explore career options outside of what she originally envisioned as possible. After her graduation, McKayla accepted two jobs that allow her to work in the areas that she is passionate about. McKayla currently serves as the Racial Justice Coordinator with the YWCA Mankato, where she supports the mission of empowering women and eliminating racism through innovative programming and events, that she helps to develop and plan. McKayla also organizes and teaches for a Community Education dance program where she gets to work with diverse dancers of all ages and levels of experience. She aims to introduce her students to new ways of thinking about dance and choreography by offering classes in new styles of dance and of course, keeping them up to date on their dance history by sharing a “Dancer of the Week.” McKayla also takes class as much as possible and loves performing and showing new choreography when she can! 
Britta Joy Peterson
Britta Peterson '08
Britta Joy Peterson is a choreographer, collaborator and educator. Raised in the midwest, creatively pressure-cooked by the southwest, liberated by the pacific northwest, and cracked open by the wild west, BJP is now an east-coast creative based in Washington, DC. Recent choreographic works have been seen at venues such as Sibu International Dance Festival—Sarawak, Malaysia, University Settlement—New York City, NY, Dance Place—Washington, DC, Triskelion Arts—Brooklyn, NY, Imagination Stage—Bethesda, MD, Sonics Immersive Media Lab—London, UK, and the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts—Washington, DC. BJP’s current research interests includes the prioritization of macro structure in the choreographic act, design integration and curricular design for the dynamic arts environment. Her work has recently been supported by the DC Commission for Humanities and the Arts, the Mellon Fund at American University, Aunt Karen’s Farm—Mt. Vision, NY, The Iron Factory – Philadelphia, PA, Bainbridge Dance Center—Bainbridge Island, WA, and Great River Educational Arts Theatre—Waite Park, MN. BJP also specializes in dance for the theatrical stage, developing fresh material for classic plays and musicals, and devising choreographies and movement languages for new theatre works. BJP will kick off her two-year Artist in Residence term at Dance Place in DC with the premiere of “And Now, or Hold Me” in September, and will premiere “Frequencies”, commissioned by the Kennedy Center’s Local Dance Commissioning Project in October. BJP is an active educator, both in university and professional settings. She is the Director of Dance at American University in DC, and is the co-recipient of the 2017 Anne S. Ferren Curriculum Design Award. She holds her BA in Dance and Communications, magna cum laude, from Gustavus Adolphus College and her MFA in Dance, summa cum laude, from Arizona State University. @brittajoypeterson 

Theatre Acting/Directing Alumni

Kay Aston
Kay Aston '06

Kay Aston is working as an actress in Los Angeles. After Gustavus, Kay attended Cal State Fullerton where she received her MFA in acting. Some of her favorite roles there include Helena in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM and Lydia in BIG LOVE. Upon moving to LA, she helped to found the Coeurage Theatre Company. She produced, directed, and acted in multiple productions, including the original production HEAD OVER HEELS by Eric Czuleger. She has had great success in commercials, working for Volkswagen, Nike, Overstock, Dannon, and the international company Iberogast (she did the commercial in Russian!). Recently appearing as a guest star in the show MY CRAZY EX, Kay has starred in a just-completed pilot, WEEDLAND, which is currently in post-production. In addition, she has leading roles in many indie and short films. In her spare time, Kay mentors students at her favorite acting studio, Speiser/Sturges Acting Studio, where she finds great satisfaction imparting the craft she has worked many years to master.

Kimberly Braun
Kimberly Braun '11

Kimberly Braun (2011) is an MFA Acting candidate at the University of South Carolina. Regional credits include roles with Barter Theatre, Cabin Nite, Great Plains Theatre, Iowa Theatre Artists Co, Minnesota Fringe Festival, St. Croix Festival Theatre, Texas Shakespeare Festival, Theatre South Carolina, and Wayside Theatre.

 Christian DeMarais
Christian DeMarais '11
Christian DeMarais graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a BA in Honors Theatre and Business Management. In addition to being a member of the Gustavus Dance Company and Gustavus Choir, DeMarais participated in a multitude of Gustavus Theatre Productions including Hamlet, columbinus and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. DeMarais also worked professionally throughout the Twin Cities at the Ordway Center, Guthrie Theatre and Southern Theater during his time at Gustavus. After graduation, DeMarais received his MFA from NYU Grad Acting, where he studied with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tim Blake Nelson, David Hyde Pierce and Mark Wing Davey, among many others. Since then, DeMarais has had guest-starring roles in Elementary (CBS) and Mr. Robot (USA), as well as a recurring role in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Maniac (Netflix) alongside Jonah Hill, Emma Stone and Gabriel Byrne. He has also worked Off-Broadway at the world-renowned Public Theater, New York Shakespeare Festival and the Obie Award Winning Red Bull Theater. Other performance and workshop credits include Roundabout Theatre Company, Huntington Theatre Company, McCarter Theatre Center, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Chautauqua Theatre Company, The Drama League, The Mint and The Lark, among many others.
Nicholas Dillenburg
Nick Dillenburg '05
Nicholas Dillenburg just finished playing Ralph in the second production of White Noise by Suzan-Lori Parks at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Previous credits include - Broadway: The Real Thing with Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Off-Broadway credits include Mary Page Marlowe by Tracy Letts (NY premiere at Second Stage), Teenage Dick (The Public Theater), Henry V in Into the Hazard: Henry V (Walkerspace), Hater with Merritt Wever (Ohio Theatre) and Punchdrunk's Sleep No More. He has been seen in regional theaters all across the country, including: The Guthrie Theater, Shakespeare Theatre Company (DC), Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Berkshire Theatre Group, Portland Stage, Pioneer Theatre Company and many more. He also traveled to Bermuda to perform The Tempest with Anthony Stuart Head. He is perhaps best known for playing CO Ryder Blake on Orange is the New Black, with a Screen Actor's Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Other TV credits include: Law and Order, Elementary, Person of Interest, and Blue Bloods. Film: The Bracket Theory, As One. He is a proud alumni of The University of Connecticut where he holds an MFA in Acting and Gustavus Adolphus College, where he holds a BA in Theatre.
Comfort Dolo
Comfort Dolo '14

Comfort Dolo graduated from Gustavus in 2014 with double majors in Honors Theatre and Communication studies. While a student, she was co-president of the Diversity Leadership Council, the Culture and Diversity Executive for the Campus Activities Board, and participated in Habitat for Humanity, Big Partner Little Partner, I AM WE ARE and the Theatre & Dance Department (obviously). She was a recipient of the Magnuson Student Leadership and Service award (twice); the Diversity Honors Award for Outstanding Event of the Year; the Elco Corporation Award; and the Lee & Laurie Walker Scholarship. She was also elected into the Guild of St. Lucia.

Comfort has been performing in and around Minneapolis since graduating. Most recent being: To Kill a Mockingbird at the eminent Guthrie; TOUCH, a remake of the 1984 Emmy Award winning film project; Girls in White Dresses as Grand Duchess Tatiana Romanov, written by the Playwrights’ Center’s Many Voices Fellow, Cristina Castro; and various commercials ranging from the Minnesota State Lottery to hand modeling for Key Bank. Comfort is currently an MFA candidate at Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Playhouse.

Evan Hilsabeck '09
Evan Hilsabeck '09

Evan Hilsabeck (’09) has created programming to allow young people to explore social justice through performance in Iowa, Minnesota, Connecticut and India. Currently the Managing Director of the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts in Iowa, Evan has fostered youth theatre and community-based theatre throughout his career. As Managing Artistic Director of Spencer Community Theatre, Evan oversaw the creation of an endowment supporting the children’s theatre in his hometown. As Artistic Director of The Thambo Project, he presented workshop, classes and productions rooted in Theatre of the Oppressed techniques, and developed an international network of social justice theatre practitioners. Evan sits on the Advisory board of the Iowa Arts Council by appointment of Gov. Terry Branstad.

Benjamin Kolis
Benjamin Kolis '12

Benjamin Kolis is an actor, devisor, and writer based in Minneapolis, MN.

Benjamin has produced and co-directed several shows for the MN Fringe Festival, including CLOCKED (2013, winner of Audience Pick Award), Circulate (2014), and The School of Rhythm (2015). In 2014, he produced and co-directed Cooked, an ensemble theatre / cooking show performed in a theatre he and his roommates had built in their basement. 

Benjamin has devised and performed with several physical theatre / ensemble theatre groups in the Twin Cities, including Savage Umbrella, Slam Productions, Laughing Nomad Productions, and Live Action Set. 

Benjamin tours with GTC: Dramatic Dialogues, a social justice theatre group that performs at colleges and universities all over the country, talking about issues of substance abuse, sexual communication, and diversity. With his help, GTC is introducing scenes dealing with Trans issues into its programming. 

Benjamin has performed with many greater Twin Cities area theatre organizations, such as Artistry, 20% Theatre Company, Old Gem Theatre, Green T Productions, Mounds View Community Theatre, Lyric Arts, Shadow HorseTheatre, Danger Boat Productions, Theatre in the Round Players, and the National Theatre for Children. 

Benjamin has co-authored three books, Brainball: Science Edition (Rowman & Littlefield 2014), Brainball: Theatre Edition (Rowman & Littlefield 2016) and Thinking Diagrams: Processing and Connecting Experiences, Facts, and Ideas (Rowman & Littlefield 2016). He has worked and taught at the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre, and Young Dance. He teaches creative movement, physical theatre, and composition at Out On A Limb Dance Studio and School. 

Sylvia Michels
Sylvia Michels '17

Sylvia Michels played Letta in The Death Of A Salesman and Sally Applewhite in It's A Wonderful Life: A Radio Play at the St. Croix Festival Theatre in St. Croix Falls, WI in 2017. She will be directing the spring 2018 play at Rogers High School, and continues to audition for acting jobs.

Jessica Risco '02
Jessica Risco '02

Jessica Risco, MPH is a San Francisco-based actress and educator who as facilitated Theatre of the Oppressed workshops with communities across the U.S. and Africa. She has trained with both Augusto Boal in Los Angeles and Augusto’s son, Julian, in Minneapolis and Berkeley. Since receiving a B.A. in Theatre from Gustavus Adolphus College, she has had the opportunity to work as an actress in New York City, Dublin, Honolulu, Minneapolis, and Tucson. Jessica made her San Francisco debut in 2011 in Savage in Limbo at the Actor's Theatre and since has been seen in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Mae), The Iceman Cometh (Cora), A Delicate Balance (Julia) and, most recently, The Birthday Party (Lulu) which is currently nominated for Best Ensemble for the Theatre Bay Association Awards. Favorite credits include Angles in America (Harper Pitt), Fool for Love (May),Heartbreak House (Ellie Dunn), and Balm in Gilead (Bonni

Michael J. Sielaff '08
Michael J. Sielaff '08

Michael J. Sielaff was born and raised in Fridley, Minnesota (Ward 3, Precinct 2). He graduated with[out] honors from Gustavus where he majored in Religious Studies, minored in Theatre, was on Proclaim leadership, had a fledging KGSM radio show, was a proud member of I Am We Are for four years, and had a life-changing experience studying abroad in India with the Social Justice, Peace, & Development program. After working for CLIMB Theatre for a year, Michael relocated to Los Angeles to pursue TV/film acting in 2009 where he has had landed roles in a few TV shows (Workaholics, Maron, Chuck), commercials (DiGiorno's, Safe Auto, McDonald's), and films (Disaster LA, Reality, noobz- wait, you've never heard of them? Crap! I did audition in front of the Coen brothers once...more impressive? I didn't get the role, though, so I suppose not...I just want to impress you!). He currently performs with Story Pirates, founded/teaches with the improv school Rogue Improv, and co-produces Laughtivism shows with the soon-to-be non-profit he helped create called 'Deceased Apathy Society.'

Theatre Tech/Design Alumni

Kit Baumer
Kit Baumer '15

Kit Baumer received her B.A. in Theatre with Honors from Gustavus in 2015. She has since completed a year of graduate studies in lighting design at California State University, Long Beach, and is now working through her second year of three. At Cal State Long Beach, Kit has had the opportunity to design for a production of Carol Churchill’s Far Away, and Nancy Bell’s Mutual Consent. Kit is currently working on a new devised piece titled Elements. For the past two summers Kit has also assisted her graduate mentor, David Jaques, at Central City Opera in Central City, Colorado. While in Central City Kit had the opportunity to design the lighting for Central City Opera’s production of Mozart’s The Impresario. Kit has been glad to be home in sunny California while she completes her graduate work, but misses all of her friends back in Minnesota.

Erin Belpedio 
Erin Belpedio '11

Erin Belpedio is a Freelance Lighting Designer & Electrician in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas, as well as the Assistant Lighting Designer at Artistry in Bloomington, MN. As an over-hire Electrician, she works with numerous companies including, The Guthrie; Children's Theatre Company; MN Orchestra; The Jungle Theatre; The Cowles Center for the Arts;The Lab Theatre; Old Log Theatre; Penumbra Theatre, and Continental Ballet Company. She is also active on the IATSE union over hire stage crew list. Erin been been able to keep super busy with electrics work and design work over the past 3 years she has been back from school, and work opportunities keep expanding & becoming busier each season!

Upcoming Designs & Projects Include:

  • Lighting Design: Trial Reenactments - Landmark Center, St. Paul, MN; A Christmas Carol - Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson, WI.
  • Assistant Lighting Design: The Baker's Wife - Artistry, Bloomington, MN.
  • Stage Management: The Nutcracker - Continental Ballet Company at Bloomington Center for the Arts, Bloomington, MN.
  • Light Board Op: Home Street Home - Guthrie Studio, Mpls, MN
Sara Brown pc Jon Sachs
Sara Brown '01

Sara Brown is a set designer for theater, opera, and dance. Selected designs include The Day at Jacob’s Pillow; Hagoromo at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; Fellow Travelers and La Rondine at the Minnesota Opera; World of Wires at The Kitchen in NYC and Festival d’Automne in Paris; Prince of Providence at Trinity Repertory company in Providence, RI; Der Freischütz with Heartbeat Opera in NYC; The Mother of Us All at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She holds an MFA in set design from the University of Virginia. She is an Assistant Professor at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Music and Theater Arts where she has been since 2008. You can see her work at During her time at Gustavus, she designed sets for several productions and played the role of Viola in Twelfth Night directed by Rob Gardner. She has not acted since. She lives with her husband and a rotating menagerie of imaginary pets in Boston, MA.

Bethany Davidson
Bethany Davidson '15

Bethany Davidson graduated from Gustavus in 2015. She majored in Theatre Honors with a concentration in Costume, Wig, & Makeup Design and Technology and a second major in Psychological Science. During her time at Gustavus, she worked as a Student Supervisor in the Costume Shop and served as Co-President of the USITT GAC Student Chapter and President of the Peterson ILS House. She also spent two summers working in the Wig & Makeup Department at the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre. In 2018, Bethany graduated with a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School. While in law school, she managed to stay involved in theatre; including being in the chorus of “Minnesota Jones and Law School of Doom,” a production by the Theatre of the Relatively Talentless (or TORT – which is a civil law claim, law puns!), and serving as the Co-Head Costumer. She recently spent a summer serving as a Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellow with Iowa Legal Aid in Dubuque, Iowa. Her background in theatre has been a huge help to her in starting her legal career (she brings it up in just about every job interview she’s had!).

Lydia Francis
Lydia Francis '11
Lydia Francis began her scenic design journey after taking Experiments in Design with Micah Maatman in her sophomore year at Gustavus. As her interest continued to grow she was given several opportunities to assist and design for the Gustavus Theater Department including; assisting Micah Maatman in his design for The Impressario From Smyrna, then she moved on to scenic design for Far AwayPains of Youth, and Hamlet. She graduated with a theater honors degree from Gustavus in 2011. That summer she began an internship with the Guthrie Theater that resulted in her first professional job as a scenic artist. In the fall of 2013 she returned to school at the University of Maryland to receive her Masters of Fine Arts in scenic design. While at the University of Maryland she had the pleasure of designing the sets for Moliere Impromptu, My Tempest, Collidescope, The Lost World, and Intimate Apparel. She has also had the amazing opportunity to assist her mentor Dan Conway on such productions as The Aliens at Studio Theater, Becky Shaw at Roundhouse, and The Tempset at A.R.T to name a few. She was also Dan Conway’s associate scenic designer for the Helen Hayes award winning production of Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol at Adventure Theater that spring she was brought back to Adventure where she designed the set for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. After graduation Lydia returned to Minneapolis where she has been a freelance set designer and scenic artist. For more information about Lydia check out her website.
Kiki Klun
Kiki Klun (Mead) '11

Kiki Klun has been freelancing in the Twin Cities metro area as a lighting designer and electrician. Most recently, she designed lights for Blithe Spirit at Artistry and was the master electrician for Million Dollar Quartet and Jungle Book for Old Log Theatre. Kiki has also returned to Gustavus as the Assistant Technical Director. She enjoys teaching carpentry to the students in the scene shop and always looks forward to strike!

Elsa Larsen
Elsa Larsen '17
Elsa graduated in 2017 with her B. A. in Theatre with Honors, emphasis in Costume Design and Technology and a minor in Arts Administration. While at Gustavus, she served as a Student Supervisor in the Costume Shop and Co-President of the USITT GAC Student Chapter. She worked three summers in the Costume Shop and running Wardrobe Crew at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF) in Montgomery, Alabama. After graduating, she accepted the First Hand position in the Costume Shop at ASF, working there for two seasons. She is currently the Costume Shop Manager for the Theater Department at the College of Saint Benedict in Saint Joseph, Minnesota. She is happy to be back in Minnesota and working at a Liberal Arts institution.
Anna Michel
Anna Michel '14
Anna Michel graduated from Gustavus in 2014 and is now a Theatre teacher at Southwest High School in Minneapolis. As the Technical Director, she also designs sound, lights, set and props for various SW productions throughout the year. In addition, Anna is working on her Master of Arts in Teaching at Hamline University. 

Michael Rueckert
Michael Rueckert '08
Upon graduating from Gustavus in 2008, Michael went to Luther Seminary where he graduated in 2012 with a Masters of Divinity. Since November 2012, he has been working as the solo pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Ulen, MN. What Michael learned from his theatre degree has been very useful as a pastor. It has helped to build confidence and comfort in preaching and leading worship. His technical theatre experience has especially helped to teach him how to manage multiple details that happen behind the scenes to make projects, events, and ministries possible. Some more specific ways that he has used his theatre experience in pastoral ministry is in working with sound equipment, incorporating monologues during Lenten services, and using dramas during Good Friday services. Michael has even been known to use short monologues as part of his sermons. These are just a few ways that his theatre degree has prepared Michael for pastoral ministry.
Jessica Van Kempen
Jessica Van Kempen '14

Jessica Van Kempen graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2014, then went to graduate school at the University of California Irvine where she is studying Costume Design. She is expected to graduate in 2017. During the summer of 2016, she designed costumes for an off-Broadway show called Good by C.P. Taylor, working with the PTP/NYC (Potomac Theatre Project in New York City) company at The Atlantic stage 2. 

Click here to see some additional alumni who are established in their field.