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Our Directors


James BarnettJames Barnett

Music Director - Striking 12

Bio

James Barnett’s career in theater began with a production of Into the Woods at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  Since then, he has worked in a wide variety of genres, from experimental theater (The Interrupted Dream) to the Minnesota Centennial Showboat (The Count of Monte Christo, Is There a Doctor in the House?), both at the University of Minnesota.   As a music director and educator he has worked at the Children’s Theater of Minneapolis Theater Arts Training Program (Little Women) and Grand Valley State University (The Light in the Piazza, Threepenny Opera).  Based out of Chicago now, Barnett just made his Chicago-land debut with SLATE productions in Legally Blonde at Governors State University.

Barnett's work as an opera conductor and coach has led him to Des Moines Metro Opera, the University of Minnesota Opera Theater, and Grand Valley State University working on numerous productions including Kurt Weill's Seven Deadly Sins, Suor Angelica, Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, Leoš Janáček’s Jenůfa, Stravinsky's Renard and Le Rossignol, and Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges.  In the spring of 2010 he served as the rehearsal pianist for the male choral ensemble Cantus in a performance of Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Mark Russel Smith.

With his artistic partner, director Laura Anderson, he served as the chorus master in 2007 for Amahl and the Night Visitors which raised money for Heifer International.  December of 2008 marked his debut as a conductor when he conducted a performance of David Conte's The Gift of the Magi which benefitted the food relief organization Feed My Starving Children. In subsequent years he has conducted Amahl and the Night Visitors (2009) and Frank Bridge's rarely heard opera The Christmas Rose (2010), both a benefit for Feed My Starving Children.

Barnett is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts student in Piano Accompanying/Vocal Coaching at the University of Minnesota where he studies under Timothy Lovelace and Noriko Kawai.  Major musical influences in his life include James and Karen Johnson, Z. Randall Stroope.


Joe ChvalaJoe Chvala

Director - The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Bio

Joe Chvala (Artistic Director/Flying Foot Forum) is the founder and artistic director of the highly-acclaimed percussive dance company, the Flying Foot Forum. In addition to the Flying Foot Forum, Chvala has directed, choreographed, and been commissioned to create new works for a variety of theater and dance companies including the Guthrie Theater, the Walker Art Center, the Ordway Music Theater, the Minnesota Opera, The Children’s Theatre Company, Gothenburg’s Balettakademien, Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, the Great American History Theater, The Alpine Theater Project, Park Square Theatre, and Zenon Dance Company.  He has been the recipient of both Ivey and Sage awards for theater and dance as well as numerous “Best of the Year” honors from various US newspapers and periodicals and numerous choreographic and interdisciplinary awards, fellowships, and grants from such organizations as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Minnesota State Arts Board, Target, and the McKnight Foundation.

The Flying Foot Forum was founded in 1991 by Joe Chvala.  Over the years, the Flying Foot Forum has created numerous original percussive works that have toured both nationally and internationally from New York City to Paris and from the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival to Russia.  The exciting mission of the Flying Foot Forum is to re-imagine the potential of all forms of percussive dance and percussion and to explore their full range of dramatic and musical possibilities. Most percussive dance companies concentrate on one or two traditional forms of percussive dance. The unique contribution of the Flying Foot Forum is its dedication to expanding the definition and the applications of percussive dance.  The company creates new hybrid dances using them to explore ideas and narrative material. Through our forum of percussive arts, we have found that percussive dance and percussion are versatile, malleable, and expressive art forms that are equally potent as the main focus of a work or as one element in an inter-disciplinary collaboration. This idea has led the company into a range of work that has mixed percussive dance with theater, video, music and other performing arts. Historically, we have created a wide range of pieces that deal with universal ideas and issues, creating multi-faceted characters, while telling unusual tales in fascinating new ways. In recent years, the company has concentrated on artistic and choreographic collaborations. Unpredictability is its trademark.  Imagination and virtuosity are its core.. For more information, to be put on our e-mail list, or to contact us, visit our website at www.flyingfootforum.com .


Zach CurtisZach Curtis

Director - Gypsy

Bio

Zach returns to BCT for his fifth production, after having staged A Few Good Men, The 39 StepsTwelve Angry Men and Prisoner of Second Avenue. He is in his seventh season as Artistic Director for the Paul Bunyan Playhouse in Bemidji, Minnesota's longest running summer stock theater. He has directed almost thirty shows for PBP.  In a previous life he was Artistic Director for Fifty Foot Penguin Theater in Minneapolis. He has directed over 75 professional productions, including the Actors Equity Showcase of A Streetcar Named Desire, the area premiere of Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical, and the stagings of The Who's TommyChicago and Sisters of Swing with Pioneer Place Theater Company in St. Cloud. His stagings have also been seen at Park Square Theatre, The Commonweal, Jon Hassler Theater, Theatre L'Homme Dieu and Actors Theatre of Minnesota.


Michael Matthew FerrellMichael Matthew Ferrell

Director & Choreographer - Singin' in the Rain
Choreographer - Les Misérables

Bio

Michael Matthew Ferrell is the 2007 Ivey Award recipient for Choreography and 2010 Choreographer of the Year named by Lavender Magazine. Credits include On the Town, 42nd Street and Oklahoma! (Bloomington Civic Theatre); Ragtime (Park Square Theatre); Aida, Company, Spring Awakening, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Evita, The Full Monty, Parade, Gypsy, The Rink, and Passage of Dreams (Theatre Latté Da); You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, Grand Night for Singing, and Broadway’s Legendary Ladies (Ordway Center); Wizard of Oz, Annie, Babe The Sheep Pig, Tommy, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Disney’s High School Musical, A Year with Frog and Toad, and Fashion 47 (Children’s Theatre Company); Cats, Annie, The Sound of Music, Camelot, The Music Man, My Fair Lady, Forever Plaid, Oklahoma!, and Can Can (Chanhassen Dinner Theatres). Additionally, his work has been seen at The Minnesota Opera Company, Minnetonka Theatre, Sesame Street, Stages Theatre Company, Pantages Theatre, Disney World Orlando, and Guthrie Theatre Cabaret shows. He is also the Founder and Artistic Director of Alive & Kickin’, the Twin Cities newest musical ensemble of Rockin’ Senior Citizens!


Jon FergusonJon Ferguson

Director - On Golden Pond

Bio

Jon Ferguson is from Durham in the Northeast of England. He trained at Middlesex University in London with leading physical theatre practitioner John Wright. He has worked with some of the leading theater and clown companies in the UK and US including Hoipolloi, Told by an Idiot, Trading Faces, Live Action Set, and The Guthrie Theater. Work as a director, theater-maker, movement director and actor include: King Ubu - The Gate Theatre London, Moby Dick - National Student Drama Festival Scarborough UK, The Man Who Woke Up in the Dark Trading Faces Theatre Company UK tour, The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd and A Collier's Friday Night - Oxford School of Drama at The Battersea Arts Centre London, The Roaring Girl - Finborough Theatre London, Marry Maria - Hoipolloi Theatre UK tour, Shakespeare for Breakfast - Edinburgh, London, Warsaw, Toronto, Winnipeg, Minneapolis, Edmonton & Victoria (2001/02), Everything and Nothing all at the Same Time - Minnesota Fringe Festival (2004), Please Don't Blow Up Mr. Boban - Minnesota Fringe Festival and The Loring Playhouse (2005), Miss Nelson is Missing - Stages Theatre Company (2006), We Are Ugly But We Have the Music - The Bryant Lake Bowl (2006), Kill The Robot - Stages Theatre Company at The Minnesota Fringe Festival (2006), Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business - Stages Theatre Company (2006), Ligustrum Vulgare - The Bryant Lake Bowl (2006), The Sad and Lonesome Story of What's His Name - Sabes JCC Minneapolis (2007), Or The White Whale - The Southern Theater (2007), Aftermath - Mishka Productions at Bedlam Theater (2007), Deep Boy - Stages Theatre Company at the Minnesota Fringe Festival (August 2007), Bull - Main Street School for Performing Arts and Stages Theatre Company (Oct 2007), Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol - John Hassler Theater (Nov 2007), You're my Favorite Kind of Pretty - Southern Theater (Feb/Mar 2008), The Reluctant Dragon - Stages Theatre Company (April 2008), Your Happy Place - Stages Theatre Company at The Minnesota Fringe Festival (August 2008), Bury My Heart at Dumb Ass Cowboy - 2008 New York Clown Theater Festival (Sept 2008), Animal Farm - Southern Theater (Oct-Nov 2008), The Wizard of Oz - Stages Theatre Company (Summer 2009), Projectile Thinking - Stages Theatre Company at The Minnesota Fringe Festival (August 2009), Super Monkey at The Guthrie Theater - Dowling Studio (Sept/Oct 2009), Gregory Gregorson and The Magic Pinto Bean – The Children’s Theater Company (Nov 2009),  S. Gunter Klaus and The Story Before - Southern Theater (Dec 2009), Tales of a Forth Grade Nothing - Stages Theater Company (March 2010), The Maltese Loon - University of Minnesota (April 2010), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - The Jon Hassler Theater (Oct/Nov 2010), Holes - Stages Theatre Company (April/May 2011), The Marriage of Bette and Boo - University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program (April 2011), God of Carnage - Guthrie Theater (May - Aug 2011), Pinocchio – The Jon Hassler Theater (Sept – Oct 2011), So Long Johnson Pillock – Forage Modern Workshop (Jan 2012), A Bun for a Door Handle – Forage Modern Workshop (Feb – Mar 2012), Time Stands Still - Guthrie Theater (April - May 2011), The War Within / All’s Fair – The Moving Company at The Southern Theater (May – June 2012), Tales From Hollywood - Guthrie Theater (Sept - Oct 2012), Open The Pod Bay Doors Hal – Intermedia Arts (Jan 2013), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Red Eye Theater (Feb/Mar 2013), Nice Fish - Guthrie Theater (April – May 2013).

Jon was named "2005 City Pages Artist of the Year", and his production Please Don’t Blow Up Mr. Boban, with Live Action Set, was chosen by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as the "Outstanding Experimental Theater Production of 2005" and named "Best Stage Production" by the Minneapolis City Pages - Best of the Twin Cities 2006. Other awards include: "Time Out London Critic’s Choice" For King Ubu at The Gate, London, "Sunday Times Ensemble Award" for Moby Dick at the NSDF Scarborough, "Best Comedy Award" for Shakespeare for Breakfast at the Victoria Fringe, “Twin Cities Daily Planet’s - Top Ten Play of 2008” for You’re My Favorite Kind of Pretty at the Southern Theater, and “City Pages - Top 10 Play of 2008" for Animal Farm at the Southern Theater. Jon has taught physical theater, clowning, and collaborative play creation throughout the UK and US, including teaching extensively for The Theatre Royal Bath, The Bristol Old Vic, Stages Theatre Company, St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts, The Guthrie Theater, The University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program, as well as teaching countless independent workshops. He has developed work at Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis and with Hoipolloi Theater and Told by an Idiot in the UK.


Rob GowdyRob Goudy

Director - Agnes of God
Associate Director -Les Misérables

Bio

Rob is honored to join BCT for two productions this season following his BCT debut as Associate Director on last year’s production of Sunday in the Park With George.  As a freelance director, assistant director, and stage manager, he has worked with a myriad of companies in the Twin Cities, including the Guthrie, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, the Children’s Theatre Company, Gremlin Theater, Theatre in the Round, and the Minnesota Fringe Festival.  Favorite projects include A Christmas Carol (5 seasons) and Lost in Yonkers (Guthrie), Bach at Leipzig (Gremlin), Bus Stop and The Burial at Thebes (Theatre in the Round), Maria de Buenos Aires and The Little Prince (Jeune Lune), and I Make No Promises, But Someone’s Probably Going to Die (2013 Fringe).


David MannDavid Mann

Director - The Odd Couple

Bio

Actor, director, and playwright David Mann has been a theatre artist in the Twin Cities for over 15 years. He created the Schools On Stage program for the Guthrie, and remains its Lead Teaching Artist. At Park Square Theater, he has directed To Kill a Mockingbird, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club, and several other shows. He is Associate Artistic Director at Torch Theater, where he has directed Turn of the Screw, True West, Glengarry Glen Ross, and more. In 2010 He directed Mulan, Jr. at Children’s Theatre Company. He has written five critically-acclaimed solo shows and received a Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship for Performance Art/Storytelling. His play Queens of Burlesque was performed at History Theatre, and his play Corleone: The Shakespearean Godfather was a hit at the Minnesota and New York Fringe Festivals. As an actor, David has performed at the Guthrie, Park Square, and the Great River Shakespeare Festival. Apart from theater, David is a frequent commentator on MPR, and he is also a prominent speaker and presentation specialist for corporations and law firms nationally.


Anita RuthAnita Ruth

Music Director

Bio

Anita Ruth is an orchestrator, arranger and musical director, having worked on over 180 musicals in the last forty years. She has music directed every BCT main stage musical event from the 2005 50th Anniversary Gala to On The Town in 2013. She also conceived and music directed NEO Cabaret’s On Our Own. Anita collaborated with Bonnie Erickson to create, music direct and produce the acclaimed 2008 and 2009 breast cancer awareness fundraiser, The Breast of Broadway. She music directed for Chanhassen Dinner Theaters from 1968 to 1988, and has since been a freelance music director and orchestrator at Guthrie Theater, Children’s Theatre Company, Park Square Theatre and Theatre Mu, among others. For several years now, Anita has worked with Project Success, a widely respected youth development organization serving over 11,000 middle school through high school students over a seven-year program period. Their unique approach to developing life skills recognizes the deep benefits of arts participation for kids, and Anita enjoys training sixth, seventh and eighth grade students in the delights of Broadway musicals.


Alan sorensonAlan Sorenson

Director - Proof

Bio

Proof marks Alan’s second production as a director in the BCT black box theater.  In 2010 he directed the highly successful Steel Magnolias. Alan has also acted on the BCT main stage, most recently as Jules/Bob Greenburg in Sunday in the Park with George and as Fredrick in the 2007 production of A Little Night Music. Alan’s other directing credits include:  Two sold out runs of the one woman show, Mary A la Carte at Bryant Lake Bowl; Bus Stop at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Lakeshore Players;  A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and The Day Immediately Following the Golden Age of Radio at Morris Park Players; Our Town, Nunsense and Fiddler on the Roof at Patchwork Theatre, Bye Bye Birdie at St. Louis Park High School and the area premier of Snowangel at the Minnesota Fringe Festival.


Christine WeberChristine Weber

Director - Striking 12

Bio

Christine is pleased to be back for the second year of Striking 12 at BCT. She has worked as an assistant to the director on several projects, including The Birds (American premiere at the Guthrie Theater, directed by Henry Wishcamper), Inspecting Carol (at Bloomington Civic Theater, directed by Karen Weber), and 36 Views (regional premiere at Walking Shadow Theater Company, directed by John Heimbuch). As an actor, her credits include Pride and Prejudice, The Winter's Tale, A Christmas Carol, Romeo and Juliet (a co-production with The Acting Company, national tour), When We Are Married, The Merchant of Venice and Deborah Stein's When I Was a Ghost... at Guthrie Theater; The Sense of What Should Be (Workhaus Collective); Amazons and Their Men (Walking Shadow Theater Company); The Count of Monte Cristo (Minnesota Centennial Showboat); and various productions at The Children's Theatre Company (on their mainstage as well as their T.A.T. Black Box productions), Theatre L'Homme Dieu, and Minnesota Jewish Theater. She earned her B.F.A. from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie B.F.A. Actor Training Program. For more information, please visit www.christinemweber.com.


Karen WeberKaren Weber

Director - Les Misérables

Bio

As an actor, Karen has been a favorite of BCT patrons with roles including Lucy Harris (Jekyll and Hyde), Eva Peron (Evita), Irene Molloy (Hello, Dolly!), Beggar Woman (Sweeney Todd), Phyllis Stone (Follies), Desiree Armfeldt (A Little Night Music), Margaret Johnson (The Light in the Piazza), Maria Callas (Master Class), M’Lynn Eatenton (Steel Magnolias), The Witch (Into the Woods) and most recently, Aunt Eller (Oklahoma!). Now, Karen is returning to her artistic roots as a director. After completing her degree in theater at the University of Minnesota (Direction and Scenic Design), Karen went on to direct locally for over five years. Working with professional and aspiring actors alike, she enjoyed working behind the scenes and never thought to become an actor herself. After stepping away from theater altogether for more than 10 years to start a family, she returned to the stage as an actor when her children expressed an interest in it themselves. Away from BCT, she has worked with History Theatre, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Park Square Theatre, Minneapolis Musical Theatre, Plymouth Playhouse, Troupe America, Actors Theater of MN, Theater Latté Da, Theatre in the Round, Gremlin Theatre, Playwrights’ Center, Jon Hassler Theater, Pioneer Place on 5th, The Empty Space Collective and Nautilus Music-Theater. Her local, regional and national work as an actor has allowed her to learn from many talented and respected directors, and she is looking forward to bringing that knowledge and perspective back to the director's chair.


Each year our directors and choreographers produce eight productions that typically include four musicals and four plays from other genres. A live orchestra plays the full and complete score, as written, for every musical.