Millikin University - Decatur, IL
STRING - Artist Bios
 CAST - In Order of Appearance

Jessica Nicole Benson  -  Atropos

Senior BFA Musical Theatre
Rockford, Illinois

Credits include South Pacific, Working, and Fiddler On the Roof (Porthouse Theatre); Affinity, Cheated, and Three Plays About Nothing (Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre); Bastard Jones (Millikin’s New Musical Workshop Series); The Drowsy Chaperone, Sweet Smell of Success and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Millikin Main Stage).


  Lyla Rivard-Hoster  -  Lachesis

Junior BFA Musical Theatre
Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin

Lyla Rivard-Hoster most recently appeared in Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre’s production of Rabbit Hole (Nat). During the Northwoods Summer Theatre Project, she was seen in The Miracle Worker (Anne Sullivan) and The Foreigner (Catherine). Other credits include: Bastard Jones (Millikin’s New Musicals Workshop).


Shayla Rogers  -  Clotho

Sophomore BFA Musical Theatre
Wheaton, Illinois

Shayla Rogers has been involved with several Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre productions, including Love Kills as an ensemble member and female understudy; and The Great American Trailer Park Musical as a swing. At the Chicago Academy for the Arts, Shayla’s credits include Rosa Bud in Drood, Martha in Spring Awakening, and Frenchy in Grease.


  Sean Doherty  -  Mickey

Senior BFA Musical Theatre
Hampshire, Illinois

Sean was recently seen in Tent Theatre’s season as Jim in 110 in the Shade and Vernon in Damn Yankees.  At Great Plains Theatre, Sean was seen as Dennis in All Shook Up, and the ensembles of both Oklahoma and Guys and Dolls.  On the Millikin Main Stage, Sean’s credits include Georg in Spring Awakening, Dallas in Sweet Smell of Success, and Blair in Golden Gate.


David B. Rhodes  -  O'Brien

Freshman BFA Acting
St. Louis, Missouri

David B. Rhodes recently appeared in Metro High School’s production of Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal and starred in the Metro High School production of A Streetcar Named Desire (Harold “Mitch” Mitchell). David also appeared in the production of Our Town as well as several other student written, produced, directed plays and short films. David is also an aspiring playwright, screen writer, novelist, and director. He recently wrote and co-directed his high school’s Black History Month Program.


  Sidney Davis  -  Geneva

Senior BFA Musical Theatre
Valencia, California

Sidney Davis recently played Rochelle in the stage reading of The Craft: The Musical performed at Millikin University. On the Millikin Main Stage, Sidney’s credits include the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, Gloria in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, and Trix in The Drowsy Chaperone.


Joseph Bezenek  -  Zeus/Beef

Sophomore BFA Musical Theatre, Dance Minor
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Credits include (Harold Hill) Music Man, (Gaston) Beauty and the Beast, (Pharaoh) Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, (Marley) A Christmas Carol, (Prince Christopher) Cinderella, (Michael) The Kids Left the Dog Died Now What?, (Aaron Yoder) The Amish Project, (King Henry IV) Night at the Wax Museum with the Performing Arts of O’Gorman High School; and (Alex Eatenbrook) The Little Dog Laughed, and (Young Man/Priest) Machinal on the Millikin Main Stage.


  Ryan Lacy  -  Trainee

Sophomore BFA Musical Theatre
Naperville, Illinois

Ryan has recently been seen on the Millikin Main Stage in Spring Awakening and Miss Electricity. He has also been seen in Neuqua Valley Theatre’s productions of Crazy for You, Aladdin, The Wiz, Kiss Me Kate, Carousel, and Jekyll and Hyde.


Anastasia Arnold  -  Ensemble

Senior BFA Musical Theatre
Huntley, Illinois

Credits include Damn Yankees, World Goes Round, and Sound of Music with Porthouse Theatre; Stand Up! Change Teen Statistics with the R.Ed.I Arts Foundation; Reefer Madness with Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre, Bare with Last Chance Theatre; The Grid with Millikin’s New Musical Workshop Series; and Two Dumb Dogs, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Sweet Smell of Success, and Spring Awakening on the Millikin Main Stage.


  Heather Ashley Banks  -  Ensemble

Freshman BFA Musical Theatre
San Diego, California

Credits include Belle in Beauty and the Beast and Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie with CYT San Diego, and Eponine in Les Miserables at Fallbrook Players. Additional credits include The National Tour of Evita, Gypsy, and Fiddler on the Roof at The Welk Resort.


Emily C. Briggs  -  Ensemble

Junior BFA Musical Theatre, Dance Minor
Davenport, Iowa

Credits include Cinderella (swing) on the Millikin Main Stage and Reefer Madness (Ensemble) at Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre.


  Lexis Danca  -  Ensemble

Sophomore BFA Musical Theatre
Crystal Lake, Illinois

Credits include 84th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (New York, New York); Cinderella, Machinal, and Equinox: A Concert of Dance (Millikin Main Stage); Grand Hotel, Fame: World Premiere One Act Edition, and Hello, Dolly (Stagedoor Manor); and The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Coppelia (Judith Svalander Dance Theater).


Madison Kauffman  -  Ensemble

Senior BFA Musical Theatre
Springfield, Illinois

Madison recently appeared in Little Women the Musical at Theatre in the Park. Her credits include Once on this Island, Seussical the Musical and Hello Dolly! (The Muni); Beauty and the Beast, and 25th Annual...Bee (Springfield Theatre Center). At Millikin, she has performed in Cinderella (Main Stage), Cracker and Reefer Madness (Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre), and Two Dumb Dogs (Children Show).


  Darian Lunsford  -  Ensemble

Senior BFA Musical Theatre
Fredericksburg, Virginia

Credits include (Jesus) Godspell, (Seymour) The Little Shop of Horrors, (Mitch Mahoney) 25th...Spelling Bee, (Rapunzel's Prince) Into The Woods, (Kodaly) She Loves Me, (Sparky) Forever Plaid, (Actor) Almost Maine, (Ensemble) Bye Bye Birdie at Clinton Area Showboat Theatre; Homemade Fusion with Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre; Bastard Jones, and The Grid with Millikin New Musicals, (El-Fayoumy) The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, (Mitchell Green) The Little Dog Laughed, (Lysander) A Midsummer Night's Dream, (Hanschen) (Moritz U/S) Spring Awakening, (Club Z) Sweet Smell of Success, and Two Dumb Dogs with Millikin Main Stage.

Jake Morrissy  -  Ensemble

Senior BFA Musical Theatre
Oak Forest, Illinois

Jake Morrissy- Credits include Gutenberg! The Musical and Homemade Fusion with Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre; and The Drowsy Chaperone (Man In Chair), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Peter Quince), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Leaf Coneybear), Cinderella, and Spring Awakening on the Millikin University Main Stage.

Brian Kocher  -  Ensemble

Senior BA Theatre
Henry, Illinois

Brian's regional credits include Hans in Cabaret, Anthony Marston in And Then There Were None, Fairy in The Tempest, and Ensemble in Carousel with Festival 56. On the Millikin Main Stage, Brian's credits include Ensemble (U/S Adult Man, Hanschen, Otto) in Spring Awakening, Ensemble in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, Male Swing (Barfee, Panch) in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and William in The Imaginators. Brian also serves as the Assistant to Millikin's New Musical Workshop.


  Michael S. Ohm  -  Ensemble

Sophomore BFA Musical Theatre, Dance Minor
Valparaiso, Indiana

Michael Ohm is a returning sophomore to Millikin University. He was previously seen on the Millikin Main Stage as Prince Christopher in Rodger and Hammerstein's production of Cinderella. He returns from an international tour of Rhapsody in Swing a show written for the international tour to China which was produced in January of 2013.

Rachel Reininger  -  Swing

Junior BFA Acting, Dance Minor
Dallas, Texas

Rachel Reininger was last seen on the Millikin Main Stage in Machinal and Macbeth. She has also appeared in Reefer Madness (Pipe Dreams Studio Theater) and The Imaginators (Millikin Children's Show). Additional credits include: The Wizard of Oz (Dorothy), HONK (Queenie), Bye,Bye Birdie (Dallas Young Artists), and Legally Blonde (Level Ground Arts)



  Lori Bales  -  Director

Associate Professor of Theatre-Director of New Musicals Workshop, Millikin University

A native of Loveland, Ohio, Lori received her BA from Miami University (Ohio) and her MFA in Directing from Florida State University. New York internships include Ensemble Studio Theatre and Harold Prince Productions. Lori spent the fall of 2005 in London with Millikin’s international program, summers 2012 & 2013 in Urbania, Italy, and summers 2004 & 2005 in NYC at Lincoln Center’s annual Director’s Lab (adjudicated acceptance). Lori has served as a member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's (NAMT) New Works Committee and pioneered the New Musicals Workshop at Millikin; collaborations include: Academy of New Musical Theatre (ANMT), Theatre Building Chicago, Dani Girl by Kooman/Dimond, Appalachian Trails by Mann/Thomson, Golden Gate by Kooman/Dimond, String by Adam Gwon/Sarah Hammond, Getting There by Ben Morss/Les Hunter, The Grid by Marisa Michelson/Frank Terry, and Bastard Jones by Amy Engelhardt/Marc Acito. Before joining the Department of Theatre and Dance at Millikin, Lori taught for six years at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Lafayette, Louisiana. Lori's Millikin directing credits include: Spring Awakening, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Golden Gate, Urinetown, Shape of Things, Arcadia, Eleemosynary, The Secret Garden, Hayfever, Into The Woods, Jekyll & Hyde, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Other directing credits include Hair, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taffetas, The Sum of Us, The Diary of Adam and Eve, The Fantasticks, Cabaret, Company, West Side Story, Grease, The Real Inspector Hound, A Chorus Line, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood among others. 

Kevin Long  -  Musical Director

Artist-In-Residence, Millikin University

Kevin Long is an Artist-In-Residence with Millikin University’s School of Music and Department of Theatre and Dance. He has worked in both educational and professional theatre in multiple positions including Musical Director, Director, Conductor, Music Supervisor, Vocal Arranger and Accompanist. Kevin has worked with several other colleges including Old Dominion University, Christopher Newport University and Virginia Wesleyan. He has worked with various Regional Theatre companies including The Lost Colony (Manteo, NC), Little Theatre on the Square (Sullivan, IL), Virginia Stage Company (Norfolk, VA) and The Hangar Theatre (Ithaca, NY). During his time at Millikin he has served as Musical Director / Conductor for many shows including The Secret Garden, Sugar, Lucky Stiff, Damn Yankees, My Favorite Year, Little Women, A Chorus Line, Spitfire Grill, Urinetown and The Drowsy Chaperone.  Kevin most recently served as director for Millikin’s production of Cinderella.   

 An advocate of New Musical development, he has collaborated with the Academy of New Musicals, Theatre Building Chicago, and Millikin University’s New Musicals initiative serving as musical director and music supervisor. Golden Gate (Spring 2011) was the first fully produced original musical on the MU main stage season and Kevin is very proud to have been a part of that team.


  Mary M. Black  -  Scenic Design

Assistant Professor of Theatre

Mary Black is Assistant Professor/Technical Director for the Department of Theatre and Dance. Recent Millikin credits include Scenic Designer for Spring Awakening, Macbeth and Sweet Smell of Success, Technical Director for Cinderella and Machinal, and Sound Designer for The Little Dog Laughed.  Previous design credits include Rent and Hamlet for the Station Theatre and several productions for the Decatur Park District Best of Summer Stock program.  Previous technical credits include work for Indiana University’s Opera and Theatre programs, Iowa Summer Repertory Theatre, Brown County Playhouse, and University of Iowa’s Opera and Theatre programs. Mary earned her MFA in Technical Theatre from Indiana University.

Lilly Suwinski  -  Costume Design

Senior BFA Theatre Design & Production
Park Ridge, Illinois

Lilly recently worked as an Intern at the Antique and Resale Shoppe in Chicago, IL. Credits include Cinderella (Hair and Make Up), and The Little Dog Laughed (Costume Designer). This is Lilly’s capstone design. She looks forward to Assistant Costume Designing Millikin’s Legally Blonde this upcoming spring with Professor Jana Henry Funderburk.


  Alex Stevens  -  Lighting Design

Senior BFA Design & Production
Geneseo, Illinois

Credits include (Head Deck Electrician) King Roger and (Lighting Supervisor) Apprentice Singer Showcase at Santa Fe Opera; (Electrics Programmer) Joseph…, Fiddler on the Roof, Otello, and Flying Dutchman at Utah Festival Opera; (Lighting Designer) Macbeth on Millikin’s Main Stage; (Master Electrician) The Little Dog Laughed, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, A Lie of the Mind and Tartuffe on Millikin’s Main Stage; (Assistant Lighting Designer) World premier of Tuning In at University of Akron.


Dan Derrick  -  Sound Design

Scene Shop Foreman, Millikin University

Daniel is in his 6th year with Millikin University, serving as Scene Shop Foreman and Sound Engineer for the Theatre and Dance Department. This is Daniel’s 7th Sound Design on the Millikin University Main Stage.   


  Elliot Marach  -  Dance Supervisor / Additional Musical Staging

Senior BFA Musical Theatre, Dance Minor
Luxemburg, Wisconsin

Credits include Seussical the Musical (Horton), Spamalot, Music Man, A Chorus Line (Timber Lake Playhouse); Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Equinoix: A Concert of Dance (Millikin Main Stage). Elliot is a senior at Millikin University studying Musical Theatre with a dance minor. 

Tyler Hixson  -  Stage Manager

Sophomore BFA Theatre Administration
Monticello, Illinois

Credits include Sacred/Secular: Cantatas by J.S. Bach (Stage Manager) with Millikin School of Music; and Equinox: A Concert of Dance (Assistant Stage Manager) and The Little Dog Laughed (Assistant Stage Manager) on the Millikin Main Stage. Tyler is also the Production Manager for Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre.


  Chad Shingler  -  Assistant Stage Manager

Sophomore BFA Stage Management
New Lenox, Illinois

Chad Shingler-Credits include (Stage Manager) The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks with Theatre for Young Audiences at Millikin University; (Stage Manager) Love Kills and (Stage Manager) Dog Sees God at Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre; and (Assistant Stage Manager) Machinal on the Millikin Main Stage. 

Brandon Kersten - Assistant Stage Manager

Freshman BFA Stage Management
Grayslake, Illinois

Brandon is making his Millikin Main Stage debut as an Assistant Stage Manager for String. Previously, he served Green Room Theatre Company at Grayslake North High School as Stage Manager for the 2013 Senior-Directed One-Acts and an Assistant Stage Manager for Sarcophagus and Much Ado About Nothing.


  Beth Creighton  -  Piano Accompanist

Adjunct Instructor of Music
Millikin University

Beth Creighton is an Adjunct Instructor of Music for the School of Music and Department of Theatre and Dance where she serves as an accompanist for a variety of classes (including Musical Theater Repertoire, Opera Workshop, Vocal Performance Seminar, Choral Techniques, and Class Voice), choral ensembles and theatre productions. Besides her work with Millikin students, Beth is also the accompanist for the Millikin Children's Choir and Opus 24, a local vocal ensemble. Beth received her Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Music Education from Millikin University in 2001.

Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL