Academy Teachers & Staff

Full-time Academy Faculty & Staff

Katie Cummings (Academy Director) started at First Stage in 2011 where she directs, teaches and holds the position of Academy Director.  She found a love for theater at an early age and graduated with a B.A. in Theater and Business from Cardinal Stritch University. A Wisconsin native, Katie spent her professional career working at various theaters in the area holding the position of Resident Director at St. Joseph High School in Kenosha for eight years. She’s worked with Bunny Gumbo, UWM College for Kids, Chamber Theater and other nonprofits. Katie believes that theatre is a place to create character, hone communication skills, enhance team work and most importantly build confidence. Contact Katie at (414) 267-2979 or kcummings@firststage.org. 

John MaclayJohn Maclay (Director of Artistic Developmentis an actor, director, teacher and now playwright who has spent the past 15 years working professionally in Milwaukee and Chicago. At First Stage, he proudly serves as Associate Artistic Director and Director of the Young Company. Mr. Maclay has been working with First Stage in one form or other since 2000 and has directed or appeared in more than 25 First Stage productions as well as having produced more than 50 productions for the First Stage high school programs. Mr. Maclay is also an adaptor of literature for the stage. In the 2013-14 season, John's adaptations of ANATOLE (co-written with Lee Becker and James Valcq) and NANCY DREW AND HER BIGGEST CASE EVER (co-written with First Stage Artistic Director Jeff Frank) will receive their professional world premieres. His work has also been seen at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Defiant Theatre, Bunny Gumbo, Bialystock and Bloom, Skylight Music Theatre and more. Mr. Maclay is a proud member of Actor's Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theatre at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI. Contact John at (414) 267-2974 or jmaclay@firststage.org.

Matt Daniels (Director of the Young Company/Lead Teacher) is a frequent collaborator at First Stage, as an actor (EDWARD TULANE, A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, THE SNOW, ELLA ENCHANTED, SHREK, A MIDNIGHT CRY, and A WRINKLE IN TIME, among many others), director and movement director (ANIMAL FARM, TXT U L8R, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, OUR TOWN, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, NANCY DREW, CYMBELINE), and Director of the Young Company and teacher for the Theater Academy. In addition to First Stage his directing work has been seen at MCT’s New Play Development series, Sunset Playhouse, goats & monkeys, and in New York with his company Tyrannosaurus rep. Matt’s acting credits include appearances at Milwaukee Rep, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, In Tandem Theater, and the late Milwaukee Shakespeare, as well as Forward Theater, Kentucky Rep., Lake Geneva Theater Co., several regional Shakespeare Festivals, and on many independent stages in New York. He is a graduate of the Juilliard School Drama Division.

Brenna Kempf (Associate Academy Director/Director of Next Steps) has been teaching with First Stage since Summer 2012, and joined the Academy office full time in 2015. Brenna has always loved working with young people, and is delighted to work with a company that encourages creativity, compassion, and change in our community. Previously, she taught as an adjunct teaching artist with First Stage's Education Department and The Milwaukee Rep. She has also assistant directed with First Stage and Milwaukee Youth Theatre. Performance credits: Riverside Theatre in the Park (Iowa City, IA), Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, First Stage, Splinter Group, and more. Brenna is a proud 2013 graduate of UW-Parkside's Theatre Arts program. Contact Brenna at (414) 267-2969 or bkempf@firststage.org.

Caleb Smith (Academy Manager) is a transplant from Georgia who recently graduated from Piedmont College with a B.A. in Theatre Arts. Caleb has been involved with theater most of his life having performed all throughout high school and college in various roles in positions. During his time at Piedmont, Caleb started as a Marketing Assistant and quickly moved up to become Director of Marketing for the Piedmont College Theater by his senior year of college. Last summer he completed the Woodward Internship Program with the Westport Country Playhouse as a Development Intern. Caleb is very excited to be a part of the First Stage Academy family and looks forward to many years as a member of the team. Contact Caleb at (414) 267-2942 or csmith@firststage.org.

Shaqita Crockett (Family Partnership Coordinator) is thrilled to join the First Stage Theater Academy team as the Family Partnership Coordinator. Her transition from Front Desk Receptionist for the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center and First Stage Box Office Representative has been an easy one to make. She is a fellow First Stage parent, and has a lot of experience working with non-profit organizations and families. She is excited to get to know all of our new and returning families. Stop by the Academy office and say hello! Contact Shaqita at (414) 267-2973 or scrockett@firststage.org.

Samantha Montgomery (Resident Teaching Artistis a performance artist who is committed to the process of learning. Teaching is her passion. She has taught in both traditional and non-traditional settings. She is a licensed educator and an acting coach. She has worked for Milwaukee Public Schools and parochial/private schools in the Milwaukee County area. She is grateful for the opportunity to work with First Stage Academy.  She believes that theater is a powerful instrument that can be used to educate and change the hearts and minds of people around the world. Samantha has earned a M.S. from the University of Wisconsin and a M.A. from Alverno College in Education. Contact Samantha at smontgomery@firststage.org

Mitch Bultman (Resident Teaching Artist Administrator) has been a part of the First Stage family for many years and is delighted to be joining First Stage full time as a Resident Teaching Artist Administrator! He's been involved with the academy for many years and in many different capacities, including student, Young Company member, main stage and first steps performer, intern, teaching assistant, Assistant Headmaster, Headmaster, teacher, and now as a Resident Teaching Artist. Beyond his passion for teaching theater for young people, Mitch is a professional actor and holds a BFA in acting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. In addition Mitch studied and performed at Shakespeare's Globe Theater in London. Contact Mitch at mbultman@firststage.org.

Giana Blazquez (Resident Teaching Artist) is excited to continue her love of Theater for Young Audiences this year with First Stage! She grew up in Orlando, FL and recently graduated from Rollins College with a B.A. in Theater & Dance. In Orlando she worked as a teaching artist and assistant director/choreographer with the Orlando Repertory Theatre. Performance credits include but are not limited to: Ensemble/Dance Captain (HELLO, DOLLY!), Mayzie LaBird (SEUSSICAL), Hot Box Girl (GUYS & DOLLS), and Candy Cottingham (WORKING). Giana can’t wait to see the creativity that the First Stage students bring to the table.


Summer 2018 Teaching Artists

Hannah Anderson

Hannah Anderson

JT Backes

JT Backes

Amy Bahr

Amy Bahr

Bethany Bendtsen

Bethany Bendtsen

Graham Billings

Graham Billings

Elizabeth Brown

Elizabeth Brown

 Cassidy Buenz

Cassidy Buenz

 Ryan Cappelman

Ryan Cappelman

 Joey Chelius

Joey Chelius

 Matt Daniels

Matt Daniels

 Kelly Doherty

Kelly Doherty

Dean Drews

Dean Drews

 Tejay Echols

Tejay Echols

 William Esty

William Esty

 Jim Fletcher

Jim Fletcher

 Mary Francis

Mary Francis

 Marion Frank

Marion Frank

 Mica Gaard

Mica Gaard

 Jo Gray

Jo Gray

 Megan Gray

Megan Gray

 Audra Handschke

Audra Handschke

 Kim Hardtke

Kim Hardtke

 Lori Hartman-Keiser

Lori Hartman-Keiser

 Meggy Holdahl

Meggy Holdahl

 Elizabeth Horn

Elizabeth Horn

 Olivia Jardas

Olivia Jardas

 Marcy Kearns

Marcy Kearns

 Daniil Krimer

Daniil Krimer

 Grant Latus

Grant Latus

 Danielle Levings

Danielle Levings

 Beth Lewinski

Beth Lewinski

 Ansley Lynn

Ansley Lynn

 Olivia Mauseth

Olivia Mauseth

 Logan Milway

Logan Milway

 Lawson Mithcell

Lawson Mitchell

 Anthony Munar

Anthony Munar

 Erin Oberdorf

Erin Oberdorf

 Ashley Patin

Ashley Patin

 Ashley Pavlak

Ashley Pavlak

 Mary Jo Perez

Mary Jo Perez

 Josh (JP) Pohja

Josh (JP) Pohja

 Katy Radiske

Katy Radiske

 Haley Rapisarda

Haley Rapisarda

 Kelli Rediske

Kelli Rediske

 Matt Roth

Matt Roth

 Nick Rulon

Nick Rulon

 Joe Schwaller

Joe Schwaller

 Amy Shu

Amy Shu

 Alec Sill

Alec Sill

 Lyric Simonson

Lyric Simonson

 Ro Spice-Kopischke

Ro Spice-Kopischke

 Jer Stampfli

Jer Stampfli

 Noah Stone

Noah Stone

 Mackenzie Swart

Mackenzie Swart

 Emilie Thomas

Emilie Thomas

 Zachary Thomas

Zachary Thomas

 Patrick Thompson

Patrick Thompson

 Paula Tillen

Paula Tillen

Kayla Tillisch

Kayla Tillisch

 Emily Vitrano

Emily Vitrano

Teddy Warren

Teddy Warren

Abby Wesley

Abby Wesley

Chloe Wong

Chloe Wong