Haley Johnson is a recent graduate of Graceland University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. Before joining The Coterie; Johnson appeared in shows such as 39 Steps, Speech and Debate, Ghost: The Musical and Lend Me a Tenor. Her undergraduate achievements include receiving the 2018 Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship followed by the Mark Twain Prize for Best Comedic Performance. She is thrilled to be making art with future theatre-makers.
Ashley Jones is so excited to make her Music Directing debut with The Coterie Theatre's education department. She is a graduate of The University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory and holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education. She previously worked at Grain Valley South Middle School as the Vocal Music Teacher. During her time at Grain Valley, she also choreographed the Middle School Musicals Schoolhouse Rock Live Jr., The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley., Alice in Wonderland Jr., High School Musical Jr., and Aladdin Jr. as well as the High School Women’s Show Choir Amplified. She has appeared as a performer in several productions around Kansas City including Lula Buffington in Violet (OCTA), June Perry in Story of the Century (Fringe KC), From Broadway with Love (Leawood Stage Co.), and several performances with Shawnee Mission Theatre in the Park including Trix in The Drowsy Chaperone and Judine (Dynamite) in Hairspray. Her most recent role is Madam/F4/Gargoyle in The Culture House’s Production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She is currently working to grow her private voice studio, KC Songbirds (email@example.com) and also enjoys singing with her band The Ashley Jones Band (www.ashleyjonesband.com).
Hailey Jones is an extremely active force in the Kansas City theatre community. She is a graduate of the Professional Training program in Physical and Ensemble Theatre with Dell'Arte International in Blue Lake, CA and received her BA in theatre from UMKC. As an actor, creator, director, producer, teacher, clown, poet, she stays busy continually reaching out to inspire the world through theatre arts. Her mission is to continually create theatre that not just works, but lives and breathes. Her childhood motto was, "Be your own star, twinkle your own light."
Ellen Kirk is a Kansas City native currently teaching preschool at Clay Platte Montessori. In addition to being fortunate enough to teach for the Coterie she also spent all summer teaching Camp Shakespeare with the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. Ellen is an actor and improviser around town playing on any stage that will allow her to do so. She graduated from Cornell College with a focus in Theater and Gender Studies in 2008. Once a full time nanny, Ellen found that being a Teaching Artist was the perfect mesh of all the things she loves most.
Whitney Klass graduated from William Jewell College in 2013 with a BA in Speech and Theatre Education and began her career at Cristo Rey Kansas City high school as the Theatre, Speech, and Debate Director. During her three years there, she directed multiple plays and one musical in addition to creating and utilizing lesson plans for the classroom. Subsequently, she went back to school and earned her MA from UMKC in Theatre History and Dramaturgy in 2017.
Chase Gutherie Knueven is a recent graduate of Nebrasksa Wesleyan University, receiving his BFA in Acting. During his time there, Chase has been blessed to be a part of many fine productions, such as: Death of a Salesman, Dancing at Lughnasa, Comedy of Errors, and many more. Chase has taken part in many musicals, including: Into the Woods, 1776, and Chicago. Right now he is overjoyed to be back on the Coterie team, teaching youngsters and having fun! Chase plans on working this entire summer to save up for the big move to New York City in the fall.
Matthew Koehler is a teaching artist, lifelong thespian, and believer in the value of artistic expression. Forged in the Omaha youth theatre scene, he went on to earn a BFA in Theatre with a concentration in acting from Kansas City's Avila University. Matthew has worked at many theaters around town, both on and off stage. Previous credits include Young Frankenstein at The White Theatre, Band Geeks with Faust Theatre, and the Kansas City Fringe Festival. Growing up in the arts taught Matthew that the lessons of theatre are inherently bound to the skills it takes to cultivate a full and forthright life. He uses this mindset - along with heaping loads of creative energy - to help inspire his students to grow both as actors and as people (and have some fun along the way).
Stephanie Laaker is a teaching artist and actor happily residing in the Kansas City metro. She holds a BFA in Theatre Performance from University of Central Missouri, and is so grateful to be working in her hometown! In addition to The Coterie, some of the orgainziations Stephanie has taught with are Heart of American Shakespeare Festival, Kansas City Young Audiences, and the Barn Players. Stephanie loves teaching Shakespeare and language, and also loves exploring new ways to communiate and create with her students.
Sarah Mae Lamar is a native of Kansas City, with degrees in Vocal performance and Theater Education from Mid America Nazarene University and Kansas State University. She has performed in and produced musical theater all over Kansas City for the past seven years. Some of her local professional credits include shows at Starlight, Musical Theater Heritage, Quality Hill Playhouse, and The New Dinner Theater. Sarah also spent a year singing at a dinner theatre in Aspen, Colorado, and a summer with the Lyceum Theatre in Arrowrock, Missouri. Some of her favorite roles include: The Homeless Lady in A New Brain, Anna Murrant in Street Scene, and the Stepmother in Into the Woods. Sarah Mae has recently started her Master’s degree in Liberal Arts with a Theatre emphasis to pursue teaching at the collegiate level. She is thrilled to start with Donnelly College as an adjunct professor in October.
Todd Lanker is a director, actor, and teacher. He was trained at WORKOUT (the physical theatre ensemble of Wheaton College), the Michael Howard Studio NYC, the Actor’s Gang Theatre LA, and the Master of Fine Arts program at UMKC. Todd has served as the Artistic Director of Shakespeare in the Shed, a theatrical collaboration with Angel City Brewery in Los Angeles and as Associate Artistic Director of METropolitan Ensemble Theatre.