Benchmark Theatre

Onstage Now: Uncanny Valley by Thomas Gibbons Opening September 15th

Clockwise from Top Left: Christoper M. Waller, Lauren Bahlman, Candace Joice, Rachel Rogers, Haley Johnson, Andy Bakehouse, Marc Stith, Katie Espinoza, Jeffrey Neuman, John Hauser, Neil Truglio, Regina Fernandez and Susannah McLeod

Benchmark Theatre's 2018 Company

Leadership Team


Haley Johnson
Producing Artistic Director
haley@benchmarktheatre.com

Having attended both Florida State University and the University of Colorado at Denver's Departments of Theatre, and a multiple award-winning actress, a director, a playwright and an active member of the thriving Colorado theatre community, Haley has been involved in the Denver theatre scene for over a decade and has watched the community expand, contract, thrive, falter and re-energize itself time and time again. As a player both on and off stage, she has been a contributing factor to the health and livelihood of the artistic community for years starring in roles such as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, Harper Pitt in Angels in America, Becca in Rabbit Hole, Jessie in 'Night, Mother, Jacqueline in Don’t Dress for Dinner, Maggie in The Shadow Box, Sam in Some Girl(s), Lottie in Enchanted April, the Marquise de Mertuil in Dangerous Liasions and Beth in A Lie of the Mind to name only a few. Working with companies spanning the metro including Vintage Theatre, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, the Edge Theatre, square product, Miners Alley Playhouse, the Avenue Theatre, Spotlight Theatre Company, the Evergreen Players, Longmont Theatre Company and more, Haley has infused her brand of dramatic realism in all of her work. She is proud to be a part of the next step forward in Colorado's artistic landscape!

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.
— Rumi

It enrages. It comforts. Uplifts and ignites. It breaks down walls and opens eyes. It pushes boundaries and changes perspectives. It relaxes. Educates. Soothes. It envelops both the artist and the audience in a singular experience that can span every emotion imaginable. And it can never, never be duplicated exactly the same way twice. These and so many more reasons, are why I love the theatre...


Rachel Rogers
Executive Artistic Director

rachel@benchmarktheatre.com

Rachel has been working in professional theatre for 15 years, the last eight of which have been in the Colorado community. During that time, she has had the honor of directing, acting and stage managing at a number of theatre companies including: Backstage Theatre, Creede Repertory Theatre, Cherry Creek Theatre, Curious Theatre Company, The Edge Theater Company, Miners Alley Playhouse, Spotlight Theatre Company, Starkey Productions, and Vintage Theater Productions. Prior to moving to Colorado, she worked as a director, stage manager, and actor in Chicago, IL. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from the University of Southern Mississippi with Honors.

I hold that while man exists, it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind.
— Abraham Lincoln

"Why does this story need to be told?" The answer may be simple or complex, but it is a question that deserves asking. The human desire to share our stories with each other is our unique quality, and with each of these offerings, we all contribute to the growth of our fellow man's consciousness and empathy. Driven by art's power to move humanity, I believe in the importance of the theatre experience. Theatre, to me, is the most influential and profound medium because it alone fully possesses the ability to incorporate all art forms into an ephemeral, visceral, and shared experience that is, quite frankly, like none other. 


Jeffrey Neuman
Director of Literary Management

jeffrey@benchmarktheatre.com

Jeff is an award-winning playwright whose work has been performed at theaters and festivals across the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. His plays have been produced by Emerging Artists Theatre Company, Edge Theater Company, Edinburgh Fringe, FUSION Theatre Company and the Samuel French Off Off Broadway Festival, among many others. His first publication, Modern Goddesses: Two Short Plays of Mythic Proportions, is available for licensing and performance from JAC Publishing & Promotions.  Jeffrey is a 2012 Heideman Award Finalist, cofounder of Colorado’s Rough Draught Playwrights and an active member of the Dramatists Guild of America. More information about his plays and playwriting career can be found at www.theaterbyjeff.com.  

In addition to his work as a playwright, Jeffrey has worked as a dramaturg for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Athena Project Festival and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He is an accredited academic who has presented professional papers on various topics in musical theater history for the Association for Theater in Higher Education, the American Alliance of Theatre Education, and the American Music Research Center. In 2009, his original research was acknowledged in and used as source material for the book Kander and Ebb, an installment in the Yale University Press Broadway Masters series. 

The greatest calling of all is to have a literary life.
— Lisa See, Peony in Love

What draws me to performing arts and theater, in particular, is that it is all about creating a shared experience. No other art form invites real people into a real space to watch other real people in real time. And, what happens when all those ‘real’ forces come together is singular. Literally. A singular, unique and irreproducible experience that can transform, educate, move or simply delight.


Lauren Bahlman
Social Media Director

lauren@benchmarktheatre.com

Lauren has been immersed in the theatre world ever since the age of six when she ditched gymnastics to take an acting class instead.  Since then, she performed extensively in her home state of Arizona before making her way to the University of Northern Colorado, from which she holds a BA in Theatre Arts, Acting Emphasis.  Lauren then gained a massive amount of experience (both theatre and life) in New York City for five years.  There, she worked primarily as a founder of Wide Eyed Productions, a company focused on performing new works to this day, and trained in the art of longform improvisation with Upright Citizens Brigade.  After awhile, the Colorado mountains beckoned, and she came to Denver in 2009.  In her time here, Lauren has had the good fortune of working with companies such as BETC, Curious Theatre, The Edge, Lone Tree Arts Center, and Town Hall Arts Center, as well as with her two lady improv duo BAUS (two years strong). 

 

What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.
— Charles Bukowski

For me, theatre is the outlet with which to speak the truth, tell timeless stories about what it means to be alive and human, and reach an audience on a personal level.  It's truly a medium that cannot be experienced any other way, and keeping it alive and vital is incredibly important.  So, that's why I'm still around and playing on stages, 30+ years after that first acting class.


Then what is good? The obsessive interest in human affairs, plus a certain amount of compassion and moral conviction that first made the experience of LIVING something that must be translated into pigment, or music, or bodily movement or poetry or prose or anything that’s dynamic and expressive - that’s what’s good for you if you’re at all serious in your aims.
— Tennessee Williams

Marc Stith
Marketing Director

marc@benchmarktheatre.com

Marc is incredibly honored to be a part of a company of talented and like-minded theatre artists. A 1994 graduate of the University of Central Missouri, Marc carved out an existence as a professional actor in Kansas City, Missouri for five years, doing everything from dinner theatre and improv to more serious fare such as The Waiting Room and Love! Valour! Compassion! at the Unicorn Theatre, Prelude To A Kiss at Northland Actor’s Ensemble, and Beyond The Miracle at the Coterie. After a 14 year hiatus from acting, Marc returned to the stage in late 2012, this time appearing in Denver-area productions of The Laramie Project in Evergreen, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, The Shadowbox, and Jerusalem at The Edge Theatre, and Lobby Hero and most recently Rabbit Hole at Vintage Theatre. 

 

Having once been without theatre for a period of my life, I now have a greater appreciation for the opportunity to do something I truly love. Why am I so passionate about theatre? I love it that theatre, as with any great art form, has the ability to shape who we are. It can challenge held perceptions - it can pose difficult questions and compel us to find answers. It can confront us with ourselves, our relationships, and the world around us. It can force us to entertain conflicting ideas and then leave us to reconcile things on our own. It can make us feel emotions we don’t normally feel, provide broad insights to the human condition, or touch us on a uniquely personal level. Not only are these things interesting to explore, doing so makes our lives richer, and contributes to our growth and evolution as thinking and feeling beings. It’s a wonderfully important responsibility that all artists have. It’s fascinating and exhilarating and rewarding.


Susannah McLeod
Digital Media Director
sus@benchmarktheatre.com

Susannah has been involved in theatre for as long as she can remember. With a Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre from the University of Miami, Susannah has performed in theatres around the country. Colorado work includes I Am Alive, The Wedding Singer at the Aurora Fox,  South Pacific in Concert at Lone Tree Arts Center and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Creede Repertory Theatre.

As another way to fulfill her need to tell stories, she is also an avid photographer and filmmaker. She co-created, produced, and hosted the travel webseries Sus & Chlo on the Go and worked for several years as Video Production Manager at Denver's Open Media Foundation. She has recently launched her own photography/videography business, McLeod9 Creative

There are things you do because they feel right
and they may make no sense and they may make no money
and it may be the real reason we are here:
to love each other and to eat each other’s cooking and say it was good.
— Brian Andreas

Why do I do theatre? For fun. For art. Escape. Release. Joy. To be a part of something greater than myself. I do it for the almost tangible connection you can feel between actors on stage and an audience... all sharing an experience. I do it to meet new people and learn new things. I do theatre because I believe that it's critical to take time to turn off our cell phones and experience something face-to-face with our fellow human beings.


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I am an artist…those words naturally imply always seeking without ever fully finding.
— Vincent Van Gogh

Teaching theatre is a powerful thing. It gives one the opportunity to unlock his or her voice and creates a platform for true self-expression. Through this process everyone is changed, the teacher and the student. If I can share that gift with one person, I am doing something profoundly important on this Earth.

Neil Truglio
Director of Education

neil@benchmarktheatre.com

Neil is a professional theatre-maker, filmmaker, artist and educator in the Denver community. His directorial work has been seen on stages such as the Bellco Theatre, University of Colorado Denver, Community College of Denver, University of Denver, Buntport Theater, in local high schools and in film festivals around the world, including Dallas International Film Festival, Denver Film Festival and the American Film Festival in Poland. Neil left the classroom as a public school educator in 2015 in order to create Modest Arts, a college preparatory program for creative young artists in the Denver community, which continues to serve over 300 students annually through its education programs. On top of leading the education initiatives at Benchmark Theatre, Neil serves as the Education Director for the Denver Film Society and SeriesFest, as well as a teaching artist with both the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Curious Theatre Company.


 
“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.” ― Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Regina Fernandez
Director of Community Outreach

regina@benchmarktheatre.com

I believe in art and in the art of storytelling. From the very beginning, when man kind was sitting around the fire sharing stories, to the great theatres of Greece, to the Globe, to today. There’s nothing quite as magical as when two or more people gather together to share stories. I think it’s amazing how you can be a complete stranger to a person but after having this exchange with them, a connection is made. There are lessons learned, relationships created, and a new chapter is written. As artists, we have this huge privilege to continue the tradition time and time again. To incite and inspire human connection. And I am so incredibly honored to be a part of this amazing group of story tellers. 

Regina is honored to be a company member with Benchmark! Originally born in Jersey and raised in South Florida, Regina received her BFA in Musical Theater from the University of Central Florida Conservatory Program. She is now a professional actor working in Colorado. Previously, Regina has worked with the Walt Disney World Company as a performer and has performed in numerous theatres around the country including Seaside Music Theatre, Merry Go Round Playhouse, and Theatreworks. Regina relocated to Denver in 2012 and has had the opportunity to work at many of the wonderful theatres in Colorado. Colorado Credits include Ayah in The Secret Garden for the Denver Center of the Performing Arts, Marianne in Sense and Sensibility and Ann in All My Sons for The Arvada Center, Marcy Park in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Joy in This Day and Age for Creede Repertory Theatre, Christmas Eve in Avenue Q for Theatre Aspen, Trix in The Drowsy Chaperone for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Mary Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life and Sabrina in Sabrina Fair for Spotlight Theatre Company.


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Eat pizza, watch theatre, make something!
— me

John Hauser
Director of Engagement

john@benchmarktheatre.com

John is an actor and sound designer. He was seen in Benchmark's production of Smokefall, as well as sound designed for A Kid Like Jake and assisted on The Arsonists.  Other roles in the Denver area include: Jason/Tyrone in Hand to God (Curious Theatre Company), Bobby in Sweet & Lucky  (Off-Center and Third Rail Projects at the Denver Center), Ken in Red (Breckenridge Backstage), Eugene in Biloxi Blues (Miners Alley), Jason in Rabbit Hole (Vintage Theatre), Matthew in The Few (Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company), and Lee in Jerusalem (Edge).

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Andy Bakehouse
Production Manager & Resident Designer

andy@benchmarktheatre.com
 

Andy has been working in professional theatre for 18 years now. He has had the pleasure of working with theaters across the country but always found himself returning to Colorado.  He mainly works behind the scenes helping make sure everyone has what they need.  Andy has had the pleasure to work in various theatre management roles in his career, however he has recently returned to his passion for working on props. Props credits include: Benchmark's productions of A Kid Like Jake and The Arsonists, The Lake Dillon Theatre 2017 summer season, The Edge’s productions of Resolutions, Glenngarry Glenn Ross and Death of a Salesman.  He currently works as a freelance Props Master/production/stage manager in the greater Denver area.    

I have found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.
— Gandalf, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein

Theatre is a truly unique profession filed with a  special kind of family and magic.  I do theatre to collaborate and create a special story that transports people into their imagination.  The story can simply provide a break from everyday struggles or it can provoke thought and conversation and should it achieve both that is even better.  There is a certain magic to having a room full of people share in a story.  


Resident Artists

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Katie Espinoza
Resident Stage Manager

katie@benchmarktheatre.com

Katie is delighted to join the Benchmark Team both as a Company Member and as the Resident Stage and Facilities Coordinator.  A Chicago native, she attended Bradley University where she received a B.A in Theatre Arts and Leadership Studies. She is proud to call 1560 Teller St. her artistic home. She is conjointly, the Edge Theater’s Resident Stage Manager, where she has stage managed a score of productions. She has also SM’d for various companies across town, including: The Avenue Theater, ScreenPlay, Athena Project Festival, Spark Theatre, and The Colorado Railroad Museum. She has also been known to dabble in Sound and Lighting design. Favorite SM credits include: The Beauty Queen of Leenane; A Steady Rain; Murder Ballad; The Nance  (The Edge), When not in the theatre, she can be found frolicking with her cat, jamming on piano, or baking delicious treats.

Be strong minded and always think that the impossible is possible.
— Selena Quintanilla

Theatre is the now; it is the mirror to what could be, and the reflection of the past. This craftsmanship requires collaboration and dedication, resulting a shared experience, which only a select few will participate in the magic of the performance. It is a place where you foster friendships, develop families, explore the unknown, and navigate the ripple effect of our choices. This is what theatre has allowed me to do, not just play but feel the boldness of my decisions and weigh their prospective outcomes. And, each time I walk into a theatre, to that space for facilitating community, and smell that lingering scent of freshly cut wood, I know I am home.


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Effort does not equal excellence.
— Greg Fiebig, my favorite college professor

Storytelling is core to who I am. I love experiencing stories and I love being a part of telling them. Stories connect us to one another, expand the narrow view of our personal lenses, and generate empathy. I create theatre because I relish being a part of that experience.

Candace Joice
Enrichment Coordinator

candace@benchmarktheatre.com

Candace  is delighted to be a part of the Benchmark Theatre team! Recent Work: Readings at Local Theatre Company and Curious Theatre; Abby in Belleville and Carol in Oleanna (Progressive Theatre); Portia in District Merchants and Alice in You Can't Take It With You (Miners Alley Playhouse); Mother in The Oldest Boy (Vintage Theatre and Theatre Esprit Asia); Olivia in Twelfth Night and Thaisa in Pericles (Hoosier Shakes); Varya in The Cherry Orchard (Sweet Tea Shakespeare); Lydia in All My Sons (Cherry Creek Theatre); and Mrs. Cratchit in A Christmas Carol (Colorado Shakespeare Festival). Training: University of Central Missouri. www.candacejoice.com



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Christopher Waller
Resident Designer

You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.
— George Bernard Shaw

After much soul searching and some very astute observations by my mentors in college, I found my love for design. I don't know that "love" is a strong enough word actually. Design is part of who I am. Taking a script and crafting a place where the story and characters can dwell is something that gives me both pleasure and satisfaction. The give and take with other designers, directors, and actors to make a piece of art that is greater than the sum of its parts is a process unlike any other. I love to paint, sculpt, and create art in many other mediums, but there is something special that comes from the interaction with other great creative forces that I just haven't found anywhere else. That is why I do theatre.

 

Christopher has been doing professional theatre for the last 18 years in some form or another. He is primarily a Scenic, Lighting, and Projections Designer but is also a costume and makeup designer, dancer, director and actor. He holds a double BA degree in Communications and Theatre Arts from Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas as well as a dual emphasis MFA in Theatre Design and Technology from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. Christopher has designed in Kansas City, Wichita, Atlanta, St. Louis, as well as Denver. He has lived and worked in Denver for the last 7 years designing at theatres including Candlelight Dinner Theatre, Bolder Ensemble Theatre, Theatre Esprit Asia, The Edge Theatre, Vintage Theatre, Spotlight Theatre, as well as being the Resident Designer and Technical Director of the D.L. Parsons Theatre for the City of Northglenn.