Clockwise from left: Marc Stith, Lauren Bahlman, Susannah McLeod, Kate Folkins, Regina Fernandez, Haley Johnson, Rachel Bouchard and Jeffrey Neuman

Benchmark Theatre's Company


Haley Johnson
Producing Artistic Director

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 Bouchard
Executive Artistic Director

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

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 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 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

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.


Kate Folkins
Director of Community Response

Kate received her B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis summa cum laude in theatre and, in addition to directing at theatres across Denver, she is a facilitator at Denver School of the Arts. Select directing credits include: A Christmas Carol, The Wind in the Willows, and Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. (New Stage Theatre), The Whipping Man (Curious Theatre Company) , The Few (Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company), Exit Strategies (The Edge Theatre)and 5210 Main Street, which she also wrote with the Kaiser Permanente Educational Touring Company.  Formerly she served as Education Director at New Stage Theatre and Associate Artistic Director at Curious Theatre Company and you can often find her teaching young people at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts or the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture.

 
I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
— John Lennon

I began making theatre as a child because I was scared of it and I continue today because of the way that it plows through fears and boundaries, because of the way that it brings people together reminding us that we have more things in common than are different, and because of the conversations that it begins. I believe that art is most often the catalyst and the tool for enacting social change as well as being a lot of fun!

“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

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. For the past five years, Regina has been an Actor-Facilitator for Kaiser Permanente's Arts Integrated Resources department and a proud member of the Experiential Learning Team. 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.