The Diary of Anne Frank Production Team

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The Diary of Anne Frank Production Team Stacked with Educators, Professionals
Steve Koek
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The Diary of Anne Frank Production Team Stacked with Educators, Professionals

Elmhurst College assistant professor to design set, head technical team of theater specialists

Summer Place Theater and the production of The Diary of Anne Frank are excited to announce key additions to a technical staff now led by a college teacher and packed with educators and theater professionals.

Veteran Elmhurst College Assistant Professor of Theater Rick Arnold has signed on to be the show’s Set Designer and Construction Manager, and has even brought along one of his former students and protégées to serve as the production’s Lighting Designer.

Rick was introduced to stage design and construction at a very young age when his father was the Theater Chair at Northern Illinois University. He can remember being backstage with a paintbrush in his hand as early as age six.

Rick went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts in Theater Design at Northwestern University, one of the most prestigious design schools in the country. He has been teaching at Elmhurst College for the past 12 years and was a 2016 recipient of the prestigious President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is currently an assistant professor and the Technical Director for the school’s theater. He is a design and technology specialist with a primary focus on scenic and lighting design. Rick most enjoys teaching stagecraft and design for the stage, where he has used the set of The Diary of Anne Frank in his set design classes over the years.

Rick has taught and mentored a countless number of students who have gone on to successful careers in the theater, including Nate Dorband, who has signed on as the Lighting Designer for The Diary of Anne Frank.

Lighting Designer Nate Dorband

Nate graduated Elmhurst College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater with design and directing concentrations, where Rick was his teacher and mentor. He spent a semester abroad studying at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Nate is one of the few members of the production staff who has actually seen the Anne Frank House and taken the tour of the secret attic depicted in the play, and was deeply affected by the visit

“Being a member of the production team for The Diary of Anne Frank is a great honor, as I have the opportunity to help tell the story of the Frank family and many others whose story it similarly echoes,” said Nate. “To me, being an ally means using your voice as a megaphone for the stories of a community in support.  I feel it is essential to remember our past, and to continue to tell the stories of marginalized communities and those targeted with hate for being and living as their truest selves.”

Stage Manager, Sound Designer Complete Professional-Caliber Production Staff

The final pieces of the production staff are in place with the additions of Nickolena Sellen as Assistant Director/Stage Manager and Becca Easley as Sound Designer, two educated professionals in their specialty with a passion for live theater and an understanding of the importance to share this kind of story in today’s cultural environment.

Assistant Director/Stage Manager Nickolena Sellen

Nickolena Sellen is pleased to be joining her first Summer Place Theatre production to fill both the Assistant Director and Stage Manager roles for The Diary of Anne Frank. With a degree in Communication, Media, and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, “Nik” cultivates a sense of direction and a passion for creating moving and important pieces of art for all people to enjoy. Most recently seen as the Assistant Director for Crimes of the Heart at Playhouse 38 in Geneva,  her long list of directorial and stage managing credits include Blithe Spirit, The Psalm of Edie Catz, Twelfth Night, and Fuddy Meers.

“I’m beyond thrilled to join this impressive crew and cannot wait to dive into the process,” she said.

Nickolena will be a valuable asset throughout the audition, rehearsal, and performance process, using years of experience to provide organizational and managerial oversight in all aspects of the production.

Sound Designer Becca Easley

Becca Easley has been designing sound for the theater since 2005. The Schaumburg resident comes to do her first Summer Place show most recently from GreenMan Theater in Elmhurst, where she is a board member and has been Sound Designer and/or Assistant Director for a number of shows, including The Diary of Anne Frank, where she served as both.

Through her work at GreenMan and the Raleigh (NC) Ensemble Players and Little Theater, Becca has designed the sound for dozens of dramas, comedies, musicals, youth shows, and special events. Her favorite shows include Charlotte's Web, Urinetown: The Musical, The Laramie Project, Really Rosie, Distracted, and Moon Over Buffalo.

“I am thrilled to be designing sound for The Diary of Anne Frank again,” she said. “I look forward to taking a fresh look at the text and working with a new design team to make it a fantastic and meaningful experience for the audience.”

Becca is a full-time software engineer and tester celebrating five years with JP Morgan Chase this summer. In addition to theater, her hobbies include quilting for family, friends and charity groups.

Professional-Caliber Production Team for Powerful Show

These newcomers complete a production team consisting of educators, degreed specialists, and theater professionals who are dedicated to taking audiences beyond the telling of this important story to feel like they experiencing the horrific conditions along with the characters. 

Director Jorge Bermudez returns to Summer Place after a powerful debut with South Pacific last summer, which was produced by Steve Koek, who is teaming up with his wife Andi Koek as Co-Producers for The Diary of Anne Frank. Summer Place board member Sara Blankestyn is the Props Master, and Mark Burrows is designing the costumes. 

Open auditions for The Diary of Anne Frank are Friday, May 1, and Saturday, May 2, with performances on July 9-12. Tickets for all three of Summer Place Theatre's 2020 shows are on sale now

'The Diary of Anne Frank' Production Staff

Producer: Steve Koek
Producer: Andi Koek
Director: Jorge Bermudez
Set Designer/Construction: Rick Arnold
Stage Manager/Assistant Director: Nickolena Sellen
Costumer: Mark Burrows
Props Master: Sara Blankestyn
Lighting Designer: Nate Dorband
Sound Designer: Becca Easley
Publicity Committee: Christina Peck, Jason Peck, Brittany Tepper, Sara Blankestyn
Assistant to the Production: Corey Pevitz


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