Holiday Soirée Graphic

Holiday Soirée

Thursday, December 14 | 6PM-9PM

Join us for a festive evening to celebrate the holiday season with the inaugural NMU Theatre and Dance Holiday Soirée. This special event will support Theatre and Dance Student Scholarships. Indulge in a Holiday buffet to kick off the evening and be enchanted by holiday performances presented by our talented theatre and dance students. Plus, a special visit from Santa Claus himself! It's a night of seasonal entertainment, delectable treats, and holiday cheer. Don't miss out on this magical celebration for student scholarships.

Event Timeline:

6PM-7:30PM: An Evening kick off - Holiday Buffet, Live Auction

7:30pm-9pm: Performances by NMU Theatre & Dance Students

Plus a special visit from Santa Claus himself!


Location: Panowski Black Box Theatre

Ticket Information:

Individual:  $100
Table of 8:  $700
Table of 4:  $350




Michael Ahlstrom

Ava Britt

Jessi Ceballos

Don'Tae Da'Marcus

Helen Fortin

Ryan Griffin

Lia Hielkema

Jordyn Hopfensperger

Kyla Kotecki

Monica Ligh

Mya McPherson

Henry Moore

Asa Naigus

Zachary Olivier

Lexi Reese

Angel Rivera

Cayden Smaka

John Thomson

Sophia Zavala

Special Guests 

Bill Digneit

Megan Hibbard

James "Jimmy" Ludwig

Creative Team

Director & ChoreographerKristen Beth Williams
Music DirectorDonna Poirier
Production Stage ManagerJalina McClain
Lighting DesignerDavid Pierce
Scenic Designer & Technical Director Braeden Ingersoll
Costume ManagerEm Rossi
Stage ManagerCassie L. Bowler

† Indicates membership in Alpha Psi Omega, the National Theatre Honor Society.

Forest Roberts Theatre Professional Staff


ProducerBill Digneit
Artistic DirectorJill Grundstrom
Director of ProductionDavid Pierce
Costume Shop SupervisorEm Rossi
Lighting SupervisorDavid Pierce
Properties SupervisorKeli Crawford-Truckey
Scene Shop SupervisorBraeden Ingersoll
Associate Scene Shop SupervisorEmily Kendall
Scenic/Paint SupervisorLex van Blommestein
Sound and Media SupervisorRyan Harvey
Marketing and Box Office ManagerEmily Burbey
PhotographerJohn Scheibe



Forest Roberts Theatre Staff

Scene Shop Technicians


Cassie Bowler, Maggie Brew, Tyler Crowley, Isabella Fontaine, Laura Hinz, Emily Iszler, Bryson Krieger †, Henry Moore, Grace Terwilliger, Sam Wardisiani †
Electrics Crew LeadMarla Alden
Sound/Media Crew LeadRyan Harvey
Electrics/Sound TechniciansCarley Bishop, Cyrus Cohen, Meara Kronsperger, Dane Krusick, Rachel Martin, Brayden Smith, Olly Wells
Costume Shop StaffGianna Bratke, Zephyrus Choberka, Rhiannyn McClauley, Lucy Plancia, Suzanne Shahbazi, Charlotte Somerville, Fen Torenvliet, Elise Wilcox
Marketing/Box Office StaffTyler Crowley, Gianna Daprai, Zoë Hajec, Keely-Shaye Hanson †, Bryson Krieger †, Kyra Skinner

† Indicates membership in Alpha Psi Omega, the National Theatre Honor Society.

Cast Bios


Michael Ahlstrom is a senior at NMU and getting his degree in the BFA Acting program. One of Michael’s favorite holiday traditions is the tree decorating party that him and his family do every year. He hopes you enjoy the show! (also die hard is not a christmas movie)

Ava Britt is a first year in the Musical Theatre program. She has been loving her time in the Holiday Soirée and she can't wait for people to see it. Ava's favorite holiday tradition is decorating the house with her family while listening to Christmas music and eating lots of snacks. Other shows Ava has participated in at NMU are The Wildcat Theatre Follies, Clybourne Park, and you will see her in Anything Goes in the spring. Happy Holidays!

Jessi Ceballos is an Acting BFA student here at Northern Michigan University. During her time in Marquette, she has been in the productions of Grease, Rock of Ages, the Wildcat Theatre Follies, and recently Spamalot. One of her favorite Christmas traditions is that on December 24th, after Christmas dinner, with her family, they like to play some board games, light up the chimney, give some presents, decorate some cookies, and a ton of other Christmas activities, and after everything, go to bed early to wake up the 25th to open more presents!! She would like to thank her family and send them tons of love all the way to Mexico! She hopes you enjoy the show! IG: jessiceballos.3

Don’Tae Da’Marcus Mitchell is gliding through the end of the first semester of his freshman year. More than excited to sing songs he loves so much with people he cherishes dearly. One of Don’Tae’s favorite holiday memories was the year of 2020 when his family from all over the south surprised him celebrating Christmas and his 16th birthday with him in Atlanta, Georgia. To him the holidays are about spending time with your loved ones, and creating those memories that’ll last a life time. He hopes this show can give you the warm comfort of home as it does him. Ig: @dontaedamarcuss

Helen Fortin is a current sophomore in the Musical Theatre BFA program with a minor in dance. She has always loved the spirit of the winter holidays. To her, Christmas begins on Nov 1st with a short break for Thanksgiving. One of her favorite holiday traditions is picking out the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving with her family. Helen’s favorite holiday movie is White Christmas and insists on watching it any times throughout the season. Finally, she would like to thank her family for all of their boundless love and support throughout her arts career. 

Ryan Griffin is very excited to be performing in NMU's Holiday Soiree! You could have recently seen him in the Ensemble for Spamalot or as Stacee Jaxx in RoA. His Favorite Roles include: Clyde in "Bonnie and Clyde", Phoebus in "Hunchback of Notre Dame", and Jimmy Ray in "Bright Star". He would like to thank the Faculty and Staff for bringing him here to NMU Specifically Kristen Beth Williams and Jimmy Ludwig for all they have done for him to be here today! He hopes you all enjoy the show!

Megan Hibbard (Special Guest) is an alumna of Northern Michigan University and graduated with a BA in Theatre and a minor in Art and Design. She loves her time both onstage and off, and loves to have a hand in multiple aspects of the theater! In the past you may have seen her onstage as Natalie Goodman in “Next to Normal”, Judy Turner in “A Chorus Line”, or Sherrie Christian in “Rock of Ages”! She was also the Co-Choreographer of NMU’s “Grease”, and the Choreographer of NMU’s Spamalot! One of Megan’s favorite holiday memories is watching The Polar Express every Christmas Eve with her family. She hopes you enjoy the show, and Happy Holidays to all!

Lia Hielkema is a musical theatre and political science double major with a concentration in pre-law. She is a junior this year and this is her second year at NMU. Previous notable roles include "Lady of the Lake" Spamalot, “Regina” Rock of Ages, “Radio Voice” Grease, “Marcy Parks” The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, “Poppy'' The Brink of Womanhood: an Original Musical, and “Aunt March” Little Women. Lia was shown National Lampoon's Christmas vacation at a very young age and she is an avid defender of "Baby It's Cold Outside". These two things are probably unrelated she thinks.

Jordyn Hopfensperger is so excited to perform in this incredibly festive Christmas extravaganza! Jordyn is currently a Freshman Musical Theatre major here at Northern Michigan University. Her most recent NMU credits include Wildcat Theatre Follies and Spamalot! Jordyn’s favorite Christmas tradition is searching for the Christmas Pickle every Christmas morning! Happy Holidays everyone!

Kyla Kotecki is a sophomore at NMU, double majoring in Dance and Acting. This is her fifth production at NMU, following performances in: Excerpts From The Nutcracker (Chocolate), CO/LAB (dancer, choreographer), Grease (Cha Cha DiGregorio), and Spamalot! (ensemble). One of her favorite childhood Christmas memories is making reindeer food and watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. She is very excited to bring some Christmas magic to your evening. 

Monica Ligh is twenty-one years old and from Richmond Virginia, but her hometown is Mooresville, North Carolina. She has been singing and performing for as long as she can remember. She’s transferred here to NMU from AMDA NY after receiving her conservatory certificate. Every Christmas for as long as she can remember, her family would wake up and immediately play a vinyl of Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas over and over again until all the presents were opened.

Jimmy Ludwig (Special Guest) has been a professional actor for over 30 years. His Broadway credits include Little Shop of Horrors and the original cast of Spamalot; Off Broadway includes Blue Man Group ‘Tubes’, De La Guarda, Two Point Oh and the original ‘john’ in john & jen among many others. Around the country, James has played dozens of leading roles from Professor Higgins to Hamlet. He also owns Back40 Films, and has produced hundreds of films, among them the wildly popular series “The Happy Hour Guys”. James has taught all over; MT Lisbon, the University of Washington, the University of Michigan, Franklin & Marshall College, AMDA, Boise State and more. He currently is Head of the very fancy BFA Acting program here at Northern. Join us! Best gigs ever: Hubby to Kristen Beth, and Dad to #JustJake. @JimmyLudwigNYC 

Mya McPherson has been dancing for 15 years studying ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap, and improvisation/choreography. She previously studied at Patti Herm School of Dance in Otsego, MI and is now a dance major here at NMU in hopes of a career in performance, choreography, and teaching in a variety of dance styles. A favorite holiday tradition of Mya’s is watching It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve with her family as well as having ‘tissue paper ball’ wars with her siblings. Mya is thrilled to be a part of the Holiday Soiree and gain more dance experience.

Henry Moore is a first year at NMU and has recently been seen in Wildcat Theatre Follies and Spamalot. Henry's favorite Christmas tradition is Holiday Hot Pot. He can't wait for you to all see the show.

Asa Naigus is excited to carol his little heart out in this gorgeous production. Asa (2nd year) has been seen in recent NMU shows such as Spamalot (Ensemble), Rock of Ages (Franz), Grease (Sonny), and Putnam County Spelling Bee (Leaf Coneybear). Asa’s favorite holiday tradition is putting cookies on a table outside, just past a deep hole covered in leaves in a desperate attempt to catch and interrogate Santa Claus, as well as seeing family! Asa can not wait for everyone to see the show!

Zachary Olivier is a freshman from Farmington Hills, Michigan, currently pursuing a double major in BA Theatre Entertainment Arts(performance) and a BA in French. Some of his high school theatre productions were Gower/Peter in Its a Wonderful Live, Horton in Seussical, Johnny in Night of the Living Dead, and Sid in The Pajama Game! He is very honored and excited to be in his first college related performance ever, and is looking forward for future shows to come!

Lexi Reese is a Junior AA Theatre Performance major at Northern Michigan University. Previous performances she has performed at NMU include Elf: The Musical (Tiara the elf) and A Charlie Brown Christmas (Charlie Brown). Lexi loves Christmas and is very excited to perform in Holiday Soirée and would also like to thank her mom, dad and grandma for their continuous support.

Angel Rivera is a sophomore at NMU from Marquette, MI. She is really excited to be a part of the Holiday Soiree this year because she loves holiday music! As a kid Angel didn’t get to participate in a lot of holiday traditions but has always loved to put together and decorate the Christmas tree! She is so excited to share the stage with so many talented performers and she can’t wait for you to see it! Past productions include: Finding Home (Ensemble), The Little Mermaid (Ursula), Matilda (Trunchbull), Newsies (2 productions).

Cayden Smaka is a freshman in the BFA Acting program at NMU. During the holiday season, Cayden keeps to the four main food groups: candy, candy cane, candy corn, and syrup. His favorite winter memories are sledding down the ski hill and having snowball fights across the driveway. You can find Cayden during the holidays in front of the tree or fireplace with hot chocolate and listening to a Piano Guys Christmas vinyl with a Balsam and Cedar candle in the background. Cayden thanks his family and he hope you enjoy this wondrous one-night performance!

Sophia Zavala is wrapping up (get it lol) her first semester here as a freshman in NMU Theatre and Dance! She's very passionate about performance and couldn't be more thrilled to create art with such wonderful people here in Marquette, most recently having been in Wildcat Theatre Follies and Clybourne Park. Originally from Central Texas, she hasn’t had much experience with snow, but one of her favorite holiday memories is getting to visit the Sights and Sounds of Christmas festival with her friends and family in her hometown San Marcos, TX. ⋆⭒˚。⋆


Creative Team Bios


Kristen Beth Williams (Director & Choreographer) Since moving to Marquette last year with her family, Kristen Beth has been on faculty here at NMU. She directed and choreographed Rock of Ages this past summer, choreographed A Charlie Brown Christmas, “Take the A Train” (a jazz ballet conceived for the Co/Lab Dance Company), and a hip-hop routine for last season's Dancing With Our Stars. Coming up, she is directing/choreographing Anything Goes in the spring. As a performer, Kristen Beth's career spans Broadway, national tours, and regional theatres across the country. Her Broadway credits include Hello, Dolly with Bette Midler, Pippin, and the original Broadway casts of Paradise Square, Nice Work if You Can Get It with Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara, Anything Goes starring Sutton Foster, and Promises, Promises with Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth. Kristen Beth is no stranger to holiday shows, having spent 4 consecutive years doing Irving Berlin's White Christmas. To date, she is the only actress to have played both Betty and Judy Haynes in the Walter Bobbie/Randy Skinner production of White Christmas. She has been a featured soloist at London’s Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, and New York’s Town Hall. She is a graduate of The University of Oklahoma and a proud member and Councillor of Actors Equity Association, the National Labor Union for Stage Managers and Actors. @kbdubsnyc

Donna Poirier (Music Director) is currently a member of the Music Department here at NMU. She is thrilled to serve, once again, as Music Director for the Theatre and Dance Department. Donna has served as Director of Choral Activities at Allen University in Columbia, SC, Director of Choral Activities and Vocal Instructor at Alcorn State University in Lorman, MS, a lecturer in voice at the University of Connecticut, and Music Director for the Shreveport Opera, among other positions. Dr. Poirier holds fast to the simple teaching philosophy of Nelson Mandela. This proverb states, “Each one, teach one.” Donna holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Michigan, a Master of Music from the University of Connecticut, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of South Carolina.

Jalina McClain (Production Stage Manager) is currently based in Marquette, MI. She graduated from Northern Michigan University in 2013 with dual bachelor’s degrees in Theatre and Entertainment Arts and Media Production and New Technology. Jalina has worked throughout the Upper Peninsula and in the Chicago area as a designer, manager, and technician prior to taking on the role of Executive Director at Superior Arts Youth Theater which she held from 2017 through 2023. Jalina’s recent credits include the North Coast Theater Festival's "Rock of Ages" (Production Stage Manager), NMU Theatre & Dance's production of "Grease" (Production Stage Manager), Superior Arts Youth Theater's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (Director), "Madagascar Jr." (Stage Manager), "Seussical" (Director), "Descendants" (Director). Jalina believes the holidays are a magical time to spread joy and love! She enjoys gathering with friends and family, enjoying delicious food, and going for drives to see the fun light displays on houses around the community! 

David Pierce (Lighting Designer) is a lighting designer and educator based out of Marquette, MI. Previous design credits include Rock of Ages, Finding Home, A Chorus Line, Footloose, Above the Timberline, Mamma Mia!, Sweeney Todd, What We Leave Behind, Building Madness, and Tarzan. He has also partnered with UP Home Health and Hospice as Lighting Designer for Dancing with Our Stars as well as worked as Production Manager for the Adirondack Theater Festival in Glens Falls, NY. David is also an Associate Professor and Production Manager for the Department of Theatre and Dance at NMU and teaches courses in stage electrics, lighting design, and stage management.

Braeden Ingersoll (Scenic Designer & Technical Director), originally from Des Moines, Iowa, received his MFA in Technical Production from Florida State University where he focused on Technical Direction, Production Management, and teaching. Additional professional credits include Technical Director with Des Moines Metro Opera and Theatre Aspen, and Assistant Technical Director with Creede Repertory Theatre. His work in the Entertainment industry has been driven by his fondness for storytelling and accomplishing technical feats onstage. Clybourne Park marks Braeden’s return to scenic design after a short hiatus. Other design credits include The Bald Soprano & These Shining Lives.

Em Rossi (Costume Manager) is an NMU alumnus (2004 BS, 2006 MA) and the faculty member for costumes, hair, and makeup. She holds an MFA in Costume Design from Wayne State University and has designed costumes and puppets for educational and regional theatres in St. Louis, North Carolina, and Michigan. Recent designs include costumes and puppets for Above the Timberline, costumes for Grease, costumes, hair and makeup for Rock of Ages, costumes for Christmas Carol, and costumes for Anything Goes.

Cassie L. Bowler (Stage Manager) just completed costume designs for Clybourne Park. Previous design work includes costume designs for Lake Superior Theatre’s 2023 production of Beacon on the Rocks, assistant costume designer for Grease, and scenic designer for Salome. This is her first foray into Stage Management for NMU. Her next project will be working as a co-scenic designer on Anything Goes at Forest Roberts Theatre. Her favorite childhood holiday memory is organizing gifts as they arrived so that she could play with the stuffed nativity set that her parents kept under the tree.