Rock of Ages

June 14-17 and 21-24
A Gritty and Glamorous Jukebox Musical
Book by Chris D'Arienzo, Arrangements and Orchestrations by Ethan Popp
It’s the tail end of the big, bad 1980s in Hollywood, and the party has been raging hard. Amidst the madness, aspiring rock star Drew longs to take the stage as the next big thing (and longs for small-town girl Sherrie, fresh off the bus from Kansas with stars in her eyes). But the rock and roll fairytale is about to end when German developers sweep into town with plans to turn the fabled Strip into just another capitalist strip mall. Can Drew, Sherrie, and the gang save the Strip – and themselves – before it's too late?

NOTE: This production contains strobe effects as well as strong adult language and themes, suggestive dancing, and alcohol and drug use.

ROCK OF AGES is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals.

Wednesday, June 14th at 7:30pm - Opening Night Party
Thursday, June 15th at 7:30pm
Friday, June 16th at 7:30pm

Saturday, June 17th at 7:30pm
Wednesday, June 21st at 7:30pm

Thursday, June 22nd at 7:30pm
Friday, June 23rd at 7:30pm
Saturday, June 24th at 7:30pm

Location: Forest Roberts Theatre

Tickets are $17 for General Public, $12 for NMU Faculty/Staff, Seniors, and Military, $10 for Students, and $5 for NMU Students.




Drew Boley John Thomson
Sherrie Christian Megan Hibbard
Lonny Barnett Jimmy Ludwig
Dennis Dupree Andy Langiois
Justice Charlier Symonne Sparks
Stacee Jaxx Ryan Griffin
Regina Lia Hielkema
Hertz Klinneman/Dennis Understudy Paul Truckey
Franz Klinneman Asa Naigus
Joey Primo/Drew, Stacee Jaxx, & Franz Understudy Michael Ahlstrom
The Mayor/Ja'Keith Gill Donavon Chambers
Ensemble Michael Ahlstrom, Emily Burbey, Jessi Ceballos, Donavon Chambers, Kyra Skinner
Female Swing/ Sherrie & Regina Understudy Annabelle Lesser
Male Swing Dashawn Mitchell
Justice & Regina Understudy Jessi Ceballos

Creative Team

Director/Choreographer Kristen Beth Williams
Music Director Donna Poirier
Scenic Director Lex van Blommestein
Lighting Designer David Pierce
Costume Designer Em Rossi
Sound Designer Dan Zini
Technical Director Braeden Ingersoll
Production Stage Manager Jalina McClain

Cast Bios

John Thomson (Drew Boley) is a junior at NMU and just recently joined the BFA Musical Theatre Program, minoring in Health with a fitness leadership and sports performance focus. He has been performing in department theatre productions for two years. Some of his past performances include Elf: The Musical (Ensemble), The Producers (Leo Bloom), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Doug Panch), Salome (First Soldier), and Grease (Danny Zuko).

Megan Hibbard (Sherrie Christian) 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 theatre! In the past you may have seen her onstage as Lisa in “Mamma Mia!”, Natalie Goodman in “Next to Normal”, in the ensemble of “The Producers”, or most recently, Judy Turner in “A Chorus Line”. For choreography, she was the assistant choreographer for MSHS’s production of “Catch Me If You Can”, Co-Choreographer of NMU’s “Grease”, and she looks forward to choreographing NMU’s “Spamalot” this fall! Her recent lighting designs include “Elf the Musical'', and NMU’s 2022 NxNC CO-LAB. She would like to thank her loved ones for all of their support in everything that she does, and she hopes you enjoy the show!

James “Jimmy” Ludwig (Lonny Barnett) 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

Andy Langlois (Dennis Dupree) is appreciative for the opportunity to learn, observe and take part in this project overflowing with supportive, talented actors and crew. When not rehearsing for Rock of Ages, Andy (co-founder of Blackrocks Brewery) spends most of his days at Blackrocks. Fun fact: In this performance his character, Dennis, opened for the 70’s band Foghat. In real life, Andy’s former band opened for a different 70’s rock band called Nazareth.

Ryan Griffin (Stacee Jaxx/Sherrie’s Father) is very excited to be performing for his first time at NMU! He recently has just gotten out of the US Army and into theatre at a professional level. Ryan would also like to thank Kristen Beth Williams and the rest of the Production team in RoA for taking a shot on him and flying him out from NJ to be here! Ryan would lastly like to thank everyone at NMU for being so open and welcoming to him from the very first rehearsal making him feel like a part of the family immediately!

Lia Hielkema (Regina Koontz) is a student at Northern Michigan University, pursuing a double major in Musical Theatre and Political Science. With a deep love for the arts, Lia has had the privilege of being part of productions such as "Grease" (Radio Voice) and "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" (Marcy Parks) at NMU, as well as "The Brink of Womanhood: an Original Musical" (Poppy) and "Little Women" (Aunt March) at DePaul University. She is grateful for the opportunities she has had to work with such fabulous talent here at NMU and would like to thank Kristen Beth Williams for making this production as close to perfect as you can get.

Paul Truckey (Hertz Klinneman) has been a member of the NMU Theatre faculty since 2003. While at NMU, he has directed numerous productions including Romeo and Juliet, Cats, Noises Off, Building Madness, Into the Woods, A Paper Tiger in the Rain – 2014 Panowski Playwriting Award (PPA) winner, The Comedy of Errors, 1776, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, A Flea in Her Ear, The Mousetrap, ACTletes, The Foreigner, The Full Monty, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Tell-Tale – 2006 PPA winner, Closer Than Ever, Burning Mona Lisa in the Reptile House – 2004 PPA winner, and Our Town. Among his acting credits are leading roles in Les Miserables (Broadway and national touring companies, over 2,600 performances), A Little Night Music, Rockland, The Fantasticks, The Problem, Utah! The Musical (Original Company), Sunday in the Park with George, Guys and Dolls, Romeo and Juliet, Nine, Three Sisters, The Mikado, and She Stoops to Conquer. His TV credits include The Rosie O’Donnell Show, The Today Show, and the 1998 NBA All-Star Game Halftime show. Paul is a member of Actor’s Equity Association.

Asa Naigus (Franz Klinneman) will be a 2nd year here at NMU in the fall with a BFA in Musical Theatre. This is his first time working professionally. Recent credits at NMU include Grease (Sonny), Salome (Young Syrian), and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Leaf Coneybear). Asa is very excited to be working with such an incredible and talented team.

Symonne Sparks (Justice Charlier/Sherrie’s Mother) All the way from St. Louis, MO, Symonne SPARKS is thrilled to make her debut at North Coast Theatre Festival! Sparks just received her Master's in Theatre from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her most recent achievements include the title role in Aida, her own short play entitled BEYond Me, as well as winning the National Title in Musical Theatre from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Sparks has even performed several times for the NFL, with the most recent engagement being in January of 2023 for the Kansas City Chiefs. She is so excited to ROCK OUT with this new community!

Michael Ahlstrom (Ensemble/Joey Primo/ Understudy for Stacee Jaxx, Drew, and Franz) is a senior at Northern Michigan University with a major in BFA Acting. He has been a part of the NMU’s theater program for two years and this is his first professional show. Some of his favorite performances include: Next to Normal (Gabe Goodman), The Producers (Ensemble), and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Chip Tolentino).

Emily Burbey (Ensemble) is the Marketing/Box Office manager for the NMU Theatre and Dance Department. She has recently graduated from NMU with a bachelor's degree in Graphic Design and minors is Dance and Marketing. Emily has been performing in community and theatre productions since a young age. Her most recent performances include Grease (Frenchy), Tarzan (Jane), Mamma Mia (Ensemble), Cats (Mister Mistofelles), and The Producers (Ensemble). She is so excited to be back on stage this summer in Rock of Ages!

Jessi Ceballos (Ensemble/Waitress #1) is excited to be making her debut at North Coast Theatre Festival. She is currently a Northern Michigan University student in the BFA Acting program. She would like to thank her family and friends for always supporting her. She is beyond excited to perform in this 80s jukebox alongside such a talented cast and crew, and hopes everyone enjoys the show! IG: @jessiceballos.3

Donavon Chambers (Ensemble/Ja’Keith/Mayor) is a NYC based actor from Detroit, MI where he studied musical theater at Oakland University. Donavon is also a NMU alum and performed in shows here at the FRT and all around Marquette, and is glad to be back home! Notable roles include: “Gordon”- Rent (The Secret Theatre), “Ensemble/TinMan u/s” - The Wiz (Hope Summer Rep), “Hud Johnson” - Hair (Detroit Actors Theatre Co.), Leading Player - Pippin (Lake Superior Theatre). He’s very grateful for the opportunity to be back on stage with such an amazing cast and crew! Instagram: @donavon.chambers

Kyra Skinner (Ensemble/Constance Sack) comes to us from the EUP of Michigan, she is coming up on her final semester at NMU and is happy to be in Marquette for another summer! Kyra is working towards two degrees, one in Dance and the other in Psychology with a developmental concentration. Some of Kyra’s other roles include Elf: The Musical, The Wolves, Footloose, A Chorus Line, Variations from The Nutcracker, and CO/LAB Company. She has had so much fun putting this show together and is beyond excited to share it with you! Kyra feels very grateful to be a part of this bitchin’ show, she would like to thank her family, friends, boyfriend, and cast for the endless support!

Annabelle Lesser (Female Swing/Understudy for Sherrie and Regina) is a recent Acting BFA recruit and graduate from AMDA NYC. She is so grateful to be making her North Coast Theatre Festival Debut! She's had so much fun working on this performance, as it's her first time being a swing in a production! She'd like to thank her family and friends for their constant unwavering support.

DaShawn Mitchell (Male Swing/Understudy for Hertz, Dennis, and Lonny) is going into his junior year at NMU. In his time here he has played roles such as Walter Hobbs in Elf, Henry in Next To Normal, and Max in The Producers. He has been training as a musician, focusing on vocal performance, since he was in seventh grade and has been in theatre and since his freshman year of high school. He’s excited to make his professional debut with familiar faces on familiar ground.

Creative Team Bios

Kristen Beth Williams (Director/Choreographer) Since moving to Marquette last year with her family, Kristen Beth has been on faculty at NMU, teaching theatre and dance. She has choreographed A Charlie Brown Christmas for the Theatre & Dance Dept., “Take the A Train,” an 8-minute jazz ballet conceived for the Co/Lab Dance Company, and a hip-hop routine for this year’s Dancing With Our Stars. Rock of Ages marks Kristen Beth’s directorial debut, and she is thrilled with this Kick-A%$ production! As a performer, her 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. 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. She and her husband, Jimmy Ludwig, will be performing with the MSO on July 8! @kbdubsnyc

Donna Poirier (Music Director/Keyboard) 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.

David Pierce (Lighting Designer) is a lighting designer and educator based out of Marquette, MI. Previous design credits include 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.

Lex van Blommestein (Scenic Designer) is a theatre designer based out of Marquette, MI. While he currently teaches at Northern, he also maintains a prolific national and international design career. Lex earned his MFA from Wayne State University's Hilberry Repertory Program in Detroit, and has lived, designed, and taught in Edwardsville, IL; St. Louis, MO; Cincinnati, OH; Raleigh, NC; Memphis, TN; Milwaukee, WI; Detroit, MI; Lansing, MI; Windsor, ON; and Amsterdam, NL, to name a few. In addition to his love for scenic design, he enjoys using design to explore audience reaction, interaction, and emotion, and to create experiences involving virtual reality and augmented reality as well as immersive design.

Em Rossi (Costume, Hair, and Makeup Designer) is an NMU alumnus (2004 BS, 2006 MA). After designing many productions at FRT and other theaters in the Marquette area, she relocated to Detroit where she obtained an MFA in Costume Design from Wayne State University. Em is adjunct faculty in costumes and makeup and also serves as a mentor for costume, hair and makeup design students. Recent and upcoming designs include costumes and puppets for Above the Timberline, costumes for Next to Normal, and costumes for Grease.

Dan Zini (Sound and Media Designer) is an award-winning designer and engineer in both live and broadcast sound and media with over a decade of professional experience. He also works as a composer, producer, studio engineer, musician, and programmer, holding many internationally recognized certifications. Dan’s credit list is extensive and includes Andy Grammar, Keith Secola, Samantha Fish, Carlos Nunez, Alash, Sandra Joseph, Joshua Davis, LDI Las Vegas, Hershey Entertainment, Orange Theatre Company - Amsterdam, and many other artists, organizations and theatre companies working on many events, albums, concerts, broadcasts and over 100 theatrical productions. Dan currently teaches live, studio and theatrical sound and media design at the Northern Michigan University School of Music Theatre and Dance and Media Studies Departments in which he also serves as Supervisor and Engineer of Sound and Media. In addition, Dan serves as Owner of Talking Turtle Productions and Co-Owner of Steady Stone Productions.

Ryan Harvey (Assistant Sound Designer/Head Electrician/Audio 1) is a junior at Northern Michigan University pursuing a BFA in Theatre Technology and Design with a focus in audio. Over the past year he has worked as the sound and media shop crew lead and a stage electrician while sound designing Finding Home. Furthermore, with recent opportunities to work at conventions and music festivals across the country he has realized that the skills he has acquired at NMU can take him almost anywhere in the entertainment industry. To see more of his work visit

Kate Joy Karling (Properties Designer/Scenic Paint Charge) is excited to be a part of the team making Rock Of Ages a jubilee of color, laughter, and nostalgia. Kate graduated from NMU in 2021 with a Bachelor’s in Theatre Performance and English. During her senior year, she discovered a love for scenic painting which she pursued to rural New York to study for a year at Cobalt Studios, just ten minutes from Woodstock. It is apt that the next big step in her career would involve rolling doobies for rockstars at her alma mater. She would like to thank her mentor, Lex van Blommestein, for nudging her in the direction of unrecognized dreams and possibilities, and her family, for remaining supportive of her artistic pursuits at a time when it is not always easy to do so.

Jalina McClain (Production Stage Manager) is currently based out of 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 of Superior Arts Youth Theatre in 2017. Jalina’s recent credits include NMU Theatre & Dance's production of Grease (Production Stage Manager), SAYT’s: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Director), Madagascar Jr. (Stage Manager), Seussical (Director), Descendants (Director), Legally Blonde Jr. (Director), Disney's Alice in Wonderland Jr. (Director), Peter Pan (Director), Shrek the Musical Jr. (Director).

Braeden Ingersoll (Technical Director), originally from Des Moines, Iowa, received his MFA in Technical Production from Florida State University where he focused on Technical Direction, Team & Production Management, and teaching. Braeden also has certifications in OSHA-10 “General Entertainment Safety” (OSHA 1910), 3M™ Fall Protection Competent Person, Genie Lift-Pro™ Mobile Elevated Work Platform (MEWP) Classes 1A & 3A, and American Red Cross CPR/First Aid & AED. Additional professional credits include Technical Director with Des Moines Metro Opera and Theatre Aspen, and Assistant Technical Director with Creede Repertory Theatre.

Emily Kendall (Stage Manager) is a Stage Manager currently based out of Marquette, Michigan. She graduated from NMU in May 2021 with a B.S. in Theatre and Entertainment Arts concentrating in Design and Technology. Since then, her credits have included: Stage Management Intern (Peninsula Players Theatre - Door County Wisconsin), Master Carpenter (NMU theatre department's scene shop), Stage Manager (Superior Arts Youth Theater) and Stage Manager (Forest Roberts Theatre).

Emily Iszler (Spot Operator) is currently a senior at NMU majoring in Data Science and double minoring in Computer Science and Business. She has participated in several productions by working in the Scene Shop for the last two years and was also on Spotlight for Footloose and a Chorus Line last summer.