Paul R. Pierce, Producing Artistic Director – has led the Springer for more than two decades. During his tenure, audiences have tripled and the Springer has instituted popular programs like Springer Theatricals and the Springer Theatre Academy. In addition to being a veteran stage director, he is also a playwright, actor and musician. Paul is the former associate artistic director of the Repertory Theatre of America, the former artistic director of the Harbor Playhouse in Corpus Christi, Texas, and the former managing director of the Wayside Theatre in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. He holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in drama and theatre from the University of Georgia. He is the author of the “Springer Ghost Book.”
Sally Baker, Director of Education – has a long and varied history with the Springer, where she was a child actor in the 1980s. She has been a regular instructor at the Springer Theatre Academy and a guest director with the Springer Children’s Theatre. She directed Charlotte’s Web last summer and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse in 2007. She returned to the Springer from Winder where she taught drama and journalism at Winder-Barrow High and directed such shows as Wiley and the Hairy Man, Once on This Island, The Rose of Treason and Little Shop of Horrors. She has performed in over 25 Springer shows including Annie as Annie in 1989, Macbeth (weird sister), Charlotte’s Web (Lamb) and Singin in the Rain. She was education coordinator at California Theatre Center (San Francisco area) and Nashville Children’s Theatre. Sally has also performed in The Elves and the Shoemaker, The Frog Prince, The Reluctant Dragon, The Miser and in the national premiere of Harry the Dirty Dog (Harry).
Danielle Patterson Varner, Director of Development – is the go-to person for sponsorships, planned giving and the Springer Society. She is also an actor, having appeared as Gymnasia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. Danielle has a long history with the Springer as both a volunteer and a member of the staff. She was the Springer’s box office manager and director of audience development.
Allie Kent, Director of Marketing & Audience Development – has worn many hats during her past 21 years while on the Springer staff. She has served as Box Office Manager, Operations Manager, and Director of the Springer Classic Movie Series. She was part of the project management team during the construction of the Springer Academy Annex and McClure Theatre. She currently sits on two of the Springer committees, Design Review and Community Outreach. In her current position as Director of Marketing & Audience Development, she is responsible for developing and implementing marketing strategies, building awareness and growing audiences for the theatre’s events and programming. She also manages the Player’s Saloon, The Emporium, and box office services. She was recently voted Favorite Bartender by the Ledger Enquirer’s Reader’s Choice Awards. You can see her most nights behind the bar in the Player’s Saloon where she loves meeting Springer patrons.
Laurel Brownlee, Director of Sales – is new to the world of theater. After studying fashion and textiles at Savannah College of Art and Design she moved to Columbus in 2005 to pursue a career in the cosmetics industry. In 2013 she decided to expand her knowledge of business by enrolling at Columbus State University where she received her Bachelors of Marketing in December of 2015. Laurel is happy to assist with group sales, program ads and rental inquiries here at the Springer.
Deb Faulk, Staff Accountant – began her relationship with the Springer Opera House in 1995 as a backstage volunteer. With a BS in Marketing and almost 30 years of business and finance experience, she has been Staff Accountant since 2009. She shares her home with her husband, John, and their 4 four-legged children.
Debbie Anderson, Musical Director – has prepared choral and instrumental ensembles at the Springer since 1998. Her most recent credits include musical director for Lend Me a Tenor, Shrek The Musical, Della’s Diner and Les Misérables. Her roles at the Springer include Why, Baby, Why: The Music of George Jones and Tammy Wynette (which she helped create and which she will helped restage last April), The King & I (Anna Leonowens), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Miss Mona), Phantom (Belladova), Honky Tonk Angels (Angela), Ragtime (Mother) and Damn Yankees (Meg). She and her brothers sang on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in 1990.
Austin Sargent, Box Office Manager -Austin Sargent has always had a love for the Springer Opera House. As a child, he performed on the Springer Stage and attended the Springer Theatre Academy. As an adult, he is an Academy Teacher, and now is taking over as Box Office Manager. Austin holds a B.F.A in Musical Theatre with a minor in Arts Administration from Viterbo University. Austin is a professional actor and administrator and is so happy to be back home.
Aileen Fowles, Director of Community Outreach – has been involved at the Springer for over seventeen years starting out as a Springer Volunteer. She quickly became a student in the Springer Theatre Academy, and after graduating out of the program Aileen taught at the Academy for many years. She graduated from CSU with a bachelor’s in theatre design and production and has worked on and Volunteered for many Springer shows, with her favorite Five Guys Named Moe. She loves to laugh and tries to do so constantly whether she’s baking, bartending, or learning new songs on her ukulele. Send her an email if you would like to volunteer at the Springer!
Matthew Swindell, Director of Production – started his journey with the Springer as a backstage volunteer and immediately became indispensable. He graduated from CSU with a bachelor’s in theatre design and technology and began work as a scenic designer for our Children’s Theatre productions. He was the scenic designer for Big Friendly Giant, Tales of Fourth Grade Nothing and Alice in Wonderland. Matthew was the technical director and road manager for the Springer’s touring shows The Marvelous Wonderettes, California Dreaming, and Della’s Diner and has learned many new skills throughout the touring process. In addition to his skills scenically, he is now an experienced lighting designer, sound engineer, and master electrician. Matthew works hard to make sure that all aspects of the production process run smoothly.
Katie Underwood, Associate Producer – is a graduate of CSU with a BFA in theatre design and technology and a former Springer Theatre Academy student. She is the tour manager for Springer Theatricals, the national touring arm of the Springer Opera House. She coordinates casting for all main stage and studio series productions and is in charge of maintaining housing for our out of town actors. She also facilitates the Springer’s professional Artistic Internship program. In addition to her other responsibilities, Katie is also a designer and produces several of the lighting designs for the McClure Theatre each season.
Patti Jo Fenzel, Properties Designer and Artisan – earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theatre Design and Technology from Columbus State University in 2010. Since then, she has been working in theaters around the country including The Florida Repertory Theater, Texas Shakespeare Festival, and Opera New Jersey performing a variety of backstage roles with a special focus on her career’s passion of properties design and management on such shows as The Santaland Diaries, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Don Giovanni, and Lend Me a Tenor.
Amanda Mattes, Resident Costume Designer and Shop Manager – received her M.F.A. in Performance Costume Design from the University of Edinburgh’s College of Art, and her B. A. with Honors in Theatrical Design from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. While in the UK, Amanda designed for the Royal Scottish Conservatory, as well as several productions in London and the Edinburgh Festival and Festival Fringe. Her work in television and film includes Armor construction and making for Game of Thrones (2012, Belfast, UK), Painting and Dye work on the BBC’s Atlantis (2013-2014, Wales, UK), Costume Dyeing and Breakdown for STAR’s Outlander (2014, Scotland, UK), and various costume production credits for Dr. Who (2013), World War Z (2011), and many others. Along with her work in the UK, Amanda has been a Resident Costume Designer at Shakespeare & Company, and worked at the Santa Fe Opera as a Costume Cutter, as well as the Barbara Matera, Ltd., Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Alabama Ballet, and Romantasy’s Exquisite Corset Company.
Heather Willis McLendon, Associate Director of Education – first came to the Springer Theatre Academy in 1997 as a student and has always had a special place in her heart for the mission of the Academy and the work of the Springer Opera House. Since her days as an academy student, Heather appeared at the Springer as a teacher, and a performer, and has appeared on the Springer stage in Peter Pan, Big River, Lakebottom Proper, and Pinkalicious. Heather has also enjoyed stage managing at the Springer for A Christmas Carol, A Raisin in the Sun, and Oops, I Tweeted Again. Before joining the Springer Academy as the Associate Director, Heather earned a B.S. in Theatre Education from Columbus State University, had the pleasure of working for CLIMB Theatre in Minnesota, and spent an academic year teaching with the Autism HOPE Center.
Beth Reeves, Education Coordinator – has performed in several productions here at the Springer Opera House. Most recently you may have seen her as Principal Lynch in Grease, Calpurnia in To Kill a Mockingbird, Ms. Andrews in Mary Poppins and Dragon in Shrek: The Musical. She received her BSEd in Theatre Education from Columbus State University and completed her M.Ed. in Theatre Education this Spring.
Rebecca Gossett, Production Stage Manager — has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre design & technology from Columbus State University. While in school, she stage managed productions such as Pride & Prejudice, Suds: The Rocking 60’s Musical Soap Opera!, and The Laramie Project, receiving three nominations for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. She started at the Springer as an Arts Management intern and has since stage managed several shows such as Mary Poppins, Lend Me a Tenor, The Producers, and A Chorus Line. The best part about her job is meeting the amazing talent that comes through the Springer.
Julianne Slaton, Production Engineer -– earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre design & technology at Columbus State University with a proficiency in Sound Design. She started at the Springer as a volunteer and transitioned to working here full time on our 2015 production of A Chorus Line. She has since enjoyed working on productions such as Sweeney Todd, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid, as well as completing her first professional scenic design for the Academy’s production of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.
James Clark, Landmark Operations Manager – has been working with his hands since he was eight years old. He has always had a strong appreciation of history and is excited to do his part to protect and preserve our National Landmark. He has picked up a variety of skills over the years and is well equipped to manage the many challenges that a 146 year old building presents. In his free time he enjoys sitting down with a good book or playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons with close friends.
Kelvin Usher, Guest Services Supervisor – grew up on the east side of Columbus. After graduating from Kendrick High School, Kelvin joined the Marine Corps. He spent the next 10 years serving his country during Desert Storm in Bosnia as well as Afghanistan. He traveled to Egypt, Italy, Japan, Australia and throughout the United States. Kelvin has a Bachelor’s of Science and Nursing. He is an active Mason here in Columbus at the Modern Free and is practicing Martial Arts, boxing, and wrestling. Kelvin started working for the Springer Opera House in November of 2015 and fell in love with the atmosphere and the employees, who he so kindly calls, the backbone of the Springer. Kelvin is so proud and grateful for his opportunity to be a part of the Springer and its future.