Mary Burkey

By Matthew Staats – Age 10 Mary Burkey is TYA’s technical director, which means she oversees the production of set, props, costumes, sound and lighting. She hasĀ been working with TYA since spring 2011, when she had an internship at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and saw TYA and decided to join TYA using her experiences on set, props, costumes, acting and visual art. Kids have the opportunity to be on the creative team and have their ideas come to life. Mary gets to work with youth in the summer and Rising Stars shows, but she also likes to work with her own creativity for the mainstage and storybook shows. To prepare for The Mad Adventures of Mr. Toad!, she made sure she knew the source, “A Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame and then she read the script with the designers so they all were familiar with it. Then they brainstormed designs that could show the story to children. Finally, they decided as a group waht was going to be used for the show.

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Hannah Staats

By Camille Staats – Age 11


Hannah performs as Meg in “A Wrinkle in Time”

Hannah started TYA in the 4th grade, but now, six years later, she is still doing lots with TYA. Hannah Staats’ first show was the 2009 Story Book show, The Jungle Book. But she wasn’t new to theater. She had done three STC (Sheboygan Theatre Company) shows prior to that first show. Doing The Jungle Book was, at first, an excuse to do another show, but after being introduced to TYA she came back for more. She liked how the kids were all around the same age as her and how kids had opportunities to do things outside of performing. Hannah started to do creative team by doing set. And now, four years later, she has done almost every creative team position. Still there’s always new opportunities.

For the current show, The Mad Adventures of Mr. Toad!, Hannah was a co-stage director and had great fun. The preparation consisted of a meeting with all of the creative team to read the script, and meetings with just the directors and directors-in-training where they looked at the script and the book the script was based from, “A Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame. They analyzed the characters and prepared monologues for the auditions. Then, after the auditions, they casted the show. Hannah says she tends to have strong views on how the show should look, but when you’re on a team it’s a give and take situation. She’s learned how to improvise, because at rehearsal, things are always changing. Also she learned more about the preparation for a show. It’s fun to have an idea on the show, but then the cast brings their own personal character into the mix. Although it was hard work, she loved the experience.

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“Mr. Toad” Co-Choreographer: Larissa Kanz

By Julianna Neu – Age 11


Larissa performs in “Boing! Zoing! Kids’ Amazing Circus!”

Larissa Kanz is an inspiring 14 year old girl. She has two younger brothers named Shawn and Matthew. She has been active in ballet for 11 years and has been playing piano for 8 years. Her home is in Sheboygan Falls. She is homeschooled and going into the 9th grade. In her free time she likes to take on babysitting jobs.

She has been in TYA for three years starting with Seussical Jr. as a “Who,” then Elves and the Shoemaker as a fairy, and most recently was in Boing! Zoing! Kids’ Amazing Circus! as a tightrope walker. She has since decided to try choreography. Her first show that she helped with choreography was Brementown Musicians. She loved working with the kids so she helped choreograph Princesses, Monkeys and Frogs, OH MY! and her latest show, The Mad Adventures of Mr. Toad.


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“Mr. Toad” Performer: Joanna Heup

By Brianna Finley – Age 13


Joanna Huep plays the judge in “The Mad Adventures of Mr. Toad!”

Joanna is 11 years old. She has always loved theater, but she just started when she was 7. She and her parents saw something about TYA this year and decided to join. They saw that you could be in plays and meet new people. Joanna was nervous at first, but she said all the people were really nice and funny, so she felt welcome. Joanna has had a lot of fun at TYA and she said she would love to do it again!

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The New Kid at TYA

By Kate Bemis – Age 8

I’m new to Theater for Young Audiences, but I love it. Luckily, I already knew Ella, and by working with the rest of the cast I made a lot more friends. If you haven’t been in a play before, let me tell you, it’s a lot of pressure. You have to know what to say, wear and express. You also have dances to memorize, but at TYA, you’ll have a great team to help you.

Even though plays are hard, they are also fun. You’re making people happy. I like the role I play. Being a Weasel’s cool. I have a unique character who is sly, sneaky, and a lot of fun. I like the songs and dances we perform. They’re essential to the play. I also love to sing and dance. I like the team: Larissa, Chloe, Hilary, Rachel, Arden, Hannah, and the DITs (directors in training). The costume and set designers were really nice.

So, TYA is awesome. I made a lot of friends and I’m having a blast. Thank you, TYA!


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“Mr. Toad” Co-Music Director Rachel Smith

By Franki Formas – Age 12

Rachel SmithTheater for Young Audiences is excited to introduce Rachel Smith. Rachel has been a Music Director at school for two years, and this is her first time being a Music Director for TYA

Even though she likes being a Music Director for The Mad Adventures of Mr. Toad! it can sometimes be very stressful teaching notes and rhythms.

She wants others to feel the joy she gets from music. Rachel loves singing and is involved in it at school.

Her piano skills help her students to do well. She says her biggest challenge is being assertive enough to tell people what to do.

In order to be a Music Director, Rachel says, “You have to know what you’re doing, like teaching the music and style of the music.”

She thinks the production is great and the cast and crew will put on a good show. TYA is lucky to have Rachel as a part of our team. Look forward to working with her on future productions.




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