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Founding Core

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Creative Team

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Special Thanks

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Business Partners

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About Forge

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About the Artists

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Donor Family

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Whats Next?

Forge Rep Founding Core


Coleman Crenshaw

Coleman Crenshaw is passionate about creating community engagement through the theatre arts. He completed his MFA in Performance and Society from Rhode Island College and has been an active part of the Kansas City Theatre community since he relocated from the east coast 10 years ago. While mainly an actor, having performed extensively in the US and the UK for the last 20 years, he is also a teaching artist and director. 


He helped develop a performance ethnography program called The Oral History Project: I Was There, Faces of Fox Point, that was recognized by the NCPH and is now used as a state-wide model in Rhode Island. As a teaching artist he has worked with a variety of students both at the collegiate level (SBU and JCCC most recently) and as an independent artist creating new programming in high schools and elementary schools. He specializes in pre-K to 2nd grade playwright training through a program of his design called Interactive Storytelling. 


His performance and directing expertise spans a great number of styles, from classical Stanislavskian realism to Grotowskian physicality, from classical to Avant Garde solo performance. His aim is to develop lasting and powerful communities of artists dedicated to inspiring social change. 


Theatre is, at its heart, a well-told story, powerful in its immediacy and limitless in its capacity to impart knowledge and inspire action; and Forge Rep desires to make that story accessible to all. He has two dogs, one girlfriend, and a handful of nickels. He is content.


Contact Coleman


Todd Lanker

Todd Lanker is a director, actor, and teacher. He was trained at WORKOUT (the physical theatre ensemble of Wheaton College), the Michael Howard Studio NYC, the Actor’s Gang Theatre LA, and the Master of Fine Arts program at UMKC. Todd has served as the Artistic Director of Shakespeare in the Shed, a theatrical collaboration with Angel City Brewery in Los Angeles and as Associate Artistic Director of METropolitan Ensemble Theatre. In addition to teaching at MET, UMKC, Kansas City Kansas Community College and California Lutheran University, he has maintained an active career as a regional actor and director. His work has been guided by a passion for reinvesting in known stories to uncover or rediscover the human truth obscured by familiarity. Todd is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.


Contact Todd


Elaine Clifford

Elaine Clifford came into the theatre scene comparatively "late" in the game, first setting foot on stage during her junior year of high school. After that initial discovery, she has proceeded to throw herself headlong into the fray and dedicate her life to the arts and to telling stories of all kinds through a medium which is timeless and intimately human. She attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Performance and Dance. Shortly thereafter, she moved down to Kansas City to pursue her career and quickly fell in love with the city's vibrant culture. Elaine has had the privilege of performing on various stages in the KC area with several amazing companies. She also shares her love of theatre through her job as a teaching artist with The Culture House Academy of Performing Arts. When not on stage or teaching, Elaine loves traveling, baking goodies in true Mrs. Claus fashion, and chilling with her incredible husband and rambunctious pupper.


Contact Elaine

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Bailey Rose

Bailey Rose discovered the magic of live theatre when she was 11 years old and she has never looked back. Passionate about using theatre as an agent of change and a catalyst for greater dialogue she chose to continue her education in the arts and is a graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, holding degrees in Theatre and Business. Bailey moved to Kansas City three years ago and has fallen head over heels in love with this city. She has performed onstage with multiple companies in KC and has lent her talents behind the scenes, focusing on business development. Bailey believes that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the magic of live theatre and as a teaching artist she has worked with a variety of students from pre-K to the collegiate level to help broaden that exposure. Theatre is magical; sitting in a dark room, elbow to elbow with a stranger, there is this elusive energy between audience and performer, the community forged together, and the momentary collaboration necessitated by the magic of what happens onstage. We are here to ensure that every person has the opportunity to share in the magic. When she isn’t at the theatre, Bailey loves spending time with her fur babies, eating pizza, playing games, and embracing life’s adventures with her wonderful husband.

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Contact Bailey


Ryan Fortney

Ryan Fortney is a director, actor, and a life-long lover of Kansas City. Born and raised in KC, Ryan has only stepped away from the metro area once, when he got his masters in directing from the University of South Dakota. Before USD, Ryan received his BFA in performance from the University of Central Missouri. He has also been recognized on a national level by the Kennedy Center for his directorial achievements. Ryan has directed over two dozen productions and acted in just as many. He has worked professionally from KC to South Dakota to NYC. His style of directing reflects his personal philosophy: always strive for happiness, always fight for love. His work is guided by this belief and therefore he endlessly searches for the humor and heart in any show he is lucky to work on. His first loves are his beautiful nieces and nephews, but KC comes in a close second, “I am so excited to bring Todd, Bailey, Coleman, Elaine, Valerie, and my vision for the Forge Repertory Theatre to the KC metro. I love this company and I love this city.”


Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night. 


Contact Ryan


Valerie Schlosser

Valerie is a theatre kid who works in digital analytics. After spending most of her adolescence performing, she has spent the last 12+ years immersed in data and spreadsheets, working for ad agencies and in-house marketing teams. Her expertise is focused on paid/organic search engine marketing, digital analytics & business intelligence. For the last seven years she has directed these skill sets toward helping non-profit theatres pro-bono in the Kansas City area, on boards and through volunteer work.


She is passionate about non-profits and the arts and is thrilled to help Forge Repertory Theatre bring the Living Ticket model to life here in Kansas City. The power of human connection through story should never be cost-prohibitive.


She was born and raised in the Kansas City metro and obtained her BA in English Literature at the University of Missouri - Columbia. In addition to Forge Repertory Theatre, she sits on the Board of Directors for the Kansas City Data-Driven Marketers Association (KCDMA) as well as the Volunteer Marketing Board for Rose Brooks, where she also walks dogs whenever possible. Any time she has left is spent with family and friends, her DP - the talented local actor/educator Jordan Fox, his son Jude, and her dog Oscar, named for Oscar Madison of the Odd Couple. And yes, his best friend is a toy bear named Felix.


She encourages you to support the arts, adopt your pets from a local shelter, and spread the word about the resources available to victims of domestic violence.


Contact Valerie


About Forge Rep

About Forge

Our Mission

A professional community of artists creating and revitalizing work through collaborative storytelling.

We are committed to: 

  • Building theatrical sustainability through a repertory approach

  • Breathing life into stories of all shapes and sizes

  • Igniting conversations which value diverse perspectives and experiences

  • Fostering a welcoming environment that is accessible to all

We at Forge Repertory Theatre believe in Open Source

We’re an Open Book: publishing our production budgets online so you can see exactly how your donations affect our bottom line and by how much. We believe in supporting our artists with a Living Wage; and our supporters are vital to that mission.

We believe in removing financial barriers to attending theatre.

We have an Open Door: It is our mission to make art accessible to all. Reservations are a click away. Come see a show and join the conversation. No cost; just click.
The Secret in The Wings in March

The Grapes of Wrath in May

We believe in creating a community of artists and audience through Open Conversations

Open conversations between the audience and the artists build a more sustainable theatre. By creating a repertory company (hiring artists for a full season) we give them a safe environment to openly experiment and take risks without fear of unemployment, and we facilitate open conversations between our Emerging Artist Repertory company and established artists in the KC community through a structured mentorship program. Artists then root themselves in the community and audiences develop relationships with the returning artists. The trust developed between the audience and returning artists allows us to open new conversations and perspectives that are often too risky for traditional companies.

A Note From the Director

This play, to me, raises the questions "How do we encounter the Other? Where is our fear of the unfamiliar born and can it be met instead with love, compassion, and empathy?" With each day, our answer to these becomes increasingly important as we look to face and fix a divided society. Drawing on the clarity of archetypal story to encompass universal human experience, Secret opens a conversation about changing our approach to what we have rejected.

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About the Artists

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Ai Vy Bui

Ai Vy Bui is elated to join this ensemble of storytellers for Forge Repertory Theatre's Inaugural Season. Her previous works include Julie in Miss Julie (Kansas City Public Theatre), Mavis in Gulp (The Omnivores), Tong in Vietgone (Unicorn Theatre), Violet in A Charlie Brown Christmas (Coterie Theatre), Christmas Eve in Avenue Q (Musical Theatre Kansas City Pro)(The Barn Players), Lucille in Junie B. Jones The Musical (Theatre for Young America) and Xinh/Sarah in The Butcher's Son (Vi Tran). As always, she would like to thank her loved ones for their love and support. 

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Kitty Corum*

Kitty Corum is a Kansas City native with a bachelor's in Theatre from Truman State University. She found her love of performing in The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival's summer camps and Team Shakespeare. She has been seen in Hamlet, She Stoops to Conquer, Bug, and Extremities (Truman State University), and most recently, in Confluence Theatre’s butoh show, Scream in Blue (KC Fringe). Kitty is also an Advanced Actor Combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors. She has a passion for storytelling through movement, and a love of language. She is delighted to create something new with Forge  and their Emerging Artist Reperatory Company. 

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Coleman Crenshaw

Coleman is excited to be a part of this imaginative story. He is an active member of the KC theatre community with over 50 credits to his name. Most recent credits include: Scream In Blue (KC Fringe); Blithe Spirit (KCAT); The Little Prince (Mesner Puppet Theatre); Orphans Home Cycle (MET). Other KC stage credits include work at The Coterie, Fishtank, Living Room, Melting Pot KC, TYA, and The KC Fringe Festival.  He has also performed in Boston, Providence, and Oxford, UK. He is the Co-Artistic Director of the Forge Repertory Theatre.  He has two dogs, one girlfriend, and a handful of nickels. He is content. 

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Lauren Hambleton

Lauren is so excited to help kick off the Forge’s first season. Lauren is a local Kansas City actress. She received her bachelors in theatre at Drury University. Lauren has performed in multiple theaters, commercials, and local films. She most recently appeared in Midsummer Nights Dream at The White Theatre and as Raymonde in A Flea in Her Ear at OCTA. She will be continuing her training in Fall 2020 at Atlantic Acting School in New York.

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Jerry Mañan

Jerry is a recent graduate from Avila University where he earned degrees in both Acting and Film & Digital Media. Jerry is a recipient of the Best Classical Acting Award at the American College Theatre Festival. Other credits Include - Heart of America Shakespeare Festival: Shakespeare in Love, Much Ado About Nothing. New Theatre: Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood. KC Public Theatre: Miss Julie. The Omnivores: Gulp (World Premiere). KC Fringe Festival: Sides of History (Best of Venue), Bonnie. As always, he would like to thank his friends and family for their constant support, and the countless mentors that have helped him and continue to help him along the way.

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Marianna McKenzie

Marianne McKenzie recently graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City MFA Acting program, and has performed at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, The Coterie Theatre, Kansas City Actor’s Theatre, Heart of America’s Shakespeare Festival, and The Fishtank. She is also the creator/producer/title character of the web series Matchmaking with Matilda. Most recently, she performed in The Storytelling Project, a devised piece, on an international tour to Bolivia. Her next upcoming project is her one woman fringe show Motormouth.

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Annie Schwaner*

Annie Schwaner is thrilled to be back with Forge, for their second show of this incredible season, as a member of the Emerging Artist Rep! She is a ‘17 Benedictine College graduate, with a B.A. degree in Theatre Arts. Some of her favorite acting credits include “Hodel” (Fiddler on the Roof), "Martirio" (The House of Bernarda Alba), “Chris” (Rumors), and “Teresa” (Circle Mirror Transformation). You may have seen her recently in the Unicorn's world premiere of Carla Ching’s, Nomad Motel. Annie is continually overwhelmed by the kindness of the KC theatre community and feels blessed to work among such talented people.

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Stefanie Stevens

Stefanie is thrilled to be a part of this amazing storytelling experience with an open, honest, and insightful group of storytellers. Select theatre credits: Anna James in The Summer House (Rising Tide Productions); Barbara in Night of the Living Dead (Padgett Productions); The Producers (Musical Theater Heritage); I’ve Got Rhythm (Quality Hill Playhouse), Olive in Not With a Bang But a Whimper (Glitterbang); Roberta in Danny in the Deep Blue Sea (Different Choices); Mrs. Kendal in The Elephant Man (The Barn Players); Judy in A Chorus Line and Lola in Damn Yankees (Theatre in the Park); Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Coterie Theatre); Columbia in The Rocky Horror Show and Godspell (Egads! Theatre); Minnie in West Side Story (Spinning Tree Theatre). Stefanie is active in film and commercial work and works as a choreographer as well. Ponder for a moment: Do you love more than you fear?

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Jace Willcutt*

Jace Willcutt is thrilled to be with this incredibly talented cast and continue his work in Forge’s Emerging Artist Repertory Company. The love and commitment this ensemble presents is like being wrapped in a blanket of support and understanding, and he can’t wait to see what they do next. Upcoming projects include The Grapes of Wrath (Forge Rep), the web-series The Cleaner, and the short film Painkiller.


Alyssa Hershey

Assistant Stage Manager

Alyssa is a recent graduate from Sterling College with a BA in music and theatre performance. She is so thrilled to be a part of Forge’s season as the assistant stage manager! She has performed in the productions of Little Shop of Horrors as Audrey (Sterling College), Once Upon a Mattress as Princess Winnifred (Sterling College), Noises Off as Brooke/Vicki (Sterling College), The Magic Flute (Landlocked Opera), and Ragtime (Great Plains Theatre). Alyssa wants to thank her incredible family and friends for always supporting her.

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Ana Sharp Williamson

Stage Manager

Ana Sharp Williamson is thrilled to work on her first show with Forge Rep! Ana has previously stage managed Measure for Measure and Scream in Blue with the Confluence Theatre Company. She directed Lost in Yonkers at Heartland High School and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) at Calvary University. She assistant directed Wicked Creatures at the Living Room, and A Midsummer Night's Dream at White Theatre. Ana holds a BS in Theatre Arts from Calvary University, and is resident Stage Manager of the Confluence Theatre Company. 

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Todd Lanker


Todd Lanker is a director, actor, and teacher. He was trained at WORKOUT (the physical theatre ensemble of Wheaton College), the Michael Howard Studio NYC, the Actor’s Gang Theatre LA, and the Master of Fine Arts program at UMKC. Todd has served as the Artistic Director of Shakespeare in the Shed, a theatrical collaboration with Angel City Brewery in Los Angeles and as Associate Artistic Director of METropolitan Ensemble Theatre. In addition to teaching at MET, UMKC, Kansas City Kansas Community College and California Lutheran University, he has maintained an active career as a regional actor and director. His work has been guided by a passion for reinvesting in known stories to uncover or rediscover the human truth obscured by familiarity. Todd is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.

A Special Thanks To...


The Acting Chef Catering, Midtown Baptist Church, Tim Alehnius, Heidi Van, Philip Theis, Katie Gilchrist, Scott Crouse, StoneLion Puppet Theatre, and Arthur Clifford.

An extra special thanks to Matt Richardson for our beautiful logo design and season artwork!


Donor Family


Season Supporters:

Andrea Cartwright 

Arthur and Kerstin Clifford

Michelle Corum 

Scott Crouse

James Hopkins

Laura Lutovsky

Maxwell Family

Doug and Martha Schlosser

Thom and Becky Schlosser

Valerie Schlosser

Karl Snyder


We are currently updating our Donor List and want to be sure to recognize all of the support we have been given. If you are interested in becoming a Season Supporter, please speak with one of our Founding Core or email

Business Partners

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