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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Perhaps the imagination is on the verge of recovering its rights.
André Breton (paraphrase by E.O.)
About the Artists
This is Sonia’s professional debut in Kansas City. She is thrilled to be part of this production. Sonia is a member of Forge’s Emerging Artist Repertory Company.
Nancy is thrilled to be selected as the first Established Artist in FORGE Repertory Theatre’s inaugural season! After seeing On the Verge at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1986, she has dreamed of being in this show. Thanks to FORGE for making her dream come true! Regional: Maples Repertory Theatre, Nebraska Repertory Theatre, Nebraska Theatre Caravan, Okoboji Summer Theatre. Local: Unicorn Theatre, American Heartland Theatre, The Coterie Theatre, Quality Hill Playhouse, Missouri Repertory Theatre (now Kansas City Repertory Theatre), Just Off Broadway Theatre (Melting Pot KC, Phoenix Theatre), Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, The Fishtank Performance Studio, and The Living Room. Representative professional acting credits: title roles in Kimberly Akimbo, Shirley Valentine and The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Other roles in After Juliet, The Sea Gull, Fuddy Meers, Enchanted April (as the feisty Italian maid with Co-Artistic Director Coleman Crenshaw!), Inspecting Carol, Tuck Everlasting. Nancy most recently appeared in The Full Monty and The Savannah Sipping Society at the Maples Repertory Theatre. Affiliations: AEA, SAG-AFTRA
Annie is thrilled to be a part of the Forge Repertory's First Season as an 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.
Jace Willcutt is beyond ecstatic to have joined Forge Repertory Theatre’s Emerging Artist Company. Some favorite previous roles include Timmy in Clown Bar and Christopher in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. He will continue to #pressforward and join the casts of The Secret In The Wings and The Grapes of Wrath! He would like to thank his friends and family for supporting him in all of his artistic endeavors.
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 The Forge Repertory Theatre and their Emerging Artist program, and looks forward to getting to work!
Assistant Sound Designer
Allie Hornbostel is a recent graduate of Avila University. She completed a BFA in Theatre: Design and Technology. She has a passion for stage management and has most recently worked with the White Theatre as the assistant stage manager for Anything Goes and stage manager for Terra Femina Collective earlier this year. Allie is grateful for the opportunity to further her career in Kansas City with Forge Repertory. She would like to thank Todd, Coleman, Ryan and the rest of the Forge team for the opportunity and support.
Ryan Fortney (Director) - Ryan is a local director and actor who has worked throughout the region for the past decade. Credits as a director include Jesus Christ Superstar & The Baltimore Waltz (University of South Dakota), The Wizard of Oz (VCT), The Vagina Monologues & Wanda's Visit (University of Central Missouri), and Winter's Tale (South Dakota Shakespeare Festival - Assistant Director). Ryan currently serves as the director of business and marketing for Forge Rep. When not at the theatre, Ryan enjoys volunteering and serving on the board for Stonewall Sports Kansas City - KC's premier LGBTQA non-profit sports league. As always Ryan dedicates this and all of his work to Logan, Harper, Liam, Hudson, & Reagan. JBH - Just be happy : )
A Special Thanks To...
Don Dagenais, The Acting Chef Catering, Bev and Erik Elving, Midtown Baptist Church, Tim Alehnius, Heidi Van, Philip Theis, Katie Gilchrist, Scott Crouse, Jared Horman, Matt Benes, Rebecca Gannon, Marc Manley, Rusty Sneary and The Living Room, Bob Paisley, and the University of Central Missouri Theatre Department.
An extra special thanks to Matt Richardson for our beautiful logo design and season artwork!
Arthur and Kerstin Clifford
Thom and Becky Schlosser
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