Board of Directors as of August 2017
MICHAEL SPELLMAN, PRESIDENT
MICHAEL SMITH, VICE PRESIDENT
MEGAN VIMONT, SECRETARY
STEVE MAKI, TREASURER
ED CAILLIER, GOVERNANCE
JAMES PATRICK BARONE
BETSY BUEHRER, DO, MPH
LINDA KAY SMITH
Ben Ratkowski, Artistic Director, has 17 years of professional theatre experience as a performer, director, arts administrator, and theatre educator. He has worked with theatre companies across the nation including the American Shakespeare Center, Boulevard Ensemble, SOAR Regional Arts, Clever By Half Productions, and Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre—winning the Minnesota Theatre Alliance’s Arts Education Leadership Award for Excellence in Educational Programming. Ben also directed and worked with Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko to premier his play If All Danes Were Jews outside of the initial New York run. Ben is very proud of his artistic family. His father is a retired theatre teacher, his mom grew-up singing in choirs, one sister is a visual artist, another a dancer, and a third in the theatre. Needless to say, he had a very entertaining childhood. Ben currently enjoys cheering on his favorite sports teams and spending time exploring the Twin Cities with his wife Rachel, who took after her father by becoming a classically trained actor.
Rob Thomas, Managing Director, is a consummate and dedicated nonprofit arts fundraiser, as well as an occasional performer and playwright. Rob has been contracted for various administrative and management roles for a variety of theaters including Florida Studio Theatre (Sarasota, FL), Torch Theater Company (Minneapolis, MN) and the Great River Shakespeare Festival (Winona, MN). Most recently, Mr. Thomas served as Managing Director at 16th Street Theatre in Chicago, IL. Rob is of Dakota ancestry and his research of the lives of the Dakota people before, during and after the Dakota/U.S. War of 1862 culminated in a commissioned play for the History Theatre’s Raw Stages Series entitled 38: The Dakota-U.S. War of 1862. Mr. Thomas has served on and presided over several nonprofit boards, including community soup kitchens, philanthropic organizations, arts organizations, and service clubs.
Aaron Fiskradatz, Education Director, is a theatre artist and educator who has been with Lakeshore Players since 2009. He has had such a great time working as a Teaching Artist with the students and staff at Lakeshore that he now manages the education program. When he’s not at Lakeshore, Aaron can be seen on stage and in the classroom at companies such as Circus Juventas, Upstream Arts, Children’s Theatre Company, and SteppingStone Theatre.
Lizzie Rainville, Development Associate, is excited to start a new adventure working with Lakeshore Players. Lizzie has worked as an admin/acting intern at Meadow Brook Theatre, as a teaching artist with Stages Theatre Company and most recently as an Administrative Assistant with a local public accounting firm while performing. Since graduating with a B.F.A in Music Theatre from Illinois Wesleyan University she has performed with The Old Creamery Theatre, Skylark Opera, Artistry, Shoot the Glass Theater, Meadow Brook Theatre and The Minnesota Opera.
Paul Reyburn, Communications Associate, has been an actor and director in the Twin Cities for over 30 years. He has directed four shows at Lakeshore Players – The Happy Elf, A Funny Thing…Forum, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Big River. He has also directed at Theatre in the Round, The Paul Bunyan Playhouse in Bemidji, MN and the Morris Park Players. He has performed at numerous theaters including The Guthrie Theater, Artistry, Daleko Arts (New Prague), The Paul Bunyan Playhouse (over 30 shows), Stages Theater, Troupe America, Theatre In The Round, and Pioneer Place (St. Cloud) to name a few. A graduate of Moorhead State University, he did three summers of The Straw Hat Players summer stock company, performing in such shows as The Boys From Syracuse, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Sweeney Todd.
Teresa Nelson, Technical Director, hails from southwest MN and is elated to be working with Lakeshore Players. As Shakespeare wrote, “I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it!”
Kris Detailleur, Bookkeeper, keeps track of the financials for Lakeshore and provides office support for the Executive Director. She is also a freelance professional Stage Manager and Props Designer in the Twin Cities Area, she has over 25 years of experience, and has over 300 recipes for stage blood and fake vomit.
Pete Brown, House Manager, is a theater enthusiast. He is so glad to meet new and exciting people through the theater. When he is not House Managing or volunteering, he works as a Maintenance Mechanic in a power plant. One of his passions is photography that he enjoy sharing with Lakeshore Players.
Leigh Nelson, House Manager, has House Managed for Lakeshore Players since 2010. She started in community theater in the 1970s. This influenced her decision to major in Theater Production and then move to the Twin Cities to begin technical production professionally with several well-known theaters, notably the Guthrie. Leigh also gained arts experience working on lighting for dance performances and Lily Tomlin’s show and by creating/teaching a dramatics program for youth. These experiences added an innovative creativity to her second career in education as she coordinated projects involving interactive-TV use between schools and a federal prison, a cable TV program with older adults, and teacher training/events on using emerging technologies with at-risk students.
Matthew French, Box Officer, is a resident of White Bear Lake who joined the staff at Lakeshore Players in 2013. Working part-time as a Box Officer he is there to deliver tickets and greet our fine patrons each weekend. Outside of Lakeshore Players Matthew works as a freelance writer, finding time to work on personal works of fiction when he can.