Meet Our Team
Mark A. Zimmerman
Mark A. Zimmerman has served as the theatre director at the Akron School for the Arts since 1995 and has been the guiding force for the educational theatre program that has been named an “Outstanding School” by the Educational Theatre Association (2013). Shows under his direction have so far earned 7 Dazzle Awards from the NE Ohio Musical Theatre Competition including "Best Musical" in 2018. Zimmerman has been among the first area directors to present many musical productions including The Little Mermaid (2016), Ghost the Musical (2015), Mary Poppins (2014), Monty Python’s Spamalot (2013), The Color Purple (2012), Legally Blonde (2012), Hairspray (2011), The Producers (2009), Side Show (2008), and Urinetown (2007). Mark’s local directing credits include productions at the Akron Civic Theatre/ All-City Musical (Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast, Shrek, Bye Bye Birdie, Ragtime, Hairspray) as well as productions at the Cleveland Public Theatre, Weathervane Playhouse, Stow Players, the Western Reserve Playhouse, Coach House Theatre, and the University of Akron. He has recently started screening shows for the International Thespian Festival.
Ashley Aqilla Wheadon
Ashley, originally from St Louis, Mo was introduced to performing arts in 2010. Ashley was most recently seen in Playwrights Local, Objectively/Reasonably: a community response to the shooting of Tamir Rice 11/22/14, Ohio City Theatre Project's Incendiaries, Barbecue at Cleveland Public Theater, and Cornell Calhoun's Court Square, Talladega Alabama at Cleveland City Hall. Aquilla has directed several pieces including Purses at Karamu House, My Body is Blue at Convergence Continuum, and At Last at Ensemble Theater. She is also a teaching artist for the Cleveland Playhouse. Ashley strongly believes in the efficacy of using entertainment as a catalyst for social awareness and change. Outside of theater Aquilla is a nurse and co-owner of SignGypsiesCleveland.
Tess Burgler has dedicated her life's work to the study and performance of the works of William Shakespeare. She's performed professionally for over 25 years. Some of the theatres she's worked for include Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Porthouse Theatre, Theatre IV in Virginia, Dobama Theatre, Ensemble Theatre, Coach House Theatre, Weathervane Playhouse, Beck Center, and more. The bulk of her professional work is done with Ohio Shakespeare Festival, where she is a resident actor and Managing Director. Some favorite roles there include Hamlet, Helena (Midsummer and All's Well), Rosalind (As You Like It), Ariel (Tempest) Imogen (Cymbeline), Viola (12th Night), Juliet, and many more. She's also an avid stage combat student, having spent the last three years dedicated to studying with the Society of America Fight Directors and with the resident OSF Fight Director (and her best friend in the world), Ryan Zarecki.
James Welch (technical director) has served as our technical director since 2015 and is a jack of all trades which makes him well suited for special projects. When a production is in need of specific specialty items, he is the person to call. James previously has worked at Medina High School as the technical director for Encore Entertainment Company, as well as the musicals and the spring choir concert, Showtime. James is also the resident Technical Director for Cameo Theatre in Medina.
Director / Production Manger
Elynmarie Kazle is a freelance stage and production manager, and stage director who has designed several stage management mentoring programs and management curricula for a variety of institutions across the country. Most recent management gigs include stage manager for Match Girl for Columbus Dance Theatre and the Regional Emmy Awards for NATAS as well as company manager/co-director of Tech and Teacher Training for the Southeastern Summer Theatre Institute. She currently chairs the Stage Managers’ Association of the United States and sits on both the regional and national boards of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology. Previous experience includes that for Brooklyn Academy of Music, Deaf West, The Pasadena and Cleveland Play Houses, Los Angeles Classical Ballet, Opera Columbus, San Diego Opera and several international tours. She served nine years on the Actors’ Equity West Coast Stage Managers Committee, and three years working for SDC the Stage Directors Union. Recently named to the American Theatre Conference, she is the youngest fellow ever to be named by USITT. She holds a BFA in technical theatre from the University of MN, Duluth and an MFA inTheatre/Dance/Opera Management from Ohio University. She is a play responder and workshop presenter for International Thespians and has been an adult leader for the Boy Scouts for 15 years. She is the proud mom of an Eagle Scout.
Kelsey is thrilled to be working for Firestone Theatre. A professional Costume Designer, she serves as a Resident Costume Designer for Rubber City Theatre, Ohio Shakespeare Festival, and Western Reserve Playhouse. She also serves as Costume Shop Supervisor for RCT and Players Guild in Canton. Notable credits include Hamlet, 1776, Measure for Measure and Dracula (Ohio Shakes); Dogfight, Little Women and Assassins (WRP); Merrily We Roll Along, A Little Night Music, and Freaky Friday (Lakeland Civic Theatre). She is forever grateful to family, friends, and her Emerson for all the love and support.
Emelia Sherin is a graduating senior in public relations with a theatre management minor at Kent State University. She's grown up in theatre and dance, performing in her first show at 9 years old (Wizard of Oz) to choreographing her first show at 14 years old (Little Shop of Horrors). Her most recent choreographed show was the sold out run of Frozen Jr. at Youngstown Playhouse this past winter. Youngstown Playhouse was also the theatre that gave her the opportunity to play Val in A Chorus Line in 2014, where she developed a new found love for this Broadway classic. Since then, she went on to perform as a backup vocalist for Donna McKechnie (Cassie, Original A Chorus Line) and took classes from MaryAnn Black (Maggie, Original A Chorus Line) and Jessica Lee Goldyn (Val, A Chorus Line Revival). She's also established a professional career in the arts by performing on Disney Cruise Lines, continued choreographing at local theatres, and holding the position of PR/Marketing manager for Cleveland Ballet- Cleveland's resident professional ballet company. You may have also seen Emelia running around the city of Akron as the 2019 Miss Akron Canton representative for the Miss America Organization or as the Education Intern for Weathervane Playhouse under their phenomenal Education Director, Lauren Sprowls. Though Emelia is very active in the community, she still finds time to perform when she can. Some of her favorite works have consisted of Chicago (The Hunagarian), Hairspray (Amber VonTussle), and CATS (Rumpleteazer).