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 8 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 Prom (2023), 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 is on the State Board of Ohio Thespians and has screened a number of shows for the International Thespian Festival.
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.
Garrett Markgraf-Grimes is a technical theatre artist and educator. Born and raised in Michigan, Garrett attended Oakland University and received a BFA in musical theatre. Upon graduation, Garrett moved to NYC and made the decision to focus on technical theatre. During his time in NYC, Garrett was able to stage manage multiple shows in Off-Broadway venues (including UnCensored at MCC) as well as work as a freelance stage electrician at The Julliard School and Columbia University. Prior to the pandemic, Garrett was the Technical Director at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, a middle and high school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Since the pandemic, Garrett and his partner, Gregory, have reloacted to Garfield Heights to be closer to their family. Prior to this position, Garrett was the Technical Director at Cleveland Public Theatre, as well as the Tech Lead for the STEP program in 2021 and 2022.
Garrett is very excited to join the team at the Akron School for the Arts and Firestone CLC and is looking forward to making some amazing theatre with everyone.
Patrick Dougherty (instructor) has been teaching in the Akron Public Schools since 1993. He has an MFA in Painting from East Carolina University and studied Scenic Design at the University of Akron. Dougherty served as a scenic painter for the Kenley Players here in Akron. His other degrees include a BFA in Painting and a BA in Education from the University of Akron. His students have consistently won awards in a variety of art competitions. Dougherty is excited about working with theatre students to nurture their visual skills in pursuit of a quality scenic design.
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.
Jacob Jay Jones
Jacob Jay Jones (Choreographer) has worked for the Central Florida Community Arts Ambassadors and the Walt Disney World Company. There he has performed for countless Disney parades, shows, holiday, and media productions. Along with multiple shows and events with the Star Wars Saga. Jacob has also worked as a professional singer/dancer for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings; traveling around the world performing in their one of a kind Production Shows. During his time dancing Jacob has had the opportunity to work with renowned directors like Tiger Martina, Eric Jordan Young, and Patti Wilcox. When not traveling and performing, Jacob can be found teaching and choreographing for dance studios, competitive high school show choirs, and musical productions across the midwest.
24hr Project Mentor
Emelia Sherin is a Warren native who has been professionally choreographing and performing for 10 years. Sherin currently coaches the Howland Speech and Debate team and runs the education departments of Stambaugh Auditorium, Opera Western Reserve, DeYor, Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, and The Youngstown Playhouse. She sailed the seas and worked for Disney Cruise Lines as a dancer and actress. Once she returned to land, she attended Kent State University and earned her degree in Public Relations with minors in Dance Studies and Theatre Management. During her time in college, she created and co-wrote a play about addiction called, (In)Dependent, and created the sexual violence and misconduct prevention program, Lights On, for youth and community theatre. She is also a certified Intimacy Designer/Choreographer.
Dana Schweiger has had a life- long interest in writing and theatre. From a young age she took acting classes and participated in theatre. She is a 2008 graduate of the theatre program at Firestone High School. After graduating, Dana returned to volunteer for the 24 Hour Theatre Project (Theatre Kapow) for the 2016. Dana makes time to regularly see shows at Playhouse Square in Cleveland. Dana also attributes her experience in the theatre program to her success in her current job as a recruiter. Theatre gave Dana great people skills and confidence in speaking with others. Dana lives in Parma and writes for fun regularly.