Tom Ridgely has served as Producing Artistic Director of the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival since 2018. He is also a Drama Desk-nominated director who has developed or presented work at… Read More
Tom Ridgely has served as Producing Artistic Director of the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival since 2018. He is also a Drama Desk-nominated director who has developed or presented work at the Public Theater, The Old Globe, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Red Bull and more. He’s worked with Tony nominees Sting, Sherie Rene Scott, Will Swenson, Kelli O’Hara, Bill Irwin and others, and his productions have won DFW Theater Critics Forum and ECNY Awards and been nominated for St. Louis Theatre Critics Circle, Connecticut Critics Circle and BroadwayWorld Connecticut Awards.
He came to St. Louis from Waterwell in New York City, the company he co-founded and led and as Artistic Director from 2002-2018. There he created and produced more than a dozen world-premieres and adaptations of classics that were nominated for three IT awards, a Drama Desk, a New York Magazine Culture Award and a Village Voice “Best of NYC”. Many involved innovative community partnerships, such as resurrecting the lost WWII-era Frank Loesser musicals, Blueprint Specials – featuring Broadway and military veterans and presented on board the former USS Intrepid aircraft carrier – and adapting and directing Waterwell’s dual-language (English/Farsi) version of Hamlet: designed and performed by a company largely of Middle Eastern and South Asian artists. As Artistic Director of Waterwell, he also oversaw the Waterwell Drama Program at the Professional Performing Arts School, one of the preeminent training grounds for young artists and innovators in the country, which offers daily, year-round, conservatory-style classes to more than 200 New York City public school students absolutely free of charge.
Since taking over the Festival, he has won a St. Louis Magazine A-List Award for “New Arts Leader” and overseen the Festival’s shift to developing and producing new work, which also won an A-List Award for “New Programming”. The Festival’s regional premiere of George Brant’s Into the Breeches won the Theatre Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Production of a Comedy, and the collaboration he conceived between the Festival, Jazz St. Louis and Big Muddy Dance Company on a world-premiere adaptation of Duke Ellington’s Such Sweet Thunder won the Theatre Circle Award for Outstanding Musical as well as a St. Louis Arts Award for “Arts Collaboration”. His outdoor production of King Lear – starring Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winner André DeShields, with an all-BIPOC cast – was the nation’s first major live theatrical event since the onset of Covid-19 and was named the “Best Live Theater” of 2021 by the Riverfront Times. The Festival’s new TourCo program he launched in 2021 is now the largest outdoor Shakespeare tour in the world. And the Confluence Regional Writers Project has commissioned over a dozen new plays from emerging playwrights in Missouri and Illinois since 2019, more than half of which have gone on to full productions at theaters around the country.
He also led the effort, alongside Aaron Williams of 4theVille, to prevent the closure of Sumner High School, the oldest black high school west of the Mississippi, and give it a new focus on Arts and Activism. The Sumner Recovery Plan won a LaunchCode Moonshot Award for “Collaboration”, an ACAC IDEA Award for “Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility” and a St. Louis Arts Award for “Art Collaboration”. It now offers daily in-school instruction in Dance, Drama, Fashion, Music and Visual Art to over 200 St. Louis public school students through an innovative public-private partnership with over a dozen local arts organizations.
Susan Rowe Jennings
Susan joined the Festival in 2019. Since returning to her hometown in 1995 Susan has had the pleasure of working for the Arts and Education Council as Vice President of… Read More
Susan joined the Festival in 2019. Since returning to her hometown in 1995 Susan has had the pleasure of working for the Arts and Education Council as Vice President of Administration and Grants and at the Saint Louis Art Museum in their Curatorial and Development departments. Prior to her return Susan worked for The Equitable in Chicago for their commercial real estate division and in New York City managing their corporate art collection and gallery. Her time spent at these institutions helped her develop strong internal and external client relations and a love of the arts. When Susan isn’t working, she and her husband can be found around town with family and friends taking in all that St. Louis has to offer.
Kate Tichelkamp is thrilled to join the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival team as Director of Development. Kate has over 15 years of professional experience in non-profit management, most recently serving… Read More
Allie Magee joined the Festival as Marketing and Communications Manager in October 2018. Previously she spent six years in various Development and fundraising roles at NinePBS. Allie is from St…. Read More
Eli joined the Festival as Development Manager in January 2023. Previously, he served as Grants and Programs Specialist for the Arts and Education Council and as the National Body Donor… Read More
Eli joined the Festival as Development Manager in January 2023. Previously, he served as Grants and Programs Specialist for the Arts and Education Council and as the National Body Donor Program’s Human Resources and Program Coordinator. Eli relocated to St. Louis from Austin, Texas, in October 2018. In his time away from work, he is usually writing short fiction or collaborating on a local theatre or music project. Otherwise, he can often be found at home with a book or at a concert around town.
Hannah Baartman is a St. Louis theatre educator and performer with a deep well of inspiration in Shakespeare. She has performed with various St. Louis theatres, including The MUNY, Metro… Read More
Hannah Baartman is a St. Louis theatre educator and performer with a deep well of inspiration in Shakespeare. She has performed with various St. Louis theatres, including The MUNY, Metro Theatre Company, and the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival. As an educator, she has taught and created curriculums for Advanced Theatre Movement, Acting Technique, Musical Theatre Performance, Theatre History, Voice for the Stage, and Dance. She runs a Voice Studio with both students and professional vocalists, and is developing various Shakespeare Performance Programs in schools across the city.
Deanna Jent is a Professor of Theatre at Fontbonne University. Her play Falling won the Kevin Kline award for Best New Play of 2011 and was nominated for a Drama Desk Best… Read More
Deanna Jent is a Professor of Theatre at Fontbonne University. Her play Falling won the Kevin Kline award for Best New Play of 2011 and was nominated for a Drama Desk Best Play award following its Off-Broadway run in 2012. Falling is published by Dramatists Play Service and continues to be produced nationally and internationally. Her adaptations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces have been performed at theatres around the country. Other plays include Bosnian/American: The Dance For Life, Imaginary Jesus and Six. Sisters. She was the artistic director of Mustard Seed Theatre company from 2007-2019, and has directed for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, New Jewish Theatre, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis Touring Company, The Orange Girls and ACT Inc. She was named “Best Director of a Musical by the St. Louis Theatre Circle for Mustard Seed Theatre’s productions of All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 and Godspell. She has a BFA from Illinois Wesleyan University and a PhD from Northwestern University.
Professor Robert Henke Ph.D. is presently working on three projects: a study of Shakespeare and Italian plays, scenarios and novellas; an examination of international early modern theatrical networks; and a… Read More
Professor Robert Henke Ph.D. is presently working on three projects: a study of Shakespeare and Italian plays, scenarios and novellas; an examination of international early modern theatrical networks; and a performance-centered sourcebook of commedia dell’arte and related popular piazza literature. He has published three single-authored books: Pastoral Transformations: Italian Tragicomedy and Shakespeare’s Late Plays (University of Delaware Press, 1997); Performance and Literature in the Commedia dell’Arte (Cambridge University Press, 2002); and Poverty and Charity in Early Modern Theater and Performance (University of Iowa Press, 2015). With Eric Nicholson, he has coedited two essay collections published by Ashgate and issuing from the “Theater Without Borders” research collective, of which he is a founding member: Transnational Exchange in Early Modern Theater (2008) and Transnational Mobilities in Early Modern Theater (2014). He has edited, with M.A. Katritzky, European Theatrical Performance Practice, 1580-1750 (Ashgate, 2014). He is editing the early modern volume of A Cultural History of Western Theatre (Bloomsbury Academic).
Board of Directors
Brian Hayden, President, Collaborative Strategies, Inc.
Immediate Past Chair
Ed Macias, Provost Emeritus, Washington University in St. Louis
Vanessa Okwuraiwe – Principal, Edward Jones
Pam Trapp, Community Volunteer
Monica J. Allen – Vice Chancellor and General Counsel, Washington University
Meredith Boggess – Vice President of Experience and Engagement, John O’Leary Live Inspire
Stacy Clay – Sr. Vice President, Midwest Metro Retail Leader/Director of Community Affairs, First Bank
Alison Ferring – Community Volunteer
Tracie Gregory Goffe – Vice President and Trust Administrator, Midwest Trust Company
Gerald P. Greiman, Partner, Spencer Fane LLP
Jessica L. Holzer – Retired, Managing Director, Citigroup
Erik Karanik – Control Executive, Wells Fargo – Wealth & Investment Management
Ruth Lederman – Vice President of Resource Development, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis
Sandra R. Mesker – RedKey Realty Leaders St Louis
Carla Miller – Teacher, Clayton School District
Mary Morgan – Community Volunteer
Odester Morais-Saunders – Community Volunteer
Thomas F. Schlafly – Thompson Coburn LLP; Co-Founder & Co-Chairman of the Board, The Saint Louis Brewery
Dr. Sherman Silber – Director, Infertility Center of St. Louis
Henry Warshaw – CEO, Virtual Realty Enterprises, LLC
Henry S. Webber – Principal, Urban Impact Advisors
Michael Weisbrod – Senior Gift Planning Officer, Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri
Crosby Kemper III
Founding Managing Director