The C.R.O.W. Creative Team
C.R.O.W. (Children's Repertory of Oregon Workshops) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, dedicated to enriching the lives of local children, their families, and the community, through the magic of live performance, classes, workshops, and more. Our volunteer board, professional instructors, and caring production team consist of highly-qualified individuals with high-quality dance, vocal, fine arts, and theatre arts experience . More than anything else...we all believe in the importance of the highest quality arts education for our kids.
Maree Beers (Director of Music/Board Secretary):
Maree hails from McMinnville Oregon and relocated to Florence after meeting and marrying her husband, Jesse back in 2007. Between work and raising a family, she still gets involved as much as she can in the performing arts. Maree has been a member of the production team since 2012 beginning with C.R.O.W.'s production of Beauty and the Beast Jr. Maree has enjoyed performing throughout her youth and into her adult life including in her wonderful community of Florence. This includes playing “Roxy Hart" in Chicago, and as "Eponine" in Last Resort Players' production of Les Miserables. Maree’s musical background in theater and vocal performance has paved the way for her to teach the students music in every production, summer camp, and showcase she has had the honor to be a part of. She is also officially a C.R.O.W. mom and has enjoyed working with her daughter, Zhade on stage.
Paula Burnette (Producer)
Paula has been active in the theatre community for several years, helping backstage, with make-up and production, and playing "Frau Schmidt" in The Sound of Music. She participated in two productions of A Christmas Memory and accompanying Radio Show, was an extra in Our Town, played "Twink Futrelle" in Dearly Beloved, and "Kate" in Sylvia. She and her husband Dave produced The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Chicago, and Mamma Mia!
Mackenzie Calvert (Dance Instructor)
Mackenzie Calvert was born in Susanville, California where she began studying classical ballet and tap under the direction of Joan Zeuhlke at the age of four. In 2007, she studied with Lauren Baze/Sweet Creek Youth Ballet Co. Since then she has studied modern and interpretive dance and has continued her studies of ballet with Eugene Ballet Academy, Time & Tide Dance Company, Dance & All That Jazz in Newport, and Nevada Dance Academy. Her repertoire with Sweet Creek Youth Ballet Co. included Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, one of Ariel’s Sisters in The Little Mermaid, the "Cat" in Peter and the wolf, the "Sugar Plum Fairy" in a winter collage (excerpts from The Nutcracker), Duets, Solos, and other roles in all of the company's full length ballets and shows. Mackenzie believes dance should be taken seriously, but above all, she believes that it should be fun and accessible to all.
Polly Coleman (Costume Designer / Board of Directors):
Polly’s children participated in C.R.O.W. classes, workshops, performances and events since C.R.O.W. began in 2011. For as long as she can remember, Polly has always loved theatre and dance. An accomplished performer herself, Polly played "Joy Merriweather" in the 2019 Holly Jolly Follies, portrayed "Maggie" in Lend Me A Tenor, gave many memorable performances in murder mysteries with Poison Pen Players, as well as roles in Cabaret and Chicago. In addition to performing, Polly designs the myriad of beautiful costumes for C.R.O.W. Her mom taught her to sew at a very young age, and Polly is delighted to be passing along the tradition by teaching her own kids. Polly worked for Head Start of Lane County and taught pre-K for 5 years. She has also taught classes in sewing technique. Polly says, "Nothing makes me happier than to help bring the many positive experiences of theatre to the fantastic children in my community!"
Diane David (Summer Camp Director)
Diane's decades-long career includes touring internationally as a singer, being musical director for a musical theater company including working with Stephen Schwartz on his Children of Eden, appearing as “wife to the man in red” in Disneyland’s Christmas Fantasy Parade, and working throughout Southern California as a stage manager for over 25 years. She continues to perform, music direct and stage manage. She is an advocate for Behind the Scenes, a foundation that supports theater technicians in need.
Lori Grimmett (Board of Directors)
Lori’s creative spirit of the arts and entertainment industry began over 30 years ago building unique experiences for
software developer conferences worldwide. Taking the knowledge and experience, Lori refocused into distinctive guest
experiences for Casinos in North America building and directing numerous event platforms. Lori has driven multi-channel
event revenue streams as well as managed a substantial event staff for music festivals in the Pacific Northwest. Her true
passion is grassroots and community and is excited to be part of C.R.O.W. team!
David Hansen (Producer)
Dave enjoyed theatre from the vantage of the audience for years, but was slowly pulled into the role of producer by his wife Paula Burnette. In addition to producing Dave has helped with lights, sound, playbills, and webpages on productions at Class Act Theatre, the Florence Playhouse, and the Florence Events Center. He particularly enjoys working with the C.R.O.W. production company -- production team and actors -- because of the professionalism, dedication, energy, love, and respect they bring to their preparations
Melanie Heard (Artistic Director / Founder / Board President)
Melanie began her performance career at age 2 1/2 when she tap danced with a giant Raggedy Andy doll, but her professional arts training actually stems from the genre of classical ballet. She studied dance with the Joffrey Ballet, Kirov Ballet School in DC, and Ballet West in Utah. Originally from the Los Angeles area, Ms. Heard has directed and/or choreographed 60+ full length shows with children and adults, including The Wiz, Disney's Tarzan, The Addams Family Musical, Shrek Jr, Once Upon A Mattress, The Little Mermaid Jr, The Music Man Jr, Beauty & the Beast Jr, Honk Jr, Seussical Jr, Lend Me A Tenor, Steel Magnolias, and You Dirty Rat! and AAARGH! PinkEye, A Pirate's Parrot in Peril for her family's murder mystery company, Poison Pen Players. Melanie has played many onstage roles - from a tap dancing chorus girl, to "Sally Bowles" in Cabaret to the title role in Evita. A credentialed teacher with a Master's of Education (MAed), and former "Teacher of the Year" in Los Angeles, she firmly believes in the power of a high caliber arts education. She founded C.R.O.W. based on the concept that children and young adults need and deserve the arts, so that they may become responsible, contributing members of society. Heard believes that "The Arts really DO matter" in the life of a child.
Alicia Hickson (Board of Directors)
Alicia's introduction to C.R.O.W. began in 2015 through participation in The Holly Jolly Follies. She was invited to play an elf named “Prissy,” who swoons and faints over the elf, Elfis, portrayed by her husband, Ned Hickson. Although Alicia is relatively new to the stage - she has performed in showcases for vocal coach, Jason Wood and in 2019 was in the ensemble for Last Resort's Players production of Mamma Mia - her love and passion for music stems back to her grade school days. Alicia attended a 1st - 8th grade parochial school where music, pageants and recitals were part of the curriculum. Her fondest memory: the school choir. "Choir was composed of 4th to 8th graders and choir selection happened in 3rd grade. To be a part of it was something special so when I was selected, I was so excited!" Alicia appreciates C.R.O.W. and the creative opportunities it provides in the arts. "For the children of our community to have these opportunities, to be a part of something special, to be excited; that is something special."
Ellen Jacobson (Executive Producer / Board of Directors):
Ellen studied theatre arts in college in Long Beach, CA. with David Emmes, Director Emeritus of the prestigious South Coast Repertory Theatre Company. She married Michael in 1967. She was fortunate to be able to pursue the other great love of her life as a quarter horse breeder and owner for more than 35 years in Southern CA. You might remember her performance a couple of seasons ago here in Florence as crazy Aunt "Abby Brewster" in Arsenic and Old Lace. Currently she writes, directs and produces for her family's murder mystery company, Poison Pen Players, and writes the Holly Jolly Follies central theme each year for C.R.O.W. When she is not working in the arts, you can find Ellen with her granddaughter, Sabrina.
Mike Jacobson (Executive Producer):
A founding member of murder mystery troupe, Poison Pen Players, Mike is also no stranger to children's theater, having portrayed both hero and villain in Aladdin & The Swinging Genies (for which he also wrote the score, directed, and played the title role), The Little Mermaid, and Hercules (in which he portrayed "Cyclops," a one-eyed villain in an enormous prosthetic papier mache headpiece, who chased after Hercules' girl friend, played by his daughter, Melanie Heard.) Having been part of productions involving such diverse talents as Henry Mancini and Jerry Lewis, Mike is happy to work with with Florence's talented youngsters and perhaps Hollywood's future stars.
Jennifer Marus (Board of Directors):
Jennifer lives in Florence with her partner and their 14-year-old son. During her work days she exercises her left brain
doing taxes and bookkeeping for Buckwald & Hornung. During her free time, she flexes her right brain with all sorts of
creative activities, but most know her as "the belly-dancer." She has been studying Middle Eastern dance for just over a
decade, and has branched into other dance forms such as Bollywood. She has graced the stage as principal
characters in LRP's production of Chicago and most recently, Mamma Mia. Jennifer loves performing, and all aspects
that go into creating theatre magic and hopes to lend her support for the arts in any way she can while serving on the
board for this wonderful organization.
Margaret McDiarmid (Lighting Designer):
Originally from London, Margaret is now happy to call Florence her home, where for the past few years she has worked as stage crew, stage manager, props mistress, lighting designer, and anything else that needed doing. Margaret lists her favorite past productions as Les Miserables, Little Mermaid Jr, Seussical Jr, Steel Magnolias, The Sound of Music, and the Melodramas at the Florence Playhouse. Margaret truly enjoys working with the C.R.O.W. family...."Here's to another great production!"
Gennifer Norton (Stage Manager):
Five years ago Gennifer was introduced to C.R.O.W through her daughter's love of performing. It became something the whole family participates in and something they share. Don't tell anyone, but Gennifer's husband, Mike, is a Tutu Dad! She has always loved the arts, dance, and musical theatre, but was never involved in theatre herself. Becoming involved in C.R.O.W combined that interest with being able to play a bigger role in her kids activities and has created lots of wonderful family memories. Gennifer says, "Watching how confident, brave, and hard working all of these kids are, makes you want to be there to support them."
Amy Owens (Board of Directors):
Amy has been involved with C.R.O.W. since the beginning. When her kids were cast in their first C.R.O.W. show in 2011,
she volunteered to help backstage. That ultimately led to her discovering her love for the performing arts. Since then,
she has performed in several shows, learned to make props, helped out with costumes, assisted with microphones, and
has worked backstage filling in whenever there is a need, for every C.R.O.W. show to date. She has treasured the time
she has gotten to spend with her children and getting to know many of the amazing kids in our local community that
have participated in C.R.O.W. In her free time, Amy enjoys taking tap dance classes and spending quality time with her
Chris Owens (Technical Director & Maitenance Manager):
Chris has provided sound for many shows, including Holly Jolly Follies, Shrek Jr, Once Upon A Mattress, The Little Mermaid Jr, The Music Man Jr. and Beauty and the Beast Jr. He was also "Sound Tech" for LRP's Angry Housewives. Chris's favorite play to date is Lend Me a Tenor, in which he had a backstage role blowing bubbles amidst slamming doors. Chris is a proud C.R.O.W. parent. He has been volunteering for the program for many years now; most of them in the sound booth. In his "spare" time, he may be found doing construction, traveling with the Poison Pen Players, or fixing something for friends. If you ask anyone on the production team, they will tell you that Chris is an invaluable asset to the C.R.O.W. family.
Genevieve Shahan (Associate Director / Summer Camp Director/ Board Vice President):
Genevieve has been with C.R.O.W. since its inception. She started out as "Hair /Makeup Designer" for Beauty and the Beast Jr., and moved up to "Assistant Director" shortly after. In 2014, she began co-directing summer camps and also joined the C.R.O.W. Board. Genevieve is a long time resident of Florence. She loves her community and is so glad she has found a way to give back, by being a part of the C.R.O.W. family. Before her days with C.R.O.W. she worked at the local Head Start and found that she had a passion for teaching and working with children. With C.R.O.W. she gets to combine that with her love of theatre. Genevieve does enjoy being on stage herself from time to time, playing roles such as “Liz” in Chicago, and "Edith Fleisher" and her brother "Al Fleisher" in Poison Pen Player’s You Dirty Rat! and her favorite role, "Truvy" in Steel Magnolias. "That was one of the best experiences of my life!" she says. But C.R.O.W. is truly where her heart is.
Karen Trujillo (Scenic Artist / Creative Consultant):
Karen is originally from Marinette, Wisconsin where she became involved in the local theatre in college. Although she has never had any "formal" art training of any kind, she has worked on set and lighting design for about 7 shows. Karen lived in the Las Vegas area for about 25 years where she did a variety of jobs and was very active in the Elks Lodge. She moved to Florence in 2012, and "loves living here and being involved in the local theatre productions." Karen's talents are "in demand," and she helped with sets and costumes and also worked backstage for The Holly Jolly Follies and other productions. She looks forward to many more projects within the local theatre scene.
Jason Wood (Musical Director / Summer Camp Director)
Jason is proud to be able to share the gift of performing arts with young people through C.R.O.W.! No stranger to the stage himself, Jason performed as "Mama Morton" in Chicago, "Captain Von Trapp" in The Sound of Music, "Cliff" in Cabaret and as "Horton" in Seussical Jr. He is the proud owner of drag alter ego, "Fanny Rugburn," and has performed several regional shows in her bedazzled heels. He has also starred as "Jack" in Into The Woods, and has played several roles for Poison Pen Players, including "Winston Montague," an English Detective in So Long Saloon: How The West Got Dead. Originally from Los Angeles, Jason studied with the Groundlings School of Improv and performed with The Imagination Machine, a children's theatre improv troupe. Jason teaches voice and piano lessons privately to many of Florence's talented young people and adults - he currently has over 25 students!