Directors & Staff

We can’t do it alone

The RMRT Youth Theatre Program is directed each year by an all-star team of teaching artists and working professionals from around the country. Each member is dedicated to making every young artist shine!

“In early youth, as we contemplate our coming life, we are like children in a theatre before the curtain is raised, sitting there in high spirits and eagerly waiting for the play to begin.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

About the Directors:

RMRT Education Director  – Joel Ewing

Joel is a theatre educator, actor, and producer in Chicago, IL. He began his time at RMRT as the director of the Teen Theatre Academy and has proudly served as the Education Director for the past three years. Joel received his B.F.A. from Missouri State University in Theatre & Performance and his Masters Degree in Secondary Education from DePaul University. He is the Lead Theatre Teacher at Senn Arts Magnet High School, a selective enrollment arts school in CPS. In the past six years, he has directed and devised over twenty productions at Senn Arts. Joel is a proud educational partner with some of Chicago’s finest theatrical institutions such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Lookingglass Theatre Company. Through Steppenwolf, Joel has been trained in Aesthetic Education as developed by the Lincoln Center Institute. He also serves as founder and co-artistic director of The Yard, a student-driven theatre company that has formed artistic alliances with professional theatre companies throughout Chicago. Through these partnerships, the theatrical institutions provide a professional environment and mentorship to the developing artists, creating theatre relevant to young people, performed by young people. As an actor, Joel was last seen as Chris in Oohrah! at Steppenwolf, as the Baker in Into the Woods and Andre in Three Sisters, both with The Hypocrites, where he is a proud company member, and the world premiere of The Snare at Jackalope Theatre Company.


Laura Bess Ewing – Youth Theatre Production Director

Laura Bess is thrilled to be back with her family in her beloved Rocky Mountain home for their seventh summer! Laura Bess received her B.F.A. in Musical Theatre Performance from Missouri State University and her Masters in Elementary Education from DePaul University in Chicago. She teaches second graders in a Chicago public school, where she also directs musicals with 4th-6th graders, and has worked as an actor in the city with such companies as The Hypocrites and LiveWire Chicago Theatre. LB has served as director of multiple programs at RMRT over the years, adapting children’s stories into original productions and bringing Junior versions of hit Broadway musicals to the RMRT stage. When not working with these fantastic kids, she can be seen around Grand Lake wrangling her enthusiastic four-year-old, Gus!

Anna Lange –Youth Theatre Workshop Director & Teen Theatre Academy Director

Anna is thrilled to be returning home to Grand Lake for her fourth year as a director with the RMRT Youth Theatre Program. Anna holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Millikin University and an M.Ed in Secondary English and Theatre Education from DePaul University. She recently completed her first year of teaching middle school with the Chicago Public Schools. RMRT acting credits include the Chaperone in The Drowsy Chaperone, Betty Jean in The Marvelous Wonderettes, Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast, and Meg in Brigadoon. Eternally grateful to the whole RMRT family, Joel and LB, and hubby Barrett, who kindly lets her run away to the mountains every summer! 


About the Staff:


Jessica Ryan — Assistant Director/Choreographer , Youth Theatre Workshop

Jessica is a bi-coastal multi-hyphenate artist (also known as creative mutt in less fancy circles) who is delighted to be back with the kiddos of Rocky Mountain Rep. On stage she’s appeared as Martha in Broadway lyricist Nathan Tysen’s new rock theatre piece Stillwater (KC Rep/The Living Room), Jenn in the New York premiere of Vicky Vodrey’s Hard Day’s Night (Fringe NYC), Rosamund in the Robber Bridegroom and Lucetta in Two Gentlemen of Verona with Everett Quinton (Cleveland Summer Stages) and Ella and Lottie in Mack and Mabel with Donna McKechnie (Goodspeed). She’s voiced radio, TV and industrial spots for clients like Tumi, MIT, GE and Annabelle’s Adult Superstore in South Dakota (seriously).  She recently finished writing and directing a video for GE as a proud content collaborator with the Manifesto Agency. And she’s the founder of Broadway Unlocked, a startup that helps live theatre create content for the digital medium – through which she’s had the honor of speaking at Google about her work innovating digital platform content for theatre.


Erin Crabb — Music Director, Teen Theatre Academy

Erin Crabb
Madison, WI
August 18, 2014
Photo by Emma Cassidy,

Erin is back for another delightful round with the teens of Grand County. While her home base is ever-changing these days, she is still largely based in Madison, WI, where she works as a freelancing accompanist, music director, and piano/conductor for companies including Children’s Theater of Madison, Opera For the Young, Madison Theatre Guild, Edgewood College, Forward Theatre, and Four Seasons, and works closely with Madison’s Theatre LILA as a composer and collaborator. She especially enjoys working with the music and theatre students at UW, as well as teaching piano privately to her students of all ages.







Julia Johanos — Music Director: Youth Theatre Workshop

Julia is so excited to be returning to Grand Lake for her third summer in a row with Youth Theatre Workshop! Her love for Youth Theatre began in 2011 when, in addition to being a company member at RMRT (playing Florence in), she music directed the Youth Theatre Production. Originally from Louisville, CO, she now lives in NYC where she works as an actor and musician. Favorite credits include Belle in Beauty and The Beast (The Fireside Theatre, WI), Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain (The Palace Theatre, NH), Hammerhead in Shark Attack! The Musical (The Elektra Theatre, NYC), Maureen in RENT (The Palace Theatre, NH), Laurey in Oklahoma! (CCM), Serena in Legally Blonde (Stages St. Louis and The Palace Theatre), and Vivienne in Legally Blonde (Music Theater of Wichita). Apart from performing, Julia is also a Session Leader and an Artistic Advisory Board member for Sing For Your Seniors, a non-profit that brings music to seniors centers all over the NYC area.  A graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), Julia holds a B.F.A. in Musical Theater. Endless thanks to Joel, LB, Anna, MQ, and Jeff for welcoming her back to her favorite place on earth! “Have courage and be kind.”


Steven Russell — Assistant Director/Choreographer: Youth Theatre Workshop, Choreographer: Teen Theatre Academy

Steven is thrilled to come back to Grand Lake for his fourth year! He holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from SUNY Fredonia and is a New York based actor, with credits from theatres such as the Paramount in Chicago, Arizona Broadway Theatre, and of course, Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, where he played Marius in Les Miserables and Billy Lawlor in 42nd Street. Steve is also a freelance accompanist and fight choreographer, certified as an actor/combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors. So thankful to Joel, LB, Anna, and the entire RMRT family for the opportunity to come back and work with these talented kids for another beautiful summer.