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Dance Nation

A Note From the Director


On its surface Dance Nation is a simple play that explores the world of competitive pre-teen dance. A world filled with fierce competition, joy, heartbreak, and of course all the embarrassment pubert. However, Dance Nation is more than that. Clare Barton has built a world that exists both in the girls' prepubescent present and gives us glimpses of the women they will become in the future. It explores the terrifying danger of puberty as our bodies revolt against our will, what it means to become an adult, and the heartbreak and occasional loneliness of friendship.


As an observer it lets us revisit a period of our lives most of us would rather forget. Barton allows us to feel all the agonizing happiness of growing up and the often dissatisfaction of hindsight that adulthood brings. The world of Dance Nation is bigger than the competition it presents and as result it spins out of control and gives us a chance to explore empathy, courage, loss, fearlessness in all its forms as we grow and carry our scars and wounds into adulthood. As a director it has given me and the actors a chance to build a dance team that I think any of us would want to be part of. After all, now more than ever we could use a team of friends who will love and support each other despite our flaws and our failures.

David Cotter, & Caira Goldstein


Amina, Riley Gibson

Zuzu, Solana Petrone

Connie, Michelle Chen

Luke, Jack Mills

Maeve, Julia Schaefer

Sophia, Lizzie Bowman

Ashlee, Elayna Brock

Dance Teacher Pat, Elias Rousculp

Vanessa/The Moms, Caira Goldstein


Director, David Cotter

Assistant Director, Caira Goldstein

Stage Manager, Natalie Joritz

Assistant Stage Manager, Ben Neiberlein

Choreographer, Caira Goldstein

Dance Captain, Julia Schaefer

Lighting Designer, Daisy Long

Master Electrician, Ben Pollizi

Light Board Operator, Gavin Buurma

Sound Designer, Chris Sgalla

Costume Designer, David Cotter

Wardrobe, Rebecca Helt

Scenic Designer, Theron Wineinger

Scenic Charge, Bri Clark

Deck Hand, Jordan Kline

Props Master, Tristan Goerk

Meet the Cast

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Lizzie Bowman is a third year student at Heidelberg University, majoring in Musical Theatre and History with a minor in Literature. In the past she has been in The Little Mermaid (Ariel) and while attending Heidelberg, The Music Man (Mrs. Squires), Mamma Mia! (Chorus), Cabaret (Rosie), Oedipus Rex (Chorus), She Kills Monsters (Agnes), and Freaky Friday (Gretchen). Lizzie has also been a production member in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and The Penguin Tango.


Elayna Brock is a sophomore musical theatre major at Heidelberg University, she has appeared as the Sphinx in the Greek Plays, Joan in Fun Home, Torrey in Freaky Friday, and most recently Ashlee in Dance Nation. Elayna is excited to be back on the stage once again this year, but she couldn’t do it without the love and support of her friends and family. She also wants to thank the amazing cast and crew for the hard work and dedication.


Michelle Chen is a Junior Musical Theatre and English Writing Major with a Theatre Education minor at Heidelberg. In previous years Michelle has been in multiple shows offered at Heidelberg. She was in The Music Man and Mamma Mia! her first year. She was also the assistant costume designer for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. Last year, Michelle was in the cast of She Kills Monsters as Evil Tina, Oedipus as ensemble/chorus and Lysistrata as an old woman, and the assistant costume designer for 9 to 5. This year Michelle has performed in the cast of Freaky Friday and helped in the costume shop as the costume assistant designer.  Michelle is so excited to work with the wonderful cast of Dance Nation playing Connie. Though Covid is a big part of this year's shows, she is so excited to perform on stage with the cast and be a part of the theatre once again.

Riley Gibson is a junior at Heidelberg University majoring in musical theatre. She has participated in 14 productions throughout her middle school, high school, and college career. At Heidelberg, she has been in The Music Man, Macbeth, Mamma Mia, Cabaret, She Kills Monsters, Freaky Friday, Elf and Dance Nation. She has also been in Titanic at The Ritz Theatre. She has worked production on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, The Penguin Tango, and Dog Sees God. She has also assistant directed the shows Lysistrata, Oedipus and Elf.


Caira Goldstein is a Senior at Heidelberg University. She is a Musical Theatre major. She was previously in Elf, Fun Home, Lysistrata, Oedipus Rex, Macbeth, The Music Man, Cabaret, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Mamma Mia!, Sister Act, and A Grand Night for Singing. She was also the assistant director for Freaky Friday. She also performed in the masterclasses of Tom Cippulo and Jeff Blumenkrantz here at Heidelberg. Caira thanks you for supporting our program and hopes you enjoy the show!


Jack Mills is a freshmen musical theatre major. He has performed in Heidelberg’s productions of Freaky Friday, and Elf. He will also be a part of the upcoming shows 9 to 5, and Heathers. Jack is a member of Heinotes. Jack is thrilled to be a part of this production of Dance Nation, as the character Luke. He wants to thank his friends and family for their continuous support. He would also like to thank the cast and crew for their hard work and dedication. Hope you enjoy the show!


Solana Petrone is a sophomore Musical Theatre major here at Heidelberg and is thrilled to be back on the stage and making beautiful art through the pandemic. She has previously appeared in Cabaret (Kit Kat Dancer, Trumpet), Oedipus (chorus), and Lysistrata (Old Woman) and is so excited to continue her theatre career at Heidelberg. She would like to thank Stephen Svoboda and David Cotter for believing in this department and working so hard to let us do shows!


Elias Rousculp is supremely excited to be performing this show in Gundlach Theatre. He would like to thank his parents for their undying love and support. He also would like to thank all of the amazing friends he made along his journey here for making his transition to small town life bearable. He would also like to thank the fantastic women (and Jack) in this show who have been so understanding as he struggled with this role, which was far and away the most difficult part he has played to date. He also would like to thank Dr. Carol Dusdieker for being a level headed, voice of reason in his life and an incredible mentor. This will likely be Elias' last role in Gundlach theatre, so lastly he'd like to thank you, the audience, for your support of local arts here in Tiffin, Ohio. None of this would be possible without you. Thank you!


Julia Schaefer is a freshman double major in English and Theatre from Grafton, Ohio. She has previously been seen in Freaky Friday and Elf. In high school, she was seen as Morticia in The Addams Family and worked as a choreographer for her school’s production of Into The Woods. Special thanks to her Berg family for making her first year so fun!

Meet the Production Team

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David Cotter previously served as the Managing Artistic Director of Town Hall Theatre, the only theatre in Dayton, Ohio, exclusively presenting work for young audiences. While at Town Hall Theatre, David oversaw the redevelopment of the education programs, developed programming for adults with special needs, and created and implemented a facilities upgrade plan for the theatre which included new lighting, sound and audience seating upgrades. David was the Director of Education at The Redhouse Arts Center in Syracuse, N.Y. where he oversaw a $3.2 million education collaboration program that focused arts integration and collaboration with students in the Syracuse City School District. In addition, he oversaw programming that included the Rock Camp experience, programming for adults with special needs and communications training for graduate and doctoral students in the medical fields. David is a certified music educator in Ohio and New York and spent time in the middle school classroom. David is a frequent presenter at conferences, which include the Southeastern Theatre Conference, American Alliance for Theatre Education, Florida Theatre Conference and Tedx. He is an avid musical theatre performer, director, and music director.


Benjamin Neiberlein is a freshman from Hudson, Ohio, majoring in Theatre at Heidelberg University. He is the Assistant Stage Manager for Dance Nation. He has been in productions before at his local hometown theatre, Young Actors Studio, including productions of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Mamma Mia!, and Aladdin. This is his second production at Heidelberg. His favorite roles were Count Dracula and Sweeney Todd. When not on stage, he enjoys painting and playing piano.



Theron Wineinger is a New York City-based scenic designer. He is delighted to serve as the guest set designer for Heidelberg University’s 2020-21 Season. Recent Designs: Freaky Friday, Elf: The Musical (Heidelberg University), Sylvia, The 39 Steps (Summer Repertory Theatre, CA), The Giant Hoax (Theatre Row, NYC), Aida, Billy Elliot (Weathervane Playhouse, OH), A Man’s World (Williamstown Theatre Festival, MA), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (The Carnegie, KY). Assistant Scenic Designer for The Rose Tattoo (Broadway, 2019). Proud Member, USA 829. BFA in Scenic Design from University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Winner, USITT’s Oren Parker Undergraduate Scene Design Award. Instagram: @theron._ and Website:

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