Meet the Team
Creating Accessible Theater For All
Katie Cummings has dedicated twenty years as a theater artist, educator and advocate for inclusion and diversity in theater. Recently, she founded Pink Umbrella Theater Co., the first one of its kind in the city of Milwaukee, focused on providing and promoting theater for people who identify with a physical, intellectual or emotional disability. A Wisconsin native, Katie graduated from Cardinal Stritch University with a BA in Theater and Business. Her resume includes First Stage, Bunny Gumbo, UW-Milwaukee, Chamber Theater and St. Joseph High School. She attended, and taught, a variety of professional development sessions throughout her career focused on equality, diversity, inclusion and accessibility. Katie believes that theater has the power to develop empathy, create human connections and engage community.
Director of Accessibility and Inclusion
Mary Stone, M.S., ECSE is the founder and president of Stepping Stones Educational Services. She is an author, consultant, certified special education teacher, college instructor, and parent of a child with special needs. After working as a special education teacher for 12 years, Mary now works as an Associate Lecturer and Program Coordinator in the Department of Exceptional Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is also the author of An ABC Story: A is for Autism and Friendship Footsteps: Stepping Stones to Social Emotional Learning Curriculum. In her work through Stepping Stones Educational Services, Mary designs personalized and interactive trainings and workshops for students, teachers, parents, schools, businesses and community organizations that explore topics that include social emotional learning, sensory immersive story time, inclusion, Autism , and other developmental disabilities. Mary believes that inclusive communities are created together and together anything is possible! Contact Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethany Bendtsen is a disabled writer and educator currently living in Chicago. Bethany graduated magna cum laude from Columbia College Chicago with her BFA in Creative Writing. She is also an alumna of First Stage's summer academy program. She has worked as a teacher, tutor, and arts educator with students elementary-age through the college level and is absolutely thrilled to be working with Pink Umbrella this year.Bethany spends her free time eating cheese fries, listening to 80s music, and obsessing about her outfit. Her favorite color is glitter.
Giana Blazquez is a director, choreographer, and teaching artist from Orlando, FL. She is currently pursuing her M.F.A at the University of Texas at Austin in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities. As an emerging TYA professional Giana strives to empower young people through theatre that challenges them artistically, fosters inclusion, and cultivates ensemble. Giana most recently served as the K-4 Program Manager/Director of Next Steps at First Stage Children’s Theater. As a teaching artist she has worked for ZACH Theater, First Stage, and the Orlando Repertory Theater. Regional Directing and Choreography credits include Nate the Great (First Stage), Nobody Knows (First Stage), Lovabye Dragon (First Stage), and Welcome to Bronzeville (First Stage). Giana has also performed professionally at First Stage. Giana hopes to work toward increased inclusion in the TYA field and hopes to one day serve as an Artistic Director. For more information about Giana please visit gianablazquez.com
Mitch Bultman has been working in theater education since 2009 and currently a Special Education teacher in Austin, Texas. In addition Mitch is professional actor who holds a BFA in acting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and has studied and performed at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London.
Ryan Cappleman is a performer, choreographer, musician, and teaching artist in the Milwaukee area. He is a graduate from Milwaukee High School of the Arts where he majored in piano performance, and then pursued his love of musical theater at UW Milwaukee, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Inter-Arts Musical Theater Performance. Since then, he has used his degree in many different capacities. As a performer, some of his favorite roles include the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, Woof in Hair, Pooh-Bah in The Hot Mikado, and the dance ensemble of Carmina Burana (Skylight Music Theatre), Britton in La La Lucille, the Piano Player in Billy Bishop Goes to War, Company Member in TomFoolery (Third Avenue Playhouse), several performances with Danceworks, First Stage, Northern Sky, Vogel Hall, Forte Theatre, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Optimist Theatre, and Waiting...a Song Cycle Off Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York. His choreography has earned him three Footlights Awards and numerous Jerry Awards. Ryan still gets to play the piano frequently as an accompanist, music director, and cabaret artist. Even in the pandemic, Ryan performed a weekly virtual cabaret called Quarantine! The Musical! He has been a teaching artist for Skylight, First Stage, Danceworks, UW Milwaukee, Superstars, The Wisconsin Dance Council, The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts Summer Dance Intensive, The Virginia State Thespian Conference, and many area high schools.
Debbie Das is a Junior at Purdue University, studying Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, alongside a minor in Theater and Critical Disability Studies. She aspires to become a Speech-Language Pathologist in either a hospital or school setting with a focus in Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Outside of school, Debbie enjoys singing and is a student performer within Purdue Musical Organizations. Back home in Illinois, she works for an agency where she assists people with all abilities in recreational activities and she has also had the pleasure to serve a 900-hour term with AmeriCorps as a Respite Apprentice with Camp Easterseals. A trained meditation facilitator and nature lover, she is eager to bring a smile to so many faces. Debbie is so thrilled to be working at Pink Umbrella and continue enriching the lives of people with all abilities!
Rebekah Farr is a local actress and teaching artist. She graduated from Bradley University with a Bachelors in Theatre Performance and recently moved to Milwaukee in August of 2018. She is grateful to work with other Milwaukee companies such as First Stage, Skylight, and Optimist. She is very excited to be working with Pink Umbrella Theater Co as her own personal mission is to make theater that is accessible and welcoming for everyone. She looks forward to learning from this experience.
Teaching Artist, Playwright
Fletcher is a theatre professional that has plied his trade in Milwaukee for over thirty years. He is the Artistic Director of The Bunny Gumbo Theatre Co. which he founded in 1999. He has acted with many of the professional theatres in Milwaukee including some that are no longer around. He also directs, designs fights for the stage, teaches at all levels and writes plays. Some of his works include Give Until It Hurts, Losers, Blue Stella, The House of Silence, Sweet Dreams and The Four Hamlets. Fletcher is passionate about the fact that theatre, and art in general, has the power to transform. Let’s get to it!
Brenna is delighted to be a contributing teaching artist with Pink Umbrella Theater! Brenna is an advocate for accessibility and inclusion, and has experience as a program director, teacher, and care provider to people with autism and other developmental differences. A registered yoga teacher, she received her 200-hour certification in Goa, India, and specializes in teaching restorative and children's yoga. In all of her work, Brenna strives to cultivate clarity, compassion, and connection.
Molly Kiefer is a dancer and teaching artist currently working in Milwaukee, WI. She graduated from UW-Milwaukee with degrees in dance and psychology and currently teaches inter-generational movement classes with Danceworks. She has performed in pieces with faculty and MFA students at UWM, as well as performing with Wild Space Dance Company. Her movement and research interests focus on embodiment, Somatic practices, and the intersection of dance and disability studies.
Tiff is currently a junior pursuing a double major in music theatre and psychology along with a dance performance minor and certificate in childhood and adolescent studies at UW-Milwaukee. She has had the opportunity to perform in various productions at UWM and truly believes that theater has the ability to change lives. She plans to continue her education and obtain a masters degree in marriage and family therapy. She also enjoys playing piano, reading, petting her cats, and biking. She hopes to spend her life inspiring and improving the lives of those around her. She is so happy to be working with Pink Umbrella Theater Company!
Noah Stone is a recent graduate from Earlham College with a Bachelor's Degree in English. He has a background performing in plays and musicals throughout his academic career and is excited to be in the classroom again this Fall!
Paula Foley Tillen
Paula Foley Tillen has been a professional musician in the Milwaukee area for more years than she cares to think about. She has served as music director for hundreds of productions from junior high to professional levels, and has been active at Milwaukee ComedySportz since 1985. She has served as a lead teacher at First Stage Theatre Academy, Brookfield Center for the Arts, and as director of music at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Waukesha; in addition, she remains much in demand as a musical director, pianist, vocal coach, and accompanist.
Paula’s arrangements and compositions are found in the catalogues of several national publishing houses, as well as online at sheetmusicplus.com and pftillenmusic.com. Her music has been performed by community, high school, university, and all-state choirs around the USA and Canada, as well as locally, by the East Side Chamber Players, UWM choirs, Master Singers of Milwaukee, and Skylight Music Theatre’s KidsWrites.
Paula is certified as a yoga and meditation instructor, and as a Reiki master practitioner. She teaches yoga and meditation at the Wisconsin Athletic Club (Brookfield) and YogaOne studio (Fox Point/Cedarburg).