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Show Information

World Premiere
Created and Designed by Eric Van Wyk
Original Music by Luke Thering

The Elephant Speaks Jazz is supported by the Jim Henson Foundation and is presented in collaboration with WonderStruck Theatre Co. as part of the Viterbo University New Works Festival.

Any video and/or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited.

From the President

Dear Arts Supporters,

On behalf of everyone at ­Viterbo University, I would like to welcome you to the Fine Arts Center as we celebrate the return of in-person performances. The pandemic necessitated a year and a half-long pause in our live event schedule, and both our artists and audience members have been sorely missed. It is truly great to have you with us.

It’s only fitting that the Fine Arts Center should be fully used to its intended purpose during its 50th anniversary year. Opened in 1971, it remains not only the premier arts facility in the region, but also a wonderful testament to the vision and courage of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration who made it possible. Their collective love and appreciation for the arts led to countless cultural opportunities in the greater La Crosse community and has enhanced all our lives.

New Fine Arts Center director Dillion McArdle and his staff have an outstanding season planned for you this year. I invite you to pick up an On Stage book or visit the Viterbo website for the complete schedule. There is a wide variety of offerings from which to choose, and tickets make wonderful gifts. Included in the schedule are the Conservatory for the Performing Arts student productions. I am continually amazed at the incredible talent of our students, and seeing them put it to use always fills me with pride, no matter their role, pursuit, or field of study.

While live performances and other events have returned, we must remain vigilant in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. I ask that you adhere to the university’s safety policies, including remaining masked while anywhere inside the building.

The arts will always be an integral part of the Viterbo University experience, which is made even more special through the support of our patrons, benefactors, sponsors, and volunteers. It would not be the same without you. Thank you.

Rick Trietley, President

Playwright's Note

Welcome to the world premiere of The Elephant Speaks Jazz! Come imagine and delight in objects very large and small coming to life in this show that asks, "What can be discovered and found?" Discovery, play, and imagination with puppetry, delightful jazz melodies, and inventive physical storytelling are at the heart of the writing and creating of The Elephant Speaks Jazz. This adventure story riffs along to wonderful jazz music performed live with an elephant coming to life in a creative story told by a playful ensemble. This show takes place in an ordinary neighborhood with neighbors, eccentric parents, and brother Sam and sister Lucy finding the out of work world of the Moon and Stars Circus. Sam, Lucy, and the Elephant go on a wild ride through the neighborhood amidst some friendly conflict to discover and play. This show imagines what it’s like to bring home an elephant for a night, to dream of possibilities, and then find an artistic place for elephants to creatively exist with a jazz band.

The Elephant Speaks Jazz was inspired partly by the talented history of elephants in American circuses and recent changes in the world of circus. It also emerges out of the rich beauty of jazz music’s ability to improvise and create a call and response. This call and response of jazz plays out directly in the show’s artistic and character progression. This improvised and yet structured musicality flows into the ensemble-based dialogue and the moving visuals of the show. The dialogue and story flow were given valuable insight from Alex Mallory, the show’s director, and the Viterbo Conservatory for the Arts ensemble students’ creative help. An elephant–sized thank you also goes to The Jim Henson Foundation, the Viterbo University New Works Festival, Luke Thering as jazz composer, and the La Crosse Community Foundation for believing in the seed of this idea and supporting it.

–Eric Van Wyk


A creative space that unfolds a neighborhood in the fictional town of Lakeville and the last stop of the Moon and Stars Circus.

Synopsis of Scenes

Sam: Aren Alexander-Battee

Lucy: Bri Reilly

Clowns: Erin Milleville, Lukas Nederloe

Roustabouts: Kjersten Danzig, Lindsey Meath

Elephant Puppeteers: Mikala Clark, Spencer Curtis, Grace Reynolds, Jessica Schneider

Mom: Lindsey Meath

Dad: Spencer Curtis

Miss Viola: Grace Reynolds

Mr. Bordello: Kjersten Danzig

Understudies: Lauren Bergquist, Rae Hurlock, Eve Kinsman, Elisabeth Meyer, Jara Moir, Cortney Piepenburg, Joselyn Terry

Jazz Band

Piano: Luke Thering

Bass: Paul Jewson

Trumpet: Jon Ailabouni

Percussion: Dave Kies

Percussion Substitution: Tammy Fisher

Production Team

Concept, Puppet Design, and Scenic Design: Eric Van Wyk

Director: Alex Mallory

Composer: Luke Thering

Dramaturgical Editing: Matthew Campbell, Alex Mallory

Stage Manager: Emmett Lenselink

Assistant Stage Manager: Savannah DeShazo

Lighting Designer: Justin Thomas

Sound Designer: Brett Huus

Technical Director: Chad Kolbe

Scenic Painter: Kit Mayer, Eric Van Wyk

Costume Designer and Puppet Assistant: Irina Christel

Hair and Makeup Design: Logan Bailey

Costume Shop Supervisor: Alex Bell

Properties Design: Jen Brown

Properties Master: Megan Wheelock

Properties Artisan: Jessica Rigdon

Production Crew

Light Board Operator: Mattie Kantor

Sound Board Operator: Payton Harper

Run Crew: Halle Utterback, Kassidy Kampmeier, Beth Anderson, Jake Aune, Zachary Sullivan

Costume Crew: Hazel Chaudoir, CJ Zimmer, Payton Seacrist

Scenic Construction: Amber Arevalo Medellin, Savannah DeShazo, Rae Hurlock, Reagan Kettner, Gabby Moten, Lukas Nederloe, Cortney Piepenburg, Brandon Rundquist, Joselyn Terry, Halle Utterback

Wardrobe Construction: Maddy Ballard, Ryan Dettbarn, Mahlivanh Fleckenstein, Eve Kinsman, Jillian Kohl, Emmett Lenselink, Abbygail Seim, Vera Shipley, Joie Steele

Properties Construction: Aren Alexander-Battee, Beth Anderson, Erica Ashley, Lauren Bergquist, McKenzie Greenwood, Sophie La Fave, Victoria Pardon, Calvin Pierce, Mariana Villanueva, Mason Wold

Puppet Construction: Mikala Clark, Margaret J. Enriquez, Lindsey Meath, Erin Milleville, Jessica Schneider, Patricia A. Rivera Torres

Special Thanks: Circus World Museum in Baraboo, The La Crosse Community Foundation, The Jim Henson Foundation.



Aren Alexander-Battee
is a junior music theatre major with a dance minor. Some of his recent productions include Twelfth Night and The Pajama Game. He is excited to take this new journey with the other members of this production and with the audience.

Ellie Understudy

Lauren Bergquist
is a sophomore theatre major from Dubuque. At Viterbo, she has been seen in Everybody and Elephant's Graveyard and is thrilled to be back on stage. She would like to thank her incredible friends and family for their unwavering support. Enjoy the show!

Ellie Puppeteer

Spencer Curtis
is a first-year music theatre major with minors in dance and arts administration. Past performances at Viterbo include Platinum and Diamond Edition’s Spooktacular and the Student Theatre Project’s Never Would I Ever cabaret. Thank you to the cast, crew, Eric, and Alex for this one-of-a-kind experience.

Roustabout/Mr. Bordello

Kjersten Danzig
is a sophomore music theatre major with minors in both dance and arts administration. She has been seen on the Viterbo stage most recently in the production of Lysistrata where she played Lysistrata’s understudy. She has also performed in dear diary and the sophomore cabaret. She is super excited to be part of this incredible production and hopes you all enjoy it.


Rae Hurlock
is a sophomore majoring in theatre and music. They are so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of making the world of this show a reality. Their previous productions include Julius Ceasar (Soothsayer), Spring Awakening (Ernst), and Lysistrata (Ensemble).

Clown Understudy

Eve Kinsman
is a first-yeart theatre major. This is her first production at Viterbo. She is the owner of a new theatre company in Milwaukee called Le Ménage Theatre (LMT). She will be directing and producing Guys and Dolls this July at LMT for their second annual summer show. Kinsman wants to thank her family for supporting her in her passion for the performing arts. She is very excited to be working on this original fun-filled show and hopes you enjoy the performance!


Lindsey Meath
is a sophomore music theatre major who was in Everybody at Viterbo recently. She would like to thank all her friends and family for their love and support.

Sam/Lucy Understudy

Elizabeth Meyer
is a first-year theatre major with a dance minor. Some of her favorite roles in high school include Katherine in Newsies and Elsa in Sound of Music. She would like to extend a huge thank you to God, her family and friends, Alex, Eric, and the team, the cast, and Cheeto Mouse. Drink BUBBL'R.


Erin Milleville
is a graduating arts administration senior. She holds minors in theatre and human resource management and was recently seen onstage in Viterbo's productions of Lysistrata and Everybody. She would like to thank her wonderful family, friends, and mentors for their love and support over the past three years.

Puppeteer Understudy

Jara Moir
is a senior music theatre major. Some past notable works includes Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Maid); In Limbo (Understudy–Jude and Elizabeth). Moir would like to thank everyone who made this show possible for a spirited and joyful collaboration.


Lukas Nederloe
is a first–year music theatre major. He is from Minneapolis and this is his first show at Viterbo. Outside of theatre he enjoys videogames, books, and anime.


Cortney Piepenburg
is a first-year theatre student here at Viterbo. In her first semester, she participated in both show choir and concert choir. Piepenburg is excited to be a part of her first show at VIterbo. She'd like to thank all cast and crew for being such talented and supportive humans and her family for always believing in her dreams!


Bri Reilly
is a junior theatre major with music and dance minors from Cleveland. Her previous Viterbo credits include Julius Caeser (Portia/Messala), The Night Children (Charlie), The Pajama Game (Ensemble), and Platinum Edition. She sends her love and thanks to this wonderful cast, crew, and production team for putting this magical show together. She also thanks her amazing friends and family and hopes everyone enjoys the show!

Elephant Puppeteer

Grace Reynolds
is a junior theatre major from Madison. Recent Viterbo productions include Everybody (Love) and Julius Caesar (Lucius). You may have also seen her props design on Lysistrata, Julius Caesar, and CARRIE: The Musical. Thanks to Mom, Dad, Annie, and Gabby for their love and support.

Ellie Puppeteet

Jessica Schneider
is a first-year theatre major. This is her first Viterbo production. Enjoy the show!


Josey Terry
is a junior theatre major who was previously seen in Everybody as a Somebody, Elephants Graveyard as Ballet Girl, and Platinum Edition. She has loved having the chance to be a part of this beautifully ridiculous show and hopes you enjoy it!

Production Team

Story Creator, Scenic and Puppet Designer

Eric Van Wyk
is thrilled to collaborate on this new work! Recent Viterbo designs were The Big Friendly Giant and Crow and Weasel. His design work has been seen at Open Eye Figure Theatre, Children's Theatre Co., Imagination Stage, The National Theatre in Washington D.C., The White House, The Hong Kong Ballet, and The Washington Ballet. His company, WonderStruck Theatre Co. created the new work of Mop Dog. He is a Sandglass Theatre participant, earned a BA in fine arts from Dordt University and an MFA in scenic design from the University of Maryland, College Park. He deeply thanks his family for their inspiration and loving support. Soli Deo Gloria.


Alex Mallory
is delighted to join the Viterbo community this year as a visiting assistant professor and director of The Pajama Game and The Elephant Speaks Jazz. She is the director of The Metal Shop Performance Lab, founded to create theatrical events that foster radical community-building and authentic exchange between artists and audiences. Directing highlights include Goliath, Dija Wal Furat, and Faith with Poetic Theater Productions, Schiller’s Mary Stuart, Cabaret, and an original translation of Spring Awakening. She works with military veterans as a facilitator for De-Cruit using classical actor training to create spaces of healing. She earned a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from Northwestern University. www.alexmallory.com.

Stage Manager

Emmett Lenselink
is a junior theatre major. He was the stage manager for Viterbo's recent production of Everybody. He would like to thank everyone for the awesome opportunity to be part of this amazing production.

Assistant Stage Manager

Savannah DeShazo
is a first-year music theatre major. This is her first experience being an assistant stage manager and she is excited for the challenge. She is also currently involved in Diamond Edition show choir and in the Student Theatre Project's Jesus Christ Superstar as ensemble/understudy for Mary. DeShazo would like to thank the cast, crew, and directing team for this amazing opportunity.

Sound Designer

Brett Huus
is a La Crosse local. He was recently seen as the sound engineer for Viterbo's production of Carrie: The Musical. You can find more information at his website www.soundstrations.com

Technical Director

Chad Kolbe
is an associate professor of theatre in his 14th year of teaching at Viterbo. He teaches design and technology courses such as stage craft, principles of design, theatre practicum, computer-aided drafting, design studio, and stage lighting. He also serves as technical director, production manager, and lighting designer for the theatre and music theatre department. Before beginning his journey at Viterbo, Kolbe served as instructor and technical director at the University of Northern Iowa. For six years, he served as the technical director for the Texas Shakespeare Festival in Kilgore, Texas. Before that he served three years as carpenter, head rigger, and assistant technical director for the Des Moines Metro Opera. Kolbe enjoys time with family and being outside exploring all that La Crosse and the surrounding areas have to offer.

Costume Designer/Puppet Builder

Irina Christel
is a Viterbo grad of 2015. “On a personal note: I always wanted to be a fashion designer. I did that. But as Mason Cooley said, "Clothes make a statement. Costumes tell a story." Examples of work are on Christel's personal professional webpage.

Props Master

Megan Wheelock
is a first–year musical theatre major with a dance minor. She has been involved in the Student Theatre Project's miscast cabaret and Diamond Edition show choir.

Hair and Makeup Designer

Logan Bailey
is a junior theatre major and is thrilled to be the hair and makeup designer for The Elephant Speaks Jazz. He previously hair and makeup designed Viterbo's production of Lysistrata. Other Viterbo performance credits include Twelfth Night (Priest), Julius Caesar (Cassius), Elephant's Graveyard (Tour Master), and Lysistrata (Magistrate). Love to family and friends!

Viterbo Fine Arts Center
900 Viterbo Drive
La Crosse, WI 54650
608-796-3737 | finearts@viterbo.edu

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