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Meet the Team

  • Mortenson, Autumn
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Dance Instructor

Autumn Mortenson

Education

    • Master of Fine Arts in Dance - UC Irvine
    • Bachelor of Arts - Theatre and Dance, Dance Emphasis = Santa Clara University

Biography

Autumn teaches the ballet, jazz, modern, tap, hip hop and dance for health classes.

She trained nationally and internationally in Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Improvisation, Capoeira, and West African. Autumn has been teaching dance for more than twenty years for ages 2-adult in multiple studios and schools. She directed and chaired the Dance Department at Valley Christian High School’s Conservatory for 9 years in San Jose, California.

Autumn has toured professionally as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher in Australia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Ukraine, Venezuela, and throughout the U.S. She was awarded the “Artistic and Academic Achievement Award” from Santa Clara University, the “Talent Award” at Miss California, a full scholarship to UCI’s MFA in Dance program, and was named in the “Who’s Who of America’s Teachers” for her work at Valley Christian High School in San Jose.

To date, she has choreographed more than 300 pieces. Her work has been showcased at Project Dance NYC, LA Invitational Dance Consortium, Pasadena Dance Festival, UC Irvine, Concordia University, Fullerton College, Santa Clara University, the Sydney Olympics and ParaOlympics with “More Than Gold,” Valley Christian High School, Kings Academy, Leigh High School, USA Regional and National Competitions, and multiple studios’ productions.

She and her husband have 3 beautiful children and serve actively at their church.

Professor of Theatre, Vice President, Special Assistant to the President

Biography

Peter Senkbeil is Executive Vice President at Concordia University Irvine, where he has been a faculty member in the Theatre Department since 1992. He has directed over 30 full-length plays, including Songs for a New World, Falling, Till We Have Faces, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Cherry Orchard, Much Ado about Nothing, The Iraq War Project (also co-author), Paper Wings, Cabaret, and Working. His recent acting credits include Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, The Hiding Place, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Shadowlands.

In 2004, Dr. Senkbeil received the Excellence in Education award from the Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival. Dr. Senkbeil serves on the editorial board of Ecumenica, a journal of the performing arts, faith, and society. He is a member of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and a founding member of Christians in Theatre Arts (CITA), an international arts networking organization; he served four terms on CITA’s board of directors. His doctoral dissertation is “Faith in Theatre: Professional Theatres Run by Christians in the United States and Canada and Their Strategies for Faith-Art Integration.” He has published articles and given presentations on Christianity and the arts, and he wrote the chapter on the arts for the book The Idea and Practice of a Christian University: A Lutheran Approach (Concordia Publishing House, 2015). Dr. Senkbeil and his family are active members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Orange, California.

Education

  • B.A. – Communication and Theatre – Concordia University, Chicago
  • M.A. – Theatre – Northwestern University
  • Ph.D. – Theatre and Drama – Northwestern University

Curriculum Vitae

Department Chair, Assistant Professor of Theatre

Lori Siekmann

Education

  • Spalding University, Louisville, MFA in Playwriting,
  • The University of Illinois at Chicago, MA in Theatre,
  • Concordia University Chicago, BA in Education, focus: German and Communication/Theatre

Professional Experience

  • Assistant to the Director of Development, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago, IL, 1989-1990
  • English and German teacher & director in co-curricular Theatre program, Sheboygan Lutheran High School, Sheboygan, WI, 1990-1992
  • Assistant Professor of Communication/Theatre, Concordia University Chicago, 1994-2005
  • Concordia University, Irvine since 2005

Biography

Lori teaches theatre appreciation, acting, creative dramatics, and the senior capstone course dealing with the business of being a theatre professional. She directs mainstage productions and is the theatre department’s chair.

Lori is the 2015 recipient of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (Region VIII) Gold Medallion of Excellence. In addition, several shows Lori has directed have been awarded invitations to be performed in their entirety at the annual KCACTF Regional festival:

  • 2010, The Foolish Proposal - a show that she and a group of students wrote/improvised in the style of Commedia del’ Arte
  • 2012, The Cover of Life by R.T. Robinson
  • 2015, The Drowsy Chaperone Music & Lyrics by Lisa Lambert/Greg Morrison, Book by Bob Martin/Don McKellar
  • 2020, Xanadu Book by Douglas Carter Beane, Music and Lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar

Only the top 6-8 shows from the entire region are invited each year. In addition, her production of Still Life with Iris was invited to bring a scene to the KCACTF 2018 Regional Festival’s Evening of Invitational Scenes. Only 8 or 9 scenes are chosen from among hundreds submitted for consideration.

As a playwright, her 10-minute play Killing Bambi was produced in the Short+Sweet 10 minute play festival in Dubai, as well as part of LA’s Towne Street Theatre’s annual 10 minute play festival (both 2017) and at CUI (2020).

In July 2010, she served on the Mass Events Team for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s National Youth Gathering held at the Superdome in New Orleans. Lori directed The Network, a drama performed in short segments each night of the gathering in front of 25,000 attendees. In 2013 she returned again to direct for the Mass Events Team at the National Youth Gathering at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio, TX.

Other favorite directing credits include: All Shook Up, Two Rooms, Footloose, A Year with Frog and Toad, Godspell, Love Letters, The Good Doctor, The Crucible, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Kindertransport, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Velveteen Rabbit, and Rumplestiltskin.

Lori has performed in community theatre and summer stock productions. Favorite acting roles include The Glass Menagerie (Amanda), Into the Woods (The Baker’s Wife), Barefoot in the Park (Corrie), American Coast Theatre’s production of The Hiding Place (various roles) and CUI’s production of Pride and Prejudice (Mrs. Bennet).

Prior to her arrival at Concordia University - Irvine, Lori taught and directed for 11 years at Concordia University - Chicago, in the Art/Communication/Theatre Department.

Resident Designer/Technical Director

Education

  • Illinois State University, Normal, IL, MFA in Scenic Design, Advisor: John C. Stark
  • Wisconsin Lutheran College – Milwaukee, WI, BA in Theatre and Art
  • Technical Intern – Alley Stage Theatre, Mineral Point, WI

Teaching Experience

  • 2014-15 – Technical Director and Instructor - Racine Prairie High School – Racine, WI
  • 2013-14 – Graduate Teaching Assistantship - Illinois State University – Normal, IL

Biography

Andrew brings a wealth of experience and education to his work at Concordia where he teaches courses in stagecraft, scenic design, and lighting and sound design. He mentors students in the design and technical production emphasis and oversees all student designers in his role as technical director.

Andrew’s work as a scenic designer and charge artist includes professional summer stock at the Monomoy Theatre in Chatham, Massachusetts where his credits include: The Man Who Came To Dinner, Twelfth Night, Death Trap, Kiss Me Kate, Shakespeare in Hollywood, She Loves Me, The Odd Couple And Then There Were None, George Washington Slept Here, Henry IV, The Last of the Red Hot Lovers, and 1776 as well as Arsenic and Old Lace at the Sunset Playhouse, and The Magical Mind of Billy Shakespeare for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. He has served as a technical director for productions at Sunset Playhouse, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and Illinois State University.

Andrew designed prolifically in college as well. At Wisconsin Lutheran College he designed Gulf View Drive, See Rock City, Last Train to Nibroc, and Curse of an Aching Heart. At Illinois State University he designed Pericles, Spring Awakening, Tales of the Lost Formicans, Noises Off, and Cloud Nine.

Just previous to coming to Concordia, Andrew taught and served as the technical director and instructor at Racine Prairie High School where he designed, painted and served as technical director for the productions of Pippin, and Dead Man Walking.

Prof. Sierszyn's Professional Design Work

Adjunct Instructor

Susanna Vaughn

Education

  • M.F.A. Musical Theatre - San Diego State University
  • B.A. Theatre Arts - Azusa Pacific University

Biography

Susanna Vaughan is a performer, director, choreographer, and educator. She has performed professionally at Musical Theatre West, The Old Globe, San Diego Musical Theatre, and Moonlight Amphitheatre, among others. At San Diego State University, she taught Acting, Musical Theatre History, and guest-lectured in Musical Theatre Dance. For three years she served on the board of Azusa Renaissance Theatre, a grassroots community arts organization that provided arts education to low-income students and focused on telling community stories. She has trained in New York for dance at STEPS on Broadway, sketch comedy at The Actors' Project NYC, and in Shakespeare at A Noise Within in Pasadena. She is a member of Musical Theatre Educators' Alliance and an Equity Membership Candidate. She also serves as an adjunct professor of musical theatre at Fullerton College and directs and choreographs at local high schools.

Curriculum Vitae

Professor of Theatre

Education

  • Indiana University, Bloomington, MFA in Directing,
  • University of Louisville, B.A. in English and Theatre Arts, 
  • University of Birmingham's summer Shakespeare course in Stratford-upon-Avon, England

Professional Experience

  • Adjunct Instructor, Concordia University, River Forest, IL 1992-1998
  • Co-Artistic Director, Circle Theatre, Forest Park, IL 1998-2000
  • Artistic Director, Theatre of Western Springs, Western Springs, IL 1998-2004
  • Producing Artistic Director, New American Theater, Rockford, IL 2004-2006
  • Concordia University since 2007

Biography

Tony has directed over 80 productions for professional, community, and university stages. Concordia directing credits include: Metamorphoses, Hamlet, Reckless, Pride and Prejudice, A Midsummer Night's Dream and his own adaptation of the book Ten Days in a Madhouse. He is a 2011 recipient of the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival Excellence in Education Award.

Previously, Tony was co-artistic director of Circle Theatre, a Chicago non-Equity professional theatre and artistic director of the Theatre of Western Springs, a large community theatre. Chicago-area credits include: Anna Karenina, The Tempest, Tartuffe, and American Buffalo. Later, he was producing artistic director of New American Theater (Equity SPT 7) where his credits included: Around the World in 80 Days, Bad Dates, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Locally, he has directed for the Chance Theater.

Tony served as producing artistic director of Concordia's professional theatre Looseleaf Theatre Co. (Equity, Guest Artist) where he has directed Twelfth Night, As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, and Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Tony's teaching has also involved travel. He was a visiting professor (in 2014) and then full-time professor (2016) on Concordia's Around the World semester - teaching and serving in 10 countries over 20 weeks. In 2018 he served as a visiting professor of acting for the Huace Film Academy at the Zhejiang University of Media and Communications in Hangzhou, China.

Tony and his family attend St. John's Lutheran Church in Orange.

Curriculum Vitae

See Prof. Vezner on Youtube

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