The Aurora Theatre Staff is a unique group of human beings. We often refer to our motley group as “The Island of Misfit Toys.” Although we are each enigmatic, together we manage to produce 600 events and entertain 60,000 patrons each season. So how do we do it? We dream big. We think fast. We work hard. We take blame. We share credit. We collaborate fully. And above all, we hold each other high.
“Out of the exhaustion of argument, what I call the third idea arises between us, the idea that serves the great god above us, which is story.”—noted director, screenwriter and producer Baz Luhrmann
Anthony Rodriguez (Co-Founder/Producing Artistic Director) has been with the Aurora since 1996, its inaugural season. Initially hired as Managing Director, in March of 1999, he was named Producing Artistic Director and established Aurora Theatre as a non-profit. Under his leadership, the theatre grew from 120 season subscribers to the 5,000 Aurora currently boasts. His success led to an ABBY Award nomination in 2002 for Arts Professional of the Year. As an actor, his theatre credits include: Alliance Theatre, Theatrical Outfit, Georgia Shakespeare, Theatre in the Square, Horizon Theatre, Actors Express, Center for Puppetry Arts, Chicago Light Opera Works, Chicago Dramatists, Chicago Theatre Company and a wide range of characters at Aurora Theatre. Mr. Rodriguez is a member of Screen Actors Guild. Mr. Rodriguez’s greatest accomplishment to date is his successful negotiation to relocate Aurora Theatre to downtown Lawrenceville, Georgia, where it serves as the cornerstone for their revitalization. He currently serves as 2016 Chairman for the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce where he is the first Latino and Arts leader to serve in that position. He is past Chair of Partnership Gwinnet. Mr. Rodriguez is a member of Screen Actor’s Guild, Theatre Communications Group, Duluth Rotary Club, and the national steering committee for the Latino Theatre Commons. Mr. Rodriguez is a graduate of Marist High School, the University of Georgia with a BFA in theatre, the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Regional Leadership Institute and the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures’ Leadership Institute and Advocacy Institute.
Ann-Carol Pence (Co-Founder/Associate Producer) is an artistic leader of Aurora Theatre. As a musician, she arranged the music for Aurora’s first season’s Christmas Canteen in 1996 before being hired full-time in September of 1998. An education major at James Madison University, she used her background to partner with State Representative Brooks Coleman. Together, they developed Learning Library (or L2), an educational language-arts program highlighting Academic Knowledge Skills (Gwinnett County’s standards of learning). As a musician, she created Aurora’s Musicals by Moonlight, a summer concert, and Aurora’s New Musical Initiative that provides a place for further development and production of new musicals. She has performed as pianist and/or music director both nationally (Goodspeed Opera House, Pasadena Playhouse, The Koger Center, The Cleveland Playhouse, The Majestic, The Kennedy Center) and locally (The Alliance, Theatrical Outfit, Actor’s Express, Horizon, etc.). Career highlights include: Vocal Supervisor for Ellis Island Entertainment, producing in-house reviews for Holland America Cruise Lines, vocal direction for the gala celebrating Andrew Lloyd Webber’s honorary doctorate, assistance in music direction for Heartstrings: An Evening of Hope for the Healing of Aids and music direction of several productions of Heartbeats (where she appears on the recording as well). As a proud citizen of Gwinnett, she and her partner Anthony Rodriguez are most proud of Aurora Theatre winning the first ever Pinnacle Award for Large Non-Profit. This goes well with Ann-Carol’s nomination for a Women’s Legacy Award in 2006, her 4 Suzi Bass Awards for Mary Poppins, Les Misérables, Clyde ‘n Bonnie: A Folktale and A Catered Affair (both part of Aurora’s New Musical Initiative) and her multiple nominations for In The Heights, Memphis, A Chorus Line, A Year with Frog & Toad, Annie Get Your Gun and Godspell.
Justin Anderson (Associate Artistic Director) has worked as a freelance professional director whose work has earned him both popular and critical praise. Theatre critic Brad Rudy says Anderson’s work is “a quickly-becoming-overwhelming list of successful stagings” (AtlantaTheatreBuzz, April 15, 2012). And he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. The current Atlanta professional theatre season has Justin running the gamut from new works to classics, plays to musicals, holiday shows to family-friendly fare. Mr. Anderson also serves as the casting director for Theatrical Outfit, the third oldest professional theatre company in Atlanta, Georgia. Artistic associations include Theatrical Outfit, Synchronicity Theatre, Serenbe Playhouse and Pinch ‘N’ Ouch Theatre. While studying directing at Rutgers University, Justin had the privilege to work with Amy Saltz, Pam Berlin, William Carden, and Deborah Headwall. He holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Campbell University. His work has been seen at regional theatres in the Atlanta area including Alliance Theatre, Theatrical Outfit, Aurora Theatre, Actor’s Express, 7 Stages, Synchronicity Theatre, Serenbe Playhouse, Dad’s Garage, Pinch ‘N’ Ouch Theatre, Stage Door Players and Working Title Playwrights. Justin is also a faculty member in the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at Kennesaw Stage University.
Jaclyn Hofmann (Director of Education) is thrilled to enter her 5th Season as Director of Education at Aurora Theatre! She is also an Adjunct Professor at Georgia Gwinnett College and a proud co-founder of The Weird Sisters Theatre Project. Representative Directing Credits include: The Explorer’s Club (Aurora), Homers (Georgia Ensemble Theatre), StinkyKids the Musical (Aurora and Synchronicity), Late: A Cowboy Song (Weird Sisters Theatre Project), Unnecessary Monsters (Aurora, Suzi Bass TYA Winner 2013), and Letters to Sala (Stage Door Players & Company J). As an actor some favorite credits include: Comedy of Errors and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare Tavern), The 12 Dates of Christmas (Aurora), 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche and Anton in Show Business (Weird Sisters). Always thankful to Anthony, Ann-Carol, and the awesome Aurora Staff. Love to Nick, Leia, and the fam!
Juan Carlos Unzueta (Director of Cross-Cultural Programs) is excited to be joining the Aurora Theatre staff as the Director of Cross-Cultural Programs. Juan has spent the last decade in Jacksonville, FL in the role of Education Director at Theatre Jacksonville. While working in NE Florida, he created innovative programming for his young actors as well as partnered with local and national organizations to provide arts-integrated learning opportunities to students in Duval County. Juan handled the design of all marketing collateral and general marketing for the theatre’s education programming. In addition to his work in education, he has spent the last decade performing and directing. Notable credits include Into the Woods (The Baker), The Light in the Piazza (Fabrizio), Little Shop of Horrors (Seymour), Pippin (Pippin), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Mitch), Tick, Tick, BOOM! (Jonathan), guest artist roles with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and First Coast Opera, and most recently as The Piragua Guy in Aurora Theatre and Theatrical Outfit’s In The Heights. In his new role at Aurora Theatre, Juan is thrilled to have the opportunity to engage the community of Gwinnett through Aurora’s rich and diverse programming.
Renita James (Education Coordinator) is a proud member of the graduate class of Appco 2013. It was during that year that she furthered her love of educational theatre while performing in Unnecessary Monsters and teaching several classes and workshops. Upon completion of the apprenticeship she went on to perform at Stone Mountain Park, Stage Door Players, and Peach State Summer Theatre. She spent time performing and teaching in a variety of settings, including an educational tour with the National Theatre for Children and a starring role in FML: How Carson McCullers Saved My Life. Most recently, Renita was a Teaching Artist Fellow with Metro Theater Company in St. Louis. In this fellowship, she taught theatre in residencies and school-based classes, as well as developed and performed in a Theatre for the Very Young piece. Her work focused on using arts integration to address social justice issues and to build community. Renita currently works full-time at Aurora Theatre Company as the Education Coordinator.
D.H. Malcolm, III (General Manager) joined Aurora Theatre part-time in 2007 as the bookkeeper and business manager for the new facility. Now in charge of day to day operations, D.H. manages the $2 million Aurora Theatre budget and creates community connections by spearheading development and providing the theatre with sound business advice. His background includes graduating from Marist School with Anthony, obtaining a BS from Duke University, and later an MBA from Georgia State University. D.H. has extensive management experience in both entrepreneurial and large businesses, and serves on the board of the Downtown Development Authority of the City of Lawrenceville. In his other life, he is an avid golfer, a professional club fitter for Callaway Golf and a certified Impact Zone Associate Instructor. D.H. has two wonderful children, Katie and Cam.
Britt Hultgren Ramroop (Director of Community Outreach) is thrilled to be beginning her 9th season with Aurora Theatre. After freelancing with Aurora for 3 years, she joined the Aurora Family full time in 2008. Britt is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, earning a BFA in Design & Technical Theatre. Originally from Wyoming, Britt has worked with theatres in Olympia, WA; Washington, D.C.; Northglenn, CO and Cheyenne, WY prior to moving to Atlanta in 2004. Since relocating Britt, has worked with numerous theatres in Atlanta, including Synchronicity Theatre, Stone Mountain Entertainment, Alliance Theatre, Shakespeare Tavern and Horizon Theatre. She even taught technical theatre at Salem High School in Conyers, GA. In her time at Aurora, she has held the position of Technical Director, Production Manager and now, Director of Community Outreach. Mother of two rambunctious children, wife and proud owner of 23 goats, Britt sends a special thank you to her family who help make it possible to be a working mom in the arts!
Liz Hartnett (Director of Institutional Giving) graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Agnes Scott College with a B.A. in Theatre and French, and has an M.A. from NYU’s Institute of French Studies and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Before joining the team at Aurora Theatre, Liz was Development Director at Synchronicity Theatre for three years, where she led the successful first year of the Transition Campaign for Synchronicity Theatre. Before that, she served as General Director of Théâtre du Rêve Atlanta’s French-language professional theatre company, where she produced the national and international tour of Voir un ami pleurer, Microfiction ATL, The Red Balloon, the commission of the new play Celles d’en haut, among others. She has extensive arts administration and production experience in Atlanta theatre. Liz has been involved with companies and projects across the Atlanta arts community: performer for Elevate | Art Above Underground, Group Sales Manager for Georgia Shakespeare, Recommending Judge for the Suzi Awards, translator/interpreter for the U.S. Koltès Project, Emory University Chorus, Agnes Scott College and more.
Katie Pelkey (Company Manager) is celebrating eight seasons with Aurora! In 2013 Katie transitioned to the role of Company Manager, having previously served as Resident Stage Manager. She also created the highly-successful Stage Management Apprentice Company program that operates simultaneously with Aurora’s Acting Apprentice Company program. For five seasons she worked as Aurora’s Educational Resources Associate developing educational curriculum for teachers to use in conjunctionwith Aurora’s TYA Learning Library offerings. And for over a decade Katie served as Production Stage Manager for New Plays for Young Audiences, a prestigious TYA summer staged reading series based at New York University. She received her BA in Educational Theatre from New York University with a minor in Dramatic Literature. Many thanks to husband Michael and new baby Maxwell for their love and support!
Daniel Pope (Production Manager) recently joined Aurora Theatre’s team and is a graduate of the University of West Georgia. Daniel is going into his sixth year as sound designer in Atlanta. He worked on last season’s Tamer of Horses. Some of his favorite shows that he has worked on are Hair and Sleepy Hollow at Serenbe Playhouse, and Assassins at Fabrefaction theatre company.
Andrew O’Neal (Technical Director) is excited to start his first season with the Aurora Theatre. Previously, Andrew came to Georgia from Virginia where he worked at Radford University as the Assistant Technical Director. He Graduated from The University of Alabama in 2014 with his MFA in technical production.
Lauren Robinson (Associate Technical Director) is a recent graduate of Kennesaw State University. While at KSU, she worked as a carpenter, master electrician, and technical director for the KSU theatre department. Professionally, she has worked as a carpenter and electrician for Aurora Theatre, Actor’s Express, Atlanta Lyric Theatre, Horizon Theatre, 7 Stages, and Dad’s Garage. She also works as a spotlight operator for Aurora Theatre, the Cobb Energy Center and Theatre in the Park at Piedmont Park. Lauren is excited to be working with Aurora in a career that she loves.
Katie Chambers (Resident Stage Manager) was a proud member of Aurora’s AppCo14 and she is now overjoyed to join Aurora as Resident Stage Manager for the 2014–2015 season. Recent Aurora credits include Don’t Dress for Dinner (Stage Manager), The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown (Assistant Stage Manager), The Cat in the Hat (Stage Manager), Lombardi (Assistant Stage Manager), All Childish Things (Assistant Stage Manager), and Les Misérables (Assistant Stage Manager).
Al Stilo (Director of Sales & Marketing) is now in his eighth season at Aurora Theatre. Al is proud to be a part of the fastest growing theatre in the region. During his tenure, Aurora Theatre has nearly doubled the season ticket base, expanded to its new facility, received the 2009 Pinnacle Award for Large Non-Profit and was named Best Theatre Company in Atlanta in Creative Loafing’s 2010 Best of ATL. Al has received multiple professional distinctions for marketing from the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau. Al has been a professional actor for over 20 years, onstage at Aurora he has appeared in Kiss Me, Kate, Bach at Leipzig, Italian American Reconciliation, Guys & Dolls, Chicago, The Last of the Red Hot Lovers and Golden Boy. Al started his arts administration career with Soul‑stice Repertory Ensemble from 1995‑2001 before serving as Sales Manager for Georgia Shakespeare from 2000‑2004. Al is a true native son, having graduated from Avondale High School and Georgia Perimeter College. All my love to my wife Holly and son Dominic.
EB Hooyer (Sales Manager) has been with Aurora Theatre since 2011, working as a Stage Manager and Props Designer before transitioning over to the Box Office, where her true passions are. She is very proud to have created Aurora’s Need a Little Christmas Giveaway, which has provided theatre tickets and dinner to families in need since 2013. She initiated Aurora’s TIXSTER program for patrons age 16-35 and is on the board of Hoosier Shakes, a theatre company based out of her alma mater, Indiana Wesleyan University. EB loves laughing, bagels, her husband Jared, and their nugget Benjamin.
Arí McBride (Graphic Designer/Marketing Associate) is excited to start a third season with Aurora. Having spent the last 18 years in the Advertising & Marketing Industry in Atlanta, she loves the idea of now taking part in the theatre world. Ari is a graduate of The Atlanta College of Art & Design (now SCAD) with a degree in Advertising Design. Ari handles all branding, print and web design at Aurora—adding a fresh and colorful perspective to all our programming. Arí is also Creative Director of BoyMeetsGirl Creative, a 10-year marketing & design partnership serving large to small-business clients from SPANX, Goody and SunTrust to Ogilvy & Mather, Poolife and Colorcon. She’s blessed with a very testosterone-heavy household and lots of rambunctious laughter!
Jennifer Owens (Box Office Manager) is a graduate of Brenau University with a B.F.A. in Acting. Upon graduating, her sights were set on Aurora Theatre and she successfully became a part of the family in 2014 just two months after graduating. She began as a part time Box Office Associate then transitioned to Front of House Coordinator and is now beyond thrilled to be the Box Office Manager. Along with her arts administration work, Jennifer is also a Teaching Artist for Aurora Academy and has previously taught Makeup Design at Suwanee Academy of the Arts. You may have also seen her in Camelot for the Prelude to the 4th Celebration, Aurora’s Musicals by Moonlight performance of Hairspray, or as an Improviser in Reindeer Games. She is excited to continue growing alongside the fastest growing theatre in the state of Georgia. A Huge THANK YOU for the constant love and support of the Aurora Staff, Mom, and of course my little man Truett.