Leadership

Board of Directors

Christians In Theatre Arts has been blessed with a diverse and energetic Board of Directors. We could not fulfill our mission without them! You may write to board members individually at the addresses below, or write to board@cita.org and we will forward the message to the full board.

Chair: Joseph Frost, Belhaven University, Jackson, MS – jfrost@belhaven.edu 
Joe Frost photoJoseph Frost is a playwright, actor and director living in Jackson, Mississippi, with his wife, Shannon and their five children. He earned an MFA in Script and Screenwriting and an MA in Theatre Acting/ Directing from Regent University. Joseph’s short plays have been featured on university stages around the US and in China. His bio-play van Gogh was produced at an exhibit of the artist’s work at the Chrysler Museum of Art, and his work The Memory Trilogy has been given readings and productions in VA, MS, NC, TN, and New York City. Joseph’s play Oz was developed into the independent feature film Before We Close, and he penned the Cine Award-winning short film “The Heart of Saturday Night.” Joseph has performed in over 50 productions, and his directing work ranges from contemporary to classics, world premieres and devised works. He has been involved in new play development for 18 years, with CITA, Crowded House Theatre, New Stage Theatre, Mississippi Theatre Association, and Southeastern Theatre Conference. Joseph is a member of the Dramatists Guild, is Vice-Chair of Playwriting and head of the Getchell New Play Contest for SETC, and is Professor of Theatre at Belhaven University, heading their programs in Theatre Ministry and Dramatic Writing.

Treasurer: Bruce D. Long, producer, Charlotte NC and New York City – brucedlong@mac.com
Bruce Long photoBruce Long produces on Broadway, the West End and Off-Broadway. Previous producing credits include Memphis the musical, Doctor Zhivago, Tuck Everlasting, Of Mice and Men starring James Franco and Chris O’Dowd and Hands on a Hardbody. He is currently building The Repertoire Fund, a theatre investment collective that will participate in 55+ Broadway/West End/Touring Productions among other regional theatre initiatives. Bruce has worked extensively in theater, film, television, video and live-event production with such notable companies as NASCAR, IBM, The Business Journal Network, Freightliner and others. Two documentaries he produced were broadcast on PBS. Bruce is a member of the inaugural Artist Formation Group with Brehm Center at Fuller Theological Seminary, a Theatre Liaison with Wedgwood Circle and a member of The Broadway League the national trade association for the Broadway industry. A graduate of The University of Mobile (BA: Theatre), Regent University (MA: Acting/Directing), the Commercial Theatre Institute’s (CTI)  Advanced Program for Commercial Producers and Managers as well as the CTI-O’Neil Theater Center Summer Producing Intensive working directly with playwrights in the National Playwrights Conference and the National Music Theater Conference at the O’Neil Center in Waterford, CT. BruceDLong.com

Cristie Kearny, Ever After Theatre, Seattle, WA – ckearny@icloud.com 

From a very young age, Cristie was cajoling and bribing her siblings and friends to “put on a show” (that she had, of course, written) in the living room, the garage, the park… She never waned in her passion for the stage through high school, community college and finally, studying at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington. At Cornish she discovered that she wasn’t an actress but a writer and director. Cristie met her husband and Jesus at Cornish. Jesus lifted her out of the blackness of an abusive father, an uncaring mother, and a failed marriage, and brought her safely and tenderly into the light. It is her strongest desire to stay in that light and follow him. With her husband, James, Cristie recently started Ever After Theatre, designed to empower, enlighten and entertain. CITA has been a source of inspiration and support for Cristie since joining in the late 90’s and she is over the moon excited to be on the board of directors. Cristie and James have four wonderful sons: a pastor, a sports writer, a cameraman/film editor and a musician. She loves her family, reading, Zumba, theatre, the Seahawks and Seattle!

Eric Jones, Morningstar Theatrical LLC, Missouri City, TX – ecj03drama@yahoo.com

Eric Jones photoEric Jones is an actor, playwright, singer, director, musician and songwriter who has worked in faith-based theatre since 1995. As a drama director for Christian Bible Church, Eric has written, acted in and /or directed 13 original productions.  He has worked closely with the AD Players and the Ensemble Theater on various outreach projects. Eric has written music, lyrics and/or books to six original musicals. As an actor, Eric has starred in the Bard Project’s production of Winter Garden and has performed in numerous sketches and one-act plays for schools and churches throughout the Houston area. He co-founded Morningstar Theatrical Productions in 2008, with a mission to produce original theatrical productions and special events focusing on a Judeo-Christian world viewpoint.  In 2008, Morningstar’s production of Emancipation was a wild card entry at the Strawberry One Act Festival in NYC and Freedom Quilt the musical also had its workshop debut at the Ensemble Theater in Houston. Eric was involved in theatre as a student at the University of Texas at Austin, received his B.S. in Pharmacy from Texas Southern University. He has been active in CITA for 14 years. He has lived in the Houston area for 20 years.

Evangeline Whitlock, AEA Stage Manager, New York City – evangelinewhitlock@gmail.com 

Evangeline first encountered CITA in the fall of 2009, when she wrote a paper for publication in the online journal CITA published at the time, Christianity & Theatre.  The article, entitled “Theophany in Theatrical Process: The Experiential Negotiation of Art and Faith,” was a case study of her work as the production stage manager of La Mandragola at University of California, San Diego, where she received her MFA. Evangeline presented the paper at the NYC CITA Conference in 2010, where she met many strong Christians who were also amazing artists and helped her start to come into her own as an artist and a person of faith. Highlights of her professional career include stage management for Farinelli and the King (Broadway),  Venus (Signature Theatre), Grounded; Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2 & 3; Antony and Cleopatra (The Public Theater); Nice Fish (St. Ann’s Warehouse, starring Mark Rylance); Twelfth Night; The Odyssey; The Winter’s Tale; The Tempest (Public Works at The Public Theater), The Scottsboro Boys (CTG/Old Globe/A.C.T.); Allegiance; A Room With a View; Odyssey (Old Globe). Evangeline is adjunct faculty for Adelphi University and Brooklyn College.

Frank Mihelich, California Baptist University and New Threads Theatre Company, Riverside, CA – fmihelich@calbaptist.edu 

Frank is a Southern California-based director, producer, actor, and playwright. He is Associate Professor of Theatre at California Baptist University; founding Artistic Director of New Threads Theatre Company in Riverside, which is going into its fourth season; and a founding member of The Courtyard Shakespeare Festival, where he played the title role in Macbeth in summer 2018 and has acted in or directed for all three of their seasons. Frank received his MFA in Acting from Columbia University and stayed in NYC for a number of years, where he performed Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway, and helped to start Magis Theatre Company and the Actor’s Group at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Frank has performed regionally with Two Rivers Theatre, New Jersey Repertory Company, Shadowland Theatre, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, and Arizona Repertory Theatre. Directing credits include Peter and the Starcatcher, The Beams Are Creaking, Comedy of Errors, Fahrenheit 451, Oleanna, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged, The Hiding Place, The Spitfire Grill, Twelfth Night, Our Town, Androcles & the Lion, and The Great Divorce. Frank is a committed follower of Jesus Christ and is dedicated to finding the intersection of Christian faith and theatre.

Kimberly Oberheu, Creative entrepreneur, Atlanta, GA – swankykimo@gmail.com

Kimberly is inspired by the art of storytelling. “No matter what project I’m working on, storytelling is at the heart.” Kim’s own story is born out of a strong entrepreneurial spirit and the soil of the south. As a second generation business owner and founder of Kimberly O!, she is constantly seeking ways that businesses can communicate their story through words and images. Her current project is leading PFI as their CCO. PFI, or Plants Forever, is a design firm that works straight from a client’s brand, designing full-scale holiday and plant concepts for global corporate headquarters. Clients include Coke, Mercedes, Mandarin Oriental, Invesco, Four Seasons, and The Ritz Carlton. Kimberly’s past projects include five years of work on the Academy Awards, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Ernest and Young and the movie Crackerjack, executive produced by Jeff Foxworthy. Theatre projects include Actors Co-ops’ The Seagull, Walt Disney World and the Alliance Theatre’s The Music Man. She is excited to be part of CITA and learning how she can serve.

Michelle Hoppe-Long, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte – michellel@ctcharlotte.org

Michelle LongAn accomplished writer, director and actress, Michelle has worked in film, television and theatre for the past eighteen years garnering over fifty awards for her outstanding original work, creative design, and acting and directing talent. She was writer and co-creator of The Knock Knock Show (Fox Family/TBN), director of the live event launch of The Book at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal (CBN), and screenwriter for Robert Whitlow’s award-winning novel to movie The List. She received scriptwriting awards for her original productions of Ladies First and By Grace, was recognized by the state of North Carolina with excellence in directing awards for seven years in a row, and was nominated for best actress and theatre person of the year in Portfolio magazine. Michelle invests in the future of the arts as a board member of the North Carolina Educational Theatre Association and member of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. She worked with playwrights Wendy Kesselman and Maria Irene Fornes during graduate work at The University of Iowa, received her MA in acting and directing in 1997 (Outstanding Graduate in Theatre Arts Award), and her MFA in script and screenwriting from Regent University in 2002.

René Schiltz, Kingdom Arts Alliance, Houston, TX – schoolmarmee@mac.com

Rene Schiltz photoRené Schiltz received her Bachelor of Arts in Theater from Evangel University. While studying, she founded Open Sky Theater in Springfield, MO, and received rave reviews for her outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as part of the Shakespeare in the Park series. She went on to graduate school in Toronto, Ontario where she received her MFA in Acting. In Toronto she founded KingdomArts, a company committed to supporting Christian artists in performance. The group toured Ontario before René relocated to the United States to teach theater at Northern Oklahoma College. Currently in Houston, René has reorganized her company under the name Kingdom Arts Alliance teaching, producing, and performing in the Houston area. René is excited to be part of CITA’s board of directors. “Seeing Christian artists at work and hearing their stories is incredibly motivating and shows all of us we have a unique voice in the arts and need to use it to further God’s kingdom.”

Rich Swingle, actor and playwright, New York City – rich@richdrama.com

Rich Swingle is an award-winning actor who has performed and/or taught on five continents, in 37 nations and in hundreds of venues, mostly with a dozen one-man plays he has written or helped develop. Rich has acted in a number of productions for stage, film, radio, and several of the films in which he’s performed have been aired on television. He has served as acting coach on several films, and he’s performed in over 30 film projects. Rich was on the planning committee for Media and Arts at the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa. Rich is a Freedom Finder for Graceworks, helping presenters in a variety of fields overcome stage fright and connect with their audiences through seminars and project coaching. He has performed and/or taught workshops in over about fifty colleges and universities, including his alma mater, George Fox University, University of Memphis, and Namseoul University in Korea. Each spring he teaches a workshop at Princeton University. Rich also spoke at the Ivy League Congress on Faith and Action, hosted by the Harvard University chapter of Christian Union.

Interim Executive Director:

Luann Jennings, arts educator and entrepreneur, Waco, TX – luann@cita.org
Luann attended her first CITA conference in 1992, and CITA has been an important part of her development as a theatre artist and Christian ever since. Luann currently lives in Waco, TX, where she is the Project Manager for Artist Professional Development with the local arts agency, Creative Waco. She also speaks to student and church groups about the vocation of the artist, and produces and directs plays independently. Before Waco, Luann lived in New York City, where she founded and ran the arts ministry at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in their innovative Center for Faith and Work. Unlike most theatre artists who move to NYC, theatre wasn’t the main reason she was there. But she did have the amazing opportunity to direct George Drance in *mark, a solo performance of the Gospel of Mark at the Tony Award-winning La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. Other theatre experience includes twelve years working in Atlanta as a free-lance director and the artistic director of a theatre company for family audiences, and as a student (MFA University of Tennessee; BFA Baylor University). luannjennings.com