Acting 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 legendary, 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). For more info, visit luannjennings.com

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.

Board Chair: 

Joseph Frost, Belhaven University, Jackson, MS – jfrost@bellhaven.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 around the country on university stages at Malone, Regent, Spring Arbor, Belhaven, and at Gizhou University 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 (whole or in part) in VA, MS, NC, and New York City and produced by Belhaven.  Joseph’s play Oz was developed into the independent feature film Before We Close, and he has penned several short films, including the Cine Award-winning The Heart of Saturday Night.  Joseph’s farce comedy The Mayfair Affair premiered at Belhaven in 2012, and its follow-up Mayfair, Ma Chére in 2015.  He’s written a cycle of short plays, The Long Surrender, inspired by the music of Over the Rhine, and has completed the 31 Plays in 31 Days challenge seven times.  As an actor, Joseph has performed on stage in over 50 productions, including an award-winning turn as Hamlet.  He appeared in the independent feature films The Proper Care and Feeding of an American Messiah and Endings, and was a founding member of the Slap Happy! Improvisational Comedy Troupe.  Joseph’s directing work has included plays by Shakespeare, Ionesco, Chekhov, Eliot, Brecht, and world premieres of Kurt Gerstein by Paul Patton, a performance adaptation of Ecclesiastes, his own works, Braids, The Silent, The Playhouse, and the devised works Johanne d’Arc, the descent/lifted me, Don Quixote and Ezekiel.  Joseph has led several teams of students on theatre missions trips to Europe, sharing perfomances and workshops in Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Croatia, and Spain.  He has been involved in new play development for 18 years, with CITA, Belhaven University, Regent University, Crowded House Theatre, New Stage Theatre, and the Southeastern Theatre Conference.  Joseph is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Christians in Theatre Arts (CITA), and is Vice-Chair of Playwriting and head of the Charles M Getchell New Play Contest for the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC).  Joseph is a Professor at Belhaven University, heading up their programs in Theatre Ministry and Dramatic Writing.

Bruce D. Long, producer, Charlotte NC and New York City – brucedlong@mac.com
Bruce Long photoBruce Long is President and CEO of Eye Opening Entertainment, and produces on Broadway, the West End and Off-Broadway. His production 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; and he has two productions in active development: By Grace, a new musical centered around Hollywood icon Grace Kelly’s engagement to Prince Rainier III, and I Dream, a new rhythm-and-blues opera about the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Bruce has had extensive experience over the past twenty-five years working in theater, film, television, video and live-event production with companies and non-profits such as NASCAR, IBM, The Business Journal Network and The Council for Children’s Rights. His documentary Wireman 101: Queens Course in History and the television series American Entrepreneur have both been broadcast on PBS. He is a graduate of the Commercial Theatre Institute’s Advanced Program for Commercial Producers and Managers and was chosen from an international pool of candidates for the CTI-O’Neil Theater Center Summer Producing Intensive, working directly with playwrights in the National Playwrights Conference and the National Music Theater Conference. Bruce holds a BA in Speech/Theatre, an MA in Acting/Directing, and has completed two years of a Ph.D. in Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship.

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

Eric Jones photoEric Jones is an actor, playwright, singer, director, musician and songwriter who has worked in Christian theater 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. Favorite shows are American Skin, Three Crosses and Sweet Freedom.  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 (Morningstar Theatrical LLC) in 2008, with a mission to produce original theatrical productions and special events focusing on a Judeo-Christian world viewpoint.  In 2008, Morningstar Theatrical L.L.C.‘s production of Emancipation was a wild card entry at the Strawberry One Act Festival in NYC. Freedom Quilt the musical also had its workshop debut at the Ensemble Theater that same year. Eric’s latest production, Christmas Is, was met with critical acclaim and record audiences.  Eric attended the University of Texas at Austin and was heavily involved with theater while matriculating. He was accepted to the Pharmacy program at Texas Southern University and received his B.S. in Pharmacy. He has been active in CITA for 14 years. He is currently working on two musical theater projects Liberators and Fired! The Musical! He has lived in the Houston area for 20 years.

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 & directing talent. From her children’s television work as writer and co-creator of the The Knock Knock Show (Fox Family/TBN), direction 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. Michelle has used her vast experience at both the professional and educational level, investing in the future of the arts as a board member of the North Carolina Educational Theatre Association, member of the North Carolina Theatre Conference, and recent nominee for the Disney Hand Teacher Award. She has received scriptwriting awards for her original productions of Ladies First and By Grace, and has been recognized by the state of North Carolina with excellence in directing awards for the past 7 years in a row. Michelle has been nominated for best actress and theatre person of the year in Portfolio magazine, and has been seen in multiple award winning short films. In addition Michelle’s productions have been recognized nation-wide at The Michigan Youth Arts Festival and on the Epcot stage at Disney World. She has 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. Her latest screenplay projects with Eye Opening Entertainment include The Living Room, Keychain Wisdom, and The Lesson.

Paul Patton, Spring Arbor University, Spring Arbor, MI – ppatton@arbor.edu
Paul Patton photoPaul D. Patton, Ph.D., is professor and chair of the communication and media department at Spring Arbor University in Michigan.  He was a pastor until he was forty, ministering in the Detroit area at Trinity Church in Livonia.  It was at Trinity, while a youth pastor, that Paul founded Trinity House Theater in 1981.  He has graduate degrees in Counseling, Religious Education, and a doctorate in Communication with an emphasis in theater arts.  He is the author of over 30 produced stage plays, radio plays, and performance essays.  He is contributing author to the book, Understanding Evangelical Media (InterVarsity, 2008), and co-author of the recently published book Prophetically (In)Correct (Brazos Press, 2010), and has lectured on topics ranging from “The Idolatry of the Cult of Celebrity” to “God Talk: Lessons in the Manipulative Use of Religious Language.” He has been married to Beth for over thirty-five years and has three daughters (all actresses)—Jessica, Emily, and Grace.

Rich Swingle, actor and playwright, New York City – rich@richdrama.com
Rich SwingleRich Swingle has performed in hundreds of venues in 23 nations, mostly with eight one-man plays he has written: A Clear Leading, Big Fish Little Worm, The Revelation, The Acts, Alien Immigration Training, Views of the Manger, Five Bells for 9/11, and Beyond the Chariots, which he’s performed Off-Broadway, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (the largest arts festival in the world), and in LA, Toronto, Hong Kong, Shangai, and Beijing during the 2008 Olympics. Rich has acted in a number of New York City productions, film, radio, and CD-ROM. He has performed in six movies. He provided the voice of Peter Cooper, the subject of a documentary by award-winning Gardner Documentary Group. For the Beginners Bible video series, distributed by Sony Wonder, he did 20 roles including Jesus, Adam, and the Serpent. He recorded two projects related to the September 11th attacks: Crossing Barriers and Stage Shadows. He has performed voice-overs and on-screen roles in several commercials. He originated the roles of Simonides and Pontius Pilate in the musical Judah Ben-Hur in Singapore, and he performed five poems by George Herbert at The Kennedy Center. He worked with John Kirby (acting coach on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; DéJà Vu; Count of Monte Cristo) to co-direct Tartuffe and Our Town, during which he performed the role of the Stage Manager, as a part of The MasterWorks Festival, where Rich directs the theatre program. Rich’s shorter works have shared the stage with numerous musicians including Margaret Becker, Bob Carlisle, The Martins and Fernando Ortega. Rich was on the planning committee for Media and Arts at the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, held in Cape Town, South Africa in October 2010. 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. Rich was a writer for the documentary Olympic Hero in China: The Eric Liddell Story, for which he recorded the English narration. He has performed and/or taught workshops in over 20 colleges or universities, including George Fox University (rated the number one Christian college in the US by Forbes and US News and World Report), University of Memphis and Princeton University. For updates go to RichDrama.com/Updates.