ABOUT THE THEATREZONE BOARD
David Stevens – Chairman
David Stevens has resided in Naples for more than 39 years and is a 24-year commercial sales leader. He earned his degree in real estate from the University of Florida and returned to Naples to begin his commercial real estate career. David also earned the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation, the leading indicator of expertise in commercial and investment real estate. David is on the board of the Community School of Naples and has been a musician for TheatreZone productions since 2007.
Ellen Elleman – Vice Chairperson
Entrepreneurial in spirit, Ellen Elleman enjoys her work as Director of Operations of TheatreZone as it allows her to combine her MBA education with her creative side. Ellen joined TheatreZone in 2007 after seeing Chess for the first time. Anticipating the tremendous growth TheatreZone has enjoyed over the past 12 years, Ellen saw the need for automated processes and developed the box office/ticketing systems in place today. When not in Naples Ellen and her husband enjoy their home in Charleston SC, as well as visiting their daughters in North Carolina. Ellen continues to be excited about TheatreZone and is thrilled to be a part of the team that will take it to the next level!
Cynde Barnes brings more than 40 years experience in live theatre, community volunteerism, retail and interior design to TheatreZone. She“I grew up in civic theater and couldn’t wait to get on stage,” says Ms. Barnes. “I first appeared on stage at age nine in The King & I, and second to last as Christine in A Chorus Line. When I was 11 years old, I memorized The Odd Couple while running lines with my dad, he in the role of Oscar Madison,”.
Cynde’s theatre experiences range from building sets and running props (last at Tobye Theater in Naples) to stage management and season ticket committee chair. She is an advisor to Summer Stock Stage and a past board member of the Phoenix Theatre, both in Indianapolis and past board member of Logansport Civic Players.
She is the former owner of Cynde’s Shoes, LLC, a women’s footwear retailer in Indianapolis. She and her husband, John relocated to Naples, Florida in 2013.
She has been a board member of the Indianapolis Zoo since 2000 and is currently on the Founder’s Board. Previously, Cynde served on the boards of the 500 Festival, Methodist Hospital Task Core, Indiana State Museum (and governor appointed trustee) and Indiana Citizens & Advocates for the Arts. Other activities have included chairing the fundraising for the Cass County Carousel Building Fund and the Iron Horse Festival Parade.
Tere Batista is an Entertainment, Arts and General Business Consultant, an Entertainment Attorney, Creative Consultant, and Artist Manager. A creative person by nature, she has found her niche combining her artistic side with legal and business expertise. She recently relocated with her family to Naples from Miami. She brings with her, first hand experience in the workings of theater companies acquired through many years as Vice Chairman of the Board of The Area Stage Company and as a mom of two young daughters who have been acting and performing in theaters in Miami and New York since age 4. Prior to branching out as an independent consultant, she was Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for Universal Music Group, where she worked as the head of those departments in the US Latin and Latin American markets for thirteen years (commencing in New York with PolyGram Records, Inc. which would eventually merge with Universal). Prior to that, Tere had worked as an attorney in New York City at Broadcast Music Inc., at the Children’s Rights Project, and at the law firm Hall Dickler. She earned her undergraduate degree, cum laude, at Princeton University and her law degree at Columbia University School of Law, where she focused her studies and internships on intellectual property and the arts. She is a member of the New York Bar.
Karen Kayser Benson
In the world of possibilities, Karen Kayser Benson is a facilitator, one who brings people closer to actualizing their dreams.
In her non-professional life (which means non-salaried), Ms. Benson has managed logistics teams for large productions, successfully coached and trained people to become event managers, team leaders, organized and lead tennis teams, bicycling teams and various charity fund-raisers.
Within the parameters of her professional life, she has been a talent agent, an actress, a casting director, a personal manager and an audition coach. During the many years behind the video camera, auditioning actors for commercials and films, Ms. Benson saw how vulnerable the human spirit is and how mismanagement or misdirection can damage that soul. Ms. Benson decided that, with proper guidance and some good coaching, actors could thrive and be successful. So she combined her talents as a casting director and an acting coach and dedicated her professional life to supporting and coaching actors.
During her professional life, Ms. Benson was invited to participate as a judge in Miss USA and Miss Teen USA Pageants for New York and New Jersey, again having the privilege and opportunity to work with young ladies who were in the throws of discovering their own talents and their inner beauty.
Perhaps the most satisfying job was being the casting director for Steve & Linda Horn Productions in New York for over 15 years. Steve Horn is one of the most honored commercial film directors with awards and acknowledgments that outnumber his competition. His work is on display at the Museum of Modern Art, as the example of extraordinary art in the television commercial field. While being in his company, observing him direct actors on set and on location, Ms. Benson had the privilege of not only training the actors for his work but also learning outstanding camera technique and acting skills from his direction. She was able to apply these techniques through a successful acting school which she formed with two compatriots, teaching audition and camera technique for 10 years to actors at all levels of their professional careers.
Education: Bachelor of Arts from Mount Holyoke College, major: Radio and Television Production
Graduate work at Union Theological Seminary, matriculating toward a Masters of Fine Arts specializing in Acting.
Special Interests: Long distance cycling; Captain of USTA tennis team (rated 3.0); President of the Mount Holyoke Club of South West Florida, Board member of Theater Zone in Naples, Florida, Ambassador for Gulf Shore Playhouse in Naples and Secretary of her Home Owners’ Association in Bonita Springs, Florida.
Born and raised in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Lisa Attended the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College where she earned her Bachelors Degree in Business and Marketing and her Masters Degree in Business. Linda worked as an independent sales representative in children's clothing with a five state territory for four years, she also worked as a flight attendant at 3M company for 20 years, and served on a board at Gulfstream Areospace specializing in future aircraft design for six years. Now retired she spends time between her Naples Florida home and her West Ashton, United Kingdom home.
Linda was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Education and went on to get her Masters of Science degree in Education. After teaching for a few years she was fortunate enough to be a stay at home Mom. During those years she belonged to both Hadassah and ORT, two fundraising organizations dedicated to raising funds to help Jewish people in Israel and around the world. Linda also served on the board of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra where she was responsible for interviewing, selecting and working with 30+ designers for the first Philharmonic Showhouse. Linda was also the founding member of an organization called S.P.O.K.E. (Spouses and Partners of Kodak Executives), their main goal was to serve and help local organizations and charities in the Rochester area with goods, services and donations.
As a family the Carps lived in Toronto and Boston where the seed of her love for theater was planted. After moving to London, England from 1990 – 1995, during the heyday of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Schonberg/Boublil, her love for theater blossomed.
Naples is fortunate to have the quality of theater that TheaterZone provides and Linda looks forward to helping to promote the success of TheaterZone.
Mark Danni – Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Mark Danni is one of the most well rounded people in the entertainment business. His directing, music directing and drumming skills make him a sought after commodity in the theatre world. After starting his New York City career as a drummer on Broadway for shows such as Chicago (starring Jasmine Guy, Jennifer Holiday, Vicky Lewis and Alan Thicke) Grand Hotel (starring Michael Jeter, Rex Smith and Jane Krakowski), Miss Saigon (starring Lea Salonga and Hinton Battle), Les Miserables (starring Colm Wilkinson, Ricky Martin, Andrea McArdle and Laurie Beechman), Joseph…Dreamcoat (starring Michael Damian), Annie Get Your Gun (starring Bernadette Peters and Tom Wolpat) and Nunsense, he quickly moved into the conductor’s chair and conducted the national tours of Barnum and Les Miserables. During his 14 years in New York, he also toured with the shows The Phantom Of The Opera, 42nd Street (starring Gretchen Wyler and Marcia Lewis), the 25th anniversary tour of Hair (directed by James Rado and Galt McDermott), Evita, Les Miserables (starring Sutton Foster) and Fame as the drummer and/or percussionist. Regionally, he was the conductor of A Little Night Music at the Signature Theatre in Washington, D.C., where he also worked on the Studio Theatre’s production of Falsettoland. Quickly becoming a favorite in D.C., he was then asked to play drums for Al Gore’s Innaugural Gala in 1993, A Taste of Tennessee, starring Dixie Carter and Gary Morris.
Directing shows became inevitable for someone as creative as Mark. While conducting the tour of Les Miserables, he soon became a favorite conductor for many of the cast members and the director of the show started teaching him the ropes of directing, encouraging him to start directing himself. That’s just what Mark did. When he left the road, he started directing anywhere he could and even directed a few Off-Broadway productions. Some of those include the critically acclaimed play, Aggravation, and the musical workshop of What Would Esther Williams Do In A Situation Like This? (starring Richard Heard).
After leaving New York, Mark continued directing in Southwest Florida, and became the Founding Artistic Director of TheatreZone Inc., a professional theatre company in Naples, Florida where he has directed such celebrities as Andrea McArdle (Broadway’s original Annie), Donna McKechnie (A Chorus Line), Georgia Engel (Mary Tyler Moore Show), Eddie Mekka (Laverne & Shirley), Gary Sandy (WKRP In Cincinnati), and many more. While Mark maintains a heavy directing schedule, he is still in demand as a conductor and drummer. At Sandy Duncan’s request, Mark toured through the state of Florida with her show, Sandy Duncan: celebrates Broadway, and has also played with the Naples Philharmonic.
Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, Mark attended Baldwin-Wallace University in Cleveland, OH. He is a trained director, conductor and percussionist whose teachers include Jack Lee, Eric Schaeffer, Dwight Oltman, Donald Schleicher, Rick Holms and Karen Carpenter.
In the fall of 2011 Mark was awarded the United Arts Council’s Stars In The Arts
Award and in the spring of 2013 luxury lifestyle magazine Naples Illustrated polled the community and nominated TheatreZone founder Mark Danni
. Mark was one of 12 worthy gentlemen to compete to be one of the seven finalists who are to be featured on the pages of the September 2013 issue of Naples Illustrated.
E-Mail the Artistic Director: Mark Danni
Jim Fleck brings more than 40 years business and arts experience to TheatreZone's Board of Directors. He is the former Chairman of the Council for Business and the Arts in Canada and led the private side of a public-private collaboration with the City of Toronto to create and build the Yo-Yo Ma Toronto Music Garden, inspired by the music of Bach.
Jim was involved in setting up the Canadian Arts Summit, bringing together the volunteer, artistic and administrative heads of the 50 largest visual and performing arts institutions and served as Chairman of the Second Arts Summit in 1999. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1997. He is a member of the Chief Executives Organization and served on the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.
Becky Gust spent her early childhood in Southern California before moving to Wisconsin. After completing her undergraduate degree in education, she began her career as a teacher in the greater Milwaukee area. She spent her first twelve years as a classroom teacher before transitioning into administration. While teaching full time, she pursued multiple advanced degrees in the areas of administrative leadership and curriculum development and implementation. In her role as a school leader, she has managed employees, built budgets, created visions and mission statements and interacted with all of the various groups that constitute a school community. As the leader of a number of schools, she has always enjoyed the performing and fine arts as exhibited by her commitment to grow those areas within school settings. This dedication to the performing arts continues, as she is now the mother of a child who shares this passion. Her young daughter has experience in musical performance on an amateur level and is hoping to cultivate a career in music and drama.
Lisa A. Nakfoor
Lisa A. Nakfoor, J.D., LL.M. is a Senior Vice President with U.S. Trust in the Wealth Management division. She has extensive financial experience in wealth management, estate planning, trust administration, tax planning and family office relationships. Outside of her business experience, Ms. Nakfoor is committed to community involvement and has participated with many charitable organizations.
Susan Owens first moved to the Naples area in 1990 from Chicago. She has been involved in the business community as an award winning Realtor and member of Leadership Southwest Florida. Susan earned her Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and her MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management in Chicago. Out of undergraduate school, Susan became a regional manager for the Revlon Corporation in Boston and Chicago. After earning her MBA and becoming a licensed stockbroker, Susan worked in the securities industry wholesaling financial products to Prudential and E. F. Hutton, among other national brokerage firms. As Vice President of The Related Companies, a large New York City security and real estate corporation, Susan earned several industry awards including Wholesaler of the Year. Today she continues to hold an active Series 7 license as a stockbroker in the State of Florida as well as her real estate license. She currently works with Amerivest Realty selling homes and other investment properties on the Gulf of Mexico.
Paul Phillips has staged managed on Broadway for Mame, Sweet Charity, Chicago, Pippin, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Take her, She’s Mine, Open Admissions and The Rehearsal. He also stage managed Judy Garland at the Palace. Paul was under contract with MGM as an actor and stage managed numerous film and stage stars playing the summer stock circuit. Paul began visiting Naples with Gertrude Lawrence and Gwen Verdon and became a permanent resident in 2001.
About The TheatreZone Team
Karen Molnar – Resident Choreographer
Karen Molnar’s Choreography Credits include FILM: Italian Lessons. OFF-BROADWAY: Space Trek; A Musical Parody, Sea Fever, What Would Esther Williams Do… REGIONAL: A Chorus Line, Crazy For You, West Side Story, Pippin, Grease, Guys And Dolls, Hello Dolly, etc. COLLEGIATE: Merrily We Roll Along at Yale University. Some of her acting credits are FILM and TV: Guiding Light, One Life To Live, Sex And The City, For Richer Or Poorer, Step Mom, The Astronaut's Wife. THEATRE: Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey), Bye Bye Birdie (Rosie), Anything Goes (Reno Sweeney), West Side Story (Anita), A Chorus Line (Kristine), the European Tour of On The Town (Flossie/Dance Capt.), the National Tour of Wizard Of Oz (Glinda), and the Off-Broadway revival of Irene. Karen has a Bachelor of Arts degree in musical theatre and marketing from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio.
13275 Livingston Rd.
**TheatreZone’s Site Header ~ Pictured: Christina Alexander,
Jane Badger, Adolpho Blaire,
Katlyn Campbell, Mark Chandler,
Ryan James, Alex Jorth,
Natale Pirotta, Aaron Reeder,
Molly Anne Ross,
Kimberly Dawn Smith, Joseph Strickland,