Charlie Leonard founded Blue Water Theatre Company in August of 2007, following four years of teaching and directing in the Wayzata school district. He is a 1996 graduate of Wayzata High School and 2000 graduate of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Leonard has directed nearly 100 productions since 2003 for Blue Water Theatre Company, Plymouth Middle School, Robbinsdale Middle School, Wayzata West Middle School, Hopkins North Junior High School, and the Wayzata Summer Youth Theatre. Mr. Leonard was honored in 2015 by Luther College as the recipient of the 2015 Luther College Young Alumni Award for his work in founding and directing Blue Water Theatre Company.
Sarah Irwin, Managing Director
Sarah Irwin joined Blue Water Theatre Company in January 2017. She is a 1996 graduate of Minnetonka High School, a 2000 graduate of Luther College in Decorah, IA, and a 2007 graduate of DePaul University in Chicago, IL. Her degrees are in English Education and Writing. She loves Shakespeare and taught high school English for seven years at Hinsdale High School in Hinsdale, IL, before leaving teaching to be at home with her three children. At Blue Water, she takes care of “behind the scene” details – finances, fundraising/donations, and office management. In her spare time, she is an avid reader, enjoys running, and loves to travel!
Barb Brauch, Choreographer
Barb Brauch graduated with her education degree from the College of St Catherine in St Paul, MN, received her Master’s degree from St Cloud State University, and later received another Bachelors’ degree from Augsburg College, Minneapolis. Barb retired from teaching at Wayzata West Middle School having spent her entire thirty-four-year career in that building. She received dance training for three years with The Minnesota Dance Theatre. The ten years Barb spent dancing and teaching at the Dance Shoppe came in handy when she and Charlie joined forces to create musicals. She was one of the original board members of Blue Water Theatre Company where she was board chair for five years. Her musical theatre choreography credits include: No, No Nanette, The Music Man, How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, Into the Woods, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Babes in Arms, Joseph the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Pirates of Penzance, Beauty and the Beast, Annie Get Your Gun, Bye, Bye Birdie, 42nd Street, Funny Girl, Anything Goes, Guys and Dolls, Fiddler On the Roof, Once Upon a Mattress, State Fair, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Big Fish. Barb is also the director/teaching and choreographer of a tap dance entertainment group called, “The Satin Dolls,” who perform weekly around the Twin Cities metro area. This group is also, “The Senior Dancers,” for the Minnesota Lynx and Timberwolves basketball teams. When she’s not dancing or preparing choreography, she enjoys reading, theater, and doing anything with her grandchildren! She thanks her husband of thirty-six years for understanding that she’s “Gotta Dance!”
Katie Fischer, Choreographer
Katie Fischer earned her BA in Theatre/Dance from Luther College in 2001. She then attended Moving On Center: School for Participatory Arts and Research in Oakland, CA and Martha Eddy’s Somatic Movement Therapy Training in Massachusetts. She is a certified Somatic Movement Therapist and Educator. She was a visiting teacher in the dance department at Luther College in 2002-03. She has been a choreographer with Blue Water Theatre Company since its founding in 2007.
Mary has been choreographing since 2004. Before joining BWTC, Mary worked for Front Porch Musical Theatre for seven years. Mary teaches science in the Juntos Spanish-immersion program at Hopkins North Junior High School, and also has choreographed both at Hopkins North and at Hopkins High School. Mary learned Spanish through Concordia Language Villages and through studying abroad in Nicaragua and Spain. She went to college for Biology at Humboldt State University in the beautiful redwood forest of the northern California coast.
Chris Larson, Music Director
Chris Larson is in his tenth year as vocal music director at Wayzata Central Middle School. He received his Bachelors Degree in Vocal Music Education from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI and his Masters Degree in Music Education at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.
Chris has performed as a member of the Grand Rapids Opera, Cornerstone University Chorale and Chamber Choirs, The Singers – Minnesota Choral Artists, and the VocalEssence chorus, as well as in musical theater. Recently he was the featured tenor soloist in the Mozart Requiem, performed by the St. Thomas Festival Choir. He currently serves as co-chair of the ACDA-MN All-State Boys Honors Choir. In Wayzata, he has served as director of the CMS spring musical, and music director for the summer youth theater program, the Blue Water Theatre Company. In his spare time, he enjoys biking, running, playing guitar and keyboard with Bethany Larson and the Bees Knees, and hanging out with his wife Vanessa, son Simon, and his dog Penny.
Danielle Nelson, Choreographer
Danielle has been choreographing for Blue Water Theatre Company since 2014. In addition to choreography, she has also been fortunate to perform with many theater companies in the Twin Cities including Theater Latte Da, The Jungle, Minnesota Opera, and Artistry.
In the fall of 2015, Danielle moved out to New York City. She was fortunate to spend a year dancing and voice coaching from Broadway’s best. Upon her return from NYC in the fall of 2016, Danielle dove back into the BWTC community eager to educate performers on all she learned during her time in NYC. Every song and dance in a musical should have meaning and motivation behind it. Musical theater performers are story tellers. Danielle thoroughly loves helping young students bring out the story in any given piece, helping them to grow and further develop their confidence as a performer. When Danielle is not choreographing for Blue Water she is working for Target Corporation or teaching dance lessons to her private studio of kids. You can email Danielle at email@example.com
Kirsten Hoiseth Thayer, Music Director
Kirsten Hoiseth Thayer made her debut with Virginia Opera in 2008 as Inez and the Leonora cover in Verdi’s Il Trovatore, and was also the cover in the title role of Puccini’s Tosca. In April of 2007, she performed her first Tosca with Opera in the Heights, where she has lauded as Donna Leonora in La Forza del Destino in 2004 and Marguerite in Faust in 2003.
In 2007, she finished her residency at the Boston University Opera Institute. As a Resident Artist in that program, Mrs.Thayer performed her first Mimì as part of the Opera Institute’s Boston Masterworks Series of La Bohème as well as the roles of Lady with a Cake Box in A Postcard from Morocco, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Natalia in Hoiby’s A Month in the Country. She was also highlighted in the Opera Institute’s Fall Fringe Festival where she performed the title role in Suor Angelica, Anita in La Navarraise, and False Angèle in Weill’s The Tsar Has His Photograph Taken. Mrs. Thayer was the recipient of the 2007 Opera Institute award for Distinguished Artists and a finalist at the 2003 Southwest Regional Met Opera Auditions, where she was honored with an Encouragement Award. You can email Mrs. Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org.