Co-Founders, Jen Ryle and Samantha Chandler
Samantha Chandler can remember her first time on stage at age eight. She sang “I Whistle a Happy Tune”, from the King and I at the elementary school talent night. Ever since then, theater has played an important part in her life. As an adolescent it gave her the opportunity to work with adults as an equal. It is how she survived high school. It has helped her explore stories and characters both known and unknown to her.
She taught middle school for eight years, and during that time her desire to expose more young people to theater grew into the dream of opening a “children’s” theater in Olympia. She is thrilled to have found Jen Ryle as a partner in making this dream a reality. She is proud to be making Olympia Family Theater the place that kids will one day remember as the first place they saw live theater.
Samantha has studied performance at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, Freehold Theatre Studio in Seattle, and with the amazing members of UMO. She holds a Master’s Degree in Human Development, and uses her teaching experience in directing young actors on stage, as well as leading camps for various age groups. She has directed eight Olympia Family Theater shows, including Animal Farm, Little Women, and Korczak’s Children. She has performed in a number of independent theater productions in Olympia, as well as with OFT. Her favorites include Jungalbook, The Transfused, Julius Caesar, and the Boomtown trilogy.
Jen arrived in Olympia 10 years ago, after a lifetime of performing and loving music, children’s literature and theater. She studied music and drama in high school and her early college years in Seattle. Over the years, she has gained experience directing, acting, singing and supporting local performing arts groups.
During her first 6 years in Olympia, you would have found her busily volunteering at Lincoln Elementary as the choir director and creating performance opportunities for many different classes of children. Jen is indebted to Lincoln and grateful for the opportunities she had there to perform, direct, adapt children’s stories into short plays, to make music and work with children. Lincoln provided a place for her to grow as a parent, an artist and a person.
Jen completed her BA at The Evergreen State College in June of 2006. She focused her studies on expressive arts, business and education with the goal in mind of creating a children’s theater here in Olympia. She worked for three summers with her friends at Creative Theatre Experience (CTE) and for 5 years, she was a community specialist at the Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA) teaching classes on everything from creative dramatics and puppetry, to reader’s theater and crafts.
Jen is OFT’s co-founder and Artistic Director. She also works behind the scenes as the production manager for every show in addition to assisting with props, scenic painting and costumes when needed. For OFT Jen has directed Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Giver, Rapunzel, The BFG, Winnie the Pooh, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and all three of OFT’s all youth productions including; The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Go, Dog. Go!
Jen is living her dream, watching OFT as it grows and flourishes. She looks forward to expanding OFT’s educational offerings in our school break camps and creative classes for all ages. She feels so lucky to work with amazing people; actors, designers, technicians, volunteers, sponsors, OFTeens and interns who are passionate about sharing the magic of theater with families and our community.
Terri Charles has sung and soloed professionally and in choirs and she is a frequent performer in Olympia Family Theater and other productions. Terri believes one’s voice is one’s first instrument and that learning a combination of music-making and creative movement at a young age primes a child for a lifetime of learning. Little ones and their adults gain confidence in themselves as musical people in Terri’s “Music With TLC” classes. Terri earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in 1986 from University of Washington and has since worked with children in grades K-6 professionally and as a parent volunteer.
Board of Directors
Samantha Chandler, Jen Ryle, Karen Janowitz, Deane Shellman, Cathy Wasserman, Jamie Jenson, Kathy Dorgan, Cassie Jones, Ted Ryle, Amanda Stevens and student representative Sarah Lykins.
Artists in Residence for 2012-2013
Web Designer/Scenic Designer/Technical Director
Jill is an accomplished theatrical designer with many years experience doing scenic, lighting and projection designs, primarily in Olympia for Harlequin Productions, Ballet Northwest, the Evergreen State College and many local theaters. She is a graduate of Evergreen where she studied technical theater. She interned as a scenic designer at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and returned to Olympia to become Evergreen’s Technical Director and then Harlequin’s Production Manger for many years. She is also an interior designer, locally she designed Swing Wine Bar and Cascadia Grill. She is now a freelance graphic, projection, interior and theatrical designer enjoying doing animated projections, children’s book illustrations, and artists websites.
Set design intern: Morghan Wright-Johnson
Production Intern: Kaylee Tucker
Lighting design: Kate Arvin, Olivia Burlingame
Lead Carpenter: David Nowitz
Volunteer Coordinator for 2012-2013
Heather Christopher; contact her at email@example.com
Vonda Witley, Vision Seed Publishing
Logo and Original Poster Images