Meet the Apprentices!

Athena EllisAthena Ellis (Arts Administration Apprentice)

Born in New Hampshire, Athena started with community theater as a hobby that only blossomed in college. She graduated from Hofstra University this spring with a B.F.A. in Theatre Production with a concentration in Stage Management and a minor in Business Management. Previous Stage Management credits include Poppea (Manhattan School of Music), Hair (Boston’s Children’s Theatre), The 23rd Annual Cabaret Convention at Lincoln Center (Mabel Mercer Foundation),  The Nutcracker (NYC- Ballet), Undeclared History (new work, Hofstra), along with serving as the Company Manager for Shakespeare in the Valley 2012 Season.

Elaine GrayElaine Gray (Properties Apprentice)

Elaine Gray, originally from San Diego, California, is a recent graduate from the Savannah College of Art and Design where she studied Production Design, with a concentration in Scenery and Lighting. She has previously worked at Clubbed Thumb Productions, New York’s Fringe Festival, the California Shakespeare Theatre and as prop master for several SCAD productions. Elaine is interested in the details of theatre design, and is excited to be joining the Hartford Stage this season!

Yuki KatayamaYuki Katayama (Marketing Apprentice)

Yuki received her BM and MM in Bassoon Performance at The Eastman School of Music and Yale School of Music, respectively.  She is a member of The Breaking Winds Bassoon Quartet- a multi-genre chamber group formed in 2008 that incorporates comedy, choreography, and costumes to their YouTube performances and educational concerts across the country.  She is the web developer, social media manager, and video producer and editor for The BWBQ and she sells her BWBQ Edition arrangements and original compositions with TrevCo Music Publishing.  Yuki can be heard performing with the Eastman Wind Ensemble’s CD, Stravinsky: Octet, L’Histoire du Soldat, and The Breaking Winds’ debut album, Breaking In, an album funded by hundreds of fans around the world through Kickstarter.  Other than performing, Yuki is also interested in arts administration and has worked as the videography intern for the Wolf Trap Opera Company in Vienna, Virginia.       

Samantha MartinsonSamantha Martinson (Education Apprentice)

Samantha hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University with a double major in Writing Intensive English and Secondary Education. Recent teaching experiences include working: for Shorewood School District as a Language Arts Middle School teacher, as a teaching artist for First Stage Children’s Theater’s and Milwaukee Youth Theatre, and working for Milwaukee Zoological Society’s Education Department; she has also interned with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater in the Education Department. Samantha has acted in the Milwaukee area, some highlights: Milwaukee Chamber, The World’s Stage, and Pink Banana theater, and her production credits include: fundraising coordinator for The Luminous Theatre’s “The Penelopiad” and a production intern for the 2013 Milwaukee Comedy Festival.

James Will McBrideJames Will McBride (Artistic Apprentice)

This is James’s second season in the Hartford Stage Artistic Office. Last season, he was Assistant Director to Darko Tresnjak on Twelfth Night. He began 2013/14 by assisting on the Classical Rep: Macbeth and La Dispute and will be assistant directing productions throughout the season.  James graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Theatre Business from Loyola University New Orleans in the spring of 2012. While at Loyola, he was the recipient of the 2012 Ignation Award for Outstanding Senior Man and the Leo Zinser Drama Award. James was the 2012 American Theatre Wing’s SpringboardNYC program’s Directing Candidate. In the summer of 2011, James was a member of The Alley Theatre’s Professional Training Program. For more, visit

Siri NelsonSiri Nelson (Costumes Apprentice)

 This last Spring Siri Nelson designed costumes for Team Sunshine Performance Corporation’s JAPANAMERICA WONDERWAVE in Philadelphia.  In 2012 Siri joined Pig Iron Theatre Company as the Costume Assistant for Zero Cost House and continued on staff as Head of Wardrobe for the production and tour.  Previous to her work with Pig Iron Theatre Company she was an Apprentice with the Williamstown Theatre Festival.  Siri graduated with a BA in Acting and Costume Design from the University of Evansville.  While at the University of Evansville, Siri received an award for distinguished achievement in performance as Laura in Courtship and Valentine’s Day by The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Katy PersuttiKaty Persutti (Production Management Apprentice)

Katy was born and raised in Connecticut and is very excited to be participating in the Hartford Stage Apprenticeship program this season. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Connecticut and an enthusiasm for the arts. She has performed around the state and worked as a box office sales associate at the Ivoryton Playhouse for many years. This is her first position in Production/Company Management and is thrilled to be a part of the 50th anniversary celebration here in Hartford.

Aarron SchuelkeAarron Schuelke (Scenic Apprentice)

Aarron grew up in Milbank, South Dakota and is a recent graduate of South Dakota State University.  He started as an aviation student but quickly found that Theatre was his passion.  Aarron thought he wanted to pursue a career in acting because that is all he knew from high school but when he started working in the scene shop, that idea quickly changed.  Aarron came to find out that he is quite handy with a drill but even better with a paint brush.  He started to really enjoy the painting aspect of scenery.  His degree is a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and Theatre with an emphasis in Theatre and a double specialization in Scenic Artistry and Performance.

McKenzi SwineheartMcKenzi Swinehart (Development Apprentice)

McKenzi Swinehart is delighted to join Hartford Stage as the Development Apprentice. McKenzi holds a B.A. in Theatre and Political Science from the University of Nevada, Reno. During her time in Reno, McKenzi worked as a Study Abroad Advisor for over 5 years and served on the board of Nevada’s longest-running theater, Reno Little Theater. She discovered a passion for development that complemented her love for the arts and is excited to head in a new career direction.