STAFF

NTC was founded in 1978 with a simple idea in mind: that the arts could educate as well as entertain. As a theatre student at the University of Minnesota, NTC’s founder, Ward Eames, excelled at live performance but believed that theatre, education and business could thrive together, under one roof. The roof at the time was the one over Ward’s small apartment. Sporting long hair and clogs (it was the 1970s after all) he pounded the pavement relentlessly, eventually attracting the attention of NTC’s first client, Northern States Power. Since then, public utilities, cooperatives and municipals have selected NTC to present on energy efficiency, water conservation and pollution, electrical and natural gas safety, recycling and environmental issues.

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The History of The National Theatre for Children: Long Hair and Clogs

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Not content to work with utilities alone, Ward branched out. Soon, banks, credit unions and state agencies signed on to sponsor programs on financial literacy, budgeting, saving, credit and investing to elementary, middle and high schools. These financial programs have assisted in providing financial institutions successful story-telling marketing campaigns, helping to differentiate themselves from competitors. Health organizations came into play with health and wellness shows focused on nutrition, physical fitness, anti-smoking initiatives and character development, such as bullying issues. The latest addition to our live in-school events is STEAM education. With the growing need for experts in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, NTC’s model of live theatre, combined with print and digital curriculum, as well as gamification strategies, seeks to teach, entertain and inspire young people once again. Adding the arts to STEM to create STEAM is an exciting venture.

Looking toward the future, we anticipate programs on solar energy, the Internet of Things, climate change, disaster preparedness and of course, what to do about engaging millennials. Over the years, we have evolved, offering more than just live-in-school events. NTC offers high-quality stand-alone print materials like graphic novels and student primary books. We have also designed websites that attract student, educator and parent audiences, and created dozens of educational videos.

Whatever the messaging, NTC is committed to educating K-12 boys and girls at a low cost per student with measurable ROI for our clients.

That is NTC’s history. Here you can learn about our current staff, ready to help you reach the future.

Ward Eames

Founder and President

Ward Eames

Founder and President

In 1978, Ward founded NTC to deliver entertaining and engaging programs that motivate families, students and educators. For nearly 35 years, organizations have used NTC’s engagement strategies and tactics to enhance their reputations and visibility in the communities they serve. Ward has worked with clients in the energy, financial services, health, technology, environment, recycling and consumer products industries, among others, and is in the third year of producing a nationally broadcast TV series for tweens and teens called M@dAbout. Under Ward’s supervision, NTC has developed the art of teaching using live theatre into a science of its own. With a keen eye for talent, he has assembled a staff filled with knowledgeable, aware, creative, stimulating, fun, caring personalities, building NTC into the largest educational touring theatre company in the country. As founder and president, Ward Eames oversees all departments by keeping a finger on the pulse of the day-to-day operations of the organization.

Patrick Rowan

Vice President, Operations

Patrick Rowan

Vice President, Operations

Patrick Rowan began his career at NTC in August of 1998 as an actor, educating and performing for children all across the country in shows such as The Legend of Mongoose Mountain, The Further Adventures of Louie the Lightning Bug, Showdown at Dry Gulch, Alice in Waterland, Men in Plaid and Ranger Ted’s Excellent Safety Adventure. Since then, he has traveled to 48 out of the 50 United States and anxiously awaits to visit Alaska and Maine to complete the journey. In his role as NTC’s VP of Operations, Pat is responsible for all aspects of NTC programs including all school assemblies, special live events, television, video, digital & social media, printed materials and distribution. This includes responsibility for oversight in the daily operations and all aspects of NTC’s Theatre Production, Print Production, Digital Production and School Communications. This includes budgets, executive management, directing, hiring, training, tactical staff meetings, creative sessions, troupe logistics, scheduling, school activations and strategic planning. He has hired over 1,300 actors and helped produced 1000’s of educational programs, including NTC’s nationally syndicated TV show M@dAbout™. Pat is passionate about his work at NTC and truly believes in making a difference in the lives of students, parents and teachers. Patrick and his wife, Jennifer, a teacher, are the proud parents of identical twin daughters and one son.

Margaret Eames

Director of Finance

Margaret Eames

Director of Finance

After a long run in dual roles as graphic arts professional and parent to two children, Margaret Eames stepped into the spotlight at The National Theatre for Children. Her extensive managerial and organizational experience, as well as her behind-the-scenes role as NTC’s co-owner, made financial and human resources a natural fit. As CFO, Margaret is responsible for accounts receivable and payable; company payroll and monthly financial statements; NTC’s employee benefits plan; and, general office management.

Katie Miesen

Director, Client Services

Katie Miesen

Director, Client Services

Katie started working part-time with The National Theatre for Children in 1990 as the assistant to the President. In the fall of 1991 she became the Customer Service Manager and got a full-time desk and phone. Currently Katie is the Director of Client Services and is responsible for negotiating and executing contracts between NTC and its sponsors, PR, and newsletters. She also manages development of classroom curricula and works in conjunction with NTC senior management and production staff on new product development. Katie lives in Minneapolis.

Eddie Eames

Director, Marketing and Client Services

Eddie Eames

Director, Marketing and Client Services

Becoming a full time part of the NTC team in August 2009, Eddie has a unique perspective on NTC’s operations. A Marketing & Communications major and graduate from the University of St. Thomas, he analyzed the NTC business model and practices. As the Manager of Client Services, Eddie is responsible with the managing of NTC’s marketing and sales areas and is tasked with creating relationships with corporate, governmental and non-profit sponsors who want to actively engage students, teachers and families on important societal issues through the school channel. Prior to this role, Eddie has spent time learning and executing projects in numerous areas of NTC ranging from Sales, Marketing and Customer Service departments as well as heading many social media projects that NTC has taken on.

Tobias Benn

Managing Director and CEO, NTC Australia

Tobias Benn

Managing Director and CEO, NTC Australia

As Managing Director and CEO of NTC Australia, Tobias manages all day to day operations of the Australian business including corporate and government client relationships. Tobias is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia and also of Live Performance Australia. Tobias is a qualified chartered accountant with over 20 years experience across a number of industries including running his own theatrical production company. Starting his career at Ernst & Young, he has worked in a variety of financial services and mining companies including the National Australia Bank, Perpetual Trustees, Western Mining Corporation and Mayne Group. Tobias has worked extensively in the entertainment industry and through his own production company developed the largest educational theatre touring programs across Australia and New Zealand.

Frank Maciel

Manager of Product Development

Frank Maciel

Manager of Product Development

Frank Maciel’s first paid acting gig was touring Los Angeles with Alice in Waterland for NTC in 1989. After moving to Minneapolis from his native California, he worked as a Tour Coordinator at NTC, writing scripts for the company on the side. Frank hosted Kids News, an NTC educational video project launched in the early 90’s, and worked as a staff writer for the TV show, M@d About. Recently, he supervised Acting Out! — NTC’s first peer to peer anti-bullying program, coaching student groups from four Minnesota high schools. Frank’s quirky resume includes improvising with Comedy Sportz in the Twin Cities & LosAngeles; hosting the afternoon kids’ show, Club Fun TV on KMSP Channel 9; startling guests at Disneyland as Sally Mae, the Ugliest Girl in Frontierland; appearing on television in improv and sketch comedy based programs; and one of his favorite jobs — behind the scenes work on a game show hosted by Dick Clark, getting the chance to chat up Betty White, Ed McMahon, Rip Taylor, Dawn Welles, and Adam West. He even helped push the original TV Bat mobile when it died unexpectedly outside the soundstage!

Bill Turner

IT Resources

Bill Turner

IT Resources

Bill maintains and develops for NTC’s Web and IT infrastructure. This includes several websites, an online scheduling system that integrates with NTC’s Salesforce.com and a live calendar on which sponsors can view their performance schedule. Before becoming completely immersed in the world of computers and the web, Bill wore a few different organizational hats. Among his previous roles: Director of Production, General Manager, Technical Director and even Touring Actor – all at NTC. With a good feel for how it all fits together, Bill works hard to develop and maintain the systems that keep the digital world of NTC spinning. When he isn’t huddled over a laptop keyboard, Bill is sometimes huddled over a piano keyboard playing old-time music with his band, Shotgun Johnson and the Mississippi Seven. He also enjoys the occasional video game. But what he likes best is spending time with his wife, Krista, and their three black and tan dachshunds.

John Trones

Director of Production

John Trones

Director of Production

John Trones joined NTC in 2008 as a part-time employee in what was then known as the School Marketing Department, and later transitioned to a full-time tour coordinator in 2009. In 2011 Trones stepped into the role of the Director of School Communications where he coordinated the scheduling and communications efforts for thousands of schools and dozens of clients every school year. In 2017, John made the move to Director of Production where he oversees all aspects of Production for NTC. An avid musician and actor, Trones enjoys performing at a variety of venues when not at NTC.

MaryLynn Mennicke

Director, School Communications

MaryLynn Mennicke

Director, School Communications

As Director of School Communications, MaryLynn oversees the team who coordinates NTC’s programs at schools across the nation and who are dedicated to providing a phenomenal experience for educators who work with us. MaryLynn is proud to be part of the mission of NTC in providing quality educational theatre to students – for FREE! MaryLynn started working at NTC in 2010, after several years freelancing as a performer and educator in the Twin Cities. In addition to her work at NTC, she currently serves as the Director of Music at a Lutheran church where she directs the choir and plays piano, cello and ukulele. She also is an avid world traveler. Her last tally: 5 continents and 19 countries visited!
1-800-858-3999 ext. 226

Jon Mikkelsen

Artistic Director

Jon Mikkelsen

Artistic Director

Jon Mikkelsen is a triple threat: actor, writer, director. He filled all three roles when he first appeared on NTC’s radar in 1992. Since then he has written NTC titles including The Energized Guyz, Boomerang Jack and The Unseen Green Machine and Lights On for Louie. He also served as head writer for the nationally syndicated TV sketch comedy show, M@d About™. Over the years, Jon has performed with various theatres in the Twin Cities. He has performed with Gaydar Productions, Shakespeare in the Park, Outward Spiral and the Minneapolis-based comedy troupe HOT DISH! In 2007, along with John Trones, he co-founded 8 Ball Theatre and produced and starred in 3Way as well as the 1940’s Radio Hour. Jon and John have also produced a number of concerts including Christmas in the City and Yesterday Once More. As Creative Director, he is responsible for the development of all NTC productions, script writing, written content, direction actors, audition assistant, managing teacher evaluations and surveys.

Nate Metcalf

Technical Director

Nate Metcalf

Technical Director

Nate Metcalf has been one of the most active performers in NTC’s history. After 10 years on the road as a touring actor, Nate still holds the company records for most tours (over 50) and most performances (well over 4,000)! Even now that he’s in the office, he’s still a little hard to pin down. Serving as the Technical Director, Nate oversees the construction of all NTC’s props, costumes, and scenery. When not in the shop he can be found at his laptop working on the script for a new show, or staying in touch with his actors on the road. He has written (or co-written) Over 30 shows for NTC. Outside of the office, Nate can’t stop writing, turning his talents to scripting one-acts, ten-minute plays, and currently, his first full-length endeavor. He can also be found horsing around with several of the community theatres around town. A lover of all game shows and trivia contests, Nate had a moment in the sun when he went on the tv show Jeopardy! in 2007 and walked away with enough money to pay for his wedding to the Lovely Jolene. The two currently live at Fort Awesome, with their trusty guard dog, Spaghetti.

Phil Ward

L.A. Operations Director

Phil Ward

L.A. Operations Director

Born and raised in the Midwest, Phil has lived in Los Angeles since 1983. He was a touring actor with NTC in the early 90s and at one time held the record for the most NTC performances. These days, when he’s not casting and directing NTC tours for the Southwestern U.S., he can be found performing with the improv group ComedySportz Los Angeles, where he is the Managing Director. He is a longtime ensemble member at Theatre of Note in Hollywood, where he has served as an actor, director, writer, composer and musician. He has also written and directed plays for the Repertory Theater of America in Baltimore. You can also see Phil in a handful of independent films, including Robert Altman’s STREAMERS, and hear him on a handful of albums, including his live CD “Easily Amused,” featured on the Dr. Demento radio show.

Jill Van Heel

Print & Design Manager

Jill Van Heel

Print & Design Manager

From small town treasures to some of the biggest names in retail, Jill Van Heel, NTC’s Print & Design Manager, has been thriving in the world of design for over twenty years – and what a ride it’s been. Jill has worked for some of the top retail companies in North America as well numerous print shops, newspapers, travel agencies, etc and believes design is much more than aesthetics. It’s a science, a strategy. There’s a method to the madness. Jill holds a BS in Graphic Design, AAS in Multimedia Technologies and a diploma in Commercial Art & Design and has had her hand in just about every type of project. In addition to NTC, Jill also works as a makeup artist for MAC, is addicted to lip gloss and has an extreme love for 80’s hair bands, country music and just about everything in between. She loves to see live music (has been known to travel over eight hours to see a show), collecting obscure items from the 80’s, traveling anywhere that isn’t hot and humid, is serious about her Diet Coke from the fountain and wanting to design an app that tells you which restaurants carry Coke products, laughing at the most inappropriate times, doing arts and crafts when time permits, playing old school Super Mario Bros with her nephews and embracing her crazy cat lady status.

Morgan Marx

Digital Manager

Morgan Marx

Digital Manager

Morgan works as NTC’s Digital Manager, working with web and multi-media materials. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Film Production and Mathematics. In addition to working at NTC, Morgan works as a videographer, filming and editing videos for companies and entering 48-hour film festivals with friends. She also enjoys cooking, playing pool and darts, and spending time on the water sailing.

Joe Heaney

Casting & Company Manager

Joe Heaney

Casting & Company Manager

As the Casting and Company Manager, Joe is responsible for auditioning and hiring actors, directing troupes, maintaining and building relationships with actors, and helping to create new shows. He is also a talented writer and director. Joe began working with NTC as an actor in 2011 and started in School Communications in 2014 and most recently transitioned over to Production. Outside of NTC, Joe is a writer, director, film-buff, and baking enthusiast.

Jenny Pfarr

Sales and Marketing Coordinator

Jenny Pfarr

Sales and Marketing Coordinator

Jenny came to NTC with years of experience in Business Administration, Office Management, and Accounting. She started at NTC as a sales caller and is now the Sales & Marketing Coordinator. Jenny is the gate keeper of our client database, produces calling campaigns, helps to train incoming sales callers, registers NTC to qualify for RFP’s, researches grant applications and pitches in where ever needed. Jenny lives in Minneapolis with her family. She enjoys the arts, photography, and spending time outside.

Ellen DeYoung

Outreach Manager, School Communications

Ellen DeYoung

Outreach Manager, School Communications

Ellen DeYoung joined NTC as a Tour Coordinator, working to plan and oversee the performances that take place in schools across the country, as well as managing the school communication representatives. Ellen studied Theatre and English at Dordt College. She also works as a professional stage manager, and her recent credits include productions with Mission Theatre, Twin Cities Fringe Opera, Artistry, and The Minnesota Fringe Festival. In her spare time she tries to find every cat meme on the internet, and also enjoys coloring books for grownups.
1-800-858-3999 ext. 217

Matt Levine

Representative, Client Services

Matt Levine

Representative, Client Services

Matt Levine started with NTC as a School Communications Representative in November 2016, and soon after made the move to Client Services. Working with corporate, government, and non-profit clients, he helps facilitate partnerships that bring educational opportunities to schools throughout the country while enhancing clients’ visibility in their communities. Outside of NTC, he is a novelist, screenwriter, freelance editor, and avid movie-watcher.

Derek Meyer

Distribution Manager, School Communications

Derek Meyer

Distribution Manager, School Communications

Kevin Albertson

Media Manager, School Communications

Kevin Albertson

Media Manager, School Communications

As a School Marketing Coordinator with NTC, Kevin Albertson is in contact with schools – as well as the actors who will be performing for them – across the country. Kevin began working for NTC in March of 2013 as a School Marketing Representative, and interestingly enough made the jump to being an actor with NTC in October of that same year (though he’s told the inverse is usually what happens). He accepted his new position in May of 2014 & is thrilled to be on the cusp of discovering “how it all works.” Prior to NTC, Kevin started a non-profit website dedicated to showcasing Minneapolis arts & culture through video, titled MPLS.TV. As a teacher & performer of improvisational theatre at Brave New Workshop & HUGE Theater, he manages to keep busy doing what he loves post 9 to 5. Kevin graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with degrees in Theatre & Film, and to this day he cannot believe how fortunate he is to work in his field of study.
1-800-858-3999 ext. 212

Daniel Vinitsky

Data Manager, School Communications

Daniel Vinitsky

Data Manager, School Communications

Daniel Vinitsky started at NTC in 2015 as a scheduler, calling schools and offering them the wonderfully funny and colorful plays we’ve all grown to know and love. Now his responsibilities mainly include kit sign-up organization and evaluation, data management, and shipping assistance. Daniel is also a professional actor and singer, and although he has never toured with NTC, he participates in many musicals and plays around the Twin Cities.
1-800-858-3999 ext. 230

Mike Swan

Activation Manager, School Communications

Mike Swan

Activation Manager, School Communications

Mike is a New Jersey native who joined NTC School Communications in the winter of 2015. It’s his job to make sure that schools all over the country are ready and super-psyched to host our shows, and that our actors are in the right place at the right time. He received his B.A. in Theatre Performance from James Madison University. Besides his work at NTC, Mike is a freelance actor around the Twin Cities and an avid cyclist when it’s not winter (Minnesota gets really cold, don’t’cha know!) In fact, Mike rode his bike from coast to coast one time. It was super neat! If you get him on the phone, maybe he’ll tell you some stories.
1-800-858-3999 ext. 210
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