Board of Directors

Ann Bauer Headshot_200A native Kansan, Ann has taught music for more than forty years throughout the Midwest. During her career, she directed choirs and musicals in Missouri, Kansas, Arizona, South Dakota and Nebraska. She is in demand as an accomplished accompanist, choral clinician, guest conductor and adjudicator in the Midwest. She finished her career teaching and directing the music program at Kearney High School in Nebraska. She has traveled extensively throughout the world with her choirs. Her experience includes over 50 years playing the organ and accompanying ensembles and soloists in countless churches. At the present time, she is the organist at Kearney First United Methodist Church. Ann holds degrees from Ft. Hays State University, Arizona State University and Kearney State College. Ann has also sung professionally with the Richard Dales Chorale. Ann is the 2014 recipient of the Celebration of Giving Volunteer Award for her service to Kearney. She is currently enjoying time with her 16 grandchildren and 5 children. In her spare time, she works for Tour Resource Consultants, is a substitute teacher, volunteer worker, and avid gardener and supporter of her husband, David, in his many endeavors.

Gary Davis Headshot_200

Gary retired from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2011 as Professor of Music and Director of the Honors Program. He was appointed to the UNK faculty in 1990 as Director of Bands and Professor of Brass, teaching private lessons to major and minor low brass students and conducting the UNK Brass Quintet. In addition, he conducted the UNK “Pride of the Plains” Marching Band, Symphonic Band, and Wind Ensemble and taught instrumental conducting. Dr. Davis served as Director of Bands from 1990 to 2004 and Director of the Honors Program from 2003 to his retirement. A native of Lincoln, NE, Gary received his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music in Trumpet Performance degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He received his Ph.D. in Music Education from The University of Iowa. Prior to his appointment at UNK, he was Director of Bands at Wayne State College (Wayne, NE), Schuyler Central High School (NE) and Instrumental/Vocal Director at Cedar Bluffs Public Schools (NE). Gary is a veteran serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1971-1974. After retiring, he joined the 1733 Barbershop Chorus, the barbershop quartet Patent Pending and the Platte River Singers Chorus. He has joined the Kearney Dobytown Kiwanis Club, Kearney Concert Association, Torch Club International, and was selected into the TeamMates Mentor Program. Most recently, Gary was appointed to the Fine and Performing Arts Small Learning Community Advisory Team for Kearney High School. He continues to conduct high school honor bands and adjudicate music festivals and contests. During his 37-year career as a music educator, he has conducted more than 330 honor bands in 13 states and three Canadian provinces. Gary and his wife Debby have been married for 45 years. They have two grown children and five grand children.

Yvonne Deyle Headshot_200Yvonne has been with Barney Insurance in Kearney, Nebraska, for the past 50 years and is now the Account Executive and supervisor. During this time, she was the first woman president of Professional Insurance Agents of Nebraska. She has served on various boards including PIA, Kearney Woman’s Club, Insurance Women of Mid-Nebraska, Buffalo County Board Envoys Chairman, Cancer Society and Central Nebraska Auto Club. Yvonne received the 2013 Celebration of Giving Award for her service to the community of Kearney. She has been a volunteer with many organizations including the Kearney Community Theatre, Buffalo County Community Health Partners, Habitat for Humanity and is a 25-year member of Rotary Club.

Brian Botsford Headshot_200Brian is a 1995 graduate of Kearney High School and a 2000 graduate of the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education. After 11 years as the vocal music instructor and assistant instrumental music instructor at Bishop Neumann High School, he is now the 6-12 vocal music instructor at Lexington Public Schools. Brian has been an active performer in the Lincoln and Omaha area, participating in groups such as the Omaha Symphonic Chorus, Lincoln Community Concert Band, Lincoln Civic Orchestra, First Presbyterian Church of Wahoo as well as solo music performances. Currently, he is pursuing a Master of Music degree at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Brian has served as the Musical Director for the last three summers for Crane River Theater.

Bob Heiden Headshot_200

A Kearney native, Bob graduated from Kearney High School in 2002. With a passion for the fine arts, he started out performing in musicals at the high school and community theatre level where he discovered his niche: designing, building and painting scenery. He earned a BFA in Graphic Design and a minor in Technical Theater from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Bob has designed and painted sets for many local organizations including Zion Lutheran Church, Holy Cross Lutheran Church and Kearney Community Theatre. He has served in multiple design capacities with Crane River Theater during the last five seasons. When he’s not painting, Bob channels his creativity as an Art Director for Buckle Inc. where he manages the graphic design team for online marketing.

Gay Longfellow Headshot_200

Gay received her Bachelors Degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in Home Economics. A long time Kearney resident, she worked as real estate agent for twenty eight years. She has always had a love of clothes, sewing and art which morphed into costume design and construction. She has designed costumes for more than forty productions at Kearney Community Theatre. She has also volunteered her time for countless productions at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Omaha Community Playhouse, and touring productions at the Viero Event Center. Most recently, she designed the costumes for Godspell, Little Shop of Horrors and Tuesdays with Morrie produced by Crane River Theater. Since retiring, she enjoys spending time with her family, playing bridge, reading, cooking and traveling.

After growing up on a farm in Davenport, Nebraska, Jane graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with an English major and Speech minor. She then taught high school English in Bernardsville, New Jersey. Jane obtained her Master of Arts degree from Newark State College, before returning to Nebraska to manage The Lodge Restaurant in Kearney. This is where she met her wonderful husband, Pete. They have two grown daughters and six grandchildren. Jane has served on the Nebraska Humanities Board, Friends of Lied Board, and UNK Academic Affairs Advisory Board. She co-chaired the capital campaign for the Iain Nicolsen Education Center at the Rowe Sanctuary and Crossroads Center Awakening Hope campaign for the Crossroads Center Homeless Mission. In her spare time, Jane volunteers at her church, Windy Hills Elementary School, Crossroads Center, and enjoys bible study, family time, playing bridge, traveling, reading walking, sporting events, and attending live theater.

Janice Fronczak Headshot_200

Janice is a tenured Professor of Theatre at the University of Nebraska at Kearney where she teaches performance and playwriting courses in addition to serving as a director for the mainstage season. She has been invited to serve as a guest director and teacher for summer stock theatres in Alaska, Michigan, Nebraska, Texas and South Dakota. Complimenting her role as a director and educator, Janice is an accomplished playwright. Her collection of original monologues, Blue Food, as well as ten of her short plays, have been published by Heuer Publishing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Her full-length play, Corn Man, successfully premiered at UNK and won her several awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, including a meritorious award for playwriting. Janice is a nationally Registered Licensed Drama Therapist. She recently directed Crane River Theater’s production of Tuesdays with Morrie and acted in the understudy role of Aunt Em in The Wizard of Oz.

Jeff Warren Headshot_200Jeff grew up in Overton, Nebraska, and graduated from Overton High School. Jeff has always had a passion for music and the arts. Growing up in a musical family, Jeff and his sisters, accompanied by his mom, entertained all over central Nebraska in his younger years. Jeff participated in high school instrumental and vocal music, and was selected as a participant of many elite choirs. He is a past member of “The Company,” a select ensemble that performed and entertained throughout central Nebraska and Kansas. He is also a member of the Platte River Singers, First United Methodist Church Choir and has performed in several musicals at Kearney Community Theatre. Jeff is an active volunteer with his church and the community. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Noon Rotary Organization. He and his wife, Betty, are the owners of Coldwell Banker Town and Country Realty of Kearney and Central Nebraska.

Julie is currently the publisher of the Kearney Hub, the daily newspaper serving Kearney and surrounding communities. She joined the Kearney Hub shortly after graduating from Kearney State College in 1978 and has served the newspaper as its advertising director, general manager and, since 2012, as its publisher. She also served as publisher of the Columbus Telegram from 1995-2000. Her career in journalism has included many leadership positions on the state level with the Nebraska Press Association. She has been a board member of the Kearney and Columbus Chambers of Commerce, Buffalo County Community Partners, Kearney Housing Authority, Kearney Area United Way, Kearney Arts Council, Kearney Family YMCA, CHI Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation and the Kearney Area Community Foundation. In 2015, she was named a Distinguished Alumni of the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Julie and her husband Dan live in Kearney and plan to remain active as volunteers in the community.

Kathy was born and raised in Kearney. Throughout her education, she was involved in the performing arts. Singing or acting, she credits these early experiences in building her sense of the world and her self-confidence. After graduating from Kearney High School in 1992, she attended the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Even as a Biology major, Kathy found time to act and stage manage in a couple productions. After receiving a B.S. in Natural Science, she moved to Los Angeles and married her high school sweetheart. While in LA, Kathy received a Masters of Education from Pepperdine University. She taught Middle School Science at Burbank Unified School District until the birth of her son. Her family, including her son Jackson, daughter Eleanor, and husband Jon have split their time between Kearney and Los Angeles. Currently in Kearney, Kathy is excited to be able to contribute her time and efforts in support of Crane River Theater.

Kim is twice a graduate of UNK – first in 1999 with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art and History Education, then in 2004 with a Masters of Arts in Art Education. In between her degrees, Kim taught art for two years at Barr Middle School in Grand Island. Two weeks before walking across the stage to receive her hood, she gave birth to her son Nolan. She has been a full-time mom since, and added daughters Lydia and Morgan along the way. Kim stays very busy outside of the home, having been involved with the Kearney Children’s Museum, Leadership Kearney, several Kearney Public Schools bond committees and superintendent/parent advisory committee, UNK’s Alpha Phi sorority, Kenwood and Park Elementary School PTO groups, multiple Holy Cross Lutheran Church boards and the Museum of Nebraska Art. In addition to her community involvements, Kim teaches fitness classes and coordinates special activities at Just for Ladies Fitness. She also has her own business, Kim Dart Designs, creating customized artwork for people’s homes and businesses. Kim and husband, Lucas, have called Kearney home together since 2001.

Lee received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration from Kearney State College. She is currently employed at the University of Nebraska, Kearney in the Office of Equity & Compliance, as the University and Research Compliance Manager. In addition to her full-time job, she was an adjunct professor for 8 years, teaching OSHA Construction Safety. Previously, Lee was employed at Coleman Powermate, serving as an active Envoy with the Chamber of Commerce, helping on the United Way Board, and a member of the UNK Gold Torch Society. She actively volunteers with the Kearney Area Community Foundation for the Wine & Jazz Festival, and at the Classic Car Collection, where she and her mother, “play with big dolls”, by dressing the mannequins to the era of cars & seasons. She has two grown children with whom she enjoys spending time with.

Loralea Frank Headshot_200Loralea Frank was born and raised in Ainsworth, Nebraska. After graduating high school from Ainsworth, she went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2003. She received her Juris Doctorate from the University of South Dakota School of Law in 2006, where she was the Managing Editor of the South Dakota Law Review and a member of the South Dakota School of Law Trial Team. In 2006, Loralea moved to Kearney with her husband, Mark. In 2011, she formed a law firm, now called Bruner Frank. Loralea specializes in Family Law litigation. Loralea and her husband, Mark have three children. Loralea has served on numerous boards and committees in the Kearney community, including the SAFE Center, Kearney Area Children’s Museum, Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Committee, Make A Wish, and Leadership Kearney. As a female leader in business and law, Loralea speaks to young women and serves charitable causes to advance women’s issues.

Sheila Meyer Headshot_200Sheila, a lifelong resident of Nebraska, completed her college degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Speech Communication and Theatre Arts. In addition, she completed coursework to obtain an Elementary Education endorsement. She has taught secondary speech, theatre and English, as well as preschool and elementary grades. Recently she retired from Kearney’s Good Samaritan Hospital, where she was an educator and family services coordinator for parents and children with special needs. Upon retirement, she became a Holdrege Christian Charity Volunteer, a Crane River Theatre Volunteer, and a Kearney Woman’s Club Board Member. Traveling with her husband Richard throughout the country, visiting family and exploring beautiful locations, is her favorite past time. She and her husband have three wonderful sons and daughter-in-laws. Her newest life-changing endeavor is becoming a grandmother.

Steve Lewis Headshot_200Stephen received his Bachelor of Arts from California State University-Sacramento with a double major in Theatre (Acting/Directing & Design/Lighting/Tech -1972). He worked on a Masters in scenic design at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, but switched and graduated with an MBA from UNL in 1984. At the College of Business Administration, he was a teaching assistant and awarded two fellowships. He spent 14 years as a broadcast professional and 14 years in not-for-profit management, education and development including responsibility for a seven state area for American Red Cross. Stephen is the past President of the Kearney Concert Association and Treasurer of the Zion Lutheran School Foundation. Stephen has over 110 theater production program credits. Born in Kearney, he has lived in California, Hawaii, Missouri, Texas and four years in Japan, but upon reaching 51, he chose to retire early and return to his hometown of Kearney and became a professional volunteer.

Vonda grew up in Friend, Nebraska. She received her Cosmetology and Barber License from the College of Hair Design in Lincoln. Vonda currently resides in Kearney and serves as the Hospitality Coordinator and Box Office Manager at the Merryman Performing Arts Center, as well as an office assistant at MTG. She is an active volunteer in the community as a member of the Kearney Chamber of Commerce Envoys, Museum of Nebraska Art Guild, and leadership team for the Connection Café at E-Free Church. Vonda is currently the president of the Make A Wish friends group in Kearney. She is the proud mother of two sons and two daughters with her husband Tom.

Steve Barth Headshot_200Born and raised in Kearney, Nebraska, Steve discovered his passion for music and theater performing on stages across the community. His love for the arts inspired him to pursue his BA and MFA in Acting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. During that time, Steve had the opportunity to perform with many theaters throughout the Midwest, including the Nebraska Repertory Theater, Minnesota Repertory Theater and Illinois Music Theater. He served as the Artistic Director of Theatrix for three years, overseeing many productions in multiple capacities: producer, director and designer. He taught many classes at the University, served on numerous administrational committees and directed multiple productions. Steve eventually moved to New York City, where he resided for eight years acting, directing and producing. He co-founded Three’s Company Productions, which produced plays throughout the city. Steve now proudly serves as the Artistic Director of Crane River Theater in Kearney, a company he founded in 2009. He is a current board member for Nebraskans for the Arts and a 2014 recipient of the Nebraska Arts Council Governor’s Arts Award for Emerging Leadership.

Corey Urbanek Headshot_200Corey was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Throughout school, she was involved in all things fine arts, including concert and show choir, marching and concert band, theatre, and individual lessons on piano and French horn. She attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and interned at the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln. After earning her Music Business degree in 2008, she spent nearly seven years working at Nebraska Television Network as a newscast producer and assignment editor. Corey lives in Kearney with her husband, Bryce, and their 2-year-old twins, Cassie and Collin.

Originally from Hastings, Nebraska, Peg graduated from Hastings High School and Hastings College with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. She has been a music and theater educator in many rural schools throughout Nebraska, including Amherst, Green Hill, Stone School, Center District 28, Elm Creek, Odessa, and most recently Gibbon Public Schools. She has directed numerous musical ensembles, show choirs, competitive one-acts and musicals. She has also taught private voice, piano and guitar lessons in her years of teaching. Peg was recognized as “Teacher of the Month” in 1999 by Nebraska Television and “Teacher of the Year” in 2015 by the Nebraska American Legion. She is a member of the American Choral Director’s Association and the Nebraska Music Educator’s Association. She has served on the Kearney Community Theatre Board of Directors and is a proud member of the First United Methodist Church Choir and Platte River Singers. Peg is the proud mother of 3 children; Bill and Brandy of Kearney and Ben of Waukesha, Wisconsin, plus 6 grandchildren; Drew, Grace, Jack, Maren, Lauren and Reid. She is extremely honored and excited to become a part of the Crane River family!