Bios

Wild Swan Staff…

Hilary Cohen Hilary Cohen (Co-Director) was one of the founders of Wild Swan Theater thirty-six years ago. Before Wild Swan was a full-time occupation, she was also a professor of theater at the University of Michigan where she taught and directed for twenty years.  Hilary has acted in or directed over 40 productions for Wild Swan and published a number of influential articles on theater and access.  She was a founding member of the National Association for Theater and Disability (which became the Association for Theater and Accessibility).  Hilary loves the collaborative spirit at Wild Swan and is grateful to be part of the wonderful array of theater artists who come together to make each play such a special experience.

Sandy Ryder Sandy Ryder (Co-Artistic Director) graduated from the University of Michigan in 1975 with a degree in theater. She’s had various roles including preschool teacher (Chelsea Community Hospital CCC), clown, mime (Michael Filisky Mime Theatre & Magic Mountain Mime School), and many fun parts with the Black Sheep Theatre where she performed with an improvisational children’s theater company: “Traveling Smiles.” One of her favorite roles was starting her own business in 1979, Say Cheese Cheesecakes, where she made many cheesecakes and met lots and lots of great people. In 1980, Sandy co-founded Wild Swan with Hilary Cohen. Since that time, she has created more than 50 roles for Wild Swan productions including Winnie-the-Pooh, Owl, Toad, Wilbur, and many other loveable characters. Sandy has played roles for Purple Rose Theatre, Performance Network, Redbud Productions,  and Ann Arbor Civic Theatre.

Michelle Lanzi Michelle Trame Lanzi (Company Manager) spends her days managing Wild Swan’s touring program as well as appearing in many of their productions. In her 20+ years with Wild Swan, Michelle has appeared throughout the state of Michigan in hundreds of performances—everything from Eeyore in A Honey pot of Pooh Stories to the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. She has worked with other local theater companies, portraying Karen in Plaza Suite with The Phoenix Players, Marta in Ann Arbor Civic Theater’s production of Waiting for the Parade, and as Susie in Redbud Productions’ Wit. In addition to performing, Michelle has worked as a stage manager for the University of Michigan (where she received her degree), Virginia Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, and Spoleto Festival USA.

Musicians…

Lorrie Gunn Lorraine Gunn (Musician), recipient of the John A. Plumer Memorial Scholarship Award and finalist in the Robert Mondavi Violin Competition, has performed as soloist with the University of Maine, Arcady and Houlton Orchestras. Ms. Gunn studied violin at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, where she received a full tuition scholarship to study with soloist Erick Friedman. She continued her musical studies at the University of Maine in Orono where she was awarded a teaching assistant position for Music Theory. Lorrie has traveled through Spain, Italy, Austria, and China as an orchestral musician. Despite all that time soaking in world culture, her favorite engagement so far has been with the All-American College Orchestra working for a large famous rat named Mickey. Correct! Disneyworld in Orlando won her heart. Those who know her would agree that her stint rubbing elbows with national entertainers and dressing up as the Big White Rabbit was one of her most profound influences. Currently, Mrs. Gunn is Concertmaster for the Rochester Symphony Orchestra and adjunct faculty for strings at Rochester College. She performs with the Wild Swan Theater in Ann Arbor and enjoys entertaining the Gentles at the Michigan Renaissance Festival. In addition, Lorrie Gunn has a company, Frog on Butter, which makes educational DVD’s instructing violin.

David Mosher David Mosher (Musician) has sung and performed on mandolin, violin, guitar, banjo, and percussion in 14 different Wild Swan productions including Brothers of the Heart, Twelfth Night, and Once Upon a Time. He makes his living as a musician touring with The Raisin Pickers, String Doctors, Wayward Roots, Kitty Donohoe and Matt Watroba as well as producing, recording and acting as a side man for a Who’s Who of the Michigan acoustic music scene. In 2002, 2004, and 2005 David won the Detroit Metro Times award for “best acoustic instrumentalist in Michigan.”

Designers…

Jeff Duncan Jeff Duncan (Playwright) has written original scripts for more than twenty Wild Swan productions, including Shipwrecked!, The Wind in the Willows, The Nightingale, The Firebird, The Changeling, and The Wizard of Oz. He is also one of our favorite actors, creating roles such as Malvolio in Twelfth Night and Old Shem in Brothers of the Heart. Jeff is well known to adult audiences in this area for the plays he has written for the Performance Network-The Insomniac, In the Image, Persephone, and Where the Hoozah and the Coataway Meet (named Best Play of the Year by the Ann Arbor News, 1991)–and for Pinocchio, a musical comedy written and performed in the style of English Christmas Panto produced at Eastern Michigan University. When Jeff is not writing plays and acting, he is enjoying his new-found life of leisure as a retired Professor of English at EMU.

Beth Sandmaier Beth Sandmaier (Set Designer) is currently a Scenic Artist at the University of Michigan. Along with her full time job at the U of M, and working with Wild Swan, she has also designed locally for the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. Before spending two seasons as a Scenic Artist at the Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis, she was the Charge Artist/Propsmaster at the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre. While in Fort Wayne, she was also Scene Designer for the Fort Wayne Youtheater, spending four years there. She received her M.A in theater from Oklahoma State University, and her B.A from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.

Suzanne Young Suzanne Young (Costume Designer) was born in England and trained as a costumer at the Wimbledon School of Art and Design.  She spent some years in London working extensively on costumes for television, film and stage before moving to Boston where she designed mostly for opera and theater. Since moving to Ann Arbor in 1994 with her husband and two sons, Suzanne has designed and coordinated the costumes for most of Wild Swan’s productions including Musicians of the Sun, Little Women, The Wizard of Oz, Along the Tracks, and Treasure Island. In addition to her work with Wild Swan, she designs for Performance Network, Purple Rose Theatre, Tipping Point Theatre, University Productions, Michigan Shakespeare Festival, and Pine Mountain Music Festival.

Performers…

Jamie Fidler Jamie Fidler (American Sign Language Performer) received her BA in Sign Language Studies from Madonna University in 2004 and now holds a state certification of QAIII. As a freelance interpreter (Deaf C.A.N.!, UM Hospital), she travels extensively throughout SE Michigan providing interpreting services in various settings. Inspired by a shadow interpreted performance of Singin’ in the Rain by TerpTheatre co-founders Dan McDougall and Michele Tocco in 2002, Jamie auditioned for and found a home with the company in 2006. She has performed with many theaters, including Wild Swan, in productions such as Twelfth Night, Thoroughly Modern Millie, A Chorus Line, Treasure Island, Urinetown and a dream-come-true performance of what originally inspired her – Singin’ in the Rain with McDougall in 2008.

Jeremy Salvatori Jeremy Salvatori (Actor) is beginning his ninth season with Wild Swan Theater, previously appearing in The Ugly Duckling, Along the Tracks, Coming to America, Twelfth Night and A Christmas Carol. In addition to Wild Swan, he has acted locally with the Performance Network Children’s Theatre Network and the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre. Jeremy has a B.A. from the University of Michigan, and currently works for Mathematical Reviews, a non-profit in Ann Arbor that helps promote mathematical research.

Shelly Tocco 2014  Shelly Tocco, NIC Master (American Sign Language Performer) began her passion for theatrical interpreting in 1996 when she shadow interpreted her first Wild Swan play, Alice in Wonderland. Since then, she has performed as a shadow interpreter in over 100 productions in theaters throughout the Metro Detroit area.  Shelly received Special Commendation for Distinguished Achievement in Integrated Sign Language by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival for her ASL performance in The Trojan Women.  In 2012, she co-produced and performed in Police Deaf Near Far which achieved glowing reviews and sold out performances for its entire run. Currently, she is a founder and managing partner of Synergy on Stage– a dynamic company specializing in entertainment interpreting.  In addition to her specialization in theatrical interpreting, Shelly also concentrates her interpreting skills in the area of video relay interpreting, interpreting for the Deaf-blind community, and freelance interpreting.