(if you’re looking for cast and crew bios visit the individual show pages)
Open Book Staff
Krista Schafer Ewbank and Topher Alan Payne began their working relationship when Topher directed Krista in a production of Speech and Debate with Drastic Theatre Company in the summer of 2012. Their friendship, mutual professional respect, and similar passion and vision for what theatre is and what it provides for the audience and artists have led them to work together in this new company.
Krista Schafer Ewbank, Artistic Director
Krista earned her degree in theatre from Northwestern University. She has since performed on stages large and small all across the country before settling back in her home state of Michigan. Krista can be seen as The Statue of Liberty on the cover of Cootie Shots (published by TCG), in which she was an original cast member and has appeared in national and regional radio and television commercials. She has also performed in untold numbers of cafetoriums and auditeria on school tours, and worked both on stage and off at the California Science Center. She has taught theatre to students of all ages and led preschoolers in music classes.
Topher Alan Payne, Associate Director
Topher is a Michigan based actor and director. Originally hailing from Lubbock, Texas, Topher has a BFA in Acting Performance from Texas Tech University and an MFA in Acting from Wayne State University. He has worked on stage with Tulsa’s American Theatre Company, Lubbock Moonlight Musicals, The Angel Fire Mountain Theatre Company, and The Berkshire Fringe Festival. He has also taught high school theatre, and directed many productions on the high school level and in various storefront spaces in Texas, Oklahoma, and Michigan.
Harley Miah, Resident Lighting Designer
Harley is a professional in the entertainment technology industry. He is a freelance lighting programmer for a large number of nightclubs, concerts and festivals in the Detroit area, and across the country. Harley is Open Book’s resident lighting designer and has designed all their shows, and earned a Wilde Award for Best Design – Lights for his work on Red. He works with the RHS Theatre program and is a proud member of, and lighting designer for, AKT Theatre Project in Wyandotte, MI. He also designs the lights for Outvisible Theatre. In the summer he loves to ride his bike and Slow Roll on Monday nights.
Danielle Gilbert, Stage Manager
Danielle started stage managing with Open Book Theatre in the last show of their second season, Calypso’s Corner, May 2016, and has been a part of every show since. Danielle has loved stories since a really young age, when she would often find herself daydreaming of her doll’s backstories. In her spare time she also has a job in a bookstore, the perfect place for her passion of stories to be let loose. She hopes that one day she might be able to see her own show come to life, but for now she is content following the crazy path on which theatre is taking her so far.
Open Book Theatre Company Board of Directors
Our volunteer board has a wide range of experience and is active in our community in many ways!
Krista Schafer Ewbank, President
• Bachelor of Science in Theatre, Northwestern University
• Additional training with Arden Continuing Training (Philadelphia, PA) and in Los Angeles with the NYC-based SITI Company
• 20 years of professional acting experience
• 2004 Best Supporting Actress Empty Award (Bakersfield, CA), 2006 Best Ensemble Ambie Award (New Orleans, LA), 2008-2009 Leading Actress Award Playmakers Theater (Covington, LA)
• 20 years of theatre directing and teaching experience with various community and arts programs
• Additional experience working with children as a preschool teacher with Hosanna Lutheran Preschool, Mandeville, LA; Director of youth and family ministry at St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Grosse Ile, MI; and many other volunteer positions in schools and churches
• Current board member, The Downriver Council for the Arts
• Current board member, Grosse Ile Boar’s Head Festival
• Past board member of Bear Creek Camp, Wilkes Barre, PA
Madeleine GB Jones, Vice President
• Bachelor of Science, Wayne State University
• Masters Degree in Education, Wayne State University
• Fulbright-Hays, MSU, Nepal
• Southgate Community Schools, MI Teacher, (K-8) 34 years (Science Department Head, Shelters Elementary, Gerisch Middle School)
• Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, St. Helena Island, Straits of Mackinac, MI (Summer Educational Director and Curriculum Head, 12 years ; Treasurer, 3 years)
• EarthWorks and Exchange City, Taylor, MI (Habitat Manager, City Facilitator 8 years)
• Tutor at Harms Elementary School, Detroit, MI (2 years)
• Committee, WCCC Taylor, MI 2 years
• Episcopal Church Women, St. James Episcopal Church, Grosse Ile, MI (President 3 years, Treasurer 5 years, Greens Market Chairwoman 3 years)
• CoSenior Warden , St. James Episcopal Church, Grosse Ile, MI (2 years)
• Choir and Bell Choir , St. James Episcopal Church, Grosse Ile, MI (34 years)
• Grosse Ile Interfaith Council (Boar’s Head Festival, choir and bell ringing 10 productions)
• Singer with Dr. J. Parker Grosse Ile Chorale
• Singer with Detroit Community Chorus
• Board Secretary , Grosse Ile Garden Club (2 years)
• Board Member, Grosse Ile Book Club (3 years)
• Season Patron , Wayne State University’s Graduate Hilberry Theater, Detroit, MI (44 years)
Lea Ellwood-Filkins, Secretary
• Cass Technical High School – Performing Arts 1973
• KidShow of Cass Tech (traveling theater)
• Attended Wayne State University
• Office Manager, Doré Inc. (advertising and public relations firm)
• Field Director Children’s Programs (including grant applications), First Protestant Society of Detroit (First Presbyterian Church of Detroit, MI)
• Past President, Treasurer and Recording Secretary, The Islanders (community theatre, Grosse Ile, MI)
• Past Treasurer – St. James Episcopal Church, Grosse Ile, MI
• Cast member – various productions of The New Improvisation Theatre, Oak Park, MI; The Islanders, Grosse Ile, MI; Southgate Community Players, Southgate MI; Daedolos Productions, Grosse Ile, MI, among others
• Member, Southgate Community Players (community theater, Southgate, MI)
• Past board member and Recording Secretary, Whitaker Institute of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan
• Stage Manager, Grosse Ile Boar’s Head Festival
• Head Verger, Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Detroit, MI
• President and Yearbook Committee Chair, PEO Chapter AF (women’s scholarship organization)
• Currently working as Executive Coordinator, Advanced Administrative Lead, Ernst & Young LLP
Erin Shelton, Treasurer
• Bachelor of Arts, English Literature, University of Michigan
• 10 years non-profit experience, including start-up
• Wrote many successful grants, both private foundations and public
• Developed educational programming for special needs children
• Current board member, Trenton Business Association
• Former Church Council member and Secretary, St. Thomas Lutheran Church
• Former Call Committee member, St. Thomas Lutheran Church
• Current Financial Advisor, Key Concerns, Inc.
Our by-laws state that our board must be comprised of four to eleven members. We are looking to grow our board by adding individuals dedicated to working towards our mission. Board members are not paid, but serve as volunteers for the organization. Terms are for one year, but there are no term limits. The board is responsible for ensuring that the activities of Open Book support our mission and meet its legal and financial goals and obligations.