Artistic Staff and Board Members

AILEEN MCCULLOCH

vagabondactingtroupe@gmail.com - M.A. Theatre Villanova University - BA (Theatre) Mary Washington College - founded the Vagabond Acting Troupe in 1993 as an educational training company. Past VAT original core development works (over 25 to date) include: ORIGINAL SINS, IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK (The Philadelphia City Hall project), THREE WORLDS INTERTWINED (The UPENN Museum of Archeology and Anthropology project - recipient Ted and Stevie Wolf award for New Approaches to Theatre, Barrymore Awards, 2003), COMMEDIA FOR KIDS, R-R-R SAVE THE WORLD (The Huntingdon County Recycle Project), PMS! A PERIOD MUSICAL, SUPER DUPER, the Barrymore nominated TRIAL OF AKHENATEN collaboration with the University of Pennsylavnia's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, POM POM SAVES THE DAY with the Laurel House Domestic Abuse Project, MIRROR MIRROR with the Tri County Anti Violence project and BULLY BULLY and anti-bullying project with the Montgomery County Cultural Center as funded by Sovreign Bank. One of her favorite recent original Vagabond works on the Philadelphia Fringe was the series BARFLIES and BARFLIES: ANOTHER SHOT at L2 Restaurant and Bar. She has written and directed ALL of the original youth ensemble productions, including THE SNOW QUEEN, ZEUSSICAL, CINDERELLA (A MUSICAL), THUMBELINA, A CHARM SCHOOL WITCH, TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES, THE WIZARD OF OZ and ALICE IN WONDERLAND. She has directed over 125 productions in the last twenty years, both here and elsewhere, with highlights including: A VAGABOND CHRISTMAS CAROL (Barrymore nominated outstanding ensemble, 2000), and critically acclaimed productions of SLAPPED and LIFE IS A DREAM, both of which she adapted with the help of original language translators. She has appeared in over 100 productions in the past 20 years, favorite Vagabond roles include Blossom in Walt Vail's NEIGHBORS, Marvel and Slime in SUPER DUPER, Roberta in DANNY IN THE DEEP BLUE SEA, Rosalind in AS YOU LIKE IT, Frankie in FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIRE DE LUNE and the many roles of A VAGABOND CHRISTMAS CAROL. Aileen was Director of Theatrical productions for Pennsylvania Performing Arts Academy for three years, where she directed 12 productions, and a teacher there for 7 years. She has worked for such other Philadelphia area companies as Brat Productions, The Eternal Spiral Project, Azuka Theatre Collective, The Brick Playhouse (including BEST OF IT winner THE LACTATING WOMEN'S MOVEMENT), Villanova University Theatre (Irene Ryan nominee), Eureka Theatre, Centre Theater and more. In addition, she has been a workshop leader for the Philadelphia Young Playwrights festival for many years, and her audition tips have been used to educate Theatre Alliance auditioners for many years as well (visit www.theatrealliance.org for her list compiled with the assistance of many Philadelphia theatrical professionals). For many seasons Aileen was a voter for the TAGP Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre and has been a nominator and judge in seasons past. She created three new works during Vagabond creative residencies with the Winterthur Museum in Delaware: WRITING THREADS (a theatre interactive project with the museum's costume in film exhibit), TALES OF THE FIREFLY KING (dedicated to a dear lost friend) and BE NICE TO MOTHER NATURE, a new children's work. Her play about the last three moments of Shakespeare's life, ON A WOODEN GLOBE made it's world premiere at the Kenan Center in New York. For three years she headed up the Young Audiences of Eastern Pennsylvania, taking it from $30,000 debt to in-the-black – and turning it’s roster around by creating collaborative partnerships to leverage a revitalization. She facilitated the organization's merger with Young Audiences of New Jersey. She is currently working on an original translation/adaptation of Maeterlink's THE BLUEBIRD and Machiavelli's THE MANDRAKE (or THE MAN ROOT), and an original play about the infamous Borgia family entitled BEING BORGIA. Recently Aileen was ordained in the Universal Life Church Monastery and holds her Advanced status as a Reike practitioner. She strives to learn one new thing a day. She is always doing a show but her favorite productions are Lionel and Tiernan – who are usually doing shows with her. Did she mention she is a homeschool mom?

JEFF BEIDEMAN

(Resident Music Director) is a founding member of the VAT, appearing in our second show, LIFE IS A DREAM back in 1997, and taking part in acting workshops before the company was producing back in 1993. He has most recently been the resident music director for our musicals. So far he has directed: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, WIZARD OF OZ, ANNIE JR., A CHARM SCHOOL WITCH, INTO THE WOODS, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD, GREASE and 13 with VAT Youth Ensemble. Like those in our youth ensemble, his passion for music started at a very young age singing in a variety of venues. In school, he studied the trumpet and performed in several concert, marching bands, and jazz ensembles. He furthered his education with music theory courses. After school, he traded the trumpet for a guitar and went on to write, sing and perform with several local bands. He stepped into the theater arena in the 80’s, singing, acting, and musical directing with several local community theater companies. An impetus for the beginning of the Vagabond Acting Troupe was when Jeff and Aileen (along with Brent Adams and Andrew Shields) won the People’s Choice Award at the Liverpool International Theatre Festival for their production of LONE STAR. Jeff is on break from acting at the present, but Aileen’s always trying to get a reunion production of LONE STAR up on the boards…maybe this year?!…Jeff currently enjoys singing, teaching, and leading at his church, and performing with a trio called “All For 1”.

JENNIFER WILKIN

(Board of Directors/Resident Music Director) came on board a few years ago as a volunteer parent, and ended up staying as staff! She has music directed numerous productions including the original works: ZEUSSICAL and CINDERELLA, along with book musicals: DISNEY'S THE LITTLE MERMAID JR., and DISNEY'S ARISTOCATS, CHARLOTTE'S WEB and HONK JR.. She also assistant directs with us, and has worked on HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, NEIGHBORS and the CHARLIE BROWN PROJECT in that capacity. She has been doing musicals since she was a teenager, and also has many musical theater roles to her credit from before her children were born.

ELLEN JOFFRED

(Board of Directors/Resident Vocal Coach/Core Ensemble) is thrilled to be both a core development member with Vagabond Acting Troupe as well as a board member. She received her BA in French and Theater with an emphasis in acting and directing at Dickinson College, where she also graduated Phi Beta Kappa and received the Gould Drama Memorial Award. While studying abroad she interned at Theater Sorano in Toulouse France, and during her time at Dickinson she interned for two summers as a dramaturg at Pendragon Theater in upstate NY. Upon graduating, Ellen was asked to return to Pendragon for the '07 summer season as a company member. Ellen joined the troupe as an intern assistant director as well as an intern in dramaturgy for "Rag and Bone", she later acted in the Vagabond One Act Festival and as a core development member of A PRIEST WALKS INTO A BAR. She became a resident vocal coach for the Vagabond Youth Ensemble's production of A WIZARD OF OZ, and since then has coached for CHARM SCHOOL WITCH, ANNIE JR. and INTO THE WOODS. She shares with them her many years of vocal training with both Holly Altenderfer and Professor Lynn Helding and Dr. Christopher Arnerson. Recently Ellen was Musical Director for Montgomery County Cultural Center's BUGSY MALONE JUNIOR. She is currently in NYC at Columbia University pursuing her penchant for dramaturgy as she works towards her Masters! Luckily her parents live up the street from Vagabond’s new theatre, so she comes back often to help with shows.

CLAIRE GOLDEN DRAKE

(Secretary, Board of Directors/Core Ensemble) has been working with the Vagabond Acting Troupe since it's second producing season, when she was part of the developmental team for COMMEDIA FOR KIDS, one of the troupe's most popular touring children's works. Claire has since appeared in SLAPPED, AS YOU LIKE IT, TALES OF THE FAIRY QUEEN (numerous casts), PAUL BUNYAN'S AMERICAN TALL TALES, ALICE A WONDERLAND ADVENTURE, and many others. Most recently she appeared last season in the Third Annual One Act Play Festival. Claire serves on our board of directors as Secretary as she takes a short sabbatical from the stage to care for her three small children.

LAVAR BANKS

(Stage Manager/Assistant Director Youth Productions and Musicals) is a recent addition to the Vagabond Acting Troupe, coming on board during HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL. LaVar assists with after school activities at the Twin Valley Middle School, as well as acting with the company and performing management duties backstage. Recently he appeared as The Dragoman in APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH, and as the plant voice in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. He is the regular stage manager for youth and children's productions. Along with self teaching himself piano and guitar he also studied culinary arts in Pittsburgh, PA. We hope he'll teach a cooking class or two in the future! LaVar has a passion for music and working with children, and we are excited to have him as part of the team!

KAIT SKROCKI

(Assistant Director Classical Studies, Core Ensemble) has been working with Aileen for the last ten years, starting as a student, and slowly working her way up to the Core Ensemble membership, where she has performed in BULLY, BULLY (current touring production), GREASE and NEIGHBORS. Starting as a high school intern with the troup, Kait also interned with us while she was studying Film at Penn State. Since she received her BA, she has been assisting with workshops and projects in an Assistant Director capacity. We hope soon she'll head up a project on her own!