Get to know our talented staff by clicking on each name below…
Artistic Director Elly Lichenstein joined Cinnabar Theater in 1975 after serving as principal cellist for the Antwerp Chamber Orchestra in Belgium. At Cinnabar, she studied voice with founder Marvin Klebe, movement with Ann Woodhead, and drama with Fred Curchack and Richard Blake. Elly performed more than 50 roles with the company before retiring from the stage in 1999. Behind the scenes, she became Cinnabar’s general manager in 1979 and its executive director in 1997. When Marvin passed away in 1999, she assumed the role of artistic director as well.
Over the years, Elly has made it her duty to assure that Cinnabar continues to offer its artists a home where they are honored and safe, and can come together to collaborate, learn and create. She also helped to create and maintain an extensive youth program.
Elly has directed dozens of operas and musicals for Cinnabar and other theaters, including rarely-performed musicals and 20th century and rarely-performed operas. Under her leadership, Cinnabar has continued to present performances in a daring range of genres and upheld its commitment to develop bold new work. In the last decade alone, Cinnabar has presented six West Coast premieres and launched 15 world premieres – including nine plays, three musicals, an opera, an operetta, and a docudrama that proved so popular it went on to play off Broadway.
In 2013, when Cinnabar hired a new executive director, Elly retained her duties as artistic director while gladly passing her executive responsibilities on. In 2014, she received the Jerry Friedman Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bay Area Critics Circle, which recognizes a leader “who has furthered the creativity and growth of theater in the Bay Area throughout his or her career.”
Dragone brings to Cinnabar a wealth of knowledge and experience in business, along with an undying passion for the arts. As a long time Bay Area arts entrepreneur and presenter she is an avid advocate for the Arts and the vital role they play in our culture.
Diane began her career in the arts when she started from scratch and built a chain of retail record/CD stores. Her last store, Star Classics, in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley was a landmark favorite, nationally and internationally, specializing in classical, jazz and musical theatre. In addition to selling CDs, she created within the store an intimate 100 seat recital hall, where Diane produced weekly concerts of local artists that were free to the public. The multi-faceted series became known as SF’s treasure box of untapped talent and people loved it because of the intimacy of the audience to the performers. Dragone closed Star Classics in 2002, but wanting to still stay in the arts, she returned to school and earned a Masters in Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco.
Dragone comes from an arts family. Her uncle, Carmen Dragon, was, for many years, the conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and won an Oscar in 1944 for his original musical score of the film Cover Girl. His son, Diane’s cousin Daryl Dragon, was the Captain of the pop music duo Captain & Tennille, with award winning TV Show and the chart topping song success Love Will Keep Us Together.
“I am excited and thrilled to be become part of the Cinnabar family and to make Petaluma my home,” says Dragone.
Education Director Nathan Cummings has created, coordinated, and administered theater activities for youth for more than 20 years. He has worked with children as young as 3 years old all the way up to 18-year-old high-school seniors.
In addition to leading classes at Cinnabar, Nathan has coordinated school tours for San Francisco’s New Conservatory and staged shows with more than 200 children in San Jose. He performed and taught on tours to all 48 states in the continental United States, including 60 rural communities in the West with the Hampstead Players, 45 cities in the Midwest and South with the National Touring Theatre, and 75 cities on the East Coast and in the Midwest with TheatreWorks USA.
A graduate of both the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts and the Conservatory of Theatre at Webster University in St. Louis, Nathan also has extensive experience as an actor and director in his own right. For Cinnabar’s Young Rep, he has staged The Grapes of Wrath, Little Shop of Horrors, Macbeth, Once on This Island, Rent, Romeo & Juliet, Seussical, and You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. For Cinnabar’s professional season, he directed City of Angels and Driving Miss Daisy as well as performing in 110 in the Shade, Arcadia, Crimes of the Heart, The Pavilion, She Loves Me, and We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay! He also recently appeared in The Full Monty at 6th Street Playhouse.
A native of Northern California, Nathan has lived in New York, Seoul, and Shanghai – but he has made Petaluma his home since 2010. He is the proud papa of Dareia Helena Cummings and Beatrix Io Cummings.
Production Manager Sharlyn Klein has been an invaluable member of Cinnabar’s staff for the last decade. In addition to managing all technical matters at the theater, she is also an accomplished set designer. Her scenic design credits include the world premiere of Ella: The American Dream as well as Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill, The Clean House, Gondoliers, I Am My Own Wife, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Midsummer Jersey.
Before joining Cinnabar, Sharlyn worked with several other prominent Bay Area companies including Exit Theatre, Lamplighters Music Theatre, Pocket Opera, and Porchlight Theater. She can still be found at the Exit every September working on the SF Fringe Festival. Sharlyn holds a bachelor’s degree from Sonoma State University in communications with an emphasis in technical theater.
Madeleine Ashe became involved with Cinnabar after seeing the incredible impact that its Young Rep had on her daughter’s life. Madeleine volunteered with the Parents Guild before being hired as the theater’s box office manager in 2007. In 2010, she assumed additional duties and was named director of finance. Her dedication and attention to detail have been an invaluable part of the theater’s success in recent years.
Madeleine holds a BA in acting from San Diego State University and has performed in San Diego and Los Angeles. Locally, she has been seen in Cinnabar’s productions of Fiddler on the Roof, La Cage aux Folles, and The Price, as well as in The Book of Matthew (Leibowitz) at Spreckels Theatre Company.
Lisa Eldredge has curated and maintained Cinnabar’s costume collection since 2001, cultivating a wardrobe that bears witness to 35 years of exquisite productions. As a designer, Eldredge has worked throughout the Bay Area for respected groups such as Pocket Opera, Porchlight Theater, Sonoma City Opera, the DivaFest at Exit Theater, and the Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute.
Her designs for Cinnabar include more than 20 professional productions, including La Boheme, Born Yesterday, Carmen, Cavelleria Rusticana, The Cunning Little Vixen, La Curandera, Dido & Aeneas, Driving Miss Daisy, Emmeline, Enchanted April, The Girl of the Golden West, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Marriage of Figaro, The Medium, The Moon, The Nightingale, Il Pagliacci, The Price, Private Lives, Shirley Valentine, and The Telephone. She has also created costumes for the theater’s Young Rep, including youth productions of Shakespeare, Offenbach, Gilbert and Sullivan, and several original works commissioned by Cinnabar.
The Petaluma Arts Council has honored Lisa as a featured artist, which presenting a solo exhibit of her costumes, photos, and commentary in 2004.
With extensive technical expertise and a heart of gold, Aloysha carries forward his father’s vision. He lovingly tends to the needs of a beautiful and finicky building that’s more than 100 years old.
Like his father before him, Aloysha also runs a cabinetry business out of the wood shop at the back of the property.
Laura Sunday has been involved with Cinnabar since 1995 when she moved to Petaluma with her husband and two children looking for a town that had a high-quality theater company. Jessie and Gabe immediately enrolled in Cinnabar’s Young Rep and were in productions through high school. They both use the skills they learned in those classes and productions in their adult professional lives.
Laura started the Parents Guild for Cinnabar in 1996 to create community for the families involved in its classes and shows. She also created and manages the three culinary events that serve as the theater’s top fundraisers: the Great Petaluma Chili Cook-off & Beer Tasting, Taste of Petaluma, and the Fresh Crab Feed.
Laura and her husband Michael co-owned Sunday & Associates, Inc., a technical recruiting firm since 1982. Laura is also a certified dance and fitness instructor.
Joe Elwick can turn the proverbial sow’s ear into a silk purse. He has designed scenery for Cinnabar’s productions of 110 in the Shade, The Pavilion, Of Mice and Men, Fiddler on the Roof and the world premieres of So Nice to Come Home To, We ♠ U, Nosferatu, and Falstaff. He has also designed sets for the Young Rep’s productions of The Grapes of Wrath,Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Into the Woods, and Rent.
“One cannot resist the charm, energy, and allégresse that was displayed on the podium by Mary Chun.” – Le Figaro, Paris
A fierce advocate of new work and equally passionate about reviving classics by the masters, Mary Chun conducts opera and musical theater in the Bay Area and beyond. In addition to serving as the resident music director at Cinnabar, she is also the principal conductor of the San Francisco-based new music ensemble Earplay.
Mary collaborates with many noted composers to bring new music to life. At the invitation of John Adams, she conducted the Paris, Hamburg, and Montreal premieres of his chamber opera Ceiling/Sky to critical acclaim. She also served as music director for world premieres such as Libby Larsen’s Every Man Jack, Carlo Lucero’s Wuornos, Mort Garson’s Revoco, Guillermo Galindo’s Decreation: Fight Cherries, and Cinnabar’s So Nice To Come Home To.
In 2014, Mary made her Chinese debut as music director for the premiere of Avenue Q in Beijing, where the two-month run was met with sold-out success and won the distinction of Best Musical Production in the Large Theater Category.
Her other conducting engagements include opera tours with the Kosice Opera throughout Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, in addition to concerts in Belgium and the Czech Republic. She has also been invited to conduct at Ballet San Joaquin, Hawaii Opera Theater, Lyric Opera of Cleveland, Mendocino Music Festival, Opera Idaho, Pacific Repertory Opera, Texas Shakespeare Festival, West Bay Opera, and West Edge Opera.
Mary holds the distinction of being a member of the rarefied circle of professional ondes martenot players in the world. As an ondiste, she has performed with orchestras in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Sonoma County’s own Santa Rosa Symphony.
For the past several years, Ross Tiffany-Brown has worked behind the scenes at Cinnabar. He spends countless hours as a stage manager for both professional plays and Young Rep performances. Some of his assignments have included Arcadia, Driving Miss Daisy, the world premiere of Edith Piaf: Under Paris Skies, and I Am My Own Wife.
Ross also serves as the special projects coordinator at Cinnabar, supporting our concert series and other guest artists. He is proud to have the love and support of his family and friends in everything he does for the performing arts.
Envision. Invest. Inspire. At Cinnabar, these three principles guide our board of directors in its efforts to promote and preserve the excellence of our artistic programs and youth activities.
Our board is an essential part of Cinnabar’s success. It is responsible for governance and fundraising, and its members serve as community ambassadors and professional consultants. Members are selected and elected based upon their belief in Cinnabar’s mission and their commitment to preserving its excellence for future generations.
Click on any name below to find out more about these people who donate their time, talent, and expertise to our cause.
We are always open to inquiries from interested members of the community to join our Board of Directors. Please contact Diane Dragone by email or call 707-981-7646.
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Nadja was born and raised in Sonoma County and has devoted her life to the Arts (especially Theatre). She received her Doctorate in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Maryland where she was a Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities Fellow. (She also has a couple of degrees in Multimedia.) She continues to produce scholarship on Digital Theatre, Site-Specific Performance, Dramaturgy, and Theater in Education. Locally, in addition to happily working with her fellow Cinnabar Board members, she has recently served on the Board of the Women’s Global Leadership Initiative, acted and directed for Pegasus, and is 6th Street Theatre’s staff Dramaturge. Her past involvement in the local arts has included: Executive Director of the Sonoma County Book Festival, participation in Art At The Source and juried/gallery exhibits at OCA and SCA as well as the Box Factory in SF, judging for the Sonoma County Reportory’s New Works Play Festival (likewise Tapas, and the national Jane Chamber’s Award), and volunteering with the Sonoma County Literary Arts Council. She was once very active in citizen diplomacy through Sister Cities, Peace Child International and other orgs., loves to spend time in nature, and has a blog www.simplysonoma.co . She writes for the West County Historical Society’s Cemetery Walk, and loves doing original works like Morning Star, and Re-Membering Harmony (OCA/SOMA Fringe Festival), and is also proud to be singing in the Occidental Community Choir for the first time.
Gina received her BS degree from California State University, Chico in Health Science with a minor in Human Resources and her graduate degree from University of San Francisco (masters in Human Resources and Organization Development). After a short time in health care, Gina moved on to Human Resources and has been in that field for over 20 years now. For the past 9 years, Gina has worked as Director of Human Resources for Francis Ford Coppola, overseeing the Francis Ford Coppola Winery as well as Coppola’s newest winery, Virginia Dare. Past HR roles include; Mumm Napa, Medtronic, Oculus, Sony Development, Neiman Marcus and DeAnza college. Additionally, she created, managed the opening, and maintained her own business in the Midwest for two years. In terms of community involvement, Gina was a member of the Workforce Investment Board of Sonoma County for three years, co-chair of the HR Roundtable for Women for Winesense, and was on the board for the NCHRA (Northern California HR Association). Gina was raised in Petaluma and is currently raising her daughter here as well. Gina’s 11-year old has been involved in the Young Rep at Cinnabar for 4 years now and has been in several shows.
Bio coming soon
Jamie was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, California, where her father was the original editor of Tiger Beat and Teen Magazine, creating and managing “Teen Idols.” Growing up in the entertainment industry, Jamie entered the on-screen acting world and became a Screen Actors Guild member in 1979 after her first commercial and studied theater at Diane Hardin’s Young Actors’ Space. From there, Jamie appeared in several commercials and television shows until she left for college in Sonoma County in 1991, where she attended Sonoma State and eventually attended law school back in Southern California, graduating in 1999. While Jamie is a licensed, practicing attorney, she continues to remain an active voting member of SAG-AFTRA.
Jamie’s interest in Cinnabar Theater originated while in college in the early 1990s. Living in Petaluma, Jamie frequented shows put on by Cinnabar, which was the location of one of the first dates she had with her now husband of nearly 20 years. After re-locating back to Petaluma in 2011, Jamie’s oldest daughter sparked an interest in the Young Rep program at Cinnabar and was cast as Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka for the 2011 holiday show. The rest is history as her daughter has now performed in over 18 shows at Cinnabar since that time (both Young Rep and in Professional Season shows) and her younger daughter has participated in the summer camp theater programs.
In addition to her passion for theater, Jamie recently finished a four year term as Vice President of Sonoma County Women in Law. Once re-locating to Northern California in 2011, Jamie dove into the Sonoma County legal community and explored what she could do to contribute. As a member of the board of Sonoma County Women in Law, Jamie oversaw MCLE compliance [mandatory continuing legal education required by the State Bar of California] and “outreach” where she worked with SCWIL’s webmaster in perfecting communication with their members.
Gabby’s a lifelong Petaluma resident and has 20 years of experience in operations and finance for a Sonoma County based construction company with 60+ employees. She served as the Corporate Secretary and Trustee of their qualified plans.
With 10+ years of volunteer and fundraising experience, she has served as the Vice President / board member for St. Vincent’s Parent’s & Friends’ Organization and Vice President / board member for Acorn Circle Homeowners Association. In addition, she’s volunteered at Cinnabar Theater, The Fabulous Women of Petaluma, St. Vincent’s Elementary and St. Vincent High School.
Gabby is married, and has a daughter and three step-children. Her daughter has participated in 15+ shows in the Cinnabar Young Rep Program and has served as a camp counselor for the Cinnabar summer programs for three summers. She enjoys traveling, reading, cooking and spending time with friends and family.
Lori’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science from the University of Connecticut and postgraduate studies completed at the Universidad de Sevilla. She also holds a Senior Professional in Human Resources Certification. Lori has more than twenty years of Human Resources management experience in the insurance, banking, telecommunications and manufacturing industries. She is currently the Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Development at Exchange Bank headquartered in Santa Rosa, California and her prior employment includes JDS Uniphase, Fireman’s Fund, Zurich Insurance Company, American Express, and John Alden Life Insurance Company. Lori specializes in Employee Relations and Talent Acquisition and Development, and has an extensive knowledge of compensation and benefits design and administration. Her work in professional organizations includes serving on the Board of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, the Alliance of North Bay Chambers, The Ceres Community Project HR Committee and the National Association of Independent Insurers HR Forum. Lori served for eight years as Vice President Programs and Workshops on the PASCO Board (Professional Association of Sonoma County). She also has been a member of SHRM, NCHRA, the Employment Advisory Council, the HR Banking Roundtable, and the Insurance Personnel Association. Lori has spoken at national conferences on various Human Resources topics and has represented the Human Resources perspective on various panel discussions. Additionally, Lori serves on the Leadership Committee for Petaluma’s annual Relay for Life benefitting the American Cancer Society. Lori resides in Petaluma with her son Joshua, a firefighter with Gold Ridge Fire Department in Sebastopol and a recent graduate of the SRJC Paramedic Academy. She has a daughter, Rebecca, who graduated Southern Oregon University with a Master’s in Education and teaches special needs students in Eagle Point, Oregon. Lori’s interests include theater, cooking, travel, sports and family.
As a nonprofit organization, Cinnabar relies on volunteers to fulfill its mission. Hundreds of people donate their time to support our shows and our events every year. We are particularly grateful for the following people who go above and beyond. Thank you for your service!
Core Events Team
Nora Lee Pearl
Ticket Window Manager
Although they are no longer with us, these “Cinnabarbarians” made invaluable contributions on stage and behind the scenes. They live on in our memory and in our hearts.
René Bonel (1931 – 2011)
House manager, ballroom dancer, and beloved husband of Artistic Director Elly Lichenstein
Stan Case (1959 – 2003)
Bright spirit, deep bass, and Cinnabar’s “Big Angel”
Blair Fuller (1927 – 2011)
Award-winning writer, editor, professor, and esteemed board member of many major theaters
Ray Johnson (1944 – 2013)
Business executive, city planning commissioner, and Cinnabar volunteer
Marvin Klebe (1927 – 1999)
Artist, husband, father, and visionary founder of Cinnabar Theater
Ron Mortimore (1927 – 2003)
Tenor, forester, gardener, and benefactor of local children
Mary Lou Schomer (1937-2012)
Wife, mother, ace volunteer, and Cinnabar’s first box office manager
Nina Shuman (1954 – 2010)
Accomplished pianist, conductor, choir leader, and music director
Marcy Telles (1951-2015)
Playwright and lyricist, past board member, chorister, and guiding light