At The Culture House, Lana Jensen says, “the person comes before the performer.” As the director of the School of Theater, Lana loves seeing the tightly-knit Culture House community thrive.
Lana spends her time at The Culture House teaching, directing and choreographing. She also oversees costumes, storage, rental and organization of theatre equipment. Furthermore, Lana supervises rehearsals of many kinds. She is most passionate about the opportunities she has to teach and invest in her students.
Lana became involved with The Culture House in 2005, building on her background in performance from around the metro area. Upon high school graduation, Lana connected with The Culture House as both a performer and educator. Since then, she has taught classes and directed shows. She became the School of Theater Director in the fall of 2013.
At The Culture House, Tobin James serves as Associate Artistic Director of the Störling Dance Theater. Tobin is passionate about working with dancers of all ages, offering them new experiences through the arts. “I find it enriching to be part of helping young people develop into artists,” Tobin says.
As Associate Artistic Director, Tobin directs the Störling Dance Theater, including choreography and rehearsals. She also serves as a liaison among dancers and Störling’s Artistic Director. Tobin’s role includes recruiting guest artists for productions too. She teaches several dance classes throughout the week, including modern and pre-modern, fitness and company classes.
Tobin earned her bachelor’s of fine arts degree in dance from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She then went on to dance professionally at Philadenco in Philadelphia, and trained at the Martha Graham Dance Company in New York. Tobin continued her career as a performer in the Störling Dance Theater, and soon became Associate Artistic Director, partnering with Mona Störling Enna.
What sets The Culture House apart to Amy Sander, General Manager, is the environment. “I’ve been teaching and directing for 25 years, and the difference at the Culture House is the environment. It's uplifting, encouraging and focuses on the all around growth of the student - as a performer and as a person."
As General Manager, Amy has her hand in all aspects of this environment. Although no two days are the same, Amy supervises staff, programming, scheduling, productions and marketing, plus teaches Adult Tap and a high school Triple Threat Master Class. She is also a regular director for youth and adult productions at TCH, as well as our director for our Summer Broadway Theatre productions at The Kauffman Center and Yardley Hall.
Amy grew up in Topeka and had her acting debut at age six. Hooked on showbiz, Amy spent her youth and early adult life performing in theatrical and dance productions. During college, Amy discovered she had a strong passion for working with youth and began teaching dance and directing a summer theatrical program.
After 17 years of training and teaching, Amy became the founder and director of a youth performing troupe, Topeka Youth Players (for ages 9-13). Within 10 years, Amy had worked with hundreds of youth, directed over 20 productions, choreographed and music directed more than 10, and also served as set, lighting and costume designer for almost all of the shows.
Upon relocating to Kansas City in 2009, Amy began teaching and directing at The Culture House. In addition to theatre and performance, Amy also brings a background in marketing, communications, fundraising and events. Her resume includes PR work with non-profits, health insurance, financial planning, performing arts and even zoos. Today, Amy lives in Olathe with her two children. Amy’s role as a mother is what she calls the role of a lifetime: “I’m beyond blessed!”
Kelsie earned her degree in Theatre and film from the University of Kansas in 2008. Some of her roles include Sandra in Big Fish the Musical, Rose in Dogfight the Musical, Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, Evelyn in The Shape of Things, Meg in Little Women, Regan in The Bachelorette, Angelique in The Imaginary Invalid, Dina in School House Rock Live, Cinderella in Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Eve in Stephen Schwartz Children of Eden, and Susan in [title of show], Eva Peron in Evita, Lucy in Jekyll and Hyde, Brenda in Catch Me If You Can, Lucy the Slut in Avenue Q. Most recently, Kelsie starred in Big Fish as Sandra Bloom at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
Kelsie’s musical directing credits include Little Shop of Horrors with Lamplight Theatre in Amarillo, TX, Spring Awakening at The Barn Players theater in Mission, KS. West Side Story, Big River, Honk!, High School Musical and Hairspray with The Culture House in Olathe, KS. She recently directed her first full scale musical The Little Mermaid at The Culture House with a cast of 80 kids ages 7 -19 years old.
Kelsie teaches acting classes, music classes and camps through The Culture House in Olathe, KS.
Kelsie is an established voice over artist in Kansas City. She is the voice of the audio book 21 Ways to Find Mr. Right and she has fielded such clients as Worth Harley Davidson North, Hallmark, Bakers University, St. Mary’s, BMW San Francisco, BancAbility, Phiten, Studio 7 Casino, Vally View Financial, Winks Body Shop, CASA, Furniture Deals and MOCSA.
Kelsie traveled as a Dueling Piano Player for 6 years before deciding to take a break and settle down in Kansas City! You may have seen her at Ernie Biggs Westport & Branson or at Sgt. Pepper’s in Long Beach, CA. While living in Los Angeles, Kelsie studied sketch comedy writing and stand up comedy.
Heather Tinker currently serves as the Adjunct Director of Theatre at MidAmerica Nazarene University. She has been teaching and directing at MNU since 2007. Heather is involved with teaching and directing at Benedictine College, Kansas City Young Audiences, Christian Youth Theatre, and The Culture House. Prior to teaching, Heather travelled and performed with the Lillenas Dramatic Company for ten years as well as performing in Kansas City area community theatres. She has also done voice work and short films for Lillenas Publishing Company and the Church of the Nazarene. She recently appeared in the short film, OFFBOOK, directed by a former student. Heather completed her Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Public Relations with a minor in Theatre at MidAmerica Nazarene University in 1998 and a Master of Arts degree in Theatre from the University of Kansas in 2012 where she received the Ambrose Saricks Family Scholarship for work in community or educational theatre. She recently appeared as Grace Bradley in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at the Olathe Civic Theatre in December. She will also be directing Anne of Green Gables at the Olathe Civic Theatre.
“In order to portray your role, you must have a clear understanding of yourself and how you connect to that role. That is what separates a performer from an artist.”
As a theater artist Michael’s work is centered on taking what he has experienced as a performer, as well as his technical theatre training, and using these skills to successfully collaborate with other artists. Michael has been involved in the arts from a very young age. He trained in Ballet, Jazz, and Hip Hop before transitioning into acting and performing roles such as the role of Peter in Peter Pan and Nicely-Nicely in Guys & Dolls. After graduating high school, Michael shifted his focus into technical theatre, scenic design, costuming, lighting, and stage management. For the past 5 years Michael has served as summer staff at the Culture House directing and choreographing several summer camp musicals. Michael James received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Production Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2016. He has worked as a Stage Manager and Production Assistant in several locations such as The Coterie, Theatre in the Park, Kansas City Actors Theatre, and Olathe Civic Theatre Association. At the Culture House Michael has had the opportunity to direct and choreograph musicals such as The Little Mermaid, Mulan Jr, and High School Musical. As a recent graduate, Michael has established himself in Kansas City as a Director, Choreographer, and Stage Manager.