Professional Staff Bios

Jessica Bien

General Manager
B.A., Hartwick College

Ms. Bien has served as the department's general manager since 2006. She returns to her native Allentown from Boston, where she worked as executive assistant to the chief operating officer of the Wang Center for the Performing Arts. She also held positions as theatre manager and access coordinator at the Wang. She has served as marketing associate for Zoellner Center for the Arts, at Lehigh University; box office manager and director of marketing for the AmeriCulture Arts Festival; marketing and public relations intern for the Williamstown Theatre Festival; and communications and publications assistant for Hartwick College. Jess has also held production and administrative positions for events at Kutztown University, Civic Theatre, and Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre.

Jess holds a certificate in Arts Administration from the University of Massachusetts and is also a 200-hour certified yoga teacher.

Caroline Cook

Costume Shop Manager
B.A., Ithaca College

Ms. Cook has been a professional costume technician since 2006. Most recently she was the craft shop manager for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Prior to her work in St. Louis, she spent four seasons with the Santa Fe Opera. She did graduate work in costume design and technology at the University of Virginia from 2008 to 2011, and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology with a concentration in gender and sexuality from Ithaca College in 2008. Ms. Cook is a collector of new crafts and skills with enthusiasm for personal sewing projects, knitting, crocheting, fabric printing and embroidery.

Eric Covell

Eric Covell

Assistant Technical Director
B.A., Hartwick College

Mr. Covell's responsibilities include assisting with all scenic builds for department productions, and supervising and teaching workstudy, stagecraft and volunteer students in shop safety and construction. His professional experience includes freelance designer and sound engineer at Fitchburg State College, Bay Street Theatre, and AmeriCulture Arts Festival. He served for two years as resident scenic and lighting designer, facility manager, and technical director at Civic Theatre of Allentown. Most recently he was the project manager for Great Eastern Seating, restoring and installing theatre seats in the tri-state area, including work at the Apollo Theatre.

Damon Gelb

Technical Director
B.F.A., Pennsylvania State University

Mr. Gelb's professional experience includes five seasons with Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre, most recently as Technical Director in 1997. Design credits include lighting Quilters for the Berks Festival Theatre, and lighting and scenery for The Nina Variations at The Theatre Outlet. Other productions include Bad Girls, Anything Goes, and A Night Divided, as well as various one-act plays and dance concerts. He spent eight years in the professional lighting industry, working with architects, consulting engineers, and theatre consultants on lighting system designs; notable projects include Trinity Church in New York City and Microsoft's Productivity of the Future exhibit. He is a former IATSE stage technician, and he currently serves on the board of directors for The Theatre Outlet in Allentown.

Tracy Kline

Department Secretary

Ms. Kline supports the Theatre & Dance Department as well as Sociology and Anthropology. During her first year with the college, Tracy received the Peer Recognition Award for "Rookie of the Year."

Scott Snyder

Marketing & Development Manager
B.S./B.A., Syracuse University

Mr. Snyder served for 11 years as managing director of the Civic Theatre of Allentown. In that position, he developed marketing and communications strategies that significantly increased attendance, personal contributions, and corporate and foundation support for the theatre, helping to position Civic as a community arts center for the region. Prior to beginning work at Muhlenberg in 2010, he spent three years as director of alumni communications for Lehigh University. Mr. Snyder has also served as production stage manager and designed sound, props, and projections for numerous theatre productions.

Paul E. Theisen, Jr.

Theatre Technician
M.F.A., University of Delaware; B.A., Viterbo College

Mr. Theisen designs lights and other scenic elements for many of the theatre and dance productions on the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance mainstage. He has had experience as technical director in the York Little Theatre and the Lincoln Amphitheatre, and as a free-lance designer in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Costume Stitchers

Megan Evans Gartley, Lex Gurst

Properties Coordinator

Cheryl Soper Christensen

Dance Musicians

Paul Fejko

Mr. Fejko divides his time among many endeavors, most notably with theater and dance as a composer and conductor, but also as a concert organist and pianist. He also works as a sound and lighting designer, photographer, audio systems designer, auto mechanic and sculptor. As of this time, he has recorded 13 CDs, covering a wide range of existing repertoire and his own improvisations. In 2003 Paul Fejko founded and is now the Artistic Director of ‘The Chester Performing Arts Project’, a foundation dedicated to bringing world class performing arts to Chester, PA. Fej has won first prizes for improvisation in Lyon (1981) and San Anselmo, CA (1990). At their Atlanta convention in 1992, the American Guild of Organists awarded him a second prize.

Kathryn Krull

Kathryn is a 2012 Muhlenberg graduate, with a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in music and theatre. A dance musician since 2011, Kathryn had also been the pianist for the Muhlenberg Jazz Ensemble and the Jazz Improvisation band. She musically supervised the Muhlenberg productions of Twelfth Night and Three Sisters, and also studied music and theatre at the Accademia dell'Arte in Arezzo, Italy, in the spring of 2011. Since 2010, she has been the musical director at Little Village Playhouse in Pleasantville, N.Y. Currently, she is an apprentice at Touchstone Theatre, and is also an associate producer for Mock Turtle Marionette Theatre, both in Bethlehem, Pa.

Natalia Varlashova

Ms. Varlashova holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from the Irkutsk College of Arts, Russia, and a Master of Arts degree in music methodology, with a certificate in music pedagogy, from the Irkutsk State Pedagogical University. She also accompanies ballet classes for Temple University and Drexel University, as well as the Bolshoy Ballet. She also teaches piano at the Nelly Berman School of Music in Haverford. Previously, Ms. Varlashova was accompanist with the Irkutsk Regional Musical Theater and director of the Ballet School of Musical Theater, Irkutsk.

Rebekah Ruth

Ms. Ruth holds a Master of Music degree in collaborative piano performance from Houghton College, the Greatbatch School of Music. She has her Bachelor of Music degree in church music from Palm Beach Atlantic University. Ms. Ruth enjoys working with singers and instrumentalists as a coach/accompanist as well as playing in recitals, juries and chamber ensembles. Recently, she has been accompanying around the Lehigh Valley, working with students from Moravian and Muhlenberg Colleges. She also teaches both piano and voice at the Community Music School in Allentown.