Grandstreet Theatre


Kal Poole

Managing Director

Kal began his theatre career at Grandstreet when he was five years old and learned most everything he knows from theatre school. A proud recipient of the illustrious Wib and Esther M. Harrer Memorial Scholarship, Kal went on to The University of Idaho for a BFA in Acting. He worked for three years at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where he earned his Actor’s Equity card and spent time in several regional theaters before graduate school. At The Ohio State University he earned an MFA in Acting and the Creation of New Work. In 2007 he co-founded Whistling in the Dark Theatre Co. in Columbus, Ohio where he served as Managing Director. Kal joined the Ohio State Theatre Department faculty in 2009 and spent three years teaching at OSU Marion before returning to Montana. Managing Grandstreet is the dream of a lifetime and Kal is thrilled to be home.

Jeff Downing

Artistic Director

Jeff is originally from Chillicothe, Ohio and received a BFA in Theater Design and Production from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music. Jeff has been directing, teaching, and designing professionally since 2003. Some of his directorial credits include Into the Woods, A New Brain, Zanna Don’t!, Urinetown, Grand Hotel, Seussical, The Laramie Project, A Man of No Importance, Pippin, Marvin’s Room, and Captain Louie. He has written two original musicals for PGT with collaborator Barry James; Once Upon a Time and Toby and Walter. At Grandstreet, Jeff has directed The Secret Garden and Lucky Stiff. He has played some of his favorite roles on the Grandstreet stage, including the Baker in Into the Woods, Charlie Brown in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Chip in Spelling Bee and Man One in Songs For a New World.


Marianne Adams

Director of Education

Marianne received her BFA in Theatre Arts from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Marianne has directed many mainstage productions for Grandstreet, most recently Tarzan, Rock of Ages, A Christmas Carol, Oklahoma, The 25th Annual Putnam Co. Spelling Bee, Big River, Ragtime, Annie, Peter Pan, Oliver, and Songs for a New World . She teaches acting classes for the Theatre School (greatest kids in town). She has also worked as a mentor and artist-in-residence in the Helena Public Schools and surrounding areas.

Marianne was the 2015 Runner-up for the Excellence in Theatre Education Award presented by The Broadway League and Carnegie Mellon University at The Tony Awards.

Paige O’Neill

Technical Director

Paige O’Neill (Technical Director) is from the Pacific Northwest, most recently Missoula, and holds a BFA in Technical Theatre from the University of Montana.  Paige is thrilled to be the new Technical Director at Grandstreet Theatre.  Previous theatrical credits for Technical Direction include Arsenic and Old Lace at Fort Peck Summer Theatre and Barefoot in the Park for the Montana Repertory Theatre.  She has also been a tour actor and director with Missoula Children’s Theatre.  Paige would like to thank Denise Ness, Gary O’Neill and Lilly Olson. 

Katie Sorensen

Box Office Manager, Administrative Assistant

Katie is the OLD rusty anchor of Grandstreet, being the longest, consecutively employed person on staff. With much on-the-job training, she has costumed numerous shows, performed a few times, painted a few sets, and stretched her knowledge of computers to a near-breaking point. She loves what she does, and she loves ‘her’ patrons and ‘her’ theatre.


Dee Smith IMG_1011

Project Manager

Dee found his way to Grandstreet Theatre in 2004 after graduating from Carroll College with a B.A. in Acting, Directing and Design Technology.  Dee worked on many shows during this time including: acting in Deathtrap, Love, Sex, and the I.R.S., and I Hate Hamlet. He directed a number of shows such as: The Glass Menagerie, Frankenstein, Arsenic and Old Lace and Greetings, and It’s a Wonderful Life. He also designed and worked on many shows.  Dee found his way to Idaho State University where he earned his Masters degree in Performing Arts.  Since his return to Helena, Dee has been very busy at Grandstreet. He acts, directs, designs light and sound, and works backstage and in the box office.

Jessica Formatted Headshot

Jessica Snyder

Audience Services

Jessica is the paralegal for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks but most patrons would recognize her as Grandstreet’s Audience Services person.  She has graced Grandstreet’s stage in Big River, Fiddler on the Roof, You Can’t Take it With You, and Pages of My Diary I’d Rather Not Read.  Jessica is the proud mother of 14 year old Haley and spends her “spare” time volunteering to help abused and neglected children as a court appointed special advocate (CASA).

Theatre School Faculty

Retta Leaphart

Retta Leaphart holds a BA in Acting and Directing (Middlebury College) and an MFA in Theater  (Sarah Lawrence College). Retta is the Education Coordinator for the Myrna Loy Center and an Artistic Consultant for Trusty Sidekick Theatre Company. She has taught for the New Victory Theater, Disney Theatrical Group, Brooklyn Arts Council, and Sitka Fine Arts Camp. Retta directed The Giver, Speech and Debate, Our Town and Still Life with Iris at Grandstreet Theatre.

Martha Sprague

Martha has a Theatre from Arizona State University. She has been a full time Grandstreet Theatre school instructor for 25 years.

Colleen Watson

Colleen “Binky” Watson has a degree from the University of Montana.


Board of Directors

Grandstreet Theatre is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. We are steered by a superb Board of Directors, and are always grateful for their advice and guidance.

2016-17 Board of Directors

  • Dean Mack, President
  • Margaret Herriges, Vice President
  • Bonnie Adee, Past President
  • Karen Zackheim, Secretary
  • Linsay Carlson, Treasurer
  • Stan Kaleczyc, Legal Advisor
  • Mike Brandt
  • Stephi Johnson
  • Maria Hanson
  • Shana Harrington
  • Garry Hicks
  • Margaret Herriges
  • Perri May
  • Karen Zackheim
  • Tom Trebon
  • Loren Gustafson
  • Amanda Penley, Student Representative