Meet the Cast: Cassandra Olson

cassandraJoining us for her very first local production is Cassandra Olson, playing the role of “Sister Julia, Child of God”.  Cassandra tell us that perhaps she was typecast in this role as she isn’t known for her cooking skills… but she assured us all that she hasn’t killed anyone yet!

“I am thrilled to be a part of this fun musical after a long stretch off the stage. I’ve spent the last six years singing with a Minneapolis based a Capella group DeCantus. I have enjoyed participating in recent Heritage Players’ Songs of the Stage fundraiser concerts. Previous shows include West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, Bye Bye Birdie, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hay Fever and David and Lisa. I could not have done this without the incredible support of my husband, Nick.  Thank you!”

Meet the Orchestra Director: Joni Nelson

Joni Nelson has been involved with the Heritage Players both on stage and off.  We are pleased that she agreed to take on the challenge of putting together the orchestra for this show.  SONY DSC

Joni’s previous plays with Heritage Players Include “She Loves Me”, “Quilters” and most recently as Mrs. Paroo in “The Music Man”. She has been playing piano and singing for what seems like forever. Including doing music ministry and giving piano and voice lessons. Thanks to Jay for giving me the opportunity to be part of this fun show with such a talented cast and orchestra.


Meet the Cast: Dawn Barstad-Carpenter

When the Heritage Players look at producing musicals, Dawn is often one of the first ladies in the door ready to audition for the opportunity to sing on stage.  She has a love of music that shines throcarpenterugh whenever she is performing.  As a former board member for Heritage Players, Dawn knows the high costs that are associated with full-scale musical productions.  In order to ease the “itch” to sing her favorite broadway showtunes, Dawn was a key organizer behind the new “Songs of the Stage” fundraiser events hosted by the Heritage Players over the last year.

“Nunsense: The Mega Musical” marks Dawn’s 5th production with Heritage Players. She appeared in “Don’t Hug Me”, “She Loves Me”, “All Because of Agatha” and “Quilters”. She would like to thank her family for their support and indulgence as she pursues her passion of performing, especially their patience as she worked on her accent at home!

Meet the Musicians: Sonda Jacobson

Sonda Jacobson has done several shows with Heritage Players including She Loves Me, Songs of the Stage events, and most recently Music Man.  She enjoys being behind the piano accompanying all the talent on stage!  Sonda has a Music Performance B.A. from the University of MN, Morris, she plays on the Harris Covenant Church praise team, and with the trio “Friends”.  She loves spending time with family and friends!

Meet the Cast: Mary Ellen Sauser

sauserMary Ellen Sauser is performing in her fourth Nunsense production with the Heritage Players.  As Sister Hubert, she is delighted to be playing the onstage sidekick to her real life sidekick, Elisa Mill.  As a teacher for over 30 years and now in a new role as Peer Coach at Pine City high school, playing Mistress of the Novices is perhaps not much of a stretch!   In her free time Mary Ellen enjoys golfing, knitting, walking, and yard work.  After being part of more than a dozen Heritage shows, she’s thrilled to have the opportunity to be performing at this venue.

Meet the Cast: Elisa Mill

elisamillElisa Mill returns to the Heritage Players stage in the role of Reverend Mother Mary Regina, having previously portrayed the character in the 1995 production of Nunsense, and again in the 2005 production of Nuncrackers.  She spent the better part of the last ten years pleading her case for a return of the Nunsense shows to the Pine City stage and is thrilled that someone finally listened!

“My acting career spans about 45 years.  It began when I was in 9th grade, rather horrifying to realize.  I have been doing Heritage Player productions for a long time (NOT 45 years)!  This show, Nunsense, is my  all time favorite!  If anyone knows Dan Goggin please tell him that I am ready to join a touring company.  I am so excited to be doing the show and look forward to seeing you all in the audience.  Tell your friends!  Nunsense is habit forming.”

Meet the Choreographer: Rachel Bigelow


A now familiar face here in Pine City, we welcome back Rachel Bigelow as Choreographer for the production of Nunsense: The Mega-Musical.

Rachel Bigelow has a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of Minnesota where she specialized in acting, scenic artistry, and stage management.  Rachel has worked a high school play director for four years, and was the scenic drop artist for Valley Fair’s Peanut’s stage for five years.  Although she often works behind the scenes, she enjoys spending time on the stage as well, most recently having performed in Six Element Theatre’s Human Combat Chess and Heritage Player’s rendition of The Music Man.  Rachel currently lives in Rush City, where she works as a special education teacher.

Meet the Artistic Director: Jay Schueller

Rejayschuellerturning as the Artistic Director for the winter production, Jay Schueller is excited to be working with this cast.  His previous shows from the Director’s Chair include “Noises Off” in 2016, “Don’t Hug Me” in 2015 and “All Because of Agatha” in 2009.  His credits in the role as Technical Director span every show that the Heritage Players have produced since 2005, having only missed one show with the company in his 10+ year career.

Schueller works full-time in technical theater for both school and community theaters including Totino-Grace, Forest Lake, North Branch, North St. Paul, and Pine City High School programs.  He joined the staff at the University of Northwestern, St. Paul where he has enjoyed building some large-scale productions like “Phantom of the Opera” and “Into the Woods”.  He is both excited and nervous about the upcoming “Mary Poppins” production at UNW, but always enjoys a challenge.

Schueller extends this invitation to anyone interested in learning more about Heritage Players, “This Saturday, January 28th is the first big set construction day for the upcoming production of “Nunsense”.  Heritage Players would love to invite more community members to join in the fun of working ‘behind the scenes’ of the community productions.  If you’d like more information about how to get involved – send us an email at or just drop in at the auditorium this Saturday and introduce yourself…. we’ll put you to work!”

Meet the Vocal Director: Laura Michels

MichelsWith just three weeks to go before the opening of the Nunsense: The Mega-Musical we thought we’d spend some time introducing you to the talented folks behind the scenes as well as on stage.

Join us in welcoming Laura Michels as the Vocal Director for this production!

Laura attended college at BYU-Idaho where she majored in Technical Theatre, specializing in scenic art. She has worked backstage and painted for a variety of shows including: Annie, You Can’t Take It With You, Romeo & Juliet, & Something’s Afoot. More recently she has co-directed the fall musical (Annie) and One Act play at North Branch High School, as well as performing in last summer’s Heritage Players show, The Music Man as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, the mayor’s wife. She also has performed vocally with the Minnesota Mormon Chorale and was the President of the choir for 5 years. Laura wishes to thank her husband for his encouragement and support during this and all other productions she has been involved in.

Nunsense Returns to Pine City Stage

It was 1995 when “Nunsense” was first performed on the Pine City stage.  The original script was performed and 5 fabulous ladies were cast as Mother Superior and the Little Sisters of Hoboken.  The show had great success and is remains a favorite for many long-time members of the Heritage Players team.  Just a few short years later, the organization would experience a drop in participation that resulted in a five year hiatus from the stage.

In 2005, a small group of theater-lovers began cooking up a plan to bring the Heritage Players organization back to life and jump start new interest in the arts and community theater.  Interestingly enough, a few of those same ladies approached a novice director about putting on a show…. and in December of that year, “Nuncrackers” was performed with a few of the same faces.

Fast forward to 2017 and the “most popular musical series in theater history” will make a return to the stage.  This time around the show will be directed by Jay Schueller with vocal direction by Laura Michels and orchestra direction by Joni Nelson.  The Heritage Players have also chosen to perform the “Nunsense: Mega Musical Version” this year to allow for more cast members to join the fun!

The cast includes:

  • Elisa Mill as Reverend Mother Mary Regina
  • Mary Ellen Sauser as Sister Mary Hubert
  • Dawn Barstad-Carpenter as Sister Robert Anne
  • Jennifer Hansmann as Sister Mary Amnesia
  • Vanessa Alm as Sister Mary Leo
  • Dennis Howard
  • Cassandra Olson
  • Bethany Cleary