To provide affordable performing arts education and performance opportunities for children, adults, and families and broadly accessible live theatre production opportunities for Broomfield, Colorado and surrounding communities.
Please click here to read our action plan for practicing anti-racism and anti-discriminatory behaviors within our company.
BackStory Theatre & Wellspring by BST practice the Colorado Theatre Guild's Community Standards for Theatre
Mary Wilkie (Executive Director & BYLP Mentor) attended University of Northern Colorado with a focus in Theatre Arts and has a BA in Communications from MSU Denver. Mary was among the founding troupe of the Broomfield Summer Youth Players, an entirely youth-led theatre company and has over twenty years’ experience instructing youth theatre, visual arts, and STEM curriculum. When she’s not herding proverbial cats and delighting in the challenges and excitement of her role with BackStory, she provides private acting lessons and tutoring to all ages, specializing in learning support and strategies for youth with special needs and learning difficulties, and is a strong advocate for inclusive and adaptive education in public schools and all enrichment programming. Additionally, she enjoys lending a voice for arts engagement and learning with various boards and committees throughout the community, including as Chair of the Broomfield County Cultural Council. Mary is very proud to be the parent of two amazing teens in a family which constantly keeps her learning, growing, and laughing.
P-Jay Adams (BSTA Artistic Instructor, BSYT Co-Music Director) is a graduate from the University of Northern Colorado with their Bachelor of Music in Opera Performance. They spent two summers performing opera in Germany, performing Monostatos in Mozart's The Magic Flute the first time and then performing the role of Gaston in La Traviata and singing excerpts from Les Miserables as Valjean while being Chorus Master/Music Coordinator. Since graduating, they have performed such roles as Ronnette in Little Shop of Horrors, Eddie in Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dupree in Cry-baby, and Hud in Hair. Other credits include Seaweed in Hairspray, MC in Chicago, & Preacher in Bonnie and Clyde. They are excited to share their love of performance and music with BackStory's students!
Kelly Bidstrup Graham (BSYT Music Director & Artistic Instructor) graduated from MSU Denver with a B.A. in music and a minor in marketing. After college she turned that tutoring career into a full time position at the Early College of Arvada, teaching music and drama. Over the course of her tenure there she built a thriving theater program and fostered a culture of arts appreciation supported by an unconventional instrumental music ensemble, a High school honor Chorale, and comprehensive choir and drama classes for middle school students. She completed her masters in theater from CU Boulder in Spring 2022. She brings passion and dedication to every project she takes on whether she's teaching, directing, or performing. She makes making art a priority and is so excited to make art with BackStory!
Kendle Butterworth (BSTA Artistic Instructor) received a MA in Geography at CU Boulder in 2010 in which she did research on using theatre as a means of community development in Kenya. She earned a MS in Education from the State University of New York at Albany in 2016, specializing in teaching literacy, curriculum development, social studies, and theatre. She has worked as an educator for over a decade in a variety of K-12 settings, including teaching undergraduates and working professionals. She served as the Director of Professional Development for STEM Learning Lab in Canada where she developed programming to incorporate the arts into STEM curriculum. She has been a professional improvisor and also served as the Assistant Director at Camp Shakespeare at Winedale for 12 years. She is a firm believer in the power of theatre to empower individuals and communities. She enjoys spending time outside with her two children, husband, dog, and riding horses!
Paola Osma-Behning (BSTA Teaching Artist) was born in Bogota, Colombia. She started to train in Dance and acting at a very young age. Went to school to get her master degree in Dramatic arts and Movement from the A.S.A.B in Bogota. She moved in 2003 to the States to work with C.U Boulder as an exchange dance teacher. Started her performing production company called “ En Fuego Productions” were she produced, directed and choreographed different shows accomplishing a great success combining professional and community dancers in big dance, aerial, theater experiences. Now she is a mother of two young kids, who love theater and movement as much as she does. She loves working with kids and the community. And is eager to share her music, traditions and artistic roots.
Nellie Speers (Artistic Instructor) studied at Ithaca College where she earned a BA in Theatre Studies and a minor in Literatures in English. Since graduating, she has enjoyed working with children aged 9 months to 5 years as an assistant head start teacher in upstate New York. Nellie's theatrical passions include dramaturgy, performance, stage management, and directing. She is especially interested in devised work and has participated in devised performances with the Ithaca College Senior Ensemble and the Bryn Mawr College theatre department. Nellie is an avid hiker and found her way to Colorado through her seasonal trail maintenance work in Rocky Mountain National Park. She is looking forward to meeting our wonderful students and their families in person beginning in fall 2022!
Emma Day (Artistic Instructor) [bio coming soon!]
We believe community is enriched by theatre! As one of the most versatile art forms around, theatre provides an excellent vehicle for delivering a wide range of experiences and connections from educational to interpersonal and creative. Our unique performance program, which we call "Make Believe and Beyond" (MBB) is rooted in the practice of devised theatre. Working as a team, participants of all ages collaborate in classes to adapt a well-known story (or expand on shared values) for stage production. By collaborating in this way, we are able to meet students where they are in each activity. MBB for kindergartners looks very different than MBB for high schoolers, and yet, each are building on existing skills to expand their ability to communicate, empathize, problem solve, structure a well-crafted story (or persuasive argument), and develop their working memory. Enrichment of our whole community means that we must meet participants where they are, ask questions, and remain aware and curious about the barriers to full participation in our society. That means cultivating an inclusive space where the participants drive the definition of what makes them feel safe. It also means partnering with other nonprofits, service agencies, schools, business, and individuals in creative ways to meet the needs of participants who do not have reliable transportation, have financial or housing instability, speak a primary language other than English, or who need therapeutic support for developmental, physical, mental health, and learning differences in order to be successful in activities. Our educational approach is rooted in Vygotskian theories of modeling and scaffolding to cultivate each individual's growth and confidence. Our definition of "BackStory" means that we aim to be a meaningful and positive component of all participants own backstory as they move through life. Theatre truly is for everyone, and we hope everyone in our community will stop by and find a way to connect with us, suggest a program, develop a program, or take a class!
Founder Anna Marie Wilcox conceived of BackStory in 2006 after recognizing a distinct lack of accessible performing arts opportunities in the Broomfield community where she lived with her family. With an extensive background in theatre education and production, Ms. Wilcox sought to establish an organization that would bring affordable performing arts classes and productions to all members of the community. Colorado non-profit status as BackStory Theatre was received on January 1, 2011 and federal 501(c)(3) status in November 2013. By 2015, rapid growth from 9 registrations in 2006 to over 800 at the end of 2014 lead to a process of restructuring, strategic planning, and capacity building in order to transition the organization from its roots as a small but successful sole-proprietorship to an organization with a strong and active board of directors, highly-qualified key leadership staff, and more capacity for growth. After Ms. Wilcox moved away from the area to focus on her family, former Teaching Artist and program assistant, Mary Wilkie, was hired as current Executive Director and Artistic Director.
Throughout this time, BackStory has accomplished its mission by providing free theatre arts programs at schools and through other local organizations, by offering affordable class and performance fees, by reducing fees through student work-study programs and parent volunteer opportunities, by extending scholarships to families in need, and by making performances open to the public at a cost as low as $3 per ticket (and free for children under 4). For the past few years, BackStory has prioritized service outreach to live its vision of enriching community through theatre. In 2019, BackStory provided over 100 hours of free enrichment to community members and, particularly, underserved populations with Sister Carmen Community Center, Broomfield FISH, The Refuge, Emerald Elementary, Alicia Sanchez Elementary, Garden Center Apartments, Broomfield Council on the Arts and Humanities, and through partnerships with the City & County of Broomfield's HHS, Parks & Recreation, and Library divisions. Fiscal saving priorities begun in 2016 towards a goal of moving into a long term, large leased space for classes and performances resulted in a move into our first studio home on Burbank Street in June 2018 where we are delighted to have room to grow and a space to expand classes and small performances. We are active members of Turnpike Arts District, Broomfield Council on the Arts and Humanities, Colorado Theatre Guild, and serve on the Broomfield Communities That Care Coalition board.
OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Thank you for your leadership, time, and dedication to BackStory Theatre!
Our Board of Directors volunteer expertise in finance, communications, marketing, fundraising, business, arts, and more!
We are grateful for their guidance as BackStory enriches community in Broomfield and beyond!
President Misae Vela Brol (March 2019 - current)
Vice President Matt Sturtz (February 2019 - current)
Secretary Jeff Elliott (August 2023 - current)
Director Dorian Wilderman (October 2023 - current)
Treasurer Samantha Dei Rossi (August 2021 - current)
Executive Director Mary Wilkie (non-voting)
Past Director John Svensk (March 2019-May 2023)
Past Director Tinna Petursson (June 2015 - May 2023)
Past President John Dilts (August 2017 - January 2023)
Past Director Alexis Ball (June 2015 - January 2022)
Past Director Jennifer Bryner (August 2017 - January 2022)
Past Director Marc Schmidt (July 2015 - January 2019)
Past Director Ted Halbert (July 2015 - April 2019)
Past President Tracy Egler-Roback (June 2015 - April 2020)
Founder Anna Marie Wilcox (2006-2015)
BackStory's Board has an opening! Please complete our application here (SSN ca(n be provided off line to protect identity) or email Mary Wilkie to inquire about service with this 16 year old non-profit organization with an established history of excellence in the arts!