Professional and community actors join in festival

June 8, 2015
Paige Hauer and Austin Rea

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Theatergoers will see both familiar faces and new actors at this year’s Heartland Festival at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Now in its 15th year, the festival once again brings together professional and community actors for its summer season.

The professional actors, who make up Heartland’s core acting company, will perform in both Jason Robert Brown’s “The Last Five Years” and “Mary Poppins.”  

Paige Hauer, who will play Cathy in “The Last Five Years” and Mary Poppins in “Mary Poppins,” is making her return to the Heartland stage. Last seen in the 2011 Heartland Festival as Marian Paroo (“The Music Man”), Marty (“Grease”) and Miss Liddy (“Murder Rides Again”), Hauer is a working actor in Chicago, Ill. She just completed a run of a new musical called “Sounds So Sweet” with the prestigious Black Ensemble Theatre. Other professional credits include Rose (“Dogfight”), Eve (“Children of Eden”) and Janet Van De Graaf (“The Drowsy Chaperone”).

Joining Heartland for the first time is Austin Rea, who will be taking on the roles of Jamie in “The Last Five Years” and Bert in “Mary Poppins.” Rea is a graduate of Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in theatre. He has performed in many shows at The Grand Opera House in Dubuque. Some of his more recent roles there include Thenardier in “Les Miserables,” Fagin in “Oliver,” and Max Bialystock in “The Producers.” Rea’s most recent endeavor took him all over the country traveling with The National Theatre for Children, performing educational theatre for thousands of children.

“Paige and Austin are a perfect fit for all four roles, and they are both very impressive performers,” said Dr. Ann Dillon Farrelly, artistic director of the festival and director of both shows.

Joining Hauer and Rea as Jane and Michael Banks are Heartland Festival veteran youth ensemble performers, Lizzy Haag and Kale Johnson.

UW-Platteville alumni, faculty, staff and students involved in “Mary Poppins” include Brent Schwert (George Banks), Hilary Baker (Winifred Banks), Dr. Susan Savage Day (Miss Andrew/Bird Woman), Lizzie Hansen (Mrs. Corry), Deb Meyer (Mrs. Brill/ensemble), Tyler Tollefson (Robertson Aye/ensemble), Bill Haskins (Admiral Boom/policeman), Savion Kirk (Neleus/ensemble), Michael Black (Bank Chairman/ensemble), Daniel Hemming (Von Hussler/ensemble), Andrew Jonas (Northbrook/ensemble) and Lyrica Daentl (ensemble).

Other community members involved in this year’s production of “Mary Poppins” include Lydia Sigwarth (Katie Nanna), Isabelle Sander (Annie/ensemble), Elizabeth Romaine (Fannie/ensemble), Elizabeth Biddick (ensemble) and Leann Rewey (ensemble). This year’s youth ensemble includes Eliana Davis, Geoffrey Erickson, Ellie Hemming, Gwen Johnson, Rachel Romaine, Miranda Sexton, Kaelyn Weigel and Kenadee Weigel.

“We have a tremendously talented group of performers this year,” said Farrelly. “The Platteville community is filled with talent, and we are always so happy to showcase it every year.” 

“The Last Five Years” opens June 12 at 7:30 p.m., and “Mary Poppins” opens July 10 at 7:30 p.m. Both shows are performed at the Center for the Arts at UW-Platteville. For Heartland Festival tickets, call the University Box Office at 877-727-1CFA or visit For more information on this year’s festival, visit

Formatted by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191,


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The Heartland Festival Presents: The Last Five Years

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