Meet Our Staff

Administrative Team

Karen Mockensturm, Executive Director

Karen Mockensturm holds a BFA in Theatre Performance from the University of Florida. Mrs. Mockensturm is a former arts administrator at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, PA, one of America’s premiere regional theaters. Her tenure at the Walnut included seven seasons, where she also served as Casting Director for over 50 productions including national and international co-productions with Goodspeed Opera House, Coconut Grove Playhouse and The Derby Playhouse in England. A member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Screen Actors’ Guild and the American Federation of Radio & Television Artists, Mrs. Mockensturm’s professional acting career (as Karen Hinton) included work in radio, television, film, improvisational comedy, and regional theater across the country. Favorite roles include: She in Maybe Baby, It’s You!, Viola in Twelfth Night, Frenchy in Grease, Kyra in Skylight, and Mary in Vanities. A former teaching artist and acting instructor at the Walnut in Philadelphia and with the Roundabout Theatre Company, Creative Acting Company and Broadway Classroom in New York City, Mrs. Mockensturm relocated to Huntsville in November of 2002. She serves on the board of directors for the Women’s Economic Development Council (WEDC), and is active with Arts Huntsville and the Alabama Alliance for Arts Education. She is currently on faculty with Fantasy, teaching The Business of Acting to teens, Acting 3, and Acting 2 Scene Study. Mrs. Mockensturm serves as a member of Mayor Tommy Battle’s Arts & Culture Advisory Council. She received the Madison Alabama Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Award for Excellence in Service and Leadership. She is a strong advocate of arts education and the proud parent of three children, two of whom who actively involved in theatre arts. Her third is a self proclaimed “dedicated audience member”!


Jourdan Ways, Marketing/Publicity

​Jourdan Ways holds a BBA in Marketing from Oakwood University. Before his work with Fantasy Playhouse, he served as the Creative Director for The Fox & Monocle Collective, a multi-disciplinary arts collective, and has managed productions all over, including Atlanta and New York. Jourdan has worked with several medium as well as artists and creatives from all over.



Karen Alexander, Volunteer Office Manager

Karen Alexander has been working for Fantasy for over 18 years, first as a teacher then as the Academy Director.  Having retired in February 2015, she still remains as a volunteer serving as the office manager and on the Fantasy Board of Directors.  She holds a B.S. degree in Theater Education from the University of South Alabama and has taught in high school and worked with theater groups in Texas, Mobile, AL and here in Huntsville.


Enitza Gillespie, Volunteer Ticket Chair

Enitza Gillespie has been involved with Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater since 1989. She is a retiree from Bellsouth Small Business Collections with 32 years of service. In 2009, Enitza began serving as the Ticket Chairperson for Fantasy. She is also the Historian and an office volunteer. In addition to these positions, Enitza has also served as a producer for 49 of Fantasy’s main stage productions and is the Front of House Manager for Broadway Theatre League.


Renee Gardiner, School Show Coordinator

Renée S. Gardiner has a BS in Elementary Education and an MS in Special Education. She taught for three years in Virginia public schools prior to raising and homeschooling her children. During twenty years of military travels, Renée volunteered with many organizations including Scouts (BSA, GSA, AHG), the Red Cross, Officer Wives’ Club, and MCCW. Upon moving to the Huntsville area in summer 2008, she quickly became involved in community theater as child chauffeur, backstage security, and usher. She became Fantasy’s House Manager in the 2010-2011 season and was elected to the Board of Directors in April 2011. In addition to serving as Treasurer since 2013, Renée is also the School Show Coordinator, an office volunteer, Social Media Assistant, and Producer. Renée and her husband, Scott, a retired Army Officer, have five children.


Volunteer Administrative Assistants

Renee Gardiner, Hattie Hughes, Barbara Kearns, Donna King, Wynn Oldham, Julia Ramsey, Marie Sexton


Jessica Alexander, Mainstage Graphic Designer

Jessica Alexander first came to Fantasy as a dancing cast member in Aladdin in 1997. Since then she has graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a BS in Mass Communications/Radio and TV with an emphasis in Digital Animation and minors in Dance and Art. Jessica teaches dance for Fantasy and has appeared in, choreographed, and directed several Fantasy shows. She holds several Wings Awards for her choreography with other local community theaters. Jessica also serves on the Fantasy Board and designs Fantasy’s season brochure.


Dennis Griffin, Volunteer Facilities Manager



Education Team

Candice Cooper, Education Director

Candice Cooper is the Education Director at Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater and Academy. Ms. Cooper holds a BA in theatre from Jacksonville State University. Since graduating, she has worked at several theatres along the eastern U.S. ranging from Alabama to New York as a director, stage manager and educator. Ms. Cooper has been the Director of Education and Production, as well as a faculty member and Director of the Musical Showcases for Acting For Young People (AFYP), a highly regarded children’s theatre in the Washington, DC area. Prior to working with AFYP, she spent four years with Virginia Stage Company, a large regional theatre in Norfolk, VA, as the Education Associate and Tour Manger. She has served on the faculties of Imagination Stage, Educational Theatre Company, Mount Vernon Community Children’s Theatre and Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts. Ms. Cooper is thrilled to be back home in the Madison area with her husband and daughter.


Kailey Burkhardt, Education & Outreach Coordinator, Lab 87 Director

Kailey Burkhardt is the Education & Outreach Coordinator at Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater and Academy. She is a senior at the University of Alabama in Huntsville double majoring in theatre and English. She began taking classes at FPCT in 2003 and has now appeared both on and offstage in 20 of their productions including Alice in Wonderland (Alice), Sleeping Beauty (Snapdragon), and A Christmas Carol (Martha Cratchit) for which she earned a Wings nomination for Best Female Youth.  Along with assisting and teaching classes, Kailey has also student directed for the Academy and assistant directed 2015’s The Snow Queen.

Active in the community theatre scene, Kailey has also performed and assisted in directing productions with HCCA (The King and I) and Theatre Huntsville (Lend Me a Tenor).  UAH credits include Agnes of God, Suddenly Last Summer, Rantoul and Die, Spoonlake Blues, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Kailey is the UAH Theatre Department’s work study student. She oversees the upkeep of the prop and costume shop. This past summer she earned her first professional credit as the ASM of New Country, off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre with Fair Trade Productions and Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre.


Dana Clark, Education Associate, Lab 87 Coordinator

Dana Clark holds a BFA in musical theatre from the University of Mississippi and an MM in vocal performance from the Longy School of Music of Bard College.  While in school, Dana taught tap dance and private voice.  As a part of her graduate program, she served as a teaching artist at Boston schools, teaching basic music concepts to grades 1-5. Dana has also choreographed for many organizations, including Mississippi: The Dance Company, University of Mississippi Theatre, and the Kate Smith D.A.R. High School Show Choir in Grant, AL. She received an Honorable Mention in the contemporary category from the Panoply Choreography Competition 2010. She has worked as an assistant director with Huntsville Community Chorus Association, and continues to participate both onstage and offstage with UAH Theatre, Fantasy, and Theatre Huntsville. Dana currently runs musical theatre workshops and leads one of the weekly story times at the Downtown Huntsville Public Library.


Rebecca Brown, Education Graphic Designer

Rebecca graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York in 2011. She earned a BFA in Graphic Design with a Minor in Marketing and a Concentration in Communications. Rebecca returned back to her hometown of Huntsville, AL after college and has been working at Simple Helix as a Graphic Designer/Web Developer since. She enjoys the challenge of crafting a compelling visual message that informs, influences and engages others. She currently lives in Fayetteville, TN with her husband and 1 year old son. 




Production Team


Gay Broad, Costume Shop Manager

Judy McClay, Costume Shop Manager

Katie Huhlein, House Manager