October 8, 2019


Grants Pass, OR— Clarion Theatre Company will present a live concert of selected songs from its soon-to-

be released soundtrack of the musical “Here I Stand” Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Grants Pass Museum of

Art. Admission to the 7 p.m. concert is $5, and autographed copies of the soundtrack will be available for


The musical, which tells the story of Martin Luther, is by local composer and playwright John Buckley

Sleadd, a recently retired public school teacher and pastor in Grants Pass. Clarion performed the musical

in the fall of 2017 at the Rogue Theatre in Grants Pass to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the

Protestant Reformation.

Earlier this year, the composer’s wife, producer Arden Sleadd, gathered many of the former cast

members to record 16 songs from the 30-song show at Mountain View Productions in Wilderville. Music

Director Ron Strom and Recording Engineer Bob Pagano led the all-local cast through the process. Voices

on the album are: Arden Sleadd, Ariel Kostrna, Daria Nieland, Don Lanahan, J.J. Scofield, Leanne Strom,

Lexi Imel, Lisa Bokenkamp, Michele Spohn, Olivia Imel, Ricky Reebel, Ron Strom, Ryan Imel, Seth Imel,

Spencer Morrison, Stephen Kostrna, Tianna Eddy, and John Buckley Sleadd himself.

The concert will feature members of the original cast. The composer and performers will share insights

into the making of the soundtrack album. “We want to express the delight of the creative process using

local talent to enrich the community,” said composer Sleadd.

The recording will be released online October 31--in honor of Reformation Day--at iTunes, Amazon, and

other streaming platforms. One song, called “Press On,” was pre-released at Amazon and iTunes as a

“sneak preview” to their subscribers. The CD and download-code wallet cover includes a 16-page

booklet with photographs from the run of “Here I Stand” and a synopsis of Martin Luther’s life as told in

song on the soundtrack. An autographed copy will be available for purchase after the concert for $10.

Also available will be the company’s 2018 album of songs from the musical “The Prodigals,” which was

performed in Grants Pass in 2016 and 2018. The scripts for “The Prodigals” and “Here I Stand” have just

been published in book form at Kindle Direct Publishing, and will be available as well.

The Grants Pass Museum of Art is located at 229 SW G Street. Find out more at the Clarion Theatre

Company website,, or at their Facebook page. – end -

Contact: Sharon Giddings, 541-415-0828

Clarion Announces Cast for "Prodigals" Remake

April 30, 2018, Grants Pass



Gabriel ~ Stephen Chroninger
Ferrell Prodigal ~ Collin Goldman
Brunel Prodigal ~ Dale Hammers
Sarah Prodigal ~ Jackie Matheny
Lawson Prodigal ~ Ryan Imel
Grace Prodigal ~ Daria Nieland
Hope Prodigal ~ Lexi Imel
Joy Prodigal ~ Addy Rae Thomason
Pint Ashby, Slave 2 ~ Caleb Sleadd
Anne Brenton, Swindler 2 ~ Sharon Giddings
Jane Brenton ~ Abigail Martin
Master Bond, Robert Brenton ~ John Sleadd
Sirenella ~ Michele Spohn
Margaret Brenton ~ Amber Fuhrmeister
Mustafa ~ Don Lanahan
Slave 1, Gossip 2 ~ Leanne Strom
Gossip 1, Swindler 1 ~ James Burton
Slave 3 ~ Sheryl Fogelquist

Press Release

February 27, 2018


Clarion announces production team for “The Prodigals” upgrade

Musical slated for June in Performing Arts Center


Grants Pass, OR--Clarion Theatre Company has selected the production team for its next full-length musical, "The Prodigals: Faith Can Lead You Home."

  The 2.5-hour show, with 20 original songs and a cast of 20 or more, will feature a “Pay What It’s Worth” opening night, thanks to the generosity of underwriter Evergreen Federal Bank. It will open June 29th at the Grants Pass Performing Arts Center. A “Pay What It's Worth" show has no ticket price -- audience members leaving the theatre are asked to donate an amount commensurate with the quality of the performance they just attended.

Longtime director, choreographer and actress Denise Baker returns to the company as director. Baker has directed or choreographed 39 shows, including "Steel Magnolias," "South Pacific," "Beauty and the Beast," "Mary Poppins," "Into the Woods," "Hello Dolly," and "Fiddler on the Roof." Denise also directed Clarion’s “Here I Stand: the Monk Who Turned Religion Upside Down” which ran October 2017 at Rogue Theatre.

Also returning to Clarion after working with the cast for "The Prodigals" and “Here I Stand” is Ron Strom to direct the music. Strom has served as music director and pit conductor for several musicals in Grants Pass with One Eleven Theatre, Rogue Music Theatre and Barnstormers.

  Erica Bury is joining the production team as choreographer. Her most recent choreography projects include One Eleven Theatre’s “The Music Man” and “Lion King Jr,” Heartland Dance Studio’s “The Sleeping Beauty,” and Stillpoint Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” She is an American Ballet Theatre Certified teacher and holds her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon. 

Nathaniel Duarte, a real estate broker for Kendon Leet Realty and radio personality for KAJO/KLDR, will serve as stage manager.

"I'm delighted to see our team coming together," said producer Arden Sleadd. "We are so thankful for these talented people who are sharing their gifts with the community. This show will be even bigger and better than its premiere, and promises to hit the mark with high-quality, faith-based entertainment for all ages."

"The Prodigals” was first premiered at Barnstormers in 2016 to sell-out crowds for its five performances.   Written by local composer-playwright John Buckley Sleadd, it tells the biblical story of The Prodigal Son, set in nineteenth-century Victorian England and Morocco.

While keeping the same story line, Sleadd has “overhauled both script and score for more character depth, comedy, and dramatic impact. The accompaniment score now has a seven-piece pit orchestra,” he said.

Auditions for "The Prodigals" are by appointment only, scheduled for April 2-4. For more information, go to

'Here I Stand' chronicles Martin Luther's legacy (Theater Preview)

Friday, October 6, 2017 Daily Courier – Grants Pass, OR

By Kathleen Alaks

of the Daily Courier

PHOTO: Three demons (from left, Tianna Eddy, Ricky Reebel, Daria Nieland) torment Martin Luther (Ryan Imel) over his endless list of sins in "Here I Stand: The Monk Who Turned Religion Upside Down," an original musical by John Sleadd opening Oct. 14 at the Rogue Theatre.

The director of a new original musical about the life and legacy of Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, says the show is more about character than it is about religion.

"To me, the message is be true to the path you're on and stand up for what you believe in," says Denise Baker. "I don't have to lead a revolution to bring about change. I can do that in little ways every single day."

Baker is directing the Clarion Theatre Company production of "Here I Stand: The Monk Who Turned Religion Upside Down," which opens Oct. 14 at the Rogue Theatre in downtown Grants Pass.

The full-length original musical was conceived, written and composed by John Sleadd, a pastor of Household Faith Community Church and a fifth grade teacher at Highland Elementary School.

Sleadd also wrote "The Prodigals — Faith Can Lead You Home," the fledging Clarion Theatre Company's debut show last year.

"I became fascinated with Martin Luther a few years ago while leading a study group through church history," Sleadd writes in the show's program notes.

Luther went from law student to monk after "something changed his path," Baker says.

But he became discouraged by corruption he saw in Rome, renounced his monastic vows and challenged some of the Catholic Church's practices, such as selling indulgences as a way to "buy" loved ones out of purgatory.

"In Luther, we see a captivated young man with a brilliant mind and a troubled heart, who seeks peace with a holy God," Sleadd says.

Baker says she's impressed with how the historical elements of the time, and some of Luther's own words and writings, remain relevant today.

"It's a very important piece of history," Baker says. "How one guy stood up to the most powerful organization in the world at the time, and he won."

"Here I Stand" tells Luther's transformational story through drama and song.

"It's a music-heavy show," Baker says. "The music is so good and the lyrics are so clever. John Sleadd is a very talented man."

Baker, who moved to Grants Pass from Minnesota with her husband in March, came to be involved with the show after the original director had to bow out.

She has plenty of theatrical experience, from performing and dancing in commercials and on stage, to directing and choreographing dozens of shows and even tackling some original work.

"The big challenge there is that it's never been done before, so you have to come up with an original vision, from blocking scenes to fleshing out the characters," she says.

Before committing to work on "Here I Stand," she asked to read the script and score first.

"I got through the first two pages, and I was in," she says.

The current production involves a cast of 22, including Ryan Imel as Martin Luther; Ariel Kostrna as Katharina Von Bora, a former nun who becomes Luther's wife; Sleadd as Johann Eck, the premiere defender of the Catholic Church; Don Lanahan as Johann Tetzel, a zealous cardinal; and Greg Widener as Pope Leo X.

Other cast members include Stephen Kostrna, Brynlee Morrison, Ricky Reebel, Tianna Eddy, J.J. Scofield, Lisa Bokenkamp, Kristie Abart, David Reed, Michele Spohn and Tony Morphy.

Musical direction is by Ron Strom, who will be leading a five-piece pit orchestra. Choreography is by Darcy Schmieder.

"It's all coming together," Baker says of the show, which will have four performances in it's two-weekend run. 'This is by far the best group I've worked with."



Grants Pass, OR—Clarion Theatre has named Denise Baker as director of its production of John Buckley Sleadd’s original musical “Here I Stand: the Monk Who Turned Religion Upside Down,” opening October 14th at the historic Rogue Theatre in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.


Baker and her husband moved to Grants Pass in March, and she has wasted no time seeking involvement in local theatre. Hailing from Minneapolis, her experience in dance, choreography and direction is extensive. Described by her former co-worker, Rosy Kirk, as “competent, flexible, easy to work with, a good listener, experienced in costuming, dance, film, a great actress and director—she can do everything!” the company feels especially fortunate to have her on the team.


The thirty-seven shows Denise has directed or choreographed include “Steel Magnolias,” “South Pacific,” Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Secret Garden,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Into the Woods,” “Hello Dolly,” “Suessical the Musical,” “and “Fiddler on the Roof.”


A dancer in her youth, Denise owned and taught in a dance studio for ten years, and as an actress, currently does acting for film and TV commercial spots as the opportunity presents itself.


“It was a rather amazing turn of events that one of our board members discovered Denise within a day after Russell’s resignation. I attribute it to God’s timing in blessing our company, just as we start production-team planning this week, and with auditions coming up on July 8,” said producer Arden Sleadd.


Baker is replacing Russell Lloyd in the director’s chair after Lloyd stepped down two weeks ago, citing personal scheduling conflicts. Lloyd is currently performing in OSF’s “Shakespeare In Love.”