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Get to know the team and purpose of STF


Superior Theatre Festival advances the appreciation of the arts by producing and presenting high-caliber contemporary work that celebrates our Northern Voice and by creating enriching opportunities through arts education and dialogue.  


Superior Theatre Festival aims to respond to the diversity of practice and culture that exists in Thunder Bay and to programming a variety of multi-disciplinary work from local and national companies.  It is committed to providing affordable, high-quality performances and to providing opportunities for collaborations between local and national artists to further artistic practices.  STF nurtures the creation of new work, encourages experimentation and creates opportunities for youth engagement. 



Superior Theatre Festival’s operations reside in the Robinson-Superior Treaty Territory which has been built on the traditional lands of the Ojibwe people of Fort William First Nation.  

For a long time, this region was traditionally used as a summer gathering area, just as we are gathered now and we would like to offer our respect and gratitude to the original caretakers of this land: the elders and ancestors - the Ojibwe people, also known as the Anishinaabe, meaning ‘first or original people’.  Miigwetch for allowing us to gather here today.

At Superior Theatre Festival we are committed to building relationships with the First Nation People in this community and will continue to build that relationship each year so they feel comfortable and welcomed within our institution.  Our sincere goal is to honour that relationship by walking hand in hand, together.




Superior Theatre Festival (STF) and all those affiliated believe that all people are equal, while possessing unique experiences and perspectives. Furthermore, we acknowledge that while we hold this opinion there have been massive failures repeated throughout history that affect marginalized groups to this day. We recognize and affirm the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We acknowledge the enduring presence and deep traditional knowledge, laws and philosophies of the indigenous people with whom we share this land today.


We believe that in these times, more than ever, love and acceptance is more powerful than hate and anger. We strive to reach and invite people to share their lived experiences through artistic expression. We believe that it is through this cultural ex-change of stories that we will transcend race, gender, sexuality and other immutable characteristics that have been used in the past to divide us through hate and dis-crimination.


We see the shifting landscape of our society and are eager to be a part of it. We wish to be a place of kindness and pledge to consistently ensure that all voices are heard. We believe that all artists and communities are sacred and deserve the opportunity to live with dignity and acceptance.


Fiona Gardiner

Chris Talarico

David Wilkinson-Simard

Krista Willson

Joel Schuurman

JP Tennier

Donna Marie Baratta


  • To provide affordable, high-quality artistic performances for the community of Thunder Bay and its surrounding area.

  • To produce and present multi-disciplinary work 

  • To present an annual event in the Spirit Garden that respects its heritage and natural surroundings.

  • To create a theatrical event that contributes in a meaningful way to the communities in Northwestern Ontario by helping to foster its unique Northern Voice

  • To develop partnerships with businesses and other local organizations to promote the Thunder Bay region and encourage tourism.

  • To develop collaborations between local and national artists to create an opportunity for growth in artistic practices and create opportunities for exchange and dialogue between festival artists and the local community.

  • To develop educational programming in the arts for young people and for audiences to engage with the work

  • To play a role in the national presenting ecology as a stop between the major centres of Sudbury and Winnipeg.



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Artistic Director & Managing Director

Donna Marie Baratta is a Director, Choreographer, Producer, Educator and Performer who makes Toronto and Thunder Bay her home. She is the Artistic Producer and Co-Founder of Present Danger Productions and a core artist of [elephants] collective.  

Donna Marie’s career has taken her right across Canada, the United States and to Europe (Paris, Belgium and Luxembourg) working in dance, drama, musical theatre, industrials, opera, and film.  Selected credits include James and the Giant Peach Jr., Salt-Water Moon,  Night Wings (STF), girls! girls! girls! (SummerWorks 2013), Medea (Studio Theatre), Living with Henry (Best of Fringe, Next Stage  and NYMF 2012), The Murmuration of Starlings (New Works Festival), How I Learned to Drive (U of A), Death and the Maiden (U of A), Fool for Love (Playwright’s Project), Embedded (U of A), Low Level Panic (U of A), Strange Mary Strange (SummerWorks 2011), Aftershock (SummerWorks 2010),

Candide (U of T Opera MFA), Honk (DaCapo Productions), Footloose (Rose Theatre/BMT), Perfect Life (Poor Alex Theatre), You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (DaCapo Productions), The Vagina Monologues (TBVPAC), Gone for a Dance (Samsa Films). 

She has performed in various mega-musicals: Crazy For You (Mirvish Productions), Sunset Boulevard (Live Entertainment) and in other productions at the Charlottetown Festival and Magnus Theatre. Candide (U of T Opera MFA), Honk (DaCapo Productions), Footloose (Rose Theatre/BMT), Perfect Life (Poor Alex Theatre), You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (DaCapo Productions), The Vagina Monologues (TBVPAC), Gone for a Dance (Samsa Films). 

She has performed in various mega-musicals: Crazy For You (Mirvish Productions), Sunset Boulevard (Live Entertainment) and in other productions at the Charlottetown Festival and Magnus Theatre. 

Donna Marie is a graduate of the MFA Directing program at the University of Alberta and a passionate Arts educator. She has taught for twenty years with both the Lakehead Public School Board and currently the TCDSB (Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts).  She has also taught at the University of Alberta, Randolph Academy and many other dance studios across Canada. 

She is a member of Actors Equity, a full member of C.D.T.A stage division (Tap and Jazz) and a Past-President of CODE. She is a member of the Lincoln Center's Directors Lab in NYC, Director's Lab West (LA), Director's Lab North (Toronto) and was nominated for the Gina Wilkinson Prize. @directorhaven



Production Designer

Nancy is an inaugural member of the Creative Team of Superior Theatre Festival, and has designed all four seasons.  Recent design work includes Punk Rock (Howling Company), Dark Heart (Food for Thought), Othello (Driftwood), Deceitful Above all Things (Storefront), Of Human Bondage (Magnus), Desdemona (Three Sisters), Hamlet (Hart House), Waterfront: The Blessing, Shed & Rabbit Rabbit (Summerworks), Le Magicien d’Oz (Théâtre La Roulotte), Cabaret, Stop Heart, and Shouting (National Theatre School). Beyond designing independently she has been Assistant Designer at the Stratford Festival (4 Seasons), and recently completed a remount of Grease (Irregular Entertainment). Awards include a recent Dora Nomination for costume design, Ian and Molly Lindsay Young Design Fellowship, Tom Patterson Guthrie Award, & Peter Dwyer Scholarship. She is a member of the Associated Designers of Canada, and holds a BFA in Theatre Production & Design (University of Victoria), and a Diploma in Set & Costume Design (National Theatre School of Canada).

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Outreach Manager

Carly Martin (she/her) is a multi-disciplinary artist, classically trained vocalist and writer from Thunder Bay, ON. She discovered a passion for performing at a young age when she attempted to stage a neighbourhood production of High School Musical and the rest, as they say, is history. She is new graduate of Sheridan College’s Honours Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance program and is very excited to be entering this industry that continues to magnificently evolve, adapt, and grow with the world.

Selected credits: Happy End (Theatre Sheridan), Casimir and Caroline (Theatre Sheridan), Parkdale (Musical Stage Co./Theatre Sheridan) This Will Be Excellent (Magnus Theatre) and Into the Woods (Paramount Live). Carly aims to be part of meaningful, inspiring work in Canada and beyond. She is especially passionate about exploring new original works and has a deep appreciation and love for new Canadian musical theatre. Carly cares about community and about sharing music and stories that connect and resonate with people of all ages and experiences. She is thrilled to be joining the fantastic team at Superior Theatre Festival as a Producer this year with a focus on Outreach.

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Communications Manager

Katherine is a performer, and multi-hyphenate theatre maker currently living in New York City currently performing Off-Broadway as Edie Sedgwick in Chasing Andy Warhol.  Since September 2020 she has been performing in and Rehearsal Director for the only long-running pandemic friendly show in NYC - VOYEUR: The Windows of Toulouse Lautrec. She is also a member of the company helping to bring Broadway back to NYC, performing weekly in Times Square with #TSQProject, and can currently be seen in the world premiere Off-Broadway play Chasing Andy Warhol.  Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Katherine is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch New Studio on Broadway with a BFA (Hons) in Drama. Katherine has performed and choreographed Off-Broadway (Turkeys Go On Strike, Sleepy Hollow The Musical), across New York City, Toronto, and The US at such venues as Radio City Music Hall, Feinstein’s/54 Below, Birdland, Berkshire Theatre Group, Woodstock Playhouse, Theatre Passe Muraille, Berkely Street Theatre, Toronto Fringe and won the BroadwayWorld Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal as Lola in Damn Yankees

 In addition, Katherine is the Assistant to the Artistic Producer, Chilina Kennedy, of Eclipse Theatre Company and is also the Education Administrator of their Mentorship, Training and Opportunity Platform. In addition, Katherine works under Nicole Fosse at the Verdon Fosse Legacy, and has worked at Dance Lab New York under Broadway choreographer Josh Prince. Katherine is so excited to help STF grow and work alongside this fabulous team! @katherine.winter



Associate Producer

Becca Start (she/they) has always had a passion for the arts. Performing in over 30 musicals, taking singing lessons for 5 years, and dance for two, she has loads of experience. Some roles include: Paulette Bonafonté - Legally Blonde, Trunchbull - Matilda Jr , Albert - Newsies, Peter Pan - Peter Pan and many more. Becca is currently continuing her education at Seneca College in the Acting for Camera and Voice program, in Toronto.


Originally from Thunder Bay, Becca is back for the summer and is excited to be taking on a new set of challenges and seeing the other side of things, by associate producing for Superior Theatre Festival 2023. 





Award winning artist Eleanor Albanese has spent her life immersed in the arts through theatre, film-making, and arts education.  Her many plays for young audiences have toured nationally from coast to coast.  Eleanor's film, Under the Pearl Moon, co-directed with Sonja Obljubek, opened in 2014 in Zagreb, Croatia and won the Peoples Choice award at the Bay Street Film Festival. 

Eleanor has also presented at conferences from Vancouver to Toronto to Nova Scotia.   In her invitational style of teaching, Eleanor guides participants to connect with their own creativity through mixed media works, drama, collage, marionettes and a variety of other expressive art forms. In all of her work, Eleanor seeks to engage community and encourage others to find and explore their own unique creative voice.

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Danny Johnson has been a familiar face around Thunder Bay for several years now, whether performing as a solo artist, with his band 21 Gun Fun, with Duelling Pianos, or with his jazz trio.He is a well-respected singer/songwriter who has performed at venues and festivals around the world and has opened for and toured with many acclaimed acts, including Bob Dylan, The Tragically Hip, Colin James, David Wilcox, Fred Eaglesmith, George Jones, Valdy and Johnny Cash. He was invited to perform for a special tour for the Six String Nation Guitar Tour (a guitar made from various Canadian historical items). He is presently working on an album with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, one of the finest slide players in the world, who was awarded a Grammy for his album with Ry Cooder, A Meeting By The River.As a musician/musical director and multi-instrumentalist (keyboards, guitars, percussion), he has performed with such artists as Bo Diddley, The Temptations, Bob Newhart, Paul Shaffer, Hal Linden, Red Skelton, Bob Hope, Tom “Bones” Malone, Theresa Tova, Jack de Keyzer, Detroit Women,

Danny has worked as engineer/producer for dozens of album and film projects at his facility, Danalog Studio, including Rodney Brown’s The Big Lonely and Pierre Schreyer’s Blue Drag, both of which were nominated for Juno awards. He has also recorded with such artists as Coleman Hell (Columbia Records), Rita Chiarelli, Ed Bickert, Oliver Jones, Fred Eaglesmith and Ian Tamblyn. His most recent production is Into The Wonder, for The Gryphon Trio and TBSO, featuring the music of Jordan Pal, on the Analekta label.





Fiona graduated from Lakehead University with an H.B. Commerce degree before joining Dougall Media as a commercial writer/producer for television. She quickly added radio and print work to her portfolio before moving in front of the camera.  For the last 18 years she has been the Host for Around Town (community interviews) and various news segments, a Weather Anchor for the News Hour and an editor in the Promotions Department, producing content for seasonal promotions and the TV station’s websites.  She produced the Cystic Fibrosis Mother’s Day Telethon (2002-2005) and has also written an editorial column, Fi-TV for The Source weekly paper for the last 15 years which focuses on today’s media.  A former dancer and teacher, Fiona believes in the power of theatre to change people’s lives at any age.



Chris is a born and raised Thunder Bay performer. He is a newcomer to the world of acting but has experience with musical theatre and performing live. Chris brings his creativity and energy on any project including his career as a musician. He has worked on several projects over the last couple of years including Broadway on Bay, Broadway on Bay the Magic of Musicals, “Hand in Hand” a college thesis film and his debut EP, “All In”.

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Krista Willson graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree from Lakehead University in 2008. Krista has worked within the Healthcare sector for over twelve years beginning with the First Nations Inuit Health Branch at Health Canada and as a Procurement Specialist within the Northern Supply Chain at St. Joseph’s Care Group. Upon joining the Northwest Health Alliance in 2015 as a Project Manager, Krista has successfully achieved both her Certified Associate in Project Management and Project Management Professional designations through the Project Management Institute. Since the dissolution of the Health Alliance in 2019, she has since taken on roles as a Performance Improvement Lead with the Regional Palliative Care Program and currently as the Clinical Project Manager for the implementation of Cardiovascular Surgery at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. 

Krista has been successful working with and managing relationships with various First Nation band offices, health centres, clients, and stakeholders. She also excels at budgeting, planning, scheduling and procurement management. As an active member of dance and theatre in her youth, she was enthused to join the Superior Theatre Festival Board of Directors in 2017. Since then, Krista has become a mom to a beautiful little boy and continues to enjoy the outdoor pursuits that northern Ontario has to offer in her past time.




Mitchell is a public accountant at MNP working towards his CPA designation. He is a graduate from Lakehead University where he completed his H.B. Commerce with a Graduate Diploma in Accounting. Alongside his Wife, Bethany he has settled in Thunder Bay where they operate several small businesses such as North Shore Puzzles and Sleeping Giant BNB. Mitchell’s business ties to the community keeps him involved and hands-on in several of Thunder Bay’s annual events where he loves to see individuals in the community get opportunities to connect. Originally born and raised in Regina Saskatchewan, Mitchell now thinks of Thunder Bay as home due to his enjoyment of the outdoors and community connections he has found in Northwestern Ontario.

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Board Member

David has been active in the First Nation music and art scene since the age of 12 with the mentoring and guidance of the late Dr. Richard Lyons and the Lyons Dance Group. Dr. Richard Lyons and the Thunder Bay Singers were largely responsible for the revival of First Nation culture and heritage in the northern Ontario region. He performed at various events with the Lyons Dance Group

and began singing with the Thunder Bay Singers. It was through this mentorship and guidance that he found his own creative path and a new group the Thunder Mountain Singers.

The Thunder Mountain Singers influences included songs and teaching from the late Alex Skead from the Lake of Woods area, Eagle Lake area and Rainy River area in Treaty Three. Thunder Mountain began composing and performing their own style of singing and as they looked to separate their sound from other groups from that time. Thunder Mountain recorded seven albums internationally. Their work includes collaborations with Rodney Brown, Pierre Shreyer, ShyAnne Hovorka and the Thunder Bay Symphony. They were nominated by the Native American Music Awards, Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards and won the Indigenous

Peoples Choice Music Award for Best Traditional Album. They also won the Thunder Bay Arts and Heritage Award and received the City of Thunder Bay Best Citizens Award.

His work includes First Nation Performing Arts events at the Lakehead University and Magnus Theatre featuring storytelling through the songs and dances featuring Thunder Mountain Singers. His work also includes the creation of the Northern Woodland Ojibway Dance Group that performed at schools throughout Thunder Bay.

His interests in performing arts and fashion have resulted in various shows in Thunder Bay. His work includes the Thunder Bay National Indigenous Day Fashion Show 2010 and the Thunder Bay Folklore Festival International Fashion Show 2010 and recently returned to work with the Lakehead University Aboriginal Initiatives Spring Fashion show 2020 with 2 projects in 2021. His most recent works include Thunder Bay Special Olympics Opening Ceremonies, Thunder Bay summer in Parks Performances 2020, Superior Arts Festival 2020 and Thunder Bay Symphony collaboration with the Thunder Mountain Singers 2021.  David is from the Kingfisher Clan from Obishkokaang FN in the Treaty Three Territory


LIL BERGAMO - Chairperson

DAVE SHANNON - Vice Chairperson

JOHN BERGAMO - Treasurer

TINA ZUSSINO - Secretary


Other subsequent Board Members:










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