Meet the Cast

Get to know the cast and production team for FHU's production of "Annie." Show dates are November 8-10. Get tickets at


Collin Baker (Ensemble) is a freshman theatre major from Knoxville, TN. Performing two years now, has had the pleasure of working in “The Sound of Music” as well as playing Maximillian in “Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” This is his first performance on the FHU stage.



Eden Burleson (Annie) is a local sixth grader. She has played leading roles in “Disney’s The Lion King” (Timon) and “Disney’s Aladdin” (Genie). She played other supporting roles as well. This is her seventh performance and her third time performing on the Loyd stage. She aspires to one day be on the Makin’ Music stage.



Sadie Childers (Kate) is in the fifth grade at Chester County Middle School. She was a member of the ensemble in "Disney's Aladdin Kids" and "Willy Wonka Kids." Last spring, Sadie played Queenan in "Law and Order: Fair Tale Unit." She loves to sing and go on trips with her family.


Presley Grace Connor (Cecille/Ensemble) has been performing since the mere age of four. Her second production of “Annie”, this is her debut in FHU Theater. A senior in high school, Presley serves on the national SADD SPEAKs council and as Tennessee state Beta secretary. Thanks to mom and dad!



David Fonville (Ensemble) is a junior theater performance major from Texas. After being a part of “The Dracula Project” and “The Boys Next Door”, he is excited for his first experience in a musical. He hopes you enjoy the show!



Ava Hardin (Molly) is a sixth grader from Henderson, TN who was bitten by the drama bug at age 8 during her first play. She has performed in “Carousel”, “Disney Aladdin Kids”, “Law and Order: Fairytale Unit”, and “Willy Wonka Kids.” When not acting, Ava loves to play soccer, draw and sew.



Ella Hardin (Tessie) is an 8thgrade student at Hardin Christian Academy. This is her second appearance on the FHU stage after performing in “Carousel” in 2015. She has also appeared in “Disney Aladdin Kids”, “Law and Order: Fairytale Unit”, and “Willy Wonka Kids.”


Joshua Hawkes (Officer) is a sophomore from Ohio. Still new to acting, this is his first production at FHU, or anywhere.


Jessice Hixson (Grace Ferrell) is a freshman theatre performance major from Columbia, TN. She most recently played Truly Scrumptious in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, Sarah Brown in “Guys and Dolls”, and the Baker’s Wife in “Into the Woods”. This is Jessica’s first appearance on the FHU stage. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys playing guitar, hanging out with friends and singing in Chorale. She is very excited to be a part of the production and hopes you enjoy the show!


Katie Hodges (Star To Be/Ensemble) is a freshman theatre education major who has always loved performing. She has played Wendy Jo in “Footloose” and many other roles. Katie not only loves theater but also competing in pageants and will compete in the Miss Tennessee Pageant for the second time in June.


Mariah Kerr (Pepper) is a sophomore theatre performance major from Jackson, TN. She recently played Anne Frank in “The Diary of Anne Frank” and an ensemble in “The Boys Next Door.” She is excited to return to the FHU stage!


Sarah-Ashlyn Lawen (Ensemble) is a freshman double majoring in theater production/design and English. She hopes to become a costume designer. When she is not studying, Sarah-Ashlyn enjoys crafting and going to Theta Nu club meetings.


Braden Miller (Oliver Warbucks) is a junior theater education major from Nashville, TN. He has been on the FHU stage as Schroder in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”, Professor Van Helsing in “The Dracula Project”, and Norman Bulanskey in “The Boys Next Door.” He is thrilled to be performing one of his dream roles in FHU Theater’s, “Annie.” He hopes you love this show as much as he does!


Bishop McLaughlin (Harold Ickes) is a freshman English major from Henderson, TN. This is his first performance on the stage, although he has been involved with theater before. He is a lover of all things board game related, and is an avid taco enthusiast. 


Maggie Nash (Ensemble) is a freshman theatre performance major from Jackson, TN. She has done shows throughout her life. At Jackson Christian, Maggie has played Wednesday Addams in “The Addams Family” and Jo March in “Little Women.”


Ella Noles (Duffy) is a seventh grader who previously played Zazu in “Disney’s Lion King Kids”, Jasmine in “Disney’s Aladdin Kids”, Merm in “Law and Order: Fairytale Unit”, and Mrs. Teavee in “Willy Wonka Kids.” She dedicates this show to Becky Hartle, Lauren Malecha, Tansy Matheny, and her cats whom she might have snuck into the auditorium.


Emma Noles (July) is a seventh grader who loves to perform. She played Nala in “Disney’s The Lion King Kids”, a beggar woman in “Disney’s Aladdin Kids”, Zelle in “Law and Order: Fairytale Unit”, and Violet in “Willy Wonka Kids.” Emma dedicates this show to her family, the cast of “Annie”, and her friends.


Parker Pearce (Howe) is a graduate student in theology from Greenfield, MO. Parker made his FHU Theatre debut as Enoch Snow in "Carousel." For the past two years, Parker has represented FHU in the National Honors Choir which performed in Carnegie Hall in New York City. Parker was a soloist in last year's choir. It's good to have him back on stage in "Annie."


Presley Pearce (Bert Healy/Ensemble) is a sophomore from Greenfield, MO. This is his first musical but not his first time on the stage. Presley has played Mr. Kraler in “The Diary of Anne Frank” and The Games Master in the short play “Adaptation.” Presley enjoys acting, being with people, and also scaring them on Halloween.



Deauna Rich (Ensemble) is a junior theatre performance major from Medina, Ohio. This is her first time on FHU’s stage and she is so excited! She would like to thank her family and friends for supporting and encouraging her. Her habits include reading books, being sassy, and being socially awkward.


Dillan Todd (Drake) is a sophomore Bible major from Chapel Hill, TN. He has been performing since his sophomore year of high school. Although this is his first performance at FHU, this is his second time being a butler. He wonders if this means he has a back-up career.


Jon Michael Thompson (Rooster) is a junior theatre education major and is no stranger to the stage. He has played Shaw in “Footloose”, Mr. Van Daam in “The Diary of Anne Frank” and Phil in “Adaptation.” He enjoys singing in the shower and taking solid naps. He hopes to someday perform professionally.


Sarah Wells (Ms. Pugh/Ensemble) is a senior social work major from Smyrna, TN. Theater has always been a passion of Sarah’s. One of her favorite roles at FHU has been Edith in “The Diary of Anne Frank” and being stage manager for “The Boys Next Door.” When not on stage you will find Sarah either singing or napping.


Ethan Wilkins (Bundles/Ensemble) is a sophomore math and computer science double major. This is his first time on stage but he loves the theater. His favorite plays have been, “The Dracula Project” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”


Sarah Wilsford (Ensemble) is a freshman from Ohio. Sarah has appeared in shows at Carrollton High School such as “Shrek the Musical”, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, “Little Women” as Marmee, “Peter and the Starcatcher” as Molly, “Catch Me If you Can”, as Paula, “The Importance of Being Earnest” as Gwendolyn, and “Big Fish” as The Witch. This is Sarah’s first performance on the FHU stage. She enjoys softball, piano and Chorale.


Alec Wimmer (Roosevelt) is a senior theater performance major from Hinesville, GA. He has been in several productions on the FHU stage including “The Boys Next Door”, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”, and “Greater Tuna.” In “Annie”, he will be playing President Roosevelt, which means he is one step closer to his new-found dream of being the president of the United States.


Madison Wimmer (Lily) is a senior from Houston, TX. This is Madison’s third time on the FHU stage. She has previously appeared in FHU’s production of “Carousel” and “The Dracula Project.” Madison is thrilled to appear on the stage for one more show before she graduates.


Lakyn Wools (Miss Hannigan) is a sophomore theatre education major from Nixa, MO. Lakyn has adored each moment on and off the stage, but some of her favorite memories have been “The Dracula Project” at FHU and playing Fiona in “Shrek the Musical.” She dreams of sharing her love of theater with children one day. Lakyn thanks you for coming and hopes you enjoy the show.


Spencer Hebert (Ward/Ensemble) is a freshman theatre performance and marketing major from Memphis. Previous performance experiences include “The Drowsy Chaperone” (Man In Chair), ‘Little Shop of Horrors” (Mr. Mushnik) and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” (Muff Potters). Spencer’s other interests include pottery making and stand-up comedy. He hopes to perform professionally.


Jessica Clevenger (Mrs. Greer/Ensemble) is a junior from Leesbury, AL. She transferred from Blue Mountain College where she starred in their production of “John, His Story.” She is majoring in theater education and plans to get her Master’s degree. Her hobbies include taking naps and running… lines that is.


Gary McKnight (Music Director) began work with Freed-Hardeman in 1990 and has been with the Department of Music since 1993 and served as the Director of Choral Activities since 2004.  He has studied at Freed-Hardeman (A.A.), the University of Alabama (B.S., M.A.), and the University of Memphis (EdD).  Gary has served as music director for numerous musicals and feels this is one of the best casts he has ever worked with.  He feels especially blessed to be able to work with Cliff Thompson on this show. Gary enjoys traveling with his wife, Rosemary, especially if it is to see their four grandchildren who live in Alabama.  


Becky Hartle (Children’s Director/Boylan Sister) is an FHU alumna originally from Henderson, TN. She is currently teaching elementary Fine Arts at Chester County and is the director for the local middle school and junior high plays. She is thrilled to do this collaboration with her father as well as play a small part in the production. She would like to thank her husband for supporting her in theater.


Tansy Matheny (Choreographer/Boylen Sister) is an FHU alumna originally from Mt. Juliet, TN. Her favorite acting roles at FHU include Mrs. Potts in “Beauty and the Beast”, Marmee in “Little Women”, Veronica in “God of Carnage” and Lucy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Tansy also directed “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon” as a senior and “Blithe Spirit” in 2017.


Brandyn Graves (Scenic Designer) graduated from FHU in 2012 with a degree in studio art. He has an M.F.A in production design from the Savannah College of Design (SCAD). He works at FHU now as the technical director and a professor of theatre. Brandyn has enjoyed designing for FHU such shows as “Drowning Girls,” “Eleemosynary,” and “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Professional credits include several summers as technical director for the Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre in Winchester, VA. He is grateful to his wife for her patience in his absence and for producing an heir.



R. Cliff Thompson (Director) serves the university as director of theatre. He studied at the University of Memphis (MFA) and the University of Mississippi (PhD). In 2004, he spent a summer with the Abingdon Theatre, an Off-Broadway company in NYC. Favorite directing credits at FHU include, “Macbeth,” “The Miracle Worker,” “The Secret Garden” and “The Dracula Project.” After more than 30 years spent in educational theatre training students to work professionally, Cliff feels blesses to see so many of his graduates working in New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. His wife, Sherry, is a professional counselor, and he has three great kids!


Madison Davis (Stage Manager) is a sophomore theatre and biology major from Missouri. She can usually be found on the stage but she is thankful for this opportunity to learn more about the things she loves! As always, she wants to thank her amazing friends in and out of this show for all of the laughs, late nights, and many coffee runs. She has loved learning and working with this cast and she can’t wait to see what comes next!


Breandan Butler (Production Assistant) is a junior theatre design and production major. He has worked on the set construction crew for "The Diary of Anne Frank" and "The Drowning Girls", as well as playing the role of Alfred Dussel in the "Diary of Anne Frank". Breandan hopes to work as a scenic carpenter after graduation.