Meet the people behind the scenes at Popejoy
Tom Tkach, Director
Growing up outside of Manhattan gave Tom an appreciation for the arts, an appreciation that has stayed with him through his 12-plus years at Popejoy Hall.
Tom has a Masters of Arts in Arts Management from City University London and a Bachelor of Science degree from Montclair University. He’s worked in arts management in New Jersey, where he served as project coordinator for Very Special Arts New Jersey and as Arts Grant Coordinator for the Middlesex Community Cultural and Heritage Commission. Tom was also Executive Director of the Count Basie Theatre/Monmouth County Arts Council.
In his spare time, Tom reads, paints, and works in his garden. One of his favorite duties as Popejoy Director is previewing Broadway shows. He counts Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera as his favorite and most memorable Popejoy shows.
Brian W. Colburn, House Manager
Brian first worked at Popejoy as a student employee. He was thrilled to get paid to enjoy a great show while ensuring that others had the same experience. Brian describes the role of house manager as “catch-all.” The job includes anything that provides Popejoy patrons and volunteers with safe and enjoyable experiences.
Brian holds two degrees from UNM. He earned his BBA in 2002 and his MA in Education in 2008. In addition to his 11 years at Popejoy, Brian teaches for Albuquerque Public Schools and runs a small local business. In his spare time he enjoys camping, hiking, and riding bikes and scooters.
Brian's first Popejoy show—a concert by the UNM Wind Symphony—was also his first date with the woman who is now his wife.
David J. Bentley, Jr., House Manager
Dave has had the opportunity to attend many performances around the world. Additionally, he performed in the chorus of Brigadoon produced by Albuquerque Civic Light Opera Association. Dave’s interest in the arts drew him to Popejoy after he retired from a career in chemistry. He volunteered as a Popejoy usher before becoming House Manager in 1997.
He is now in his 14th season at Popejoy and is responsible for everything that happens in Front of House. Dave’s favorite aspect of his job is interacting with Popejoy’s patrons and helping them in anyway he can.
Dave’s favorite production at Popejoy was Blast!, returning for the 2011-2012 season, because he believed that the cast executed their roles perfectly.
Dave invites all of Popejoy’s patrons to introduce themselves to him while he is working!
Terry S. Davis, Senior Public Affairs Representative
Terry has been involved in the arts since he was a sophomore in high school. He received his MFA in Dramatic Writing from UNM in addition to a Bachelor of the Arts from Eisenhower College.
He has now directed, produced and written for theatre as well. In 2005, he was a co-winner of the Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. In addition to his background in the arts, Terry was an account executive at Rick Johnson & Company where he worked on the Paramount Pictures account, among others.
Terry has worked at Popejoy since 1996 and currently oversees communication from Popejoy regarding the shows it presents. His favorite part of his job is interviewing artists from the shows that come to Popejoy, which allows him to have a greater appreciation for what they do.
Rosemarie DeLeo, House Manager
Rosemarie has been ensuring smooth front of house operation at Popejoy for 11 years. She holds a Bachelor in Business Administration from the Robert O. Anderson School at UNM. Rosemarie is a volunteer DJ at KUNM radio. Before Popejoy, she worked for America West for 10 years as a flight attendant and customer service representative and for two years as a production/promotion secretary at KOB-TV for 2 years.
Rosemarie’s first show in the hall was Bonnie Raitt in the late 1970s. Her most memorable Popejoy moment was the first time The Phantom of the Opera came to the hall. She got to chat with “the Phantom” in his dressing while he was getting his makeup done. Rosemarie is happy to contribute to patrons’ positive and memorable experiences at Popejoy.
Bill Eyler, Accountant
Bill has crunched numbers at Popejoy for since 2001. His favorite part of his job is working with such a talented, dedicated staff and reporting profitable shows because it means keeping Popejoy’s mission alive. Bill holds a BA from Louisiana Tech University. He worked at ACLOA (Musical Theatre Southwest) from 1989 to 2001, a job that gave him ties to Popejoy Hall, which housed most ACLOA performances.
Bill has been an active square dance caller and country-western dance instructor for since 1984. He is currently singing with The New Mexichords, Albuquerque’s premier Barbershop Chorus.
This season, Bill is excited to see the Manhattan Transfer, which takes him back to his post-college years of listening to their albums every evening after work since he didn’t have a television. Bill loves their harmonies and passion for music.
Laura A. Maness, Education & Community Outreach Supervisor
Laura graduated from college with two degrees — one in anthropology, the other in theatre arts. Her first career was as a research archaeologist for various universities, but she joined the Popejoy staff in 1995 during the renovation. She became the first full-time House Manager at the hall and built the volunteer corps, concessions, merchandise and other front-of-house programs as the Patron Services Manager. Laura completed a Master of Arts degree in Theatre Education and Outreach from UNM.
However, since 2005 she has supervised the development of the Education and Outreach division and is responsible for the Schooltime Series, Senior Program and Education Outreach. Her favorite part of her job is booking the Schooltime Series shows. She really enjoys the enthusiasm of children and adults as they watch a live performance together.
In addition to her work at Popejoy, Laura is also active on several local arts committees and is an active member of International Performing Arts for Youth and Americans for the Arts.
Judi Mersereau, Production Service Manager
Judi has a large amount of experience in the arts. She built and painted sets for the Albuquerque Civic Lights Opera (now Musical Theatre Southwest), Popejoy Hall, UNM Opera Department and New Mexico Ballet. Additionally, she taught painting, drawing, illustration and printmaking at Highland High School for nine years.
Judi has been working at Popejoy since 1979. She worked full-time until 1990, part-time from 1995 to 2000, and full-time again since 2004. Judi is currently responsible for scheduling professional and student crews, assisting with track and stage training sessions, backstage maintenance and making sure everything is up to regulation.
The most interesting and memorable thing that Judi has experienced at Popejoy was watching and helping with the building preparation for The Phantom of the Opera the first time it came to the hall. She helped put a lot of holes through walls and floors to run cables through; she also helped cut apart the proscenium to fit the chandelier from the show.
Maryellen Missik-Tow, Director of Development
Maryellen graduated from Pace University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. After graduating, she was a Wall Street Recruiter and owned and operated her own Recruitment Firm in New Jersey for nearly a decade. After Maryellen moved to New Mexico and she began working at UNM for the School of Engineering followed by the School of Medicine.
In 2009, Maryellen began her career at Popejoy Hall as the Director of Development. She works hard to cultivate relationships between Popejoy and its patrons. Additionally, she works closely with our donors to realize our mission: to enrich, educate, and entertain the community through the performing arts.
Her most cherished memory of Popejoy was when a donor brought her six-year-old daughter to Popejoy for her first show. Afterwards, the donor took her daughter to the movie theatre and asked how she liked the movie, to which she replied “I like Popejoy better!”
Tram Nguyen, Patron Services Manager
As a youth, Tram performed in local plays and was a member of Honors Chorus and State Ensemble Choir in High School. She previously worked for UNM’s College of Education and APS. Tram also managed a multicultural community center in Washington.
Tram moved to New Mexico after growing up outside Philadelphia and experienced Popejoy for the first time in 2002. Her first show was STOMP, and she was excited to find that she could still experience Broadway shows and cultural events similar to the one she had come to love.
In 2004, Tram became a permanent part of Popejoy and is currently responsible for House Management and Volunteer management, which include over 240 volunteers.
Patricia O’Connor, Senior Marketing Representative
Patricia has been involved in the arts since high school where she worked backstage at school performances, and spent two years in photography courses.
Patricia received her degrees from UNM–– a Bachelor of Arts degree in Foreign Languages, a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and an MBA in Marketing. In 2003 she came to Popejoy as a student intern and has worked as a full-time staff member since 2005 and is responsible for coordinating marketing student employees, assisting with show booking, and all electronic aspects of Popejoy’s marketing.
Her favorite part of her job at Popejoy is the Renewing Subscribers Party because she enjoys meeting Popejoy’s long-term patrons and hearing what they most want to see.
Patricia’s first experience at Popejoy Hall was when she saw Margaret Cho after winning tickets on the radio.
Billy Tubb, Associate Director of Production Services
During his freshman year at UNM, Billy worked as a technical theatre apprentice at the Santa Fe Festival Theatre. He earned his BFA in Technical Theatre and Design from UNM, and, in 1990, he decided to make his career in theatre at Popejoy. Billy is responsible for Popejoy’s backstage and technical operations.
Billy is also active in the arts outside of Popejoy. He occasionally designs lights for local productions. He also owns his own business designing theatrical technical systems for renovations and new facilities. In fact, he designed the technical systems for 16 new high schools in Kuwait for the Kuwait Ministry of Education.
Billy’s most memorable Popejoy experiences include: seeing Jesus Christ Superstar when he was 5 years old and thinking it was loud; sneaking into the hall while he was in high school; and catching the chandelier 32 times during the first run of The Phantom of the Opera.
Herb Wright, House Manager
Before he began his career at Popejoy, Herb spent two years in Sacramento, CA where he was part of the stage crew for Music Circus. He also worked as a volunteer house manager for five years for B Street Theatre. In addition to his background in theatre, Herb earned his Bachelor of Science in Business in addition to doing graduate work in computer sciences.
Herb came to Popejoy in 2002 where he became House Manager. He thoroughly enjoys working with patrons and volunteers and letting both groups know they’re appreciated is one of Herb’s favorite parts of his job.