After five years as an actor, improviser and writer with the renowned Dudley Riggs’ Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis, Mark became the Artistic Director of the BNW in 1985. In the next nine years he directed and co-wrote 22 original comedy-satire productions, a PBS TV pilot, and founded a school of improvisation acting. He then re-located to Florida to begin an extended stint as a show director and writer for Disney Entertainment and producer and director for the Disney Cruise Line, where he helped develop the first two Improv comedy clubs at sea on the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder. Returning to the Twin Cities, Mark is now a partner in Out of the Blue Creative, where he is a keynote speaker, corporate trainer and entertainer. He is co-author of the book Improvise This! How to Think on Your Feet So You Don’t Fall On Your Face, and writes for and produces corporate events. Theater credits include: In the distant past, Mark produced and co-artistic directed a professional theater company in Toms River, New Jersey. In the recent past, he has directed productions for The Brave New Workshop, Actors Theater of Minnesota and Pioneer Place on Fifth in St. Cloud. Mark now joins co-producers Michael Shann and Jim Detmar in Casting Spells Productions, and is the artistic director of our first production, DISENCHANTED! A New Musical Comedy That Gives Fairytales the Bird.
In addition to an extremely successful career as a stage, television and film actor (Thin Ice, Best Man Down, Factotum), James has also served the business community as a creative director for both Jack Morton Worldwide, an international leader in branded live events, and Periscope Advertising, the Twin Cities largest independent ad agency, where his client list included Target, General Mills, Arctic Cat, United Health Group, The Minnesota Twins and Boston Scientific.
The former Artistic Director of Dudley Riggs’ Brave New Workshop, James is also the founder and co-owner of Out of the Blue (). This speaking/training and entertainment company teaches organizations how to apply the principles of improvisation to advance creative problem solving, adapt to rapid changes in business climate and enhance communication skills and relationship building.
In the past 18 months, Jim has served as freelance creative director for a variety of corporate clients, including The University of Minnesota Foundation, MPR, Comcast and The Charles Schwab Corporation.
Michael Shann is an entertainment professional with extensive experience in content, creative development and production. His experience in North & South America, Europe, Russia, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East includes strong vendor and contractor resources. Michael produced the Closing Ceremony of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia in February 2014. His current projects include DISENCHANTED! A Musical Comedy That Gives Fairy Tales the Bird, as one third of the Casting Spells Productions’ producing team. He’s also commuting monthly to Canada, as producer of the Closing Ceremony for the Pan American Games and Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Parapan Am Games in Toronto, Canada in July/August 2015. His expertise includes producing stadium & arena shows, concerts, corporate product launches and international conferences.
In the 1980’s and 90’s Michael enjoyed a twenty-year stint with The Walt Disney Company that took he and his family to Florida, California, Japan and back again to Florida and California. His teams developed and produced seasonal and holiday programs at the theme parks, the launch of The Disney Channel, the Disney University, Disney Stores, halftime shows and holiday spectaculars, major film premieres and Tokyo Disneyland’s 10th Anniversary. From 1998 – 2001 he served as Director, Entertainment Development, for the opening of the Tokyo DisneySeas Resort in Japan.
From 2002 - 2009 Michael was part of the senior management team at Young Presidents’ Organization [YPO]. Founded in 1950, YPO-WPO is an international educational association of over 17,000 business leaders [CEOs] with members in over 100 countries.