William Sanders is in his twenty sixth season as artistic director, leading the organization to produce acclaimed area premiere productions such as Angels in America Parts 1 and 2; Falsettos; Search for Signs…, Lips Together Teeth Apart; Marvin’s Room; The Normal Heart; The Grapes of Wrath; The Film Society, Six Degrees of Separation; Follies; The Scarlet Letter; Passion; The Cider House Rules Parts 1 & 2; tick…tick…BOOM!; RENT, August: Osage Count, Next to Normal, Spring Awakening, Other Desert Cities, Constellations, Fun Home, Billy Elliot and A Man of No Importance. He has had the pleasure of working at Lincoln Center Theater, the Roundabout, Manhattan Theatre Club, and the Ahmanson/Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles as assistant director to Joe Mantello on several Broadway and Off-Broadway productions including the Tony-award winning Love! Valour! Compassion!, Design for Living, Blue Window, Proposals and A Man of No Importance. Working in the theatre he has been lucky enough to “be in the room” with marvelous talents including actors Roger Rees, Faith Prince, Nathan Lane, Patricia Clarkson, John Glover, Julie Halston, J. Smith Cameron, Alan Cumming, Jennifer Ehle, Ruthie Henshall, Hayley Mills, Joie Lee, Carolee Carmello, Katharine Helmond, Jerry Stiller, Kelly Bishop, Dominic West, Larry Pine, Rue McClanahan, Allison Janney, John Benjamin Hickey, and Sally Murphy as well as playwrights and composers Neil Simon, Terrence McNally, Jon Robin Baitz, Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, Peter Hedges, Marshall Mays, Susan DiLallo, Stephen Weiner and Craig Lucas but none more gratifying than the talent right here in the Lehigh Valley. Also in New York he enjoyed stage-managing the Off-Broadway productions of The Vagina Monologues and the Obie Award-winning Saved or Destroyed? for Rattlestick Theatre, where he briefly served as Associate Artistic Director. Off -Off Broadway he has directed JasonSongs, Dance In The Giddy Circle, Trust, How Far Will You Go?, A Girl You Should Know, Genesius, and Mommalogues.
He has directed and/or choreographed at Goodspeed Musicals, The Sharon Playhouse, American Family Theatre, YOLO Theatre Group, manhattantheatresource, New York City Opera Education Department, Shepherd Hills Dinner Theatre, The Trilogy Theatre, and PA Stage. Locally he has worked at Muhlenberg (Little Shop of Horrors, Damn Yankees, Joseph…, Schoolhouse Rock Live, and others) and the Theatre Outlet (jasonSongs, The Laramie Project, Bricks, Lysistrata). He has created choreography for all the musicals he directed locally, as well as productions of My Fair Lady, On the Twentieth Century, The Sound of Music, and Once Upon a Time in New Jersey at Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre, The Cradle Will Rock at Theatre Outlet, and Angry Housewives, Over Here, Irma La Douce, Mack and Mabel, Company, Gypsy and others elsewhere. His choreography for the 2003 production of The Wiz at Emmaus H.S. was the recipient of the first FREDDY award for choreography. Bill received the Arts Ovation Award in 1998 for Outstanding Acheivement in the Performing Arts and his production of Gypsy was honored with an unprecedented 25th anniversary special recognition award from Arts Ovation. He has been a recipient of the Community Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Diversity Network for his commitment to bringing LGBT themed work to the Lehigh Valley and has been honored with the prestigious Allentown Human Relations Award. He attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, holds a BFA from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and is a member of Actor’s Equity and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. He and his husband Jason make their home in Allentown very nearby in the vibrant West End with their theatredog, Alfie.
Associate Artistic Director/ Production Manager
Will was a member of Civic’s Resident Company for the 2005-2006 season. He has performed numerous roles on the Civic stage, including Homer Wells in The Cider House Rules and Jacob Marley in Civic’s annual A Christmas Carol. He served as Technical Director of Civic Theatre from 2007-2015. During his time at Civic, he has costume designed and lighting designed numerous productions including but not limited to Gypsy, Next to Normal, 33 Variations, August: Osage County, Cabaret, Rocky Horror, and numerous productions of A Christmas Carol. Will has also directed productions of Beyond the Veil, Music from Down the Hill, and Why We Have a Body for Civic Theatre. Will was educated at Furman University located in Greenville, SC where he graduated magna cum laude, receiving a B.A. in Theatre Arts. He has also performed and toured with the National Players based out of the Washington D.C. area. National Players is America’s longest running touring company, and Will was fortunate enough to be a member of its 58th annual tour. In addition to serving as the tour’s Master Electrician, he played Cassio in Shakespeare’s Othello and Merriman in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Finally, Will is a recipient of the Emerging Artist Arts Ovation Award bestowed upon him by the Allentown Arts Commission.
Director of Development
A native of Allentown, PA, Erik has been playing music since he began piano lessons at age 5. Earning degrees in Music Composition and Journalism from Washington and Lee University in 1998, Erik went to work in the entertainment business with early career experiences at DreamWorks Television and the William Morris Agency in Los Angeles and New York. Erik returned to Allentown in 2000 to direct Development and Media Relations efforts for the Mayfair Festival where he realized he had a knack for sales. That realization led to a 10+ year journey in the technology industry, where Erik developed his expertise in helping companies make better decisions and improve business processes.
Erik has been applying his background in process improvement and sales management to help performing arts organizations execute their missions since 2014. As Ensemble Services Director at USBands, the org experienced sustained growth while launching new programs, improving customer satisfaction and enhancing participant experience. As Director of Sales for System Blue, Erik developed and delivered a world-class sales and customer service experience to a global family of performers in pageantry and the marching arts. As the Director of Development, Erik’s unique perspective and mission-focused approach will help Civic improve engagement with our partners and patrons in the Lehigh Valley community, and beyond.
When not working or spending time with his wife (Sara) three children (Evan, Shaun, and Coraline), and two rescued Greyhounds (Icheon and Busan), Erik can be found playing original music with his band in the Allentown area.
JoAnn Wilchek Basist
JoAnn has been an arts educator for 43 years. Upon graduating with a BA degree in Acting/Elementary Education from Cedar Crest College and a Master’s Degree in Education from Kutztown University, she started her professional teaching career at St. Thomas More School in Allentown where she taught 5th grade for 21 years and was the director/creator of dozens of productions for the school and the parish during her time there.
JoAnn is a 1973 Graduate of the Civic Theatre School program.She started her tenure as a drama teacher at The Civic Theatre School of Allentown in 1981 and has been the Administrator of the Theatre School for the past 27 years. JoAnn has created numerous showcase extravaganzas for the Summer Theatre School program and has had the honor of mentoring some of the valley’s finest young actors. She works closely with Artistic Director William Sanders and co-directs the theatre school productions with him. She has served on the Executive Board as First Vice-President for a number of years at Civic and has developed a Cat in the Hat Literacy Program that tours numerous schools in the Allentown School District as well as several other districts. JoAnn frequently appears as The Cat in the Hat to engage youngsters in an interactive reading experience at a variety of local venues. She has on numerous occasions developed special events and programing for Mayfair and The Cops and Kids Reading Experience. JoAnn has also taught for many years at The City Arts Cultural Camp (in collaboration with Civic) and has had the opportunity to collaborate with fellow Allentown Arts Programs.
JoAnn is an adjunct professor at Cedar Crest College where she teaches Acting and Public Speaking. She also frequently directs student productions at Northampton Community College and Cedar Crest.
JoAnn is an accomplished veteran actor with almost fifty years of stage experience. She is the recipient of a 2003 Allentown Arts Ovation Award for Excellence in Performance, a 2018 Allentown Arts Ovation Award for Excellence in Arts Education and Civic’s first recipient of The Harry Award for embodying the spirit of Civic Theatre.
JoAnn and her husband Marc are the proud parents of Courtney Hope (a filmmaker in Los Angeles) and Lauren Paige (a Brand Manager for J&J in Manhattan).