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The Company

The company

Glorifying Christ Through
Excellence In the Arts

CSDC was established in 2002. For co-founders Irene Miller and Marla Ripps, it literally all began with a dream and a prayer.  Irene had a dream, and Marla had a prayer for a place where God could be glorified through theatre and where  Christians could find an outlet for their talent.  Since 2001, CSDC has taught all aspects of theatre arts to students K-12.  Through this pre-professional training, the students are able to utilize their gifts and talents to serve others in any aspect of theatre or in business.

With God’s blessing and direction, we envision Crystal Sea Drama Company continuing to grow in its ability to offer classes and productions in a first class facility. Crystal Sea Drama Company is dedicated to training artists in theatre arts education and performance. 


In August, 2009, we moved into our current location – a warehouse at 8414 Speedway.  The building used to be an archery warehouse.  The space, affectionately known as “The Studio”, has been transformed into a black box rehearsal theatre complete with costume shop, extensive costume, props and sets storage, and classrooms.

Irene Miller, Artistic Director and Acting Instructor,  has been involved in theatrical productions since 1970. She has a degree in Theatre and Communications Arts from the University of Iowa. 

Marla Ripps, Lead  Costumer and Instructor, is a civil engineer who received her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M.


Arsenic and Old Lace, February 2020


the Staff

Irene miller

Executive Artistic Director, Founder

Irene Miller graduated with a Theatre and Communications degree from the University of Iowa. She is the Executive and Artistic Director for Crystal Sea Drama Company. She teaches Acting and Stage Movement and Thursday Performance and Professional Prep classes and directs two shows a year. She has been acting since she was young and has performed in numerous plays, including The Sound of Music, Arsenic and Old Lace, and The Hallelujah Girls. Irene has directed over 50 plays, most recently, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Christmas Carol, and The Bard. She is the mother of nine children and has four grandchildren. Irene has over 30 years of homeschooling experience. In what little spare time she has, she loves to read, play solitaire, and scrapbook.

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marla ripps

Head Costumer, Founder, Photographer 

Marla Ripps is the Lead Costumer and an instructor for CSDC. She co-founded CSDC with Irene Miller in 2002. She has worked in some capacity in every show CSDC has produced. Her expertise can be seen in CSDC’s makeup designs and applications, costume designs and construction, and photography. Mrs. Ripps has a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University. 

Alfy valdez

Technical Director

Alfy Valdez is a 2008 transplant to San Antonio from California, where he received a degree in Art from CAL Berkeley and worked with many community theaters. At San Antonio's Public Theater (formerly known as The San Pedro Playhouse), he was the Technical Director and Resident Designer for many plays and musicals on the main stage and in the small Cellar Theater. His favorite set designs were Man of La Mancha, Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Funny Girl,  Picnic, Red, and Time Stand Still. He later joined The Classic Theater of San Antonio where favorite set designs included Bus Stop, Little Foxes, and Anna in the Tropics.   Currently he teaches students set design and technical production as the Technical Director for Crystal Sea Drama Company.


jenn tonak

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Managing Director, Graphic Designer

Jenn Tonak is originally from Colorado and has lived in San Antonio for 17 years.  She attended the Art Institute of Colorado to study photography but found that wasn't really what she was interested in.  She did, however, find that she really liked the digital aspect and photoshop.  She moved more into graphic design, designing tickets and flyers for events.  When her daughter wanted more in the way of acting, they found CSDC.  As chance would have it, CSDC needed a graphic designer to create their show posters!  Since starting at CSDC, she is not only the graphic designer, but also the finance manager, and office manager.  She is also a homeschool mom, entrepreneur, and avid crafter!

Robert Gonzalez

Director, Teacher

Robert Gonzalez was the children’s minister at his church for over 15yrs, graduated with Bachelor’s in theatre, and has been directing and performing in and around the San Antonio community. He is currently taking professional Voice Over classes and is in the process of getting his official Texas Teacher’s Certification. In his spare time, he works a full time job in the Entertainment department at SeaWorld where he occasionally performs in the Sea Lion show! 


Kelly Hanson

Elementary Teacher,
Art Instructor

Kelly Hanson is a local artist and entrepreneur with over 20 years of professional experience. She has run several art related businesses including working as a decorative interior painter and running an international children’s art kit subscription business. She also spent over 10 years performing locally with the National Comedy Theatre and Comedy Sportz improv troupe. Currently, Kelly is a homeschool mom and teaches kindergarten in a hybrid model school. She loves teaching scenic painting, children’s theatre and art classes here at CSDC!

Mike dannelly

Improvisation Teacher

Mike Dannelly was born a natural athlete, but his dreams of becoming an International Olympic Fencer  were dashed at the ripe age of 2 ½ years old in a terrible backyard accident involving a llama and a plastic kiddie pool. Mike was introduced to theater in high school and went on to perform throughout college and early adulthood. During his theatrical escapades, Mike was introduced to the world of comedy and laughter. He found that his true passion in theater was making people laugh and enjoyed hearing them have a good time. Mike harnessed the power of laughter and wit to become a professional improvisor. He's the former owner of ComedySportz San Antonio and has been teaching improv for 10 years with the last few being here at CSDC and is self-proclaimed "favorite teacher" to most of our students. 


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George Lamberson

Trebuchet Teacher

George has taught Renaissance Trebuchet Class for the past three years.  He is a mechanical engineer and loves to impart his knowledge to students

Gwen kandt

Director, Teacher

Gwen Kandt teaches English and Drama at Crestmont Christian Preparatory School in Boerne. She has been involved in drama ministries at four churches and led a homeschool theater program in Sioux City, Iowa. Over the years, she has written scads of skits, one-acts, and full-length plays for her students to perform, including two published one-acts: Do-Overs and Everyman 2.0. In her spare time, she reads, blogs (, and indulges in far too many desserts.


Teresa fehrenbach

Costume Assistant, Photographer

Teresa Fehrenbach learned the basics of sewing in middle school Home Ec classes and has continued to create things with textiles through the years. She has made baby quilts and clothing for her children and grandchildren, costumes for her church theatrical productions, and most recently has been an assistant costumer and photographer for CSDC. She taught sewing classes in her home and at a 4H club a number of years ago and is excited to offer a sewing class at CSDC again this year. Samples of her work in sewing and photography can be seen on her website at

kari west

Teacher, Music Director

Kari teaches a vocal training class at CSDC and directs the musical aspects of most of our productions. She came to CSDC looking for a place for her daughter to pursue her love for theatre and quickly got involved herself. A private piano teacher, she has a BA in Music Business from Northeast Missouri State (now Truman University) and has played piano since she was 7. Kari and her husband Jeff are the music directors at First Baptist Church in Christine. They have five daughters; Kari homeschools the two still living at home.

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