Andrew Kuhlman jokes that he was bitten by the acting bug at a young age. In kindergarten, he played Santa Claus in the school play and was quickly rushed to the emergency room when he developed an allergic reaction to the costume. Despite this, he hasn’t looked back from a life of theatre.

His passion for the arts continued into high school and at Bradley University where he majored in theatre performance. For one course, Kuhlman interviewed Rick Dildine, then executive director at Shakespeare Festival St. Louis (an Arts and Education Council grantee), who invited him to be his intern that summer, and Ron Gibbs at STAGES St. Louis (an Arts and Education Council grantee).

In 2012, he was reintroduced to STAGES and awarded the “Apprentice for Theatre Leadership” apprenticeship, which was funded by a grant from the Arts and Education Council. Kuhlman now serves on the three-person executive team as associate producer. Kuhlman says the apprenticeship provided a place for him to grow and realize the importance of individual stories.

“Every audience member, every student that walks in and out the doors at STAGES has a story that I want to hear. That’s what that apprenticeship allowed me to realize. We can tell beautiful stories through musical theatre, but it’s the story of our audience members; the story of the people that are impacted by our organizations — that’s the story I want to know.”

This season, STAGES St. Louis presents “The Boy from Oz”, “Grease” and “Man of La Mancha”, among others. In April, the STAGES Performing Arts Academy presented the pilot production of “The Drowsy Chaperone, Jr.”, the first of its kind. And, next year the story continues in a new state-of-the art building in downtown Kirkwood with Kirkwood Theatre Guild.

“For 32 years we’ve also wanted to find a home. We’ve had a beautiful home at the Robert G. Reim Theatre at the Kirkwood Community Center, but we wanted to find something that defined our next future. The impossible dream is coming true.”

In addition to his role at STAGES St. Louis, Kuhlman is involved in the local and national theatre community as an actor, director and producer. He is a co-producer on the Broadway musical “The Prom”, which opened last November. In April, it was announced that Ryan Murphy (“Glee”, “American Horror Story”) would adapt “The Prom” for Netflix.

STAGES St. Louis is offering ARTS Card discounts on their shows this season. Click here for more information. Learn more about STAGES St. Louis at stagesstlouis.org.