Alumna is Assistant Director for Smash-Hit at Children’s Theatre Company

Holiday favorite, filled with music and Seussian rhymes

Leah Jensen ’17, a theatre art major, is assistant director for the Children’s Theatre Company’s production of Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

“This is one of the most fantastic shows I have ever done,” Jensen said. “‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ is a beloved holiday story and has resonated with us since it was first published in 1957.”

“The world that Dr. Seuss has created is colorful and zany; you can’t help but be captivated by it,” she added. “The staff at CTC that work in the shops are masters at bringing it to life. Every detail down to ornaments on the tree are so beautifully made and makes us (the audience) feel as if we really are in Whoville. This show lets us step into the excitement and joy that Christmas brings. The Whos have nothing but love for each other. Whereas, the Grinch hates the whole thing and all the Whos. As we go on this journey with him we see his hate be broken by the voices of young people, which is such a powerful and true message.”

In her role, Jensen supports the director, Peter Brosius, in the rehearsal process. She takes notes in rehearsal, and also does outside research and offers staging suggestions.

Off stage, Jensen is also a teaching artist for CTC, where she teaches theatre skills to students of all ages. She also teaches at Lyric Arts, another theatre in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities (Anoka, Minn.). She said the skills she teaches include performance, story-building, teamwork, and most importantly unlocking imaginations. “I love giving students these tools because it is something that they can carry with them as they get older.”

Jensen’s previous directing credits include “The Sound of Music” (Off Broadway Musical Theatre), “A Doll's House,” “Frankenstein 1930,” and “Medea” (East Ridge High School). 

Jensen said she grew up with the theatre. Both of her parents work in theatre (and were theatre majors at Concordia) so she really grew up in the business. “I had thought about other careers but always came back to theatre. What really sealed the deal for me was when I was 13, I was in the ensemble for ‘Ramona Quimby’ at CTC. I loved being in the rehearsal room and bringing joy to audiences from all over the region. However, it was at Concordia where I found my love of directing.”

“The great thing about the theatre program at Concordia is that I was able to gain skills in a diverse set of roles in the theatre,” she said. “In the beginning I did some acting. My one main season role was the Sexton in ‘Much Ado about Nothing,’ but I primarily worked in the costume shop and was the wardrobe supervisor for many shows. I was stage manager for ‘Perfect Arrangement’ (which to this day is still one of my favorite shows I’ve ever done). My senior year I directed ‘Iphigenia at Aulis’ as part of my senior thesis project and I assistant directed ‘Secret in the Wings’ with Dr. David Wintersteen, professor and director of theatre.”

Jensen said she was able to learn from multiple perspectives and gain skills in different fields of study at Concordia. “As a director, you must be able to see the entire show from how the underscoring in a scene affects the mood to how a set piece moves on stage. Concordia helped me learn how to work with everyone at the table and see the whole stage.” 

She also loved being in the choir and being a part of the Concordia Christmas concerts. Now that she’s working on a Christmas show, it reminds her of the joy and connection of holiday traditions. 

“There are some choral moments in ‘Grinch’ that bring me back to those concerts and the people I sang with.”

“As young artists, looking to the future outside of academia is terrifying,” Jensen said. “The biggest lesson I’ve learned outside of Concordia is that only you can define what success means for you and to allow yourself to be flexible in that definition. A lot of folks believe that working on Broadway is the only way to be successful in theatre. It is definitely one version of success, but it isn’t that exclusive. I might be biased, but I believe every place on the planet needs theatre people. Theatre people are resourceful, empathetic, and imaginative. Having theatre in a community makes it better. So, if your version of success is going back to your high school and running the theatre program that is awesome. You are making an impact with your art and dare I say it, you are ‘BREWing.’”

Children’s Theatre Company is the nation’s largest and most acclaimed theatre for young people and serves a multigenerational audience. It creates theatre experiences that educate, challenge, and inspire more than 250,000 people annually. CTC’s engagement and learning programs annually serve more than 93,000 young people and their communities through Theatre Arts Training, student matinees, and early childhood arts education programs.

This is the 11th time CTC has produced this show about “a miserly and miserable, ever-so-cantankerous Grinch who has observed the despicable Christmas joy of the Whos with disdain, from a distance, for decades.”

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” runs Nov. 7 through Jan. 7, 2024, at the CTC’S UnitedHealth Group Stage in South Minneapolis. Tickets start at $15 and are available at or by calling the ticket office at 612.874.0400.

“If you are in the cities this holiday season, make it a point to see ‘Grinch,’” Jensen added. “It is a wonderful story that embodies the Christmas spirit and it is super fun! Not to mention, there is a number of Cobber connections involved in the show and at the theatre.”