Who We Are

Lauren Van Hemert, Editor-in-Chief

Lauren Van Hemert, Editor

A native of Miami, Florida, Lauren’s love of musicals started at the age of six when her dad took her to Radio City Music Hall to see a revival of the movie THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Prior to graduating from Indiana University-Bloomington, she hosted her own weekly talk show on Public Radio WDNA Miami and worked as a production intern for ‘As The World Turns.’ As the former Contributing Editor for Broadway World Raleigh, she covered over 50 shows in the Triangle. In January, she launched the RDU on Stage website to expand coverage of the Triangle theater community. She also hosts the weekly RDU on Stage podcast. Lauren is a proud member of the American Theatre Critics Association. She lives in Cary with her supportive husband and two children.

Kim Jackson,
Critic-at-Large

Kim Jackson, Critic-at-Large

Kim moved to Raleigh with her family just over two decades ago, and she has loved her life in the Triangle. When her children were younger, she made the rounds of family-fun events at the museums as well as kept busy with hockey, gymnastics and Irish dance. Now, her kids are in college (Go Pack!), one has graduated (Elon), and she has the opportunity to pursue other interests, like theater. Kim majored in history and English, also receiving advanced degrees in both, and held jobs where she wrote for various in-house publications. She is also a member of the American Theatre Critics Association. She’s excited to be a part of RDU On Stage and looks forward to sharing her reflections on our dynamic theater community.

Johannah Edwards
Critic

Johannah Edwards, Critic

Johannah Maynard Edwards is a graduate of NYU Tisch School Of The Arts and is proud to serve on the board of directors for Women’s Theatre Festival. She brings her experience from a career in the arts as an administrator, educator, director, designer, writer, and performer. She has helped to start several non-profits including Pie Theatre Company which she started with her college roommate while still in school, and is a former Burning Coal company member where she helped innovate the Lab program for playwrights and directors. She teaches at Raleigh Little Theatre and has self-produced her original and devised works in NYC, Minneapolis, and here in Raleigh. As a mother of an autistic child, Johannah has become an outspoken advocate for inclusion in the arts and plans to work tirelessly to help make WTF the most inclusive organization possible. She is passionate about connecting new communities and audiences to the theatre.

Kenneth Hinton, Critic

Kenneth Hinton, Critic

Kenneth Hinton is an educator, actor, stage and video director, and playwright. He direct plays at Shaw University, NCCU and community theatre. Mr. Hinton was educated in Wake County Public schools at Lucille Hunter and Ligon High School.  He briefly attended North Carolina A&T State University before being inducted into the U.S. Army where he served his country from 1972 to 1974. After completing his tour of duty, he continued his education in Southern California.  He received his Associate of Arts degree at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, CA in 1977 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio/TV/Film from California State University, Long Beach in 1990. Mr. Hinton earned his Masters of Art in Dramatic Art in 1995 from the University of California, Santa Barbara with an emphasis on producing and directing television adaptations of theatrical stage productions. Mr. Hinton has won three national CASE awards for his documentary television work in 1988, 1989, and 1991 from Ford Motor Company. Mr. Hinton is an expert directing multi-camera video productions. Directing credits include: “You Ain’t My Daddy” by Ken Hinton, Chris Glover, “Homegirls” by Karen K.D. Evans,” and “Steal Away” by Romano King, “The Amen Corner” by James Baldwin, “Anatomy of a Woman Abused” by Jaison McMillian, “Ceremonies in Dark in Old Men” by Lonne Elder, and “Trouble in Mind” by Alice Childress. Acting Credits: Mr. Roberts, “The Watsons go to Birmingham,” Alphonso in the staged reading of Samm Art-Williams’ play, “Last of the Line,” Ozelle Graham in the play “Wise Ones,” Rev. Luke Roberts in the play “A Heart Divided,” Gerald in the Robin Armstrong play “Smoldering Embers,” and Randolph in the Sam Art-Williams play “Dance on Widow’s Row” at the Raleigh Little Theatre. Mr. Hinton is on the Board of Directors of the Durham Regional Theatre. He is currently the owner of The Media Group video productions and Artistic Director of Agape Theatre Project.

Grace Niesel,
Junior Critic

Grace Niesel, Junior Critic

Grace, age 14, is a writer, actress, and the only junior critic for RDU On Stage. Even though she’s only been at this gig a short time, she’s very excited about this opportunity, and hopes to one day put it in her portfolio for college applications. She has a deep love of obscure musicals, snails, and ’80s movies. Favorite musicals: RENT, SPRING AWAKENING, and AMERICAN IDIOT.