Resident Critic for – Kevin Kelly Editor: Robert Kowalewski

Chicago, the Musical at The Brecksville Theatre

chicago official

The Brecksville Theatre
Community Theatre
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Book by Ebb and Bob Fosse
Based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins
Chicago, the Musical is an American musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals and crimes she reported on. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the “celebrity criminal.”
There is something magical happening in Brecksville.  It is the inaugural theatre production of the newly formed: The Brecksville Theatre. The magic ignites with its first production of the season, Chicago, the Musical. And, there is much to celebrate.
I had a chance to talk with Artistic Director Bruce Orendorf about the exciting new changes that have happened to Breckville’s Historic Old Town Hall, which has in turn, changed the local theatre scene into a dynamic hurricane of theatrical riches. Orendorf, along with other talented and committed colleagues,  was very much involved in the process of forming The Brecksville Theatre. This happened by the merging of Brecksville Little Theatre, and Theatre of the Square, which shared the space. On July 1st, 2017, Bruce “The Handmaids Tale” Orendorf, gave birth to the 501C baby of the year.
Coincidentally, at the same time, The City of Brecksville was considering making an investment into the Town Hall. Mayor Jerry N. Hruby is very supportive of the arts, and recognizes the immense payoff that culture and theatre can bring to the community, and families in the area. Helmed by the Mayor, The City of Brecksville made a substantial investment by installing a lighting system in the theatre, capable of enhancing productions to dramatic professional heights. What a joy this will be to the audiences, and the production teams that will flock to work at the theatre. Orendorf was quick to point out that his associate Myles Rapkin, researched and qualified the new lighting equipment for the space. Quite a massive and important job. Also, just as important, is finding someone who can implement the new upgrade into the theatre, and have the production quality reflect the investment. Orendorf made it quite clear, that Lighting and Sound Designer Tobias Peltier was instrumental in the new vision. His final thought was that he wanted “to give the artists the environment to play, create, and highlight their abilities, while removing obstacles to creativity and vision”.
The phrase “Light the Way” is powerful on its own, and as a result of this incredible investment from the city, and the dedication of the transition team led by Orendorf and the Board, the theatre can “Light the Way” for audiences, cast and crew members, alike. Bravo Mayor Hruby. Congratulations to The Brecksville Theatre.
And now, the show must go on!
When you first take your seat you can’t help get excited from what you see on the stage. Especially the official Chicago sign that looms over the entire set and audience. It sends a signal that you’re ready to see something very exciting. There are many fine performances in the show. But first off, let me talk about Kristin Netzband. She has become quite a force in the Cleveland musical theater scene. When you see her name, you can be assured that it’s going to be a dynamic presentation. Plus, she is gifted with talents of casting, directing, and choreography. A triple threat on the production side. And once again, she knocks it out of the park.
Leading this musical are the two jewels, Velma and Roxie as played by Trinidad Snider and Kimberly Eskut. This dynamic duo is quite impressive. It wouldn’t surprise me if Marvel didn’t pick them up for superhero series. Snider is one of the most talented performers in the city. She brings her special star power qualities to this production in multiple ways. Her acting is strong. Her dancing is joyful and sultry. And her vocal chops are legend. Equally amazing is her cohort and musical theater crime partner, Kimberly Eskut. She embodies this character, and evolves into a celebration of musical self-actualization. Which is magnificent to watch. In fact, I think this is the best performance that I have ever seen from this talented performer. She looks beautiful, she dances sublime, her vocals are sexy as hell, and she simply kicks ass. It is a treasured performance.
Neil Scheibelhut as Billy Flynn cuts a fine figure, and brings a velvet vocal quality to the role. Think Dan Draper. And, when he hits the “Gun” note, don’t be surprised if oxygen masks fall from the ceiling to help you breathe along with him. He definitely has his job cut out for him holding his own against such dynamic performers around him. As provided by Caron Wykle, who is on fire as Mama Morton. This is another performance that I feel is the best she has delivered. She is sassy, fierce, and uses those qualities to turn Mama Morton into a jailhouse sex kitten. MEOW Bitch! Mary Sunshine is a fabulous hot mess of sexual identity. Joel Fenstermaker brings some Lucille Ball real-ness to the role, as if Lucille Ball was actually in female drag. Kind of like RuPaul’s wedding planner. His vocal range provides the mystery needed to make the final reveal hysterical. Good job. I really enjoyed Brian Pichola as Amos Hart. His characterization is dead on and the whole audience probably would take up a collection for him at the end of the show. A really nice consistence characterization, which causes the audience to provide several “awwwwwww’s” along the way. Perfect.
Cell Block Tango is one of the big highlights of the show. The six Merry Murderess’s really kick some major jailhouse sass. One of the very clever casting choices show is David Turner as Annie. But instead of going drag, it takes a more realistic approach and makes the monologue about a same-sex relationship which ends up being hilarious. Bravo on that decision and making it work. And in the role of Fred Casely, Jeremy Jenkins looks like he stepped out of a film noir convention, and is a perfect addition to the iconic characters. And, also an indication of the depth of this cast, because Jenkins is an excellent performer.
The Featured Ensemble of actor/dancers are great and fully capture the essence of the show. It is so wonderful to see this fabulous music come to life through this company of invested performers. And, bravo for fitting into those shirts, because if I did that, i would look like one of those frozen turkeys with the fish net holder to carry the bird.
There are some points of order that were noticed. Although the lighting is fabulous, there were two points where I found it distracting. I felt like the jail gobo used for the Cell Block Tango, left too many faces half lit while they were singing and acting. I thought a stronger base lighting across the stage, would have helped and still maintained the effect.
Also, the timing of the lighting on the individual tag lines of each murderess was not as sharp as it could have been. What I felt was missing from Billy Flynn was the smarm of the character. I wanted Flynn to lighten up and be more in love with himself, and expressive, and have much more fun with the audience in a “look at me, I am so good at what I do, and on top of that, women can’t resist me” vibe. Sunshine needs to provide a bit more diction on the higher register. Finally, a little more expression from the crowd during the trial scene would seem to add more energy and fun.
The orchestra certainly jammed, led by Heidi Herzeg. Although I admit I wish you see the orchestra on stage. Netzband provided great true to form choreography, and also, an understated bold set design. Kristina Zielinski provided great costumes. I didn’t see one wrinkle in any of the outfits, including the suits, which is my pet peeve. Tobias Peltier provided an absolutely wonderful lighting and sound design. There wasn’t one moment of feedback.
This is one hell of a way to kick off a brand-new theater in a brand-new season. And it’s clear that the audiences agree, because they’ve actually added to show to the official run to accommodate audience demand. That additional show is on Thursday, November 16th.
Bravo Folks. You have a very entertaining show!
Cleveland Stage Alliance
Kevin Kelly
November 3 – November 18

7:30pm Fridays
7:30pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays

$15 General Admission

(440) 526-6436

Order Tickets OnlineLocation:
The Brecksville Theatre
49 Public Square
Brecksville, OH, 44141

The All Night Strut at Theatre in the Circle


Theatre in the Circle
Professional Theatre
all night strut
September 21 – September 24
There is a new theatre in town kicking up some swing and jive to the delight of audience members at the Judson Manor Ballroom. Director Mark Corcoran, Musical Director Bill Corcoran, and Choreographer Jennifer Justice, have produced a delightful juke box musical that should entertain virtually everyone. This is definitely a great event to bring your parents, grandparents, and Manhattan Transfer fans, to completely immerse yourself into tight four part harmonies, a kick ass band, and performers that are as talented, as they are charming.
The show itself: The All Night Strut! moves through the Depression, World War II and the post-war boom in a two-act musical celebration of the 1930s and ’40s, filled with jazz, blues, bebop and American songbook standards. Weaving together the work of legendary songwriters such as Hoagy Carmichael, Frank Loesser, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Cab Calloway and the Gershwins. The story moves through time and place to highlight a slick slice of yesteryear and capture a beloved American era.
all night cast
This cast is on fiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre! Thank you Alicia Keys. Listening to this quartet sing, you would think that they have been together for years. But, they were cast out of auditions, and worked there struts off to create a magic evening of tuneful entertainment.
The ladies from left to right: Neda Spears and Jill Marie Zeszut. Each deliver some dynamite moments throughout. Spears knocks it out of the park several times. Starting off with a great rendition of “Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle of Beer”, and then later, literally rips the roof of the ballroom with a fantastic version of “Operator”.  I am sure she heard my group yelling with approval. Zeszut with her Marilyn Monroe hair and a red dress that would stop Fleet Week dead in its tracks, finds her enhanced fierceness with her lead on “In The Mood”, which she adds her deft dancing skills, and then makes me question why I don’t date women, with her beautiful delivery of “I’ll Be Seeing You”.
The gentlemen from left to right: Miguel Osbourne and Robert Kowalewski. Osbourne is a finely tuned showman, and leads this quartet with confidence and a smile that would surely turn any bad day into a good one. Whether he is charming your face off with “Minnie The Moocher”, or pulling on your heart-strings during “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime”, he is the consummate performer. Kowalewski possesses one of the most beautiful voices I have heard in a long time. The quality reminds me of Karen Carpenter in a way, and I don’t mean that is a weird way, but just as Carpenter’s resonance is spellbinding, so is Kowalewski’s. It is like listening to butter melting, crossed with looking like John Boy Walton. His version of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” is flawless, and “As Time Goes By” is so radiant it sets off the disco ball.
Add all of these talented folks together and it is a blast to listen to and watch. The opening number of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” is fierce. Their movements and vocals sprint out of the starting gates to such grand effect, you don’t care which horse wins, because actually, they actually all cross the finish line at the same time.
Through an artistic telescope there are some minor distractions. The Ballroom chandelier is not as high up as you would hope from the stage. Making you feel like it is a bit cramped for the middle singers. When the singers move together on one mic, the balance is off because the middle singers stick out. A couple of times, the band drowned out the singers. There are slight moments of not being in sync on the moves. The lighting at times did cast shadows on faces more than I thought should. But as I said, that is through a telescope, because the overall vibe of the evening is a hit.
Shout out to the talented band. Bill Corcoran on Piano, George Judy on Drums, and David Spondike on Bass. Each one helped create a fabulous combo, that worked along with the performers with professional grace and execution. Set Design and Fabrication Design by Austin Kilpatrick was on point. Dig the stage sign in the back. Nice touch. Lighting and Sound Design by David Palmer/Network Sound did a great job in that space. Akron Design & Costume provided eye-popping looks.
Check out this show. It is a great atmosphere and the Corcoran’s are adding a great space for fierce entertainment in a gorgeous neighborhood.
Cleveland Stage Alliance
September 21 – September 24

7:30pm Thursday
7:30pm Friday
2pm and 7:30pm Saturday
2pm Sunday

$15 General Admission

(216) 282-9424

Order Tickets Online
Judson Manor
1890 East 107th Street
University Heights, 44106

The All Night Strut! at Theatre in the Circle

Swing’s the thing in The All Night Strut!

Swing’s the thing in The All Night Strut!  Conceived and directed by Clevelander Fran Charnas, this jumpin’ jive show premiered at Pickle Bill’s in the Flats in 1976 then moved to pre-restoration Playhouse Square to further efforts to save our theaters in the tradition of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well & Living Paris. From touring with the Glenn Miller Orchestra to performing with the Boston Pops, this classy, sassy musical revue has played the world over to record-breaking houses and garnered rave reviews from critics.

September 21-24A delightful romp through the dance and music of the 1930s and ’40s.
The All Night Strut! moves through the Depression, World War II and the post-war boom in a two-act musical celebration of the 1930s and ’40s, filled with jazz, blues, bebop and American songbook standards. Weaving together the work of legendary songwriters such as Hoagy Carmichael, Frank Loesser, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Cab Calloway and the Gershwins, the story moves through time and place to highlight a slick slice of yesteryear and capture a beloved American era.
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Four performers welcome you, full-throttle, on board the “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” It’s a place where sad stories are told with optimism and flair. “Minnie The Moocher” tells a story about a big-hearted gal gone wrong. The world seems to have turned its back on a man who plaintively asks “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?”

We switch gears to happier moments and experiences: jitterbugging and getting “In The Mood” and a Saturday night bash in Harlem where old Hannah Brown says “Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle Of Beer.” Romantic memories from Old London Town cast their spell in “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square.” We become mesmerized with the syncopations of a “Crazy Rhythm” and seduced by the odd and mellow lure of coffee and other things with “Java Jive.”

Reflections of war in a medley of songs make us experience a range of emotions from discomfort, hope (“Shoo Shoo Baby”), homesickness (“White Cliffs Of Dover”), opportunity (“Rosie The Riveter”), to madness (“Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition”) and heartache (“I’ll Be Seeing You”). The act ends with lingering memories of what was and what might have been.

Act Two begins with a questionably sincere promise of fidelity (“Ain’t Misbehavin’”). Love and sincerity are shown in other ways, such as faith in the gospel-inflected “Operator,” as hopeful fantasy in “Dream,” and as pure fun ‘jamming’ in “Beat Me Daddy, Eight To The Bar.”Two couples square off in a battle of one-upmanship. They are sophisticated, funny and flirtatious as they complain of their stalled affair (“A Fine Romance”). Things then get sultry in the South with slow, steamy moves to dance the night away (“Tuxedo Junction”). The mood suddenly perks up and we swing and sway to “Jukebox Saturday Night.”

Even as the world changes, we are reminded that sentiments such as love and passion never fade or go away (“As Time Goes By”). Keeping spirits up — jivin’, swingin’ and singin’ — give the finale the feel of a great time (Medley: “Hit That Jive Jack,” “Billie’s Bounce,” “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”). As the cast bows, the excitement and optimism of a world long gone still reverberates in the sweet sentiments of “Lullaby Of Broadway.”

Musical Numbers

1    Chattanooga Choo Choo – All
2    Minnie The Moocher – All
3    Bother, Can You Spare A Dime? –Miguel, All
4    In The Mood – JIll, All
5    Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle Of Beer – NedaAll
6    A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square – Robert, All
7    Crazy Rhythm – All
8    Java Jive – All
9    World War II Medley – All
10    Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Miguel, All
11    Operator – Neda, All
14    Dream – All
15    Beat Me, Daddy, Eight To The Bar – Soprano, All
16    A Fine Romance – All
17    Tuxedo Junction – All
18    As Time Goes By – Jill, All
19    Finale – All
20    Lullaby Of Broadway – All

Get Tickets Now





Free!    No tickets or reservations required.

Intended for adults and teens.


Creative Space at Waterloo Arts

397 E. 156th Street, Cleveland, OH 44110


Playwrights Local announces the 3rd Annual Cleveland Playwrights Festival, the latest staging of this free, annual celebration of dramatic writing in Northeast Ohio. Presented on Saturday, September 23, the Festival features open workshop and craft talk sessions, new plays by local authors, a special video screening, co-presentations with related companies, and much more! Sessions run from noon to midnight at the Creative Space at Waterloo Arts in North Collinwood (397 E. 156th Street, Cleveland, OH 44110). All offerings are open to the public with no tickets or reservations necessary.



Vickie L. Williams: Axe Under the Bed

Stuart Hoffman: Broken Wings
Daniel McNamara: The Story of Mr Not So Well
David Ritchey: A Boy and His Bullies
Daniel Telford: Balloons on the Road
Craig A. Webb: Elbow Room
Rachel Zake: It’s Just Pudding
Brian Zoldessy: DIY


Sarah Greywitt

Dale Heinen

Eric Schmiedl


The Dramatists Guild

The Oatman Players

The Bessemer Project

For more information, visit or call (216) 302-8856.

The Canal Fulton Players are proud to present Oscar Wilde’s romantic comedy of deception and chicanery, The Importance of Being Earnest, on August 18-20, 25-27, 2017 at Yoga Central, 4626 Cleveland Avenue North, Canton, Ohio.


The Importance of Being Earnest Will Be Presented on August 18-20, 25-27 at Yoga Central, 4626 Cleveland Avenue North, Canton


The Canal Fulton Players are proud to present Oscar Wilde’s romantic comedy of deception and chicanery, The Importance of Being Earnest, on August 18-20, 25-27, 2017 at Yoga Central, 4626 Cleveland Avenue North, Canton, Ohio.  This new venue gives the players a new perspective as to the presentation of comedies.  Yoga Central has large room with a raised stage with numerous doors to enter and exit to add to the hijinks involved in this play.


The Importance of Being Earnest is a play in which two men assume the same identity to deceive the general public and loved ones.  The inclusion of two men who are never seen or heard adds to the frivolity as each character either kills these men off or resurrects them out of thin air.  Confusion reigns supreme as two women believe that they are engaged to be married only to find out that there is no fiancé to marry.  Just as confusion reigns supreme, the chicanery unravels quickly but not before the two men employ other devices to obtain their goals.  Unfortunately, they discover that their loved ones and others use deception to thwart them.  Is there an Ernest among the cast?  Who is this fellow Bunbury?  Is Jack who he says he is?  And what about this Miss Prism?


Making up the cast are:

  • Brad Vincent as John Worthing, a prime proper landowner who goes to the city to have fun
  • Mark Brown as Algernon Moncrieff, a bohemian type who loves to have a good time
  • Geri Marken as Rev. Canon Chasuble, a minister who is smitten with a fine woman
  • Lou Saneshige as Merriman, the house keeper at John Worthing’s estate and Lane, Algernon’s maid in London
  • Denise Robb as Lady Bracknell, the snobbish aunt to Algernon and chief antagonist to John Worthing
  • Shelly Rayborn as Gwendolen Fairfax, a head strong woman looking for true love and a good time
  • Courtney Hardy as Cecily Cardew, an innocent girl who believes in romance in everything
  • Linda Keith as Miss Prism, Cecily’s tutor and a woman with a jaded past.

Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 pm.  Sunday matinee performances are at 3:00 pm.  Tickets are $10.00 for adults, and $8.00 for seniors and children under the age of twelve.  Reservations can be made for any performance by calling Dave Van Gaasbeek at 330-494-1022 or 330-854-4387 or Yoga Central at 330-499-2863.



by Lucas Hnath

August 18th-27th
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM / Sundays at 2PM
at Christ Presbyterian Church in Canton, OH

For more details and to purchase tickets, check out:

Ten years ago, Pastor Paul’s church was a modest storefront. Today it houses thousands, with a coffee shop in the lobby and a baptismal font as big as a swimming pool. But there are other changes afoot: Pastor Paul no longer believes in Hell, and he’s about to preach a sermon about it. He thinks all the people in his church are going to be happy to hear what he has to say. He’s wrong….

Both epic and unexpectedly intimate, staged in an actual church and taking place during an actual church service, THE CHRISTIANS is an unflinching look at faith in America. One of the major highlights of the 2014 Humana Festival at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, it went on to an acclaimed Off-Broadway run at Playwrights Horizons.

Seat of the Pants’ production stars Scott Stachiw, Meg Hopp, Tom Stephan, Andy Simmons, and Julie Connair, and is presented with support from ArtsinStark. Tickets are $20.

ShakesBEER: As You Like It

ShakesBEER is back.

ShakesBEER tickets are now on sale! Don’t miss your chance to snag one–last ShakesBEER sold out in only 3 days!

As You Like It
September 9 & 16, 8:00

Get tickets.
Seating is limited!
All ShakesBEER events take place in the Jerrold A. Mirman ShakesBEER Bar(d)!
(photo by Emily S. Durway)
Join us at the bar for a full-cast, tipsy, redux reading of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, featuring much of the same cast from this summer’s production.

Sit back and enjoy a pint with us–literally.  The actors will be drinking right along with you! This reading has the potential to get sillier and sillier (and dirtier and dirtier) throughout the night.

21 and over, ID required at door.
Full bar.
Light snacks avaliable.
We recommend eating beforehand at Nuevo across the street!




Convergence-continuum presents the classic absurdist comedy RHINOCEROS, opening Fri, Aug 25. When a brutish rhinoceros storms through their quiet neighborhood, the townsfolk are alarmed, but gradually become supporters of rhino-ism and one by one begin to turn into rhinoceroses themselves. Will the few hold-outs be able to resist the rhino’s despicable impulses, or become part of the mindless herd? A classic absurdist comedy that is a parable that remains universal and particularly timely today.

RHINOCEROS is directed by Jonathan Wilhelm and features actors Tom Kondilas, Mike Frye, Kayla Gray, Joe Milan, David Munnell, Jeanne Task, Rocky Encalada, Natalyn Baisden and Kim Woodworth.

RHINOCEROS opens Friday, Aug 25 and runs Thurs-Sat at 8 pm through Sept 16 at the Liminis Theater, 2438 Scranton Rd, Cleveland 44113 in the historic Tremont neighborhood. Tickets at $20 general admission, $25 seniors (65+), and $10 students available at and 216-687-0074.








Sept. 9 – Oct. 1, 2017 in the Allen Theatre

Media night is Friday, Sept. 15th at 8:00 p.m.

CLEVELAND, OH (August 15, 2017) “I will have poetry in my life.  And adventure.  And love. Love above all.”  The Cleveland Play House produces the Academy Award-winning romantic comedy Shakespeare in Love, complete with swordfights, secret trysts, and backstage drama.

Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall, Shakespeare in Love offers a sophisticated look at the power of art in society.  Young playwright Will Shakespeare is short on inspiration until he encounters the beguiling Viola de Lesseps, daughter of a wealthy merchant, and their star-crossed love inspires a masterpiece.  Based on the screenplay of the Academy Award winning movie by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, this lavish production is filled with action-packed adventure, fiery romance, mistaken identity and wit to celebrate the power of live theatre.  Directed by CPH Artistic Director Laura Kepley, Shakespeare in Love will run from Sept. 9th– Oct. 1st in the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square.

“This is a show about joy, beauty and love,” says CPH Artistic Director Laura Kepley. “With the bold style we’re bringing to the stage with Shakespeare in Love, it’s the perfect way to start the CPH Season. It’s everything audiences love about the movie, live on stage – including a dog!”


LAVOUR ADDISON (Nol/Lambert/Boatman/Ensemble/Understudy: Kit Marlowe) graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a double major in Psychology and Theatre. He also holds a certificate from the Stella Adler Acting Conservatory in NYC. 2017 Member of the Chautauqua Theatre Company where he played Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program credits include: She Stoops to Conquer, Clybourne Park, Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses and a cameo in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. At Cleveland Play House he has performed in The CPH Centennial Plays, the world premiere of Quiara Alegria Hudes’ The Good Peaches in collaboration with the Cleveland Orchestra, and the world premiere reading of FEED by Eric CobleOther credits include serving as the Acting Captain of the Hawaii Pirate Ship Adventures and working as a full time member of the Professional Acting Company with the Honolulu Theatre for Youth. He recently played Macbeth with Oberlin Summer Theatre Festival. Favorite credits include The Wild PartyThe Genteel Sabai, and Bug. I love you Brittni, Winnie, and Pixie.

DREW BASTIAN (Maestro/Musician/Ensemble) was most recently seen Off-Broadway in Theatre for a New Audience’s Measure for Measure where he played and co-wrote original music. In 2014, Drew performed in the national tour of HAIR where he played drums, acted in the ensemble, and understudied the role of Woof. Other favorites behind the kit include RENT with PA Centre Stage and playing for and co-producing Somewhere With You in the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Favorites on stage include Romeo and Juliet in NYC with Occupy Verona, The Fantasticks as Matt with Arcadia players, and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story as Jerry Allison with numerous regional theatres. As a musician, Drew has played historic venues such as Joe’s Pub, 54 Below, the Edison Ballroom, and Birdland backing up performers such as Annaleigh Ashford, James Monroe Inglehart, Randy Graff, Mandy Gonzalez, and Daveed Diggs.

TOMMY BILCZO (John Webster/Ensemble) is very excited to be returning to the stage at Cleveland Play House. Having most recently performed as Fletcher (understudy) in Disney’s Freaky Friday. Tommy also took the stage in Aunt Clara’s famous pink bunny suit as Ralphie in CPH’s 2016 production of A Christmas Story.  Tommy has enjoyed roles in numerous local productions including Young Josh in BIG, The Musical (Beck Center for the Arts); Gavroche in Les Miserables, School Edition (MAD* Factory); and Randy in A Christmas Story, The Musical (TrueNorth Cultural Arts Center)and a variety of TrueNorth and Beck Center productions. Tommy has studied the performing arts at the Beck Center, Baldwin Wallace University camps, and Broadway Artists Alliance in NYC. Tommy’s vocal coach is MAD* Factory instructor Amber Michalak. When he’s off stage, Tommy enjoys playing baseball with the Sheffield Venom, basketball, and having fun with family and friends.


PAUL BUGALLO (Tilney/Peter/Caitling/Ensemble) was raised in Seattle where he discovered his passion for the performing arts. He attended Central Washington University where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatrical Performance. Paul has performed in many of Seattle’s professional spaces, including the Seattle Repertory and Center House Theatres, as well as improvisational theatres such as Unexpected Productions and Jet City Improv. Now residing in the proud city of Cleveland, Paul is absolutely ecstatic about finishing up his final year in the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program. You may have seen him over the last two years in CWRU/CPH’s productions of Clybourne Park and She Stoops to Conquer, as well as several of Cleveland Play House’s centennial season productions including The Good Peaches and FEED during his first year in the MFA Program.


MARIAH BURKS (Mistress Quickly/Musician /Ensemble) graduated from Bowling Green State University with a BAC in Musical Theatre. She is beyond thrilled and blessed to be performing this show with her amazing cast mates. Credits include: Spring Awakening, Legally Blonde, Book of Days, Urinetown: The Musical, Toxic Avenger. Recipient of the 2015 National Irene Ryan Scholarship Acting Award recipient at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington, DC. Currently studying at Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program and those credits include: Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses, Clybourne Park and She Stoops To Conquer; New Ground Theatre Festival at Cleveland Play House in The Nolan Williams Project: A New Musical. She was last seen in Caroline, or Change as “The Moon/Radio #1” at Tantrum Theatre. She couldn’t be more excited and humbled by this opportunity! Shout out to her mother for being a Wonder Woman! Enjoy the show!


DONALD CARRIER (Henslowe/Ensemble) has appeared at Cleveland Play House in All the WayLuna GaleThe CrucibleThe Little FoxesYentlIn the Next Room, or the vibrator playTen ChimneysNoises Off; and Lincolnesque. Regional credits include The Merchant of VeniceMuch Ado About NothingKing Lear, and The Tempest (The Old Globe); Twelfth Night and Hamlet (Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival); A Christmas Carol (Great Lakes Theater); Shining City (Studio Theatre); Noises Off(Maltz Jupiter Theatre); The Duchess of Malfi and Richard III (Shakespeare Theatre); Gross Indecency (Huntington and Intiman Theatres); The School for Scandal (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); and Too True To Be Good (Shaw Festival). Highlights of nine Stratford Festival seasons include As You Like ItThe Importance of Being EarnestThe Merchant of VeniceMeasure for Measure, and Twelfth Night. He recently directed The Violins of Hope concerts with The Cleveland Orchestra, Becky Shaw at Dobama Theatre and Seminar and Really, Really at The Beck Center.  Television/film: GunsThe Time Traveler’s WifeThe Passion of Ayn Rand, and Dead by Monday. Don is the Interim Director of the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program and a 2016 Lunt/Fontanne Fellow.


KYLE CHERRY (Sam/Ensemble/Understudy: Burbage) has appeared at Cleveland Play House in the world premiere of The Good Peaches with the Cleveland Orchestra, the NGTF reading of The Chinese Lady by Lloyd Suh, The CPH Centennial Plays, and the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting program’s productions of Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses, Clybourne Park, and She Stoops to Conquer. Other credits include The Seagull (Huntington Theatre Company), Gross Indecency (Bad Habit Productions), Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Brown Box Theatre Project), Romeo and Juliet and To Kill a Mockingbird (New Repertory Theatre), as well as readings and workshops with the Cherry Lane Theatre, Red Bull Theater, and Theatre Now New York. He is a company member at The Middle Voice Theater Company in New York, for whom he has acted, written, and stage-managed. Kyle holds a B.A. in English from Tufts University.


SARAH CUNEO (Molly/Ensemble/Understudy: Viola de Lesseps) is overjoyed to be making her Cleveland Play House mainstage debut alongside her fellow classmates in the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program. A New Jersey native, Sarah graduated from Princeton University with a major in Psychology and certificates in Theater and Neuroscience. Sarah has previously appeared in the New Ground Theater Festival in The Good Peaches by Quiara

Alegría Hudes, and in a staged reading of Little Row Boat or, Conjecture by Kirsten Greenidge. She has also appeared in CWRU/CPH productions of She Stoops to ConquerClybourne Park, and Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses. Other credits includeMacbeth (Oberlin Summer Theater Festival), Red Noses (Lewis Center for the Arts), and The Real Inspector Hound (Princeton Summer Theater). Much love and appreciation to the entire CWRU/CPH family, and infinite thanks to her father for his unwavering support.

RANDY MERRILL (Robin/Ensemble/Understudy: Will Shakespeare) is thrilled to be a part of Shakespeare in Love at the Cleveland Play House in his final year of graduate school with the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program! Most recent credits include the regional premier of Really, Really (Jimmy), Clybourne Park (Jim/Tom), and She Stoops to Conquer (Charles Marlow). He has also recently appeared in La Cage Aux Folles (Jean Michele) at The Lake Dillon Theatre Co, and the original cast and International/Asia tour of Barbie Live! The Musical. He would like to thank his family and friends for their enduring love and support as well as the faculty and staff at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Play House!

GRANT GOODMAN (Ned Alleyn/Frees/Ensemble) most recently appeared in Heartbreak House at Hartford Stage directed by Tony Award winner Darko Tresnjak.  National Tours include The Merchant of Venice starring F. Murray Abraham. New Yorkcredits include: Richard II (Pearl Theatre); Antony & Cleopatra, The Merchant of Venice (Theatre for a New Audience); King Lear, The Iliad (Lincoln Center); Pericles (Red Bull Theater). Regional credits include extensive work with such theatres as: Yale Repertory, Hartford Stage, Shakespeare Theatre Company (DC), Chicago Shakespeare Theater, The Old Globe, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, Court Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, PlayMakers Repertory, Indiana Repertory, Syracuse Stage, People’s Light (Philadelphia), Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Milwaukee Repertory, Pioneer Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company and the Utah, Illinois, Notre Dame and Kentucky Shakespeare Festivals among many others. Film/Television includes: As the World TurnsSex and the CitySleepers. Training: Graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

PETER HARGRAVE (Wessex/Musician/Ensemble) holds his BFA from Abilene Christian University and is a graduate of Syracuse University’s Tepper Semester. Peter most recently appeared as George Hastings in the CWRU/CPH MFA production of She Stoops to Conquer. Other CPH credits include: The Good Peaches (world premiere) and The CPH Centennial Plays. New Ground Theatre Festival Reading of FEED by Eric Coble. CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program credits include: Clybourne Park, Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Regional: Gateway Playhouse, Musical Theatre West, Texas Shakespeare Festival, and Disney Cruise Line. Film: Rush (DH Productions).

MEGAN MEDLEY (Kate/Ensemble) is delighted to be performing on the Allen stage at Cleveland Play House! Since joining the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting program she has performed alongside her classmates in She Stoops to Conquer, Clybourne Park,Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses and the world premiere of The Good Peaches. She recently had the opportunity to perform in the world premiere of These Mortal Hosts at the New Ground Theatre Festival. Other credits include: Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Giselle (NoExit Performance); and Rapture, Blister, Burn (Theatre on the Square). She would like to thank her wonderfully supportive love Aurélien Bayo, her family, and her sweet kitties! Thank you for coming, and enjoy the show!


ANDHY MENDEZ (Kit Marlowe/Ensemble) recently appeared at the Folger Shakespeare Library’s production of Timon of Athens. Off-Broadway credits include Sotto Voce and Strawberry & Chocolate. Other New York credits include Daughter of the Waves(Theatre for the New City), Between Two Worlds (NYC’s HERE Festival), and Downside Risk (Wings Theatre). Regional credits include Hamlet: Prince of Cuba (ASOLO Repertory Theatre). Film credits include GunnyCecilia’s BirthdayHalf the Perfect WorldCuban Blood, and For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story. Television credits include the upcoming Netflix series Seven SecondsBlue BloodsOrange is the New BlackThe BlacklistGossip GirlForeverElementaryNYC 22, and Golden Boy.

ALLEN O’REILLY (Sir Robert de Lesseps/Wabash/Ensemble) has regional credits that include Hamlet (The Alliance Theatre), A Christmas Carol (Geva Theatre), Our Country’s Good (Clarence Brown), and twenty-four seasons at Georgia Shakespeare in Atlanta. Cleveland area credits include: Barefoot in the Park and The Winter’s Tale (Oberlin Theatre Festival) Billy Elliot (The Beck Center), Denial (Oberlin College), and Cleveland Treatment Center in INCOGNEGRO. Film and TV credits include: Legacy, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, Crimes and Mr. Meanors, Sleepy

Hollow and TURN: Washington’s Spies. Allen has also narrated over forty audio books, most recently Sons of Wichita. Allen is a proud member of Actors Equity and SAG/AFTRA and serves as the Education Programs Manager at Cleveland Play House.

BRIAN OWEN (Burbage/Adam/Ensemble) is thrilled to return to Cleveland Play House after last season’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. New York credits include Mr. Collins in a new musical adaptation of Pride and PrejudiceNever Have I Ever(TinyRhino at Joe’s Pub), and Lisa and Leonardo. Regional credits include Camelot (with Robert Sean Leonard at Westport Country Playhouse), Baskerville (CPH, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and Dorset Theatre Festival), Sweeney ToddPeter and the StarcatcherSouth PacificBoth Your Houses, The Matchmaker, and Sense and Sensibility (with Jon Jory at ATL). He’s been in A Midsummer Night’s Dream too many times to count. Film/TV credits include Hack my Life and Make Rome Great Again. He is a member of the political art collective Never Caesar whose viral video Trump-rested Development was featured by Time Magazine, Slate, and Vulture. His favorite role is husband to his wife Nicole. MFA: FSU/Asolo. Proud member AEA and Team @bistrowen

CHUCK RICHIE (Ralph/Ensemble) returns to Cleveland Play House having most recently appeared here in the acclaimed 2015 revival of The Crucible. Other CPH: A Christmas CarolMuch Ado About NothingAnimal Farm, and A Tuna Christmas.  Regional: Hairspray, Hello, Dolly!  (Porthouse Theatre); THREADS OF COMPASSION The Voices of My Past (solo performance, Liminis Theater).  New York: Starmites (original Off-Off-Broadway production); Romeo and Juliet (Gallery Players); Pericles(Theatre for the New City); The Taming of the Shrew (Performing Garage/Shakespeare & Co., founding company member). Mr. Richie is Professor Emeritus at Kent State University, and is also a voice and dialect coach.

MARINA SHAY (Viola de Lesseps) recently appeared in New York as Julie in Miss Julie at the Access Theatre. Regional credits include Estella/Biddy in Great Expectations (Syracuse Stage), Sasha in Ivanov (Trinity Repertory Company), Iphigenia inIphigenia 2.0 (Cleveland Public Theater), Eleanor in Pulse (The Guthrie), Roxanne in Cyrano De Bergerac (Heartwood Theater), Elma in Bus Stop (Oberlin Summer Theater Festival), and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Oberlin Summer Theater Festival). Other New York credits include Eurydice in Eurydice and Emily Dickinson: Paranormal Investigator. Independent films include Go On, Lux, Dog, and De Capo.

TINA STAFFORD (Nurse/Queen Elizabeth/Ensemble) is thrilled to be collaborating with this fabulous company. She was last seen in Cleveland with the National Tour of Once, The Musical with whom she toured for 2 & ½ years. She has played leading roles at Arena Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Milwaukee Rep, Paper Mill Playhouse, Kansas City Rep, Goodspeed Musicals, La Jolla Playhouse, Denver Center, Westport Country Playhouse, Shakespeare Theatre of NJ, Barrington Stage, Geva Theatre Center, Florida Studio Theatre, the Maine, Texas and Utah Shakespeare Festivals, and she’s done many interesting Off-Broadway shows you’ve never heard of. All My Children fans may remember Ms. Stafford as Erica Kane’s gruff but loveable prison guard, Slim. Proud Equity member.


CHARLIE THURSTON (Will Shakespeare) is an actor and playwright who splits his time between NYC and Providence, RI, where he’s been a member of the resident acting company at Trinity Rep since 2013. There he most recently starred as Beowulf, in Dave Malloy’s rock musical Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage.  He is also a founding member of The Williams Project in Seattle, WA and has appeared in theatres across the country including Fault Line Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Arden Theatre Company, Baltimore Centerstage, Chautauqua Theater Company, Riverside Theatre, and Redmoon Theatre.  As a writer, his play, The History Room, was nominated for a Henry Award for best new play for its production at Creede Repertory Theatre in CO.  He also appeared in the ABC pilot Broad Squad, and the films Money Monster, directed by Jodie Foster, and Life, Itself which comes out in 2018.  He holds an MFA from Brown/Trinity Rep.


EVAN ZES (Fennyman/Ensemble) Evan’s New York credits include, Incident at Vichy at The Signature Theatre; Rent Control (writer and performer) at Soho Playhouse; Freedom of the City, Man and Superman, White Woman Street, Around the World in 80 Days at Irish Repertory Theatre; and American Dreams with The Acting Company. His international credits include Julie Taymor’s The King Stagg at the Barbican, London and Dream Play at the Moscow Art Theatre. Select regional credits include The McCarter, The Alley, The Goodman, The Old Globe, NY Stage and

Film, Westport Country Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Arena Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, The Shakespeare Theatre DC, Pittsburgh Public Theater, St. Louis Repertory Theater, Baltimore Centerstage, and Berkeley Rep. Evan’s Film and TV credits include: The PathThe Street and Last Night at Angelo’s, and All My Children.  He has an MFA from A.R.T/ Moscow Art Theatre at Harvard University. Upcoming: Murder on the Orient Express at Hartford Stage. Follow Evan’s award winning one-man show at


LAURA KEPLEY (Director) became Artistic Director of Cleveland Play House in 2013 and has directed numerous CPH mainstage productions including The CrucibleSteel Magnolias; The Good Peaches (world premiere); Fairfield (world premiere); How I Learned to Drive (also at Syracuse Stage); The Little FoxesVenus in FurGood People (also at Syracuse Stage); A Carol for Cleveland (world premiere); In the Next Room, or the vibrator playMy Name is Asher Lev and CPH readings of Roe Green Award-winning plays Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976; Marjorie Prime and Daphne’s Dive. She joined CPH in 2010, having arrived from Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island where she was Resident Director and Artistic Associate for four seasons and Interim Director of the Brown/Trinity Rep M.F.A. in Directing Program for one. She has also directed for The Alliance Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Contemporary American Theatre Festival, among others. A native Ohioan, Laura received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and her Master of Fine Arts from Brown University/Trinity Rep. She is a Drama League Fellow and a recipient of the 2009-2011 National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group Career Development Program for Directors.

The Design Team for Shakespeare in Love includes: LEX LIANG (Scenic & Costume Designer)FRANK OLIVA (Assistant Scenic & Costume Designer), RUSSELL H. CHAMPA (Lighting Designer), JANE SHAW (Sound Designer/Composer),NATHAN MOTTA (Music Director), THOM JONES (Dialect Coach), DREW FRACHER (Fight Choreographer), DAVID SHIMOTAKAHARA (Choreographer).  The Stage Manager for this production is JOHN GODBOUT and the Assistant Stage Manager is TOM HUMES. 



Shakespeare in Love will take place in the Allen Theatre from September 9-October 1, 2017. Tickets range in price from $25-$90 each, $15 rush tickets for currently enrolled students under age 25 with valid student ID, and Young Professional discounts available with YP-CPH Membership.  To order single tickets please call 216-241-6000 or visit  Groups of 10+ save up to 40% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027.

Subscriptions: Subscribers save up to 17%. Full and flexible season packages range from $262 – $440. To purchase subscriptions or get more information, call 216-400-7096 or visit


CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE founded in 1915 and recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is America’s first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, CPH has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate and entertain diverse audiences in Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. CPH has produced more than 100 world and/or American premieres, and over its long history more than 12 million people have attended over 1,600 productions. Today, Cleveland Play House celebrates the beginning of its second century of service while performing in three state-of-the art venues at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland.

Cleveland Play House is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.

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