MEET OUR MEMBERS
Jeffrey Marc Alkins (he/him)
"Jonathan" in THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
"George/Moving Man" in A RAISIN IN THE SUN
Utah Shakespeare Festival Debut! A classically trained actor/dancer based out of NYC, Jeffrey is thrilled to be creating art here in the beautiful Southwest. As a dancer he has worked with choreographers such as Ellenore Scott, Lorin Latarro, Matthew Stephens, Joseph Pizzi, Robert Bianca, Laurieann Gibson, and various members of Alvin Ailey and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Select Credits: Broadway: Mr. Saturday Night, starring Billy Crystal (Associate Choreographer, Antonyo Award Nominee) Off-Broadway: The Three Musketeers (Classical Theatre of Harlem); The Land of Cheesecake and Ice Cream (Theatre Row) Richard III as Richard (The Flea). Regional: Comedy of Errors (Antipholi), Much Ado About Nothing (Don John), Julius Caesar (Cassius), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Puck 2020,Oberon 2021), Aria De Capo (Cothurnus), Love Doctor (Sagnarelle), Twelfth Night (Sebastian), Romeo and Juliet all at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Babes in Arms, Directed by Douglas Carter Beane.
Ashley Aquino (she/her)
Featured Performer in THE GREENSHOW
"Mustardseed" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Hi, my name is Ashley Aquino. I am a graduate of Southern Utah University with a BFA in Musical Theatre. This is my first season at the Utah Shakespeare Festival and I couldn’t be more excited. I am currently playing in the Greenshow and A Midsummer Nights Dream. Recent credits include: Evita & Almost Maine at SimonFest; as well as Charlie Brown & Cabaret at SUU.
Maureen Azzun (she/her)
"Beneatha Younger" in A RAISIN IN THE SUN
"Cobweb" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Maureen Azzun is an artist based in Chicago. She is thrilled to be making her Utah Shakespeare Festival debut in A Raisin in the Sun and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Maureen holds a BFA in Theatre and a BS in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma. She has also trained with Black Box Acting, the Second City, and IDC Professionals. When she’s not acting, Maureen enjoys writing, listening to music, and eating food.
Allie Babich (she/her)
"Emma" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
"Balthasar" in ROMEO & JULIET
Allie Babich couldn't be happier to be back at USF this season. Favorite past roles across various theaters include Cathy (Last Five Years), Violet (Violet), Nellie (South Pacific), Prentiss (Peter and the Starcatcher), Horatio (Hamlet) and Mary Poppins in 2019's Disney on Classic tour of Japan, under the baton of Richard Carsey. She currently lives in New York City, where her life includes a variety of creative outlets, including voiceover work, noodling on a collection of instruments, fight choreography with Forager Theater Company, original practice infused work with the Backroom Shakespeare Project, musical collaborations with the Q Brothers Collective’s Postell Pringle, and a weekly Dungeons and Dragons game. Allie has recently begun exploring work on camera–look for her in a Lilla Sol music video to be released August 2023.
Cassandra Bissell (she/her)
"Titania/Hippolyta" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
"Lady Capulet" in ROMEO & JULIET
Cassandra Bissell is based in Northern Wisconsin. Regional (LORT) credits: Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, Arizona Theatre Company, Cleveland Play House, Court Theatre, Great Lakes Theater, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Indiana Repertory, Milwaukee Repertory, Northern Stage, Northlight Theatre, People’s Light, and the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Chicago (CAT) credits: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, First Folio, Rivendell Theatre and Steppenwolf. Small Professional Theatre (SPT) credits: Company of Fools (Hailey, ID), Forward Theater (Madison, WI), freeFall Theatre (St. Petersburg, FL), Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Next Act Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks (Milwaukee, WI) and Third Avenue Playworks (Sturgeon Bay, WI.) Nine seasons with Peninsula Players (CORST contract) in Door Co., WI. Cassandra holds a BA in Gender Studies from the University of Chicago.
Nazlah Black (they/them)
"Sandra" in THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
"Mrs. Johnson" in A RAISIN IN THE SUN
Nazlah Black is a theatre artist, clown, and intimacy professional making their Festival mainstage debut as Mrs. Johnson in A Raisin in the Sun and Sandra in The Play That Goes Wrong. They toured in the Festival’s 2023 Shakespeare in the Schools production of Othello as Emilia and Bianca. Naz has recently played Viola in Twelfth Night at Emit Theatre, Cordelia in King Lear at Barefoot Shakespeare, Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night at Match:Lit, and Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest at Encounters Theatre. They have also played Rosalind in the film As You Like It, presented by Shakespeare in the Woods.
Anatasha Blakely (she/her)
"Poet/Isador" in TIMON OF ATHENS
"Valeria/Roman Citizen" in CORIOLANUS
Anatasha Blakely is a filmmaker, actor, and comedian. She graduated from Southern Utah University (B.F.A. Classical Acting), iO West (Improv Comedy) and The School for Theatre Creators (Clown). Anatasha is part of an L.A. based improv ensemble called Stormchaser (The Stormchaser Improv Podcast Show) and a comedy duo Buddy Puzzle (@buddypuzzle). Anatasha won best actress in a short at Filmquest and the Houston Horror Film Festival for her performance in Inch Thick, Knee Deep which she also wrote and directed.
Laura Brennan (she/her)
"Harriet Smith" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
"Stagehand & u/s Sandra" in THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
Laura Brennan is a Chicago-based actor who originally hails from Pittsburgh, PA. She is a B.F.A. Acting graduate of Ithaca College. Regional credits: Jane Austen’s Emma: The Musical, The Play That Goes Wrong (Utah Shakespeare Festival), Much Ado About Nothing (Utah Shakespeare Festival Tour), The Tempest, The Music Man, Nell Gwynn (Texas Shakespeare Festival), Twelfth Night, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth (Texas Shakespeare Festival Tour), Richard III, The Tempest (Hoosier Shakespeare Festival), The 39 Steps, You Can’t Take It with You (Cider Mill Playhouse), 2016 Young Playwrights Festival (City Theatre), Hamlet (Poor Yorick’s Players), Othello (Ithaca Shakespeare Company). Chicago credits: Darling Grenadine (Marriott Theatre), Twelfth Night (Midsommer Flight), New Faces Sing Broadway 1941 (Porchlight Music Theatre), Shrew’d! (First Folio Theatre), The Bridges of Madison County (BrightSide Theatre).
Evelyn Carol Case (she/her)
"Mrs. Bates" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
"Prince Escalus" in ROMEO & JULIET
Evelyn Carol Case is an esteemed actor, teacher, writer, and scholar. She has performed nationally and internationally in leading roles at the Prague Fringe Festival, Prague Shakespeare Company, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Laguna Playhouse, Shakespeare Orange County, American Stage Company, Pennsylvania Stage Company, and Arkansas Repertory Theatre. Evelyn is certified in and teaches Fitzmaurice Voicework, Kundalini & Vinyasa Yoga, and Alba Emoting Technique. She has been awarded over 10 grants for projects ranging from Commedia study/performance to mask making in Bali. Evelyn recently retired from teaching voice and movement, acting and Shakespeare at California State University, Fullerton. She continues to teach through the CSU Summer Arts program with Steppenwolf West and Chicago Style Improv courses.
Aamar-Malik Culbreth (he/him)
"Benvolio" (6/21-8/18) and "Romeo" (8/21-9/8) in ROMEO & JULIET
"Lysander" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Hi! I am Aamar-Malik Culbreth and I am so excited to meet you! I am a Cleveland-based performer and some of my favorite theatrical experiences have included going on as Seymour as an understudy at Idaho Shakespeare Festival and workshopping and performing in a world premiere play called What We Look Like at Dobama Theatre. Some of my dream roles are Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd, Judas and Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, and Bobby Strong in Urinetown. I am so thrilled for you to see our work here at the Utah Shakespeare Festival! BWMT.
Nick Denhalter (he/him)
"Denis/Jonathan/Trevor u/s in THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
"Lucious" u/s in TIMON OF ATHENS
"Cominius" u/s in CORIOLANUS
Received Classical Acting BFA from Southern Utah University, member of Off The Cuff Comedy Improv, Filmmaker, 2023 “Best Experimental Film” at the Thunderstruck Film Fest
Jack Doherty (he/they)
"Nicanor/Roman Citizen" in CORIOLANUS
"Servilius/Soldier" in TIMON OF ATHENS
Jack Doherty (He/They) is a Chicago based actor. After graduating last spring from Western Michigan University with a B.F.A. in Acting, they joined The Round Barn Theatre’s 2022 Season. Appearing in White Christmas (Phil Davis), The Mousetrap (Giles Ralston), and Carousel (Enoch Snow). They couldn’t be happier to be continuing their journey at USF!
Darin F. Earl II (he/they)
"Sinicius & Others" in CORIOLANUS
"Varro/Painter" in TIMON OF ATHENS
Darin F. Earl II (Anes Rep) [he/they] is a first-gen, queer actor/producer/writer from New Jersey represented by Reinhard Talent in Philadelphia. Recently onstage: Othello (Othello, Utah Shakespeare Festival); Duke of York & Others (Richard II, Luna Stage); Ferdinand (Love's Labour's Lost, Scranton Shakespeare Festival); & Happy Loman (Death of a Salesman, Somerset Valley Players.) Recently on-screen: The Dennis Boys (S. Schaffer); and 825 Forest Road (S. Cognetti.) Keep up with Darin: darinearlthesecond.com.
Topher Embrey (he/him)
"Nick Bottom" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
"Bobo/Moving Man" in A RAISIN IN THE SUN
Off Broadway: Romeo and Juliet, The Capulets and The Montagues, and A King and No King (Red Bull Theater) Regional: Several Seasons including A Midsummer Nights Dream, Comedy of Errors, Sense and Sensibility and Eurydice (American Shakespeare Center) A Christmas Carol (Denver Center for the Performing Arts); Coriolanus and All's Well That Ends Well (Colorado Shakespeare Festival); The Liar and Animal Farm (Arvada Center); Twelfth Night (Nashville Shakespeare Festival); The Lost Colony (Waterside Theatre); Peter and the Starcatcher, Antony and Cleopatra, The Tempest, and Pericles (Orlando Shakespeare Festival); The Merchant of Venice, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Julius Caesar, and Richard III (Virginia Shakespeare Festival).
Ty Fanning (he/him)
"Romeo" in ROMEO & JULIET (6/21-8/18)
"Demetrius" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (6/22-8/19)
Ty is a recent NYC transplant by way of Chicago, originally from Oklahoma. This is his 2nd season at the Utah Shakespeare Festival where he was previously seen in HENRY VI pt. 1, MERCHANT OF VENICE, and MERRY WIVES. Recent credits include: BOSWELL (Off-Broadway at 59E59) and LINDIWE - world premiere (Steppenwolf Theatre Company). In 5 seasons at American Players Theater his work has included: AN ILIAD, HAMLET, SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER, THREE SISTERS and many more. Other credits: TEENAGE DICK - Chicago premiere (Theater Wit), ROMEO & JULIET, MIDSUMMER, OTHELLO, and SS! MACBETH (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), and Writers Theatre. TV/Film Credits: CHICAGO MED (NBC), SEARCH PARTY (HBO MAX), HOT MESS HOLIDAY (COMEDY CENTRAL), HOLLIS (AMAZON), and BOB DYLAN'S: LIKE A ROLLING STONE. Love to Cailen and Laverne.
Tim Fullerton (he/him)
"Capulet" in ROMEO & JULIET
"Mr. Weston" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
Tim landed his first professional job at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, playing Florizel, in 1990.
He went on to act and sing in many more regional theater companies, across the country, before taking a 15 year break from theater to take care of his daughter.
About six years ago, Tim started doing shows again and hasn’t looked back.
Monique Gaffney (she/her)
"Lena 'Mama' Younger" in A RAISIN IN THE SUN
"Petra Quince" u/s in A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM
Monique’s first two loves of theatre and dance have fueled her career as both an actor and teaching artist. She has performed in 35+ productions and is a resident artist at Cygnet Theatre in San Diego. She was one of the recipients of the Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowship, Round 13, where she focused on creating and developing an interview based theatre piece inspired by the real life stories told by asylum seekers living across the San Diego/Mexico border in Tijuana. Selected San Diego credits: Sweat, Disgraced, Clybourne Park, In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play (San Diego REP), Red Velvet (Old Globe Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing, All’s Well That Ends Well (Globe For All – Old Globe Theatre), The Virgin Trial, The Piano Lesson, Yellowman (Cygnet), A Streetcar Named Desire (ion theatre), Trouble in Mind (Moxie) and Gee’s Bend (North Coast REP). UC San Diego (BA), Columbia University (MFA). AEA, SAG-AFTRA.
Max Gallagher (she/they)
"Puck" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
"Peter" in ROMEO & JULIET
I feel caught, shuffling through my layers of selfhood as a deck of cards; who shall I be today? A Queen? A Lover? A Joke? Or shall I spool upon myself, like coils of dribbling honey, impose infinite density on my finite form, make of myself something surreal, a hyperobject, loose about my boundaries and definitions. I’ll dissolve amongst the many thousand hoards of small gods, the unnamed, unseen, unknown insects scuttling just out of eye-line, cradling crumbs for the night’s eventual feast. Night. Silence - save for the constant hum of the open sky, and the quiet pains of humans in labor. There is the sound of birds, in the morning, singing to rouse the sun from her cosmic web. There is the cyclic growling that comes from within, the belly grown slim, aching. There are so many things, everywhere. There are so many of us. I am One.
Nell Geisslinger (she/her)
"Apemantus" in TIMON OF ATHENS
"Junius Brutus/Roman Citizen" in CORIOLANUS
Nell Geisslinger is pleased to return to Utah Shakes after last appearing as Viola in Twelfth Night, Gretchen in Boeing Boeing and Fanny Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility in 2014. Most recently she was seen in South Coast Repertory’s US premiere production of Clean/Espejos. In ten seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, favorite roles include Kate in The Taming of the Shrew, Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire and Louison in The Imaginary Invalid. A proud AEA member since 2006, she has worked at Berkeley Rep, Milwaukee Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Boston Court Pasadena and Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company. When not onstage, she spends her time scratching two old terrier mutts, writing music and making marionettes.
Rhett Guter (he/him)
"Mr. Knightley" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
"Chris" in THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
Rhett Guter is an actor, magician, and choreographer whose passion is collaboration in theatre arts to tell stories. Currently based in New York City, he has worked on theatrical projects all over the country from Shakespeare to musical theatre, to new works. Rhett received his training at Southern Utah University in Dance Performance and Musical Theatre. Acting credits include: Tulsa in Gypsy at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, The Boy in Peter in the Starcatcher at the Utah Shakespeare Theatre, Action in the International Tour of West Side Story, Al in A Chorus Line and Munkustrap in Cats at the Paramount Theatre, Harry Beaton in Brigadoon at the Goodman Theatre, Curly in Oklahoma and Conrad Birdie in Bye Bye Birdie at The Goodspeed Opera House, and Bert in Mary Poppins at the Olney Theatre Center. Choreography Credits include: West Side Story at Drury Lane Theatre(Jeff nomination), Bat Boy at the Griffin Theatre, Anything Goes, Peter and the Starcatcher and The Music Man at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Annie at Performance Riverside, and A Christmas Story: The Musical at the Paramount Theatre.
Taylor Hendricks (he/him)
Featured Performer in THE GREENSHOW
"Moth" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Taylor Hendricks, originally from the Bay Area, California is delighted to be here for the summer. He is about to finish his BFA in Musical Theater at Syracuse University. Some previous work includes: Syracuse Stage (Matilda, The Play That Goes Wrong), Quisisana Resort (A Little Night Music), Douglas Morrison Theater (Hello Dolly!).
He is very excited to meet you!
Blake Henri (he/him)
"Robert" in THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
"Karl Lindner" in A RAISIN IN THE SUN
Blake Henri is an actor/writer/director who holds a BFA from The University of Oklahoma, and is from Dallas, Texas. His previous professional credits include Miss Evers' Boys, The National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa; The Play That Goes Wrong, A Raisin In The Sun, Utah Shakespeare Festival; Clue, Dallas Theatre Center; An lliad, Oklahoma Shakespeare Festival; The Play That Goes Wrong, co-pro with StageWest and WaterTower theatre; King John, Macbeth, As You Like It, Cymbeline, Julius Caesar, Great River Shakespeare Festival: Sense and Sensibility. Twelfth Night, Othello, Island Shakespeare Festival; The Crucible, Arkansas Repertory Theatre; The Odd Couple, Manic Monologues, WaterTower Theatre. Film: American Underdog. Television: “Love and Death”, "Walker", "The Chosen", “Into The Wild Frontier”.
Nathan Hosner (he/him)
"Friar Lawrence" in ROMEO & JULIET
"Egeus" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM"
Other Theatres: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Curran Theatre, San Francisco), Peter and the Starcatcher (first national tour); multiple productions in Chicago at Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Lookingglass Theatre, Court Theatre, Writers' Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Paramount Theatre, About Face Theatre, and First Folio Theatre; Regionally, multiple productions at American Players Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival (including the title role in Hamlet), Indiana Repertory Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, Door Shakespeare, The Boarshead Theater, and The New Theatre. Television: Chicago Med, Empire, Chicago P.D., As The World Turns. Film: The Girls of Summer. Education: Royal Academy of Dramatic ArtProfessional Affiliations: Actors' Equity Association, SAG-AFTRA
Luke Sidney Johnson (he/him)
"Sampson" in Romeo & Juliet
U/S "Knightly/Woodhouse/Weston" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
Luke is a Cedar City local. He has appeared in six seasons of USF in such shows as Ragtime (Younger Brother), King Lear (King of France), and many others. He's a barista at the Grind, so come say hello!
Zina Johnstun (they/them)
"Fiddlefern" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
"Ensemble" in ROMEO & JULIET
Hey there! My name is Zina and I am currently going to school for a BFA in Classical Acting at Southern Utah University. (SUU) I come from an extremely small town called Fort Madison, Iowa. I am incredibly proud of how much I have grown as a person and a performer during my time at SUU. I look forward to continuing to grow and having many adventures!
Fiddlefern (musician fairy) in Midsummer Night’s Dream (Utah Shakespeare Festival), The Lively Helena in Romeo & Juliet (USF), Tom in White Liars (Southern Utah University), Bamberger Black Comedy (SUU), Cemodic in a five person cast adaptation of Henry V (SUU), and Ensemble and Understudy for Swiss Cheese in Mother Courage. (SUU)
Corey Jones (he/him)
"Walter Younger" in A RAISIN IN THE SUN
"Oberon/Theseus" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Corey (LA) is glad to be in his 5th season with the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Broadway projects include The General in the first and second national tours of The Book of Mormon. Regional projects and theaters include: Walter in A Raisin in the Sun, Oberon in Midsummer ND (Utah Shakespeare Festival); Bruce in A Distinct Society (world premiere at Pioneer Theater); Markinson in A Few Good Men (La Mirada); Sam Philips in Million Dollar Quartet, Doc Gibbs in Our Town (SCR); Tate in the world premiere of How to Fight Loneliness, King John in King John, Aaron in Titus Andronicus and Caliban in The Tempest—all at Utah Shakespeare Festival; Gil in Wild With Happy (Pittsburgh City Theatre); Othello in Othello (Shakespeare Santa Cruz); Chad Deity in The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Dallas Theater Center); Pa/Chief in The Color Purple (Celebration Theatre); Macon in Gee’s Bend (Arkansas Repertory Theatre); Macbeth in Macbeth, Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream and Booker T. Washington in Ragtime—all at the PCPA Theatrefest; Malvolio in Twelfth Night (State Theatre) and roles at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Education: University of Texas-Austin, Washington University in St. Louis.
Kayland Jordan (she/her)
"Ruth Younger" in A RAISIN IN THE SUN
"Helena" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Kayland is a Dallas and NYC-based performer and educator. Her stage credits include Intimate Apparel (MainStage Irving), CAMP (Disney), Mirrors (New York Theatre Workshop), and Fancy Maids (Teatro SEA). TV credits include The Brides (ABC & Warner Bros), Betty (HBO), and Emergence (ABC). Kayland is also a member of the Talking Dirty After Dark cast, a live story-telling event hosted at The Wild Detectives and historical landmark Texas Theater.
She is proud to serve as a Teaching Artist with The AT&T Performing Arts Center, where her work centers on generating opportunities for theatre in public schools.
Kayland holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from Pace University.
Alex Keiper (she/her)
"Nurse" in ROMEO & JULIET
"Petra Quince" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Alex is back for her second season at USF, previously seen in Comedy of Errors and Comedy of Terrors in 2021. Recently she played "Beatrice" in Much Ado About Nothing and "Alice Bean" in Titanic at Milwaukee Rep. Other recent credits include Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Arden, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Gulfshore Playhouse, Theatre Exile and many more. BFA from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and trained at The Atlantic Acting Summer Intensive. Based in NYC with her husband, Michael Doherty, and their two perfect cats.
We love to travel for work!
Kat Lee (she/her)
"Mrs. Weston" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
"Lady Montague/Paris Page" in ROMEO & JULIET
Kat is thrilled to be a part of REACH this year! In addition to being a theatre nerd, she also delights in the magic of books and movies, long walks through the fantasy aisle at Barnes & Noble, and the simple pleasure of an iced chai. Kat is an ardent ally and is most excited about projects/companies with a focus on making the world a kinder, more accessible home for all people. Thanks so much for reading! Kat is incredibly grateful to be here and very excited to make new connections and relationships!
Jarod Lewis (he/him)
"Gregory" + U/S tracks in ROMEO & JULIET
"Lysander" u/s in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
This is my first season at the festival, playing Gregory in Romeo and Juliet. I am from Salt Lake City, Utah, and looking to travel. I graduated from SUU with a BFA in acting, where I played Malcolm in Macbeth, Ferdinand in The Tempest, and Ben in The Dumb Waiter. Other Credits include: Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, And Jimmy Ferrel in the Playboy of the Western World. When I am not running lines, I love spending my free time outdoors. Hiking, camping, climbing, or rafting, anything to get me out of the house. I am also an avid photographer, you can find some of my photos on instagram @jdlphotograph
Rita Martin (she/her)
U/S "Lena Younger/Mrs. Johnson" in RAISIN IN THE SUN
U/S "Mrs. Bates" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
Rita Martin is an on-the-job trained theater actress who received her actor training from the University of Utah’s Actor Training Program students while performing as Lena Younger in A Raisin in the Sun. Rita continued learning theater on the job when she was cast in The Miracle Worker, Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters’ First 100 Years, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Rita is excited for her debut with the Utah Shakespeare Festival. She continues to learn theater by volunteering with the local community and Christian plays. Rita is also a United States Air Force veteran and continues to serve her country as a civilian reservist with FEMA. In her leisure time, she enjoys traveling, gardening, reading, and spending time with her family.
Naiya McCalla (she/her)
"Juliet" in ROMEO & JULIET
"Hermia" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Naiya is a recent graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts where she developed an unshakeable love for Shakespeare (particularly Julius Caesar) while studying with the Classical and Stella Adler studios of acting. Outside of performance she loves writing of all kinds, reading of most kinds, and general tomfoolery! And while of course she's so grateful to join the festival and has an abundance of love for her cast mates and company...she's most excited to be currently learning how to very poorly play the harmonica!!
Chris Mixon (he/him)
"Dennis" in THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
"Mr. Woodhouse" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
Chris Mixon has worked as character actor in regional theatres for over 34 years. With nearly 175 plays and musicals on his professional resume, he’s been seen multiple times at the Utah Shakespeare Festival (11 seasons), the Great River Shakespeare Festival (10 seasons), the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (9 Seasons), and in many productions with the Orlando, Nebraska, and Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festivals, collaborating with some of the finest directors, designers and creatives in the industry. He’s performed at the Denver Center, Milwaukee Rep., Cincinnati Playhouse, Philadelphia Theatre Co., George Street Theatre, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Geva Theatre Center, and Peterborough Players, among others. He toured with Des McAnuff’s Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, starring Ralph Macchio and Roger Bart, and he’s performed with many theatres in New York, including 7 seasons as a resident acting company member with the Pearl Theatre Company.
Jimmy Nguyen (he/him)
"Demetrius" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (8/21-9/9)
"Benvolio" in ROMEO & JULIET (8/22-9/8)
A Vietnamese-American actor whose work spans across stages including The Kennedy Center in D.C., Hope Repertory Theatre in MI, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and a world premiere of a new Asian-American musical called Gold Mountain at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Recently, he took over the roles of Demetrius in A Midsummer’s Night Dream and Benvolio in Romeo & Juliet during the last month of performances at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in 2023.
Melinda Parrett (she/her)
"Annie" in THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
"Miss Bates" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
Melinda is a West Coast-based actor/singer/hoofer who is celebrating her 9th season with USF. Favorite festival roles include Ariel in The Tempest, Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes, Rosalind in As You Like It, Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, and Mrs. White in Clue. Regionally: Goodspeed Opera House (Dames at Sea), Denver Center (A Christmas Carol), Geva Theatre (A Christmas Carol), Sacramento Theatre Company (A Christmas Carol...you could say ACC is near and dear to her heart!), Santa Cruz Shakespeare (Lady Macbeth), PCPA Theaterfest (Brooke, Other Desert Cities), B Street Theatre (Nora, A Doll's House: Part Two), Capital Stage (Ruth, The Homecoming), StageWorks Fresno (Diana, next to normal), and Albert Schweitzer Elementary School (Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, 6th grade). Passions include international travel, wigs, and her 17-year old ginger cat, Burton.
Avery Peterson (she/her)
Featured Performer in THE GREENSHOW
"Ensemble" in ROMEO & JULIET
Hi! I’m Avery Peterson. I’m a BFA Musical Theatre student at Southern Utah University graduating a semester early at the end of ‘23. While at school, I have received training in dance, voice/dialect work, Shakespeare acting, and even swing work. This is my first year with the festival, all thanks to the SUU/USF Acting Fellowship. After graduation, I hope to perform with professional theatre companies across the country, as I have always performed in Utah. I have also considered exploring more acting within film and television, as well as voiceover work. Eventually, I plan to settle for the West Coast, where I would teach voice lessons, and one day open my own performing arts studio. Outside of theatre I work in social media marketing, and can usually be found reading, crocheting, or binge watching a new show!
Jim Poulos (he/him)
"Max" in THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
"Mr. Elton" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
I moved to New York 2 days after being cast in Rent from an open call in Los Angeles. Originally cast as a 2-month temporary swing, I was bumped up to playing Mark Cohen a few months into my contract, replacing Anthony Rapp. My roots are in regional theatre, and although I have done other commercial projects on Broadway/National Tours etc., the majority of my time pre-pandemic has been spent on stages around the country. 3-months into the pandemic, I turned my side hustle as a web designer into a full time remote job as a web developer at Pulse Creative, a job I'm currently holding down as we rehearse and perform here at USF. I live in NYC with my wife, Director, Melissa Rain Anderson.
Darci Ramirez (she/her)
U/S "Juliet" in ROMEO & JULIET
U/S "Hermia" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Darci Ramirez has been at USF since 2018 – worming her way in as an unpaid intern with the Education Department and now, in the 2023 Season, working a the dramaturg for A Raisin in the Sun and understudying for Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She’s a Guatemalan-American actor and dramaturg based in Salt Lake City, Utah (soon to be a Chicago transplant). Raised on musical theatre and Star Trek: Next Generation, Darci loves working on projects that examine culture, identity, language, and whatever gets the blood pumping. Instagram: @darci.ramirez darciramirez.com
Heather Renner (she/her)
"Jane Fairfax" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
Heather Renner is an actress, model, former Miss Nevada, and LGBTQ+ activist. She is a classically trained coloratura soprano with a passion for art that changes minds and hearts. Heather is currently based in Cedar City, Utah with plans to relocate in fall. Recent credits include Audrey from "Little Shop of Horrors," Violet from "Violet," and Titania from "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Ryan Ruckman (he/him)
"Mercutio/Apothocary" in ROMEO & JULIET
"Snug the Joiner" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, Ryan is thrilled to be making his debut at USF. He spent the last few years in Las Vegas, where he worked with the Nevada Conservatory Theater, earning his MFA in Performance from UNLV. He has worked extensively on stage, in dramas, comedies, and musicals, and even sketch comedy, improv, and stand-up. When he's not performing, he enjoys hiking and other outdoor activities, and can usually be found on the couch, watching TV with his wife, Betsy, his son, Rhett, and his dogs, Lucy and Wylie.
Gilberto Saenz (he/him)
"Tybalt" in ROMEO & Juliet
"Frank Churchill" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
Gilberto is a Mexican-American actor, writer, and teaching artist based out of NY. He is a graduate of Yale University, an alumnus of the National Theater Institute, and a Lin-Manuel Miranda Family Fellow. Credits include: Utah Shakespeare Festival, Milwaukee Rep, O’Neill Theater Center, Chain Theatre, The Tank, ID Studio Theater, New Light Theater Project, and Disney Cruise Line Development. Previously, he toured with improv troupe, The Viola Question. Recently, he partnered with Karen Olivo and George Akram, teaching an acting for the camera workshop series in NY. Raised in a small border town in South Texas, Gilberto has a passion for upholding immigrant stories. In addition to his work as an actor, Gilberto is an English teacher, partnering with English Second Language immigrant communities, helping them share their stories of love, life, and migration through writing.
Gabrielle Francine Smith (she/her)
"Virgilia/Roman Citizen" in CORIOLANUS
"Flaminius/Jeweller/Soldier" in TIMON OF ATHENS
Gabrielle Smith is an actor of both stage and screen. Her credits include work at the
following theaters: The Phoenix Theatre Company, Sierra Repertory Theatre, Kansas Repertory Theatre, Oregon Cabaret Theatre, The Great American Melodrama, and Bay Area Children’s Theatre. She also works as a model and voiceover artist.
Jacob Sorling (he/him)
U/S "Timon/Servilius/Ventidius/Factotumus/Soldier" in TIMON OF ATHENS
U/S "Aufidius/Nicanor/Titus Lartius/Citizen" in CORIOLANUS
An actor and award-winning filmmaker from Los Angeles, CA. He resides in Denver, CO. Jacob is a graduate of Adams State University with a B.A. in Theatre. He graduated from iO West, UCBLA, and Second City Hollywood. He trained in scene work under Eric Hunicutt (Steppenwolf West, The Savannah College Of Art And Design) and clowning under Jet Eveleth (Clown Church LA). Jacob has performed most recently in the 2022 season at Utah Shakespeare Festival in The Tempest. You can see Jacob as a member of the improvisation duo, Buddy Puzzle. They’ve performed all over the United States at various comedy festivals. You can follow him on darklingfilms.com or Instagram @jacobsorling or @buddypuzzle.
Marisssa Swanner (she/her)
Featured Performer in THE GREENSHOW
"Mrs. Elton" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
Marissa Swanner(she/her) is looking forward to her Utah Shakespeare Festival performing debut! She has a B.A. double major in Dance and Theatre with a Musical Theatre Concentration From the University of Alabama class of 2020. You can find her in “Emma the Musical” as Mrs. Elton and “The Greenshow”! She is so grateful as well to have been appointed Dance Captain of both shows. Other performance credits include: Drury Lane-“The King and I”(Ensemble, On-stage Swing, Ballet Dog); Prather Productions “Sister Act” (Tina/Mary Celeste/Ensemble); Flat Rock Playhouse- “South Pacific” (Liat), “All Shook Up” (Featured Dancer/Ensemble); Amazon Prime- “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Day Player). Marissa is so grateful for the opportunity to do what she loves in such a beautiful place!
Jeremy Thompson (he/him)
"Ventidius/Factotumus/Soldier" in TIMON OF ATHENS
"Titus Lartius/Roman Citizen" in CORIOLANUS
Jeremy is a regional theatre actor and educator based out of Chicago and with deep ties in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to USF he has worked at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Island Shakespeare Festival, Great River Shakespeare Festival, Idaho Repertory Theatre, and Book-It Repertory Theatre. He plans on joining AEA after this season.
Cameron Vargas (he/him)
"Trevor" in THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
"Robert Martin" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
Cameron Vargas is a theater actor currently based out of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. This is his first time at the Utah Shakespeare Festival and he is absolutely thrilled to be here! He was a part of the EPR program at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and he attended school at PCPA . He’s starred in shows such as: WEST SIDE STORY, DOGFIGHT, LITTLE WOMEN, CINDERELLA, Neil Simon’s BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS. He’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who got him to this point, especially his family, he wouldn’t be where he is without them.
Matt Wangemann (he/they)
Featured Performer in THE GREENSHOW
"Thistleweed" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Matthew is a recent graduate of Southern Utah University where he earned a BFA in Musical Theatre, and Minor in Dance. At SUU he was seen in productions such as Falsettos, Cabaret, Into the Woods, and Macbeth among others. He has also been seen in productions at Pickleville Playhouse, Catalyst Theatre, and Hale Center. He is thrilled to be a part of the 2023 summer season at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, where he gets to be a part of The Greenshow, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Romeo and Juliet. He has spent most of his life in Utah, and is looking forward to whatever adventures may come next!
Deseree Whitt (she/her)
"Peasblossom" & "Helena (u/s) in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
U/S "Beneatha/Ruth" in A RAISIN IN THE SUN
Deseree Whitt is a multi hyphenated artist. Originally from Fresno, California. She’s dabbled in a lot of things. From musical theatre to stage combat. She recently earned her MFA in acting from UNLV. She was most recently seen as Ernestine in "Crumbs from the Table of Joy" on the Nevada Conservatory Theatre's stage.
Grace Wissink (she/her)
"Elizabeth Martin" in EMMA THE MUSICAL
"Stagehand/Annie U/S" in THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
This is Grace's first season at the Utah Shakespeare Festival! She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in May with a dramatic art major and minors in music and writing for the screen and stage. Grace made her professional debut this year in the ensemble of PlayMakers Repertory Company's production of Hamlet, and has acted in many UNC undergraduate productions - some of her favorites are Fun Home, Angels in America, The Birthday Party and Nia.
Braedon Young (he/him)
"Robin Starveling" in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
& "Demetrius" u/s
"Abram" in ROMEO & JULIET
& "Romeo" u/s
Braedon was born and raised in Palo Alto, California. Having just graduated from The Manhattan School of Music, he is currently making plans for which city he will set his home base in. He does musical as well as non-musical theatre, and would love to dive into more screen acting. He also has the uncanny ability to reach high objects, which tends to come in handy quite a lot.