1776 Meet the Ohio Shakespeare cast & crew of this American classic musical.

"I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace, that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress."

Meet the patriots.

Stephanie Bahnij - Performance Stage Manager

Stephanie happily makes her return to Ohio Shakes after her recent debut as Festival Stage Manager this past summer. She spends her days as a Lead Theatre Technician for Tri-C Metro. Her evenings are spent running her design company, Sweet Pea Productions, LLC. Although she has been active in theatre for almost 15 years, she took a brief hiatus in ND; where she Shop Managed an antique furniture restoration store. Past credits include SM for Convergence-Continumm, Tri-C and HYT; Run Crew and Follow Spot for Cleveland Play House; Lights, Props, Scenic Dressing and Scenic Painting for the Tri-C Theatre Departments. Stephanie sends deep appreciation to Ohio Shakes for welcoming her back!

Tess Burgler - Martha Jefferson

Audiences might remember Tess as: d’Artagnan, Rosalind, Helen, Kate Middleton, Hermione, Ariel, Viola, Juliet, Cordelia, Maid Marian, Rosaline, Imogen, among others. She has been directing the Greenshows at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens for almost a decade, though recently she's stepped away from that role while still serving as overseeing Artistic Director. She's also begun to direct for the main stage (The sell-out production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [abridged], which ran for three sold-out years, the encore production of Robin Hood: An Adventure, with Music, and next season's She Kills Monsters.) She's excited to next tackle the titular role in Hamlet for Ohio Shakes' outdoor summer Shakespeare.

Terry Burgler +*- Benjamin Franklin, Artistic Director

Terry Burgler is a professional director, actor, writer and educator with a notable record of achievement over the past forty years. He has performed professionally on the Globe Theatre stage in London, and has acted and directed at numerous regional theatres across the country, including McCarter Theatre, the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Stage/West and TheatreVirgina, where he served for 13 seasons and was as the most successful Artistic Director in that theatre's 50 year history. For four years he was Artistic Director at Porthouse Theatre here in Northeast Ohio, presiding over record-breaking seasons that garnered significant critical praise as well. He resigned his position there to be able to pursue his passion for Shakespeare as one of the two founding Artistic Directors of the Ohio Shakespeare Festival. Read more here.

Sarah Caley - Leather Apron, crew

Sarah is very excited to be returning for her third production with Ohio Shakespeare Festival. Audiences may remember her as Balthazar in last summer’s Romeo & Juliet and Sam in Shakespeare in Love. Sarah also has numerous high school and community theater credits, and is a frequent participant in FIGHT NIGHT and other workshops with Ohio Shakes. Love above all!

Nancy Cates+ - Director, Artistic Director

Nancy Cates is one of the two founding Artistic Directors of the Ohio Shakespeare Festival, an Equity company just finishing its fifteenth season producing Shakespeare and other classics at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens. Nancy has an undergraduate degree, cum laude, in Drama from the University of Virginia, and has been a professional director and producer for all of her adult life. Read more here.

Tim Champion - Colonel Thomas McKean

A veteran of more than 200 stage productions in Akron, Canton, and Cleveland, Tim is an original incorporator and co-founder of Ohio Shakespeare Festival and has appeared in many of its summer productions over the years. He was last seen at Chagrin Valley Little Theatre as Ben Hecht in Moonlight & Magnolias and at the Coach House Theatre as Tito Morelli in Lend Me A Tenor. This is his third production of 1776--he’s played Ben Franklin, John Hancock, and John Adams--and his first appearance at Greystone Hall.

Michael Cranston - Dr. Josiah Bartlet

Michael is thrilled to return to Ohio Shakes for 1776. He has been involved numerous times onstage, backstage – and under stage – providing stage management, costume crew, wig, haberdashery, make-up, sound and prop design not only for Ohio Shakes, but also for Coach House Theatre, Medina County Showbiz Company, Sign Stage on Tour, Weathervane and Western Reserve Playhouses. He has also been director for Stow Players and Wadsworth Footlighters. This Wadsworth native’s next project will take him from 1776 to 1969 to a different revolution when he directs Street Theater this June, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Always proud to be associated with such a talented company of performers and crew, he would be remiss not to thank Cheri for always believing in him, Harry for his love and Support, and to Henry Bishop for making our dream realized and true. 1434.

Andrew Cruse* - John Adams

Andrew is thrilled to return "home" to Ohio Shakes having last appeared as King Arthur in CAMELOT at Greystone Hall. Over the years he has had the privilege of performing some of the greatest roles in the English language including Hamlet, Romeo, Iago, Petruchio, Iachimo, Prince Hal/Henry V, and many more. Local credits also include Dobama, Ensemble Theater, Coach House, and two seasons at Porthouse Theater. Andrew earned a BFA from Boston University and an MFA from Kent State. He gives thanks to his wife Amy for her endless patience and support.

Amiee Collier - Roger Sherman of Connecticut

Amiee is happy to return to Ohio Shakes! She was previously seen on stage as The Nurse in Shakespeare in Love. Based in Cleveland, she has a long list of roles, but here are some of her favorites: Merrily We Roll Along (Mary), Next to Normal (Diana), and Sunday in the Park with George (Dot/Marie) at Lakeland Civic; Bat Boy: The Musical (Meredith Parker) and Equus (Hesther) at Blank Canvas Theatre; Sweeney Todd (The Beggar Woman) at Cain Park; Jekyll & Hyde (Lucy) and Evil DeadThe Musical (Cheryl) at Beck Center. Up next, catch Amiee as Mae Tuck in Tuck Everlasting at French Creek. amieecollier.com

Harold Darkow - Judge James Wilson

Harold is very happy to join Ohio Shakes for the first time. He recently retired after 47 years of teaching and is excited to rekindle his theater career. Harold worked throughout the Akron-Canton area theater community for almost twenty years (40+ productions) until 1988 when he stopped performing to raise two sons with his wife, Buff. Those productions included lead roles in Man of La Mancha, Candide, Can-Can, A little Night Music, and numerous musical reviews.

John Ebner - Music Director

John is very excited to be back and working again with the Ohio Shakespeare Festival. He has worked extensively as a keyboardist, musical director, and accompanist for the Carousel Dinner Theatre, Coach House Theatre, Players Guild of Canton, Theatre 8:15, Voices of Canton, Weathervane Playhouse and Western Reserve Playhouse. He retired from teaching music after 33 years but continues to work with schools in Stark and Summit counties. John has had some great opportunities over the years including working with Arthur Fiedler and Paul Williams as well as performing at Cleveland’s House of Blues and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has done commercial work for the Cleveland Cavaliers and won an Addy Award for this work with members of the cast from Weathervane’s Spelling Bee. He has a Master of Music in Education from The University of Akron and is a member of the American Federation of Musicians and Ohio Music Education Association.

Alena Efremova - Stage Manager

Alena is happy to be back working at Ohio Shakes on one of her favorite musicals, 1776. Previous stage management credits include: Treasure Island: An Adventure, with Music (Ohio Shakes), Our Town, As You Like It, and Winnie-The-Pooh (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), Once (Mason Street Warehouse), Appropriate (Dobama Theatre), Stephen Sondheim’s Company, A Streetcar Named Desire and Avenue Q (Cleveland State University). She also works at Des Moines Metro Opera in the production management office during their Summer Festivals. Alena holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Cleveland State University.

Rachel Fichter - Lewis Morris

Rachel is thrilled to be back onstage after a 5 year hiatus, and back in NE Ohio after 7 years away. Favorite previous roles include Julius Caesar (Ithaca Shakespeare), Miranda in The Tempest (Ithaca Shakespeare), Evelyn Nesbitt in Ragtime (Weathervane Playhouse), and Liza in Peter Pan (Beck Center). When not treading the boards, Rachel is a professional soapmaker and owner of The MacBath Literary Soaps.

Jim Fippin - Andrew McNair

Jim, a company member since 2006, has appeared in Shakespeare in Love, Treasure Island..., The Three Musketeers..., All’s Well That Ends Well, Romeo and Juliet, The Winter’s Tale, As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry IV, Part One, Cymbeline, Richard III, King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet and Othello. Jim’s resume also includes roles in Tartuffe, Kimberly Akimbo, Uncle Vanya, Life with Father, August: Osage County, Custer, The Real Thing, The Odd Couple, The Lion in Winter, and Twelfth Night. He holds a BFA from Otterbein, where he met his wife, Elaine, and where their daughter, Emelie, will graduate with the class of 2020.

Christopher Fortunato - Joseph Hewes

Christopher is pleased to make his Ohio Shakespeare debut having heard about great things about this company. A lawyer of almost 32 years, he has also acted with the Cleveland Play House (Far Away), Porthouse (West Side Story, Our Town) and None Too Fragile (The Late Henry Moss). This is his sixth production of 1776, the first one in a professional theatre. He has also performed the role of FDR in Annie for close to 200 performances. Totus tuus.

Patrick Gladish - George Read

Patrick Gladish is very excited for his Ohio Shakes premiere in 1776! Some past performances in Cleveland include the Doctor in In the Blood at Con-Con, Simon Stimson in Our Town at French Creek Theater, and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet at Cleveland State. He would like to thank his friends and family for supporting him. He would also like to thank you, the audience, for supporting the arts.

Ian Haberman - Samuel Chase

This is Ian's first role at Ohio Shakes, though it is the third time he’s had the wonderful opportunity to be directed by Nancy Cates. First time was The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife at the Players Guild in Canton; second time was The Last Night of Ballyhoo at Weathervane. Ian began his involvement with Weathervane in 1982 when he was cast in a production of The Royal Family. Since then he has acted in about 25 different plays and musicals, designed and run sound, and directed several plays in the 8 X 10 Festival. Ian is a member of Weathervane’s Board of Trustees and has twice served as its Interim Artistic Director. Outside of Ohio Shakes and Weathervane, Ian is a lawyer in Medina.

Jeremy Jenkins - Richard Henry Lee of Virginia

Jeremy is extreme-LEE honored to grace the Henry C. Bishop Stage in 1776, one of his favorite musicals. A proud Ohio Shakes company member since 2009, he has appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Lysander), The Merchant of Venice (Lorenzo), and The Taming of the Shrew (Hortensio) among others. Other credits include The Woman in Black (Arthur Kipps), Death of a Salesman (Happy Loman), The Odd Couple (Felix Unger), and three productions of The Glass Menagerie (Jim O’Conner). By day, he is an English/Drama teacher at Strongsville High School. Love to Purty and his favorite deputies! High Four!

Daren Kelly - Stephen Hawkins

Daren has performed in Akron for Ohio Shakespeare: Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Dr. Corrasco Man of La Mancha, twice as Barrymore in I Hate Hamlet, then as Garry Essendine in Present Laughter, next cranky Mr. Carver in Three Men on a Horse. He has toured through Akron as Julian in the 42nd Street national revival. He's performed in Deathtrap, Crazy for You, and Woman of the Year on Broadway and South Pacific at Lincoln Center. He has also appeared on daytime and nightime television, incuding 'Marvelous Mrs Meisal," "True Blood," "MASH," "All My Children," and "Tales from the Darkside." He is proud of his participation in the Civil War film "Kingdom Coming." https://darenkelly.com

Marty LaConte - Specialty Costume and Props Design

Marty had been costuming theater productions for over 45 years before finding her home with Ohio Shakes in 2015. She has produced some critically acclaimed costumes for The Tempest, Camelot, and Romeo & Juliet, and most recently, The Lion in Winter. Her creative talents have brought us unique props in the form of British Crown Jewels, Charles III, horse puppet, Treasure Island, severed head, Macbeth, and armor, Camelot. While working on the flag for 1776, she has a whole new respect for Betsy Ross.

Jason Leupold - Edward Rutledge of South Carolina

Jason is ecstatic to be returning for his sixth season with Ohio Shakes! Jason is a local professional performer, instructor, and podcast co-host who holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Kent State who has performed in numerous venues both in Northern Ohio and NYC. As an Actor/Manager with Ohio Shakes, audiences may remember him from Shakespeare in Love (Richard Burbage), Camelot (Mordred), The Three Musketeers... (Aramis), and more. As always, much love to his family and friends for their continued love and support.

Michelle Elyse Levinson - Assistant Stage Manager

Michelle is currently pursuing her B.A. in Stage Management from Baldwin Wallace University and is very excited to be working on another production at Ohio Shakes! Some of her favorite stage management credits from Baldwin Wallace include Rock 'N' Roll, Henry VI Parts I & II, and Ah, Wilderness! Working on Shakespeare in Love here at Ohio Shakespeare Festival was a fantastic experience, and she is proud to continue working with this company. Special thanks and much love to the BW theater department and her amazing friends for lighting up her world.

Joe Pine - John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, Technical Director

Joe has been involved in many of the tremendous new programs offered this year since acquiring the new theatre. Recent Ohio Shakes credits include Prince William (King Charles III) and Lancelot (Camelot). He also made his debut as a playwright last fall with the Ohio Shakes production of his adaptation of The Three Musketeers... Favorite Ohio Shakes credits include Romeo, Hotspur (King Henry IV, Part One), Feste (Twelfth Night) and Stephano (Tempest). Other regional credits include Horatio (Hamlet, Seven Stages Shakespeare Company), George (Of Mice and Men, Coach House Theatre), Slank (Peter and the Starcatcher, Dobama), Fersen (Marie Antionette, Dobama) and Billis (South Pacific, E.J. Thomas Hall).

James Rankin - Charles Thompson

This is James' fourth production with Ohio Shakes and he is ecstatic to be working with this wonderful group of people. James is a local actor who has worked with various theaters around town. Some of his past credits include: Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby at Ensemble Theatre, Mrs. Bumbrake/Teacher in Peter and The Starcatcher at Dobama Theatre, Biff Lowman in Death of a Salesman At French Creek Theatre. He has also done quite a bit of Educational work for Great Lakes Theater, Cleveland Playhouse, and Cuyahoga Community College (Ranging from directing, outreach tours, workshops, and teaching). All and all, James is very grateful for this opportunity and would like to thank his family, friends, and for their love and support. Enjoy the show!

Pete Robinson - Caesar Rodney

Pete is a Cleveland born Actor who has appeared on stage in numerous productions throughout Northeast Ohio. He is thrilled to be returning to The Ohio Shakes for what is to be his fifth production, the last being Camelot, were he played Merlyn. He was also seen in As You Like It, Winter’s Tale, and Of Mice and Men. Other shows include, Driving Miss Daisy, The Odd Couple, Bloodless Jungle, Sty of the Blind Pig, Jitney, The Pajama Game, Jesus Christ Super Star, The Mirror Man, and more. He Is a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild and appeared in film and TV. Credits include Aliens Return, Up your Alley, Wacko, Our Winning Season. He also worked behind the camera for Cagney and Lacy, 240 Robert. He feels being a part of this company (Ohio Shakes) is the best for many reasons, so this is a coming home production for him.

Lisa Marie Schueller* - Abigail Adams

Lisa Marie returns to Ohio Shakespeare fresh from Sitges, Spain, and couldn’t be happier to be back! Most recently she appeared in Heathers as Heather Chandler in Lubbock, Texas. Lisa is not a stranger to Ohio Shakes, having played Desdemona in Othello and Lilly McBain in Swingtime Canteen both outdoors at Stan Hywet, and she is thrilled to be making her debut on the Greystone stage. Lisa is overjoyed to be back home in Ohio with her husband and three kiddos and to be playing Abigail Adams, who is an inspiration and an honor to portray, especially at this point in her life and in history; for as A.A. said “Arbitrary power is like most other things which are very hard, very liable to be broken.”

Scott Shriner - Dr. Lyman Hall of Georgia

Scott is pleased to be appearing in Shakespeare in Love and 1776 this season. His most recent roles with Ohio Shakespeare Festival are Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Prime Minister Evans in King Charles III, and Malvolio in Twelfth Night. He has performed in many other productions with this group since joining Ohio Shakes in 2004, and he continues to savor both the company of these amazing people, and the challenge and enjoyment of the work.

Mark Stoffer - John Hancock of Massachusetts

Mark has been acting and designing in Northeast Ohio for decades, and with Ohio Shakes since 2008. Memorable roles on our stage and others include Arragon in The Merchant of Venice, LeBeau in As You Like It, Antigonus in The Winter’s Tale, Ambrose Pennefather in Murder on the Nile, and Sherlock Holmes in Baskerville. He has designed for numerous theaters and companies besides Ohio Shakes, including Weathervane Playhouse and Cleveland’s Playhouse Square. Some of his favorite lighting designs have been the most challenging. Among them are 6 Dance Lessons in 6 Weeks and The Glass Menagerie, both at Coach House Theatre, and Camelot and Treasure Island..., both on our stage. On the rare occasion he is not at the theater, Mark can be found with his very patient, loving, and supportive wife, Sherri.

Buddy Taylor - Lighting, Sound, and Scenic Design

Buddy has been with Ohio Shakes since 2003, and it continues to give him enjoyment and new challenges. Even though he moved to Texas in 2008, he still returns several times a year to design lights, design sound, build set pieces, or just add his two cents to a conversation. He recently joined the company at the indoor Greystone Hall venue the Sound and Light Design of King Charles III and Scenic Design for Treasure Island.... Some of his favorite Ohio Shakes productions (so far) are Othello, Richard III, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Comedy of Errors. Buddy also does design and production services in Texas for some schools and smaller local venues.

Kelsey Tomlinson - Costume Designer

Kelsey is thrilled to be working with Ohio Shakes for another season. Audiences may remember her most recent role as Diana in King Charles III. Other recent roles include Constance in The Three Musketeers... and Sandra in A Thousand Clowns (Coach House Theatre). She also serves as a Resident Costume Designer for Ohio Shakes. Audiences may remember her recent design work in Scapin and King Charles III. Other notable credits include Angels in America, parts 1 and 2 (Ensemble Theatre), Merrily We Roll Along (Lakeland Community College), and Dogfight (Western Reserve Playhouse). When not doing theatre, she enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and trying her hand at music. Much love to family and friends.

Kyla Williger - Robert Livingston

Kyla is thrilled to be making her Ohio Shakespeare Festival Debut in 1776. She was last seen at Rubber City Theatre as Adelaide in Guys & Dolls. Other favorite roles include Catherine in Pippin, Elizabeth in Young Frankenstein, Diana in I Love You Because, and Amy in Company. Kyla is an Attorney at Williger Legal Group where she is a certified specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law. Love to her family, flatmate and friends.

Karen L. Wood - Rev. John Witherspoon

Karen is a thirteen year veteran with Ohio Shakes. Favorite shows include The Comedy of Errors, Henry V, The Winter’s Tale, The Tempest, and As You Like It. Favorite shows at other theatres include Guys and Dolls, She Loves Me, Gypsy, The Drowsy Chaperone, Pippin, Steel Magnolias, Present Laughter, Lend Me a Tenor, and Over the River and Through the Woods. Thanks for supporting live, local theatre.

Ryan Zarecki - Thomas Jefferson, Fight Director

Ryan Zarecki loves his job. As resident fight director (excelsior) and actor for the Ohio Shakespeare Festival, he has been blessed to play Orlando in As You Like It, Porthos in The Three Musketeers..., Quincy Morris in Dracula and Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet. He has also been training, teaching, and choreographing stage violence for over a decade. As a stage combat instructor, alongside his fight partner Tess Burgler, he hosts the monthly FIGHT NIGHT at Greystone hall. His fight production and education company [They Fight] has worked with many area schools and theatres including, but not limited to, The Hathaway Brown Theatre Institute, Cleveland State University, and Dobama Theatre. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, he trained in Chicago with combat groups including the Babes with Blades and is a proud member of the Society of America Fight Directors (SAFD). When not avoiding stabbings he runs his leather shop, The Buckle and Rose, on Etsy.com. He lives in Stow, OH.

Cameron Zona - Courier

Cameron is glad to be back at Ohio Shakes after appearing in Treasure Island... this past fall. Previous credits around Northeast Ohio include: The Bridges of Madison County (Michael), The Zoo Story (Jerry), The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), and Sweeney Todd (Toby). He has also performed at the National Performing Arts Festival in Orlando, Florida where he won an award for an “Outstanding Performance”. He currently serves as the artistic director for Hershey Montessori School. This Summer, Cameron will be co-directing the 10-10 Festival of New Plays at Chagrin Valley Little Theatre. He would like to thank his parents and his supportive girlfriend, Grace.

View the season trailer by Flat Egg Productions below.

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Ohio Shakespeare Festival

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