CAST LIST FOR Thespis
Katherine P. Nealley (Stage Director) - We thank our lucky stars that Kate Nealley directs RVCO’s premiere performance of Thespis. While we’ve been stumbling over rocky mountain in rehearsals, Kate patiently infuses each of us with her creative insights and energy for which we are grateful. This production marks Kate’s 11th with us as Stage Director. She most recently directed Kiss Me Kate (2015), Brigadoon (2013), and Die Fledermaus (2012). Kate has also directed several other G&S operettas and Broadway musicals for us as well as for other local theater groups, and frequently choreographs shows as well. Kate danced professionally with the Miami Ballet, and is a Teacher of Scottish Country Dance and English Country Dance. She happily had the opportunity to perform Thespis onstage for the composer, Bruce Montgomery, in 2000 and feels particularly honored to bring his version to stage for the RVCO audience.
Seth Gardner (Music Director and Conductor) - What a joy to welcome back Seth Gardner and have him at the musical helm for this historic premiere production. He brings a wealth of talent with him and makes each rehearsal a spirited, learning experience. We first met Seth in 2013 when he was our music director for Brigadoon. Seth has taught choral, classroom, orchestra, and instrumental music at all school levels, and is nationally known for his highly successful middle school choral program. His select middle school choir earned numerous state and national honors, including multiple performances at Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) and National Association for Music Education (NAfME) conventions and the highest awards at music festival competitions. Seth is also a clinician, guest conductor, writer, and adjudicator for PMEA, NAfME, music festival competitions, Eastern University, and Temple University, and is a professional bassist and vocalist. He has also played bass for many shows in professional regional theater.
Jay Anstee (Sparkeion) loves performing and loves attending theatre (especially the Arden Theatre where he has been a season ticket holder for over a dozen years). This is his 74th role performed. Last season, Jay was Fred Graham for RVCO’s Kiss Me, Kate. Previous roles with RVCO were in The Merry Widow, The Gondoliers, The Mikado, Orpheus In The Underworld, and Kismet. As always love to Rita, Eve and Ian.
Elise Bjordammen (Daphne) is delighted to debut with RVCO in this role! She has performed with a variety of ensembles in Philadelphia, recently including the Philadelphia Singers, Singing City, and Philharmonia. Her most recent operatic role was Medea (Il Giasone) with Baroque Opera Workshop in NYC last summer. Elise will join the Opera Delaware professional chorus in Wilmington, DE in the spring of 2016. She studies with Ms. Elizabeth Weigle.
Caity Bramanti (Eleutheria) - has been doing shows with Rose Valley for a little over six years now. She has been a chorus member and dancer in The Merry Widow, The Yeomen of the Guard, and Evita. Caity even helped in the choreography of The Gondoliers, Oklahoma!, and My Fair Lady. “When I'm not on stage, I'm at home dancing and singing with my wonderful little boy, Aiden.”
Bill DeFeo (Negotium Procurator, Board Member) is excited to be performing in Thespis. This is his 6th show with RVCO including The Pirates of Penzance, Evita, The Gondoliers, Kiss Me Kate and Nunsense II. He is the Controller for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia. Bill thanks his family for their love and support.
Paula Gonzalez (Venus, Board Member, Program Ad Sales) - was most recently seen on stage with RVCO as Sister Mary Leo in Nunsense II, the Haberdasher in Kiss Me Kate, and Edith in The Pirates of Penzance. Paula was proud to represent her church, St. Peter the Apostle in New Castle, DE, in the Philadelphia Papal Choir. She next looks forward to performing as Cousin Hebe in The Ardensingers’ production of H.M.S. Pinafore in April 2016.
Ryan Goulden (Mercury) is proud to be returning to RVCO for this special production of Thespis. Recent projects include Marco in The Gondoliers (RVCO), Max in Lend Me a Tenor (PCS), and directing Puss in Boots for PCS's Children's Theater series. Upcoming projects include music directing A Grand Night for Singing (PCS) opening later this month, assistant directing I Love You Because (PCS) and stage / music directing Once Upon a Mattress (Ohev Players). Ryan is eternally grateful to his husband, Brian, for his constant love and support through all of these endeavors.
Scott R. Grumling (Sillimon) - makes his debut with RVCO. He has performed and directed in amateur and professional theaters in venues such as the New England Conservatory and the Boston Center for the Arts. He twice won best actor at the ACT/CONN Annual Drama Festival. Favorite acting credits: Alan Turing (Breaking the Code); Arthur Kipps (The Woman in Black); James Daley (That Championship Season); Georgina Pritt (The Temp); Judas (Godspell). Favorite directing credits: Philadelphia premiere of The Busy World is Hushed; Wit; Two Rooms; Massachusetts premiere of Labor Day. Scott sang on the original Broadway cast recording of the recent revival of Pippin with Andrea Martin.
Sue Hudson (Pretteia, Makeup) is delighted to join RVCO on stage for the first time and to perform Bruce Montgomery’s Thespis for a second time! She has performed in Iolanthe (Ardensingers) and Thespis, Princess Ida, The Mikado and Trial by Jury (GSSCC). More often, Sue is a makeup designer and has done makeup for five of the area’s G&S groups.
Wayne Jones (Stupidas) is thrilled to be doing another production with RVCO. He is also Cantor for and sings with the St. Joseph Catholic Church Choir in Aston and also with the St. James Alumni Choir. Wayne thanks his family and friends for their support.
Ellie Knickman (Cymon) returns to theatrical Greece for the first time since Amphitryon 38 in college. Her theatrical travelogue includes India (Jungle Book at Players Club), Italy (The Gondoliers at Ardensingers), Canada (Elgin Theatre Guild in Ontario), England (lots of G&S), and Baltimore (Kiss Me Kate with RVCO).
Doug Kurtze (Timidon) - has appeared with RVCO in The Yeoman of the Guard, Patience, Trial By Jury (as the Foreman), The Pirates of Penzance, and The Gondoliers (as Giorgio); with Thespis, Etc. in Ruddigore (as Old Adam), and with Ardensingers in Iolanthe and The Sorcerer. Otherwise, look for him dancing with the Kingsessing Morrismen.
Robert Moore (Tipseion, Make-Up Design, Board Member) was last seen on the RVCO stage playing a gangster in Kiss Me, Kate. Now he is playing a drunken thespian and in the spring will be directing The Music Man – quite interesting contrasts! Bob, who is a proud Life Member, holds an MA in Theatre from Villanova University, and has created many principal roles in RVCO shows and directed A LOT of our shows as well! In his career he has played everything from "Shakespeare to Sondheim" in community, university, and professional theatre and film. A former Peace Corps Volunteer and retired teacher, he now works as a designer for Celebrations Design Group and does free-lance directing, acting, and teaching, especially at the Young Peoples Theatre Workshop (which he co-founded) in Swarthmore. He dedicates his performance to the memory of his mother, Dorothy Lydon, who played the lead role of a drunken spinster in her senior play The Ghost Train!
Raymond Murphy (Jupiter) - has performed many roles, both offstage and on, with RVCO and other local theatre groups over the last 30 years. He spends his days beautifying the grounds of Nemours Mansion and Gardens in Wilmington, DE, and can be found singing God's praises (not Jupiter's!) at the New Hope Christian Church in Broomall. He is deeply indebted to his wife, Janet, for her supportive patience, and is thankful for all of the blessings he has received through family, friends, and encouraging audience members.
Edwin Nealley (Thespis, Vice President) - returns to RVCO as the eponymous Greek actor, pleased to suffer for his art! A veteran of nearly 30 RVCO productions and road shows, Ed has performed in all 14 G&S operettas, and he is privileged to perform a 3rd production of Bruce Montgomery’s Thespis. Other recent roles include Gen. Howell with RVCO, Lord Chancellor with Ardensingers, J.W. Wells with GSSCC, Solicitor with Penn Singers and Captain Corcoran with both Thespis Etc. and Bucks County G&S Society.
Chris Rubino (Apollo, Show Logo, Publicity) - is thrilled to be back on stage with RVCO for this gem of a show! Chris made his group debut in the chorus of Patience in 2011, most recently appearing as Charlie in Brigadoon and Freddy in My Fair Lady. His past affiliations include the Philadelphia Gilbert & Sullivan Union, the Penn Singers, and the Penn Glee Club under the direction of Bruce Montgomery. “Much love to my wife Meagan—who was also a former student of Monty—and to our two sons, Marc and Brian, for continuing to inspire me always, on stage and off.”
Martha Smylie (Diana, Playbill) - is elated to be in her third Bruce Montgomery Thespis as Diana. She has been performing on stage for some 40 years, playing leading roles in over 75 different productions. A proud Life Member and former President of RVCO, Martha has sung all the contralto roles in all 14 G&S operas – yes, that includes the Learned Judge in Mis-Trial By Jury! She is a member of all the major G&S societies in the Delaware Valley, has been president of four of them, and is currently Vice President for the Savoy Company. She has performed in six International G&S Festivals in Buxton (England), Philadelphia, and Gettysburg. “As I celebrate 40-something years on stage, I find my child-like enthusiasm has never waned, thanks in great part to colleagues with equal passion.”
Raja Vaidya (Mars) is proud to make his debut with RVCO. He has sung many roles with DVOC, OD, CCOT, and numerous other local venues as well as the Kimmel and Academy. Most recently singing Papageno and understudying Escamillo, he brings a light jubilance sure to raise everyone's spirits. He is a Cancer Scientist by day, Ninja warrior by night. Look for his Vaidya Martial Arts ad in this program. He sends his love to his lovely wife and two glorious children without whom life would be a bore and snore. :-)
Lyndsay Varsaci (Nicemis) studied Vocal Performance at West Chester University. She is a member of the Brandywine Singers and has had the opportunity to perform as soloist in such works as Handel's Judas Maccabaeus, and Orff's Carmina Burana. Lyndsay is currently Choral Scholar and soloist at Paoli Presbyterian Church. In 2014/2015 Lyndsay played Casilda in The Gondoliers with RVCO and Sister Robert Ann in Nunsense with Bravo Theatre Company.
Cathy Wakefield (Carrissima, Board Member) is proud to be a Lifetime Member of RVCO. Favorite shows include Pirates, Guys and Dolls (1984, 2004), Plain and Fancy (1986 onstage with her daughter, Kerri), Mame (2007, Cousin Fan), and My Fair Lady (2012, Lady Boxington). Thanks to my supportive family and friends!
Dave Zaffarano (Preposteros, Cast Ticket Sales) is thrilled to have performed in every show at RVC&O since 2006 with his wife Julie. Some favorites are Andrew Carnes in Oklahoma and Ezra in Plain and Fancy. He sings in church as a cantor and also with the St. James Alumni Choir. “Thanks to Seth and Kate.”
Julie Zaffarano (Eloquentia, Fundraising, Road Shows) and her husband, Dave, have performed with RVCO since 2006. She enjoys the friendships and opportunities that she has gained through RVCO. Be careful or you’ll end up as a character in one of her plays.