Meet the cast and creative team who are conjuring this magical love fest.
Shakespeare’s classic comedy—the only play he set in the New World—is filled with young love, dazzling magic, cross-cultural strife, and ultimately forgiveness. In Avant Bard’s offbeat update, The Tempest tells a story of refugees and exiles that asks, “How can we all get along on this island Earth?”
Justin J. Bell (Caliban) is thrilled to be joining Avant Bard for this production. Justin is a teaching artist, director/movement director, playwright, and storyteller who focuses on comedy and physical theatre. He has taught with Gala Hispanic Theatre’s award-winning youth program, Paso Nuevo; in the Richmond Public School System through Art 180; and with Synetic Theater, where he has been a company member since 2015. Past and upcoming credits include Synetic Theater: Hansel and Gretel, The Taming of the Shrew, Dante’s Inferno, Alice in Wonderland, As You Like It, A Tale of Two Cities, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, The Island of Dr. Moreau (Helen Hayes nominated); Arts on the Horizon: To the Clouds, Nutt and Bolt (Helen Hayes nominated); Iron Crow Theatre: BootyCandy (Movement Director); Atramental Arts: The Root of All Knowledge (Director); Constellation Theatre Company: Journey to the West; relEASE Physical Theatre: straight on til moUrning; The Conciliation Project: Genocide Trail, Uncle Tom: de-constructed. He would like to thank his support system, especially his mom, who has been his biggest champion.
Allyson Boate (Miranda) is ecstatic to work with such lovely people in her first production with Avant Bard. She recently moved to the DMV area after touring with the National Players in Hamlet, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Giver. Previous credits include Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet (Chesapeake Shakespeare Company), Meg in Crimes of the Heart (Fable Theatre), Varya in The Cherry Orchard, and Ophelia in Hamlet (Treasure House Theater). www.allysonboate.com
Frank Britton (Alonso), a nine-year Acting Company member, marks his 15th Avant Bard production with The Tempest. He most recently appeared in Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (2018 Helen Hayes Award winner of the Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play – Helen, and the 2017 Broadway World Regional Award winner for Best Actor in a Play – Small Professional Theatre) and The Farnsworth Invention (both at 1st Stage). A native Washingtonian, he has appeared with many area theatres over the past sixteen years: Wig Out! (Studio Theatre); King Lear (Avant Bard); Back to Methuselah: As Far As Thought Can Reach (Washington Stage Guild); The Freshest Snow Whyte (Imagination Stage); and Black Nativity (Theater Alliance). Other area credits include Two Trains Running and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Round House Theatre); Passion Play: a cycle, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Forum Theatre); Kafka’s Metamorphosis (Synetic Theater), The Balcony and Mother Courage and Her Children (SCENA Theatre); and Orpheus Descending (Arena Stage). Many, many thanks to Tom, Laura, and the Cast and Crew.
Brian Crane (Gonzalo) last appeared with Avant Bard as Bernard in There Is a Happiness That Morning Is. Other Avant Bard credits include Foka in Les Justes, Edward IV in Richard III, Sigmund in Secret Obscenities (Capital Fringe Festival), Steve in Small Craft Warnings, War in Peace, LeGrue in Red Noses, Lepidus in Caligula, Lodowick in Edward III, and DeNizza and Manco in The Royal Hunt of the Sun. Roles with The American Century Theater include Juror 11 in Twelve Angry Men, Frank Elgin in Country Girl, Leslie in Seascape, Woodley in Happy Birthday, Wanda June, the Producer in Hellzapoppin’, the Egg of Head in MacBird!, Harris in Tea and Sympathy, and Felix/Williams in Paradise Lost. He has also appeared as Clotaldo in Life’s a Dream with Journeymen Theatre.
Miles Folley (Ferdinand), hailing from Washington, D.C., has been interested in acting since watching the cast of Homicide: Life on the Street eat crabs in a Baltimore seafood spot and make it look realistic. After his mentors from UDC told him to audition at AMDA (American Musical and Dramatic Academy) to learn more about the craft, his love for the artform has grown deeper. He is thankful to have attained more lessons about acting in plays such as In the Cut (DC Black Theatre Festival), Antony and Cleopatra (Virginia Shakespeare Festival), and The Very Last Days of the First Colored Circus (Restoration Stage). He is thankful and humbled to continue his growth in his debut performance at Avant Bard.
Emily H. Gilson (Ariel) is thrilled to make her Avant Bard debut! Local credits include Sister James in Doubt at SeeNoSun Onstage; workshop readings in Avant Bard’s Scripts in Play Festival, Page-to-Stage at Kennedy Center, Ari Roth’s 2011 staging of his Born Guilty Cycle (Theatre Lab/Theatre J), and Source Festival. Emily is also an accomplished devised performer and founding collaborator with DC’s TBD Immersive, originating roles in In Cabaret We Trust and the celebrated Cabaret Rising at Dupont Undergound. Her debut short film, Silent Sentinel, is currently playing at festivals. She holds a BA in Drama and Medieval Studies from SUNY Purchase and also trained with Studio Theatre, Signature (Arlington, VA), and Shakespeare & Company (Lenox, MA). Love forever to JRHR. www.emilygilsonactor.com.
Christopher Henley (Prospero) is a founding Ensemble Member of (as we were known then) Washington Shakespeare Company and was Artistic Director from 1996 until 2013. In our first Tempest (1993), he played Antonio; he directed our second Tempest (2004). He directed our first Lear (1994) and played The Fool and The King of France in last year’s King Lear. He also directed our productions of Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, and the 2010 Richard III in addition to much else (including Caligula and Camille: a tearjerker). Other Shakespearean parts for us include Richard II, Falstaff, Henry IV, Lysander, Jacques, Horatio, Caska, Don John, Don Pedro, MacDuff, Son of MacDuff, Duncan, Donalbain, Cardinal Pandulph, and Antonio in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Bard on Wheels version), in addition to many non-Shakespearean roles (most recently Truman Capote in Holiday Memories). Since retiring into the role of Artistic Director Emeritus at Avant Bard, he has been committing journalism as a Contributing Writer for DCTheatreScene.com: https://
Cam Magee (Antonia/Stephano) has appeared in and/or dramaturged 20 of Avant Bard’s Shakespeare productions. Her past credits include Gloucester in King Lear, Aurélie in The Madwoman of Chaillot, Eleanor/Pembroke in King John, Juno in Juno and the Paycock, and Hannah Jelkes in The Night of the Iguana. She has appeared at Arena Stage, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Folger Theatre, Theater J, Source Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and Washington Stage Guild (for which she received a Helen Hayes nomination playing Mrs. Cheveley in An Ideal Husband). She is a company member of Avant Bard, Rorschach Theatre, and Shakespeare for the Young (www.shakespearefortheyoung.com).
Camille Pivetta (Ariel) is ecstatic to be working with an amazing team on Avant Bard’s production of The Tempest as her first professional show. She is currently a junior at Yorktown High School, and a part of their unique Theatre Arts Program, where she has obtained most of her training and has been exposed to experiences with companies such as Avant Bard, Synetic Theater, and Signature Theatre. She is grateful to have been raised in the Washington area, where there is such a passion towards the arts, and to be surrounded by mentors and friends who continuously help her grow.
Reginald Richard (Ariel) is honored to be making his debut with Avant Bard. Just recently he was deemed runner-up in the winner-take-all actor competition, Monologue Madness. And weeks before he made his debut at Arena Stage in the political thrill ride, The Great Society. Aside from establishing himself as a fellow thespian, Reginald also teaches at the accredited National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, where he received his training. His local stage credits include Exit, Pursued by a Bear (Barabbas Theatre); The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington (Ally Theatre Company); Ballast (Source Festival); and The Last Burlesque (Pinky Swear Productions). He would like to personally acknowledge his mother, Pamela Richard, Alan Sharpe, Doug Wilder, and Nan Ficca for their continuous support throughout his theatrical journey over the years.
Alyssa Sanders (Sebastia/Trinculo) as always is thrilled to be working with Avant Bard, where she was most recently seen as Goneril to Rick Foucheux’s Lear in King Lear. Other roles include Emilia in Avant Bard’s Othello and Beth in Peter’s Alley Theatre’s Dinner with Friends. Other local theaters she has worked for include Quotidian Theatre Company (Company Member), Lean & Hungry Theater (Company Member), Venus Theatre, Studio Theatre, Adventure Theatre. Training: American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Brandeis University, Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory. www.alyssasanders.com
CREATIVE TEAM AND PRODUCTION CREW
Tom Prewitt (Director), now in his sixth season as Artistic and Executive Director of Avant Bard, most recently staged King Lear, Holiday Memories, Othello, and the Helen Hayes Award-winning production of Visible Language. Other Avant Bard credits include celebrated productions of William Shakespeare’s King John, Six Characters in Search of an Author, and No Man’s Land. He has directed Off Broadway at The Public Theater, Drama Department, Jean Cocteau Rep, Castillo Theatre, and Blue Heron Theatre, as well as locally for Woolly Mammoth (eleven shows, including Cooking with Elvis, starring Rick Foucheux), Signature Theatre, Round House, Theater of the First Amendment, South Coast Rep, Portland Stage Company, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Delaware Theatre Company, and New Mexico Rep. Prewitt’s production of Sins of Sor Juana by Karen Zacarias won the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play (Theater of the First Amendment), and his staging of Ian Cohen’s Lenny and Lou received Helen Hayes Award nominations for Outstanding Resident Production and Outstanding New Play (Woolly Mammoth). His production of Nathan the Wise (also nominated for the MacArthur Award) was taped and broadcast by PBS affiliate WETA. He has taught acting, directing, playwriting, and theatre history at NYU, Manhattanville College, University of Maryland, and George Mason University. Prewitt’s abiding interest in education and theatre for social change continues this year through partnerships he helped to develop with HB Woodlawn Secondary School as well as Arlington-based 296 Project, which works with veterans and their families, using the arts to overcome effects of PTSD and traumatic brain injury. He currently serves on the Board of Governors for theatreWashington/Helen Hayes Awards, the Artistic Advisory Panel for the Mead Theatre Lab Program (CulturalDC), and Arlington County’s Four Mile Run Valley Working Group. Prewitt studied with Jerzy Grotowski at Columbia University, was awarded fellowships from Theatre Communications Group and the Drama League of New York, and received his undergraduate degree with honors from Harvard University, where he majored in English and Comparative Religions.
Sandra L. Holloway (Assistant Director and Choreographer) choreographed and directed this year’s revival of The Gospel at Colonus and is now delighted to work with the artistic team and cast of The Tempest! Some of Sandi’s choreographic credits in musical theater include: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enough for Theater Alliance , Eyes at Howard University, I, Too, Sing America for the Howard Players, Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, tigertigertiger at Theater of the First Amendment, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Guys and Dolls for the GMU Players, among others. Some of her concert dance works have been featured at the Lincoln Theater Black Choreographers Showcase, Dance Theater of Harlem’s 40th Anniversary Celebration, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Hi-Arts Hip-Hop Theater Festival, Hollow Dance In Concert at Howard University Cramton Auditorium and Ira Aldridge Stage, The 45 Degrees Project (a partnership between Joy of Motion DC and Deeply Rooted Dance Company in Chicago, IL), New World Dance Company in DC and is currently working with Hill Dance Academy in Pittsburgh, PA. Her work has been included in concert dance seasons for Collage Dance Company in Memphis, TN. Sandihas worked with directors and choreographers including Mike Malone, George Faison, Diane MacIntyre, Kenneth Daugherty, Linda Gravatt, Nick Alcott, Ed Gero, Tom Prewitt, and other really interesting and influential artists. Sandi is the Artistic Director of City at Peace, a youth development organization that uses the arts to effect social change, and is the founder of the holloway arts project (the hap). She is the recipient of the National Association of Regional Ballet Choreographers Conference Award, Mayor’s Arts Award in Arts and Education for City at Peace, GAEA Foundation Sea Change Artist Award for Arts and Activism, the 2015 Paula Giddings Arts Award and was a 2014 Presenter at Alternate ROOTS Festival Week. Sandi is a graduate of the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA.
Greg Stevens (Set, Costume, and Props Designer) is a Helen Hayes Award nominee and has directed, designed, built, or painted sets or costumes for over 150 shows in DC, NYC, San Diego, and elsewhere. Favorite shows include Emilie: La Marquis du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight (set); Suddenly Last Summer (directed); Oldest Profession (set, costumes); The Amish Project (Helen Hayes nomination, set); The Cole Porter Project (co-wrote, directed, designed); Vampire Lesbians of Sodom (set, costumes); The Saint Plays (set, costumes); Boston Marriage (set). Founding company member of Helen Hayes Award–winning Factory 449.
Jos. B. Musumeci, Jr. (Lighting Designer) has designed the scenery for Othello, Nero/Pseudo, and King John with Avant Bard, and is excited to return as Lighting Designer for The Tempest. Other recent work includes scenery for Flying V’s Fights 3: The Secret History of the Unknown World and You, or Whatever I Can Get, and the lighting for Twelfth Night, Spring Awakening, and Beyond the Sunset at St. Mary’s College, where he has just completed his first year as Technical Director and Lighting Designer, after a decade and a half as the Director of Theatre and Events at the Bender JCC of Greater Washington.
Andrew Bellware (Composer) has designed sound and composed music for hundreds of productions. He was a founding member of the now-defunct off-off Broadway theater company Manhattan Theatresource in Greenwich Village. He has designed for the Wooster Group, worked for the New York Shakespeare Festival, and designed off-Broadway musicals Sidd and La Gioconda. With Avant Bard stage manager Laura Schlachtmeyer producing, he has directed more than a dozen science-fiction feature films, which have been distributed all over the world.
Ralph Derbyshire (Technical Director) is an Arlington native. He has worked throughout the DC region for the last 15 years, though most notably with The Smithsonian Folklife Festival (2002-08, 2010-15), GWU’s Lisner Auditorium (2007-12), as well as many local crewing companies setting up special events. He has held the titles Master Carpenter, Master Flyman, Assistant Stage Manager, and Shop Foreman. He also works and volunteers with the National Folk Festival as well as several other festivals locally and around the country. This is his first show with Avant Bard, and he is excited to bring his skills back to real theatre.
Laura Schlachtmeyer (Production Stage Manager) is delighted to continue working with Avant Bard after Nero/Pseudo (2014) and TAME. (2016). Recent mainstage productions include I Killed My Mother (Spooky Action); Laura Bush Killed a Guy, Adult Entertainment (The Klunch); and This Is All Just Temporary (Convergence). Proud recipient of the NYIT Award for Outstanding Stage Manager.