Meet The 2022 Cast and Crew

 

 

 

By William Shakespeare

PRODUCTION TEAM

Director:   Stacey Pendergraft

Assistant Director:  Katherine Greer

Production Stage Manager:  Joe Millett

Assistant Stage Manager:   Brianna Wallace

Production Manager/Technical Director (UCA): Austin Aschbrenner

Technical Director (UofA):   Weston Wilkerson

Scenic Designer:   Morgan McInnis

Costume Designer:   Callie Lythoge

Lighting Designer:   Zack McJunkins

Sound Designer/Engineer:   Baqiir Salaam

Composer/Music Director:   Chad Bradford

Composing Assistant:   Emily Swenskie

 

CAST

Leonato:   Bill Rogers

Don Pedro:  Scott Russell

Benedick:   Steve Marzolf

Claudio:    Jordan William

Antonio / Dogberry:   Chris Fritzges

Verges / Ensemble:   Gabriel Franco-Kull

Don John / Balthazar:   Riles Newsome

Conrade / Ensemble:   Bret Kagebein

Borachio:   Edwin Green

Watch #1 / Friar / Ensemble:   Alex Horn

Watch #2 / Msgr. / Ensemble / Claudio U.S.:   Dalton Carroll

Beatrice:   Betsy Jilka

Hero:   Audrey Romero

Margaret:   Leah Smith

Ursula:   Grace Taylor

Ensemble / Hero U.S.:   Emma Williams

 

CREW

Wardrobe Crew:   Eli Summers

Wardrobe Head:   Heidi DeCaluwe

Light Board Op:  Trey Ewart

Sound Board Op:   Essence Robinson

Props Coordinator:   Matthew Coordsen

Props Coordinator:   Destiny Zrebski

House Manager:   Katie Little-Aschbrenner

 

AST STAFF

Executive Director:   Shauna Meador

Production Manager:   Austin Aschbrenner

Costume Shop Manager:   Keagan Styes

Theatre Manager:   Joshua Gibby

Administrative Assistant:  Katie Little-Aschbrenner

 

 

Who’s Who

 

 

Austin Aschbrenner (Production Manager/Technical Director UCA)

Austin recently earned his M.F.A. in Scenic Design from the University of Arkansas in 2020. He also earned his B.S. in Theatre with concentrations in both performance/directing and technical theatre in 2016 from Northwestern State University of Louisiana. He has worked at various Theatres and Opera Houses from New Mexico to Italy. His design credits include work at the University of Arkansas, CYT Dallas, Arts Center of the Ozarks, Opera of the Ozarks, Shine Performing Arts, and New Venture Theatre in Baton Rouge Louisiana. This is Austin’s first year as Production Manager for Arkansas Shakes and he is so excited for Much Ado About Nothing!

 

Katie Little-Aschbrenner (Administrative Assistant)

Katie is the Film, Theatre, and Creative Writing Admin here at UCA. After attending Northern Arizona University to study stage management, she moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas where she worked professionally as a Stage Manager with Trike Theatre and TheatreSquared as well as a Production Manager for The Arts Center of the Ozarks. She is excited to have a front row seat to AST’s returning season!

 

Chad Bradford (Composer/Music Director)

Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, Chad is an actor/director/composer and currently the Associate Artistic Director for Shake on the Lake Theatre Company in Western New York. Chad just finished a run as the Baker in Into the Woods at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and is thrilled to return home to AST! Chad’s New York City credits include shows Off-Broadway, at the American Globe Theatre, and film credits. Chad’s most recent film role was a suspicious preacher in My Daughter’s Double Life on Lifetime Movie Network. Chad has played leading roles on 5 different National Tours including El Gallo in The Fantasticks and Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Chad has also worked regionally at such theatres as the American Shakespeare Center/Blackfriar’s Playhouse, Farmer’s Alley Theatre, Pennsylvania Center Stage, Nebraska Theatre Caravan, Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival, and the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre. Chad is a recipient of National Art Strategies’ Creative Community Fellowship and founded Voices Uncaged (www.voicesuncaged.org), a program that has been dedicated to bringing theatre arts and education into prisons for the last 6 years. www.Chad-Bradford.com

 

Dalton Carroll (Watch #2 / Msgr. / Ens. / Claudio US)

Dalton is elated to join Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre in their production of Much Ado About Nothing! He is currently finishing his bachelor’s degree in theatre at the University of Central Arkansas. Favorite roles include Tis Pity She’s A Whore (Ensemble), From Up Here (as Charlie), and Medea (as Jason). He is also excited to have begun his journey to become a certified actor combatant, having received certifications in single-sword, broadsword, and most recently rapier & dagger. He has recently come off production of The Piano Lesson (Lymon) at the Studio Theatre in Little Rock as well as a study abroad trip to London in the spring where he attended various workshops at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), and William Shakespeare’s The Globe Theatre- having boosted his love and understanding of the arts more than ever!

 

Matthew Coordsen (Props Coordinator)

Matthew Coordsen Recently Graduated with a Theatre degree from the University of Arkansas. He is very excited about being a part of the props team and run the crew for this production. He thanks his family and friends for all their love and support!

 

Heidi R. DeCaluwe (Wardrobe Head)

Heidi R. DeCaluwe is from West Bend, WI. They are beginning their third year pursuing an MFA in Costume Design. Their senior project was designing the costumes for The Fantasticks. MFA design credits include Men on Boats and Ride the Cyclone.

 

Trey Ewart (Light Board Op)

Trey is from Bentonville and will be a Junior at UCA this fall. He was the lighting designer for Guiltless this spring and was the ALD + ME for both From up Here and Little Shop of Horrors. In his spare time he likes to explore and climb.

 

Gabriel Franco-Kull (Verges/Ensemble)

Gabriel is a Graduate student at UARK. He is excited and grateful to be here! Some of his most recent credits are Tortuga and the Hare and he played the role of Tortuga, Love Labour’s Lost and he played the role of Holofernes, In the Book Of as the role of Bo Sr, Ride the Cyclone as “the Amazing Karnak”. He is a Texas native, from El Paso. He received his BFA in performance from the University of Texas of El Paso. He would like to thank his mentors, friends, Lauren, family, and mother for everything they have done to help get me here. Love y’all! Enjoy the show!

 

Chris Fritzges (Antonio/Dogberry)

Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Chris has been a full-time educator at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway since 2002, where he teaches acting, voice and movement, and directs as an associate professor. He is a member of Actor’s Equity Association and is an advanced actor combatant within the SAFD. Trained as an actor, Chris has been performing for audiences for over thirty years. Over the last several years, he has performed regularly with the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre and has been active in many other film, television, and radio projects in the region.

 

Joshua Gibby (Theatre Manager)

Joshua Gibby received his BA in Theatre from the University of Central Arkansas. Originally an actor, Joshua has performed for various regional theatres across the nation, as well as several national and regional tours, before settling back down in Conway and eventually taking on the position as the Theatre Business Manager for UCA Theatre. In his spare time he still loves to perform in commercials and short films and collect vintage pyrex. Joshua would like to thank his amazing wife, Heather, for her support, dedication, and patience, as well as UCA Theatre for allowing him the chance to come back home. Go Bears!

 

Edwin Green (Borachio)

Edwin Green is a third year acting MFA at the University of Arkansas from Houston, Texas. Previous Shakespeare Credits include: Much Ado, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Othello, Macbeth, All’s Well That Ends Well, Cymbeline and Love Labour’s Lost. He received his BFA in Acting & Directing from Sam Houston State University.

 

Katherine Greer (Assistant Director)

Katherine Greer is a graduate of UA Little Rock with a BFA in Dance Performance and a BA in Theatre Arts. Katie has worked in theatre/dance across central Arkansas with Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Argenta Community Theatre, Episcopal Collegiate School, Arkansas Academy of Dance and Arkansas Festival Ballet.

 

Alex Horn (Watch #1 / Friar / Ensemble)

Alex Horn is an undergraduate theatre performance student at the UofA. Past credits include The Mastiff in The Moors, MD/Photographer in Love’s Labour’s Lost, Garrett in S1ST3RS, and Coach Ripper in Heathers. Last year he performed his own cabaret titled “Voice Lessons”. He sends his love to his friends, family, and teachers for their constant love and support.

 

Betsy Jilka (Beatrice)

Elizabeth {Betsy} Jilka is grateful to be a part of this amazing cast. A few of her favorite regional credits include Ruth in Dessa Rose (Fourth Wall Theatre) and Charwoman and Fred’s Wife in A Christmas Carol (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey). Betsy has performed in various roles regionally and locally. At Theatresquared, she was seen in Rabbit Hole, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, and A Christmas Carol. She has performed with Trike Theatre of Bentonville, in Peter Pan, Turning Red, and A Year With Frog and Toad, which toured to Indianapolis and Notre Dame, Indiana. Additional local credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (NWA Shakespeare) and The Soldier’s Tale (Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra), among others. In addition to acting, Betsy teaches private voice and acting. She has music-directed shows with Trike Theatre, several schools in New York City, and Denton, TX. She is a faculty member of the University of Arkansas Theatre Department (Fayetteville). She holds training in Musical Theatre from Catholic University in Washington D.C., a BA in Music, and an MFA in Acting from the University of Arkansas. She is the proud mom of Oliver and Gus.

 

Brett Kagebein (Conrade/Ensemble)

Bret Kagebein is a film/theatre major at UCA. This is his first professional acting role, having previously played in his high school production of Grease and in UCA’s Little Shop of Horrors, as well as in a few UCA short films over the last couple years (including Double Trouble!). He is excited and proud to be a part of AST’s production of Much Ado About Nothing.

 

Valerie Lane (Costume Shop Manager UofA)

Valerie Lane is an instructor with the Department of Theatre and the Costume Shop Manager. She received her B.F.A. in Theatre Design and Technology from the University of Memphis, and her M.F.A. in Costume Design from Pennsylvania State University. Selected regional credits include TheatreSquared and Pennsylvania Center Stage. Previously at the University of Arkansas, she has designed In the Book Of, Boeing Boeing, V is for Violin; Your Last Friend, Inc., and Flamingo and Decatur. Recent draping credits include Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Moors, and Ride the Cyclone.

 

Callie Lythgoe (Costume Designer)

Callie Lythgoe is from Sandy, Utah. She is an MFA candidate at the University of Arkansas, and she holds a BFA in Theatre Design/Technology from Utah State University. Callie’s previous design credits include The Moors, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and The Laramie Project at the University of Arkansas and She Kills Monsters at USU.

 

Steven Marzolf (Benedick)

Steven Marzolf – Regional credits: The Old Globe Theatre, Notre Dame Shakespeare, Riverside Theatre, TheatreSquared, La Jolla Playhouse, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where he was a part of the original production of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize winning play August: Osage County. He has directed for Riverside Theatre in Iowa City, The Side Project in Chicago, Stella Adler Institute in NYC, NWA Shakes, and several productions for Opera Fayetteville, University of Tulsa and University of Arkansas. He holds an MFA in acting from The Old Globe Theatre and he is the head of undergraduate acting at University of Arkansas.

 

Morgan McInnis (Scenic Designer)

Morgan McInnis is a second-year graduate student pursuing her MFA in Scenic Design at the University of Arkansas. She is originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, and graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Interior Design in May 2020. Previous design credits at the University of Arkansas include Love’s Labour’s Lost and Marisol.

 

Zackary McJunkins (Lighting Designer)

Zackary McJunkins is a third-year graduate student pursuing his MFA in Lighting Design. He is from Texarkana, AR, and he graduated from Southern Arkansas University with a Bachelor of Science in May 2018. He has previously designed the University of Arkansas’s production of The Wolves and has also worked for TheatreSquared in Fayetteville as the Lighting Console Programmer for their stagings of Matilda and American Mariachi. This is his first professional lighting design credit, and he is very thankful for the opportunity to share his work with the audiences of the Arkansas Shakespeare Festival.

 

Shauna Colclasure Meador (Executive Director/Dept. of Film, Theatre, Creative Writing Chair UCA)

Shauna Colclasure Meador is Chair of the Department of Film, Theatre, and Creative Writing and Executive Director of the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre. She is excited to be at the helm after having been with the festival since its inception in 2005 and is looking forward to the bright future of AST! She is an undergraduate alumnus of UCA and received her M.F.A. in Costume Design and Technology from Purdue University in Lafayette, IN. In addition to designing at costumes AST many moons ago, she has designed at TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, UCA, and Purdue University. She has also worked at the Texas and Illinois Shakespeare Festivals. Some of her favorite costume designs have been for A Doll’s House, The Threepenny Opera, and The Learned Ladies. Her costume design for UCA’s 2006 production of Bertholt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera was chosen as a selected entrant for the World Stage Design competition in Seoul, Korea in the fall of 2009. She has also designed scenery at UCA for Mr. Marmalde, Stop/Kiss, Avenue Q, and has been known to direct on occasion.

 

Ash Micheel (Publicity Director/Box Office Manager/Business Manager U of A)

Ash Micheel is the Publicity Director, Box Office Manager, and Business Manager at the University of Arkansas. She has a B.S. in Digital Arts and Design emphasizing in Graphic Design, as well as a minor in Traditional Arts from Dakota State University. Her favorite part of her job is designing the show posters for the U of A Production Seasons, bringing high schoolers to campus to see shows, and helping students with photoshop questions. When not at work or running the box office, she devotes her time to caring for her many rescue animals with her husband Tyler. Follow us at @uarktheatre to see what we’re up to!

 

Joseph Millett (Production Stage Manager)

Joseph Millett has stage managed at the Manhattan Theatre Club, the Public Theatre, and the American Jewish Theatre (all in New York City). Regionally he has been a PSM at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Rep Theatre of St. Louis, Dallas Theatre Center, and the Clarence Brown Theatre (TN). He currently teaches stage management at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

 

Riles Newsome (Don John/Balthazar)

Riles is delighted to be a part of this Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre production! You might’ve seen him on the UofA stage in Tartuffe(Tartuffe), In The Book Of(Bo.Jr), or as Noel in Ride The Cyclone. Some other favorites or recent theatrical credits include The Seagull (Treplev) with Evergreen Theatre Collective, Hand To God (Pastor Greg) and Romeo and Juliet (Mercutio) with Oconaluftee Little Symphony, Macbeth (Macbeth) with Distant Drama, The Christians (Associate Pastor), Twelfth Night (Sir Andrew Aguecheek) With First Pres Theatre, and Isaac’s Eye (Isaac) with Little Corner Theatre Company.

 

Stacey Pendergraft (Director)

Stacy Pendergraft specializes in Acting, Voice & Movement, and Directing as an Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. This is her third season working with AST, having previously acted in productions of The Merry Wives of Windsor (Mistress Quickly), Love’s Labour’s Lost (Boyet), Fiddler on the Roof (Yente), and The Music Man (Mrs. Paroo). It is a profound pleasure to work with this multifaceted team in AST’s return to production. Representative Directing credits include: The Gifts of the Magi, Gulliver’s Travels (American Stage); Arms and the Man (UCA); An Octoroon, Eurydice, Beckett’s Briefs, Little Shop of Horrors, The Learned Ladies, The Bacchae, Spunk, The Waiting Room, (UALR), Acting credits include work with the Cleveland Play House (OH), American Stage (FL), Actors’ Theatre of Phoenix (AZ), and Dixon Place (NY). Text and Dialect Coaching credits include: Twelfth Night (AST/UALR), Scotland Road (UALR), August: Osage County (AR REP), The Winter’s Tale, Love’s Labour’s Lost (American Stage) A graduate of the University of Tulsa (BA) and Arizona State University (MFA), Stacy is a member of Actors’ Equity Association.

 

Michael Riha (Theatre Department Chair U of A)

Michael Riha is the chair of the Department of Theatre at the University of Arkansas and has designed scenery, lighting, sound, and costumes for well over one hundred productions. Michael’s most recent projects include set designs at the Berkshire Theatre Group, MA; TheatreSquared, AR; the Southcoast Repertory Theatre, CA; and The Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, CA. He also worked as an assistant Tony Award-winning set designer, Christine Jones, on the Broadway revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, starring Harry Connick Jr. as well as the 2013 Metropolitan Opera production of Rigoletto. He recently authored the book, “Starting Your Career as a Theatrical Designer: Insights and Advice from Leading Broadway Designers”, published by Allworth Press. He is a proud member of USITT and USA-829.

 

Essence Robinson (Sound Board Op)

Essence Simoné is very excited to work on sound and lights for the show! She is a recent graduate from The University of Arkansas at Little Rock; where she got her bachelor’s degree in theatre arts. Essence has worked on sound since her high school years and apart from that, she too is also an actor. She performed in shows at UALR, UCA and The Weekend Theatre. The same film wise. More than anything, she is blessed for this opportunity and wants to thank her family and friends for their support.

 

Bill Rogers (Leonato)

Bill Rogers is thrilled to join Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s Much Ado About Nothing. He has appeared in numerous TheatreSquared productions. Other regional credits include Virginia Stage Company, Trike Theatre, North Dakota Shakespeare, Block St. Theatre, Tent Theatre, and Ceramic Cow Productions. He received his MFA from the University of Arkansas.

 

Audrey Romero (Hero) (She/They/Them)

Audrey S. Romero is a Mexican-American multidisciplinary theatre artist. They graduated this Spring with a B.A. in Theatre Performance, B.A. in Latin American and Latino Studies, and a minor in Communication. New play development credits include: Madeinusa in This Bitch: Esta Sangre Quiero (B Street Theatre & In the Margin; University of Arkansas), Carley in Earning (University of Arkansas), Isabel in I’m F*cking Tired of Writing Plays About This (University of Arkansas). Children’s theatre (Trike Theatre) credits include: Imogene in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Hare in Tortuga & the Hare, the goats in 3 Billy Goats Gruff. Romero is so grateful to be Hero alongside this wonderful production team and cast. Gratitude and thanks to their family, friends, and mentors for all their support.

 

Scott Russell (Don Pedro)

Scott Russell is an AEA actor, SDC Fight Director, educator, and a Full Instructor with Dueling Arts International; he currently divides his time between Northwest Arkansas and Indianapolis, IN. Scott received his MFA from the University of Arkansas and is a graduate of The Conservatory at Act One Studios – Chicago. He holds an undergraduate degree in Biology from Belmont University and spent many years as a cancer biologist.

 

Baqiir Salaam (Sound Designer/Engineer)

Baaqir Salaam is 23-year-old sound designer and musician. In his free time he enjoys long walks on the beach and staring off into the uncharted ocean. Live, laugh, love!

 

Leah Smith (Margaret)

Leah Smith (Margaret) is so excited to be in AST’s Much Ado! Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Leah is currently pursuing her MFA in acting at the University of Arkansas. She has recently been seen on UARK’s stages as Ocean in Ride the Cyclone, Huldey in The Moors, Catherine in Love’s Labour’s Lost, Coco Wawa in THIS BITCH, and an Ensemble Member in The Laramie Project. Leah’s also recently been seen in Big Kid in Matilda (TheatreSquared) and was an understudy for A Christmas Carol and At The Wedding (TheatreSquared). Favorite credits include: Kate Monster in Avenue Q (Blank Canvas Theater), Rosie in Slow Dance on the Killing Ground (Ensemble Theatre), Tessie Tura in Gypsy (Beck Center for the Arts), Gail Portman in In The Book Of and Dorine in Tartuffe (University of Arkansas). Gratitude and love to my family and my GDB, all my heart.

 

Keagan Styes (Costume Shop Manager UCA)

Originally from Austin, Texas, Keagan recently graduated from Penn State University with an M.F.A in Costume Technology. Having previously worked at the Utah Shakespeare Festival for several seasons, she is excited to spend her summer at The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre. Following AST Keagan will continue at The University of Central Arkansas as the new Costume Shop Manager.

 

Eli Summers (Wardrobe Crew)

Eli Summers is a junior theatre major at the University of Central Arkansas. In past productions, Eli has worked as costume shop assistant for UCA’s productions of Do You Feel Anger (2021), and From Up Here (2021), and costume designer for Guilt/Less (2022) and Little Shop of Horrors (2022). A special thanks from Eli goes to LaDiamond Maker, Shauna Meador, and Eriko Terao.

 

Grace Taylor (Ursula)

Grace is going into her 4th year as an MFA: Theatre Performance student at the University of Arkansas. Originally from Bloomfield, MO, she has a BFA in Musical Theatre from Southeast Missouri State University. Select UARK productions: Ride the Cyclone, Marisol, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Heathers, and Tartuffe. Select professional theatres: Holland-America Princess, Murry’s Dinner Playhouse, Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts Children’s Theatre, Ozark Actors Theatre. Big love to Mom, Dad, Rebecca, and Riles for their support!

 

Brianna Wallace (Assistant Stage Manager)

Though Bri has joined the theatre community just recently, she has already been involved in so much. She was Spotlight Operator for UCA’s production of Little Shop of Horrors, and was also Assistant Stage Manager for UCA’s Generational Transmedia piece called Guilt/Less. She plans to further her work in the world of theatre through the lens of Stage Management.

 

Weston Wilkerson (Technical Director U of A)

Weston is an Associate Professor for the University of Arkansas Department of Theatre. He has worked as the Technical Director for the Clarence Brown Theatre for Five seasons, seasons for Theatre By The Sea and Ocean State Theatre Company, has been an interim for Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, TheatreSquared, Xavier University, and University of Tulsa, and has been the Director of Production for UA for eight years. Other projects include Event/Technical Design for Nickelodeon, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Shell Oil, ABC Sports, Indy Racing League, and ESPN and Lighting Designs for many regional theatres, most recently TheatreSquared and Stages. Weston lives in Fayetteville where he and his wife take orders from their six-year-old son!

 

Emma Williams (Sexton/Ensemble/Hero u/s)

Emma Williams is so excited to be making her professional debut with AST! She is currently double majoring at the University of Central Arkansas in theatre and linguistics with the hopes of becoming an ESL/theatre teacher. She would like to thank her family and friends for their support, and all glory to God. (Romans 8:28)

 

Jordan Williams (Claudio)

Jordan Williams is beyond excited to be a part of the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre festival this year! 3rd year MFA Acting student at the University of Arkansas Jordan Williams is a proud Crenshaw District Los Angeles, CA native. Jordan held an Acting Apprenticeship with New Stage Theatre as he completed his undergraduate degree at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi before his efforts led him to the U of A. His roles have included James Goodin in Marcus Gardley’s Hell in High Water, Cory Maxson in August Wilson’s Fences and Berowne in Shakespeare’s Loves Labour’s Lost. You may have seen Jordan performing standup comedy at your local comedy club! Follow Jordan on all platforms @ImportantJordan to keep up with his journey!

 

Destiny Zrebski (Props Coordinator)

Destiny Zrebski is a Theatre minor and BFA sculpture major at the University of Central Arkansas. She has been involved in theatre intermittently since the beginning of high school, focusing on scenic painting. Destiny is excited to be working as a props intern for the Arkansas Shakespeare Theater this summer.

 

 

Special Thanks!

Scott Meador

 President Houston & Jenny Davis

Dr. Patricia Poulter

Fredricka Sharkey

Greg Weber

 Dr. Tom Williams

Jimmy John’s Sandwiches