Catherine Walker to Lead Goodspeed's THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES

By: Mar. 02, 2018

Catherine Walker to Lead Goodspeed's THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES

Goodspeed Musicals kicks off its 2018 season with the Broadway hit The Will Rogers Follies, A Life In Revue. The exuberant dance-filled musical will be running April 13 - June 21 at The Goodspeed in East Haddam, Conn.

Shake hands with the heartwarming humorist who spun a rope, poked fun at headlines and never met a man he didn't like. The rags-to-riches story of America's beloved stage, screen and radio star bursts to life as a Ziegfeld Follies-style extravaganza. Family, fame and fate are center stage in Will's rise from obscurity to stardom. Along the way he's arm-in-arm with vivacious showgirls and a slew of cowboys. Curtain up on the Tony Award-winning Best Musical that captures the American spirit at its up-tempo best.

The Will Rogers Follies features book by Peter Stone, music composed and arranged by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Inspired by the words of Will and Betty Rogers. The original New York Production was directed and choreographed by Tommy Tune. This spirited musical will be sponsored by Liberty Bank and Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C.

Will Rogers will be played by David Lutken, who previously played the role on Broadway. His other Broadway credits include Inherit the Wind, Ring of Fire andThe Civil War. Mr. Lutken has been seen in the Off- Broadway productions of Woody Sez, Southern Comfort, Stars in Your Eyes and Winter Man. In London, he performed in Woody Sez, Dark of the Moon, Bonnie & Clyde and A Month In The Country. The Will Rogers Follies is Lutken's fourth production at Goodspeed Musicals. Past favorites include Honky Tonk Highway, Finian's Rainbow and Big River. Additional regional credits include Man of La Mancha, Elmer Gantry, Pump Boys & Dinettes and On Golden Pond among others. Mr. Lutken won the Helen Hayes and Joseph Jefferson Best Actor Awards for his performance on his original show Woody Sez: The Life & Music Of Woody Guthrie, which David has performed in 65 cities around the world.

Catherine Walker will play Betty Blake. Ms. Walker most recently starred on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning A Gentleman's Guide To Love and Murder as Phoebe D'Ysquith. Ms. Walker performed in the original Broadway cast of Disney's Mary Poppins and became Broadway's second Mary after which she was cast in the Broadway revival of Ragtime. She travels nationally, representing Walt Disney Productions as their guest soloist with major national orchestras. Ms. Walker performed inThe Marc Blitzstein Tribute at Washington's Kennedy Center, A Tribute To Stephen Sondheim with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and The Music Of Stephen Schwartz for New York's Andrew Carnegie Society. Catherine won Carbonell Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance as Maria Von Trapp in Maltz Jupiter Theatre's The Sound of Music.

David Garrison will play Clem Rogers. Mr. Garrison received a Tony Award nomination and a Drama-Logue Award for his performance in the Broadway production of A Day In Hollywood/ A Night in the Ukraine. Additional Broadway credits include the Tony- winning Titanic and the Carbonell Award-winning Wicked, along with Torch Song Trilogy, The Pirates of Penzance and many others. He was in the Off-Broadway 30th Anniversary revival of I Do! I Do!, for which he received a Drama Desk Award nomination. Other Off-Broadway credits include Geniuses, Middletown and New Jerusalem. Mr. Garrison won a Helen Hayes Award for his role as Charlie in Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along at Arena Stage. He has been featured in numerous hit television shows including Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Good Wife, 30 Rock, Madame Secretary, Everybody Loves Raymond and Law and Order.

Brooke Lacy makes her Goodspeed debut in the role of Ziegfeld's Favorite. Ms. Lacy was just seen playing one of the Gemini Twins in Pittsburgh Public Theater's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. She has also played Inga in Young Frankenstein. Dewey Caddell will play the role of Wiley Post. Dewey has performed in numerous regional productions including Finian's Rainbow (Irish Rep), Dear World (York), Brigadoon and The Story of Pirates!. The role of Will Rogers Jr. will be played by Connecticut native Ben Stone-Zelman. Ben returns to The Goodspeed where he previously performed as Randolph in Bye Bye Birdie, and Tommy Bailey in A Wonderful Life. Additional credits include the roles of Boy Scrooge and Fred's Son in Hartford Stage's A Christmas Carol; Ragtime at Connecticut Theatre Company; and To Kill a Mockingbird (Dill), Mary Poppins (Michael Banks), and Little Mermaid (Flounder) at Thomaston Opera House. Playing the role of Mary Rogers will be Riley Briggs, who played Beth Bailey in Goodspeed's A Wonderful Life. Miss Briggs understudied the role of Young Anastasia in the Hartford Stage production of Anastasia. Brendan Reilly Harris makes his Goodspeed debut in the role of Jimmy Rogers. Brendan has been in the regional productions of A Christmas Carol at Hartford Stage and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at ACT of Connecticut. Other favorite performances for Connecticut theaters include inMary Poppins and The Who's Tommy. Nathan Horne will play Freddy Rogers. Nathan has been seen playing Young Erik in Phantom, Jacob in The Christmas Elf and Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol at Downtown Cabaret Theatre.

The ensemble includes Michael Biren, who previously appeared in Goodspeed's Guys and Dolls and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Off-Broadway he performed in Revolution in the Elbow with Cady Huffman and the National Tours of Billy Elliot with Faith Prince and Cinderella with Lea Salonga. Joining Mr. Biren will be Aaron Burr (National Tour: Doctor Doolittle), Sarah Fagan (Goodspeed's Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn and the National Tours of Irving Berlin's White Christmas and 42nd Street), Kaitlyn Frank, Brad Frenette (National Tour: Hello, Dolly! and UK Tour: Madagascar), Emily Jeanne Phillips (Off-Broadway:Attack of the Elvis Impersonators and National Tour: Elf, The Musical), Kelly Sheehan, Karilyn Ashley Surratt (Goodspeed's Anything Goes), Hartt School graduateCaitlin Wilayto (Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals Come From Away) and Borris York (Broadway: Holiday Inn, National Tour: Pippin. TV: Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and NBC's Smash). The Voice of Ziegfeld will be two-time Tony Award-winner James Naughton. In addition to a long list of film and TV roles his numerous theater credits include Broadway's Chicago as Billy Flynn, City of Angels as Stone, Whose Life is it Anyway? and I Love My Wife.

The swings will be Mallory Davis (National Tour of 42nd Street) and Patrick Heffernan (National Tours: Fiddler on the Roof, Anything Goes and 42nd Street).Ella Briggs who previously performed in Goodspeed Musicals A Wonderful Life in the role of ZuZu and as Baby Frances in Chasing Rainbows will understudy the roles of Mary, Jimmy, and Freddy Rogers.

Will Rogers Follies will be directed by Don Stephenson who helmed the Goodspeed productions of Guys and Dolls and Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd. Other recent credits include the production of Titanic at Lincoln Center; Of Mice and Manhattan for the Millennium Stage at Kennedy Center; Other Place at the Alley atre; A Comedy of Tenors (BroadwayWorld Awards nom. Best Director of a Play), Producers, Vanya and Sonia and Marsha and Spike and Lend Me a Tenor at Paper Mill Playhouse; and Buyer and Cellar and Noises Off at Pittsburgh Public atre. Choreographer Kelli Barclay returns for her seventh production at Goodspeed Musicals where past productions include Anything Goes; Damn Yankees; Hello, Dolly!, and My One And Only. Ms. Barclay has also choreographed the City Center Encores! production of Pipe Dream, City Center's 20 Years of Encores!, Camelot in Concert starring Jeremy Irons, Himself and Noraat the Minetta Lane ater and the feature film Made for Each Other.

Scenic Design will be by Walt Spangler whose designs for Goodspeed Musicals include The Terris Theatre productions of Camille Claudel, The Flight of the Lawnchair Man, Happy Days, Lucky Guy, The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown and The Roar of the Greaspaint.... In addition to nearly 30 Off-Broadway Productions, Mr. Spangler has designed the Broadway productions of the new musical Escape to Margaritaville, Tuck Everlasting, Scandalous, A Christmas Story the musical and Desire Under the Elms.

Costumes will be designed by Ilona Somogyi who designed Clybourne Park on Broadway and Goodspeed's Anything Goes. Somogyi's other credits include productions at MTC, Atlantic Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Vinyard and Public Theatre. Lighting Design will be by Rob Denton who designed last season's hitThoroughly Modern Millie at The Goodspeed. Mr. Denton served as Associate Designer for the Broadway productions of Holiday Inn, Blackbird and A Delicate Balance. His regional credits include The Muny productions of A Chorus Line, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, 42nd Street, Fiddler on the Roof, and Into the Woodsamong others and productions for TheaterWorks Hartford, Capitol Rep, Arena Stage, Signature Theatre to name a few.

Projection Design will be by Michael Clark who designed the projections for Goodspeed's My One And Only. Michael served as Projection Designer for Broadway's 700 Sundays, Ring of Fire; Jersey Boys; Dracula, the Musical; and The Elephant Man

Sound Design will be by Jay Hilton who has a long association with Goodspeed Musicals and has designed countless productions at both The Terris Theatre and The Goodspeed. His work has also been heard on Broadway, National Tours and Regional theatres from coast to coast. He also serves as Goodspeed's audio supervisor.

Wig and Hair design will be by Mark Adam Rampmeyer whose work has been seen at The Goodspeed in the productions of Rags, Oklahoma, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Anything Goes, Bye Bye Birdie and Chasing Rainbows, as well as La Cage aux Folles, Good News!, 42nd Street and Big River to name a few. On Broadway, he designed West Side Story, Lysistrata Jones and The Farnsworth Invention.

The Music Director for The Will Rogers Follies will be Michael O'Flaherty, who is in his 27thseason as Goodspeed's Resident Music Director. William J. Thomaswill be Assistant Music Director. Orchestrations will be by Dan DeLange. This marks his 20th year and 50th show for The Goodspeed. Casting for The Will Rogers Follies is by Paul Hardt of Stewart/Whitley Casting.

The Will Rogers Follies will run April 13 through June 21, 2018. Curtain times are Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (with select performances at 2:00 p.m.), Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. (with select performances at 6:30 p.m.).

Tickets are available through the Box Office (860.873.8668), open seven days a week, or online at For show highlights, exclusive photos, special events and more, visit us at and follow us on Facebook, Twitter @goodspeedmusicl, Instagram and YouTube.

Under the leadership of Executive Director Michael Gennaro, Goodspeed Musicals is dedicated to the preservation, development and advancement of musical theatre and is the first theatre in the nation to receive two Tony Awards (for outstanding achievement). Goodspeed produces three musicals each season at The Goodspeed in East Haddam, Conn., and additional productions at The Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn., which was opened in 1984 for the development of new musicals. Goodspeed also maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre. Goodspeed gratefully acknowledges the support of United Airlines, the official airline of Goodspeed Musicals; the official audio sponsor Sennheiser; and official auto sponsor Hoffman Audi. Goodspeed is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development with support from the Connecticut Office of the Arts.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos