Joel Rooks, Barbara Walsh, Adam Kaplan, Among Stars of Goodspeed's HI, MY NAME IS BEN
Goodspeed Musicals today announces the cast of Hi, My Name is Ben, the inspirational true story of one man who impacted the lives of all those around him without speaking a word. Written by Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie while in residence at the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed, this hope-filled musical will run May 17 - June 9, 2019 at The Terris Theatre in Chester, CT. This production is supported in part by the Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving
The true story of one ordinary man and his extraordinary life. From his tiny room in New York City, Bernhardt Wichmann III changed the lives of those around him without ever speaking a word. Using just his notepad, pen and open heart, Ben turned a neighborhood of strangers into a community of friends, before finally encountering a miracle of his own. Featuring an uplifting, folk-inflected score by award-winning Scottish writing team Noisemaker in association with Dundee Rep, one of Scotland's leading theatres, this is the story of how one man with nothing somehow changed everything.
Ben will be played by Joel Rooks, who has performed in several Broadway shows including Fish in the Dark, The Royal Family, Say Goodnight Gracie, Taller Than a Dwarf, The Tenth Man, The Sisters Rosensweig, and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. Some of Rooks's Off-Broadway credits include Law of Return, Iron, Comic Potential, Jewtopia, Rocket to the Moon and Under the Bed. He has appeared in several films including: My Bakery in Brooklyn, Outliving Emily, It Runs in the Family and Snatched, and on television in New Amsterdam, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Ramy, Deadbeat, Copshop and Law & Order.
Young Ben will be played by Adam Kaplan, whose Broadway credits include A Bronx Tale The Musical and Newsies The Musical. He performed in the First National Tour of Kinky Boots. Mr. Kaplan's regional credits include Hairspray, Legally Blonde, Fiddler on the Roofand Singin' in the Rain at Music Theatre Wichita, and How to Succeed... and The Rocky Horror Show at Flat Rock Playhouse. His film and television credits include Deception, Maja + Theo and The Point of Divergence.
James will be played by Ken Land, whose Broadway credits include Promises, Promises; How the Grinch Stole Christmas!; TheScarlet Pimpernel and Victor/Victoria. Land returns to Goodspeed, where he previously performed at The Terris Theatre in Romeo and Juliet. Mr. Land's Off-Broadway credits include Curvy Widow, The Gig, Little Shop of Horrors and Death of Von Richthofen.
The role of Young James will be played by CJ Pawlikowski, who is currently playing Mike in the TheaterWorks Hartford production ofGirlfriend. His Off-Broadway credits include A Letter to Harvey Milk and The Underclassmen. CJ's favorite credits include performing the National Tour of The Book of Mormon and the role of Huey Calhoun in Phoenix Theatre's Memphis, for which he won the BroadwayWorld Award for Best Actor.
Lucy will be played by Abigail E. Stephenson, a recent graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland M.A. Musical Theatre program.
Helen will be played by Lee Harrington, who recently appeared as Martha Cratchit in Goodspeed's A Connecticut Christmas Carol. Her Off-Broadway credits include Into the Woods at Roundabout and Jellybean with Irondale Ensemble Project. Harrington's regional credits include Show Boat, Company, Merrily We Roll Along, Man of La Mancha, Marvelous Wonderettes, Fiddler on the Roof, Dead Man's Cell Phone and Carousel.
The role of Juan will be played by Carlos Lopez, who returns to Goodspeed where he previously appeared as Harry the Horse in Guys and Dolls. His numerous Broadway credits include Man of La Mancha, Annie Get Your Gun, Grease, Guys and Dolls, Grand Hotel and A Chorus Line. Carlos can also be heard on the Broadway cast recording of SpongeBob The Musical.
Jorge will be played by David Baida. Baida's credits include the Broadway production and the First National Tour of On Your Feet! and the First National Tour of In the Heights. Other credits include Forever Plaid, Joseph...Dreamcoat, King Tut and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Heather Ayers will play the roles of Joan and Meta. Ms. Ayers's Broadway credits include Groundhog Day, Mel Brook's Young Frankenstein, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and Trevor Nunn's A Little Night Music. Some of her Off-Broadway credits includeFive Course Love at Minetta Lane; Sarah, Plain & Tall at Lucille Lortell and Forbidden Broadway at Stardust. Her TV credits includeScandal, Sarah Silverman's I Love You America and Brockmire.
Tony, Drama Desk, LA Ovation and Drama League Award nominee Barbara Walsh will play Pat. Walsh's Broadway credits includeFalsettos, Company, Rock 'N' Roll! The First 5000 Years, Nine, Blood Brothers, Big and Hairspray. Her many Off-Broadway and National Tour credits include Summer and Smoke at Classic Stage Company and Transport Group, First Daughter Suite at The Public Theatre and the National Tours of Oklahoma!, Nine and Les Misérables. In addition to her numerous regional theater, television and film credits, Barbara has appeared in the Goodspeed Musicals productions of Houdini and Exactly Like You.
Hi, My Name is Ben features book and lyrics by Scott Gilmour and music by Claire McKenzie. Together they created the award-winning writing partnership called Noisemaker. Graduates of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the pair work across the globe creating innovative, original work that challenges the expectation of musical theatre. Recent credits include The Snow Queen for Dundee Rep and Citizens Theatre, My Left/Right Foot at National Theatre of Scotland/Birds of Paradise (Herald Angel Winner/Fringe First Winner 2018) and The Girl Who at American Musical Theatre Project at Northwestern University/Assembly. Their upcoming projects include a collaboration with Unigram and the Faena Hotel Miami Beach, to adapt Peter Greenway's iconic The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover into an immersive, theatrical dining experience.
This inspiring new musical will be directed by Andrew Panton. Panton has worked internationally across theater, film, television and music. He is the Artistic Director and Joint Chief-Executive at Dundee Rep Theatre. He has directed The Snow Queen, The Yellow on the Broom, Passing Places, Spring Awakening, A Christmas Carol, the Scottish Premiere of August: Osage County, Love Song and The Mill Lavvies at Dundee Rep. Panton has directed productions for the National Theatre of Scotland, Edinburgh Royal Lyceum, Glasgow Citizen's Theatre, Royal & Derngate, Perth Theatre and The Stephen Joseph Theatre. He was also the movement director for the TMA and CATS award-winning production of Sweeney Todd. Work for TV includes Children in Need, Gareth Malone's The Naked Choir and The Voicefor the BBC.
Choreography will be by Emily-Jane Boyle, a Glasgow-based choreographer and movement director who currently serves as Artistic Associate of Dundee Rep. Her credits include the Dundee Rep productions of The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black Black Oil; The Snow Queen; Passing Places; Great Expectations; Exit the King at the National Theatre; Oresteia: This Restless House at Edinburgh International Festival; Forest Boy at NYMF; and the UK Tours of Sunshine on Leith. Other credits include How to Act at National Theatre of Scotland, Trainspotting and Nora: A Doll's House at Citizens Theatre, and The Red Balloon for NYB/Sadlers Wells. Film and TV credits include The Crown (Netflix), In Plain Sight (ITV), Two Doors Down (BBC), God Help the Girl (Sundance) and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games (BBC).
Scenic Design will be by Edward Pierce. Some of his favorite Broadway and National Tours credits include the Tony-nominated revival ofAngels in America, Bright Star, Amazing Grace, Holler If Ya Hear Me, The Other Place, A Streetcar Named Desire, Shatner's World, Billy Elliot, Pippin, 9 to 5, The Pirate Queen, Aida and Ragtime. In addition, Pierce has designed productions of Wicked worldwide productions, the International Tour of Love Never Dies and the new World Tour of Phantom of the Opera.
Costume Design will be by Lara de Bruijn. Lara has designed costumes for theatre, film, dance and opera. Her theatre credits includeParty Face at City Center, Devil of Choice at LABrynth Theatre, Olityelwe (The Forgotten) at 59E59, The Two-Character Play at New World Stages, Under my Skin at Little Shubert Theatre, Blasted at The Calderwood Pavillion and The Ladies Man at Peterborough Players,
Lighting Design will be by Masha Tsimring, a NYC-based performance lighting designer. Recent credits include Pride and Prejudice at Kansas City Rep, The Appointment for Lightning Rod Special, Kleptocracy at Arena Stage, Minor Character for Under the Radar/New Saloon, Noura at Playwrights Horizons, Intractable Woman at PlayCo, Romeo & Juliet/Our Town at Alabama Shakespeare, Electric Lucifer for The Kitchen, LA Dance Project's Sarabande and The Garden of Forking Paths for Nichole Canuso Dance Co.
Music Direction will be by Gavin Whitworth. As Music Director, Whitworth's credits include The Snow Queen at Dundee Rep, But First This and The Witches of Eastwick at Watermill Theatre, Newbury, Beauty and the Beast and Hansel and Gretel at Citizens Theatre,Merrily We Roll Along, Brigadoon, and London Road at RCS, Wasted Love and The Improvised Musical at Edinburgh Fringe, Room at Stratford East/NTS and Glasgow Girls for RAW Materials. As Composer, Gavin's credits include Some Small Love Story at Arts Theatre London, Neverland at Theatre Deli, Sheffield, White Fang at Florida's freeFall Theatre and Hunchback of Notre Dame at Selby Abbey.
Projection Design will be by Andrew Bauer. Bauer is returning to Goodspeed where he previously designed Indian Joe at The Terris Theatre. Bauer's New York credits include Magnolia at Fordham University, CQ/CX (co-design with Peter Nigrini) at Atlantic Theater, An Error of the Moon at Theater Row, Diary of a Teenage Girl and Milk-n-Honey for 3LD. Bauer's regional credits include Dancing Lessons andVeils at Barrington Stage Company, Adding Machine and Joël Pommerat's Cinderella at University of Rochester and Hydrogen Jukebox at Fort Worth Opera.
Sound Design will be by Jay Hilton, who is pleased to continue his long association with Goodspeed Musicals. Jay has designed countless productions at both The Goodspeed and The Terris Theatre in Chester. His work has also been heard on Broadway and National Tours and at Regional Theatres from coast to coast. In addition to being Goodspeed's Resident Sound Designer, Jay serves as Goodspeed Musicals Audio Supervisor.
Casting for Hi, My Name is Ben is by Paul Hardt of StewartWhitley Casting.
Hi, My Name is Ben will run May 17 - June 9, 2019. Curtain times are Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are available through the Goodspeed Box Office (860.873.8668), open seven days a week, or on-line at www.goodspeed.org.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos
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