Mamie Parris, Josh Breckenridge, and More Join Drew Gehling in DAVE at Arena Stage
Arena Stage announces the full cast and creative team for Dave. By Thomas Meehan, Nell Benjamin and Tom Kitt, Dave is inspired by the Academy Award-nominated American political comedy film. Under the direction of Tony Award nominee Tina Landau, and with choreography by Tony Award nominee Sam Pinkleton and music direction by Rob Berman, Dave runs July 13-August 19, 2018 in the Kreeger Theater.
As previously announced, Drew Gehling will play both President Bill Mitchell and the title role of Dave. Gehling is joined by Mamie Parris (Broadway's Cats, School of Rock) as First Lady Ellen Mitchell, Josh Breckenridge (Broadway's Come From Away), Rachel Flynn (Off-Broadway's Heathers the Musical), Bryonha Marie Parham (Broadway's Prince of Broadway) and Jonathan Rayson (Broadway's Little Shop of Horrors).
Rounding out the company are Jenny Ashman (Kansas City Repertory's Evita), Jared Bradshaw (Broadway's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Dana Costello (Jekyll and Hyde national tour), Trista Dollison (Broadway's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Sherri L. Edelen (Arena Stage's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike),Kevin R. Free (The Neo-Futurists' Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind), Erin Quill (Broadway's Avenue Q), Jamison Scott (Broadway's Motown the Musical) andVishal Vaidya (Broadway's Groundhog Day).
The creative team for Dave also includes scenic design by Tony Award nominee Dane Laffrey; costume design by two-time Tony Award nominee Toni-Leslie James; lighting design by five-time Tony Award nominee Japhy Weideman; sound design by Tony Award nominee Walter Trarbach; projection design by Drama Desk Award winner Peter Nigrini; and casting by Telsey + Company/Patrick Goodwin, CSA.
"While in D.C. for Mean Girls, I went to the Smithsonian's exhibit on 'American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith' and thought, 'This is it. This is Dave: it's about the leap of faith Americans take, letting people just like us govern us,'" says Nell Benjamin. "Of course, it's going to have insane repercussions, but in some cases, it's going to bring out the best in people. We want to come with a show that celebrates that leap of faith. It's a love story for our fellow Americans. It's more than a little nerve-wracking to bring a political story to Washington, D.C., but there's no other place to bring it! It's a joy to work with Tom Kitt; his fierce talent brings joy into the room and he takes impossible issues and ideas and makes them sing. Tina Landau is endlessly inventive, and she's great at saying something without lecturing, which is exactly what a good musical should do."
"I am so thrilled to be working on Dave, the musical, a film I have loved since the first time I saw it," shares Tom Kitt. "Gary Ross' funny, touching, and moving screenplay speaks to me on a very personal level and it has been so rewarding for me to put my voice into the world he created. I feel so lucky to be back at Arena Stage collaborating with Molly Smith and her wonderful team, and to be working alongside Tina Landau, Nell Benjamin and an extraordinary group of designers in bringing this story to the stage."
Thomas Meehan (Book Writer), a three-time Tony Award-winning book writer for the Broadway musicals Annie, The Producers (co-written with Mel Brooks) and Hairspray (co-written with Mark O'Donnell), wrote over a dozen Broadway musicals including I Remember Mama; Cry Baby (co-written with Mark O'Donnell); Young Frankenstein (co-written with Mel Brooks); Elf (co-written with Bob Martin); Rocky, The Musical; the up-coming Dave (co-written with Nell Benjamin); and Off-Broadway Death Takes a Holiday. Mr. Meehan was a long-time contributor of humor pieces to The New Yorker, most notably Yma, Ava, Yma, Abba, Yma, Oona, Yma, Aga ...and Others. He was the co-librettist (with J. D. McClatchy) of the Lorin Maazel opera 1984, and an Emmy Award-winning writer of television comedy. His screenplays include One Magic Christmas, Annie and a collaboration with Mel Brooks on Spaceballs and To Be or Not to Be. He was a member of the Council of the Dramatists Guild. He was working on several new musicals when he passed away at the age of 89 on August 22, 2017.
Nell Benjamin (Book Writer/Lyricist) co-wrote the score to the musical Legally Blonde with her husband, Laurence O'Keefe. Nell and Larry have also written Huzzah! and Life of the Party. Nell has written the book and/or lyrics for Mean Girls; Halftime; Because of Winn Dixie; Pirates! (or Gilbert and Sullivan Plunder'd); Sarah, Plain and Tall; Cam Jansen; I Want My Hat Back; How I Became a Pirate; and The Mice. She has written a play, The Explorers Club, as well as the New York Philharmonic New Year's Eve and Young Peoples' concerts. TV credits include Unhappily Ever After; Whoa! Sunday with Mo Rocca; the new Electric Company; Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris; Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway; and Julie's Greenroom. She is the grateful recipient of a Kleban Foundation Award and a Jonathan Larson Foundation Grant, and is a member of ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild of America.
Tom Kitt (Composer/Arranger/Orchestrator/Music Supervisor) received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as two Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Orchestrations for Next to Normal. Next to Normal also received the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Score. He is also the composer of If/Then (Tony nomination, Outer Critics nomination, Broadway); High Fidelity (Broadway); Bring it On, The Musical (co-composer with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Broadway); Disney's Freaky Friday; The Winter's Tale, All's Well That Ends Well and Cymbeline (The Public's NYSF); From Up Here and The Madrid (MTC); Orphans (Broadway); The Retributionists(Playwrights Horizons); and As You Like It (Toho Co., Japan). Tom is the music supervisor, arranger, orchestrator and composer of additional music for SpongeBob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical. In addition, he is the music supervisor for the new NBC drama, Rise, and was responsible for the music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations for Grease Live! and Green Day's American Idiot on Broadway. His work with Green Day also includes additional arrangements for their Grammy Award-winning album 21st Century Breakdown and their album trilogy, ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré! Tom received an Emmy Award as co-writer (with Lin-Manuel Miranda) for the 2013 Tony Awards opening number, Bigger. Other TV songwriting credits include a musical episode of Royal Pains, and songs for Penny Dreadful, Sesame Street and Julie's Greenroom. As a musical director, conductor, arranger and orchestrator, credits include the Pitch Perfect films, 2Cellos featuring Lang Lang (Live and Let Die), The Kennedy Center Honors, 13, Debbie Does Dallas, Everyday Rapture, Hair, Laugh Whore, Pippin (Deaf West) and These Paper Bullets.
Tina Landau (Director) is a writer and director whose work has been produced on Broadway and Off-Broadway, internationally and regionally, and most frequently at Steppenwolf Theatre where she is an ensemble member. Broadway credits include SpongeBob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical (also conceiver), Tracy Lett's Superior Donuts and the revival of Bells Are Ringing. Off-Broadway credits include Old Hats, Big Love and Iphigenia 2.0 (Signature Theatre); A Civil War Christmas (NYTW); Wig Out! (Vineyard Theatre); and the musicals Floyd Collins (Playwrights Horizons) and Dream True (Vineyard Theatre), both of which she co-wrote. Steppenwolf productions include Head of Passes (also The Public, Mark Taper Forum, Berkeley Repertory), The Brother/Sister Plays, The Wheel, The Tempest, Time of Your Life (also ACT Seattle), The Cherry Orchard, The Diary of Anne Frank, Ballad of Little Jo, Berlin Circle, and her own play, Space (also The Public, Mark Taper Forum). Regionally, Tina's productions include Sycamore Trees (Signature Theatre VA), Antony and Cleopatra (Hartford Stage) and A Midsummer Night's Dream(McCarter, Paper Mill). Tina teaches regularly and co-authored The Viewpoints Book with Anne Bogart.
Jenny Ashman (Ensemble/Partial Swing) makes her Arena Stage debut. Originally from Alaska, Jenny most recently starred in the world-premiere of Paris Time at Capital Repertory. Off-Broadway and regional credits include Eva Peron in Evita (Kansas City Repertory and Opera North), Side by Side by Sondheim (Kansas City Repertory), Arista in Disney's The Little Mermaid (Hollywood Bowl), Sleep No More, Johanna in Sweeney Todd (Ovation Award nomination), Rosalind in As You Like It, Penny in the world-premiere Romance Language, Meg in Little Women and Rhoda in A New Brain. Jenny is a graduate of UCF Conservatory Theatre. www.jennyashman.com
Jared Bradshaw (Ensemble/Partial Swing) is thrilled to join Dave after spending the last year on Broadway in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where he appeared nightly as reporter Jerry Jubilee, understudied Christian Borle and appeared as Willy Wonka on the Tony Awards. Previously, Jared performed for eight years in Jersey Boys, playing all 10 featured roles in the show on Broadway and the national tour. Jared spent three years at Forbidden Broadway (cast album) playing every other role from the Phantom to Jean Valjean. Favorite credits include The Last Five Years, The Music Man and Jekyll and Hyde. Upcoming credits include Leo Frank in Jason Robert Brown's Parade in Marietta, GA, and continuing concert work in Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star. Much love to wife Lindsay Northen at Wicked, and sweet daughter Georgia. Instagram: @bwaymjjared www.jaredbradshaw.com
Josh Breckenridge (Duane Bolden) last appeared in the D.C.-area as the Doctor in The Book of Mormon (first national tour) at the Kennedy Center. Broadway credits include Come From Away, The Scottsboro Boys and The Ritz. Off-Broadway credits include The Scottsboro Boys and Saved. Regional credits include Sunday in the Park with George (Huntington Theatre), The Whipping Man (Kansas City Repertory), Tales of the City (American Conservatory Theater), The Scottsboro Boys (Guthrie Theater), Hairspray (Marriott Theatre), Smokey Joe's Cafe (The Cape Playhouse), High School Musical 2 and Dreamgirls (North Carolina Theatre) and Memphis (La Jolla Playhouse, 5th Avenue Theatre). He appeared in the film Finding Me: Truth and received his B.F.A. from Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music. Instagram: @josh.breckenridge
Dana Costello (Ensemble) makes her Arena Stage debut and last appeared in D.C. at the Kennedy Center as Nellie in the national tour of Jekyll and Hyde. Her Broadway credits include Mary Barrie in Finding Neverland and Nellie in Jekyll and Hyde. Dana has performed all over (from Broadway to Off-Broadway to waaaaaaay Off-Broadway) and is thrilled to be back in D.C. at Arena Stage! She thanks Patrick at Telsey and her agents Chad and Alex at Henderson Hogan. Twitter/Instagram: @Dana_Coz www.dana-costello.com
Trista Dollison (Ensemble) makes her Arena Stage debut! Trista was last seen playing Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Broadway. Other Broadway credits include Frieda in A Bronx Tale, Disney's The Lion King and Avenue Q. New York and regional credits include Frieda in the world-premiere of A Bronx Tale; Keisha in Soul on Fire (the Kennedy Center); Deloris in Sister Act; Faust (NY City Center); and Lorrell in Dreamgirls. She is a proud member of Broadway Inspirational Voices. She would like to give special thanks to Clarence, Mommy, Daddy, friends & friends. Grateful. Psalm 37:4. Twitter/Instagram: @TRISTADOLL www.facebook.com/TristaDoll
Sherri L. Edelen (Ensemble/Mrs. Smit) last appeared at Arena Stage in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. She received a Helen Hayes Award for Les Miserablesand Side Show at Signature Theatre, and a Barrymore Award for The Light in the Piazza at Philadelphia Theatre Company. Her most recent credits include Copenhagen(Theater J), Romeo and Juliet (Folger Theatre), Outside Mullingar (Fusion Theatre Company) and Gypsy (Signature Theatre). National tours include Me and My Girl and Nunsense. She has performed locally at the Kennedy Center, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Olney, Ford's Theatre, Round House and Rep Stage for over 20 years. Directing credits include Steel Magnolias and On Golden Pond starring Joyce DeWitt at Riverside Center for the Performing Arts.
Rachel Flynn (Ensemble/Randi) is thrilled to be making her Arena Stage debut in Dave. She originated the role of Stoner Chick in Off-Broadway's Heathers the Musical, vomited fake blood onto the guitars of the Yeah Yeah Yeah's in St. Ann's Stop the Virgens and championed feminism through glitter and hair jewels in Baby No More Times (Ars Nova, The Lark). Regional acting and directing credits include work with Williamstown Theatre Festival, Shakespeare & Company, Human Race Theatre and American Repertory Theater. She is the artistic director of At the Table Podcast and librettist/co-conceiver of the upcoming punk musical PATRIARCHY. Thanks to ATB, Mom, Dustin and her own personal hero named Dave: Dave Flynn. Twitter and Instagram: @radiofreerachel
Kevin R. Free (Ensemble/Murray) is so excited to make his Arena Stage debut! His New York credits include Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind; CasablancaBox; The Fantasticks; and Night of the Living N-Word!! (FringeNYC, Overall Excellence in Playwriting). Regional acting credits include The Parchman Hour (Guthrie); Boys From Syracuse (Baltimore Center Stage); A Single Shard (People's Light); and Angels in America (Charlotte Repertory). TV/film credits include Blindspot, Law & Order and Eighth Grade, and he is the co-creator and star of the award-winning web series Gemma & The Bear. Kevin has voiced over 300 audiobooks and is the voice of Kevin from Desert Bluffs on the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. Awards include an Obie as producer of The Fire This Time Festival, and Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award. @kevinrfree www.kevinrfree.com
Drew Gehling (Dave Kovic/President Bill Mitchell) is best known for originating the role of Dr. Pomatter in the Tony Award-nominated musical Waitress. Most recently he starred in the pre-Broadway tryout of the new musical Roman Holiday. Previous Broadway credits include On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and Jersey Boys. Off-Broadway credits include Lexy in A Minister's Wife (Lincoln Center); Sistrom in Billy & Ray (Vineyard Theatre); I Believe (Lincoln Center); and Gilbert Blythe in Anne of Green Gables (Lucille Lortel Theater). Film/TV credits include Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix), Dietland (AMC), Succession (HBO), Elementary, 30 Rock, Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, Smash, The Daily Show and Unsung Carolyn Leigh (Live from Lincoln Center). Regional credits include Johnny Baseball (A.R.T.); Moby Dick, Jersey Boys, Hello Dolly (Paper Mill); and Utah Shakespeare. Workshops include American Psycho, The Searchers, Big Fish and Sunset Boulevard. Drew is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.
Bryonha Marie Parham (Susan Lee) makes her Arena Stage debut! Bryonha was last seen in D.C. at the Kennedy Center in Ragtime and went on to reprise her role as Sarah's friend in the Broadway transfer. Other Broadway credits include Prince of Broadway, Book of Mormon, After Midnight and The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess. She is also making a name in the classical world, appearing in Bernstein's Mass with the Philadelphia Orchestra (recorded by Deutsche Grammophon); Sweeney Todd and Showboat at Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic; and most recently in Candide at Carnegie Hall. Her numerous regional credits include Dreamgirls (North Shore), Little Shop of Horrors (Berkshire Theatre), Hair (SMC), Fulton Theatre, MSMT and many more. Bryonha's TV credits include Madam Secretary, Today and the 66th and 68th Tony Awards. Instagram: @BryonhaMarie
Mamie Parris (Ellen Mitchell) is delighted to make her Arena Stage debut. She most recently starred on Broadway in Cats, singing "Memory" nightly as Grizabella, and previously originated the role of Patty in Andrew Lloyd Webber's School of Rock. Other Broadway and national tour credits include On the 20th Century, Wicked, Ragtime, 9 To 5, The Drowsy Chaperone, 110 in the Shade and Legally Blonde. Off-Broadway credits include Pump Boys and Dinettes (Encores) and See Rock City (Transport Group). Mamie has performed at Goodspeed, The Muny, The Macau International Music Festival and others. TV/film credits include The Blacklist, State of Affairs and A Stand Up Guy. The New York Times calls her "winsome", which is nice, and her husband calls her "sweetheart", which is nicer. She's political, she's opinionated, and she's on Twitter: @mamieparris and Instagram: @mamierocks
Erin Quill (Ensemble) makes her Arena Stage debut and holds a B.F.A. from CMU. Credits include Avenue Q (original Broadway company), Madame Rita in Flower Drum Song (AMTSJ's 50th Anniversary company) and Lady Thiang in The King & I (West Coast tour with Debby Boone). TV credits include Damages, Nurse Jackie, The Following, NY 22, LFE (CBS pilot), NYPD Blue and Dishin' (Bravo pilot). Film credits include Man on a Ledge, Screening Party and The Mikado Project. She thanks the creative team of Dave, The Luedtke Agency, Benjamin Rauhala and her family, whose support means everything. Follow her musings on Twitter: @EQuill
Jonathan Rayson (Ensemble/Vice President Gary Nance) is proud to be making his Arena Stage debut! Jonathan appeared on Broadway in Little Shop of Horrors(Seymour) and A Year with Frog and Toad. He traveled with the first national tours of Little Shop of Horrors (Seymour) and Legally Blonde. New York credits include I Love You, You're Perfect... and Adrift in Macao. A few of his favorite regional credits are Dan in Next to Normal (Pioneer Theatre Company), Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins(Ogunquit Playhouse), The Full Monty (Fulton Theatre) and Carousel (Goodspeed). Jonathan recently made his TV debut on Law & Order: SVU and can be seen in the new series After Forever on Amazon. His solo CD of '70s cover songs, Shiny and New, is available on iTunes. www.jonathanrayson.com
Jamison Scott (Ensemble) makes his Arena Stage debut. Broadway credits include Motown, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Memphis and Grease! Touring and regional credits include Motown, Grease!, Hairspray, We Will Rock You, Saturday Night Fever and Altar Boyz. Recordings include Hairspray movie, Killer Queen - A Tribute to Queen, Grease! (original cast album) and Walk a Mile (solo debut). TV/web series credits include Sillyocity featured on Youtube.com, and the 62nd and 65th Tony Awards. Thanks to Kevin and everyone at Buchwald & Associates. To God be the glory! ILYHMS @JamisonScottR www.thejamisonscott.com
Vishal Vaidya (Ensemble) makes his Arena Stage debut. A D.C.-area native, Vishal has also appeared in Spelling Bee and A Christmas Carol (Ford's Theater), The Secret Garden (Shakespeare Theater Company), A Year with Frog and Toad (Adventure Theater, Helen Hayes nominee) and Barrio Grrrl! (the Kennedy Center), and productions at Olney Theater Center and Toby's Dinner Theater. He made his Broadway debut last year in Groundhog Day. Regional credits include Cincinnati Playhouse, Minneapolis Children's Theater Company, Baltimore Center Stage and New York Stage and Film. Instagram: @Vishgram, Twitter: @TweetsByVish
For full company bios please visit arenastage.org/shows-tickets/the-season/productions/dave.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos