Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Anna Aimee White Plays Ginger Rogers in New Musical at Cleveland Play House

Acclaimed actress Anna Aimee White takes on the role of Ginger Rogers in Backwards In High Heels:The Ginger Musical, the captivating story of the star's journey from her hometown to Hollywood and from one love affair to another. Conceived and developed by Lynnette Barkley and Christopher McGovern and helmed by up-and-coming New York director Scott Schwartz, Backwards In High Heels: The Ginger Musical is based on original songs and arrangements written by McGovern. This surprising, true-life story is told in one dynamic musical number after another, with energetic choreography by Patti Colombo, costumes by Alejo Vietti and set design by Walt Spangler. McGovern has rearranged cherished standards from Berlin, Gershwin and Kern with new original songs, in sharp executions by music director Tim Robertson's five-piece band. Backwards in High Heels: The Ginger Musical begins in the Bolton Theatre at Cleveland Play House on Friday, January 7 and runs through Sunday, January 30, 2011. Tickets are available at Cleveland Play House box office by calling 216.795.7000 ext 4 or online at

The six member cast features Anna Aimee White as Ginger, Heather Lee as Lela, Christianne Tisdale as Ethel Merman/ensemble, Matthew Labanca as Fred Astaire/ensemble, Benjie Randall as Lew Ayres/ensemble, and James Patterson as Jack Culpepper /ensemble, who combined play a total of 29 roles.

"From Scott Schwartz, our director, through our superb designers, musicians and extraordinary cast, this is an artistic team that theatres dream about," states Michael Bloom, artistic director of Cleveland Play House.

Anna Aimee White comes to this production after performing the role of Ginger Rogers in the International City Theatre production of Backwards in High Heels in Long Beach, California, where she and the musical delighted audiences and received rave reviews.
"As Ginger, perky Anna Aimee White is a facile dancer whose voice alternates between wispiness
and a strong belt." -LA Times

"In every respect, White is simply sensational, bringing verve and joie de vivre to the role of Ginger...
catch this show before it taps its way out the door." - Orange County Register

Backwards in High Heels was originally produced by Florida Stage. The development of Backwards in High Heels was partially funded by the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's Producer-Writer Initiative. This acclaimed new musical broke box office records when it sold out the entire run of its world premiere.

Cleveland Play House is co-producing Backwards in High Heels with three other regional theatres - Arizona Theatre Company, San Jose Repertory Theatre and Asolo Repertory Theatre. The production originated with Asolo Rep in May, then moved to Arizona and San Jose before it opens in Cleveland.

Backwards in High Heels: The Ginger Musical is presented with support from Kaiser Permanente; Kulas Foundation; Polcar, Brahler, Heil, Belden Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors; Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, and the Ohio Arts Council.

Best known as Fred Astaire's dance partner, Ginger defied her over-protective mother to become one of Hollywood's biggest stars and one of the industry's first women to demand equal pay. Her career began when she won a Charleston contest in her hometown of Forth Worth, Texas, at age 15. Three years later, she made her Broadway debut and quickly became a star. Ginger was discovered by Hollywood, where her fame culminated in winning an Oscar® for her role in Kitty Foyle. Along the way, she had tempestuous relationships with producers, co-stars and many husbands - but none rivaled the importance of her relationship with her mother.

"Ginger was a trail blazer. She was among the first of Hollywood's leading ladies to demand fair pay and to exert control over her work to a previously unprecedented level," says Christopher McGovern, co-creator of Backwards in High Heels: The Ginger Musical. "The heart of her story, though, and one we all can relate to regardless of the era - her success, her struggles, who she was and who she became - all were grounded in a complex and layered relationship with her mother. It proved a fascinating relationship to explore, and one which I hope makes this piece relevant to all generations of children, parents and lovers of theatre and the movies."

Tickets for Backwards in High Heels: The Ginger Musical range from $46 to $66, with discounts available for groups of ten or more, for senior citizens aged 60 and over, and for military reservists and their families. Tickets are $10 for all students under the age of 25. Based on availability, a limited number of $10 rush tickets go on sale 90 minutes before curtain and remain on sale until 30 minutes before curtain. Cleveland Play House is located at 85th and Euclid Ave. next door to the Cleveland Clinic near University Circle.

For complete actor bios, go to


Anna Aimee White (Ginger Rogers) has appeared on Broadway in White Christmas and Grease. She has also appeared with New York City Center Encores! and at The Kennedy Center. In Los Angeles, she has appeared in Garry Marshall's Happy Days, and at Reprise Theatre Company, International City Theatre and the Hollywood Bowl. Her film and television credits include Valentine's Day, Princess Diaries 2, Raising Helen, Georgia Rule, Tracey Ullman Live & Exposed and You Again.


Heather Lee (Lela) created the role of stripper Tessie Tura in the Broadway revival of Gypsy starring Bernadette Peters and played the role of Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls on Broadway. Lee also appeared as Babette in Disney's Beauty and the Beast in Los Angeles. Regionally, Lee has been seen at La Jolla Playhouse, Reprise Theatre Company, Rubicon Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and South Coast Repertory. Lee's great aunt, Broadway and film actress Jane Seymour, played Ginger Rogers' mother in the 1941 film Tom, Dick and Harry.


Matthew Labanca (Marcus/Director/Fred Astaire/Others) has appeared on Broadway in Young Frankenstein, White Christmas and Children and Art. He has performed in the national tours of Crazy for You, Anything Goes, The King and I and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Regionally, he has been seen at The Old Globe, Theatre under the Stars, Paper Mill Playhouse, Trinity Repertory Company and the Connecticut Repertory Theatre, among others.


James Patterson (Jack Culpepper/Hermes Pan/Jimmy Stewart/Others) recently portrayed Gene Kelly in What a Glorious Feeling at the Adirondack Theater Festival. He appeared on Broadway in Disney's Beauty and the Beast and State Fair, and in the national tours of The Drowsy Chaperone, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Cats and State Fair. Other New York productions include Stairway to Paradise with New York City Center Encores!, and Sail Away at Carnegie Hall.


Benjie Randall (Joe/Bill McMath/George Schaffer/Lew Ayres/Others) recently appeared in the world premiere of the new Gershwin musical, An American in Paris, at the Alley Theatre. Off-Broadway, he has performed in Dr. Sex, The Kinsey Musical and Boobs: The Music of Ruth Wallace. His regional credits include work at Denver Center Theatre Company, Paper Mill Playhouse and Theatre under the Stars. Mr. Randall also played Gene Kelly in the MAC Award-nominated cabaret, Judy Garland and Uninvited Company.


Christianne Tisdale (Martha May/Louise/Ethel Merman/Others) appeared on Broadway in Disney's Beauty and the Beast and Triumph of Love, on London's West End as Molly in One Touch of Venus and as Caroline on the first national tour of Titanic. Off-Broadway, she has performed at The York Theatre Company and Playwrights Horizons, as well as participating in readings/workshops for Second Stage Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club and The Public Theater.

Cameron Henderson (Male Understudy) has been seen in the national tours of Peter Pan, Seussical the Musical with Cathy Rigby, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

For complete bios, go to

Christopher McGovern (Co-Creator/Book/Original Songs/Musical Arrangements) is the author/composer of Lizzie Borden (Goodspeed Musicals), Backwards in High Heels, A Visit To Roswell and many original songs. He has worked Off-Broadway on That's Life (Outer Critics Circle nomination), The Jazz Singer, Sheba, The Fishkin Touch and Totie, among others. His national tours include Fame and The Presidents with Rich Little and international arrangements for Disney Worldwide (The Lion King/Hong Kong and Aladdin/Tokyo). His favorite regional credits include Sisters of Swing (Carbonell nominations), Beehive, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Little Shop of Horrors, Godspell, Grease, World Goes ‘Round, Last Five Years and A Marvelous Party. He received this year's Carbonell Award and Silver Palm Award for Cagney (music and lyrics) and Some Kind Of Wonderful (Co-Creator/Arranger). He has worked as Producer/Arranger/Orchestrator and Songwriter on recordings by Tony-nominees Rebecca Luker (Leaving Home), Susan Egan (Coffee House, Winter Tracks, Live) and Alison Fraser (Men in My Life). McGovern has performed in concert with Susan Egan (national tour including Carnegie Hall), Karen Mason, Liz Callaway, Roslyn Kind and many others.

Lynnette Barkely (Co-Creator) worked alongside Tommy Tune in the development of the Broadway musical My One and Only. Barkley has been honored with Carbonell Awards for her work on the musical revues Beguiled Again, Puttin' on the Ritz and Mr. Abbott: A Broadway Legacy. She has directed and choreographed Off-Broadway, as well as regionally across the country. She has also worked as a choreographer in both film and television.

Scott Schwartz (Director) directed the Broadway productions of Golda's Balcony and Jane Eyre (co-directed with John Caird). Off-Broadway, he directed Bat Boy: The Musical; Tick, Tick...Boom!; Rooms: A Rock Romance; The Foreigner; Franz Kafka's The Castle; Miss Julie; and No Way to Treat a Lady. He also directed the tour of Golda's Balcony. He recently directed Lost in Yonkers at The Old Globe and the world premiere of Séance on a Wet Afternoon at Opera Santa Barbara. His production of Séance on a Wet Afternoon will open at New York City Opera in April of 2011. Other recent credits include Othello and Much Ado about Nothing at Alley Theatre; and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Theater of the Stars, Paper Mill Playhouse, Theatre Under The Stars and North Shore Music Theatre. Upcoming projects include Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, which will open The Old Globe's 75th anniversary season. Schwartz is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and is an Associate Artist at the Alley Theatre. He is a graduate of Harvard University.

Patti Colombo (Choreographer) choreographed the Broadway production of Peter Pan, starring Cathy Rigby (American Choreography and Ovation Awards). She also choreographed the national tours of Dr. Doolittle starring Tommy Tune and Seussical the Musical. Regionally, her work has been seen in Radio Gals at Pasadena Playhouse (Ovation Award); White Christmas at Denver Center Theatre Company; Kiss Me Kate and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Connecticut Critics Circle Award and Elliot Norton Award) at Paper Mill Playhouse and Goodspeed Musicals. She received DramaLogue Awards for her choreography of Mask, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (west coast premiere), On the Town, Most Happy Fella and West Side Story. Colombo has choreographed over 100 episodes of the Emmy Award-winning Adventures in Wonderland on The Disney Channel and received an Emmy Award nomination for Peter Pan on A&E. She has choreographed When You Wish for the new Disney cruise ship and numerous shows for Holland America Line.


Laura Josepher (Associate Director) has directed, among other shows, a workshop of Tom Gualtieri and David Sisco's new musical Falling to Earth at Syracuse University; David Sisco's Bait for Atlantis Cruises; Dating Games at the Theatre Row Studio Theatre (New York) and Elephant Theatre (Los Angeles); Dirty Blonde, The Turn of the Screw and I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change at Stages Repertory Theatre; Hughie at Provincetown Repertory Company; Winning and the award-winning Car Pool for Rattlestick Productions; and La Boheme, Cosi Fan Tutte, Hansel and Gretel, Die Fledermaus and Gianni Schicchi for Quisisana. She was the assistant director for Laurie Anderson's Songs and Stories from Moby Dick (co-directed by Anderson and Anne Bogart). Josepher is a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab and a proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

Cameron Henderson (Associate Choreographer) was last seen as the Assistant Choreographer for On the Town at Paper Mill Playhouse starring Tony Award winner Harriet Harris. As a performer, he has appeared at Madison Square Garden in Peter Pan with Cathy Rigby and in the national tours of Peter Pan, Seussical the Musical with Cathy Rigby, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Regionally, he has appeared at Paper Mill Playhouse, North Shore Music Theatre, Theater of the Stars, Theatre Under the Stars, Casa Mañana, Fulton Opera House, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Goodspeed Opera House, Denver Center Theatre Company, Fullerton Civic Light Opera, South Bay Civic Light Opera, Theater League, Saddleback Civic Light Opera, Barter Theatre, Riverside Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre and Sacramento Music Circus. Other appearances include Tap Your Troubles Away with Jerry Herman, Bernadette Peters, Carol Channing, and Angela Lansbury. Henderson earned his B.A. in Drama with Honors in Musical Theatre at the University of California, Irvine.

The design team for Backwards in High Heels: The Ginger Musical includes Walt Spangler (Scenic Design), Alejo Vietti (Costume Design), Jeff Croiter and Grant Yeager (Lighting Design), Abe Jacob (Sound Designer), and Tim Robertson (Music Director/Conductor).Shannon Habenicht is the Production Stage Manager.


Related Articles View More Cleveland Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You