Cast Announced for Detroit Public Theatre's Production of MURDER BALLAD

Detroit Public Theatre is proud to announce the cast for Murder Ballad by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash, September 28 - October 23 at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center in downtown Detroit. The explosive rock musical is the first production in the theatre company's 2016-17 season.

Arianna Bergamaschi will make her US theatre debut with Detroit Public Theatre as she steps into the role of Sara, an uptown girl who seems to have it all, but whose downtown past lingers enticingly and dangerously in front of her. Bergamaschi is an Italian singer, stage actress, Italian TV personality and musical theatre performer. She began her career at the age of 14 as the official Italian Disney singer and tv endorser. Since then she hasn't stopped releasing pop albums and being featured in theatre and tv shows in her native Italy. Her favorites theatre credits are : Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, Romeo and Juliet, Pinocchio, Three's Company, and Midsummer Night's Dream. In 2013 Arianna reached #5 on the USA dance chart and had over 30 millions views on Youtube with the song Sexy People, featuring world famous rapper Pitbull. She is the only Italian artist who has collaborated with such an eclectic array of International Artists as Pitbull, Michael Bolton, Il Volo, Shaggy, Will I Am and FloRida.

Native Detroiters Arielle Crosby (Narrator), Eric Gutman (Michael) and Rusty Mewha (Tom) round out the cast. Murder Ballad will be directed by Detroit Public Theatre's Co-Artistic Director Courtney Burkett with Katherine Nelson as Stage Manager and Costume Designer, Jamie Reed as Music Director, and Monika Essen designing set and props. The band will include Shawn Neal (Drums), Mike Shriver (Bass) and Jeff Sugamosto (Guitar). Complete cast and company bios follow this release.

Tickets for Murder Ballad ($20 - $45) are available now online at and in person at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra box office. Student and Senior discounts are available in person at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra box office or by calling (313) 576-5111. Group discounts are available by calling (313) 974-7918. Tickets are also available for the show's official opening night performance on Friday, September 30 at 6:00pm for $75 by calling (313) 576-5111. Opening night tickets include a pre-show and post-show reception.

The Performance schedule for Murder Ballad is:
Wednesday, September 28 @ 8pm (Preview: $35)
Thursday, September 29 @ 8pm (Preview: $35)
Friday, September 30 @ 6pm (Opening Night: $75)
Saturday, October 1 @ 8pm ($45)
Sunday, October 2 @ 8pm ($45)

Thursday, October 6 @ 8pm ($35)
Friday, October 7 @ 8pm ($45)
Saturday, October 8 @ 8pm ($45)
Sunday, October 9 @ 2pm & 7pm ($35)

Friday, October 14 @ 8pm ($45)
Saturday, October 15 @ 8pm ($45)
Sunday, October 16 @ 2pm & 7pm ($35)

Wednesday, October 19 @ 2pm ($35)
Thursday, October 20 @ 8pm ($35)
Friday, October 21 @ 8pm ($45)
Saturday, October 22 @ 8pm ($45)
Sunday, October 23 @ 8pm ($35)

Complete Murder Ballad cast and company bios:

Arielle Crosby (Narrator)
Arielle is a native Detroiter with a love of God and a lifelong background in music. A graduate of Kentucky State University, Arielle has experience singing opera, musical theatre, gospel, pop and R&B. Her versatility has garnered her solo and ensemble performances in Europe, Bermuda, and West Africa as well as across the US. She recently caught the theatre bug and has been actively performing on stage ever since. Starting in 2014 she began landing roles in several original plays in the Detroit area including TJ Hemphill's Perilous Times and Kelly Nieto's The Cross and the Light. She transitioned into Broadway's more traditional works at Stagecrafters of Royal Oak, where she starred in their season closing production of Aida in 2015. She made herself at home and went on to perform in three more productions the following season: The Piano Lesson, Mary Poppins, and Dreamgirls.

Eric Gutman (Michael)
Eric returns to Detroit Public Theatre after a wildly successful run of his one man show, From Broadway to Obscurity, in their inaugural season. He continues to tour his show to theatres and festivals across the US and Canada and, this year, was awarded "Best Solo Show - Musical" at the Orlando Fringe Festival. His favorite credits include Jersey Boys (Broadway, Chicago, National Tour); Forbidden Broadway and Forbidden Hollywood (Off-Broadway and National Tours); Next To Normal and Xanadu (Meadow Brook Theatre); Ordinary Days (Tipping Point), Forever Plaid (Gem Theatre), Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Ringwald Theatre as music director). Eric holds a BFA in Music Theatre Performance from Western Michigan University and is a proud member of Actor's Equity Association and The American Federation of Musicians.

Rusty Mewha (Tom)
Rusty has been working on stage and screen in Southeast Michigan for the last ten years. He most recently was seen in Morning's at Seven at the Purple Rose Theatre, where he is a Resident Artist. He also performs regularly at Meadow Brook Theatre, and has worked with Water Works Theatre, The Encore Musical Theatre, JET, Detroit Repertory Theatre, and Two Muses. He also works in feature film and TV, commercial and industrial film, as well as voice over.

Courtney Burkett (Director)
Courtney is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Detroit Public Theatre. Prior to founding DPT, she served as the Director of Theatre Programs at Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit for five years. Before Mosaic, Courtney was a founding Artistic Partner with Breathe Art Theatre Project. Breathe Art was committed to producing theatre for Detroit and Windsor audiences that celebrated the peaceful international border between the two cities by producing and presenting contemporary plays. Courtney served as the business manager for the University of Detroit Mercy Theatre Company. While at UDM, Courtney taught in the Department of Theatre and directed and performed in Theatre Company productions. After leaving UDM, Courtney was hired by the University of Michigan to act as The Managing director of the CRLT Players, at the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. In that position, she oversaw 50 applied theatre performances annually on various campuses throughout the country. Courtney performs and directs with Detroit-area theaters on a regular basis, and her work has been nominated for numerous Detroit-area theatre awards. Courtney received her BFA from Webster Conservatory of Theatre Arts and her MFA from Wayne State's Hilberry Theatre program.

Katherine Nelson (Stage Manager, Costume Designer)
Murder Ballad will be Katherine's third Detroit Public Theatre production. She is a proud graduate of the Purple Rose Theatre Company apprenticeship program and remains a Resident Artist and Designer there. She stage manages regularly with the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts. As a costume designer, she has experience with numerous area theatres including the Purple Rose, Flint Youth Theatre, Tipping Point Theatre, Water Works Theatre Company, Performance Network Theatre, Wild Swan Theatre, and the Wharton Center; she has worked at the Michigan Opera Theatre as stitcher and wardrobe mistress.

Jamie Reed (Music Director)
An accomplished music director, pianist, arranger, and vocal coach, Jamie holds a music degree in piano performance from Western Michigan University. Music direction credits include First Date, Eric Gutman's >From Broadway to Obscurity, The Full Monty, Cabaret, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Evita, Ain't Misbehavin, Altar Boyz, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Next To Normal, Theory of Relativity, Shrek, Rent, West Side Story, The Last Five Years, The Pajama Game, Once On This Island, Miss Saigon, and Lippa's The Wild Party. National Tour orchestra credits include Wicked, Book of Mormon, Chicago, Beauty and the Beast, South Pacific, and Fiddler on the Roof. After a brief stint in New York, Jamie switched gears to international music, directing for Holland America Cruise Line. Jamie is currently music directing in the Detroit Metro Area, resident music director at Mason Street Warehouse in Saugatuck, director of music for Orchard UMC, as well as a vocal coach/music director at Oakland University.

Monika Essen (Set and Props Designer)
Monika Essen is an award- winning, nationally recognized artist and designer. The recipient of the prestigious Detroit Free Press Lawrence DeVine Award for Outstanding Contribution to Theatre, she studied Interior Architecture and Environmental Design at Parsons School of Design and received her MFA in scenography from the renowned Hilberry Repertory Co. Monika has designed countless productions in theatre, opera and film; she currently serves as the Resident Designer at the Michigan Opera Theatre, just recently designing their acclaimed productions of Frida and The Tender Land. Some of her favorite local designs include: The Foursome and American Wee Pie at Tipping Point Theatre, Richard III and Woman Before A Glass at Performance Network Theatre, God of Carnage at The Jewish Ensemble Theatre, and American Hero at DPT. Additionally, she creates furniture, museum exhibits, interiors and full sensory, multi-media environments for residential and commercial clients, including the Detroit Zoo. You can see her work at

Shawn Neal (Drums)
Growing up in the Metro Detroit area, Shawn Neal became fascinated with the drums at eight years old after he snuck away from his parents at a local music festival and was later found behind the drum riser, air drumming along with a Juice Newton performance. Shawn would go on to play in school band and musicals. He later toured the USA and Canada in the early '90s with The Glassmen Drum and Bugle Corps. He performed professionally in rock bands, recording projects, musical theater and orchestra's in the USA and Canada throughout the '90s and early 2000s. He has most recently performed in Eric Gutman's From Broadway To Obscurity at Detroit Public Theatre, Hedwig and The Angry Inch at The Ringwald Theatre and Go Comedy's RoboCop! The Musical.

Mike Shriver (Bass)
Mike has performed at community theatres across metro detroit in musicals such as Shrek, Mary Poppins, Legally Blond, 9 to 5 and many others. More recently, Mike performed in the supporting band for the one-man musical From Broadway to Obscurity. He began his musical career as a trumpet player, but was drawn to the bass guitar at an early age and has been playing bass for over 20 years. When not performing in musicals, you can find Mike playing in local bands such as the Stardust Big Band, Swingshift jazz band and the Classics rock band.

Jeff Sugamosto (Guitar)
Jeff has performed at local theaters for the last several years and is thrilled to be playing again at Detroit Public Theatre. Previous shows include American Idiot, From Broadway to Obscurity, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Rent, and tick, tick... BOOM!

The Detroit Public Theatre season also includes:
November 16 - December 11, 2016
For the second show of the season, Detroit Public Theatre brings the regional premiere of Colman Domingo's hilarious and heartbraking new play DOT to Detroit. The holidays are always a wild family affair at the Shealy house. When Dotty and her three grown children gather with more than exchanging presents on their minds, Dotty struggles to hold on to her memory and her children must fight to balance care for their mother and themselves. DOT grapples unflinchingly with aging parents, midlife crises, and the heart of a West Philly neighborhood.

The Holler Sessions
February 1-26, 2017
Staged as a live radio show, The Holler Sessions centers around one man's burning obsession with American Jazz. Ray, an explosive Kansas City DJ, broadcasts his love of jazz from his shoddy studio with an infectious passion for this uniquely American art form. His maniacal rants, razor-sharp insights, and mildly scatological humor are interspersed with truly gorgeous music and lots of space for listening. The Holler Sessions serves as a jazz primer for the uninitiated, a powerful reminder for jazz fans and an irreverent love letter to the best thing America has ever created - and forgotten.

The Harassment of Iris Malloy
May 3-28, 2017
For the final production of the 2016-17 season, Detroit Public Theatre is proud to bring the rolling world premiere of The Harrassment of Iris Malloy to Detroit. Debuting at People's Light, this this tense and moving political thriller begins one late night in Atlantic City when a single mother places a bet on a new life after an intimate encounter with a decorated senator. The fallout will change them both forever. This timely play takes the characters and audience on a surprising ride that explores American media, class, motherhood and presidential campaigns.
All Detroit Public Theatre performances take place at The Robert A. and Maggie Allesee Rehearsal Hall inside the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Avenue, Detroit MI 48201. Season subscriptions are now available by calling (313) 576-5111. Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday subscriptions are $100 per person. Friday and Saturday subscriptions are $140 per person.

Detroit Public Theatre
Detroit Public Theatre's mission is to produce world-class plays and programs with world-class writers, directors, actors and designers in the heart of Midtown's thriving cultural district. The company produces bold plays that are relevant to Detroit audiences and illuminates the joys, thrills and challenges of our shared human experience.

Founded by Courtney Burkett, Sarah Winkler and Sarah Clare Corporandy, Detroit Public Theatre is bolstered with board and advisory members including theatre luminaries from across the nation and Detroit. These include Nina Essman, General Manager of the 2015 Tony Award-winning musical Fun Home and General Manager and Executive Producer of Wicked; Christopher Burney, Associate Director of New York City's Second Stage Theatre; and Tony Award-nominated actors Kathleen Chalfant, Detroit-born Celia Keenan-Bolger and acclaimed Detroit-born playwright Dominique Morisseau; among many more. Burkett is formerly the director of theatre programs for Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit and co-founder of Breathe Art Theatre Project; Winkler came to Detroit from New York in 2013 where she was a producer and ensemble member of the award-winning Off-Broadway theatre company, Epic Theatre Ensemble; and in addition to founding Detroit Public Theatre, Corporandy has served as Managing Director for Pig Iron Theater Company in Philadelphia and also currently serves as The Managing Director of Chautauqua Theatre Company in Southwestern New York.

Detroit Public Theatre is a non-profit organization producing world-class plays and programs with world-class writers, directors, actors and designers in the heart of Midtown Detroit's thriving cultural district. Fearless, fresh and made in Detroit, the company's productions strive to illuminate the thrills, joys and challenges of our shared human experience. More information on Detroit Public Theatre and its productions, programs and tickets is available online at or by calling (313) 974-7918.

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