J. Robert Spencer and Erikka Walsh to Star in Staged Reading of BREAKING THE SHAKESPEARE CODE

Sometimes the words we speak become a secret code for what we really feel. Shortly before an audition for her first professional Shakespeare play, gifted and entitled young actor Anna arrives in a college rehearsal hall expecting help from brilliant, bitter acting instructor Curt. When their work together leads to professional success but personal misery, they must decide whether or not to break their Shakespeare code and uncover how they really feel about each other.


J. Robert Spencer - Tony Award Nominee for Best Performance by a Lead Actor for Broadway's 'Next to Normal'; and Original Broadway Cast Member of 'Jersey Boys'

Erikka Walsh - Original Cast Member of Broadway's Once


Playwright John Minigan (New Repertory Theatre Next Voices Fellow)

Director Thomas Caruso (Southern Comfort, The Public Theatre)

Producer Shawn Cody (writer/actor, NYMF's 'The Water Dream' starring Anthony Rapp)

Producer Adam Kern (TS Eliot Fellow - Old Vic, London dir. Kevin Spacey)

Producer Cheo Bourne (The Platters, Passing Strange, New Repertory Theatre)

Producer Doug Chapman (Wang Jianwei's Time Temple)

Stage Manager Joan H. Cappello (Classical Theatre of Harlem)

Assistant Stage Manager Pedro Alejandro Hernández (Internship, Nederlander Worldwide)

Production History

2015 Clockwise Theater, Waukeegan

2014 Hey Jonte! Productions at NY International Fringe

2014 Hey Jonte! Productions at Greenhouse Theatre, Chicago

2014 Nominee, Outstanding New Script, Elliot Norton Awards, Boston

2014 Vagabond Theatre Group, Boston

2013 Good Company Theater, Ogden

2008 Wasatch Theatre, Salt Lake City

2008 Optioned for production, Plan-B Theatre, Salt Lake City

2007 Workshop and staged reading, New American Playwrights Project/Utah Shakespearean Festival

2007 Arthur Stone Award Runner-up

2006 Full Workshop, Orlando Shakespeare Theater Playfest

2005 Nomination for Weissberger Award, Williamstown Theater Festival

2005 Staged reading (as Codes), Orlando Shakespeare Theater Playfest

2003 First public reading (as Codes), Shakespeare East, Boston

J. Robert Spencer (Curt) is a Tony Award Nominated Actor living in Portland Oregon. J. Robert is best known to Broadway audiences when he was cast as the original Nick Massi in the Tony Award and Grammy Award winning show "Jersey Boys". After performing over 1,300 shows in Jersey Boys, J. Robert would next be cast as Dan Goodman in the critically acclaimed and Pulitzer Prize Winning Broadway musical "Next To Normal." His performance earned him a 2008 - 2009 Tony Award Nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. He was also nominated in 2008-2009 for a Midwest Emmy Award for Best on Camera Performance by a Leading Actor for his work on Sony and PBS production of Handel's Messiah Rocks. J. Robert has earned a Best Supporting Actor Nomination when he appeared as a killer named Bob in the independent feature film "Night of the Dog". The film was official selection of the Smmash Film Festival, and it won Audience Awards for Best Feature Film at Palm Beach Film Festival, Santa Barbara Film Festival, and PBIFF in 2004-2005. As a voiceover artist, he has performed voices for two Japanese animated features: "Nightmare Campus" and voiced the lead role of Sieta in the Critically Acclaimed and Award Winning "Grave of the Fireflies." In 2005 he directed and produced his comedy "Farm Girl in New York". The film was the official selection of the Sacramento International Film Festival (Nominated for Best Comedy and Best Actress,) the Big Apple Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, and the Seattle True Independent Film Festival. It is being distributed by Maverick Entertainment. He was also the Executive Producer with Wood Media Films for the environmental documentary titled "On Coal River". The Documentary has been the official selection of Silverdocs, Camden, Hamptons, Chesapeake and New Orleans Film Festivals and 30 other festivals worldwide. For the last seven years J. Robert has toured the country and performed over 600 concerts with his singing group, "The Midtown Men - Four Original Stars from Broadway's Jersey Boys". The group has toured all over the country including Canada, Mexico City, and Beijing. The Midtown Men have produced and recorded several CD's, including a Christmas single written and produced by Stevie Van Zandt. The group recently filmed their concert and a documentary for PBS titled, THE Midtown Men - LIVE IN CONCERT, and is available on iTunes and blu ray/dvd. www.themidtownmen.com. J. Robert is the 2009 recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Shenandoah University.

Erikka Walsh (Anna) Classically trained as an actress and violinist, Erikka launched her career as an original company member of the 8 Tony Award winning musical Once. She joined the production during it's first staged workshop at the American Repertory Theater, where she was studying for her MFA. Upon graduation, Erikka was officially cast as the Ex-Girlfriend and understudy for the leading role of Girl in the musical's Off-Broadway run at the New York Theater Workshop. The production seamlessly transferred to Broadway, garnering the Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Musical, 11 Tony Award nominations, and the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater album, among numerous other awards and nominations. Erikka appeared in over 1,100 performances on Broadway in her role as Ex-Girlfriend, with additional performances as Girl and Reza. Select regional credits include Alice vs Wonderland (American Repertory Theater), Striking 12 (SpeakEasy Stage Company), Romeo and Juliet, Pericles (Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre), Rigoletto (Center City Opera Theatre), and The Miracle Worker at the Pirate Playhouse in her hometown of Fort Myers, Fl. She is the co-creator of the web series 'Miss Teri', an off-beat comedy following three misfit musicians as they use/abuse astrology in NYC. Her indie rock band, Bonfire Falls, just celebrated their 3rd anniversary. Compared to U2 and Coldplay, Bonfire Falls has frequented iconic NYC music venues such as Rockwood Music Hall, the Bitter End, Mercury Lounge and Pianos. Their debut EP 'Lifetime' is currently available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc. Erikka holds an MFA from the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. Between 2 years of study in the States, and a 3 month intensive at the Moscow Art Theater School, Erikka studied under Scott Zigler, Andrei Droznin, Janos Szasz, David Hammond, Marcus Stern, Tommy Derrah, and Nancy Houfek in a eclectic collection of techniques and disciplines. Erikka is also an alumni of the American Academy of Dramatic Art (NY), and a summa cum laude graduate of Temple University with a BA in theater. www.erikkawalsh.com

John Minigan (Playwright) John's Breaking the Shakespeare Code was developed through readings and workshops at Shakespeare East in Boston, the Orlando Shakespeare Theater and the New American Playwrights Project of the Utah Shakespearean Festival prior to productions in Utah, Boston, Chicago and at the New York International Fringe Festival, garnering nominations along the way for the Weissberger Award, the Arthur Stone Prize and the Elliot Norton Outstanding New Script Award. John has had other new work developed at Boston's New Repertory Theatre, at Actors' Repertory Theatre of Vermont, and, again, the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. His short play The Maltese Walter has been produced more than twenty times on four continents in the past two years and is being developed into both short and feature length films by Asylum Giant in London. His plays have been selected three times for the Samuel French Festival and been presented in venues throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia, including Orange Tea Theatre (Amsterdam), SoBe Arts, the IMPACT 15 International Theatre Festival, Best of BARE Essentials (London's West End), the Boston Theater Marathon, the Snowdance Comedy Festival, Seoul Players (South Korea), and Short + Sweet (Dubai, Hollywood, Delhi and Queensland). His short plays have won the KNOCK International Short Play Competition, the Seoul Player's Festival, the 8-Minute Madness Festival in New York City, the Rover Dramawerks Competition, the Longwood 0-60 Contest, and been selected for City Theatre Miami's Summer Shorts and Little Fish Pick-of-the-Vine. He was also a winner of the 2014 Nantucket One-Act Play Contest, the 2015 Nor'Eastern Playwrights Contest, and the Firehouse Theater New Works Contest in 2010, 2012 and 2014. His work is (or is soon-to-be) published by Dramatists Play Service, Smith & Kraus, and Theatrefolk. John was a 2014 finalist for the Heideman Award from The Actors Theatre of Louisville and a 2015 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference semifinalist. Two plays devised with high school students have won the 110+ school Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild Festival. As a teacher, John has coached four winners of the Boston Shakespeare Competition (including Shawn Cody) and many winners of the Massachusetts state acting scholarship. He is a New Repertory Theatre Next Voices Fellow and a member of the Dramatists Guild, StageSource, and the Citywrights playwrights group. When not writing, John teaches theater, Shakespeare and writing in the Boston area, where he lives with his wife, dance scholar, teacher and choreographer Lynn E. Frederiksen. Please visit johnminigan.com

Thomas Caruso (Director) Most recently, Thomas directed the musical Southern Comfort at The Public Theatre (Lucille Lortel Award nomination & Outer Critics Circle nomination: Best New Musical 2016), Brave New World the musical by Bill Russell, John McDaniel, Ben Andron & Jonnie Rockwell at North Carolina Stage Company. Dynamo: Seeing Is Believing at the Hammersmith Apollo in the West End of London and its subsequent UK and Australian Tours. He won the Excellence in Directing award for his direction of the NYMF 2014 musical, Academia Nuts, by Dan Marshall, Julian Blackmore & Becca Anderson. Academia Nuts also won the Best New Musical award at NYMF 2014. Other credits include the critically acclaimed musical, Southern Comfort, by Dan Collins & Julianne Wick Davis at Barrington Stage Company. He currently serves as the Associate Director of the Broadway musical, Matilda, and also directed the U.S. National Tour of Matilda in the spring of 2015. Thomas directed "Real or Magic" the Asia Tour of internationally renowned illusionist, David Blaine. He also directed the U.S. National Tour of the Broadway musical, Ghost. Thomas directed the world premiere of the musical Southern Comfort, starring Annette O'Toole & Jeff McCarthy (CAP21 Theatre) which won the Jonathan Larson Award and the 2011 GLAAD Award for Outstanding New Musical. Southern Comfort was a critic's pick in the New York Times, TimeOut NY, and the Advocate. He has also directed, Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park (Surflight Theatre), Shipwrecked by Donald Margulies (Penguin Rep), Don't Talk To The Actors by Tom Dudzick (Penguin Rep), Alex Davis: Man of the Year (Orchard Project), Greetings by Tom Dudzick (Penguin Rep), Southern Comfort (Playwrights Horizons -reading); Abbie (Off-Broadway), Around The World In 80 Days (Penguin Rep), the world premiere musical, The Chalks, An American Family In 3 Chords, (Bay Street Theatre), and Over The Tavern by Tom Dudzick (Penguin Rep). Other directing credits include: the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway production of Zombie by Bill Connington, adapted from the novella by Joyce Carol Oates, the musical Wood by Dan Collins and Julianne Wick Davis, starring Tony Award Winner Cady Huffman (NYMF), 10 Percent of Molly Snyder by Richard Strand (Penguin Rep), Don't Talk To The Actors by Tom Dudzick, starring Denny Dillon, Richard Kline and Lewis J. Stadlen (Studio Arena Theatre, Buffalo - Cornell Award, Best Play), Diagnosis by Ioana Moldovan (The Play Company), the musical The Eternal Anniversary by Skip Kennon and Bill Connington (59E59), Mimi Le Duck, starring Eartha Kitt (Off-Broadway - New World Stages), The Butcherhouse Chronicles by Michael Hidalgo (SPF), The Middle East - In Pieces (Cherry Lane Theatre), Bingo (Off-Broadway - St. Lukes Theatre), the premiere of Jack Heifner's Earth To Bucky (Bay Street Theatre) and the premiere of Terrence McNally and Israel Horovitz's Off Season-A Duet (Gloucester Stage). He directed the National Tour of Master Class by Terrence McNally, starring Charlotte Cornwell of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Other New York play credits include Jack Heifner's China Dolls (Ensemble Studio Theatre), James Edwin Parker's Two Boys... (Rattlestick), Clive Barker's Subtle Bodies (Off-Broadway), Mickey's Home (Theatre for the New City), and Ibsen's Enemy of the People (Century Center). He received the Kenneth Frankel Memorial Directing Fellowship from Manhattan Theatre Club. Regionally, he has directed Cowboy Mouth (Williamstown Theatre Festival - workshop), The Next Marilyn (Florida Studio Theatre), Master Class (TheatreWorks, CA), New World Rhapsody (New York Stage and Film - Emerging Writers Workshop), The Girl In The Frame (Adirondack Theatre Festival). He was the Resident Director of Mamma Mia! in Las Vegas. On Broadway, Thomas was the Associate Director for Ghost, Bombay Dreams and Follies. Thomas has assisted on numerous Broadway productions including Love! Valour! Compassion!, Master Class with both Zoe Caldwell and Faye Dunaway, Stanley with Anthony Sher, Parade (Toronto), and Les Miserables (10th Anniversary). He is a member of SDC - Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. Thomas' 19 minute debut short film, Zombie was an Official Selection at several film festivals, including the Cleveland International Film Festival, Boston International Film Festival, New York Downtown Short Film Festival, and Washington D.C. Independent Film Festival, where it won Best Short Film. Thomas also won Best Director at the California Film Awards for his work on Zombie. Website: www.ThomasCaruso.com

Joan H. Cappello (Stage Manager) is thrilled to be working with Shawn and Tom again. Joan has been stage managing at various Off Broadway Theatres such as The Cherry Lane, New York Theater Workshop, The Working Theater, and The Classical Theatre of Harlem in New York City since 2002, and has also worked summer stock at Shakespeare and Company and at Barrington Stage Company in Western MA. Joan attended Teacher's College, Columbia University and has degree in Counseling Psychology.

Pedro Alejandro Hernández (Assistant Stage Manager) Pedro is currently interning with Nederlander Worldwide, and has held internships on Broadway with The Lion King, and A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, and Avenue Q Off Broadway.

Shawn Cody (Producer) is an award-winning actor, writer, singer, songwriter, and producer. He is best known as the creator and co-star of The Water Dream, a new musical, starring Anthony Rapp (of the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize Winning Broadway smash and blockbuster film Rent) and J. Robert Spencer (Tony Nominee for the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize Winning Broadway sensation Next to Normal, and original cast of the Tony Winning hit Jersey Boys), and directed by Jim True-Frost (of the Tony and Pulitzer Prize Winning Broadway play August: Osage County, the Cameron Crowe film Singles, and HBO's The Wire). The Water Dream was featured as a Special Event for The New York Musical Theater Festival's 10th Anniversary Season at The Signature Center on 42nd Street in New York City, The Peter Jay Sharp Theater on 42nd Street, and The Studio Festival of Plays at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts. Read more at www.thewaterdream.com. Producer: The Water Dream, a new musical; Born Blue, An Existential Rock and Soul Musical by Caren Tackett (of Broadway's Hair and Rent), directed by Anthony Rapp, Breaking the Shakespeare Code by John Minigan (Elliot Norton Award Nominee), directed by Thomas Caruso (Southern Comfort, The Public Theatre); Writer and Songwriter: The Water Dream; and he is currently writing An Original New Musical Fantasy Trilogy, in the tradition of episodic sagas such as Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. Actor: Shakespeare East, Hamlet (Title Role), dir. John Hadden (of Shakespeare & Company), Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Title Role); Moscow Art Theater/American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, Oblomov (Title Role) dir. Masha Bruznikina; American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, The Seagull (Medvedenko) dir. Jànos Szàsz; Shakespeare & Company, Pericles and the Music of the Spheres (Title Role), dir. Bill Barclay (of Shakespeare's Globe London), Henry the Fourth (Prince Hal, Main Stage u/s) dir. Tina Packer (Shakespeare & Co. Artistic Director); The New York Musical Theater Festival at The Signature Center in New York, The Water Dream (Moppet, The Wandering Minstrel) dir. Jim True-Frost; Film: HappyThankYouMorePlease (Bartender) dir. Josh Radnor (of CBS How I Met Your Mother, Sundance Film Festival Audience Award Winner). Awards: Boston Shakespeare Acting Competition (Lincoln Center, New York); Boston Globe Acting Scholarship; American Repertory Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University Alumni Association Artist Grant; Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship in Playwriting; Citation from Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts. Training: Harvard University, American Repertory Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training (Master of Fine Arts), Moscow Art Theater; National Theater Institute, Eugene O'Neill Theater Center/Royal Shakespeare Company; Shakespeare & Company, All Programs, Performance Institute, Training Institute, Long Intensive, Short Intensive; New York Film Academy. Member: Harvard Alumni Association; American Repertory Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University Alumni Association; Harvardwood; Shakespeare & Company; Actors' Equity Association.

Adam Kern (Producer) Adam executive produced The Pilot Season Survival Guide, and is an associate producer of The Water Dream, a new musical starring Anthony Rapp and J. Robert Spencer. Liz Femi's Take Me to The Poorhouse, which Adam Associate Produced was nominated for a 2014 NAACP Theatre Award for best solo show. He has produced and staged over twenty readings, half a dozen workshops, three benefits and three fully staged plays. Having performed internationally at the Moscow Art Theatre, and at the Old Vic, under the direction of Kevin Spacey and the TS Eliot Fellowship, Adam moved to LA in 2012 where he worked with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and their Toyota Symphonies for Youth program. Recently Adam finished performing in The Pitchfork Disney with Courage Theatre Company. MFA American Repertory Theatre - Moscow Art Theatre at Harvard. TS Eliot Fellow - Old Vic, London. BFA - Musical Theatre - Kent State University. www.adam-kern.com

Cheo Bourne (Producer) Cheo's credits include Xanadu, Jerry Springer - The Opera, Passing Strange, Hot Mikado, Cabaret, Of Mice and Men, Animal Farm, Harriet Jacobs, HONK!, and The Comedy of Errors. He was an Alec Baldwin Acting Fellow with the new musical Till Death Do Us Part in New York where his other credits include Shine! and The Water Dream(NYMF). Cheo performed around the world with the internationally famed singing group The Platters. He has studied acting at Connecticut College and the British American Drama Academy. Originally from Boston, he lives in Brooklyn. www.cheobourne.com

Doug Chapman (Producer) Recently performances include Tirgorin/Vershinin in Chekhov Postscriptum directed by Adolf Shapiro of the Moscow Art Theatre and the role of Lead Orator in Wang Jianwei's Time Temple and Spiral Ramp Library at the Guggenheim Museum. While at The American Repertory Theatre, Doug performed as The Doctor in David Mamet's Romance directed by Scott Zigler, and Dorn (u/s) in Chekhov's The Seagull, directed by János Szász. NY credits include work with Academy Award-nominated International WOW Company (Solutions Grassroots Tour, Auto Da Fe, Reconstruction), Empirical Rogue (Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing), Walden Shakespeare (Midsummer Night's Dream), The Living Theatre (Gospel According to St Matthew), La Mama (Kane & Habil), Studio Six of the Moscow Art Theatre (Itsy Bitsy Spider); Love, Lies & Hitler at the historic Old Fitzroy Theatre in Sydney, Australia. As a teaching artist Doug has taught at Montclair State University, Manhattanville College, Muhlenberg College, University of the Arts, George Brown College (Canada) and the Canberra Academy of Dramatic (Australia). M.F.A. ART/MXAT Institute at Harvard, B.A. Oberlin College, graduate Interlochen Arts Academy. Certified Teacher Fitzmaurice Voicework.


Elliot Norton Award Nominee for Best New Play

by John Minigan

Directed by Thomas Caruso

Sunday, Oct 9, 2016 - 7:00 pm

Monday, Oct 10, 2016 - 2:00 pm & 7:00 pm

Shetler Studios, Theater 54 Running Time: Approximately 75 mins

244 West 54th Street, 12th Floor Complimentary Admission & Wine Reception

Between Broadway & 8th Ave Reservations Recommended: shaxcode@gmail.com

New York, NY 10019

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