Judy Kuhn, Kerstin Anderson, Perry Sherman & More to Star in UNKNOWN SOLDIER D.C. Premiere

Unknown Soldier will run March 29 – May 5, 2024. 

By: Feb. 20, 2024
Judy Kuhn, Kerstin Anderson, Perry Sherman & More to Star in UNKNOWN SOLDIER D.C. Premiere
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The cast and creative team has been revealed for Unknown Soldier at Arena Stage. Co-written by Daniel Goldstein and the late Michael Friedman, a reinvigorated version of the heartfelt original musical will make its D.C. premiere in Arena Stage’s Kreeger Theater, directed by Trip Cullman. Unknown Soldier will run March 29 – May 5, 2024. 

Cleaning out her grandmother’s home, Ellen Rabinowitz discovers the photograph of an anonymous soldier tucked away in a box of keepsakes. And so begins a sweeping, romantic musical about a woman’s journey to unearth the secrets buried in her family’s past. Spanning three generations, Unknown Soldier unravels a delicate tangle of family lore, as Ellen chases the extraordinary story that unlocks her history—and charts her future.

Unknown Soldier comes to Arena Stage following its 2015 world premiere at Williamstown Theatre Festival and an early 2020 Off-Broadway run at Playwrights Horizons, both directed by Cullman. Ben Brantley of The New York Times hailed it a “thoughtful, history-spanning portrait of elusive identities that celebrates the urge to fully know people—in the present and the past.”

“When it came time to think about a new production of Unknown Soldier, I only reached out to one theater, Arena Stage,” said Goldstein. “There is no theater in the country better suited to support a new musical dealing with themes that affect our nation right now. The audiences at Arena are smart and interested in new work, the staff is unparalleled, and I am so honored to be a part of the incredible Hana Sharif’s first season.”

“We are grateful that Daniel has entrusted us with this stunning work, which journeys deep into one family's mythology to uncover a piece of America's hidden history,” said Arena Stage Artistic Director Hana S. Sharif. “Unknown Soldier is a brilliant reflection of Arena's longstanding investment in new musicals that exemplify the American Spirit. We look forward to uncovering the mystery, joy, love, and hope explored in Unknown Soldier.”

“Our cast is extraordinary, full of my favorite actors,” continued Goldstein. “I can’t wait to get started on this brand new and definitive version of Unknown Soldier.”

Reprising their roles from the production’s Off-Broadway run are Kerstin Anderson (Broadway’s My Fair Lady) as Lucy Lemay and Perry Sherman (Broadway’s Fun Home) as Francis.

The cast will also feature Riglee Ruth Bryson (Annie North American Tour) as Lucy Rabinowitz/Young Ellen, Adam Chanler-Berat (Broadway’s Peter and the Starcatcher, Arena’s Next to Normal) as Andrew, Lora Lee Gayer (Broadway’s Holiday Inn) as Ellen Rabinowitz, Nehal Joshi (Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera, Arena’s Catch Me If You Can) as Doctor, and four-time Tony Award nominee Judy Kuhn (Broadway’s Fun Home) as Lucy Anderson.

Rounding out the company will be Amy Griffin (Broadway’s Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!), Candice Shedd-Thompson(Olney Theatre’s Kinky Boots), Jordyn Taylor (Signature Theater’s Ragtime), Wood Van Meter (Shakespeare Theatre’s Kiss Me, Kate, Arena’s Ride the Cyclone), Elizabeth Vargo (Arena’s Voices of Now Mead Ensemble), Ronald Joe Williams (Howard University BFA Musical Theatre Program), Taylor Witt (Olney Theatre's A Nice Indian Boy, Arena's Exclusion), and Sumié Yotsukura (Olney Theatre’s Fiddler on the Roof).

The Unknown Soldier creative team includes Choreographer Patrick McCollum (Broadway’s The Band’s Visit), Music Supervisors Julie McBride (Broadway’s Moulin Rouge! The Musical) and Marco Paguia (Broadway’s Gutenberg! The Musical), Music Director Chris Kong (Mean Girls National Tour), Tony Award nominee Set Designer Mark Wendland (Broadway’s Next to Normal), Costume Designer Jacob A. Climer (Broadway’s The Boys in the Band), Tony Award nominee Lighting Designer Ben Stanton (Broadway’s Fun Home), Tony Award winner Sound Designer Leon Rothenberg (Broadway’s The Nance), Tony Award nominee Projection Designer Lucy Mackinnon (Broadway’s Jagged Little Pill), Hair, Wig, and Makeup Designer J. Jared Janas (Broadway’s Sweeney Todd, Arena’s Ride the Cyclone), Associate Director Susanna Wolk (Broadway’s & Juliet), Associate Choreographer Francine Espiritu (Broadway’s The Lightning Thief), Dramaturg Otis Ramsey-Zöe, Casting Director Joseph Pinzon, NY Casting by Patrick Goodwin, The Telsey Office, Stage Manager Lisa Ann Chernoff, and Assistant Stage Manager Dayne Sundman.

CAST BIOGRAPHIES (in alphabetical order)

Kerstin Anderson 

(Lucy Lemay) (she/her) is thrilled to be making her Arena Stage debut! Her Broadway and National Tour credits include My Fair Lady (Eliza Doolittle) and The Sound of Music (Maria). Other theater appearances include Cult of Love (Berkeley Rep), Unknown Soldier (Playwrights Horizon), Afterwords (5th Avenue), Doubt (Westport Playhouse), and Row (Audible). She can be heard on Ryan Scott Oliver’s albums Darling: Live in Concert and Future Demons, Ethan Carlson’s Her Sound, and the Original Cast Album of Unknown Soldier. Upcoming short film: Ventriculus. Instagram: @kerstanderson1

Riglee Ruth Bryson 

(Lucy Rabinowitz/Young Ellen) is so excited to make her Arena Stage debut. Her most recent theater credits include Belinda in A Christmas Carol (Ford’s Theatre), Pepper in Annie (National Tour), Young Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (KCRep), Annie in Annie(The White Theatre, Kansas City), and Matilda in Matilda (Center Stage Academy, Kansas City). Special thanks to Lauren Braton, Jessi Clayton (The Prep), Jason Bercy (Bercy Talent), and David Gilbert (Zuri Agency). Instagram: @rigleeruth

Adam Chanler-Berat 

(Andrew) originated roles on Broadway in Next to Normal, Peter and the Starcatcher, and Amélie. Off-Broadway credits include I Can Get It for You Wholesale, Assassins, Fortress of Solitude (Lortel nomination), Rent, and Fly by Night. Regional credits include Sunday in the Park with George (Huntington) and The Year to Come (La Jolla Playhouse). He starred alongside Vince Vaughn in the film Delivery Man and has appeared on television in Gossip Girl, Veep, Elementary, The Good Wife, Doubt, The Code, NCIS: New Orleans, and Soundtrack. As a writer, Adam’s work has been developed by Barrington Stage Company, The Civilians, New York Stage and Film, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, and Ars Nova. Adam is a proud founding member of the social justice-minded theater collective The Commissary.

Lora Lee Gayer 

(Ellen Rabinowitz)’s DC credits include Follies (Kennedy Center) and A Funny Thing… [Helen Hayes nomination] (Shakespeare Theatre). On Broadway, Lora Lee has starred in Holiday Inn (Roundabout Theatre Company), Doctor Zhivago (Broadway Theatre), and Follies (Marquis Theatre). Off-Broadway: Pipe Dream (New York City Center Encores!), These Seven Sicknesses (Exit, Pursued by a Bear). Selected Regional: The Ahmanson, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Goodspeed Musicals, Alliance Theatre, The Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, McCarter Theatre Center, Alley Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Film: The Post directed by Steven Spielberg. Television: The Tick (Amazon Studios), House of Cards (Netflix), Law & Order: SVU (NBC), Little America (Apple TV+). Lora Lee graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and Interlochen Arts Academy. Awards and nominations include Helen Hayes Award, Chita Rivera Award, NFAA finalist, National Arts and Letters Award, and Lotte Lenya Young Artist Award. Lora Lee has performed both nationally and internationally with symphonies and orchestras. Instagram: @loralee_gayer

Amy Griffin 

(Swing / u/s Lucy Anderson) has appeared on Broadway in How the Grinch Stole Christmas!; Off-Broadway in The English Bride, Mr. President, Infertility, Forbidden Broadway, Newsical, Once Upon a Mattress (with Jackie Hoffman); and in the first national tours of Seussical (with Cathy Rigby) and Grinch. Regional credits include Male Greek Chorus in How I Learned to Drive (Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Critics’ Choice Award), Alison in Fun Home (New England premiere, Critics’ Circle Award), Loretta in Fly Me to the Moon (Public Theatre), Fairfax/Others in Jane Eyre (NYC workshops), Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest (Savannah Rep), Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd (The Rev), and seven(!) flights as Peter Pan (Independent Theatre Award). Love to SB and NB. www.amy-griffin.com

Nehal Joshi 

(Doctor) This marks Nehal’s 7th show, and 8th time appearing, at Arena Stage over 20 years. Arena credits include Ali Hakim in Oklahoma!, Amir in Disgraced, Hanratty in Catch Me If You Can, Mother Courage, Music Man, and Señor Discretion Himself. Other DC: Shakespeare Theatre Company, Woolly Mammoth, Olney Theatre Center, Theater J, The Kennedy Center. Broadway: The Cottage, All My Sons, Phantom of the Opera (Closing Cast), Flying Over Sunset, School of Rock, Gettin’ the Band Back Together, Les Misérables (Original Revival Cast), Threepenny Opera. Off-Broadway: Cyrano (made into a recent film), Working (2008 revision, Special Drama Desk Award), Grand Hotel (Encores!), Three Sisters. Video Game: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. TV/Film: Law & Order: SVU (NBC), The Wire (HBO), Search Party (HBO), Blackout.  He would like to dedicate this performance to his late agent, Scott Manners, who found him at this theater. He is from Burke, Virginia. Instagram: @nehaljoshi

Judy Kuhn 

(Lucy Anderson) is a multiple Tony, Grammy, and Olivier Award nominee best known for her work on Broadway in Fun Home,She Loves Me, Chess, Les Misérables, Rags, Richard Nelson’s play Two Shakespearean Actors (LCT), and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (OBC). DC appearances include Fosca in Passion at the Kennedy Center’s Sondheim Celebration. In NYC, Judy most recently appeared in I Can Get It for You Wholesale (also directed by Trip Cullman) and Assassins (Drama Desk and OCC nominations), both at CSC. In 2019 she starred in Trevor Nunn’s acclaimed production of Fiddler on the Roof in London’s West End (Olivier Award nomination). TV/Film includes Dear Edward (Apple TV+) Lin-Manuel Miranda’s adaptation of Tick, Tick… Boom! (Netflix), Enchanted, and Disney’s Pocahontas (title role). Judy has appeared on concert stages around the world and has recorded four solo albums.

Candice Shedd-Thompson 

(Ensemble/ u/s Ellen Rabinowitz/Lucy Lemay) is so excited to be making her Arena Stage debut! Favorite DC area credits include A.D. 16, Nicola in Kinky Boots (Olney Theatre Center); Monica in Rooms: A Rock Romance (MetroStage); Gynecia in Head Over Heels (Monumental Theatre); Snow White in Disenchanted, Babette in Beauty and the Beast (Creative Cauldron); and Rita LaPorta in Lucky Stiff (NextStop Theatre). Regional highlights include Maureen in Rent and Woman 1 in Songs for a New World (Milton Theatre); Mamma Mia! and Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Riverside Center); and Wide Open Country at Hershey Park. She is a former Production Vocalist for Celebrity Cruises, and is currently a singer in Bachelor Boys Band, a wedding band that performs for events all over the region.

Perry Sherman 

(Francis) originated the role of Francis Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons and is thrilled to be making his Arena Stage debut. He has been seen at the Kennedy Center in National Tours of both Next to Normal and Spring Awakening. Broadway: Fun Home (Circle in the Square). Off-Broadway: Milk and Honey (The York Theatre), Unknown Soldier (Playwrights). Other credits include Marius in the Canadian Pre-Broadway Revival of Les Misérables, Will in Burn All Night at A.R.T., Lucian in the world premiere of Amélie at Berkeley Rep, and Davey in The Ballad of Little Jo at Two River Theater. TV: The Deuce on HBO. Studied at Carnegie Mellon University.

Jordyn Taylor 

(Swing) is thrilled to be making her Arena Stage debut! DC area credits include Lucille, Bobbi Jean, José in Junie B. Jones (Adventure Theatre MTC); Sarah’s Friend in Ragtime (Signature Theatre); Missy in The Marvelous Wonderettes (NextStop Theatre); Little Ti Moune, Ti Moune u/s in Once on This Island (Constellation Theatre Company); and Pearl Krabs, Sandy u/s in SpongeBob Musical (Toby’s Dinner Theatre). TV: How Great Thou Art, A Sacred Celebration (PBS). Direction/Music Direction: The Marvelous Wonderettes, Summer Theatre Adventures (NextStop Theatre); Heathers the Musical (Howard University). Howard University BFA in Musical Theatre (2023). Instagram: @favvvgeminiii TikTok: @jordyntaylorrr

Wood Van Meter 

(Swing / u/s Francis) is thrilled to be part of Unknown Soldier at Arena, after previously working on Ride the Cyclone. DC credits include West Side Story, Shear Madness (Kennedy Center); Kiss Me, Kate (STC); Silence! The Musical (Studio Theatre); Singin’ in the Rain (NextStop Theatre); Joseph...Dreamcoat [Helen Hayes nomination – Lead Actor] (Toby’s Dinner Theatre); The Whale (Rep Stage); and other performances at Signature Theatre, Olney Theatre, Imagination Stage, MetroStage, and Washington Stage Guild. Regional favorites include Forever Plaid (Pittsburgh CLO); Ragtime, Rent (Nashville Rep); Gypsy (Hangar Theatre); and Camelot (TheatreZone). Love and gratitude to my incredible support system, especially Bruce. Instagram: @woodvanmeter

Elizabeth Vargo 

(u/s Lucy Rabinowitz/Young Ellen) is making her Arena Stage debut. Ellie is a current member of the Voices of Now Mead Ensemble at Arena Stage, and attended Camp Arena Stage in 2023. She trains at the Metropolitan School of the Arts, is a member of the National Children’s Chorus, and has performed in nearly two dozen musicals and recitals. Her most recent credits include The Nutcracker(MSA), Metropolitan Follies (MSA), The Wizard of Oz (St. Bernadette Summer Theatre Program), and A Night at the Met (MSA). Ellie was a featured performer in the Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School’s Spring 2022 Musical Revue, for which she was awarded the Performing Arts Break Out Performer Award.

Ronald Joe Williams 

(Ensemble / u/s Doctor) is a Class of 2023 graduate from Howard University’s BFA Musical Theatre Program. He is making his professional debut at Arena Stage! Instagram: @ronaldjoewilliams_

Taylor Witt

(Ensemble / u/s Andrew) last appeared at Arena Stage in Exclusion. Virginia Rep: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Tuck Everlasting. The Keegan Theatre: An Irish Carol, Merrily We Roll Along, Shakespeare in Love. Olney Theatre Center: A Nice Indian Boy. Signature Theatre: The Upstairs Department. Studio Theatre: Admissions. NextStop Theatre Co: First Date. Toby’s Dinner Theatre: Newsies[Helen Hayes nomination – Supporting Actor], The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Ghost. Riverside Center: The Bridges of Madison County,Grease. Imagination Stage: New Kid, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. The Kennedy Center TYA: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!. Instagram: @witt_taylor

Sumié Yotsukura 

(Ensemble) is delighted to be making her Arena Stage debut! She was most recently seen as Gussie in Merrily We Roll Along (Keegan Theatre) and Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof (Olney Theatre Center). Other DC credits include King of the Yees (Signature Theatre), The Mortification of Fovea Munson (Kennedy Center TYA), Jennifer, Who Is Leaving (Round House Theatre), Beauty and the Beast (Olney Theatre Center), Triangle (Free Range Humans), and more. Her regional credits include The Full Monty (Transcendence Theatre Company). She received her BA in Theatre and Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies from William & Mary. Instagram: @sumie.yotsukura


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