June 29-July 3, 2016
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Howard Ashman and Tim Rice
Book: Linda Woolverton
Based on Disney’s animated film
Songs include “Be Our Guest,” “Gaston,” “Home,” “Something There,” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
CATHERINE CHARLEBOIS (Belle) is so thrilled to be making her Music Theatre Wichita debut playing Belle in Beauty and the Beast! Other favorite credits include the Broadway company and National Tour of Wicked (Nessarose), Steel Magnolias (Shelby), Fiddler on the Roof (Hodel), Lucky Stiff (Annabel), and playing Lady Mary Crawley in the parody video of Downton Abbey at 54 Below! Tremendous thanks to everyone at Music Theatre Wichita, the Nicolosi and Co. team, and my unbelievable family and friends.
THADDEUS PEARSON (Beast) is thrilled to make his Music Theatre Wichita debut with Beauty and the Beast, and is ecstatic to play a dream role in Jesus Christ Superstar. Originally from Clearwater, FL, Thaddeus got his AS from Florida School of the Arts and his BFA in Musical Theatre. Performance from the University of Florida. Go Gators! Favorite roles include Tony in West Side Story (West End/International Tour), Joseph cover in Joseph… Dreamcoat (National Tour), and Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid (Regional). Thaddeus wants to thank Wayne Bryan and the production staff at MTWichita for this amazing opportunity, the incredible cast and creative members of these shows, his supportive family, his gorgeous love Ashley for challenging him to be the best version of himself every day, his teachers, his friends, and most importantly, You, for supporting Professional Regional Theatre!!! @phaddeust
JOHNNY STELLARD (Gaston) is thrilled to return to MTWichita. Most recently he appeared in the world premiere of Anastasia at Hartford Stage. He was a member of the original Broadway revival cast of Evita as well as the National Tour, understudying Che and Magaldi. Other New York credits include A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Off-Broadway) and concerts with Kristin Chenoweth at Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Regional theatre credits include The Old Globe, North Carolina Theatre, Arkansas Rep, Geva Theatre, and MTWichita (’07-’10) where he played roles such as Robert (The Drowsy Chaperone), Freddy (My Fair Lady), Tulsa (Gypsy), Munkustrap (Cats), and Bobby Pepper (Curtains). He has performed in concert with the Indianapolis Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, and the L.A. Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. Television appearances include PBS Live from Lincoln Center and the 66th Annual Tony Awards. He holds a BFA in Music Theatre from Elon University. “Thank you Wayne!”
STEVE HITCHCOCK (Lumiere) is so thrilled to be joining MTWichita for another summer! Last year he was featured as Cornelius Hackl in Hello, Dolly! and Professor Buonragazzo in My Son Pinocchio. By day, he is the General Manager for Mosley Street Melodrama where you may also have seen him as the Hero from time to time. Additional favorite roles include: Emcee (Cabaret), Francis Henshall (One Man, Two Guvnors), and Seymour (Little Shop of Horrors). A big thank you goes to Wayne, Nancy, Josh, and the entire MTW family for having him back this year. Heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Ted, Briley, Mom, Dad, Kari, Evan, Kenny, and Kati for always being his biggest fans and supporting his dreams. Lights, please!
JAMES BEAMAN (Cogsworth) is delighted to play his second role at MTWichita this season, having just appeared as Cookie in Nice Work If You Can Get It. He was awarded the Independent Reviewers of New England’s IRNE Award for his performance in that role at Ogunquit Playhouse, where he starred opposite Sally Struthers. Other recent credits: the acclaimed A Wilder Christmas Off-Broadway; the workshop of the new musical Loving v. Virginia at NY Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater at Vassar; Thénardier in Les Misérables (Broadway World Award) at Orlando Shakespeare; and John Adams in 1776 at the legendary Cape Playhouse. James has originated roles in two new musicals, Frog Kiss and The Road To Qatar! (Off-Broadway/Original Cast Album). He starred as Sir Robin in the first national tour of Monty Python’s Spamalot and has performed leading and featured roles at Goodspeed Musicals, The Kennedy Center, North Shore Music Theatre and many, many more. Many thanks to Wayne Bryan for this opportunity! Visit James at: www.jamesbeaman.com.
KATIE BANKS-TODD (Mrs. Potts) is thrilled to be back “home” at MTWichita. You’ve seen her on the MTWichita stage as Mrs. Brill in Mary Poppins; Portia, the stepsister in Cinderella (Mary Jane Teall Award); and Smitty in How to Succeed. Katie is a proud graduate of Wichita State University. She has been in both the National Tour and Broadway companies of The Phantom of the Opera as the cover for the role of Carlotta. Katie has also performed at Carnegie Hall in Jerry Springer: The Opera and in many Off-Broadway musical revues. She has been a guest soloist with the Wichita Symphony for the Spirit of Christmas concert, and has performed in various concerts around the United States and Canada. After living her Broadway dream, she is mommy to Isabelle and Benjamin. Katie is the director of drama at El Dorado High School and is the proud owner of the KBT Studio of the Performing Arts. Thank you Wayne for the opportunity to play a dream role! Thank you Patrick and family for all of their love and support—and Izzy, thanks for the pointers!
KAREN L. ROBU (Madame de la Grande Bouche) is a regular with Music Theatre Wichita, where she has had the privilege of performing in 18 of the past 22 seasons. She has been seen as Rose in Gypsy, Duchess Estonia Dulworth in Nice Work If You Can Get It, Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables, Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, Miss Andrew in Mary Poppins, Roz in 9 to 5, Mayor Matilda Hyde in All Shook Up, Ms. Darbus in High School Musical, Martha Watson in White Christmas, the Wicked Witch in Wizard of Oz, Emma Goldman in Ragtime, Maureen/Lowbutt in HONK! (2001 and 2012 productions as well as the American cast recording), Dolly in Annie Get Your Gun, and Mayzie in Seussical. Karen’s credits as a director include Children of Eden, Cotton Patch Gospel, Tuesdays with Morrie, and Violet, as well as her own original piece No Cross, No Crown, about suffragist Antoinette Brown Blackwell. Karen has also performed for most of the professional theaters in the Wichita area and taught classes for BCAPA, MGM Studio of the Dance, and Camp Allegro. Karen graduated in 2013 from Phillips Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. She is Associate Minister for Plymouth Congregational Church, here in Wichita, where she is heading up their first annual “Fine Arts Series.” The first season, beginning this fall, will include two concerts, as well as a production of Andrew Lippa’s A Little Princess. In addition Karen is visiting professor of Acting for Wichita State University. Thanks WB for all the wonderful opportunities. Love to husband Tim and daughters Katie and Francie.
LEXIS DANCA (Babette) is thrilled to be returning to Music Theatre Wichita for her second season! She is a recent graduate of Milikin University, where she received her BFA in Musical Theatre with Dance minor. She sends all her love and thanks to Wayne, Nancy, Josh, and the rest of the MTWichita crew, along with her supportive friends and family who have helped her every step of the way. lexisdanca.com.
JAMES HEINRICHS (Chip) is a rising 3rd grader at Wichita Collegiate School. James is thrilled to be back at MTWichita for his 2nd summer. He was “small boy” in Billy Elliot last year. In past years, James has been in The Nutcracker and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Friends University, and A Christmas Story at MTYP. He trains and is on the competition dance team at Midwest Dance Mechanix. In his spare time he enjoys soccer, tennis, and piano. He is deeply grateful to Wayne and MTWichita staff, Amy Menas for vocal/theatre coaching, Midwest Dance Mechanix and Collegiate teachers, and his sister Grace for inspiring him.
TIMOTHY W. ROBU (Maurice) is delighted to be a part of this year’s MTWichita season, as well as many previous ones. Audiences may remember Tim in past roles such as Thénardier in Les Misérables, Bedevere in Spamalot, John Hancock in 1776, the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, Amos Hart in Chicago, Oscar Shapiro in Curtains, Mr. Feldzeig in The Drowsy Chaperone, Herbie in Gypsy, Lazar Wolf in Fiddler, and Maurice in MTW’s first Beauty and the Beast. Tim also performs at several other venues in the Wichita area and served as Technical Director for the Crown Theatre and Artistic Director of the children’s program for more than twenty years. He now works as an Exhibit Technician for Exploration Place. When not working at Wichita’s fine theatres, Tim has plenty to keep him busy as father to his two daughters, Katie and Francie. Thanks to Wayne and all the folks in Wichita who produce theatre, perform theatre, and enjoy theatre. They make the Wichita area a great place to work, live, and bring up kids in.
TANNER PFLUEGER (Lefou) is elated to be returning to Music Theatre Wichita for his third summer! A Nebraska native, Tanner is currently studying dance at Oklahoma City University, where he has performed with the American Spirit Dance Company in their annual Home for the Holidays Christmas Show and Spring Show. Credits: Broadway and West End: Billy Elliot (Billy) MTW: West Side Story (Snowboy), 42nd Street (Ensemble), and Big Fish (Zacky Price) Muny: Oklahoma! (Jess). Thank you to Wayne, Nancy, Josh, and the rest of the team for the opportunity! Much love and thanks to his family and instructors for their constant support. Carpe Diem!
JOHN BOLDENOW (Bookseller / M. D’Arque) is well known regionally for his exemplary work in the performing arts. Over the past twenty-five years, he has worked extensively for many local theatre venues, has been the recipient of nearly a dozen Mary Jane Teall Awards for acting, directing, and props design, and was named to the Teall Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2008 John was also recognized with the Individual Artist of the Year Award from the Wichita Arts Council, and has been the recipient of the Linn Copeland Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Performing Arts. Since 2001 he has served as Director of Theatre at the Wichita Center for the Arts, and maintains a private practice as a member of the Certified Appraisers Guild of America, specializing in fine and ethnographic art and antiquities. John is very proud of his 30+ years of performing with MTWichita, which has allowed him to share the stage with some of the greatest, most talented young people and veterans working in the business today. Thanks to Wayne and the MTW staff for their continued commitment to excellence in the performing arts.
Cassie Austin is ecstatic to be back at MTWichita this summer! Originally from Libertyville, IL, Cassie is a rising senior in Brigham Young University’s Music Dance Theatre program. Favorite credits include MTWichita’s 2015 summer season, BYU’s The Count of Monte Cristo (Valentine) and Single Wide (Katy). Earlier this summer she toured South Africa and Zimbabwe with BYU’s Young Ambassadors. So much love and thanks to everyone at MTW, teachers past and present, Mom, Dad, Clarisse, and Seth for their immeasurable love and support.
Caitlin Belcik is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to return to MTWichita for her third summer! Originally from Edmond, OK, Caitlin is a rising junior in the BFA Musical Theatre program at Penn State University. Favorite credits include: Broadway: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Annie Who, orig. cast; Little Who, revival); Regional: MTW 2014 and 2015 seasons, plus 2007’s White Christmas (Susan Waverly); Lyric Theatre Sweet Charity, Bye Bye Birdie, Tarzan, Call Me Madam (choreographer’s assistant); PSU A Funny Thing Happened…, 110 in the Shade. Much love and thanks to Wayne, Nancy, Josh, and the entire MTW team for this wonderful opportunity, and to my parents and teachers for their support!
Karen Blackmon is humbled and excited to be at MTWichita as a company member this summer. In past seasons, she performed as a Koch Intern and as a member of the teen choir. This fall, she will be a sophomore at Wichita State University pursuing a double major in Musical Theater and Vocal Performance. Karen is a two-time Jester recipient and the recipient of the Mickey and Pete Armstong Performing Arts Scholarship for 2015. She was recently cast in the ensembles of The Light in the Piazza and Les Indes
William Branner is thrilled to be joining Music Theatre Wichita for the summer! BFA University of Michigan. Regional Credits: A Chorus Line, Dogfight, 9 to 5, Spamalot, Damn Yankees, and much more! He would like to thank his family and friends for their support. Check out WillBranner.com.
AnnEliza Canning-Skinner is a senior at the University of Michigan studying Musical Theatre. She’s appeared in multiple Michigan productions: Caroline, Or Change (A Radio Singer), American Idiot (Leslie), and The Music Man (Mrs. Squires). She wants to thank her loving family for their unconditional love and support. GO BLUE!!!!
Alec Cohen is so grateful to be spending this summer at MTWichita! He is a rising senior at CCM where some of his favorite roles include Jimmy in 110 in the Shade and Xander in Lysistrata Jones. Regional credits include two seasons with Maine State Music Theatre. Huge thanks to Wayne and Nancy. For Pops.
Matthew Davies is thrilled to be included in MTWichta’s resident company this year! Favorite credits include Seven Brides (Frank), Mary Poppins (Neleus), Cats (Mungojerrie/Dance Capt.), The Fantasticks (Matt). A big thanks to Wayne, Nancy, and Josh for letting him be a part of this spectacular season! “Love to my family and friends!”
Mary Ann Dutcher is ecstatic to be making her MTWichita debut this season! She is an Oklahoma native and recent graduate from Oklahoma City University. Favorite credits include: L’Enfant (L’Enfant), Guys and Dolls (Hot Box Girl), Don Pasquale (Notary), Urinetown (Hope Cladwell), and Disney Magic. She would like to thank her friends, family, and mentors for all their unending love and support! XO’s
Hannah Fernandes is jazzed to be returning to MTWichita for her second season! Hannah is originally from La Crosse, WI and is a rising senior Musical Theatre major at Wichita State University this year. Favorite credits include: Regional: MTW – Hello, Dolly!; WSU – Chicago (Velma), The Spitfire Grill (Percy), and Into the Woods (Cinderella). Much love and thanks to Wayne, Nancy, Josh and the MTWichita team for this incredible opportunity, and to my teachers, family and friends for their guidance and endless support! www.hannahlfernandes.com
Jonathan Flores is thrilled to be performing with MTWichita for the first time! Jonathan recently finished his freshman year as a dance major at Oklahoma City University. He also is a Jester Award Winner for Outstanding Leading Actor. Previous credits include West Side Story (Bernardo), Crazy for You (Bobby Child), and Mary Poppins (Robertson Ay). He would like to thank his friends and family for their continuous support.
Nigel Hall is absolutely elated to be joining the resident ensemble of MTWichita this summer. A junior at the University of Central Oklahoma under the vocal tutelage of Barbara Fox DeMaio, and a Wichita native, he is enjoying his return to the Sunflower State. Regional credits include: Shrek: The Musical (Donkey), Chicago (Dancer), The Color Purple (Grady/Dancer), My One and Only (New Rhythm Boy), and Into the Woods (Jack). He has also recently premiered a dance adaptation of West Side Story entitled Side Story: Just West of the Musical with orchestration by Stan Kenton. He would like to thank his mother, Wayne, Nancy, the entire cast and crew, as well as the dance and voice faculty at UCO for making this opportunity possible.
Quinn Herron is thrilled to be a part of this amazing season! He is from Ponca City, OK and is a soon to be senior Music Theatre major at the University of Central Oklahoma studying voice with Dr. Marilyn Govich. Recent credits include Don in A Chorus Line, Joe Sutter in The Spitfire Grill, and Homer Collins in Floyd Collins. Quinn would like to thank Wayne Bryan for this wonderful and challenging opportunity to be in this summer’s season. Love and thanks to his family: Blaine, Deb, Kitt, and Hannah Herron, and Emily Canavesio for their support.
Cameron Anika Hill is ecstatic to return to MTWichita for her second summer after completing her BFA at CCM. Some of her favorite credits include last year’s season at MTWichita, American Idiot (Extraordinary Girl), Ragtime (Sarah), Once on This Island (Ti Moune), Little Shop of Horrors (Chiffon), Carousel, Legally Blonde, and 110 in the Shade. Endless thanks to her incredible parents, Wayne, Nancy, and the whole cast and crew.
Willie Hill is a senior Music Theatre major from Tulsa, Oklahoma studying voice with Dr. Marilyn Govich. Willie’s favorite theatre credits include working with Music Theatre Wichita as well as a non-profit organization called “A Pocket Full Of Hope.” He was also Seaweed in Hairspray, Freddy in Working, Dance Ensemble in Billy Elliot, Featured Vocalist in Holidays at Home, Curtis/C.C. in Dreamgirls, Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls, Ensemble in Hello, Dolly!, and Ubaldo Piangi in Phantom of the Opera. He would like to thank his family and his parents for their love and support.
Britton Hollingsworth is a rising senior in FSU’s BFA Musical Theatre Program, and making his debut at MTWichita. He wants to thank Wayne Bryan and the rest of the MTWichita family for the amazing opportunity. He would also like to thank God for all of his gifts and his family for their constant love and support.
Liz Jarmer is thrilled to be returning to MTWichita! Past productions include Chicago – Mary Sunshine (dir. Stephen Kopel), The Spitfire Grill – Shelby (dir. Wayne Bryan), and Hello, Dolly! (MTWichita). BFA Musical Theatre, WSU. Thank you to Wayne, Josh, & Nancy for this incredible opportunity, and to Mom & Dad.
Ryan Lambert is thrilled to be spending his summer with MTWichita! Ryan is a senior Music Theatre major pursuing a BM at Oklahoma City University and is from Tampa FL. Credits: Lexington Theatre Company: 42nd Street, OCU: Evita, Rent, Brigadoon, and Pirates of Penzance. Thanks to MTW for this opportunity!
Tyler Leahy is thrilled to be making his Wichita debut this summer! Tyler is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan and favorite roles include Tunny in American Idiot and Jacey Squires in The Music Man. Regional credits include Stevens in Dogfight and Georges in La Cage Aux Folles.
Kyle McClellan is beyond excited to be returning to MTWichita for the 2016 season! He is a rising senior at the University of Michigan, where his credits include Les Misérables (Prouvaire), The Tempest (Sebastian), American Idiot (Chase), and Hotel California (Yul). Regional: Walnut Street Theatre, Bucks County Playhouse. Much love and many thanks to Mom, Dad, Ty, Zoe, the UMich faculty, Wayne, and Nancy for all of their endless support. GO BLUE!
Kevin Nietzel is having a hard time finding a word to describe his excitement to be back in Wichita for another summer! A recent graduate of Florida State University, he plans on moving to New York City in the fall. Last year you may have seen him as Tony in Billy Elliot or Don Price in Big Fish. Other regional credits include Maine State Music Theatre, Wagon Wheel Theatre, and Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire. Endless thanks to Wayne, Nancy, & Josh for the opportunity, and also his incredible family for supporting him along the way.
Taylor O’Toole is thrilled to be making her MTWichita debut! She is a rising junior at the University of Oklahoma, BFA Musical Theatre. Credits: The Rocky Horror Show (Columbia, OU) directed by Richard J. Hinds, Thoroughly Modern Millie (OU), Joseph…Dreamcoat (Kids Who Care). Love to my parents, little brother, and Moo for your unwavering support. For Beege, who never missed a show.
Katie Pohlman is thrilled to be making her professional theatre debut at MTWichita! A native of Omaha, NE, Katie will be a sophomore Dance major at Oklahoma City University where she has been a member of the American Spirit Dance Company. Past theatre credits include: Les Misérables (Cosette), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Ruth), and A Christmas Carol (Lucy). She would like to thank her entire family and Andrew for their love and support.
Jared Roberts is beyond excited to be returning to Music Theatre Wichita for another wonderful summer! He is a rising senior Musical Theatre major with a minor in Dance at Point Park University. Jared has been in their productions of The Drowsy Chaperone (Robert Martin), The Boyfriend (Marcel), and 21 (Ball Player/Reporter). He was in The Rocky Horror Show (Frank) at Stage 62 and was seen in last year’s resident ensemble here at MTWichita. Thank you to Wayne, Nancy, Joshua, and Thomas for their wisdom and the opportunities they have given me. Thanks to my mother, father, siblings, friends and mentors for the never ending support and love.
Cayel, from Orem, UT, is thrilled to be spending his summer with MTWichita! He recently graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre from Brigham Young University. He has performed in China, India, throughout Central Europe, and Southern Africa. Favorite regional credits include: Footloose (Willard), Young Frankenstein (Dance Capt.), Guys and Dolls (Dance Capt.). He was like to thank his parents for their endless support.
Gina Ward is so excited to be back with her incredible Music Theatre Wichita family, having performed in all five of 2015’s shows! She would like to thank Wayne, Josh, and Nancy for truly making her feel loved and supported. Another giant thanks to her mom, dad, and sissy. Without them, she would never have the confidence to pursue her passion. <3
WAYNE BRYAN (Director / Producing Artistic Director) is greatly enjoying his 29th season leading this wonderful organization, and is particularly thrilled to return to Beauty and the Beast, which he first directed in 2004, as MTWichita’s first Disney collaboration. Raised in southern California, Wayne began his professional career as both actor and director at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre, while stationed as a Navy officer in Coronado. Wayne’s performing credits include Good News!, Rodgers and Hart, and Tintypes on Broadway, the First National Tour of Joseph / Dreamcoat, and TV appearances on such shows as “M*A*S*H” (CBS), “American History” (PBS), and “Keystone” (A&E). He has directed critically acclaimed productions all across the country, including Festival at New York City Center, Children of Eden at Musical Theatre West, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever at the 42nd Street Moon in San Francisco, and Mary Poppins at the Walnut Street Theatre. Other favorite directing credits include multiple productions of Tintypes (winning Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award), the U.S. premiere of Betty Blue Eyes, and the MTW premieres of HONK!, The Little Mermaid, Catch Me If You Can and Big Fish. He has also enjoyed a series of directorial and teaching collaborations at Wichita State University. Wayne is co-author with Mark Madama of a revised version of the collegiate musical Good News!, whose 1993 Wichita premiere has been followed by over 300 subsequent productions around the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain, plus an internationally acclaimed cast album. Wayne was a 2002 recipient of the Kansas Governor’s Arts Award as an Individual Artist, and received the NCCJ Brotherhood/Sisterhood Award, recognizing individuals who fight discrimination and encourage diversity. He has published numerous articles on the history and future of the American Musical Theatre.
ADAM CATES (Choreographer) is honored to make his MTWichita debut and work with Wayne! Choreography credits include The Little Mermaid (Arkansas Repertory Theatre); Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires (Anchorage Opera; also director); Gypsy (New London Barn Playhouse); The Magic Flute, Eugene Onegin and Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia (Juilliard Opera/Lincoln Center); Sweet Charity (Gulfshore Playhouse); The Brain from Planet X (New York Musical Festival); and Cinderella and the Prince (Lincoln Center; co-choreographer). He has also directed and choreographed corporate and casino shows in Atlantic City, Reno and Orlando; Anything Goes and A Christmas Carol for University of Nevada; and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for the University of Wisconsin. His new production as co-book writer The World According to Snoopy (a reimagining of Snoopy the Musical) will receive its premiere next year. Adam is the associate choreographer to Peggy Hickey for the new Ahrens & Flaherty musical Anastasia, opening on Broadway next season. Broadway and national tour credits as an associate/assistant choreographer include the Tony-winning A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, Anything Goes with Sutton Foster & Joel Grey, Doctor Dolittle with Tommy Tune, and The Wizard of Oz. Other associate credits include 90210 (CW Network), Live from Lincoln Center (PBS), Goodspeed Musicals, Paper Mill Playhouse, Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, The Old Globe, Hartford Stage, and many more. Adam teaches at NYC’s famed Broadway Dance Center and is the author of the guidebook for young professional performers The Business of Show. For more: www.adamcates.com
THOMAS W. DOUGLAS (Musical Director / Conductor) is back for his 17th season in Wichita! He has performed more than 200 opera, oratorio, orchestral, and musical theater productions nationally and internationally. Highlights include conducting Webber’s Phantom of the Opera in Basel, Switzerland, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with the Anchorage Opera, and directing Ain’t Misbehavin’ in Malaysia. Thomas is currently the Music Director for the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra, and the Artistic Director of the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, which is regularly receiving accolades for innovative, creative, and dramatically provocative productions. His MTWichita history includes ShowBoat with Kelli O’Hara, Ragtime, Smokey Joe’s Café, 9 to 5, Ragtime with Darcie Roberts, Hairspray, The Full Monty, Miss Saigon, Beauty and the Beast, and Les Misérables, among many others. Thomas is the founder and Artistic Director of the Neighborhood Opera Company, which recently produced Mozart’s Don Giovanni with an African American cast. With the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, he has conducted jazz legend Nathan Davis’ opera Just Above My Head, Carmen Jones, and Porgy and Bess. Thomas has been the recipient of the Mary Jane Teall Award and the Robert Frankle awards for his contribution to theatre in Wichita, KS and Pittsburgh, PA. Thomas has enjoyed the stage roles of Amonasro in Elton John’s Aida, Caiaphas in Jesus Christ Superstar, Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors. Serving as the Director of Opera Studies in the School of Music in addition to his position as Director of Choral Activities and Professor in the School of Drama, 2015-16 was Thomas’ 25th year on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University.
J BRANSON (Scenic Designer) For more than twenty years, J Branson has been a Chicago-based designer. He is proud to have begun his theatrical career as an Apprentice at Music Theatre Wichita more than 30 years ago. J’s national tour credits include The Music Man, Beauty and the Beast, and Brigadoon. Recent and upcoming regional work includes Nunsense and The 39 Steps for Peninsula Players and A Christmas Story at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. Past regional work includes Smokey Joe’s Café, Jekyll and Hyde, Chess, The Wizard of Oz (for which J received an After Dark award), Children of Eden, Rags, Assassins, Guys and Dolls and The Pajama Game. J has an array of industrial design credits and has been honored with three National Addy Awards. J’s many designs at MTWichita have included the 2013 production of Mary Poppins (which J & Wayne Bryan repeated in Philadelphia in 2014!) as well as Hairspray, Legally Blonde, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, HONK!, Children of Eden, West Side Story, The Drowsy Chaperone, 1776, Curtains, Sunset Boulevard and Disney’s The Little Mermaid. “Many thanks and much much love to the many wonderful people who have touched my life here at MTW. I wouldn’t be half the man I am without you guys!!”
TIIA E. TORCHIA (Costume Designer) is honored to be back designing at Music Theatre Wichita, where she has designed Hairspray, Smokey Joes Café, Xanadu, Disney’s My Son Pinocchio, and the original 2004 production of Beauty and the Beast. Recently she moved to Pittsburgh, PA from New York City where she ran the costume shops of several prominent Off-Broadway theaters. In Pittsburgh she spends her days working as the Assistant Costumier at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater and this fall will assume a new position in the costume department at Carnegie Mellon University.
ALAN MENKEN (Composer) Theater: God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, Little Shop of Horrors, Real Life Funnies, Atina: Evil Queen Of The Galaxy, Kicks, The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravitz, Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, Weird Romance, King David, Der Glackner Von Notre Dame (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, Leap Of Faith, Aladdin and Newsies. Film: Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, Hercules, Life With Mikey, Lincoln, Home On The Range, Noel, Enchanted, Shaggy Dog, Tangled and Mirror Mirror. Songs: Rocky V, Home Alone 2 and Captain America. Awards: 8 Oscars (19 nominations), 11 Grammys (including Song of the Year). 7 Golden Globes, Tony Award® (plus 4 nominations), Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, New York Drama Critics, Olivier and London’s Evening Standard Award, Drama League. Honors: Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, Doctorates from New York University and University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
HOWARD ASHMAN (Lyricist) Best known as a pivotal creative mind behind the renaissance of Disney animation and his work on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast (which is dedicated to, “Our friend, Howard Ashman, who gave a Mermaid her voice and a Beast his soul…”) Ashman’s first love was theater. Ashman was a founder of off off Broadway’s renowned WPA Theater, where he conceived, wrote and directed God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, as well as the classic musical, Little Shop of Horrors (both music by Alan Menken). In 1986, he wrote and directed the Broadway musical Smile (music by Marvin Hamlisch). Lamented as a lost treasure of the 1980’s theater scene, Smile remains popular on High School and College campuses throughout the country. Howard Ashman died in 1991 from complications of AIDS. For more information, please visit howardashman.com.
TIM RICE (Lyricist) has worked in music, theater, and film since 1965, when he met Andrew Lloyd Webber, a fellow struggling songwriter. Rather than pursue Tim’s ambitions to write rock or pop songs, they turned their attention to Andrew’s obsession—musical theater. Their first collaboration, The Likes of Us (lyrics by Tim, music by Andrew), was an unsuccessful show based on the life of Dr. Barnardo, the Victorian philanthropist. Their next three works together were much more successful: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Evita. Tim has also worked with other distinguished popular composers such as Elton John (The Lion King, Aida), Alan Menken (Aladdin, King David, Beauty and the Beast), and Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (Chess). From Here to Eternity, with music by newcomer Stuart Brayson, coproduced with Lee Menzies, directed by Tamara Harvey, and with book by Bill Oakes, premiered in the West End at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2013. He formed his own cricket team in 1973 and was president of the MCC in 2002. In 2013, he wrote and presented a 52-part series for BBC Radio 2, “American Pie,” a trawl through the music and musicians of every American state. He has won several awards, mainly for the wrong thing or for simply turning up.
LINDA WOLVERTON (Book) Writing credits include the screenplay for the animated feature film Beauty and the Beast (Golden Globe winner and Academy Award Best Picture nominee); the screenplay (shared) for Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey; screenplay (shared) for the animated feature film The Lion King; the book for the Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast (Tony Award nomination for Best Book of a Musical, winner 1998 Olivier Award Best New Musical); and book (shared) for Elton John and Tim Rice’s Broadway musical Aida. Also she has written two young-adult novels, Star-Wind and Running Before the Wind. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from California State University Long Beach and a Master’s degree in Theatre from California State University Fullerton. Linda is currently involved in writing and producing film projects for Miramax and Revolution studios. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband Lee Flicker and daughter Keaton.
Thanks to illustrator Michael Kline and printer Donlevy Lithograph, MTWichita is proud to share our KIDSBILL for Beauty and the Beast, full of activities and information about the show.