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Assassins (Musical)

For Mature Audiences Only

Book by John Weidman

Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Directed by Christopher J. Murphy

Musical Direction by Ben Wedler

Sponsored by Marilyn & William Wunderlin

June 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 2017

Arena ends the season with a BANG!  A musical comedy carnival ride through the history of political violence by Stephen Sondheim (Company), Assassins looks straight into the heart of American dreams and disillusion, providing sensational showstoppers for a gallery of U.S. presidential assassins ranging from John Wilkes Booth to John Hinckley.  Alternately comedic and chilling, Assassins offers an uncanny vision of where we are today, where we might be going, and whether everybody really has the right to their dreams.

 

“You will be hard pressed to catch your breath at times. This Jones, Hope, Wooten comedy will entertain like few comedies have.” – The Daily Leader

Produced through special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc.

 

 

 

Actor Bios

Kent Bixler (Bystander) is happy to be back at the Arena Dinner Theatre. Previously he played the Father in Violet
along with his daughters. Kent was at the Civic in roles such as Mr. Hart in 9 to 5 and as the Bishop in Les
Miserables.  Also at the Civic, Kent has performed in Hairspray, Fiddler on the Roof, Gypsy, Cole Porter and
Annie. Prior to Fort Wayne, Kent performed in dinner theatres in Florida.  Some of his favorite roles were James in
Shenandoah, Oliver Hix in The Music Man, Captain Paul Fontaine in The Desert Song and Harry in My Fair
Lady.  Kent would like to thank his beautiful wife and daughters for their patience and support.

Keegan Combs (Bystander) is thrilled to be making his Arena debut. Keegan has previously appeared in Willy
Wonka, Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Remembering Anne and Fractured Fairytales at Youtheatre. Keegan just
completed fifth grade at Weisser Park, where he had parts in plays, played piano and was a member of the band,
orchestra and the 2017 City Champion basketball team. He would like to thank his drama teachers, Emily Arata and
Bruce Hancock, and his Youtheatre Directors, Christopher Murphy and Greg Stieber, for motivating him and
believing in him. Keegan would lastly like to thank his parents, brother and sister for being his biggest fans!

Brad Davis (Bystander) It's exciting to be back in the theatre for the first time since last summer! 2016 was a year
full of diversity; health surprises and a new job as well as roles in Frost/Nixon and Joseph… I'm thankful that my
health is stable and to be working on such an interesting show with great people. When I'm not working or at the
theatre, you'll find me leading worship at my church or mashing the gas in the pony. Enjoy the show!

Sophia D'Virgilio (Bystander) is very excited to once again be joining Arena for another fantastic show! This will
be Sophia's 8th show in Fort Wayne. Her latest was Dorothy in USF's Wizard of Oz. She also appeared in
Homestead High School'a production of Crazy For You as Tess, Arena'a production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike as Nina and USF's production of Jesus Christ Superstar as Ensemble/Circus Artist. Sophia has also won two theater awards in her roles as Nina and Tess. She would love to thank her family and friends for all the support and motivation they have given her over the years.

Todd Frymier (Charles J. Guiteau) With a cast as large and talented as this, there is just not enough room in the
program to give everyone a proper bio.   Someone had to be omitted in this section; Todd drew the short straw and
his bio is being omitted for this production. Perhaps for Todd’s next production (he’ll be directing A Life in the
Theatre at Arena in 2018), he will have a proper bio…but it’s doubtful.

Brock Graham (John Hinckley, Jr.) is making his Arena Dinner Theatre debut with Assassins. He was last seen as
Charles Condomine in Blithe Spirit at IPFW, where he has also acted in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Anything
Goes, The Glass Menagerie, Our Town, Merrily We Roll Along and Into the Woods. He has also appeared in Hair as a tribe member for Three Rivers Music Theatre and Follies as Young Vincent for Civic Theatre.

Evan Hart (Balladeer) is ecstatic to be returning to Arena Dinner Theatre with such a talented cast! Previous Arena
credits: James Dean: The Boy from Fairmount and Who Killed Santa Claus? Select Civic credits: Emcee in Cabaret (Anthony Award nomination); Riff Raff in Rocky Horror Picture  Show; Chicago; Joseph... and Fiddler on the Roof. Select Fort Wayne credits: Jesus in Godspell and Tribe/ Berger u/s in Hair. Film: The Orphans and Dougherty Row. He is also excited to perform in his first Equity contract with the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival this summer, acting as Orsino in Twelfth Night and Verges in Much Ado About Nothing. He thanks his family and friends for their constant love and support.

Stuart Hepler (The Proprietor) is excited to be participating in this production of Assassins. It is great to be back on the Arena stage after appearing as Jack Brennan in Frost/Nixon. He is familiar to theatre-goers in Fort Wayne having portrayed Javert in Les Misérables, Tony in West Side Story and Ludwig Van Beethoven in 33 Variations at the Civic Theater. In addition, he was Attorney Christopher Darren in The Ryan White Story and US Marshal Hulbert in Ruby Bridges with the Fort Wayne Youtheatre. Other shows he has been involved with over the years include Oliver!, Candide, She Loves Me and The Secret Garden. Stuart is thankful for family and friends who have patiently supported his continued ventures on the stage.

Mason Hunter (John Wilkes Booth) This is Mason’s second time performing on the Arena stage and he is having a
blast portraying such an infamous historical figure in this phenomenal show. In the last few years he has performed
in various roles around Fort Wayne; among them, Lord Farquaad in Shrek: The Musical, Reuben Soady in
Escanaba in Da Moonlight and Gus P. Head in It’s Only A Play. During the day he works as a Sales Engineer at
Sweetwater Sound which is a perfect fit for him since he is also a musician. He would like to thank all the
AMAZINGLY talented folks working on this show, his loving family, and lastly his girlfriend Casey for putting up
with his weird mustache.

Nancy Laudeman (Bystander) is excited to return to the Arena stage where she was last seen as the head nurse in
South Pacific.  Her other Fort Wayne credits include Mrs. Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol at Civic Theatre and
Carole Strong in Catch Me If You Can at USF.  Although somewhat new to the Fort Wayne theatre scene, Nancy
was no stranger to the stage in Northwest Indiana where she appeared as Anna in The King & I, The Baker’s Wife
in Into the Woods (NIETF Best Actress in a Musical nomination), Charlotte in A Little Night Music (NIETF Best
Featured Actress in a Musical award) and Sr. Mary Amnesia in Nunsense (NIETF Best Featured Actress in a
Musical award).  Nancy would like to thank her husband, Rich, and daughters, Laura and Diana, for their support
and encouragement.

Minelli Manoukian (Bystander) is excited to be performing on the Arena stage for the first time! Most recently Minelli was seen on stage in the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre's production of The Little Mermaid (Sea Creature/Gull/Princess) and has had the honor of working with several other productions within the past year: the Civic's Memphis as an Assistant Stage Manager, Three Rivers Music Theatre's The Light in the Piazza as a Member of the Ensemble and Shakespearemachine's production of Coriolanus in the title role of Coriolanus. Minelli would like to thank her family and her friends for their constant support, encouragement and guidance.

Jim Nelson (Sam Byck) is a Speech-Language Pathologist for Southwest Allen County Schools by day. Some of his favorite plays/roles are: Boeing Boeing (Robert), Caught in the Net (Stanley), The Nerd (Rick), The 39 Steps (Clown)- all at Arena; Escanaba in Da' Moonlight (Jimmer Negamonee), The Foreigner (Charlie Baker), It's Only a Play (James Wicker)- all at First Presbyterian; The Normal Heart (Mickey Marcus), The Homecoming (Teddy), Working (Charlie Blossom)- all at IPFW. “I'm very happy to be working with this amazingly talented group. Finally, I'd like to dedicate this performance to my mother up there in heaven. Sending lots of love up there to you.”

Zane Sade (Leon Czolgosz) is happy to be making his Arena debut! Zane graduated with a B.A. in Theatre from
Ohio Northern University. Before college, he was seen in local productions at Churubusco High School (The Will
Rogers Follies, Miss Saigon, Aida, Les Misérables, Guys and Dolls) and Fort Wayne Summer Music Theatre (Rent, Sweeney Todd). After graduating, Zane was employed at Apollo Design Technology and has continued performing in his spare time. College credits include Oklahoma!, Eurydice, The Liar, Suicide in B Flat, and Measure for Measure. Recent local credits include Anything Goes and Road at IPFW; Avenue Q at the Civic; and It's a Wonderful Life and The Taming of the Shrew at First Presbyterian Theatre.

Curtis Shaw (Giuseppe Zangara) Assassins marks Curtis’ first onstage appearance in 6 years, having last played Freddy in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Arena. He is thrilled to be sharing the stage with so many unbelievably talented people (especially his wife, Melissa). Curtis is the director of Choral and Dramatic Activities at Homestead High School. He spends his free time hanging out with his children, Maddox and Macy; and is absolutely obsessed with golf (but he stinks). He would like to thank Murphy for giving him the opportunity to be in a show once again, and a special shout out to Tad Atkinson for teaching him everything he knows about theatre.

Melissa Shaw (Sara Jane Moore) is thrilled to be returning to the Arena stage after an almost 4-year absence, having assumed the full time role of “Mom” to Maddox and Macy. She was last seen on the Arena stage as Gretchen in Boeing, Boeing. Other Arena credits include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Don’t Dress for Dinner, I Do! I Do! and Dames at Sea. By day, Melissa works in marketing for 3Rivers Credit Union. She would like to thank Murphy for the opportunity to perform a dream role in a bucket list show with this amazing cast (which includes her darling husband, Curtis). Many thanks to all the friends and family who have supported us and helped make this work. It really takes a village!

Morgan Spencer (Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme) is thrilled to be back at her favorite theatre where she appeared in Always a Bridesmaid “Best Featured Actress” Award), Bat Boy and Daddy's Dyin', Who's Got the Will?  Other recent credits include Wizard of Oz, Jesus Christ Super Star and Catch Me if You Can at USF; Rocky Horror Show, Spamalot and Cinderella at Civic; plus Merchant of Venice and The Fox on the Fairway at First Pres. She has acted in two films with Dueling Genre Productions and is also a voice for the audio drama “Geek by Night.” Currently Morgan is acting in a dramatic web-series based in Fort Wayne called Lizzie Shea. Morgan gives all her
love and gratitude to the ones who encourage her always. 

Christopher J. Murphy (Director) returns to Arena after being named "Best Director" for last year's Frost/Nixon.  Murphy most recently directed Best Christmas Pageant Ever at Youtheatre, where he is Outreach & Technical Director.  Other favorite directorial credits include Escanaba in da Moonlight, Vanya & Sonya & Masha & Spike, Company and numerous productions for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic.  On-stage, audiences may remember him from The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), The Man Who Came to Dinner (twice), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Memphis, among others.   Murphy is thankful to his amazing team and to Arena for producing this beautiful, bold piece of theatre.  Next up, Murphy will be directing the season opener, Baskerville (a
Sherlock Holmes mystery/comedy), at First Presbyterian Theater in September!

Ben Wedler (Music Director) is happy to be back at Arena, where he has music directed Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, Dracula Baby, And the World Goes Round, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Company and led the orchestras for Violet and Bat Boy. He has recently music directed Catch Me if You Can, Willy Wonka, Will Rogers Follies and All Shook Up at the University of St. Francis. His acting credits include roles in Into the Woods, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Shadowlands and Once Upon a Mattress. He is a member of the Arena Board of Directors. By day he is the music and liturgy director for St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church. Ben would like to thank his wife Leah and children Evelyn
and Henry for their support and letting him play!

Olivia Ross (Choreographer) is happy to be a part of both the cast and creative team for Assassins. She received her formal dance training from the Fort Wayne Ballet and has also worked with the Buglisi Dance Theatre and the Radio City Rockettes. Previous theatre credits include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Young Frankenstein (Civic Theatre), Catch Me If You Can (St. Francis) and Bat Boy (Arena Dinner Theatre). Choreography credits include Little Mermaid (Civic Theatre), Hair (Three Rivers Music Theatre) and Holiday Pops (Fort Wayne Philharmonic). “Sending love and gratitude to all my friends and family who supported and believed in me!”

Bruce Hancock (Stage Manager) has been a part of theatre in Fort Wayne for over 24 years. He has worked both on stage as an actor and off stage as stage manager for many shows. He was last seen at Arena as Sam, the Butcher, in The Cemetary Club. Stage Management credits include 9-5, Rent, Chicago, Shrek, A Christmas Story and Young Frankenstein. He was honored to receive the George Koegel Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre. Bruce has enjoyed working with this talented cast and crew.

Ali Q. Gaff (Assistant Stage Manager) is excited to be at Arena Dinner Theatre for dual credits in Theatre and
History for this production of Assassins! ...wait, this isn't a class? Murphy, what did you do with my tuition

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