Book, Music and Lyrics by Willy Russell
Directed by Jake Wilhelm
Musical Direction by Ben Wedler
August 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 2017
"Tell me it's not true. Say it's just a story..."
Blood Brothers, by the author of Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine, is a haunting rags to riches tragedy of our times. A woman with numerous children to support surrenders one of her new born twins to the childless woman she cleans for. The boys grow up streets apart, never learning the truth but becoming firm friends and falling in love with the same girl. One prospers while the other falls on hard times. A narrator warns that a price has to be paid for separating twins: the lives of the blood brothers, who die on the day they find out they are related.
WHAT'S FOR DINNER?
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Italian Blend Vegetables
French Bread with Butter
(Vegetarian and Gluten-Free Options Available.
Request Must Be Made At Time Of Ticket Purchase.)
ENNIS L. BROWN II (Mickey) is thrilled and honored to be making his Arena debut! No stranger to the stage, recently he played the role of Sebastian in the Civic’s production of The Little Mermaid, for which he received an Anthony Award for Best Male Actor. Other productions include Memphis, Hairspray, Dreamgirls, Working (Anthony Award) and many more. With the University of Saint Francis he appeared as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and also played the role of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alongside Fatima Washington in The Mountaintop written by Kitori Hall, directed by Brad Beauchamp. This past summer he appeared in the Three Rivers Music Theatre production of Hair. Ennis also has credits in film and commercial work. Ennis would like to thank Jake Wilhelm, his family, friends, and loved ones for their unceasing support!
ALBERT BROWNLEE (Mr. Lyons) is excited to appear in his first production at Arena! He was most recently seen as Delray Farrell (the antagonist) in Memphis at the Civic Theatre. Locally, he has been featured in productions at the Civic Theatre, First Presbyterian Theatre, University of St. Francis, and the Fort Wayne Youtheatre. A born and raised Hoosier, Albert studied Political Science and Theatre at Clark Atlanta University and received a MBA degree from Indiana University. Having a love for all things entertainment and arts, Albert has been singing since the age of 4, began playing piano and saxophone at the age of 8, and started acting at the age of 9. He has released 3 albums with his group, Approved, wrote and produced songs for various national and independent artists, and previously toured as a professional background singer while living in Atlanta. Away from the stage, Albert is the CEO of Genesis Outreach, Inc. He would like to thank his wife, Tamarah, and their four children: A'bby, Daniel, Ethan, and Mackenzie Grace for their unwavering support and willingness to share him with the world! He'd like to dedicate this performance to the memory of his father, Gene Brownlee, who passed during the first week of rehearsals for this show. RIH, dad! Love you always and forever...
SUSANNAH CHADWELL (Chorus) is making her debut on the Arena stage; however, she is no stranger to live theater. Susannah has acted, danced, and sung her way through several musical productions at the Civic Theatre including 9 to 5, Shrek, A Christmas Story, and Memphis. She is also part of a local theater troupe that performs mystery shows where the audience must figure out whodunit. Susannah thanks those who have provided inspiration, exercised patience, and offered support through the course of this adventure and extends her most sincere appreciation and gratitude.
CARISSA CHRZAN (Linda) is back from a nearly five year hiatus! She was last seen as Rhonda and a few other characters in Arena's production of Almost, Maine. She graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Theatre Arts in 2011, but has been acting in the Fort Wayne area for nearly 20 years. She wants to thank Jake for this awesome opportunity, the cast for being so welcoming and amazing, to the production crew for bringing this show together, and to her family for all their love and support.
KIBWE COOPER (Eddie) is making his Arena debut. Kibwe was last seen by area audiences in Civic’s production of Memphis (Wailin’ Joe, Rev. Hobson, Be Black Trio, Ensemble). His credits also include University of St. Francis productions of The Wizard of Oz (Crow, Ozian, Winkie), and To Kill a Mockingbird (Reverend). Kibwe served as the Lighting Designer for USF’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Lighting Technician for Three Rivers Music Theatre’s production of Hair, and USF’s Catch Me If You Can. Kibwe’s interests include lighting, stage productions, post production engineering, and audio/video installations. Thanks to his family and close friends for their support as he continues to grow as an artist and an individual.
ELAINE GERKEN (Mrs. Lyons) is excited to make her Arena debut in Blood Brothers and to return to the stage as a performer for the first time in15 years! She was last seen onstage (many, many moons ago) at Homestead High School in The Who's Tommy, Gypsy, and Sideshow. Elaine teaches English and drama at Hicksville High School in Ohio and has spent the last several years directing high school productions. Most recently, she directed The Addams Family and The Little Mermaid at the Huber Opera House and Civic Center. Elaine is also the proud mom of Avery, who is two years old and keeps her very busy! Elaine would like to thank Jake for giving her the opportunity to get back on the stage and for his patience and encouragement. She would also like to thank her husband, Jerod, for his love and support and for all of the single dad hours he has logged over the last two months! Finally, Elaine would like to give a huge shout out to this incredibly talented cast. Break a leg!
QUENTIN C. JENKINS (Chorus) This is Quentin's third appearance on the Arena stage, having been previously featured in Bat Boy: The Musical as Sheriff Reynolds and Frost/Nixon as John Birt. He has also done many shows at the Civic and the University of Saint Francis, where he earned a degree in Communication, focused in Film and Video Production, in 2012. Quentin works as the Key Grip for Media 401 and does receiving at Sweetwater Sound. In the immortal words of Mitch Hedberg, "I don't have a girlfriend, but I do know a woman who'd be mad at me for saying that.” And Q, (as he's often called), would like to thank that woman for all of her support through this production.
MAGGIE LEAVELL (Chorus) is delighted to be returning to the Arena stage. She was last seen at Arena playing Mabel in Violet back in 2012. Maggie has been seen doing many shows with Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, Fort Wayne Youtheatre, Three Rivers Music Theatre, University of Saint Francis, and Fort Wayne Summer Music Theatre. Her favorite and recent credits include Memphis, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hair, Cabaret, and Jesus Christ Superstar. She would like to give a big thanks to Jake for allowing her to be a part of such a fun show with an amazing cast and band.
ELLIOTT MITCHEL (Chorus)'s love for musical theater started at a young age. He lived in Tennessee and did several shows as an impersonation artist. He is now an avid theater actor/singer and does cosplay for The Magicians. Blood Brothers is Elliott’s first show with Arena Dinner Theatre. He was also in Civic Theater's production of A Christmas Carol and worked crew for The Little Mermaid. Elliott has always loved theatre and hopes to be involved in many more shows. "Onward to Glory!"
DEBBIE MOORE (Mrs. Johnstone), a native of Fort Wayne, loves being apart of an amazing theatre community. She is elated to be making her first appearance on the Arena Dinner Theatre stage. Always ready to share her gifts, she is no stranger to the stage, having been seen on numerous local theatre stages. She is truly a lover of the Arts. She would like to thank her family for all of their support and dedication to helping her persue another aspect of her passion. She would like to give a special thanks to her supportive husband, Prentis, and their children Anaiyah, Madison, McKenzie, and Aubrey. I hope you enjoy this phenomenal cast and show!
TAYLOR MORIARTY (Chorus) is excited to be returning to the Arena Dinner Theatre stage after her last appearance as Kate Mallory in Arena’s 2013 production of Romantic Comedy. She is a graduate of Homestead High School and performed from her freshman to senior year in their productions of Hello, Dolly!, Once Upon a Mattress, The Music Man, and Guys and Dolls. Taylor currently attends Ohio State University, where she is studying French with minors in Peace Studies and Theatre. She’d like to thank her mother, Suzan, and her best friend, Emily, for their ongoing support of her love of the arts.
DUKE ROTH (Sammy) is very happy to once again be back at Arena Dinner Theatre. This is his fourth production at Arena. He was last seen as Noogie Malloy in Getting Sara Married. He has been in many productions between Arena and First Presbyterian Theatre. He is very excited to be reunited with Ennis and Albert after having previously done A Lesson Before Dying with them. He has enjoyed meeting new people in this cast. When not on stage he is the shipping and receiving manager at Aegis Sales. He enjoys golfing, his cello, and his motorcycle. Enjoy the show!
FATIMA WASHINGTON (The Narrator) is thrilled to return to Arena Dinner Theatre as the Narrator. Although known for her vocal prowess on the local music scene, in 2014, she debuted a new form of artistry with her role as Lula in Violet (Arena). This was swiftly followed by her role as Camae in The Mountaintop (Saint Francis), Soulgirl/Ensemble in Jesus Christ Superstar (Saint Francis), Narrator in Ruby Bridges (Youtheatre), Gary Coleman in Avenue Q (Civic Theater), Nell Carter character in Ain’t Misbehavin’ (First Presbyterian) and Felicia Farrell in Memphis (Civic Theatre). Although still known as a prominent R&B singer, Fatima is enjoying the growth of her theater career. Fatima is grateful for the opportunity to perform with the extremely talented and passionate cast and crew of this show. A special thank you to her mother who always believes the best of her.
A NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR:
Directed by Jake Wilhelm
"Tell me it's not true. Say it's just a story..."
And what a story it is! Blood Brothers, with a book, music, and lyrics by Willy Russell, the author of Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine, is a haunting rags to riches tragedy of our times. A woman with numerous children to support surrenders one of her new born twins to the childless woman she cleans for. The boys grow up streets apart, never learning the truth but becoming firm friends and falling in love with the same girl. One prospers while the other falls on hard times. A narrator warns that a price has to be paid for separating twins: the lives of the blood brothers, who may die on the day they find out they are related.
Beginning in the London of the swinging 60’s and spanning over twenty years concluding in Thatcher’s London of the 80’s, Blood Brothers is a true nature vs. nurture tale set in a world of class divisions. Debuting in the West End in the early 80’s, the show won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical and, during its Broadway run, was nominated for six Tony Awards and became one of the longest-running shows in London theatrical history, developing a cult following in the process there and abroad.
Our production is filled with the some of the best vocal talent in Fort Wayne. Making their Arena debuts as Mrs. Johnstone and her twins, Mickey and Eddie, are Debbie Moore, Ennis L. Brown II, and Kibwe Cooper. Playing the narrator we welcome back to our stage Fatima Washington. The company is rounded out by Albert Brownlee, Susannah Chadwell, Carissa Chrzan, Elaine Gerken, Quentin C. Jenkins, Maggie Leavell, Elliott Mitchel, and Taylor Moriarty. With musical direction by Ben Wedler and a band consisting of some incredibly gifted musicians including Tommy Saul, Adam “Mexico” Robison, Tyler “Panda” Gill, Liam Hickey, and John Leavell, Blood Brothers promises to make for an exciting evening of musical theatre you won’t want to miss. As a director, I couldn’t be more proud of this amazing group of people! Enjoy the show!