Playbill for Murder on the Orient Express

Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art | | 919.962.7529

Table of Contents

Letter from Vivienne

Support PlayMakers

About the Author

Program Notes

Who We Are

Title Page

Actor Bios

Creative Team Bios

General Information

PlayMakers Staff

Friends of PlayMakers

Corporate and Foundation Partners

Desktop Computer Version of playbill available here

Up Next

By Bekah Brunstetter
Directed by Vivienne Benesch

Alyssa and Homer are in a marriage that’s hit a glitch. And it’s all due to the massively engrossing online game that’s wreaking havoc on the lives of couples everywhere. When she puts together a support group for other women in a similar situation, the game enters a new level where all’s fair in love and war. Bekah Brunstetter’s (NBC’s This is Us”, Broadway’s upcoming “The Notebook”) hilarious and heartfelt world premiere brings technology and community together in the most unexpected ways.

Learn more about the show here.

Letter from Viv. Vivienne Benesch, Producing Artistic Director

All Aboard! 

I’m so excited to welcome you to a delicious evening of mystery, murder and international intrigue. Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s beloved murder mystery graces our stage with all the momentum and energy of its eponymous locomotive. And with company member Jeffrey Blair Cornell’s scintillating take on the famed detective Hercule Poirot, I know you are all in for a delightful evening of theatre. 

Murder on the Orient Express marks company member Tracy Bersley’s mainstage directorial debut after having provided her artistic support as a choreographer and movement director on countless productions, and helming many of the unforgettable Summer Youth Conservatory productions since joining PlayMakers in 2016. Her elegant eye for dynamic staging and riveting transitional moments allow this Orient Express to move with brisk alacrity and wit. Joined by a team of top-tier designers, the production captures the vivid beauty of the novel while embracing a truly theatrical vocabulary. 

This is also the time of year when we begin to turn our eyes towards the upcoming 2024/25 season, which will feature a dynamic and engaging slate of theatre that explores the American Dream through the voices of some of the greatest playwrights of our time. With recent Broadway favorites, a gripping American classic, a world premiere Holiday extravaganza, and an interstellar musical comedy, I think it’s a journey everyone will want to take part in. 

Enjoy the ride!


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Welcome, welcome, welcome!

We are so happy to have you in this space with us. This spring semester brings us both the classical and the new together, a blend of wonderfully fresh perspective on established pieces of art and adaptations of great stories retold for the stage and fertile for this moment. I personally cannot wait to see what our own UNC alum, Bekah Brunstetter (and writer for NBC’s ‘This Is Us’,) has conjured up in The Game from the seeds of the oldest Greek comedy, Lysistrata.

When we participate in this theatre, we are joining together in reseeding the past and growing from tradition rather than giving up on it entirely. PlayMakers’ roots run strong in the history of our great University and this state, as it strives to tell contemporary stories of community and foster the idea that expression through art allows us to mature, grow and reach for the stars.

I believe that there are some things only the arts can provide, and I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity PlayMakers affords us to witness the arts doing what only the arts can do. We hope you will continue to join us on our journey and support all that we do, both on stage and around the community. Share us on social media, bring your friends, donate – we appreciate your support.


Jackie Tanner, Chair

PlayMakers Advisory Council

Jackie Tanner, Chair

Betsy Blackwell, Patrick Brennan, Deborah Gerhardt, Susan Gross, Amy Guskiewicz, C. Hawkins, Zach Howell, Lillian Jenks, Duncan Lascelles, Stuart Lascelles, Robert Long, emeritus, Graig Meyer, Julie Morris, Paula Noell, Jodi Patalano, Diane Robertson, Wyndham Robertson, Jennifer Werner, Mike Wiley

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About the Author

Ken Ludwig was born in York, Pennsylvania and educated at Haverford College, Harvard University, and Trinity College at Cambridge University. His work is performed throughout the world in more than thirty countries in over twenty languages. He has written twenty-five plays and musicals, with six Broadway productions and seven in London’s West End.

His first Broadway play, Lend Me A Tenor (1989), won two Tony Awards and was instantly hailed as a contemporary classic. He has received commissions from the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Old Globe in San Diego, and England’s Bristol Old Vic, and is a Sallie B. Goodman Fellow of the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey. His awards include the Charles MacArthur Award, the Helen Hayes Award, the 2017 Samuel French Award for Sustained Excellence in the American Theatre, the SETC Distinguished Career Award, the Edgar Award for Best Mystery of the Year, and the Edwin Forrest Award for Contributions to the American Theater.

His plays and musicals include Crazy For You (five years on Broadway, Tony and Olivier Awards for Best Musical), Moon Over Buffalo (Broadway and West End), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Broadway), Treasure Island (West End), Twentieth Century (Broadway), Leading Ladies, The Game’s Afoot, A Fox on the Fairway, The Beaux’ Stratagem, Baskerville, and the 2016 sequel to his first success titled A Comedy of Tenors. In 2017, his adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express premiered at the McCarter Theatre and Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood opened at The Old Globe. His first opera, Tenor Overboard, opened at the Glimmerglass Festival in July 2022. His most recent world premieres were Lend Me A Soprano and Moriarty, and his newest plays and musicals include Pride and Prejudice Part 2: Napoleon at Pemberley, Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, Beginner’s Luck, and Easter Parade. Ludwig’s plays and musicals are produced somewhere in the United States and abroad every night of the year.

Agatha Christie, The best-selling novelist of all time, was born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller in the seacoast town of Torquay in Devon, England in 1890, the third child of a German mother and American father. Home schooled, she was an autodidact with an early flair for the unusual. After her father’s premature death in 1901, Agatha was sent to a finishing school in Paris. Upon her return in 1910, she and her mother summered in Egypt, an experience that would color much of Agatha’s subsequent life.

She married Archibald Christie in 1914, working as a nurse in a military hospital while her husband served in the war. Reunited, Agatha gave birth to her only child, Rosalind, in 1919. Christie found success with her first major novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the following year. In 1926, Christie’s mother died and Archie confessed to his love for another woman, precipitating Agatha’s notorious eleven day disappearance which made headline news. She divorced Archie in 1928. In 1930, she met archaeologist Max Mallowan in Iraq, and they married that same year. Thereafter, the couple divided their time between England and the Middle East, establishing a home close to Christie’s birthplace of Torquay. Throughout the turbulent period of the interwar years, World War Two, and the postwar period, and despite her highly mobile lifestyle, Christie produced an unparalleled body of work, numbering seventy-seven novels, one hundred and fifty-seven short stories, twenty stage, radio, and television plays, memoirs, poems, and miscellany, In 1971, Christie was honored a Dame Commander of the British Empire. A fall at her home that same year led to declining health and an increasing retreat from public life and Christie died at her home in 1976 after a brief illness. Christie’s books have been outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare.

University Florist

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Program Notes

Long Live the Queen: The Case for Christie

By Gregory Kable, Dramaturg

“If I had but the pen of a Balzac! I would depict this scene.” –Murder on the Orient Express

Agatha Christie is a sterling example of an artist who gives her audience what they want. Yet this
same pleasing quality has from the start seen her patronized, disparaged, dismissed, and exiled to the bland shoals of middlebrow entertainment. Christie is another in a long line of consummate creators whose combination of accessibility, productivity, and popular appeal barred her entry into the ranks of twentieth-century luminaries. Was she a genuine talent, clever
craftsperson, or skillful deceiver profiting off of the public’s taste for distraction bolstered by heavy
publicity? In other words, was Christie the Queen (as her publisher and fans anointed her) or merely the Kardashian of Crime?

Although the verdict for the former seems assured, like the author’s most suspenseful works, that
ultimate ruling was riddled with uncertainty. In Christie’s defense, the sheer weight of evidence is
staggering. With seventy seven books, one hundred and fifty seven short stories, fifteen plays, memoirs,
poetry, and more–including numerous adaptations to the full range of media–since her sudden fame in 1920, Christie has been ubiquitous. But that same familiarity coupled with her genre of choice, fed
a critical backlash: “it’s not literature,” sniffed one detractor of her writing, “it’s embroidery.”

Among Christie’s several gifts was her ability to wrestle detective fiction away from its sturdy male roots in Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle, and to grace it with a female sensibility. Her beloved protagonists, Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple, are equal parts reason and intuition, and faith in that instinctual side is Christie’s contribution to our image of the sage investigator. Poirot repeatedly rebuffs physical proofs in favor of what he characterizes, “my scheme of ‘guessing’,” a technique habitually bringing unexpected truths to light.

Emerging in the twenties, when psychology was hitting its stride in popular culture, Christie’s skill in evoking the process of thought, and mining the tension between the spoken and unspoken, is as evident in her fiction as it stands in bolder relief in her plays.

In this, Christie bears comparison with her contemporary Eugene O’Neill, right down to the shared breathless dialogue suggesting the quicksilver nature of feeling. Marry that talent to her inexhaustible facility with plotting, and Christie’s appeal no longer seems accountable to pandering to a lowest common denominator.

In fact, Christie was no Edwardian holdover but a modernist in life as well as art. She made fiercely independent choices as a woman and, as an artist, cleared the cobwebs from the musty Gothic of recent history and flooded that world with sunlight, putting meat back on the bones of those skeletal specters and, crucially, a brain back in that empty pan of their grinning skulls. Her writings are populated by figures who think, and it’s that aspect of reflection born of Christie’s close probing of motivation that gives her work its singular tone.

But her strengths don’t end there. Christie is adept at clarity and spare to the extent that early publishers insisted on another
ten to twenty thousand words; requests she politely but wisely refused. Christie exhibits a keen sense for just how little is needed to maximize impact.

For example, in the novel of Orient Express, a character rummages through her capacious handbag in search of a potentially important clue, removing in turn: 

“two large clean handkerchiefs, a pair of horn-rimmed glasses, a bottle of aspirin, a packet of Glauber’s salts, a celluloid tube of bright green peppermints, a bunch of keys, a pair of scissors, a book of American Express cheques, a snapshot of an extraordinarily plain-looking child, some letters, five strings of pseudo Oriental beads, and a small metal object–a button.”  

The portrait is as deft as it is comic, with a personality captured through a scrupulous economy of means. In this and other regards, Christie is an admirably humble writer, meticulous about plausibility, committed to voluminous research, and testing out events intended for her fictions to preempt charges over credibility. Christie’s quiet bravado extends to her welcoming readers into the process itself. As the quote introducing this essay makes clear, she was a Balzac of 20th century Britain, and exactly aware of what she was preserving. Her sudden asides to her audience are disarming in their genre awareness:

In Ten Little Indians, the guests invited to a remote estate debate a hasty and prudent retreat. “A bit unsporting, what?”, argues the boldest among the group, “Ought to ferret out the mystery before we go. Whole thing’s like a detective story. Positively thrilling. I’m all for crime.” Similarly, in The Mousetrap, an exuberant visitor asks of news in the paper “apart from the weather.” “Usual political crisis” comes the terse response. “Oh yes, and a rather juicy murder.” “A murder?” repeats the questioner with relish, “Oh, I like murder!” 

Christie’s innate sense of play would suggest an easy translation of her work to the stage. But the leap proved a challenge, both for Christie herself and for several adapters. Unlike many novelists facing similar headwinds, Christie persevered over four decades, giving the stage such a degree of passionate attention that scholar Julius Green makes a persuasive argument for Christie’s career being equal parts playwright and novelist. Still, given her unbalanced output in those fields, the assertion is provocative but also revealing. 

For Christie sits within the ranks of notable British playwrights who, while eminently successful, had reputations dogged by a common reception of ‘yes, but…’ in their critical fortunes. Ben Travers, Noel Coward, Terence Rattigan, and Peter Shaffer all span Christie’s lengthy career, and shared a similar fate of their most enduring merits having to wait for acknowledgment by posterity. Each, like Christie, had an abiding attention to a sometimes conventional, but always defining sense of form, which to the less traditional dramatists, managers, and critics could appear contemptibly reactionary.

Moreover, Christie’s delayed recognition was hampered by a stubbornly parochial attitude toward women in the theatre. Yet it is these very qualities of control and stealthy non-conformity that distinguish Christie on both page and stage. 

Ira Levin professed as much in highlighting Christie’s virtuosity in a theatrical field dominated by one-hit wonders. Even the briefest overview of the stage’s great thrillers–Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston’s Dracula (1927), Patrick Hamilton’s Angel Street (1938, the US title of his Gas Light), J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls (1946), Frederick Knott’s Dial “M” for Murder (1952) and Wait Until Dark (1966), Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth (1970), and Levin’s own Deathtrap (1978)–reinforces what a rare occurrence such invention can be, even among accomplished writers. On the basis of Christie’s Ten Little Indians, Witness for the Prosecution, and The Mousetrap alone, her creativity is astonishing. 

Perhaps her career longevity itself became an obstacle to her acceptance in the theatre. If WWI made Christie’s reputation possible, it was WW2 that stalled her. The postwar landscape found its champions in John Osborne, Samuel Beckett, and Bertolt Brecht, in overtly political or conversely absurdist drama, both of which were alien terrain for Christie, who became a convenient target for those impatient with all but the relevance of the moment. But for every Kenneth Tynan, the critic as progressive extraordinaire, who denounced The Mousetrap on its tenth anniversary as “still with us and cheesier than ever”, there was a Tom Stoppard whose Christie parody The Real Inspector Hound features a housekeeper Mrs. Drudge, answering a phone call to a snowbound guesthouse with “Hello, the drawing-room of Lady Muldoon’s country residence, one morning in early spring…”. Stoppard’s unmasking of the murder mystery’s penchant for swift exposition is as precise at it is affectionate. Christie would be the first to laugh. 

In the end, despite the obstacles, Christie was fundamentally suited to the stage, for like many of her indelible characters, she herself was not what she seemed. Ahead of her time, she remained resolutely of it, taking a finite amount of creative materials–suspects and victims, criminals and agents of justice, trails of evidence and diversions of red herrings, all of the trappings of mystery, menace, and murder–and fashioning endless variations on those themes, each more arresting than the last. While a title such as The A.B.C. Murders might suggest routine, Christie’s results were anything but. And her greatest secret hides in plain sight. Christie offered not just crime but closure; retribution, yes, but even more satisfyingly, an experience of resolution. This in tandem with her audacity as a storyteller has made Christie irresistible for generations.  

We can only speculate on how Christie would perceive our contemporary obsession with true crime and violence, and their cultural proliferation in mass entertainment from movies to television to podcasts. What we can confidently assess for ourselves, though, is the Christie legacy in this latest incarnation of one of her best-known works. Ken Ludwig has fashioned a Christie that honors both of their voices, while affirming the particular appeal of the theatre. The acting company and design team, fueled by the curiosity, resourcefulness, and spirited enthusiasm of director Tracy Bersley, have primed this reimagining of Murder on the Orient Express for immediate departure. You are now in the enviable position of audience, judge, and jury. And once the curtain rises on the PlayMakers stage, the case for Christie continues. 

Dramaturgy Fellow Series

A Jury’s Duty

By Lexi Silva, Dramaturg Associate

At the start of Ken Ludwig’s stage adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (Murder), a
pensive Hercule Poirot addresses the audience to frame the impending action. “[This case] was certainly the most difficult I ever encountered, and it made me question the very deepest values that I have held since I was a young man.” (Murder). Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Poirot contemplates the tension between moral justice and the law.

Though bound to both, Agatha Christie’s most prolific protagonist remains haunted by the case that forged a chasm in his conscience and left him reeling long after the train left the station. Poirot, as both a beloved character and theatrical framing device prompts the audience to consider: what is the cost of justice?

Director Tracy Bersley paints this picture for the audience with the help of Scenic Designer Tony Cisek. Although set pieces and props bring the interior of the train cars to life, the audience sees a more abstract representation of the liminal space of Poirot’s memory. This is not solely an aesthetic choice, but a practical one: the Paul Green Theatre’s long thrust stage makes it tricky to put a train onstage.

Poirot draws us into his memory of a murder on the Orient Express, a famous luxury train connecting East and West reserved only for society’s most elite. In Murder, the path taken from Istanbul to Calais follows the Simplon-Orient-Express line, established in 1919. By the 1920s and 30s there was an interconnecting network of Wagons-Lits Company trains with Orient Express as part of their name in addition to the original Orient Express. The Simplon-Orient-Express linked Calais, Paris and Istanbul every day, whereas the Orient Express only carried Paris-Istanbul cars three times a week, although both Orient and Simplon Orient would have been one combined train east of Belgrade. The train’s journey toward Europe is a homecoming that comes at a higher cost to its passengers than the ticket price.

In Ludwig’s adaptation, the original twelve suspects in Christie’s novel are cut down to eight. The roles consolidated in the stage adaptation are mainly specialized domestic workers. This reflects the social hierarchy present in the primary source, and the smaller cast size makes the work more producible for regional theaters. The correlation between the twelve perpetrators and the twelve members of a jury is easily observed in the novel and still shines through in Ludwig’s abridged cast. In the end, it is still democracy that determines the outcome.

Although it offers levity, glamor and entertainment, Murder on the Orient Express also prompts conversations about democracy, justice and moral responsibility. In the midst of global humanitarian crises and the start of an election year, Poirot’s predicament indicts us, too. I am left wondering if Poirot is not merely concerned with the cost of justice, but with the greater cost of complicity when he addresses the audience for the final time, musing: “But at night, in the darkness, when I am all alone, I ask myself again and again if this was justice; if I did the right thing. And on many such nights, it is not until morning that I can close my eyes.”

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Agatha Christie’s

Murder on the Orient Express

Adapted for the stage by Ken Ludwig

Directed by Tracy Bersley

Scenic Designer
Tony Cisek

Costume Designer
Anne Kennedy

Lighting Designer
Marcella Barbeau

Sound Designer and Composer
Michael Keck

Vocal Coach
Katie Cunningham

Gregory Kable

Stage Manager
Aspen Blake Jackson

Assistant Stage Manager
Sarah Smiley

March 6 – 24, 2024

Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc.

Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express adapted by Ken Ludwig was originally staged by McCarter Theater Center, Princeton, NJ Emily Mann, Artistic Director, Timothy J. Shields, Managing Director. The production subsequently transferred to Hartford Stage, Harford, CT Darko Tresnjak, Artistic Director, Michael Stotts, Managing Director

The video or audio recording of this performance by any means is strictly prohibited.

The Professional Theatre of the Department of Dramatic Art Kathryn Hunter-Williams, Chair Vivienne Benesch, Producing Artistic Director Produced in association with the College of Arts and Sciences The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Actor Bios

in Alphabetical Order

Princess Dragomiroff: Hope Alexander*
Michel: Reez Bailey
Countess Andrenyi: Hayley Cartee
Hercule Poirot: Jeffrey Blair Cornell*
Colonel Arbuthnot: Matthew Donahue
Helen Hubbard: Julia Gibson*
Monsieur Bouc: Jeffrey Meanza*
Ratchett: Jim Roof*
Greta Ohlsson: Gwendolyn Schwinke*
Mary Debenham: Saleemah Sharpe
Hector MacQueen: Adam Valentine

Stage Managers: Aspen Blake Jackson* Sarah Smiley*

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association,
the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Place: The Orient Express as it travels from Istanbul to Western Europe, 1934

Murder on the Orient Express will be performed with a
15-minute intermission

Hope Alexander

Princess Dragomiroff

Currently celebrating her 60th year in The Business, Hope is thrilled to be returning to PlayMakers where she performed Rosalind in As You Like It and Josie in Moon for the Misbegotten in the early 1980s. Hope was a leading company member at The American Conservatory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, South Coast Repertory Theatre and Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, and starred opposite Sir Michael Redgrave in the national tour of Shakespeare’s People. She originated roles in Tennessee Williams’s This Is, an Entertainment and Michael McClure’s General Gorgeous, as well as starring or guest starring in numerous films and TV shows. Hope is also an award-winning director, a family/headshot photographer, and the proud grandmother of 17 year old Ivan Alexander. 

Reez Bailey


PlayMakers: Company member in their first year of UNC’s Professional Actor Training Program with the Department of Dramatic Art. Much Ado About Nothing. Stupid F**king Bird (PlayMakers/DDA Ground Floor).

University: Ordinary Days (InterMission Theatre); Peter and the Starcatcher, God of Carnage (University Theatre).

FilmRapid Eye Movement (2022).

Education: BS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Hayley Cartee

Countess Andrenyi

PlayMakers: Every Brilliant Thing, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Emma, The Skin of Our Teeth. Company member in their third year of UNC’s Professional Actor Training Program. The Tempest (PlayMakers Mobile). Circle Back, Den of Thieves, A Doll’s House, Part 2 (PlayMakers/DDA Ground Floor). A Durham native, Hayley almost made her PlayMakers debut when her mother went into labor in the Paul Green Theatre in the mid-90s.

New York: All’s Well that Ends Well, The Tempest.

Regional: Noises Off (Theater in the Park, Raleigh).

University: Titus Andronicus, Othello, Julius Caesar, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Education: NYU-Tisch School of the Arts; Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Jeffery Blair Cornell

Hercule Poirot

PlayMakers: Jeff has been acting with PlayMakers since the 1995-96 season. Recently: Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, Eddie in The Legend of Georgia McBride, Polonius/Gravedigger in Hamlet, Mr.Weston/Mr.Woodhouse in Emma, Frank Butley in Native Gardens, Brutus in Julius Caesar, Father in Ragtime, Uncle Peck in How I Learned to Drive, Sipos in She Loves Me, and Darren (the Woodchuck) in Bewilderness. Some favorites: Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, Caliban in The Tempest, Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, Roy Cohn in Angels in America, and Herr Schultz in Cabaret.

New York: Two by Two, Down to Earth, Serious Business.

Regional: Guthrie Theater, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Paper Mill Playhouse, Geva Theatre Center, among others.

Education/Other: Carbonell Award nominations for Best Actor – Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me and Falsettoland (Caldwell Theatre – FL). Studied at HB Studios in New York with Uta Hagen, Austin Pendleton, and Elizabeth Wilson and received his MFA from the PATP/UNC-Chapel Hill. Serves as Teaching Professor/Associate Chair in UNC’s Department of Dramatic Art.

Matthew Donahue

Colonel Arbuthnot

PlayMakers: Company member in their first year of UNC’s Professional Actor Training Program with the Department of Dramatic Art. Every Brilliant Thing, Much Ado About Nothing. Stupid F**king Bird (PlayMakers/DDA Ground Floor).

RegionalThe Fox; Peter and the Starcatcher (The Commonweal Theatre Co.); Gypsy, Oklahoma! (The Prizery).

UniversityThe Three Musketeers, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Hands on a Hardbody, et al. (ECU/Loessin Playhouse).

Education: BFA Acting, East Carolina University.

Instagram: @mattddonahue

Julia Gibson

Helen Hubbard

PlayMakers: Resident company member in her 11th season. Misery, Native Gardens, Yoga PlayNative Son, How I Learned to DriveBewildernessThe CakeRagtimeMy Fair LadyShe Loves MeTwelfth NightThe Crucible, An Enemy of the PeopleInto the WoodsVanya and Sonia and Masha and SpikeLove AloneMetamorphosesThe Tempest.

Broadway: Stanley, Uncle Vanya, Night Mother.

National Tour: The Exonerated.

Off-Broadway: The Public, Shakespeare in the Park, Manhattan Theatre Club, The Roundabout, Classic Stage Company, New York Theatre Workshop, SoHo Rep, Origin Theatre Company, Irish Rep, The Rattlestick, among others.

Regional: The Alley, American Conservatory Theatre, The Goodman, The Long Wharf, Yale Rep., George Street, The Arden, Milwaukee Rep., Philadelphia Festival Theatre, Dallas Theatre Center, Chautauqua Theatre Company, and elsewhere.

Film/TV: Michael ClaytonChanging Lanes. “Blue Bloods”, “Law & Order”, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”, “Spin City”, “So Close”, and “One Life to Live”.

Directing includes Rattlestick, Epic Theatre Company, Gulfshore Playhouse, New London Barn, Portland Stage, Juilliard, and NYU.

Education/Other: Currently co-head of the Professional Actor Training Program in the Department of Dramatic Art at UNC-Chapel Hill, Fox Fellowship recipient, and 2020 Carolina Women’s Center Faculty Scholar. Narrated over 175 audiobooks. In the Fall she will be an Institute for the Arts and Humanities Faculty Fellow.

Jeffrey Meanza

Monsieur Bouc

See PlayMakers Leadership Bio

Jim Roof


PlayMakers: Debut.

Pronouns: He/Him

RegionalThe Flick (Bartlett Theater); The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged; Faithful, The Cafe Plays, et al (The Ruskin Theater, Los Angeles);  Wit, Shadowlands (The Alliance Theater); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pericles (Illinois Shakespeare Festival);  Othello (The Folio Theater, Chicago).

FilmThe House with 100 Eyes, Zombie Strippers with Robert Englund, Alice, Murderabilia

TV: “George and Tammy” with Jessica Chastain, “Young Rock”.

Gwendolyn Schwinke

Greta Ohlsson

PlayMakers:  Company member in her fifth season. Actor: Much Ado About Nothing, The Skin of Our Teeth, As You Like It.  Voice/Dialect Coach: Fat Ham, Much Ado About Nothing, Clyde’s, Emma, Native Gardens, Blues for an Alabama Sky, Yoga Play, Dairyland, Native Son, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, The Skin of Our Teeth, A Wrinkle in Time

International: Voice/Text/Dialect/Somatic Coach: Macbeth, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Roman Daggers, The Winter’s Tale (Prague Shakespeare Company), Company season training (Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble). 

New York & Regional: As Voice & Text Coach: Seven seasons with Shakespeare & Company. Oxford Shakespeare Festival, Frank Theatre, Cheap Theatre, Atlantic Stage. Actor: Carlyle Brown & Company, Oxford Shakespeare Festival, Frank Theatre, Red Eye Collaboration, Minnesota Shakespeare Project, Atlantic Stage, Old Creamery Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Playwright: Plays developed and/or produced by Seattle Repertory Company, Cherry Lane Theatre, The Playwrights’ Center, Red Eye Collaboration, Judith Shakespeare Company, Jungle Theatre. 

Teaching: David G. Frey Fellow/Assistant Professor of Voice & Speech at UNC-Chapel Hill, Faculty Member at Shakespeare & Company and Prague Shakespeare Company, Designated Linklater Voice Teacher and Teacher Trainer, Guild-certified Feldenkrais Teacher. Voice & Speech Trainers Association Board of Directors.

Instagram: @gwendolynschwinke

Saleemah Sharpe

Mary Debenham

PlayMakers: Company member in their third year of UNC’s Professional Actor Training Program. Every Brilliant Thing, Much Ado About Nothing, Clyde’s, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Hamlet, Blues for an Alabama Sky, The Skin of Our Teeth. Dramaturg and Choreographer for How I Learned What I Learned. The Tempest (PlayMakers Mobile). The Mountaintop, Den of Thieves, A Doll’s House, Part 2, Gloria (PlayMakers/UNC Ground Floor).

New York: King Lear (NY Classical).

Regional: Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea (Rhinoleap Production NC).

University: As You Like It (Stella Adler Studio of Acting); King LearSoon Again Not YetSopita (Royal Social Distance Company); Sins of the Father (Eden Theater Company); Significant Other (The Theatre Project); The Block (Lakai Dance Theatre); Ubu Roi, Straight Outta Kansas, Antigone (Montclair State University).

Film: To The Moon (Atlantic Pictures, Short Film), The Girl With the Eyes (Independent film), Remission Accomplished (Student film).

Television: “iCarly” (Nickelodeon), “The Electric Company” (PBS Kids).

Education/Awards/Other: Montclair State University
B.A. Theatre Studies & a double minor in Myth Studies & Business

Instagram: @Saleemah____

Facebook: @SaleemahSharpe

Adam Valentine

Hector Macqueen

PlayMakers: Company member in their third year of UNC’s Professional Actor Training Program. Much Ado About Nothing, Misery, Clyde’s, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Hamlet, Emma, A Wrinkle in Time, The Skin of our Teeth. The Tempest (PlayMakers Mobile). Den Of Thieves, Gloria (PlayMakers/UNC Ground Floor).

RegionalSmall Mouth Sounds (Cadence Theatre); The Tempest, The Heir Apparent (Richmond Shakespeare); The Curious Incident… (Virginia Rep); Hand To God, LEVEL 4, Heathers: The Musical (TheatreLAB); Maple & Vine, Stupid Kid (Firehouse Theatre).

Education/Awards: Virginia Commonwealth University, B.A. 2021 RTCC Ernie McClintock Best Ensemble Acting for Small Mouth Sounds.

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Creative Team Bios

Tracy Bersley


PlayMakers: Movement coach and resident choreographer in her eighth season.

Off-Broadway / New York: As director/choreographer— Lincoln Center, The Public Theater, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), The Lortel Theatre, Primary Stages, and many award-winning Off-Broadway companies, such as The Civilians and Red Bull Theatre.

Regional: As director/choreographer— Delaware Repertory Theater, Carolina Performing Arts, McCarter Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Eduction / Other: Served as professor or guest artist at Yale School of Drama, Princeton University, New York University, Purchase College, Columbia University/Barnard College, and The Juilliard School. Tracy received her MFA in Directing from Syracuse University and is currently co-head of the Professional Actor Training Program in the Department of Dramatic Art at UNC-Chapel Hill, a member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and a Drama League Fellow.

Tony Cisek

Scenic Designer

PlayMakers: Debut.

Tony has collaborated with many companies across the US on nearly 400 productions. Recent credits include the premieres of Rubicon (Denver Center Theatre Company) and Tempestuous Elements (Arena Stage), Blue (New Orleans Opera), Ink (Round House Theatre), The Color Purple (Denver Center), Selling Kabul (Signature Theatre), Thurgood (People’s Light), Choir Boy (Denver Center and ACT Seattle), Toni Stone (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre/Alliance Theatre), and the production design for A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Folger Theatre at the National Building Museum). His work has also been seen at Roundabout Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Guthrie Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Indiana Repertory, Cincinnati Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, New York Theatre Workshop, and the Kennedy Center, among others.

Awards/Other: Tony has received four Helen Hayes Awards, as well as numerous other citations for outstanding scenic design. He has taught or mentored at several universities, is a member of United Scenic Artists, and holds an MFA in Design from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Anne Kennedy

Costume Designer

PlayMakers: A Wrinkle in Time, Assassins, As You Like It, God’s Man in Texas, How I Learned to Drive, In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), Moliere’s Tartuffe, The Bluest Eye, The Importance of Being Earnest, Twelfth Night.

Off-Broadway: Playwrights Horizons, Primary Stages, Rattlestick Theatre.

Regional: Alliance Theatre, Arena Stage, Barrington Stage, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Center Stage, Chautauqua Theatre Company, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, Dallas Theatre Center, Denver Center Theatre Company, Guthrie Theatre, Kennedy Center, The Old Globe, Olney Theatre Center, Papermill Playhouse, People’s Light and Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Center, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Round House Theatre, Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre, Theatre J, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Woolly Mammoth.

Educational: The Juilliard School, Williams College.

 Instagram: @theschoolforstyle


Marcella Barbeau

Lighting Designer

PlayMakers: Debut

New York City based lighting designer. Recent credits include La Traviata (Opera Omaha), L’elisir d’amore (Florentine Opera), How I Learned to Drive (Actor’s Shakespeare Project), Lucy and Charlie’s Honeymoon (Lookingglass Theatre, world premiere), Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s 2023 festival, Maria de Buenos Aires (Opera San Antonio, Opera Columbus), Rigoletto (Opera Columbus), Cabaret and As One, The Threepenny Opera, The Threepenny Carmen (world premiere)(The Atlanta Opera), You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown (Village Theatre), The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (co-design, Austin Opera), Five Guys Named Moe (Playhouse on Park).

Upcoming projects include: Carmen (Austin Opera). She received her Master of Fine Arts at Boston University. As a Chinese-American lighting designer, Marcella actively seeks to collaborate with and amplify the voices of fellow BIPOC artists of all intersectionalities. 

Michael Keck

Sound Designer and Composer

PlayMakers: Debut

Regional:Cyrano, Sense and Sensibility, A Christmas Carol (Indiana Rep); SWEAT (Dallas Theatre Center); The Children (Seattle Rep); Our Town, The Christians (Syracuse Stage  / Wilma Theatre); The Glass Menagerie (Milwaukee Rep); Othello, An Ideal Husband (Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Great Lakes Theatre Festival); The Bacchae (Portland Center Stage); Death Of A Salesman, A View From The Bridge, The Great White Hope, Derek Walcott’s: The Odyssey, Community Carol, I AM A MAN  (Arena Stage); Intimate Apparel (Guthrie Theatre); The Piano Lesson, Top Dog Under Dog, Gem Of The Ocean, Fences, Death And The Kings Horseman, Measure For Measure, Henry IV pt1, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Intimate Apparel (Oregon Shakespeare Festival).

International:  The Brothers Size (Market Theatre – Johannesburg S. Africa and Baxter Theatre Center  – Cape Town S. Africa); Streetcar Named Desire, Death Of A Salesman (The National Theater of Croatia); Miss Evers Boys (Barbican Theatre Center and Bristol Old Vic).

Other: Michael is a proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, ASCAP, and The Dramatists Guild, and is represented by Bonnie Davis and Kate Bussart at Bret Adams. 

Katie Cunningham

Vocal Coach

PlayMakers: Debut

Off-Broadway/New York: The Actors’ Company Theatre (TACT), The Resident Acting Company, NY Fringe, The Tank.

Regional: Acting – Macbeth, Twelfth Night, The Book of Will, Othello, The Liar (Utah Shakespeare Festival); Both Your Houses, dir. Frank Galati, Our Betters, God of Carnage, Hamlet de Cuba, Once in a Lifetime, Hamlet Redux (Asolo Rep); Murder on the Orient Express, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Blithe Spirit, The 39 Steps, Outside Mullingar, Noises Off, among many more over 11 seasons (Resident Acting Company at Clarence Brown Theatre); Voice/Text/Dialect Coaching – many productions at Great River Shakespeare Festival, Clarence Brown Theatre, Nashville Rep, and more.

Education/Awards/Other: Assistant Professor of Theatre & Head of Acting at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; MFA Acting, FSU/Asolo Conservatory; BA Dramatic Art & Political Science, UNC Chapel Hill; Graduate Certificate in Vocology, Lamar University; Pan-American Vocology Association Recognized Vocologist (PAVA-RV); Certified Teacher of Knight-Thompson Speechwork

Instagram: @alternativekatemckinnon

Gregory Kable


PlayMakers: Associate Dramaturg, 1997 to present. Productions include Native Gardens, A Wrinkle in Time, She Loves MeSherwood: The Adventures of Robin HoodMy Fair LadySweeney ToddPeter and the StarcatcherAn Enemy of the PeopleInto the WoodsPrivate LivesClybourne Park, RedAngels in AmericaTopdog/UnderdogThe Subject Was RosesUncle VanyaViolet: A Musical and Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde.

Regional: American premiere of Pentecost, Le Bourgeois Avant-Garde (Yale Repertory Theatre).

Directing: Love’s Labour’s Lost, A New Musical, Playing for Time, Lulu, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Sunday in the Park with George, Danton’s Death, Closer, The Lady From the Sea, Balm in Gilead, Jesus Christ Superstar, Therese Raquin, Hair, American Buffalo, Miss Julie, Curse of the Starving Class, “Camino Real.

Faculty: Department of Dramatic Art, UNC-Chapel Hill.

Education: MFA, Yale School of Drama.

Aspen Blake Jackson

Stage Manager

PlayMakers: Much Ado About Nothing, Clyde’s, They Do Not Know Harlem, Native Gardens. The Drowsy Chaperone, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Summer Youth Conservatory). Aspen graduated in May of 2019 with a BA in Vocal Performance and Dramatic Arts from UNC-Chapel Hill. During her undergraduate career, she was stage manager for shows such as Cendrillon, Dido and Aeneas, and The Pillowman. After graduating, Aspen completed an internship with the Walt Disney World Company and she worked as a production assistant for PlayMakers Repertory Company during their 19/20 and 21/22 seasons.

Sarah Smiley

Assistant Stage Manager

Sarah returns for the 2023/24 season, her 12th since 2005. She has worked with theatres, theme parks, and road houses in eight states and the U.K., including Tampa Playmakers, freeFall Theatre Company, Virginia Stage Company, Busch Gardens Tampa, the Alliance Theatre Company, 7 Stages, Gulfshore Playhouse, Shadowland Theatre, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff, Wales, and the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. Sarah enjoys her summer months in Charlottesville, VA, serving as Production Manager for the Virginia Theatre Festival, which celebrates its 50th season in 2024. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, and has been active in USITT and the Stage Managers’ Association. She received her M.F.A. from the University of Iowa.



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PlayMakers Leadership

Vivienne Benesch

Producing Artistic Director

Vivienne is in her eighth full season as a company member and Producing Artistic Director at PlayMakers, where she has helmed productions of Hamlet, The Skin of Our Teeth, The Storyteller, Dairyland, Life of Galileo, Leaving Eden, The May Queen, Three Sisters, Love Alone, RED and In The Next Room. In her eight seasons with the theatre, she is particularly proud to have produced 12 world premieres and launched PlayMakers Mobile, a touring production aimed at reaching under-served audiences around the Triangle.

For 12 seasons, she served as Artistic Director of the renowned Chautauqua Theater Company and Conservatory, presiding over the company’s transformation into one of the country’s best summer theatres and most competitive summer training programs. Vivienne directed both the world premiere of Noah Haidle’s Birthday Candles for Detroit Public Theatre and, in 2022, its Broadway production starring Debra Messing. She has also directed for the Folger Shakespeare Theatre (Helen Hayes nomination for best direction 2019), The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Trinity Repertory Company, NY Stage & Film, and Red Bull Theatre, among others. As an actress, Vivienne has worked on and off-Broadway, in film and television, at many of the country’s most celebrated theatres, and received an Obie Award for her performance in Lee Blessing’s Going to St. Ives. Vivienne is a graduate of Brown University and NYU’s Graduate Acting Program.

As an educator, she has directed for and served on the faculty of some of the nation’s foremost actor training programs, including The Juilliard School, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Professional Actor Training Program, Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Program, and at her alma mater, NYU’s Graduate Acting Program. She is the 2017 recipient of the Zelda Fichandler Award given by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation.

Jeffrey Meanza

Associate Artistic Director

An actor, director and educator, Jeffrey Meanza has spent the better part of two decades working at two of the country’s most celebrated regional theatres, overseeing the artistic, educational and community engagement efforts of the organizations. As a member of PlayMakers’ resident acting company, he has appeared in Hamlet, Angels in America, Into the Woods, Lisa Kron’s Well, Amadeus, Assassins, and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, among others, and directed Misery, The Legend of Georgia McBride, The Cake, and Guys and Dolls.

From 2015 to 2021, he served as the Guthrie Theater’s associate artistic director, overseeing the theater’s education and community engagement initiatives, the literary team, casting, and the theater’s professional training programs, as well as helping to guide the work on the Guthrie’s three stages. During his tenure, Meanza managed the expansion of educational programming to serve over 35,000 students annually, including creating an artist residency program that put full-time teaching artists in high school classrooms throughout Minnesota. In addition, under his leadership, the Guthrie piloted a new Fellowship program that offers paid training opportunities for emerging leaders to experience work at one of the nation’s leading regional theaters. In 2021, Meanza returned to PlayMakers Repertory Company as Associate Artistic Director, overseeing the theater’s artistic, educational and engagement operations.

He holds an M.F.A in Acting from the Professional Actor Training Program at UNC-Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Theater and Performance Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Michael Rolleri

Production Manager

Michael is in his 37th season with PlayMakers Repertory Company. He has been Technical Director, Project Manager, Exhibition Technician, and Lighting Designer for industrial shows in the Southeast region, as well as lead carpenter for films, the U.S. Olympic Festival, and scenic studios. He has also been a rigger in the Southeast region and has served on the executive board and as President of IATSE Local 417.  Michael is a 30 year Gold Pin member of IATSE.  An active member of United States Institute For Theatre Technology (USITT), he is a three-time winner at USITT’s Tech Expo. He is a full Professor/Head of the Technical Production Program at UNC-Chapel Hill and was an instructor at High Point University and Tufts University.

Education: MFA in Design and Technical Production, UNC-Greensboro.

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Who We Are

PlayMakers is…

“One of America’s Best Regional Theatres”

(American Theatre Magazine), PlayMakers Repertory Company is North Carolina’s premier professional theatre company, proudly in residence on the dynamic campus of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The professional company was founded in 1976, growing out of a storied 100-year tradition of playmaking at Carolina. 

At the very heart of the PlayMakers experience is one of the nation’s last remaining resident theatre companies, made up of accomplished performers, directors, designers, artisans, and technicians, and supported by exceptional graduate students in UNC’s Department of Dramatic Art. Our company works side by side with guest artists from all over the world and our alumni include Pulitzer Prize, Tony®, Emmy®, and Grammy Award® winners. 

Creating Tomorrow’s Classics, Today

Producing Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch is continuing PlayMakers’ tradition of producing vibrantly reimagined classics, large-scale musical theatre, and significant contemporary work, but is also broadening the company’s reach to become a home for new play development and a true hub of social and civic discourse in the region. Her first seven seasons have already given life to twelve important new American plays.  

A Hub of Engagement

PlayMakers seeks to provoke thought, stimulate discussion, and push the boundaries of the theatrical form in everything we do. Whether through our intimate @PLAY series, our mainstage offerings or our virtual line-up, we look for opportunities for direct, dynamic engagement between audiences, artists, and thinkers. We also offer a host of unique engagement opportunities designed to enrich our audience’s experience of the live arts.    

Theatre for the People

PlayMakers Mobile is an initiative that seeks to contribute positively to the civic and social life of our region by taking world-class theatre out of our building and into the community. We create a streamlined production of a play and take it to schools, transitional housing facilities, and long-term treatment facilities around the Greater Triangle area. And best of all, it’s all free of charge. 

Passing the Torch

PlayMakers’ award-winning Summer Youth Conservatory is the only professionally supported training program of its kind in the region. The Theatre Quest program provides camps to area middle school and high school students, while the Theatre Intensive and TheatreTech programs allow Triangle high schoolers to apprentice directly with professional directors, choreographers, musical directors, and technicians, culminating in a professional quality production on the PlayMakers mainstage for the whole community to enjoy.  

Eliminating Barriers

With a commitment to eliminating barriers for attendance, PlayMakers offers All Access performances for our patrons living with disabilities. We also offer accessible $20 tickets for all performances and ticket prices are reduced to just $10 for UNC students. For more information, please contact

Our Mission

PlayMakers Repertory Company is North Carolina’s premier professional theatre company, proudly in residence on the dynamic campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Our mission is to produce relevant, courageous work that tells stories from and for a multiplicity of perspectives. We believe that theatre can have a transformational impact on individuals and entire communities, and we are committed to the journey of becoming an anti-racist organization whose work is accessible to all. Inextricably linked to UNC’s Department of Dramatic Art, PlayMakers is devoted to nurturing and training future generations of artists and audiences.

Our Vision




Antiracism Accountability Statement

At the heart of PlayMakers Repertory Company’s mission is the belief that theatre has the power to transform individuals and entire communities. There is no more aspirational or urgent a use of that power than working to dismantle the systems of oppression, white supremacy, and racism that pervade American life and consume the American Theatre. PlayMakers continues to assess and evaluate our own practices in order to embed equitable, antiracist policies into strategic planning, our mission, and our operations.

PlayMakers Repertory Company, and those of us who work here, commit to the following:

  • To work intentionally to create an antiracist culture in our company.
  • To continually educate ourselves on the ways in which we can combat racism locally and nationally as we move to create an inclusive, diverse, and equitable sense of belonging for every one of our constituents.
  • To demonstrate our values through action in our policies, practices, and procedures.

Land Acknowledgment

We acknowledge that the Center for Dramatic Art is located on the unceded lands of one or more of Abiayala’s (the Americas’) original sovereign nations, the name(s) of which have not yet been affirmed. The unjust acquisition of these Indigenous lands came about through a history of racism, violence, dispossession, displacement, and erasure of cultures by settlers as part of the larger, land-centered project of settler colonialism.

As we look to the future, may. webuild upon the memories and goodwill of all who walked and labored here before us with truth, integrity, and honor. Learn more: UNC American Indian Center

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General Info

PlayMakers Repertory Company is the professional theatre in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


We’re bringing you stories that will ignite your imagination, tickle your funny bone, and stir your soul as we delve in to explore the many facets of the American Dream. From striking modern classics to a world premiere made just for you, this is a stellar season we can’t wait to share with you!

SEP 11–29, 2024: Crumbs from the Table of Joy by Lynn Nottage

OCT 16–Nov 3, 2024: What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck

NOV 26–DEC 15, 2024The Christmas Case of Hezekiah Jones by Howard L. Craft and Mike Wiley

JAN 29–FEB 16, 2025: Death of a Salesman by James Ijames, directed by Jade King Carroll

MAR 5–23, 2025: Confederates by Dominique Morisseau

APR 9–27, 2025: Little Shop of Horrors book & lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken

Learn more about our season subscriptions HERE.


If you know you will miss a performance date, we can exchange your ticket for you, based on availability. Please exchange your tickets online or call our Box Office at least 48 hours before your scheduled performance, and please be aware that all exchanges are based on availability and a fee or additional cost may apply. Subscribers may exchange their tickets with no additional fee, but additional cost may apply with a change in performance or section.


We stream every production we are able to stream in accordance with each show’s licensing agreements. Check the show pages for streaming access dates when they are available.

Streaming access is included in the purchase of your ticket or you may purchase a streaming-only ticket.


No. Based on patron feedback, we have changed our seating map to increase the availability of our most affordable tickets for every performance, so that patrons can have as much flexibility as possible in selecting their performances. As we take audience safety very seriously, we will not have General Admission performances this season.


For quickest response, please email, or call 919.962.7529 Tuesday-Friday between 12-5 p.m.


The Box Office is planned to be open Tuesday-Friday, from 12-5 p.m.


Don’t miss out on news and events. Follow us on all socials to stay connected and see what we do next!

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Keith dasilva, private wealth financial advisor and 2023 forbes best-in-state wealth advisors are proud to support playmakers repertory company
The Knott Private Wealth Management Group at Wells Fargo Advisors

PlayMakers’ 2023/24 Season is Made Possible in Part by Grants from

Foundation Support

National Endowment for the Arts, North Carolina Arts Council, The
Shubert Foundation, Fidelity Foundation, Orange County Arts Commission, The Educational Foundation of America

Additional Funding for Guest Artists is Provided by

Robert Boyer and Margaret Boyer Fund, Louise Lamont Fund, Emeriti
Professors Charles and Shirley Weiss Fund

Producing Council

Residence Inn Chapel Hill, Larry’s Coffee

Corporate Council

Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe, Knott Private Wealth Management Group at Wells Fargo Advisors


Linda’s Bar and Grill, Glasshalfull, Infinium Spirits

PlayMakers Repertory Company is a program of the Department of Dramatic Art, The College of Arts and Sciences, and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources, recognizes PlayMakers as a professional theatre organization and provides grant assistance to this organization from funds appropriated by the North Carolina General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. PlayMakers is a beneficiary of the Elizabeth Price Kenan Endowment and the Lillian Hughes Prince Endowment.

PlayMakers Repertory Company is a Member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre.

This Theatre operates under an agreement between the League Of Resident Theatres (LORT) and Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

The scenic, costume, lighting and sound designers in LORT Theatres are represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA-829 of the IATSE.

The Director and Choreographer are members of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, a national theatrical labor union.

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PlayMakers Staff


Vivienne Benesch, Producing Artistic Director


Jeff Aguiar, Director of Engagement
Tracy Bersley, Movement Coach/Choreographer
Chelsea James, Producing Assistant
Tia James, Vocal Coach
Gregory Kable, Dramaturg
Jacqueline E. Lawton, Dramaturg
Jeffrey Meanza, Associate Artistic Director
Mark Perry, Dramaturg
Gwendolyn Schwinke, Vocal Coach Lexi Silva, Dramaturgy Fellow
Sarah Tackett, Administrative Operations Associate
Adam Versényi, Dramaturg


Matara Hitchcock, Company Manager
Kate Jones, General Manager
Lisa Geeslin, Accountant
Maura Murphy, Director of Operations
Erica Bass, Alexis R. Steele-Kubuanu, Dani Elliott, Ella Hawn,
Sage Howard, Sarajane Carty, Nathaniel Kareis, Work Studies


Kyle Kostenko, Assistant Director of Annual Giving
Lenore Fields, Gala Coordinator

Marketing & Audience Services

Michelle Jewell, Marketing Assistant
Hannah LaMarlowe, Marketing Specialist
Thomas Porter, Box Office Manager
Rosalie Preston, Associate Director of Marketing
Lauren Van Hemert, Marketing Consultant
Kori Yelverton, Audience Services Associate
Jenna Zottoli, Audience Services Associate
Lucy Albanil-Rangel, Michelle Seucan, Marketing Work Studies

Ava Lytle, Cora Willis, Student House Managers
Ayriana Agard, Swetha Anand, Albert Carlson, Phoenix Chapital, Lynlee Collins, Kali Dao, Tygia Drewhowell, Evan Jeppson, Gali Jones-Valdez, Lindsey Kanipe, Micah Kennel, Alex Lankford, Alicia Norman, Leah Page, Morgan Perry, Asher Pierce, Sophie Taylor, Maggie Thornton, Izzy Twiss, Ava Wells, Ava West, August Williams, Nicholas Williams, Box Office and Front of House Work Studies

Department of Dramatic Art

Kathryn Hunter-Williams, Chair and Associate Professor


Jade Arnold, Visiting Lecturer Milly Barranger, Professor Emerita
Vivienne Benesch, Professor of the Practice
Tracy Bersley, Associate Professor
Pamela Bond, Assistant Professor
Jan Chambers, Professor
McKay Coble, Professor
Jeffrey Blair Cornell, Associate Chair, Teaching Professor
Ray Dooley, Professor Emeritus
Samuel Ray Gates, Assistant Professor
Julia Gibson, Associate Professor Dale Girard, Visiting Professor of the Practice
David Hammond, Professor Emeritus
Letitia James, Assistant Professor
Gregory Kable, Teaching Professor
Jacqueline E. Lawton, Associate Professor
Matthew Mallard, Teaching Assistant Professor
Triffin Morris, Professor of the Practice
David Navalinsky, Professor
Bobbi Owen, Distinguished Professor Emerita
Laura Pates, Teaching Assistant Professor
Kathy Perkins, Professor Emerita
Mark Perry, Teaching Associate Professor
Rachel E. Pollock, Teaching Assistant Professor
Michael Rolleri, Professor
Gwendolyn Schwinke, Assistant Professor
Lexi Silva, Dramaturgy Fellow
Aubrey Snowden, Teaching Assistant Professor
Craig Turner, Professor Emeritus
Adam Versényi, Professor
Tao Wang, Assistant Professor


Lucas Branch, KTC Technical Director
Victoria Danielik, Program Assistant
Lisa Geeslin, Accounting Technician
Taylor McDaniel, Student Services Manager
Karen Rolleri, Business Coordinator
Jamie Strickland, University Manager


Michael Rolleri, Production Manager


Amy Evans, Costume Shop Manager
Marissa Lupkas, Wardrobe Supervisor
Matthew Mallard, Assistant Costume Director
Triffin Morris, Costume Director
Rachel Pollock, Costume Craftsperson
Costume Production Graduate Students:
Matty Blatt, Jocelyn Chatman, Jillian Gregory, Emma Hoylst, Jessica Land, Zachery Morrison, Sally Rath Madeline Gibson, Arcadia Hilton, Undergraduate Assistants
Katherine Craig, Costume Department Assistant
Natasha Harm, Wardrobe Assistant
Georgia Wood, Costume Stock Assistant
Clara “Hock” Hockenberry, Costume Clerical Assistant


Benjamin Bosch, Electrics Supervisor
Nick Rodgers, Production Swing for Lighting & Sound

Xiuping Xiong, Lighting Assistant
Alex Mitropoulos, Work Study


Lauren Reinhartsen, Properties Supervisor
Emma Madison, Props Artisan
Rebecca Xhajanka, Props Artisan

Marissa Romano, Props Undergraduate Assistant
Leah Jarrell, Cami Crocker, Lydia McRoy, Evan Wilker, Work Studies

Stage Management

Aspen Blake Jackson, Stage Manager
Sarah Smiley, Stage Manager
Zoë Lord, Production Assistant


David Bost, Sound Supervisor
Andrew Fleming, Sound Undergraduate Assistant

Nubia Orellana, Jace Rea, Work Studies


Brandon “Bruce” Hearrell, Production Carpenter
Piper Johnson, Production Carpenter
Corrinne LaVergne, Scenic Artist
Laura Pates, Technical Director
Diane Zimmerman, Scenic Charge Artist

Technical Production Graduate Students:
Rachel Van Namen, Joel Ernst, Benjamin Fink, Roark

Kaitlin Mcguire, Kee Meh, Chyna Wiles, Veta “Koa” Torres,
Scenic Painting Work Studies

Beatrice Sangangbayan, Connor Gould, Heather Robinson,
Jake Docherty, Yessenia Estrada-Zerhoudi, Carpentry Work

PlayMakers’ Resident Acting Company

Jeffrey Blair Cornell
Samuel Ray Gates
Julia Gibson
Kathryn Hunter-Williams
Tia James
Gwendolyn Schwinke

Professional Actor Training Program:

Reez Bailey, Hayley Cartee, Matthew Donahue, Elizabeth Dye, Heinley Gaspard, Jadah Johnson, Jamar Jones, Nate John Mark, Saleemah Sharpe, Sanjana Taskar, Adam Valentine, Megwe Wapimewah

For this Production of “Murder on the Orient Express”

Jeff A.R. Jones, Fight Choreographer
Stephen Smart, Assistant Lighting Designer
Mengwe Wapimewah, Graduate Directing Assistant
Julia Finke, Undergraduate Directing Assistant
Lexi Silva, Dramaturgy Fellow and Associate Dramaturg
Laura Pates, Production Technical Director
Joel Ernst, Assistant Technical Director
Ben Fink, Shop Lead

Amy Evans, Assistant to the Costume Designer
Matty Blatt, Jocelyn Chatman, Emma Holyst, Zachary
Morrison, Sally Rath Drapers
Jillian Gregory, Matthew Mallard, First Hands
Jessica Land, Assistant Crafts Artisan

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PlayMakers Repertory Company is a nonprofit theatre. We rely on the generosity of our community to continue delivering the Broadway-quality theatre you love. If you believe in the transformative power of theatre as much as we do, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help theatre thrive.

You can help support and sustain all our work, both on stage and off, by making a tax-deductible gift which enables us to:

  • Bring innovative, entertaining, and relevant theatre to the Triangle
  • Serve students across the state through our award-winning educational programs
  • Engage with our audiences through artist and community conversations
  • Remain flexible, safe, and better prepared for the future

Every gift, big or small, makes a huge difference!

Ways to Give



Phone or Email

Kymberly Burkhead-Dalton, Director of Development


Send your check to:
Kymberly Burkhead-Dalton
PlayMakers Repertory Company Development Department
Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art
CB 3235
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3235

PlayMakers is grateful to the members of the Friends of PlayMakers for their generous support. For more information about how to join this dynamic group of supporters, call the Director of Development Kymberly Burkhead-Dalton at 919.962.4846 or visit us at


Friends of PlayMakers

Director’s Circle ($10,000+)

Susan Arrington
Betsy Blackwell and John Watson Jr. *
Munroe and Becky Cobey
David G. Frey ~
Joanne and Peter Garrett
Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund
The Farley Fisher Gift Fund
Deborah Gerhardt
Joan Gillings ~
The Charles Goren and Hazen Family
Foundation, Trustees Tom and Lisa Hazen
The Estate of Linda K. Griffin Susan and Dustin Gross*
Amy and Kevin Guskiewicz*
Garrett Hall and Zachary Howell*
T. Chandler and Monie Hardwick
Brian Hargrove and David Hyde Pierce
Mrs. Frank H. Kenan ~
Thomas S. Kenan III *
Paula Noell and Palmer Page*
Wyndham Robertson *
Coleman Ross
Schwab Charitable
Shubert Foundation
Ken Smith
T. Rowe Price Charitable
Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program
Alan H. Weinhouse

Angel ($5,000–9,999)

Patrick Brennan and Lillian Jenks*
Linda and Cliff Butler*
Jan and Stephen Capps
Thomas and Holly Carr
Keith DaSilva of the Knott Private Wealth
Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors*
The Educational Foundation of America
Mr. and Mrs. Matt Hapgood
Sumeetha and Tanner Hock
Kim Kwok
Prentice Foundation
John Powell*
Raymond James Charitable Endowment
Rivers Agency, LLC*
David and Jenny Routh
Jackie Tanner*
Jennifer Werner-Cannizzaro and Thomas
Ford and Allison Worthy H. Edward and Phyllis Wright
Jim and Bonnie Yankaskas

Investor ($2,500–4,999)

Richard and Deirdre Arnold ^
Andrew and Katherine Asaro ^
Vivienne Benesch
Charities Aid Foundation of America
Evan and Erin Gwyn
Susan E. Hartley
Carol Hazard and Winston Liao
Stacy and Chris Hovey
Susan J. Kelly
Knack Technologies
Duncan and Stuart Lascelles
D.G. and Harriet Martin
Louis and Jodi Patalano
Nick and Amy Penwarden
Suzanne and Charles Plambeck
Samyr Qureshi
Dr. and Mrs. Edward Smithwick
Roger and Marlene Werner
Louise and Derek Winstanly
Katie Woodbury

Page to Stage ($1,500–2,499)

David and Judy Adamson
Steve Benezra ^
Ed and Eleanor Burke ^
Cindy and Thomas Cook
Dr. Steven Dalton and Mrs. Kymberly
John and Diane Formy-Duval
The Rich and Tracy Harris Fund of Triangle
Community Foundation
Hugon Karwowski and Joanna Karwowska ^
Dr. Moyra Kileff and Mr. Brian Kileff
Dr. Catherine Kuhn and Glenn Tortorici
Metal Supermarkets Raleigh
Paul and Linda Naylor
Abigail Panter and George Huba
Jay and Cris Preble
Carole L. Shelby
Dr. William L. Stewart
The Rev. Wendy R. and W. Riley Waugh
Michael Weil and Peggy Link-Weil
Jenny and Julian Wiles

Partner ($1,000–1,499)

Anonymous (4)
Michael and Marie Andreasen
Jeremy Arkin and Marian Fragola
Dane Barnes
Anna and Amir Barzin
Dr. Stephen Shaw Birdsall
Dr. Stanley Warren Black, III
Peggy Britt
Liz Carroll Interiors
Joan Clendenin
Bill Cobb and Gail Perry
Dr. Carrie Donley and W.P. Gale ^
Shelley Earp
Cauveh Erami
Dr. and Mrs. John P. Evans
Rachelle Feldman and Paul Raczynski
Mrs. Linda Whitham Folda and Dr. Jaroslav
Thayer Folda, III
Julia and William Grumbles
David J. Howell
Robert Huddleston
Jim and Debra Lampley
Lauren G. Leve and Jonathan Fleener
Jack Knight and Margaret Brown
Katie Kosma
Shirley and Tom Kunkel
Douglas MacLean and Susan Wolf
Elaine Mangrum and Michael Freedberg
Marconi Hoban Tell Fund
John and Alice May
Holly and Ross McKinney
David E. Price
Jean and Joseph Ritok
Robert and Tobi Schwartzman
Kyle and Jenn Smith
David B. Sontag
Karen Sisson and Andrew Levine
Scott Taylor
Triangle Community Foundation
Carol Uphoff
Dr. Jesse L. White
Paul and Sally Wright
David and Heather Yeowell

Backer ($500–999)

Anonymous (3)
Elisabeth Allore, in memory of John Allore
Pete and Hannah Andrews
Dr. Thomas C. Apostle and Sharon E. Lawrence-Apostle
Deborah Barrett and Charles Kurzman
Adam C. Beck ^
John W. Becton and Nancy B. Tannenbaum
Shula and Stephen Bernard
Patricia Beyle
Frank Binkowski
Ann and John Campbell
Philip and Linda Carl
Sam and Michelle Crittenden
David Doll
Anne and Alexander Dusek
Bob and Connie Eby
Randi Emerman
Thorsten A. Fjellstedt
Alison Friedman
Windi and Roger Glogowski
James P. Gogan ^
Dr. and Mrs. Robert S. Greenwood Elizabeth Grey
Janet and D. Scott Guthmiller
Toby and Cheryl Harrell
C. Hawkins ^
Mr. and Mrs. David L. Henson
Don and Kay Hobart
Michael Maness and Lois Knauff
Anand and Sandhya Lagoo
K.A. and Carol Lawrence
Nelda and Douglas Lay
Karen and Stephen Lyons
Dr. and Mrs. Morton D. Malkin
Ed and Connie McCraw
Amy McEntee
Laurie E. McNeil and Patrick W. Wallace
Jeanne and Herbert Miller
Dr. James C. and Dr. Susan D. Moeser
Betsy and Jefferson Newton
Linda W. Norris
Pat and Mary Norris Oglesby
Lois P. Oliver
David and Mary Ollila
Sarah Owens
Ariana Pancaldo and Michael Salemi
Mark and Eugenea Pollock
Jodi and Glenn Preminger
Elizabeth Raft
Vikram and Susan Rao
Lucy and Sidney Smith
Dr. William W. Smith and Brenda W.
Susan Stedman and Charles Higgins Jr.
Tim and Judy Taft

T. Rowe Price Program for Charitable
U. S. Charitable Gift Trust
Peter Vitale and Stephen Nelson
Wegmans Chapel Hill

^ Sustainers Club Member
* PlayMakers Special Event Supporter
~ Deceased

This list is current as of February 9, 2024. If your name is listed incorrectly or not at all, please contact the PlayMakers Development Office at 919.962.4846. We will ensure you are recognized for your
thoughtful support

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