Sponsored by Theatrical Rights Worldwide (NYC)

Presents its Third Musical in Development August 15 on the University of Memphis mainstage:

The Oliver Experiment

What if your entire life were a Broadway musical…and you had no clue?

Featuring Broadway’s Brightest Stars

Memphis, TN (July 27, 2015) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company, in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, presents its third and final developing musical reading on the U of M mainstage with The Oliver Experiment by Jeremy Desmon and Jeff Thomson on August 15 at 7:00 pm.

Michael Campayno
pic-showplace-katieKatie Rose Clarke
Ramona Keller
Edward Watts
 pic-showplace-larrydLarry Daggett

Tickets for the reading are just $15, or $10 for Students and Seniors.

The Oliver Experiment, directed by Jen Bender, is the latest developing musical in TSC’s inaugural Showplace Memphis: Musical Works in Progress.

Showplace Memphis is sponsored by one of Broadway’s elite musical licensing companies, Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW) and President/CEO Steve Spiegel, based in New York City.  Showplace Memphis has been devised as the next creative stage for three musicals en route to full productions in New York and on the regional theatre circuit across the U.S.  The first two musicals in the festival included Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical and Midsummer Night.

The Oliver Experiment

What if your entire life were a Broadway musical… and you had no clue?

Unbeknownst to young Ollie, he is the beloved star of The Oliver Experiment — “Now in it’s 19th year!” — a fanciful piece of theatre magic concocted by his over-protective father to give his son a life of music and innocence and Happily-Ever-Afters.  With its colorful cast and ever-evolving storylines, the magnificent secret is maintained at all costs… until the night Ollie notices a beautiful, young understudy in the chorus.

Writers Jeff Thomson and Jeremy Desmon explore the lengths we go to in order to protect the ones we love in this funny, tuneful, and theatrical coming-of-age story.

The cast includes Michael Campayno (Ollie) last seen in NBC’s Sound of Music; Katie Rose Clarke (Annabelle) of Broadway’s Wicked, Light in the Piazza, and the upcoming Allegiance; Ramona Keller (Guardian Angel) of Broadway’s Smokey Joe’s Café and the original cast of Caroline, or Change; Molly Ranson of Broadway’s August: Osage County, Jerusalem, and Fish in the Dark as well as Off-Broadway’s Carrie, Bad Jews, and The Burnt Part Boys; Larry Daggett, who created the role of Henry Ford in Ragtime on Broadway; and Edward Watts (Swill Swindley) currently starring as El Gallo in The Fantasticks in NYC, and recently in Scandalous on Broadway, also It’s a Bird..Plane..It’s Superman at Encores!, The Most Happy Fella at the NYC Opera, and Show Boat at Lincoln Center.

The Oliver Experiment creators and cast will collaborate and rehearse at the U of M for ten days leading up to its reading.  Though it will be going through both script and music changes, The Oliver Experiment will be played and sung in its entirety and with musical accompaniment on the U of M’s mainstage.  Few other design elements (scenic/costumes/lights) will be integrated.

Audiences will have an opportunity to speak with the actors and creators of The Oliver Experiment immediately following its reading.  Audiences also will inform the production by completing an audience survey that will help the creative team in future development phases.

Artist Bios

Jen Bender+ (Director) is the Director of Programming and Artist Services and a Founding Producer of the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF). Her Broadway credits include The Lion King (Resident Director), Honeymoon in Vegas, Avenue Q, The Wedding Singer, Steel Magnolias (Associate Director), and Sweet Smell of Success (Music Assistant). She toured North America, Asia, and Australia as the Assistant Artistic Director of Cirque du Soleil's Ovo and directed the world premiere of Do You Hear the People Sing: The Dream Concert by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, featuring Lea Salonga, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Terrence Mann. She is a co-founder of Broadway in South Africa, a non-profit arts empowerment organization for children in need. Jen is a graduate of Northwestern University. (www.jenbenderonline.com)

Michael Campayno* (Ollie), a Pittsburgh native and the youngest of six children, was last seen in NBC's Sound of Music Live as Rolf Gruber.  While in Pittsburgh, Michael performed with Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, was a Gene Kelly Award recipient, and received his training from Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama.  Favorite roles include Billy Bigelow in Carousel, Gabe in Next to Normal, and he also appeared in All Shook Up at North Shore Music Theater.  Follow him @MCampayno.

Katie Rose Clarke* (Annabelle) Broadway: Allegiance (Hannah Campbell) premiering this Autumn, Wicked (Glinda the Good), and Light in the Piazza (Clara).  National Tours: Wicked and Light in the Piazza.  Regional Theatre: Last Five Years (Cathy Hiatt; winner, Best Actress, Connecticut Critics Circle Award 2014) at Long Wharf Theatre; Prayer for My Enemy (Marianne Noone).  Television: The Good Wife (CBS), Live from Lincoln Center Presents: The Light in the Piazza.  Film: Maybe There’s a Tree (Independent Film).  Katie holds a BFA from Sam Houston State University.

Larry Daggett* (Ollie's Father) Credits include: Ragtime (Henry Ford; original Broadway cast), Candide (NYC Opera), Red, Hot, and Cole (Cole Porter, National Tour), My Fair Lady (Doolittle/Pickering), Man of La Mancha (Quixote/Carrasco), A Little Night Music (Fredrik), Sweeney Todd (Judge Turpin), Follies (Ben), Damn Yankees (Applegate), Amadeus (Salieri cover), Souvenir (Cosme), This Wonderful Life (36 characters), The Full Monty (Harold), Annie (Rooster), Drood (Crisparkle), Sunset Boulevard (Max), 1776 (R.H. Lee), and more, at theatres which include Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arkansas Repertory, Asolo, Barrington Stage, Barnstormers, Cape Fear Regional, Cleveland Play House, Fulton Opera, Goodspeed Opera, Lyric Stage Co. of Boston, Music Theatre of Connecticut, New Harmony, North Shore Music Theatre, Pittsburgh Public, Portland Center Stage, Sierra Repertory, Theatre League of Kansas City, White Plains PAC, Wilma Theatre, among others. (www.larrydaggett.com)

Jeremy Desmon (Bookwriter and Lyricist) is an award-winning writer whose stories have played around the world.  The Girl in the Frame, seen in over a dozen productions, earned him the prestigious Edward Kleban Prize as America’s most promising Musical Theatre Bookwriter.  Mr. Desmon is best known for the rock musical Pump Up the Volume, Good News, 7½ Wondrous Act(s) of True Love, Surviving The Avalanche, and his high-school musical, Cyrano de BurgerShack.  In addition, he writes “family theatrical”/touring arena shows for some of the world’s most recognizable characters in Disney Live’s Mickey’s Music Festival!, Universal’s Curious George Live!, and Sesame Workshop’s Elmo Rocks!  He is proud to have written multiple editions of The Greatest Show on Earth for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. (www.jeremydesmon.com)

Ramona Keller* (Guardian Angel) made her Broadway debut in Smokey Joe's Cafe and originated the roles of Ms. Paradice in BKLYN the Musical and Radio 1 in Caroline, or Change on Broadway and in London’s Royal National Theater.  Select regional credits include Dreamgirls, Lonestar Love, Beehive, The Buddy Holly Story, Hugh Jackman’s musical revue In Time and the female lead in Handel's Messiah Rocks!  Ramona has performed with New York Pops, Bay Atlantic Symphony, and Grand Rapids Orchestras.  She most recently appeared in the Encores! Off-Center musical theater series in Little Shop of Horrors alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Ellen Greene.

Jeff Thomson (Composer) is a recipient of the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award, as well as the Dramatist Guild Musical Theatre Writing Fellowship.  His original musical Trails was performed at the Los Angeles and New York Musical Theatre Festivals, winning him the NYMF award for Best Music as well as the Stage Entertainment Development Award.  Recently, Trails made its international debut in Tokyo, Japan.  Other projects include the club musical adaptation of the cult film Jawbreaker, and the arena rock musical adaptation of the 1990 film Pump Up the Volume.  He was commissioned by Broadway Across America to compose the score to the upcoming children's musical Madlibs Live! and was selected to write the music for an upcoming animated movie musical for Amazon Studios.  He is currently developing two musical motion pictures. (www.jeffthomsonmusic.com)

Edward Watts* (Swill Swindley) is currently starring as El Gallo in The Fantasticks at the Jerry Orbach theater in NYC.  Broadway/NYC: Scandalous (Robert/David), It’s a Bird..Plane..It’s Superman (Superman) at Encores!, The Most Happy Fella (Joe) at the NYC Opera, Show Boat (Steve) at Lincoln Center, Transport (Delamare) at The Irish Rep.  Tours: The Little Mermaid (King Triton), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Adam Pontipee), Beauty and the Beast (Gaston).  Favorite regional: Roman Holiday (Joe Bradley) at The Guthrie, Les Miserables (Javert) at Dallas Theater Center, 1776 (Thomas Jefferson) at Goodspeed Opera,  Funny Thing…Forum (Miles - Helen Hayes nomination for Best Supporting Actor) at The Shakespeare Theatre D.C.  TV: "The Sopranos", "Rescue Me", "The Carrie Diaries", "All My Children".  Proud member of Actors’ Equity Association. EdwardWatts.net

* AEA member
+ SSDC member

Seating is general admission; first come/first seated.  Tickets are on sale now.  Students 22 and younger and Seniors 62 and older receive discounted $10 tickets.

The Oliver Experiment will be presented on the Mainstage inside the University of Memphis Theatre Building, which is located on the main campus at 3745 Central Avenue in Memphis, TN.

Purchase tickets now in person Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at TSC’s office located at 3092 Village Shops Drive in Germantown, or by calling 901-759-0604, or by going on-line to www.tnshakespeare.org

The TSC Box Office inside the University of Memphis Theatre Building also will begin selling tickets on the day of the performance one hour prior to curtain (6:00 pm).  Free parking is available in the Central Avenue parking lot, beginning at 7:00 pm, directly across from the U of M Theatre Building.  No refunds.  Cast is subject to change.

Read more: The Oliver Experiment

Tennessee Shakespeare Company
Showcase Memphis
Non-Equity Musical Auditions

in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre and Dance (Memphis, TN)
and Theatrical Rights Worldwide (NYC)

This is an Actors’ Equity Assoc. production.
You do not need to be AEA or join AEA to participate.

Production Dates:Oliver 3x3

The Oliver Experiment: Rehearsals are August 10-15, 2015. There is one reading performance on August 15 at 7:00 pm. This is the third of three new musicals in-development prior to their NYC/regional circuit productions.

Call Types:

Non-Equity Auditions for male and female performers who can read music and harmonize quickly for a performance reading. This is a developing new work by NYC’s Jeremy Desmon and Jeff Thomson (Pump Up the Volume) and directed by Jen Bender.

Featured ensemble with solos, four roles sought:

Female (30s and younger) – Range: Middle C to Soprano high Ab
Female (30s and younger) – Range: Low Ab to high D
Male (30s and younger) – Range: Low Bb to High A
Male (30s and younger) – Range: Low Bb to High G

The cast currently includes Michael Campayno last seen in NBC’s Sound of Music; Katie Rose Clarke of Broadway’s Wicked, Light in the Piazza, and the upcoming Allegiance; Ramona Keller of Broadway’s Smokey Joe’s Café and the original cast of Caroline, or Change; Molly Ranson of Broadway’s August: Osage County, Jerusalem, and Fish in the Dark as well as Off-Broadway’s Carrie and The Burnt Part Boys; and Edward Watts currently starring Off-Broadway as El Gallo in The Fantasticks.

Date of Audition:

Thursday, July 30
5:30 – 6:30 pm
No video submissions, please.

3092 Village Shops Drive
Germantown, TN 38138
Located in Shops of Forest Hill shopping center between Target and Sprouts stores
(storefront rehearsal space adjacent to TSC’s administrative office)

To request a 5-minute appointment, e-mail Company Manager Stephen Huff at [email protected] Performers without access to e-mail may call Stephen at 901-759-0620 by phone during normal business hours. The deadline for requesting an appointment is 5:00 PM on Wednesday, July 29.

Producing Artistic Director Dan McCleary (at auditions) will run audition; Showcase Memphis director Frank Bluestein. A playback device will be made available if you wish to bring recorded musical accompaniment.

Two contrasting songs lasting not more than three minutes combined. Please be prepared to talk about your ability to learn music quickly, and to sight-read music. Bring your photo/resume, stapled back-to-back; and any scheduling conflicts for the listed production schedules.

Non-AEA Salary ($300/wk) plus light production assistant duties.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

pic-poster-midsummer-nightsthe comedy by William Shakespeare

directed by Stephanie Shine

in partnership with

University of Memphis Department of Theatre & Dance

University of Memphis Mainstage

June 4-21, 2015

Sponsored by

and the Margaret & Owen Tabor family

Additional funding provided by:

XFINITY Logo CMYK               Edited First TN               logo-ibank



Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC), the Mid-South’s professional classical theatre, in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance presents a magical, family-friendly, VooDoo-inspired production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on the U of M’s Mainstage from June 4-21.


The southern-infused production will feature the company’s largest cast in its seven seasons and will explore the expansiveness and technical capabilities of the U of M mainstage.  The team of professional designers consists of present U of M faculty and alumni, and the cast features talented U of M actors interning alongside performers of Actors’ Equity Association assembled from around the nation. 

The production’s title sponsor is FedEx, making possible Free Will Kids Night every Thursday night (up to four children 17 years and younger admitted free when accompanied by a paying, attending guardian.)

Additional funding is generously provided by Owen and Margaret Tabor, First Tennessee Foundation, Xfinity, and Independent Bank.

G Valmont Thomas (Bottom) and Stephanie Weeks (Titania).
G Valmont Thomas (Bottom) and Stephanie Weeks (Titania).
Phil Darius Wallace (Oberon) with Noah Duff and Stephanie Weeks
Phil Darius Wallace (Oberon) with Noah Duffy (Puck),
G Valmont Thomas (Bottom), and Stephanie Weeks (Titania)
Rachel Brun (Helena), Jon Castro (Lysander), Caley Milliken (Hermia), Roman Kalei (Demetrius)
Rachel Brun (Helena), Jon Castro (Lysander),
Caley Milliken (Hermia), Roman Kalei (Demetrius)
Phil Darius Wallace (Oberon)
Phil Darius Wallace (Oberon)

Directed by TSC’s Stephanie Shine (Romeo and Juliet, A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Southern Yuletide), A Midsummer Night’s Dream places Duke Theseus’ court in World War II America and the peaceful though mischievous fairie kingdom in the spanish-moss strewn bayous of turn-of-the-19th century Louisiana.  Big Band, Swing, Cajun, and Creole music will be played live on stage by the hard-working, busking men of the French Quarter.

Since the 17th century, Shakespeare’s most magical comedy has been one of his most-produced on English-speaking stages.  Likely written around 1595, chronologically joining the script with Romeo and Juliet, Love’s Labor’s Lost, and The Merchant of VeniceA Midsummer Night’s Dream is unusual when compared to the rest of Shakespeare’s canon.  It has no readily identifiable main source.  Shakespeare was inspired by the writings of Plutarch, Chaucer, Ovid, as well as folklore, but his magical play of chaos is likely his very own creation.  Uniquely, he orchestrates four main themes, all entirely different, without relegating any to secondary status. 

Shakespeare’s symphony of a narrative telescopes in a finite period of time. He weaves together the waking and sleeping worlds; loving and violent worlds; the spirit and mortal worlds; day and night; male and female; jealousy and compassion in a musical romp that is Shakespeare’s first deep consideration of the relationship between art and humanity.

The world of the Court, where Duke Theseus has violently triumphed over and won Queen Hippolyta, begins to spin off its seasonal axis as the nighttime spirit world ruled by Oberon and Titania tilts in a petty feud.  Racing into the dark woods amid these shifts are four young lovers ruled by their hearts and Bottom’s group of musical hard-working men rehearsing ambitiously their self-scribed play.  Fairie Robin Goodfellow (Puck) is the link between all the worlds, wreaking havoc through magic transformation of the heart and head (that of a donkey). 

Out of the discord comes concord and a seeing of the world with “parted eye.”  An evening of genuine playmaking and love transforms into marriage and celebration, which begets blessings bestowed on all the worlds, all humanity, all spirituality.

"Our production explores both the collision and the communion of different groups of beings,” says director Shine, while in rehearsal at the U of M mainstage.  “The worlds within the play are vastly different, and yet common ground is forged when all are found in the same mystical forest.

“Throughout literature, trials by wilderness offer the possibility to emerge a changed being; and our play radiates with the same transformation for characters escaping into the night woods to question their desires.  I can think of no more mystical, magical, and mysterious place in America than the bayous of southern Louisiana with its sultry mists, gymnastic cypress trees, and prehistoric creatures.  The surrounding human cultures within nearby New Orleans celebrate and retain their origins through ritual, language, custom, food, and music unique to the region.  What we know of Louisiana and New Orleans lends an exotic reality to this fantastical play, letting its powers of transformation root more deeply."

Read more: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Actors May Now Apply for The Memphis Shakespeare Weekend Intensive

Pictured: Dave Demke

Tennessee Shakespeare Company is now accepting applications for its Memphis Shakespeare Weekend Intensive, running July 24 - 26, hosted by the University of Memphis Department of Theatre & Dance.

Click here for the Application/Deposit form.  Only 7 more participant slots are available.

The Schedule

Friday, July 24 from 6pm - 10pm
Saturday, July 25 from 10am - 10pm
Sunday, July 26 from 10am - 4pm. 

Adequate time is allotted for meal breaks.

Is This for You?

This work is designed to serve both professional and aspiring actors, age 21 and older, who want to speak Shakespeare with clarity, skill, and passion.  The Intensive is strategically limited to 12 participants to ensure that everyone receives personal coaching and attention.

What is the Intensive Training?

Exercises in Linklater voice, Alexander and Trish Arnold movement, and text work based on John Barton's work and Neil Freeman's First Folio research, will be used to free up breath, voice, impulses, imagination, and the actor's intelligence.  Individual monologue coaching will focus on developing a personal, passionate connection to Shakespeare's text.  Participants can expect to leave the Intensive personally enriched and enlightened.

Read more: Memphis Shakespeare Training Intensive

Annual Gala

It's a delicious dinner buffet with cocktails. It's a gleeful, rapid-fire-fast, live auction.  It's a one-of-a-kind Broadway performance.  It's an exquisite selection of delectable desserts.  And it's an opportunity to support a remarkable Education Program and to share the love with tens of thousands of students. 

It's a party like no other.


Join us for the next bash, coming in 2016! All Gala proceeds go toward Tennessee Shakespeare Company's Education Program, which reaches out to young students all across the mid-south. Every year, TSC hires professional actor-teachers from around the country to teach and perform its programs, which include the nationally-recognized Romeo & Juliet Project, the "Summer of Shakespeare" youth training program, touring shows like "Shakespeare Said It!" that reach schools as far as Charlotte, NC, and much more.


See what next year holds in store!