Our 2017-18 Company

Actor's Equity Association

Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) was founded in 1913 as the first of the American actor unions.  Equity’s mission is to advance, promote, and foster the art of live theatre as an essential component of our society.  Today, Equity represents more than 40,000 actors, singers, dancers, and stage managers working in hundreds of theatres across the United States.  Equity members are dedicated to working in the theatre as a profession, upholding the highest artistic standards.  Equity negotiates wages and working conditions and provides a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans for its members. Through its agreement with Equity, Tennessee Shakespeare Company has committed to the fair treatment of the actors and stage managers employed in this production.  AEA is a member of the AFL-CIO and is affiliated with FIA, an international organization of performing arts unions.  For more information, visit www.actorsequity.org.


Jennifer Ammons croppedJennifer Ammons (Costume Designer for Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesaris a third-year graduate student in Costume Design at the University of Memphis.  Her designs for the University include Nine, Measure for Measure, Empires of Eternal Void, and Bull.  This past summer, she worked for the Ohio Light Opera where she was an Associate Costume Designer for HMS Pinafore, in addition to Assistant Costume Designer on The Lady of the Slipper and The Student Prince.   In 2016, she was the assistant to Janice Benning Lacek on the UofM-TSC co-production of Henry V.  Other Memphis area designs includePinkalicious for New Day Children’s Theatre and Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet at Hatiloo Theatre.  Previously, she was the resident costume designer and shop manager for Mars Hill University and Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre near Asheville, NC.  Designs from MHU and SART include Flyin West, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Sunshine Boys, The Children’s Hour, and Sylvia.


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Marquis Dijon Archuleta (Benvolio/Capulet in The Romeo and Juliet Project; Caesar/Pindarus/Ghost of Caesar/Ensemble in Julius Caesar)  TSC: The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo and Juliet Project, Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits.  Other credits: Of Mice and Men (Crooks), Cyrano de Bergerac (Comte De Guiche), Pentecost (Antonio), Pippin (Louis), Romeo and Juliet (Lord Capulet), and Jesus Christ Superstar (Simon Peter).  He is a graduate of the University of Montana’s School of Theatre & Dance program with a B.F.A. and a minor in Psychology.  He thanks TSC for giving him this opportunity; and his friends, family, and professors for supporting him.

 


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Jillian Barron (Mercutio/Paris’ Page/Montague in The Romeo and Juliet Project; Ensemble in Shake(s), Rattle, & Roll and Southern Sirens)  TSC: The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About NothingRomeo and Juliet Project, Shakespeare’s Greatest HitsShowcase Memphis: Midsummer Night.  POTS: Byhalia, MS.  Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis: In Search of Tonto Goldstein.  Theatre Memphis: Rapture, Blister, Burn.  GCT: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  Member of We Are Vanessa professional improvisation troupe (2014).  Education: Union University (B.A. in Theatre Performance and French Literature and Culture).  She extends special thanks to her husband.

 


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E. Frank Bluestein (Executive Director) is the 1996–1997 Disney National Performing Arts Teacher of the Year and the 1994 Tennessee Teacher of the Year.  USA Today named Mr. Bluestein as one of the top forty teachers in the United States in 1998.  Until his retirement in 2013, he served as chair of the Germantown High School Fine Arts Department; as artistic director of the school’s theatre, the Poplar Pike Playhouse; and as executive producer for the school’s three-million-dollar, Emmy Award-winning television studio.  Graduates from his program include Saturday Night Live star Chris Parnell; film, television, and stage actress Missi Pyle; Emmy-winning casting director (Desperate Housewives & NYPD Blue) Scott Genkinger; NPR reporter Debbie Elliott; Tennessee Shakespeare Company founder and Producing Artistic Director Dan McCleary; and Blue Man Group actor Wes Day.  Mr. Bluestein is a past winner of the American Theatre Association’s John C. Barner Award, and has served as an arts advisory panelist for numerous organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts.  He spent several years as director of shows at Opryland, USA, and he most recently wrote and directed the national touring production of Beale Street Saturday Night starring blues legend Joyce Cobb.  In 2013, Mr. Bluestein was inducted into the Educational Theatre Association’s Hall of Fame in Minneapolis.


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Cathy Caldwell (Bookkeeper) is a native Memphian who has worked in bookkeeping, billing, customer service, and operations analysis in small businesses and a Fortune 500 corporation.  This is her first experience working for a non-profit, and she loves the creative and collaborative spirit of Tennessee Shakespeare Company.  She is proud to bring her skill set to this visionary organization.

 


 

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Laura Daniels (Company and Box Office Manager) is a native Memphian and comes to TSC with over ten years of office management experience. She received her B. A. in English with a minor in Journalism from the University of Alaska - Fairbanks.  In her spare time, Laura enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, and reading.  She is married and a mother to one son, three cats, and one dog. 

 


 

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Cara McHugh Geissler (Romeo and Juliet Project Manager; Education Associate) has served as both the Education Manager and as a Journeyman Artist-Manager for TSC.  Cara played Biondello in TSC's Taming of the Shrew and Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet.  She received her M.F.A. in Theatre Performance from the University of Louisville in 2013 and her B.A. in Theatre and Political Science from Murray State University in 2009.  While in Louisville, Cara taught children's theatre at Encore Youth Theatre and at Adelante Hispanic Achievers.  She also taught for both the University of Louisville and Spalding University.  Cara served on the Board for The Bard's Town Theatre in Louisville, where she performed in Misses StrataReasons to Be Pretty, and Just Like Life.  Cara’s new favorite role is playing mom to her little boy, Brantley.


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Kiana Holley (Juliet in The Romeo and Juliet Project; Soothesayer/Metellus Cymber/Calphurnia/Titinius/Ensemble in Julius Caesar) first struck up an interest in theatre in a middle school classroom.  She became a theatre major during her sophomore year at the University of Montevallo, where she had her first dose of Shakespeare as a Chorus player in Comedy of Errors.  Kiana recently finished her undergraduate work at the University of Memphis, where she played Delia in a narrative production of the short story, Sweat.  She has acted in various student films and commercials, and plans to pursue writing in the future.  Kiana would like to thank Tennessee Shakespeare Company for this opportunity, and her parents for their support.

 

 


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Mario Hoyle (Romeo in The Romeo and Juliet Project; Flavius/Decius/Octavius/Ensemble in Julius Caesar) is excited to be working with TSC for the first time.  Local theatre credits include South Pacific (ensemble) at Theatre Memphis, Hamlet (Bernardo and 3rd player) at New Moon Theatre, and Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting (Clancy Hope) at Hattiloo Theatre.  Mario also can be seen in a Southland Park Gaming and Racing commercial and will be playing Cory in an upcoming production of Fences at Theatre Memphis.  Mario received his B.A. in Performing Arts from UT Chattanooga.  He would like to thank his mom for being his superhero. 

 


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Michael Khanlarian (Teaching Artist in The Romeo and Juliet Project; Brutus/Ensemble in Julius Caesar) is a founding member of TSC, where his credits include The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About NothingTo Kill A MockingbirdHenry VAll’s Well That Ends WellTwelfth NightOthelloAs You Like It, and Romeo and Juliet.  Michael is a graduate of the University of Memphis. 

 

 

 


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Merit Koch (Lady Capulet/Balthazar in The Romeo and Juliet Project; Caska/Lucius/Lucillius/Ensemble in Julius Caesar)  TSC: To Kill A MockingbirdThe Winter’s Tale, Eudora Welty: Mississippi Myth, and Flannery O’Connor: Georgia Gothic.  Merit is an actor, musician, writer, and Memphis native.  She studied drama as an Acting Apprentice with Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater, where she also directed several original works.  Merit is a proud supporter of the Congressional Awards Program and is the recipient of her own Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medals for public service in the arts.  When she’s not collaborating with TSC, Merit enjoys working on her original music and spending time with her Boxer pup, Bella.  Special thanks and love always to her TSC family.  Visit her online at www.meritkoch.com.

 


 

Edgar Landa croppedEdgar Landa (Fight Director for Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, and Shake(s), Rattle, & Roll) is a Los Angeles-based actor/director.  He also creates fights and violence for theatres large and small.  Credits include South Coast Rep, San Diego Rep, The Geffen Playhouse, CTG/Kirk Douglas Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, and Shakespeare & Company.  Edgar serves on the faculty of the University of Southern California School of Dramatic Arts, and is a long-time collaborator of Son of Semele Ensemble (Los Angeles).  He is an AEA member and Pro99 supporter of intimate theatre in Los Angeles. (www.edgarlanda.com

 


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Khalil LeSaldo (Paris/Nurse in The Romeo and Juliet Project; Cassius/Ensemble in Julius Caesar) is thrilled to be performing with TSC for the first time.  Previous productions include Drums in the Night (Andreas Kagler), Orphee (Orphee), Predator: The Musical (Carl Weathers), To Kill a Mockingbird (Tom Robinson), A Little Night Music (Frederick Egerman), Wait Until Dark (Harry Roat), The Dumb Waiter (Gus).  Thanks to Carmen. 

 

 


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Carmen-maria Mandley (Director of Romeo and Juliet; Education Program Manager) began loving Shakespeare working with the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre while she was still in high school, and by the age of 21 was directing for their Young Company.  She began acting, directing, and teaching for Shakespeare & Company in 1996, training and working within their Fall Festival of Shakespeare, nation-wide residencies, and summer productions.  She then was named Education Director at the Raleigh Little Theatre in NC, where she produced school tours for 25,000 children yearly, a youth playwriting festival, and a resident teen service organization.  She is the founding Artistic Director of Bare Theatre and the Nickel Shakespeare Girls in Raleigh, NC, as well as Bare Portland in Maine.  In her first year in Raleigh, Carmen was chosen for the “Who To Watch in the Arts” award from the Raleigh News and Observer.  Her productions of Much Ado About Nothing, Titus Andronicus, and her shadow-signed production of Mother Hicks were awarded best productions.  She transitioned to Portland Stage in Maine in 2014 as Education Director and Literary Manager, and took over as Director of Training at the Acorn Adult acting Academy in Portland in 2015.  Her productions of Macbeth, The Amish Project, Julius Caesar, and The Ballad of Daphnis and Chloe were all named top ten productions by The Portland Phoenix and The Portland Press Herald.  She is a proud member of Theater Ensemble of Color in Portland.  Carmen attended National-Louis University in Chicago, and continued her training at Shakespeare & Company and at the Dell’ Arte International School of Physical Theatre.  She is a published poet and a produced playwright, and she is thrilled to be in Memphis working for TSC.

 


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Dan McCleary+ (TSC Founder and Producing Artistic Director) is a native Memphian and a graduate of Germantown High School and its Poplar Pike Playhouse.  Dan directed and acted in TSC’s inaugural production of As You Like It (Jaques) as well as 400: Shakespeare FeastUnto the BreachThe Glass Menagerie, and The Taming of the Shrew.  He played the title role in TSC’s Richard III three years ago, and he has directed TSC’s Much Ado About Nothing, Ernest Hemingway in Key West, Flannery O’Connor’s Georgia Gothic, All’s Well That Ends Well, Twelfth NightHamletThe TempestMacbethA Midsummer Night’s Dream, all-female Julius CaesarOthelloComplete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), and Themes from a Midsummer Night.  At the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, he directed the world premiere of The Stone Face and played the title roles in Antony and Cleopatra and Richard III, Brutus in Julius Caesar, Porfiry in Crime and Punishment, Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, and Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor.  As Associate Artistic Director at Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshires, Dan acted in and directed over 30 productions, appearing as Coriolanus, Macbeth, Herman Melville, Stephano, Don Armado, Hotspur, Master Ford, Bertram, and Antipholus/Dromio of Ephesus.  He directed S&Co’s first production of The Servant of Two Masters, also his own adaptation of Anaïs Nin’s Henry & June, as well as Vita & VirginiaMy Own Stranger, and The Fiery Rain.  Other regional theatre: Seattle Shakespeare, Georgia Shakespeare, Merrimack Rep, North Shore Music Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, StageWest, Alabama Shakespeare, Arden Theatre, Studio 4-A, and Huntington Theatre.  Dan is a published poet, author of the stage productions Speak What We Feel and Quintessence, and teaches Shakespeare master classes for all ages.  Memphis Magazine named him among the “Who’s Who in Memphis” for four consecutive years, and the Germantown Arts Alliance honored him with its 2009 Distinguished Arts and Humanities Medal for Performing Arts.  He holds a B.A. in Advertising and Journalism from Temple University.  Dan is the proud dad of seven-year-old twin boys, Sullivan and Collins.

 


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Rachel McFatridge (Stage Manager for Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar) TSC: The Merchant of Venice and 2016 Summer Intern.  Some of Rachel’s favorite productions during college included Arsenic and Old Lace (Elaine Harper), Little Women (Josephine “Jo” March), and Songs for a New World (Herself/Violinist).  During her college career, she set-designed Arsenic and Old LaceThe Taffetas, and The Leader of the Pack.  Rachel received her B.A. in Fine Arts from Blue Mountain College in 2017.  Rachel would like to thank TSC for this amazing opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young people.

 


Matt Nelson Headshot croppedMatthew Nelson (Friar in Romeo and Juliet; Antony/Artemedoris/Ensemble in Julius Caesar) is extremely excited to be working with Tennessee Shakespeare Company.  Matt last worked with TSC in the 2014 production of Romeo and Juliet.  Other credits: Tecumseh! Outdoor Drama (Tecumseh U.S.), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Oberon), Measure for Measure (Duke), Empires of Eternal Void (Prisoner), A Flea in Her Ear (Don Carlos), and Bad Jews (Jonah).  Education: University of Memphis (B.F.A. in Theatre Performance).  Matt would like to thank TSC and his family for their love and support. 

 


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William Shakespeare (Playwright) died 401 years ago at age 52, yet his language remains fresh and modern; his phraseology forms the core of our casual conversation, social media, and political rhetoric; and his skill at authorship and progressive understanding of our psyches has served as the foundation of master works of literature, psychology, philosophy, performance, pedagogy, and our humanity the world over.  Yet, he was probably a lot like you, regardless of your age.  William Shakespeare was born into an Age of alarming innovation and discovery in every field of study: voyage, religion, printing, science, commerce, history, disaster, and triumph.  Just like you.  There was revolution all around him, and for us the occurrences of financial tumult, widespread poverty, victory and defeat overseas, scientific discovery, natural catastrophe, a warming planet, an increasingly intelligent world due to electronic information-sharing, and women beginning to share corporate and political leadership all create a similar Age of Renaissance.  William was born into an Age of religious ambivalence, often with accompanying violence, and he received the usual education for a boy of the Age, until he as 12 years old.  He married an older woman, perhaps because they were pregnant first.  And there are two periods in his early adult life that we know very little about.  When he emerges in documentation, he is an actor and a writer.  But he doesn’t write like the others around him.  He writes, using known stories, through the rhythm of his heart.  You can hear it in his verse lines.  He began to write his life into his plays: when his son Hamnet and father die, there is Hamlet; after his mother dies and England’s riots create domestic war, there is Coriolanus; after he falls in love with a dark-haired woman in the city (or the Court, more likely), there are the Sonnets to his Dark Lady and all of his Rosalinds in As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet and Love’s Labor’s Lost; and when his daughters come of age, there are his final plays in which the daughters redeem their fathers.  It is said of William that he created the human being.  Indeed, he developed character on stage with psychological underpinnings and fragile grace resulting in landmark joys or the end of lives.  Like a genuine poet, he forces no answers upon us.  He lends us timeless questions.  William was a Revolutionary because he dared to question his life in a public forum, and he discovered that that which is most personal is shared by us all.  It is collectively held and needs to be articulated and felt for the health of a community.  In so doing, William redefined the function of theatre.  His Age compelled and inspired him, just as our own Age can do for us. 


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Stephanie Shine+ (Director of Julius Caesar; Shake(s), Rattle, & Roll; and The Romeo and Juliet Project; General Manager; Education Director) is the creator of The Romeo and Juliet Project as well as a resident artist for TSC.  Her TSC directorial credits include Henry V, A Midsummer Night's Dream (2015), Romeo and Juliet (2011-12, 2014-16), It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (2012-13), Southern Yuletide, and the touring shows Shakespeare's Greatest Hits, Shake(s), Rattle, and Roll, Shakespeare Said It, and Lend Me Thy Sword!  On stage at TSC, she played the Countess in All's Well that Ends Well, the female roles in Unto the Breach, and Gertrude in Hamlet.  In addition, Stephanie serves as the annual Gala Auctioneer, and curates the material for and directs TSC's Literary Salons.  She is the former Artistic Director of Seattle Shakespeare Company, a position she held for 13 years.  For SSC, she directed and/or produced many productions.  Other directorial credits include The Taming of the Shrew and The Comedy of Errors for Colorado Shakespeare Festival, the award-winning one-woman internationally-touring Marilyn Monroe Biopic, Marilyn: Forever Blonde, and several new works for Seattle's Book-It Repertory Theatre.  Her production of I am of Ireland (which she also conceived and adapted) opened Book-It's 25th Anniversary Season in September 2014.  As an actor, she has performed with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, NYC's Theatre for a New Audience, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Alley Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, ACT, The Empty Space, and Seattle Children's Theatre, among others.  Roles include Juliet, Rosalind, Lady Macbeth, Beatrice, Regan, Feste, Kate, Bianca, Dionyza, The Princess of France, Hero, Perdita, and The Chorus in Henry V.  Stephanie is a graduate of the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, where she was mentored by Shakespearean great, Cal Winn.  She earned her B.F.A. at the University of Washington's Professional Actor Training Program under Bob Hobbs.  She is currently in pursuit of her M.F.A. at the University of Memphis.  Her greatest role is that of mother to Conor, Cahillane, Sullivan, and Collins.

 


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Zach Williams (Tybalt/Captain of the Watch in The Romeo and Juliet Project; Ensemble in Shake(s), Rattle, & Roll and Southern Sirens; Teaching-Artist Fellow) recently performed in TSC's The Comedy of Errors having previously appeared in several staged readings.  His less recent productions include As You Like ItTwelfth NightA Party to Murder, and an Ostrander Award for music direction in the Good Woman of Setzuan.  When not on stage, Zach enjoys gardening, painting, and filming.  He is a recent graduate of University of Memphis with a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance.  Zach would like to thank his parents, friends, and lovely wife, Jillian, for making love a madness worth having.  “Enjoy the music, enjoy the show, and may you always find friends if in a strange land.”

 


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Kilby Elisabeth Yarbrough (Prince/Peter/Friar John in The Romeo and Juliet Project; Marulles/Cinna the Conspirator/Portia/Messala/Ensemble in Julius Caesar)  TSC: Henry V, To Kill a Mockingbird, Much Ado About Nothing, The Comedy of Errors.  Kilby is a freelance theatre artist based in Memphis, working in performance, costume design and construction, stage management, and teaching.   Lately, she's been in St. Louis, developing exciting, found-space theatre with Fourth Wall Down; she also recently played Lulu in Chatterbox Audio Theatre's production of The Nature of Captivity.  Kilby began her Shakespeare training right here at TSC as a member of the inaugural Young Company in 2010, and she's always glad to be invited back.  She also trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and she holds a B.A. in Theatre from Rhodes College.

 

+ Member of The Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Inc., an independent national labor union.