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Biographies for H.M.S. Pinafore

Cast, Crew, Production Team, and Orchestra

 JOHN ADAMS (Sir Josephreturns to the role for which he received the first of 3 “Cantey”  awards from Raleigh Little Theatre, in 2002, fresh from playing Corcoran in the Savoyards’ last Keaton/Umberger collaboration. Since 1979, he has performed G&S with 5 companies, including 16 Savoyards productions as Pooh-Bah, Bunthorne, Jack Point (twice), Plaza-Toro, Tolloler (twice), Koko, the Learned Judge, and Gama. He dedicates his farewell performances to the memory of his mother and gives huge thanks for his support to his fiancé, Dewey. RIP HLF.

STUART ALBERT (Royal Chorus) is a sentient agglutination of molecules that occasionally entertains other molecular clusters by expelling air at them. Despite the multiple violations of physics (and probably the Geneva Convention) produced by his singing, this is his sixth year being invited back to perform with the Durham Savoyards.

MARIAN ANDERS (Royal Chorus) is delighted to be joining the wonderful Savoyards team for her third season.  When not singing, dancing, or quaffing nectar, she devotes herself to Quixotic quests to stamp out comma splices and sentence fragments from her students’ writing at Alamance Community College.

FREDERIC AYALA (Violin / Concertmaster) has been with the Savoyards for six years now and greatly enjoys playing in the pit and being concertmaster.

MARCIA BRIDGES (Hebe) is a former elementary music teacher and drama teacher who is loving working with the Savoyards again! She’s blessed with a great spouse and the joy of having done roles such as Stepmother in Cinderella, Renabelle in Radio Gals, and Maude in Music Man.

ADA BROWN (Stage Chorus) had fun as Buttercup’s understudy and Sir Joseph’s sister, no, his cousin, no, his aunt. Although favorite past roles include Sister Mary Amnesia and Meg Brockie, her most memorable acting experience was playing the Virgin Mary’s wacky next-door neighbor, Rhoda.

JIM BURNETTE (Capt. Corcoran) celebrates his eleventh DSL anniversary without ever having sworn a Big, Big D….Well, hardly ever!!  To Derrick, Alan, and his Savoyards family— you’re very, very good and be it understood, it’s a glorious thing to be in your Company! His performance is dedicated to Stephen and Mary Dare.

BOBBY CAMERON (Stage Chorus, Master Carpenter)  This is Bobby’s 17th Savoyards show and third Pinafore . . . and he enjoys them more every time! It’s about the fun people and awesome talent! Bobby thanks his wife Shere for her tolerance and critical eye — and daughter Brynn for her enjoyment of performance art!

DONNA CAVALLO (Stage Manager) has worked for a variety of area theatre companies. While primarily a stage manager, she has worked on almost every aspect of theatre production including lights, costumes, props, and has even, on occasion, appeared on stage. This is her thirteenth production with the Savoyards.

HENRY COATES (Boatswain)

MEGAN COLBORN (Royal Chorus) is happy to be performing with her Durham Savoyards family again! She enjoys singing, acting, and teaching children at her church. This show is dedicated, with love, to her family and she thanks them, her friends, and her teachers for their support! Thanks to her Savior, Jesus Christ! John 3:16.

ERIN CONN (us Ralph)

MARGUERITTE COX (Violin) Wow! A maximum of fifty words? That’s exciting! I wonder what I should say… This is a lot of pressure. Should I make it witty? No, then I’ll just look like I’m trying too hard. It should be simple. But simple is boring. I should just be myself. Yes, that’s

JODY CRAFFORD (Violin) is a National Board Certified middle school orchestra director in Burlington and was the 2013 recipient of the NC Symphony’s Maxine Swalin award. She performs regularly with the Durham Symphony, the Triangle Youth Ballet Nutcracker Orchestra and many community theater events. She and her husband love to play Golf.

HEATHER-DAWN CROSS (Stage Chorus) By day:  A mild mannered Genomic Scientist! By night: A crazed nerd ready to conquer the world. After almost 10 years ignoring the delectable siren call of the theatre, she is excited to have given in at last. Thank you “Marky” for supporting this dorkette. I sort of love you!

ERIC DANIEL (Trumpet) is celebrating his sixth season with the Savoy Orchestra. Lacking the meek, humble disposition traditionally associated with trumpeters, he aspires to one day earn a promotion to second trombone since that’s where the real glory in these affairs tends to be.

SARAH DAVIS (Stage Chorus) is excited to be in her first performance with the Savoyards. It’s her first time on stage since high school — after years of performing in choruses and karaoke bars — so she’s looking forward to the costumes and the dancing.

NORTON DICKMAN (Viola) Born in New Orleans LA. and grew up in Cleveland Ohio. Began music studies at the age of seven with percussion under Richard Wiener, Principle Percussionist of the Cleveland Orchestra. Began playing the Viola in jr. High School and studied with Gino Raffaelli, 1st violinist with the Cleveland Orchestra. Played with Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Robert Marcellus. Currently plays with the Durham Symphony under the direction of William Henry Curry. An active chamber musician. Play (mostly locally) in the Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh area communities.

STEVE DOBBINS (Stage Chorus) has worn many hats in his fifteen seasons with the Durham Savoyards, including eight years on the Board of Governors.  He now returns with glee and nostalgia to his very first Savoyard role:  a sailor swabbing the deck of the Pinafore who never misses a spot.  Well, hardly ever.


SONJA FOUST (Stage Chorus) would like to thank the Savoyards for being wonderfully weird and lovable, and also for appreciating her Dick (Deadeye) jokes. When she’s not goofing off, Sonja is a marketer, strategist, and general nerd in Duke’s news and communications office.

CHARLIE GRAGG (Bassoon) started playing bassoon at ten. He was shorter than the bassoon. Now, more than fifty years later, he is taller than the bassoon. And it’s the same bassoon.

KAREN GRAY (Royal Chorus, Queen Victoria) has performed every G&S operetta on stage with the Savoyards at least once in the last 20 years, and decided this year to take it easy and be a queen. Isn’t that what retirement is all about?

PAM GUIDRY-VOLLERS (Stage Chorus, Choreography assistant / Dance Captain, Hair & Make-up Designer) happily joins the Savoyards for her 18th production. A musical theatre performer since her debut in The Mikado in 4th grade, Pam has performed in Fiddler on the Roof, Kiss Me Kate, Iolanthe, and The Mikado, and has designed hair and makeup for the Savoyards since 2001.

MARY GUY (Stage Chorus) is really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really (I have fifty words, right?), really, really, really glad to be here.  And she’s really happy to be in the show, too.  Having a blast kickin’ it with her Savoyard sisters (and her cousins, and her aunts)!

HANK HANKLA (Stage Chorus) is delighted to be a new member of the Durham Savoyards. He has been singing or playing music for as long as he can remember. Hank and his wife, Judith, retired to Durham in 2011 after 50 years in Washington, DC, where he taught math and practiced law.

MARY ELISABETH HIRSH (Stage Chorus) Since her vocal debut at age 2, performing La Bamba in her crib, singing and music have been a part of Mary Elisabeth’s life. You may remember her from such things as the 2013 Pirates of Penzance as Mabel, and last year as Nekaya in Utopia, Ltd. Enjoy the show!

CATHRYN HOFFMANN (Royal Chorus) is joining the Savoyards for her fifth production, but her first one offstage — you all look so small from way up here in the opera boxes! Previously seen as The Plaintiff in Trial by Jury, Tessa in The Gondoliers, Iolanthe in Iolanthe, and Kate in The Pirates of Penzance.

LEE HONG (Violin) is a MD/PhD student at UNC. This is her 6th show with the Savoyards (but who’s counting, really?).

HOUSTON HORN (Stage Chorus) is clearly NOT a beginner.  After all, this is his third tour of duty onboard Pinafore.  He was last seen as Karl, the father of the groom (throwing real rice), in The Marriage of Bette and Boo at NRACT.  He misses seeing his wife, Joyce, backstage at the Carolina.

MITCHENER HOWELL (Ralph) is a native of Durham and a graduate of Yale University.  He’s thrilled to join the Savoyards on the topsy-turvy journey aboard the H.M.S. Pinafore. When he’s not moonlighting as a romantic tenor, Mitchener enjoys reading about general relativity and taking long walks on the beach.

LAUREN HUSSEY (Josephineis pleased to return for her 5th season with the Savoyards. Previous roles include Ceilia (Iolanthe), Constance (The Sorcerer), and Kalyba (Utopia Ltd). She is a senior voice major at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she has performed roles such as Vitellia (La Clemenza di Tito), Sally (Die Fledermaus), and most recently Lucy (The Telephone). She has also recently appeared as Papagena (Die Zauberflöte) at the Amalfi Coast Festival.

(Director/Choreographer) is pleased to return for his fourteenth collaboration with the Durham Savoyards, and with Music Director Alan Riley Jones.  Previous directing credits with the company: Utopia, Ltd., The Sorcerer, The Pirates of Penzance (2013 & 2005), Iolanthe, Princess Ida, The Mikado (2010 & 2003), The Gondoliers, The Yeomen of the Guard, H.M.S. Pinafore (2007), Patience, and Ruddigore. Derrick has collaborated as both actor and designer with regional companies including Manbites Dog Theater,  Playmakers Repertory Company,  Cape Fear Regional Theater, StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance, Duke Department of Theater Studies, Theatre Raleigh, Archipelago Theatre, William Peace University, Temple Theatre, Deep Dish Theatre Company, and Burning Coal Theater Company. Regional acting credits include:   Mr. Burns in Mr. Burns — a post-electric play, Sheriff in The Trip to Bountiful, Captain Horster in An Enemy of the People, C.P. Ellis in Best of Enemies, Mr. Rush in Love Alone, Alan Raleigh in God of Carnage, Emcee in Cabaret, Goldberg in The Birthday Party, Jake (etc.) in Stones in His Pockets, Cook in Mother Courage, Howie in Rabbit Hole, Martin in The Goat, Orson Welles in Orson’s Shadow, Richard Nixon in Nixon’s Nixon, and Mark Antony in Julius Caesar.

KATHLEEN JASINSKAS (Viola) is a graduate of the Juilliard School in Voice. She made her debut with the Savoyards in 2015 singing Princess Zara, and is thrilled to make her pit-debut this season playing the most under appreciated string instrument. For more information, visit

ALAN RILEY JONES (Music Director) is delighted to collaborate once again with director Derrick Ivey and with the Savoyards family as music director for the fourteenth time. Prior to assuming the music directorship in 2003, Alan appeared onstage in eight Durham Savoyards productions, including as J. W. Wells in The Sorcerer (2001), Major-General in The Pirates of Penzance (1999), and Lord Chancellor in Iolanthe (1998). He has also appeared with the Raleigh Little Theatre, where his performances as Tito in Lend Me a Tenor (1993) and Narrator/Mysterious Man in Into the Woods (2000) earned him RLT’s Cantey Award as Best Supporting Actor for those years. Alan has also appeared with the Raleigh Ensemble Players, Triangle Dinner Theatre, Abracadabra Theatre and Café, and Raleigh Inn Dinner Theatre, among others. Besides acting, singing, and music directing, Alan also enjoys composing and songwriting in a wide variety of styles. His original score to Gilbert’s Thespis, newly orchestrated, will be presented by the Durham Savoyards in October, 2017. His Christmas carol arrangements have been a staple of the Oakwood Waits caroling repertoire for many years. And, his original play with music, Ladri Waits, was presented by the Perihelion Theatre in Carrboro in 1996. Two of his songs were heard in Paul Ferguson’s staging of Lee Smith’s The Devil’s Dream, presented by the Raleigh Ensemble Players in 1996.


KIM KINGSLEY (Stage Chorus)

BRUCE KLITZMAN (Trumpet) was on the cover of “Playboy” magazine in 1969 (this “Playboy” was an entertainment magazine of Ocean City/Rehoboth Beach). He started performing with bands at colleges and bars in DC in 1963 and is now the longest-running trumpeter in Durham Savoyard history!

CATHY LAMBE (Stage Chorus) has sung and danced with the Savoyards for all but 2 performances since 1981.  She enjoys just being with her Savoyard friends as well as “gaily tripping” onstage. Other pastimes are gardening, reading, volunteering at Habitat ReStore, and catering to her cat.  Thanks to Randy for supporting all this madness.

DEREK LANE (Stage Chorus) helped maintain a list of Unpopular Chemicals, very much including Lead. He hopes that Pinafore will be Popular (he already suspects it is not chemical).

REBECCA LEE (Violin) is a software developer, potter and scuba diver who has been fiddling around with the Savoyards since the pirate sherry was poured in 2005. She is thrilled to be joining the Company Limited for her tenth production and thanks her husbandcito for indulging her in this annual madness.

RICHARD LEHNER (French Horn) is a retired Public TV and Radio General Manager. He has taught at Indiana University and The University of Florida. He plays with The Chapel Hill Philharmonia, The Triangle Wind Ensemble, The Old North State Brass and has played with ensembles in Florida, Indiana, and North and South Carolina.

ANDREW LICHT (Violin) is currently pursuing his Masters degree in violin performance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts studying with Kevin Lawrence. Andrew enjoys freelancing around Winston-Salem. Before, he received his Bachelors of Music in violin performance at the University of Massachusetts studying with Elizabeth Chang.

JIM LINN (Percussion) is a free-lance percussionist playing regularly with the Triangle Wind Ensemble, and Old North State Brass. He has performed over the past 15 years with various Triangle area orchestras — Durham, Raleigh, and Raleigh Civic Symphonies, Chapel Hill Philharmonic — the Cary Town Band, and local theater groups (Cary Academy and Raleigh Little Theater).

JANELL LOVELACE (Producer, Webmaster) sails in as Producer in her ninth Savoyards year, beyond grateful for the support she got from *everyone* last year while fighting cancer.  To avoid having free time, she is a Boy Scouter, Duke Chapel Chorister and Congregation member, Atomic Empire commander, avid reader and traveller, and more.  Thanks again!

TANNER LOVELACE (Assistant Producer, Orchestra Manager) spends most of his time training for and racing Ironman triathlons. When he’s not doing that he trades off with his wife Janell driving his son around to robotics or Scouts. This is his 10th year with the Savoyards. Love to Janell & Bram.

MATTHEW LUBIN (Carpenter) may have misunderstood. He thought the Durham Savoyards was a group for people who immigrated to Durham from the historic Duchy of Savoy. He can cook you up a mess of Savoyard cabbage ‘n’ trout frittata like nobody’s business. And he has some picturesque Alpine folk dances to teach you.

BETH MAYO (Stage Manager’s Assistant) recently relocated to the Triangle after spending 12 years in Asheville where she stage managed for Asheville Community Theatre, the Montford Park Players, and the Ballet Conservatory of Asheville.  This is her first G&S and she is excited to join the Durham Savoyards!

MEAGHAN MORGAN (Properties Manager) has worked backstage or on the technical side of Savoyards performances since 2008. Previous work has included set building, running crew, make-up assistant, and props-making assistant.

JEEP MORRISON (Trombone) has “worked his way up through the animal kingdom until getting to Second Trombone”, and is pleased that his part is actually cited from the stage (ref. Mikado). The back story for those references is a tiff apparently ignited when some lame-brained Victoria era producer eliminated the second trombone position in an effort to save money. Pa – leese!!! As if the orchestra is highly compensated! Could we just get a little respect here?

MERIDA NEGRETE (Clarinet) is a lecturer in the Music Department at UNC-CH. She regularly performs in orchestras, wind ensembles, and chamber music groups throughout the Triangle area. She has also had occasion to perform with the North Carolina Symphony as well as the Raleigh and Durham Symphonies. She enjoys performing with the Savoyards.

CHRIS NEWLON (Stage Chorus) is thrilled to be a sailor on the H.M.S. Pinafore.  He has regularly performed with the Savoyards since 2001 including Robin Oakapple in Ruddigore, Frederic in Pirates of Penzance, and the Duke in Patience.  He is very thankful for his patient and understanding spouse, Betsy.

VIRGINIA O’BRIEN (Buttercup) is making her return to the performance side of theatre after a thirty year hiatus. More recently she directed and produced over 50 middle school plays and musical productions as Music/Theatre teacher for WCPSS. Her professional credits include: Funny Girl, Fantasticks, She Loves Me, and Roar of the Greasepaint.

RICHARD PALMER (Royal Chorus), now in his ninth season with the Savoyards (plus providing pyrotechnic effects for Sorcerer, 1977), is Duke Professor Emeritus (Chemistry), and finds himself spending more and more time (when he’s not rehearsing or set building) traveling, winemaking, forest managing, truffle growing and fly fishing.

KAYE PLUTH (Stage Chorus) is thrilled to appear in her first Savoyards production. Enchanted with the works of Gilbert and Sullivan as a high school student, she is overjoyed to revive her passion (alongside a dashing tenor this time)!

MICHAEL PLUTH (Stage Chorus) is a first-time Savoyard whose previous stage experience has been such lighthearted works as Verdi’s Rigoletto. Introduced to Gilbert and Sullivan by the passion of his lovely wife Kaye, he has greatly enjoyed being part of this wonderful production of H.M.S. Pinafore.

PAT ROOS (Stage ChorusIs Pat, aka cabin boy Celerity, a very fine sailor? (YES!)  The best Authorities say so. But, if  Pat is a fine midshipman, how is it the crew has never noticed how remarkable this unusual sailor is? What, never? Well, hardly ever. However, Pat is glad to be amongst the gallant crew of the Durham Savoyards.

BETTY ROMANI (Rehearsal Accompanist, Royal Chorus) is happy to be sailing on the H.M.S. Pinafore, having contributed to fifteen previous Savoyard productions. She gives three cheers (and one cheer more) to cast and crew for another delightful voyage. Enjoy the show!

MICHAEL ROWE (Stage Chorusis excited to perform his favorite role – Tenor Chorus, in  his first-ever H.M.S. Pinafore after 20 years of performing in Gilbert & Sullivan Operettas.  He has performed with the Durham Savoyards on and off since 2000, playing: Sir Bailey Barre (2016 – Utopia Limited), Ernest Dummkopf (2000- Grand Duke), Pish-Tush (2010 – Mikado), Samuel (2013 – Pirates), and understudying Alexis (2001 – The Sorcerer).

JENNI SCOGGIN (Flute) is excited to be a part of her second Savoyards production. She performs with the Raleigh Civic Symphony and holds a minor in flute. Her day job is teaching in the Lower School at Carolina Friends School. Jenni lives in Durham with her husband, son, and German Shorthaired Pointer, Gilbert.

SCOTT SINO (Dick Deadeye) again portrays a not-so-nice guy following last year’s performance as the avaricious Mr. Goldbury in Utopia, Ltd. Scott insists that the dubious characters he portrays are unequivocally contrary to his own kind and generous personality which he is happy to tell you about, if you ask him.

JOANNA SISK-PURVIS (Flute) was born at an early age in the mountains of Virginia. A childhood rich in STEM led her to a sensible three degrees in flute performance. After a glamorous stint in L.A., she moved to Chapel Hill, finding it more conducive to raising children, breathing, and experiencing El Niño. She teaches, conducts, and writes fiction (possibly including this bio).

DAVID SMITH (Royal Chorus) is singing his 6th H.M.S. Pinafore and 47th G&S production, 41 with Savoyards and six with White Iris Light Opera.  Other recreations: Prime Time Players (7 shows); Village Revue; 13 grandchildren; St. Philip’s Choir; and mental health advocacy, education, and support – mostly shared with Dorothy, his wife of 58 years.

NICK STAFFA (Royal Chorus) joined the Savoyards in 1965 and has performed in all the G&S shows except Gondoliers and Grand Duke. A perpetual second tenor, he got to play KoKo in high school, but could never land a solo role with the Savoyards. His dying words will probably be “Ta-ran-ta-ra, Ta-ran-ta-ra.”

BRUCE STEWART (Stage Chorus) has been in every G&S operetta, a goal he never expected in his wildest dreams but somehow managed to do anyway. When not doing G&S he can be seen tripping the lights fantastic with Triangle Youth Ballet. Otherwise he appears randomly in front and behind the scenes in various productions around the Triangle. He thanks his lovely wife Brenna for tolerating his theater addiction.

SANDY SVOBODA (French Horn) began her Savoyard career with The Mikado in 1982. She teaches french horn and trumpet privately, conducts the Piedmont Wind Ensemble, and is owner of Allegro Music Sales, which sells sheet music for brass and woodwinds. In real life she is the Purchasing Officer / Budget Analyst for Carrboro.

EMILY TOMASIK (Stage Chorus) is ecstatic to be making her debut with Durham Savoyards. She is currently a junior at Enloe High School, and hopes to continue studying theater during college. She spends most of her spare time honing her craft but also has a love for literature, dance, and photography.

SHIANGTAI TUAN (Stage Chorus) After being Shanghaied from Turandot’s court by the Pirates of Penzance, he has fired all thirteen canons of G-S, in the meanwhile cooked for Madama Butterfly, served Don Giovanni, Lady Lucia Di Lammermoor, etc. After playing Magic Flute in Bulgaria and Italy, he is happy to be on board Pinafore.

NICOLLE TULVE (Viola) has been playing viola with the Savoyards orchestra for several years. She knows several G&S productions by song, dance, and words without ever seeing what’s happening on stage. Her favorite production is all of them. She thanks her family for supporting her time in the pit.

JAMES TYLER-WALKER  (Cello) H.M.S. Pinafore marks James’s 6th production with the Savoyards. When not “chug-chugging” in the pit, he can be found taking graduate classes in information science and working for Duke Medicine. Much love to Richard and the kitties.

RAY UBINGER (Violin) is performing in his 16th DSL production. Six were on stage, including last year as Captain Corcoran. He has also sung in five grand operas, performed live in concert with Andy Williams, and been on NC’s general election ballot for US Senate.

SHIRLEY VIOLAND-JONES  (Clarinet) is returning to the Savoyard orchestra pit and also serves the Durham Symphony as principal clarinetist. Her other orchestra experience includes Long Leaf Opera, Triangle Opera, Raleigh Symphony, Duke Medicine Orchestra, Tar River Orchestra, Tuscarawas Philharmonic, Virginia Opera, and the North Carolina Symphony.

RUTH WINECKER (Stage Chorus) is very excited for her return to the stage after representing Utopia as the sole athlete from that country at the javelin world championships. Her hobbies include arranging books at the library by color, jogging with her pet Tapir, Simon, and toxistrology: detecting poisons by zodiac sign.