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Biographies

Cast, Crew, Production Team, and Orchestra

Stuart Albert (John Wellington Wells) Some say Stuart is the ruggedly handsome scion of a volcano god, or that he sprang fully-formed from the forehead of David Bowie during a particularly weird psilocybin trip in 1974. Others say that this is his fifth year with the Durham Savoyards and that he’ s been given frikkin’ wizard powers in the role of J. W. Wells. The legend changes with each telling.

Marian Anders (Royal Chorus, Understudy Mrs. Partlet) is making her Durham Savoyards debut with The Sorcerer. For the past thirty years she has performed sporadically; her favorite roles include Pitti Sing in The Mikado and Lucy in You’ re a Good Man Charlie Brown.

Ada Brown (Mrs. Partlet) always longed to be a Savoyard, but until she moved to Durham from eastern NC this summer, settled for roles such as Sister Mary Amnesia in Nunsense and Mammy Yokum in Li’l Abner. Her most notable performance was singing at the graveside of a former Clinton administration appointee.

Irina Bunnage (Stage Chorus) is enjoying her fourth production with the Durham Savoyards. Obviously loving tragic music, she is also singing Mozart’ s Requiem with Voices Chapel Hill Chorus this spring. Her previous experience includes Menotti’ s Amahl and the Night Visitors (Long Leaf Opera) and Verdi’ s Il Trovatore (NC Opera).

Joanna Burke (Aline) makes her G&S debut in Sorcerer. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ms. Burke has sung operatic roles at UNC, Meredith College, and young artist programs including Martina Arroyo Foundation’ s Prelude to Performance and the Atlantic Music Festival. She’s thrilled to be singing with the Savoyards and grateful for the experience of this new genre.

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Alexis, Aline, and the Sorcerer; publicity photo by Joe Cohn

Jim Burnette (Sir Marmaduke Poindextre) entreats all to welcome joy and bid adieu to sadness — but delicately and respectfully. He thanks Derrick, Alan and his Savoyards family for continued support — it is, it is a glorious thing to be in your Company! His performance is dedicated to Stephen and Mary Dare for love and encouragement.

Bobby Cameron (Stage Chorus, Vice President, Assistant Set Realizer)continues his run with the Savoyards — his 14th show with the group. He can’t decide what’s more fun — singing, building sets, going to parties, or serving on the board . . . so he’s doing them all. He thanks his wife Shere for her patience with all of this and is glad she, too, enjoys the shows.

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 eleventh production with the Savoyards.

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! Psalm 23.

Joe Cohn (Set Realizer, Publicity Photos) is a loving husband and Durham native who is in his fifth year with The Durham Savoyards. Joe earned his Communications degree from Appalachian State. As a Photographer, Joe is helping Google Maps viewers see inside Durham businesses by shooting Street View style virtual tours.

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Techies at Lunch; photo by Tracy Delius

Erin Conn (Royal Chorus)

Tracy Delius (Painting Coordinator) has been with the Savoyards for more than 30 years. Her first role was a Sprite. Her latest role is Paint Girl. In between, she has been a set builder, contadine, follow spot operator, fairy, assistant stage manager, trial spectator, and board member.

Richard Dideriksen (Stage Chorus, Set Designer/builder, and Artistic painter) Richard’s 42nd seasonfinds him tending the garden staff on the Pointdextre Estate, his 16th set design and 49th production. Playing your good guys, lovers, bad guys, buffoons, & even a Ghost, for 35 roles, he’s grateful to add a Zombie to that list. Thanks, Teme, for letting him play!

Steve Dobbins (Notary, Past President) is enjoying his thirteenth season with the Durham Savoyards. This summer he will conclude eight years of service on the Board of Governors. Steve dedicates this year’s performance to the memory of the late great Haskell Fitz-Simons, who played the Notary in the Durham Savoyards’ first staging of The Sorcerer in 1977.

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Steve Dobbins; photo by Joe Cohn.

Christine Eckermann-Ross (Stage Chorus) is thrilled to be enjoying her fourth show with the Durham Savoyards. This exotic animal veterinarian/lady’s maid/zombie/demon hag is disappointed that venom toads were not allowed at rehearsal this year…

Sonja Foust (Stage Chorus) usually hides her secret stage chorus identity behind a thick pair of glasses and a day job at the Daily Planet (ok, fine — the Duke news office). When she’s not a singing, dancing housemaid or a bespectacled video marketer, she’s a humor blogger at Pintester.com.

Lee Galbreath (Lady Sangazure) has played Princess Ida and the Fairy Queen with this august company in the past and is thrilled to be the “divine” Lady Sangazure. When not portraying powerful women on stage, Lee spends much of her time as a massage therapist making the world a happier place one person at a time.

Charles Gragg (Bassoon) has been playing with The Savoyards for more than a decade. Charles holds a MS in chemistry from NCSU, and a BS in biology from Union College in Schenectady, NY. He is music director at Carolina Pines Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC.

Karen Gray (Stage Chorus), now in her 19th Savoyards production, has played Lady Jane, Cousin Hebe, Dame Hannah, and Dame Carruthers, in addition to many chorus characters. This year she’s the head housekeeper! Recently retired from Duke, she laughs hilariously when asked what she does in her spare time. Thanks to Michael and the three pups!

Michael Hale Gray (Business Manager) knows you didn’t come to see him, in tie, in the lobby. He pays bills, writes checks, fixes problems, so you can enjoy the show/cast, including his wife Karen. Keeping it short – air traffic – Civil War – history dates – trivia – resume on request (in said lobby).

Karen Guidry (Costume Design, Wardrobe Mistress) has been involved in Durham Savoyards productions as costume designer, seamstress, wardrobe mistress, assistant producer, and producer for the last seventeen years and has completed the canon as a proud Techie. She served also as a member of the Board of Governors in roles from Social Chair to Past-President.

Pam Guidry-Vollers (Stage Chorus, Assistant Choreographer, Hair & Makeup Designer, Board Secretary) happily joins the Savoyards for her 16th 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, Board Member) is elated to be in her fifth spring show with the Durham Savoyards. When not daydreaming about running off with a pirate of her very own (whoops, wrong show!), she enjoys flexing her culinary muscles with the help of her pet inchworm, Slimey.

Brian Herrle (Stage Chorus) is thrilled to be part of his first Savoyards production. Brian and his family recently returned to the Triangle after a 7-year hiatus in New Jersey, where Brian became very active in community theater. He lives in Chapel Hill with wife Myra and children Alex and Maria, his fellow thespians.

Kimberly Hirsh (Stage Chorus) appears in her 9th Savoyards show this year. The fates decreed at her birth that she would be a pallid ghost, but left out the part about serving J. W. Wells. When she’s not fulfilling that calling, she supports K-12 educators as the managing editor of learnnc.org.

Mary Elisabeth Hirsh (Stage Chorus, Understudy Aline, Understudy Constance) For her fourth Durham Savoyards performance, Mary Elisabeth is portraying the air-headed scullery maid. This could come from her actually being a sprite of air. Whatever she may be, she is happy to have you at the performance and hopes you enjoy it.

Lee Hong (Violin) has dressed in black for Savoyard productions since 2011. She is an MD/PhD student at UNC and is currently pursuing her PhD in immunology. She is also a member of the Duke Medical Orchestra because she is a Blue Devil at heart. Enjoy the show!

Houston Horn (Royal Chorus) is in good health, despite some indications to the contrary. In his last outing, he also played a Brit – Olin Britt, a member of the River City School Board (and the barbershop quartet) in The Music Man. He thanks his family for their support.

Mitchener Howell (Alexis) is a native of Durham, NC. After graduating from Jordan High School he pursued a B.A. at Yale University where he founded the Yale College Opera Company. He has recently sung with Capital Opera, Long Leaf Opera and other local organizations. He is ecstatic to be making his debut with the Savoyards.

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Sorcerer, Aline, and Alexis. Publicity photo by Joe Cohn.

Lauren Hussey (Constance) Her true name has been lost to the ages, but in her three years with the Savoyards, she is known only as Lauren Hussey. There are those who claim her spectacular vocal talents are the result of a deal struck with an evil sea witch. Others believe she was coached into greatness by a strange and disfigured phantom with a fondness for capes, masks and creepy wedding dress mannequins. Whatever the legend, all agree that her performance of Constance is “pretty good.”

Pam Kadzielawski (Stage Chorus) is excited to be in her 10th production with her Savoyard family. Outside the theater, she is a Caniac through and through. Much love to Mike, Phil and Melissa.

Kim Kingsley (Stage Chorus, Board President) is thrilled to be in the employ of the esteemed house of Pointdextre (in the kitchen, Ha!). She hopes that no one actually eats her cooking unless they have health insurance. Thanks to my cook for his love and understanding. Please enjoy the show!

Veronique King (Royal Chorus)

Bruce Klitzman (Trumpet) is thrilled to be playing for The Sorcerer once again. Guinness Book of Records now lists me as the longest-running trumpeter in Durham Savoyard history. This is a great accomplishment for me next to being on the cover of Playboy magazine (of Rehoboth Beach Delaware) with my band in 1969.

Derek Lane (Royal Chorus) has either travelled to Mars or joined the Savoyards for the first time this year. He enjoys singing folk, show tunes, shape note, early music and Georgian. The twisted logic above comes naturally from his work integrating and maintaining databases.

Rebecca Lee (Violin II) is a software developer, amateur 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 back in the pit for her eighth production and thanks her husbandcito for indulging her in this annual madness.

Teme Levbarg (Royal Chorus, Makeup Assistant, Set Builder/Painter) joins the singing royalty up in the boxes, for her 23rd Savoyard season. She is delighted to perform with wonderful friends and her beloved husband, Richard Dideriksen. Teme serves on the Durham County Board of Health and volunteers with her assistance dog Cassie, in the BARKS reading program, in Durham.

Janell Lovelace (Producer, Website Manager) thinks it strange Sorcery indeed that led her to be Producer in her seventh Savoyards year. When not herding cats, she’s a Duke Chapel Chorister, a Boy Scout, a ham, a rocketeer, a traveller, or at Atomic Empire. She thanks Tanner, Bram, Grandmumda, and all Savoyards for their support.

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Tanner and Janell Lovelace; photo by Tracy Delius

Tanner Lovelace (Assistant Producer, Orchestra Manager, Double Bass, Board Member) is pleased to perform with the Savoyards in his 8th show. He spends most of his time training for/racing triathlons, launching balloons and rockets, or driving his son to activities. He thanks our esteemed producer (who is coincidentally his wife Janell) and his son Bram for all their support.

Hugh Mace (Stage Chorus) is delighted to be a member of Sir Marmaduke’s household staff. He has been a Savoyard since 1983 and is married to a fellow Savoyard, Jan Harris, whom he met in the 1989 production of The Sorcerer. A retired high school Latin teacher and track/cross country coach, he finds his life busier than ever with volunteer work.

Dan Mason (Dr. Daly) is an award winning performer and director, having received three Cantey Performance Awards at Raleigh Little Theatre. Currently, Dan teaches private voice at the Chapel Hill School of Musical Arts. Returning to the Durham Savoyards after 16 years when he played the Queen of the Fairies in Iolanthe, Dan is very happy to be back on stage especially as Dr. Daly in The Sorcerer.

Benjamin Mauritz (Stage Chorus, Understudy J.W. Wells)traveled over 1200 miles with a snapping turtle, aptly named Jaws, at his side to be a live-in “manny” here in Durham. He has made himself home in the musical community and teaches brass at Kidznotes, sings in the Duke Chapel Choir, and plays trombone in the Durham Community Concert Band.

Abby McKrell’s (Stage Chorus) first performance was in the Savoyard’s 1998 production of Iolanthe where she was carried on as a baby fairy. Now she is a sophomore at Enloe high school where she participates in the drama and choral programs. She has been involved with summer Glee at UNC-Chapel Hill, and has just begun studying voice with Harrison Fisher. She is also a manga artist in her spare time.

Matt McKrell (Stage Chorus) is appearing for the first time with the Durham Savoyards onstage, but has been involved as an instrumentalist, in building sets, and in myriad indispensable offstage roles through the years. He has sung with choirs and also performed with the Tri-Cities Opera Chorus in New York. Offstage, he is an avid glider pilot.

Olive McKrell (Understudy Lady Sangazure) has performed most of the Gilbert and Sullivan canon, most recently as Katisha in The Mikado at Meredith College. She holds an MM in voice and is a graduate of the Tri-Cities Opera. She has performed with many local groups including Raleigh Little Theatre, Long Leaf Opera Company, and Capital Opera Company, and most recently joined Oakwood Waits.

Meredith McNamee (Royal Chorus) is excited to be in her first production with the Durham Savoyards! She is looking forward to a wonderful theatre experience that will hopefully not involve battling the undead or driving back invaders from other dimensions. These things have been happening far too often recently; it’s quite annoying.

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props manager Ben Morgan and assistant Meaghan Martin; photo by Joe Cohn

Jeep Morrison (Trombone) has “worked his way up through the animal kingdom until getting to Second Trombone,” a pit orchestra part actually cited from the stage (ref. Mikado). The back story for those references is a tiff apparently ignited when some lame-brained Victorian 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?

Mérida Negrete (Clarinet) holds degrees from The University of Michigan and Southern Methodist University. She is a Lecturer in music at The University of North Carolina and performs in various orchestras, wind ensembles and chamber music groups throughout the Triangle area.

Chris Newlon (Stage Chorus, Understudy Dr. Daly) is thrilled to be performing The Sorcerer again, his first show with the Savoyards in 2001. He has regularly performed with them since then including roles as Robin Oakapple in Ruddigore, Fredric in Pirates of Penzanceand the Duke in Patience. He is very thankful for his patient and understanding spouse, Betsy.

Richard Palmer (Royal Chorus) now in his eighth consecutive season on stage with the Savoyards (plus providing pyrotechnic effects for The Sorcerer, 1977), is Duke Professor Emeritus (Chemistry), and finds himself spending more and more time (when he’s not rehearsing or set building) traveling, wine making, forest managing, truffle growing and fly-fishing.

Kent Parks (Stage Chorus, Database Assistant) is enchanted to perform in his 6th Savoyards production as well as 6th role understudied and hopes he is correctly channelling a “Downton Abbey” valet/footman. He finds it relaxing to put OCD to use in perpetually correcting the Savoyards’ database, so if you’re on our mailing list and have moved (or would like to be on our list), please let us know via a cast member or our website.

Betty Romani (Rehearsal Accompanist) joyfully adds The Sorcerer to her collection of thirteen previous Savoyard productions. She is very good, and very clean, and honest, and quite, quite sober in her habits. Here’s a (muffin and) toast to everyone involved in the show!

Pat Roos (Stage Chorus) makes yet another triumphant return to the stage, well, to the chorus. Some of the stunning roles played: elderly and confused (getting close to type-casting), a Democrat, a dandy, a pirate, a clown, an athlete, Thing1, and now a gardener (a gardener, I ask you!?). Pat, still a tenor, enjoys the camaraderie, work and absurdity of the Savoyards.

Kelly Roudabush (Flute) performs with the Durham Symphony and Raleigh Camerata in addition to several other local ensembles. She is recently a finalist in the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra’s concerto competition (2014), and is a doctoral candidate in historical flute performance at Indiana University. Kelly teaches privately in the Raleigh, NC area.

Allison Ruvidich (Royal Chorus) is a homeschooled sophomore. Growing up, her family called her Katisha and Little Buttercup, which perplexed her until she performed in White Iris Light Opera’s production of The Mikado, in which she held the title character’s umbrella. This is her first performance with the Savoyards.

Scott Sino (Stage Chorus) This is Scott’s fourth Durham Savoyardsproduction. He wants you to know that Sorcerers, unlike Warlocks, are mortal but have been trained in spells, potions, fits and cravings. Warlocks are immortal and otherwise prewired for the magic they do. They just have to be shown the ropes. Scott learned this watching Bewitched in the 1960s.

Joanna Sisk-Purvis (Flute) teaches music at the Carolina Friends School, conducts the Piedmont Youth and Family Orchestra, and recently published an interactive beginner recorder method. She holds degrees in flute performance from UNC-CH, Northwestern, and the University of Southern California. Joanna lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, three young children, and many animals.

David Smith (Royal Chorus) is performing in his 43rd G&S production, 39 with Savoyards and four with White Iris Light Opera. Other recreations: Prime Time Players; an online Calculus text; 13 grandchildren; St. Philip’s Choir; travel; and mental health advocacy, education, and support – the last four shared with Dorothy, his wife of 56 years.

Nick Staffa (Stage Chorus) joined the Savoyards in 1965 and has performed in all the G&S shows except Gondoliers and Grand Duke. A perpetual 2nd 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.”

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. A special thank you to Michael for our intermission goodies!

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Orchestra Rehearsal; photo by Sonja Foust

Shiangtai Tuan (Stage Chorus) Since the 1977 Sorcerer, he has fired all thirteen canons of G-S while cooking for Madama Butterfly, serving Don Giovanni, Lady Lucia Di Lammermoor, etc. After playing Magic Flute in Bulgaria and opera singing in Italy, he just got back from teasing with Musetta in Café Momus.

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.

Mary Lynn van Deventer (French Horn) has been playing the French Horn for time immemorial. Her father is Apollo and her brother is the Phantom. When she isn’t convincing her brother to return kidnapped Sopranos, she can be found serenading Desmodium Gyrans with a horn forged by Hephaestus and made from Rumplestiltskin’s finest gold.

Shirley Violand-Jones (Clarinet) is returning to the Savoyard orchestra pit for her third Sorcerer production 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 North Carolina Symphony.

Nancy Wilson (Oboe) has played oboe in the pit for the Savoyards for many years, enjoying the antics on stage as well as the music. Unfortunately her back has been to the stage, so she now has a permanent kink in her neck along with the smile on her face.

Ruth Winecker (Stage Chorus) has been performing for longer than she likes to ponder. This is her eighth spring show with the Savoyards and as usual she is having a great time. There is nothing like a little light opera to keep your mind off of real life!

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Rehearsal photo by Tanner Lovelace