(Director) is a 2017 Fox Fellowship recipient. She just completed a two year study of the multi-racial voice and code-switching on page, stage, and screen. She was a featured storyteller on NPR’s The Dinner Party. She was named, along with Lena Waithe, as one of "18 Black Women We Think Are Phenomenal" by Mater Mea Magazine and "Role Call: 6 Theatre Workers You Should Know" by American Theatre Magazine. She wrote for Probably Monsters, the video game company founded by the creators of Halo and Destiny. She performed her solo show, Joy Rebel, at Penumbra Theatre directed by Obie Award winner Lou Bellamy. In her solo and storytelling work she has partnered with The Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, South Coast Rep, Chance Theater, The Mixed Remixed Festival, and many more. Her essays are published in A Mixtape of Words: Fiction and Nonfiction Stories About Music, Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low Flying Duck, and When Women Wrote Hollywood: Essays on the Wild - and Wildly Successful - Female Screenwriters Who Created Hollywood. She is the Associate Artistic Director of 2nd Story, a TCGYoung Leader of Color, and was a guest artist at the Citizen’s Theatre in Scotland. For stage she has directed Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel, Lydia Diamond’s adaption of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. As an actor, she was in the Tribeca Film Festival selection Chicago Boricua. She has her MFA in TV and Screenwriting through Stephens College, 2017. She hosts and produces the podcast How I Wrote That where she interviews the top women writing for tv and film. Some of the featured guests include Alexa Junge (Grace and Frankie & Friends), Allison Schroeder (Hidden Figures), Tanya Saracho (How to Get Away With Murder). The podcast can be found at howiwrotethat.com.
(Set Designer) Mexican scenographer. Assistant Professor at the University of Richmond. MFA in Scenic Design from UT Knoxville. BFA in Scenography from Escuela Nacional de Arte Teatral. Regional venues include: Triad Stage, Alice Jepson Theatre, Clarence Brown Theatre, Lexington Children's Theatre, Donald Bedell Performance Hall, among others. International venues include: Teatro del Borde (Argentina), Escena 8 (Venezuela), KCDC (Israel), Teatro Salvador Novo (Mexico), Industrial Palace (Czech Republic), among others. Winner of the 2017 Gold Medal at World Stage Design in Taiwan, 2015 USITT National Scene Design Award, 2014 SETC Scenic Design Award, 2013 BroadwayWorld Award, and the SETC Ready-for-Work Award, among many others. Selected curator for the exhibit Mexico Rising: New exponents of performance design at USITT 2018, keynote speaker at Stage|Set|Scenery (Berlin), presenter at the International Biennale of Architecture (Buenos Aires), one of fifteen designers selected to present at 2015 USITT Young Designer's Forum and the 2015 National Design Portfolio Review in NYC. He has represented the US in Germany, and Wales; and Mexico in Taiwan, the Czech Republic and Venezuela.
(Costume Designer) has designed costumes for dance, theatre, opera and musicals. With his B.F.A from University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Jimmy Bennett has worked with top designers, directors and choreographers in ballet, opera, theatre and film for both national and international productions. His credits include collaborations with Timothy Douglas, Bob Francesconi, Francisco Gella, Mariaelena Ruiz as well as Heather Iler. Notable Productions include Le Roi Malgrè Lui, The Master and Margarita, Hoodoo Love, and Le Corsaire as well as holding the position as Costume Director for Cary Ballet Company. Bennett recently received the 2017 BroadwayWorld Raleigh Award for Best Costume Design for Dreamgirls at Cape Fear Regional Theatre.
(Lighting Designer) has shed light on more than 500 productions around the country and returns to VSC after last season's The Parchman Hour. Some bright moments in NYC: Broadway: Irena’s Vow (Tovah Feldshuh), Helen Hayes: Marvin’s Room (T.R. Knight), The Directors Company: Murder in the First (Chad Kimball), Public Theatre, Peculiar Works Project, Abingdon Theatre, NY Fringe Festival. Regional illuminations include Albany/Berkshire Ballet (NY/VT), Cape Fear Regional Theatre (NC), Broadway Rose (OR), Theatre Winter Haven (FL), Round Barn Theatre (IN), Temple Theatre (NC), Carousel Dinner Theatre (OH), Venice Stage(FL), Merrimack Rep (MA), ArtisTree Theatre Festival(VT), Seacoast Rep (NH), Millbrook Playhouse (PA), and many musicals in Spanish by ‘Misi’ in Bogota, Colombia. David radiates from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
(Sound Designer) is thrilled to be returning to VSC with The Bluest Eye. A native of South Carolina, Chris is an active duty soldier currently serving as a music production instructor at the Army Band School of Music at JEB Little Creek. He holds a B.A. in Music from the University of South Carolina and a Master’s in Jazz Studies from Rutgers University. Previously he has sound designed theatrical productions for Cape Fear Regional, UNC - Pembroke, and Uprising Theatre Co. Favorite productions include Downrange: Voices from the Homefront, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Thanks and love to his wife Lofton for coming with him on the adventures.
SASHA NICOLLE SMITH
(Fight & Intimacy Director) is a Chicago-based actor and violence and intimacy choreographer. Recent choreography credits include Familiar (Steppenwolf), You Got Older (Steppenwolf), How To Catch Creation (The Goodman), Ma Rainey (Writers), Smart People (Writers Theatre), Fear and Misery of the Third Reich (Haven Theatre), The Toilet (Haven Theatre), A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Gynecologic Oncology Unit At Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center Of New York City (Route 66), Ideation (Jackalope), and Octagon (Jackalope). She is a company member of Steep Theatre. She is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago. Sasha is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent.
Kathryn Sam Houkom *
(Stage Manager) was born and raised in Va Beach and is very excited to be working back home at the VSC. Kathryn makes her home in Minneapolis and has stage managed over 20 productions at the Children's Theatre Company including The Wiz; A Year with Frog and Toad; The Snowy Day and Other Stories; Cinderella; The Wizard of Oz; Peter Pan the Musical; Busytown the Musical; and Alice in Wonderland, to name a few. Kathryn has also stage managed for the MN Orchestra: Salome, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts: In The Heights and Annie as well as Park Square Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, and the Minnesota Opera. Regionally, Kathryn has stage managed for Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Lookingglass Theatre Company (Chicago), The Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), and The Pearl Theatre Company (Off Broadway).
ANTHONY MARK STOCKARD *
(Producing Artistic Director, Norfolk State University Theatre Company) Professor Anthony Stockard proudly serves as director of Virginia’s most nationally recognized collegiate theatre program and America’s #1 Most Nationally Recognized HBCU Theatre Program of the last five years, NSU Theatre Company. Since his arrival to NSU, drama and theatre has gained historic national recognition and acclaim and record-breaking audience attendance. He is the Founding Director of the brand new BA in Drama & Theatre Program at Norfolk State University. Recent honors received were national awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for Distinguished Production & Performance Ensemble and Distinguished Performance by an Actor in a Play for the production The Brother’s Size. The production beat out more than 1,300 productions that were entered in the festival and involved more than 200,000 students nationwide. In July of 2017, the company won Best Fine Arts Program at the HBCU Awards in Washington, D.C. where Stockard was one of four national finalists for Male Faculty Member of the Year. He is an inaugural recipient of the 50 Under 50 Award at his alma mater, Alabama State University, is a presidentially appointed NSU Honors College Senior Fellow and is the recipient of the College of Liberal Arts’ 2015 Certificate of Achievement, NSU Theatre Company’s 2016 Outstanding Dedication & Service Award and NSU Student Government Association’s 2016 Honor & Appreciation Award. He is the former Producing Artistic Director of Aldridge Repertory Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama.The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival has honored him with multiple Meritorious Achievement Awards for Excellence in Directing for his productions of Topdog/Underdog, The Brothers Size, Black Nativity, Broke-ology, and The Color Purple. Anthony has directed more than 60 productions for professional and university stages. He holds memberships and affiliations with Stage Directors & Choreographers Society, Actors Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, The Association for Theatre in Higher Education and The Society of American Fight Directors. He currently sits on the boards of Region IV of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Cloverdale Playhouse in Montgomery, Alabama and Virginia Theatre Conference. He holds a M.F.A. in Theatre Arts from Brandeis University and a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Alabama State University. www.nsu.edu/drama
(Producing Artistic Director) is the sixth Artistic Director and the first Producing Artistic Director in Virginia Stage Company’s 40 year history. At the Wells Tom has directed Pride and Prejudice and The Santaland Diaries, and can't wait to tackle Matilda at the end of this season. Previously as Artistic Director of Cape Fear Regional Theatre (CFRT), Tom produced over 35 plays and directed the World Premiere of Downrange: Voices from the Homefront, a play based on interviews with military spouses from Fort Bragg. Tom is an Associate Artist at PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill where he directed An Enemy of the People, Shipwrecked! An Entertainment, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, and The Little Prince. He also directed The Little Prince at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As the founder of FreightTrain Shakespeare in Los Angeles, he earned a Dramalogue Award for his direction of Pericles. Other Los Angeles credits range from King Lear to The Devil With Boobs. A member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Tom is a graduate of Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT) with a B.A. in Theatre and Economics, and the University of California, San Diego MFA directing program, where he was the assistant director on the original production of The Who’s Tommy. Tom and his wife Wallis are the proud parents of Mireille Julia and Annika Christine.
DAVID B. BYRD
(Managing Director) Virginia Stage’s 40th Anniversary Season marks David’s second full season as Managing Director. Prior to landing in Norfolk, David served as Managing Director at Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville, TN. He has also held leadership positions at Westport Country Playhouse, American Dance Festival, Triad Stage, Yale Repertory Theater, the Dwight/Edgewood Project, and the Guthrie Theater. David received an MFA degree in Theater Management from Yale School of Drama and a BA degree in Drama from UNC-Greensboro in his native North Carolina. During his tenure at the Clarence Brown Theatre, David was appointed to the Chancellor’s Commission for LGBT People and the College of Arts & Sciences’ Diversity Committee. Additionally, David served on the McClung Museum Academic Programs Advisory Board and the Great Schools Partnership Advisory Council. David has been a grants panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, Tennessee Arts Commission, and United Way of Greater Knoxville. He has served on the union negotiating team and annual meeting planning committees for the League of Resident Theatres (LORT). David was a 2016 Knoxville Business Journal 40 Under Forty Honoree and has recently guest lectured at Virginia Wesleyan University and Christopher Newport University.
(Frieda/Darlene) is a junior Drama & Theatre major at Norfolk State University. She has previously appeared in the Virginia Stage Company productions of The Wiz and A Christmas Carol. She has also appeared in the NSU Theatre Company productions of Black Nativity, A Musical Tribute to Luther Vandross, The Color Purple, and The Whitney and Aretha Tribute. On campus at NSU, she actively participates in Carolina Connections, Housing and Residence Life as a Resident Assistant, and holds the title of Miss Epsilon Pi representing the Epsilon Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. Djimon is also involved in weekly community service projects as well as uplifting and encouraging the student body with her beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Delta Epsilon chapter. She is excited to be a part of this beautifully talented cast!
YVETTE GANIER *
(Mama) is an Obie award-winning actor based in New York City. Miss Ganier is known for working with August Wilson on three of his last four plays originating the roles of Rena in Jitney and Black Mary in Gem of the Ocean and featured as Tonya in King Hedley II at the Goodman Theatre. Some of Yvette's credits include: Broadway - The Miracle Worker, King Hedley II; London - Jitney; Off-Broadway/NY - The Slow Room, The Block, Pitbulls, Breath Boom, Jitney, For Colored Girls; Regional: Park Square Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse, The Wilma, The Goodman, Steppenwolf, Mark Taper Forum, Baltimore CenterStage, Philadelphia Theatre Company, New Freedom Theatre, Crossroads Theatre Company, The Curran, Seattle Rep, The Intiman, Geva. Yvette is currently re-curring in New Amsterdam on NBC as Nurse Linda Weber. Awards: Obie Award, LA Ovations Award, NAACP Image Award, Dallas Theater Critics Award, AUDELCO Award, The Bowden.
TABATHA GAYLE *
(Pecola) is honored to be making her Virginia Stage Company debut! Originally from Connecticut, she found her calling as a multidisciplinary performer, creative, and activist in Harlem, NY. Off-Broadway credits: Misogynoir (Ars Nova and Prelude 2018), If Sand Were Stone (NYMF). Select Regional Credits: Our Country’s Good (Mary Brenham, CRT), The Importance of Being Earnest (Gwendolen, CRT), A Civil War Christmas (Rose, CRT). BFA Acting, University of Connecticut. Gratitude to God for His Love, inspiration, and timing. Thanks to Lydia R. Diamond for these words, love to the family, Sabrina, Tai, Crystal, and Lauren. tabathagayle.com
(Soaphead Church) Levonte is honored to be a part of Norfolk State University’s Inaugural Bachelor of Arts in Drama and Theatre class of 2019. He was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. He has appeared in the Virginia Stage Company production of A Christmas Carol and the NSU Theatre Company productions of Fences, The Wiz, The Color Purple, Black Nativity, Once on this Island, and Ruined.
DONNA SIMONE JOHNSON *
(Mrs. Breedlove) National Tours: PANG!, High School Musical, Moving Arts' Cloud 9. Off-Broadway: Macbeth (The Gym at Judson). Selected Regional: The Lion King (Pantages), We Are Proud To Present... (Center for New Performance), P’orknockers (Portland Center Stage), Depth (American Conservatory Theater), Little Scratch (Royal George) and work at Rubicon Theater Company, Center Theater Group, The Lyceum, and African American Shakespeare Company. Los Angeles credits include: Broken Fences (2018 NAACP Award, Best Lead Actress, Road Theatre Company), I Go Somewhere Else (Playwrights Arena), Hamlet (Shakespeare Center), and The Cherry Orchard (Theatricum Botanicum). In addition to voicing and appearing in a host of national commercials, TV credits include NETFLIX's Super Drags (recurring), I Am The Night (TNT), The Inspectors (CBS), 9-1-1 (FOX), Teachers (NBC), Agent X (TNT), The BRKDWN (TVOne) and the upcoming Dreamland (Amazon). MFA: California Institute of the Arts. BIG LOVE to Chad and Coltrane. @dsimonejo across all platforms.
NICOLE KING *
(Maureen Peal/White Girl) REGIONAL: Syracuse Stage: Possessing Harriet (Harriet Powell); Folger Theatre Company: Antony and Cleopatra; Shakespeare Theatre Company: Macbeth; Hanger Theatre Company: Shakespeare's R and J; The Children's Theatre Company: Buccaneers! Much Ado About Nothing, Bert and Ernie, Goodnight; Rutgers Theatre Company (Rutgers University): A Midsummer Night's Dream (Titania), Gabrielle, Balm in Gilead INTERNATIONAL: Shakespeare's Globe (London): A Midsummer Night's Dream (Helena). TRAINING: Rutger's University and Shakespeare's Globe Conservatory. Many thanks to my friends, family, WTG and the Bluest Eye team! www.nicole-king.com
BEETHOVAN ODEN *
(Cholly) is a native of Oakland, California who now resides in New York City. Recently, he was cast as Hambone in August Wilson’s Two Trains Running. Off-Broadway credits: Gafney in The Fabulous Miss Marie and Willie in Master Harold and the Boys. Regional Theatre credits: George Armstrong in Intimate Apparel, Bill Riddick in The Best of Enemies, Cholly in The Bluest Eye, The Stage Manager in Our Town, Solinus in The Comedy of Errors, Aaron in Titus Andronicus and Tranio in The Taming of the Shrew. He is a graduate of both Cornish College of the Arts and Southern Methodist University. A winner of the Black Theatre Alliance-Ossie Davis award-Best Featured Actor.
(Claudia) is a junior drama & theatre major at Norfolk State University. She is originally from Mobile, Alabama but she currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is her sixth production with the Virginia Stage Company. She was previously a part of Virginia Stage’s A Christmas Carol as a townsperson, The Wiz as Yellow Brick Road and Dorothy's understudy, The Parchman Hour as Pauline Knight, Pride and Prejudice as Mary King/Georgiana Darcy, and Crowns as Yolanda. Ja'Keetrius is very excited to be working with the Virginia Stage Company again. She has also appeared in the NSU Theatre Company productions of Ruined as Sophie, Black Nativity as Mary, and as a featured soloist in A Musical Tribute to Whitney & Aretha.
ADDITIONAL SHOW STAFF
Soaphead Church Understudy TAJLEED HARDY
Assistant Stage Manager MEG MORRILL
Wardrobe Kyle Jacobs
Sound Board Operator Elijah Brown
Light Board Operator Quinn Sipes
Spotlight Operators Craig Lindsay, Zavier Andrews
Scenic Charge Shawn Crawford
Interim Technical Director Anthony Rosas
ASL Interpreters Ezri Legler, Sherry Parsons
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States