James R. Harris (Creator and Writer) originally conceived an idea to use Henry Stern’s story of his family’s remarkable odyssey from Nazi Germany to Opelika as the inspirational nucleus of a new musical about WWII, using original songs from the period to be arranged by Mark Hayes. This is the second musical Jim has written in collaboration with composer/arranger Hayes. The first was the award-winning musical Civil War Voices, featuring songs and true stories of that stirring period of history. Civil War Voices was produced by Barter Theatre, the State Theatre of Virginia, after a successful festival run in New York City, and has been subsequently performed in 16 states, including a production at the Savannah Theater. The show was published by Dramatic Publishing Company in 2013. Jim is a lawyer by profession, and has a great love for musical theater, having performed in more than 50 musical productions.
Mark Hayes (Orchestral and Vocal Arrangement) is an award-winning concert pianist, composer, arranger and conductor of international renown. His personal catalog, totaling over 1,500 published works, includes works for musical theater, solo voice, solo piano, multiple pianos, orchestra, jazz combo, small instrumental ensembles, and choruses of all kinds. Hayes travels extensively as a concert pianist and choral conductor. He has conducted several of his choral/orchestral works at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Hayes wrote the musical score for Civil War Voices, which won 6 awards at the Midtown International Theatre Festival in July 2010. He composed and arranged the music for I’ll Be Home for Christmas and Four Tickets to Christmas, two musicals with playwright Deborah Craig-Claar. Hayes orchestrated the new hit musical, Madame Buttermilk, by Ross Carter and is the music arranger and orchestrator for We’ll Meet Again, by playwright, Jim Harris.
Richard Rose (Director) served as Producing Artistic Director for historic Barter Theatre, The State Theatre of Virginia, for 27 years, retiring in 2019. At Barter, Rick more than quadrupled attracting over 163,000 people attending Barter annually from around the world and $750,000 in annual revenues growing to almost $9 million. Rick has directed, choreographed, designed, and/or written over 136 productions at Barter Theatre. He has directed and/or produced several dozen world premiere musicals and plays at Barter Theatre, at other regional theatres, and in New York. Among his favorite shows that he has directed are Frankenstein (his own original adaptation), acknowledge as one of the best new U.S. regional theatre plays of the year; the first regional theatre production of Bright Star, following its Broadway run; Disney’s Tarzan; Friendly’s Fire; The Diary of Anne Frank (National Tour); Big Fish; Madame Buttermilk (world premiere with orchestrations by Mark Hayes); The Full Monty; and The Who’s Tommy (of which Rick directed the world premiere as a theatre staging); to name just a few. Rick is always happy to work with his wife, choreographer and costume designer, Amanda Aldridge, as they have had a long and fruitful career of collaborating together.
Amanda Aldridge (Choreographer and Costume Designer). For 27 years, Amanda held the position of Resident Choreographer and Costume Designer at Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA. where her work includes more than 185 productions. Among the shows she choreographed and designed are Singing in the Rain, Bright Star, White Christmas, Chicago, Big Fish, Curtains, Marvelous Wonderettes, Anything Goes, The Wizard of Oz, Man of La Mancha, Les Miserables, Cabaret, Beauty and the Beast, Evita, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Gypsy. Among Amanda’s choreography credits are Footloose, Mamma Mia, The Full Monty, Kiss Me Kate, Zombie Prom, Nine to Five, Mary Poppins, and The Who’s Tommy. Other costume designs include Sister Act, The Cottage, Dracula!, Phantom, 1776, and Keep on the Sunnyside. Previously, Amanda studied in NYC and worked as Resident Designer and Choreographer.
Eugene Wolf (Henry Stern) is a native of Greeneville, Tennessee and studied music and theatre at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He was a member of Johnson City’s Road Company for 16 years and has worked with Abingdon, Virginia’s Barter Theatre for 25 years as an actor and director. Theatre: A.P. Carter (Keep On The Sunny Side), Richard Nixon (Nixon’s Nixon), Woodrow Wilson (The Second Mrs. Wilson), The Creature (Frankenstein), Iago (Othello), Fagin (Oliver!); Film: Box of Moonlight, The Curse; Television: A.P. Carter in Lost Highway – BBC and Will the Circle Be Unbroken – PBS American Experience. He has made music with Ed Snodderly as The Brother Boys for 35 years. In 2013 he travelled to Russia to record Where We’ll Never Grow Old, an album of American spirituals with Russian folk musician, Mitya Kuznetsov. His one-man show, The Book Of Mamaw took home the United Solo/Backstage Audience Award in 2019. He is a member of Actors’ Equity.
Derek Smith (Scene Designer) has served as Resident Scenic Designer at Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA since 2012 (recently completing his 100 th scenic design at Barter), and prior to that he was Barter’s Scenic Artist beginning in 2003.Past designs include Madame Buttermilk, A Christmas Carol (2016), Tarzan, Big Fish, Footloose, A Christmas Story, Mary Poppins, The Three Musketeers, Ring of Fire, Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, A Streetcar Named Desire, Avenue Q, Romeo & Juliet, and Kentucky Spring. He is a native of Kingsport, TN and an alumnus of the Savannah College of Art & Design (BFA Painting, 2003).
Natasha Staley (Dialect Coach) is an Associate Professor of Voice and Acting in the School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech and an Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework®. Voice and dialect coaching credits include the New Swan Shakespeare Festival (four seasons/eight productions, Irvine, CA), The Cottage at Barter Theatre (Abingdon,VA), and Good People at Asolo Rep (Sarasota, FL). Natasha is a member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association (VASTA) and Actors’ Equity Association.
Eugene Wolf (Henry Stern) is a native of Greeneville, Tennessee and studied music and theatre at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He was a member of Johnson City’s Road Company for 16 years and has worked with Abingdon, Virginia’s Barter Theatre for 26 years as an actor and director. Theatre: A.P. Carter (Keep On The Sunny Side), Richard Nixon (Nixon’s Nixon), Woodrow Wilson (The Second Mrs. Wilson), The Creature (Frankenstein), Iago (Othello), Fagin (Oliver!); Film: Box of Moonlight, The Curse; Television: A.P. Carter in Lost Highway – BBC and Will the Circle Be Unbroken – PBS American Experience. He has made music with Ed Snodderly as The Brother Boys for 35 years. In 2013 he traveled to Russia to record Where We’ll Never Grow Old, an album of American spirituals with Russian folk musician, Mitya Kuznetsov. His one-man show, The Book Of Mamaw took home the United Solo/Backstage Audience Award in 2019. Eugene is honored to be bringing the story of Henry Stern to the world!
Daryann Roberson (Anna Williams) is 23 years old and a Savannah local. Starting out dancing as she grew up she has preformed in Nutcracker Ballet, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty, as well as dancing competitively in other styles of dance. Her love of performance turned to acting and seeking out a local theatre. She has performed in Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pajama Game, Beauty and the Beast as a Silly Girl, Matilda as an acrobat and more. She has also studied at Savannah College of Art and Design and has just closed being in a local production of Grease.
Richie Cook (Julius) has been a performer, director, and teacher in the Savannah Area for fifteen years. He is a theatre instructor at Savannah Arts Academy working with Chatham County’s most talented young theatre artists. Before moving to Savannah, Richie performed for Holland America Cruiseline, Dollywood Theme Park, and Country Tonite Theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. He holds an MFA in Media and Performing Arts from SCAD and has a Bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Tennessee. Richie works with many theatre organizations in the area including Savannah REP, Savannah Children’s Theatre, the Historic Savannah Theatre, Bay Street Theatre, and The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Sandy Van Pelt (Granny) was most recently seen on stage in the role of Marjorie Prime inthe play Marjorie Prime at The Johnny Carson Theater at the Lied Center, Lincoln Ne., followed by We’re Still Here an original Cabaret experience involving the audience. She is most proud to have played the role of Ida Stern in the Premiere of We’ll Meet Again at the SAVANNAH THEATER in Savannah Georgia in 2022. She played Berthe in PIPPIN at the Nebraska Repertory Theater and OMNI Arts Ne, Madame De La Grande Bouche at PInewood Bowl Amphitheater, Vera Charles in Mame at Lincoln Community Playhouse, Willa Cather in Catherland at TADA Theater. Performed at the Eugene O’Neill Performing Arts Center, Connecticut. Workshopped with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Ms Van Pelt has sung with the Johnny Manhattan Orchestra for 2 years and currently performs her original Cabaret Act with Jack Forbes Wilson. Sandy retired from Lincoln Public schools after 35 years of working with young children. She developed a program for Elementary students called Cardboard Box Theater. Sandy has two adult children and currently lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Rachel Elezi (Hedwig Stern – Mother) is thrilled to be joining the cast of We’ll Meet Again on tour! Equally at home in opera and musical theatre, she has engaged audiences across the US and Europe, including Italy, Germany, and Lithuania. Select engagements include in Italy as both a soloist at Anghiari Festival and as a competition semi-finalist at the Concorso Lirico Internazionale Santa Gianna Beretta Molla (Associazione Culturale Giuseppe Verdi), and her Lincoln Center debut for the Bernstein Centennial, Lenny @ 100. Select stage roles include Tamara (The Demon), Clorinda (La Cenerentola), Medea (Il Giasone), Helena (Midsummer Rekindled).
Jeremy Kole (Arnold Stern – Father) is honored to return to WMA as Arnold Stern! Originally from Savannah, GA, Jeremy spends his time traveling up and down the coast reading, writing, and looking for exciting and original theater work. He would like to thank Ginger and J Stern, the town of Opelika, Coach Pearl, and his girlfriend, Jackie Simons. Follow on instagram @jerisabear for past credits!
Ethan Brandon (Young Henry) born in Savannah, GA, is 10 years old, and has two sisters and one brother. He began performing at age eight with Savannah Children’s Theater. Highlights include the role as Jack, lead male role, in ‘Magic Treehouse Knights at Dawn’, and Prince Lewellyn, lead male role in ‘Let Your Hair Down, Rapunzel’. Ethan is a 3rd year competitive gymnast. He is excited to enter 5th grade and learning to play the trumpet in the school band. Ethan dreams of becoming an actor when he grows up.
Truman Nash (Teen Henry) stepped through the threshold of the Savannah Children’s Theatre (SCT) doors for the first time at age 9; there was no turning back. Truman’s favorite part of performing is when he and the audience have connected through his character’s emotions, especially humor. In 2022, Truman performed in French Woods Performing Arts production of Guys and Dolls as Nathan Detroit, in SCT’s productions of The Lightning Thief (A Percy Jackson Musical) as Percy Jackson, and The Giver as The Giver. Truman is a Sophomore and theatre major at Savannah Arts Academy (SAA). He performed in SAA’s 2021 productions of Asylum as Kevin and Little Shop of Horrors as the Dental Patient and the News Reporter and is a member of The Thespian Society. Since that first audition in 2016, Truman has been in 20 performances.
Andrew O’Brien (Hauptmann) is thrilled to join the cast of We’ll Meet Again. Some of his favorite recent credits include Next to Normal (Gabe), the New York Pops Christmas Concert at Carnegie Hall (Chorus), Cabaret (“Tomorrow Belongs to Me Tenor”), Sunday in the Park with George (Louis), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Reverend Crisparkle), and Sweeney Todd (Male Ensemble). He is a recent graduate of the Manhattan School of Music. Beyond performing, Andrew is a thrill seeker with a travel bug. He would like to thank his family, friends, and Encompass Arts for all of their support.
Kayla Wilkens (Millie O’Brien) – Soprano – is delighted to return to the role of Millie O’Brien after the Savannah Theatre premiere of We’ll Meet Again. Most recently, she’s appeared as Cinderella in R&H’s Cinderella with Super Summer Theatre, Littler Zegler in Proving Up with Opera Las Vegas, Polly Peachum in The Threepenny Opera with Vegas City Opera, and in the Final Fantasy XIV Eorzean Symphony concert. Select credits include Harriet Perry in Harris/Hayes’ Civil War Voices, Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Janet Van De Graaff in The Drowsy Chaperone, Cosette in Les Miserables, and Johanna in Sweeney Todd. www.kaylawilkens.com
Tim Clayton (Randy Baker) is from Hilliard, Ohio, and is a recent graduate of Duke University where he studied Theater and Psychology. After having taught acting and close-up magic in North East, Maryland, Tim has spent the last couple of years acting full time in venues all over the South and Midwest. Credits include Leo Bloom in The Producers, Amos Hart in Chicago, the Adult Men in Spring Awakening, and George in Love Life. Credits including Ryan James in A Simple Sanctuary, Anchises in The Aeneid, and George in Love Life. Tim is honored and thrilled to be returning as Randy Baker in We’ll Meet Again.
Sara Garfinkel (Waitress/USO Trio/Ensemble) is a St. Louis, Missouri native, and is honored to join the cast of “We’ll Meet Again.” With roots in classical ballet, she credits four years as a soloist with the Tallahassee Ballet Company before venturing into all corners of the world as a Singer/Dancer for Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas. When Sara isn’t dancing or singing, you can ﬁnd her reading on the elliptical or baking something sweet! Inﬁnite love to Mom, Dad, Grandma Judy, and forever friends. @saragarfinkel // www.saragarfinkel.com
Neftali A. Benitez (he/him) is a proud alum of Ithaca College’s B.F.A. Musical Theatre program! Florida native and current Jersey resident, he is incredibly excited to be tackling another theatre opportunity after returning from the AIDAmar cruise ship, where he performed as a solo dancer. Some other recent credits include Plaza Theatrical’s Production of Guys and Dolls (Brandy Bottle Bates) and Grumpy Old Men (Bo). John Larson’s Rent (Benny), She Loves Me (Arpad), and directing Team StarKid’s The Trail to Oregon! at IC. Website: www.neftalbenitez.com // Insta: @neffybear
Emma Pearl Miller (Ensemble/USO Trio) is so excited to be a part of We’ll Meet Again! Emma grew up in St.Louis, Missouri, where she began doing theater at The Muny! She graduated from Oklahoma City University with a degree in Dance Performance! Most recently, she performed at The Classic Theatre of Maryland in productions of White Christmas (Tessie/Ensemble/Dance Captain) and A Christmas Carol (Martha Cratchit). She is so grateful for the love and support from her family and friends! Thank you to Paul Russell Casting, Richard Rose, and Amanda Aldridge for this opportunity! Instagram: @emmapearlmarie
Nathan Hoty (they/them) (Assistant Choreographer/Dance Captain/Ensemble/Neighbor/ German Soldier/Fred) is so excited to be making their national tour debut. They recently closed Off-Broadway with Waiting in the Wings and worked with Jimmy Buffett on his new cruise line in the inaugural cast of Tales from Margaritaville. Nathan also opened for Train at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was part of the regional premiere of SpongeBob the Musical. They’re a recent graduate of Kent State University and would like to thank their incredible team at Bloc, their parents, and their grandma! TikTok/Insta: @nathanhoty
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