Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s 27th Season Launches with Tony Award-Winning Musical Ragtime

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival proudly opens its 27th season with the Broadway musical Ragtime, on the Main Stage at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University.

Based on E.L. Doctorow’s 1975 novel, and written by  the composer/lyricist team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, and Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally, this acclaimed musical features show-stopping songs such as “Wheels of a Dream,” “Till We Reach That Day,” “Back to Before,” and “Make Them Hear You.” Called by Time Magazine “A triumph for the stage,” “Intoxicating” by the Associated Press, and “Explosive and thrilling!” by Bloomberg News, Ragtime was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won for best score, book, and orchestrations.

Set in the volatile melting pot of turn-of-the-century New York, three distinctly American tales are woven together — that of a stifled but determined upper-class homemaker (Brandi Burkhardt as Mother), an indomitable Jewish immigrant (Samuel Druhora as Tateh) and a daring young Harlem musician (Nkrumah Gatling as Coalhouse Walker, Jr.)—Each are united by their courage and their pursuit of the American dream, against extraordinary odds.

As previously announced, the production will be directed by Associate Artistic Director Dennis Razze, who directed PSF’s lauded and sold out productions of Evita (2017), West Side Story (2016), and Les Misérables (2015).

“We have spent over four months assembling the cast of 40 actors for Ragtime,” says Razze. “With Broadway, opera, regional theatre, television and film credits, this company of actors has incredible voices and talents that will certainly make PSF’s production an unforgettable experience.”

Brandi Burkhardt (Mother) made her Broadway debut in the leading role of Lucie Manette in A Tale of Two Cities, and she also starred as Sophie in Broadway’s Mamma Mia!. National, international and regional credits include Emma in Jekyll & Hyde: Resurrection, Mary in Mary Poppins, and Laurey in Oklahoma!. Best known as Crickett on the hit CW television show Hart of Dixie, she has starred in a myriad of television shows including NCIS, Mad Men, and How I Met Your Mother.

Samuel Druhora (Tateh) has played principal roles across continents in theatre, film, and opera. Career highlights include Jean Valjean (Les Misérables) at Hungarian Theatre Transilvanyia, Candide (Candide) with Romanian National Opera, and Phantom of the Opera at Bucharest Musical Theatre.

Nkrumah Gatling (Coalhouse Walker, Jr.) has Broadway and National Tour credits for roles in Miss Saigon, Hair, and Porgy and Bess. Off-Broadway he has performed in Invisible Thread and Cabin In The Sky. Gatling’s regional theatre credits include performances at such prestigious venues as the Kennedy Center, Theatre Under the Stars, and Goodspeed Opera House.

Destinee Rea will play the role of Sarah, the strong-willed mother of the child of Coalhouse Walker, Jr. Rea has performed in Broadway’s Amélie, the National Tour of Junie B. Jones, and has numerous regional theatre credits including Dreamgirls at the North Shore Music Theatre.

Bryant Martin will play Father and Richard White will play the role of Grandfather. Martin has multiple theatre, film, and television credits, notably at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre; and co-starred on the ABC television series Quantico.

Richard White is best known for voicing the character of Gaston in the 1991 animated Disney film, Beauty and the Beast. Credits include National Tours of Urinetown, The King and I, and Camelot; and on television in Guiding Light, One Life to Live, and PBS, Great Performances.

Many turn of the 20th century historical figures are featured in Ragtime including Harry Houdini (Freddie Kimmel); Henry Ford (Jack Doyle); Booker T. Washington (RodSingleton) and Emma Goldman (Michele Ragusa, who starred in the original Ragtime production on Broadway (1998); and has also been seen in Broadway’s Young Frankenstein, Titanic and the National Tour of Fiddler on the Roof).The production will also feature stage and television actor Brent Bateman as Willie Conklin.

The creative team for Ragtime includes choreographer Stephen Casey, music director J. Bennett Durham, conductor Nathan Diehl, costume coordinator Courtney Irizarry and original costumes by Tony Award-winner Santo Loquasto, scenic design by Steve TenEyck, lighting design by Eric T. Haugen, and sound design by Matt Kraus. J. Alex Cordero is the fight director, Gail Malatesta is the production stage manager, and Carolyn Reich is the assistant stage manager.

Ragtime previews 8pm, June 13 and 14. Opening night is Friday, June 15 at 8pm and runs through July 1. Single tickets start at $25 and can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

Similar to the last three seasons, PSF expects the majority of performances to sell out. Order early for the best seating options.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s 27th summer season launches with Ragtime and features William Shakespeare’s popular comedy Twelfth Night; Shakespeare’s King Richard II playing in repertory, with the same cast alternating performances daily and often on the same day, with the play Shakespeare in Love, based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard; and an actor-driven production of Shakespeare’s spirited and bittersweet comedy All’s Well That Ends Well

One-night-only events include The Great Divorce, a “masterful solo show,” based on the novel by C.S. Lewis, an allegorical journey weaving philosophical imaginings with theatrical magic, on Monday, June 25 at 7:30pm; as well as Dan Domenech, Bootleg Famous: To Broadway and Beyond, an eclectic solo evening with songs and stories from his 16-year career spanning Broadway, world tours, and unintentional internet theatre fame, on Monday, July 30 at 7:30pm.

The children’s production Alice in Wonderland is now open in the Schubert Theatre and runs through August 4.  Celebrating its ten-year anniversary is PSF’s Shakespeare for Kids, a one-hour production designed for pre-school and elementary age students to actively experience Shakespeare’s vibrant language and characters. On the Main Stage, July 25 through August 4.

The 2018 Festival Season Sponsors are Keith and Stefanie Wexler. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, the Szarko Family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust. The Production Sponsor for Ragtime is Alvin H. Butz, Inc.

New subscriptions and single tickets are now on sale at: or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

Summer 2018 Season:

Main Stage: Ragtime (June 13 to July 1), Shakespeare in Love (July 11 to Aug 5), KingRichard II (July 19 to Aug 5), Shakespeare for Kids (July 25 to Aug 4).

Schubert Theatre: Alice in Wonderland (June 1 to Aug 4), Twelfth Night
(June 21 to July 15), All’s Well That Ends Well (July 25 to Aug 5).


BRENT BATEMAN* (Willie Conklin, Ensemble, Ragtime) PSF: Jud Fry in Oklahoma! in 2013. National Tour: Santa in Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular; Regional: Hartford Stage, Riverside Theatre, Theatre Under The Stars, Alliance Theatre, Triad Stage, Arrow Rock Lyceum, North Shore Music Theatre, Theatre-By-The-Sea, Ogunquit Playhouse, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Westchester Broadway Theatre; Film/TV: Birdman, Touched With Fire, Blue Bloods, Boardwalk Empire; MFA: Acting FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training.

BRANDI BURKHARDT* (Mother, Ragtime) Broadway: A Tale of Two Cities (Lucy), Mamma Mia! (Sophie); National Tour: Jekyll & Hyde (Emma); Regional: Secret Garden (Lily), Mary Poppins (Mary), Camelot (Guenevere), Music Man (Marian); Recordings: The Count of Monte Cristo (Mercedes), Jekyll & Hyde: Resurrection (Emma), A Tale of Two Cities (Lucy). Best known as Crickett on the hit CW show Hart of Dixie, you may have seen her on a myriad of other shows like NCIS,Mad Men, and How I Met Your Mother.

JACK DOYLE* (Henry Ford, Ensemble, Ragtime) Broadway/National Tour: Young Frankenstein (Mr. Hilltop), The Music Man (Barbershop Quartet), Beauty And The Beast (Lumiere), Crazy For You (Mingo), Tommy Tune’s Doctor Dolittle (Dolittle u/s), The Will Rogers Follies (Wrangler Quartet) and Funny Girl (Ziegfeld Tenor); Off-Broadway: 92nd Street Y Lyrics & Lyricists, seven City Center Encores! productions, Radio City Musical Hall and the York Theatre; Regional: two productions of The Little Mermaid (Scuttle and Grimsby), Annie (Rooster), Sugar Babies (Tenor), Carousel (Mr. Snow), 42nd Street (Bert Barry), The Fantasticks (Bellomy) and Hello, Dolly! (Rudolph). Multiple studio recordings and TV appearances.

SAMUEL DRUHORA* (Tateh, Ragtime) His career stretches across continents and platforms having performed principal roles in the US and the European Union in theater, film and opera. Highlights include Phantom of The Opera in Bucharest, Jean Valjean in Les Misérables at the Hungarian Theater of Transylvania, role of Captain Salanza in the award winning film Elie’s Overcoat, and Juan Peron at The Actors Playhouse in Miami.

NKRUMAH GATLING* (Coalhouse Walker Jr., Ragtime) Broadway/National Tour: Miss Saigon, Hair, Porgy and Bess; Off-Broadway: Invisible Thread, Cabin In The Sky; Regional: Chess (Kennedy Center), Hair (Hollywood Bowl), Little Mermaid (TBTS), Dreamgirls (TUTS), Band Geeks (Goodspeed).  Nkrumah was recently honored with the 2018 Marc Blitzstein Award at the Lotte Lenya Competition.

FREDDIE KIMMEL* (Harry Houdini, Ensemble, Ragtime) PSF debut. Off-Broadway: Cagney (Cagney Standby, Westside Theater and Los Angeles); National Tours: Phantom of the Opera (Fop/Ensemble), Billy Elliot (Tony u/s); Broadway Workshop: SUPERFLY (Ralphie); Regional: The Little Mermaid (Scuttle, NSMT),  A Christmas Carol (Marley, NSMT), On The Town (Chip, Lucille Lortelle), Ragtime (Houdini, Milwaukee Rep), White Christmas (Phil, Virginia Repertory Theater), Les Misérables (Fueilly, P.C.L.O.); TV: Forever (ABC).

BRYANT MARTIN* (Father, Ragtime) PSF debut. Regional: Robert in The Bridges of Madison County at Arizona Broadway Theatre, Gideon in The Last Ship at Pioneer Theatre, Gaston in Beauty and the Beast at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Curly in Oklahoma! at several theatres, Man 1 in First Date at Mason Street Warehouse, and Thomas Jefferson in 1776 at Lyric Stage; TV: Quantico, Forever, The Jack and Triumph Show. 

MICHELE RAGUSA* (Emma Goldman, Ragtime) Michele starred as Evelyn Nesbit in the Original Broadway Ragtime!  Broadway: Young Frankenstein, Urinetown, Titanic, A Class Act, Cyrano; Off Broadway:  Adrift In Macao (Primary Stages- Lortel/Drama League nom/Barrymore Award), Titanic: 20th Anniversary Concert Lincoln Center, Craving For Travel (Playwrights Horizon); Regional Credits:  Gypsy, Bullets Over Broadway, Mame, Hello, Dolly, Lend Me A Tenor, King and I Spamalot, Sweeney Todd, Annie, Noises Off, Singing/Rain, Into The Woods, Kiss Me Kate, Drowsy Chaperone, Guys and Dolls, and The Full Monty

DESTINEE REA* (Sarah, Ragtime) Broadway: Amelie; Off-Broadway: Gwendolyn, Cell (Drama League); Regional: Lorrell Robinson, Dreamgirls (NSMT) and Dorothy, The Wiz (Maltz Jupiter Theatre). Along with performing, Destinee is the Co-Founder of BOLD a nonprofit building up black women in the performing arts for the restoration of culture.

ROD SINGLETON* (Booker T. Washington, Ensemble, Ragtime) PSF debut. Rod has previously been seen as Booker T. Washington in productions at Asolo Repertory Theatre and Ogunquit Playhouse. Off-Broadway: Public Enemy (The Pearl Theatre Co.), Black Angels Over Tuskegee (St. Luke’s Theatre); Regional: Cymbeline (Virginia Shakespeare Festival), Macbeth (Shakespeare on the Sound), The New World (Bucks County Playhouse), Romeo & Juliet (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Oregon Cabaret Theatre).

RICHARD WHITE* (Grandfather, Ensemble, Ragtime) the voice of Gaston in Disney’s animated feature, Beauty and the Beast.  Broadway:  The Most Happy Fella, Jekyll and Hyde, Gigi; Off Broadway:  Elizabeth and Essex, Topper;  New York City Opera revivals: Brigadoon, South Pacific, New Moon, and The Desert Song;  National Tours:  The King and I, Camelot, Urinetown;  Regional:  Camelot, South Pacific, Man of La Mancha, La Cage aux Folles; PBS Great Performances:  New Moon, Showboat;  Yeston/Kopit: Phantom (Premier Cast Recording RCA Victor). 


PATRICK MULCAHY (Producing Artistic Director, PSF; Director, Shakespeare in Love) Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mulcahy has led PSF’s surge in artistic excellence, financial stability, and national recognition. Accomplishments include first-ever grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, attracting a multitude of award-winning artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Barrymore, and Emmy awards, a 75% increase in annual attendance, a successful campaign to double the Festival’s endowment, and the expansion of the number of Actors’ Equity contracts per season. He led the strategic planning process that led to PSF’s Vision 2030, a commitment to world-class professional theatre, and coverage in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Washington Post. As a professional director, actor, and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television and radio. Mr. Mulcahy has acted with many industry luminaries including Don Cheadle, Angela Bassett, Cynthia Nixon, and Tony Shaloub at the New York Shakespeare Festival, The Roundabout Theatre, Hartford Stage, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, and the Walnut Street Theatre.  He served as fight director for A Few Good Men on Broadway, and multiple Off-Broadway productions starring Marcia Gay Harden, John Mahoney, Patrick Dempsey, and John Savage.  He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed The Winter’s Tale, Henry IV, Part 1, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Macbeth and Julius Caesar. Also Head of Acting at DeSales, Patrick holds degrees in acting and directing from Syracuse University.

DENNIS RAZZE (Director of Ragtime, Associate Artistic Director of PSF) Last summer Mr. Razze directed PSF’s sold-out production of Evita starring Broadway luminaries Dee Roscioli, Paulo Szot, and Dan Domenech, along with West Side Story in 2016 and the Festival’s memorable Les Misérables in 2015. In 2017 he received the prestigious Allentown Arts Ovation Award for Performing Arts.

CASEY WILLIAM GALLAGHER (Managing Director) has worked at PSF for 20 seasons. Over the years he was the assistant house manager, box office manager, company manager, assistant producer, and director of development. Since 2004, in his role as general manager and later managing director, he has served as the administrative leader of the Festival working very closely with the box office, business, development, marketing and production departments. During this time, PSF subscriptions have more than doubled, income from the annual Luminosity Gala fundraiser has more than quadrupled, and the summer seasonal staff has grown to over 200. Casey has also been treasurer for the Shakespeare Theatre Association, director of audience services for The People’s Light & Theatre Company, a board member for Civic Theatre of Allentown, a peer panelist for the New Jersey Council on the Arts and a judge for the Greater Philadelphia Barrymore Awards for excellence in theatre. Casey is a member of the PSF Board of Directors and also serves on the board of Arts Academy Elementary Charter School. 

STEPHEN CASEY (Choreographer, Ragtime) PSF: Evita, Les Miserables, Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Forum, and 1776.  He also re-created the original Jerome Robbins choreography for the Festival’s Fiddler on the Roof and West Side Story; Bristol Riverside Theatre: The Producers, The Triumph of Love, Jesus Christ Superstar, Man of la Mancha, Rent, Working, and the season’s opener, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. For The Montgomery Theatre he directed and Choreographed Nunsense…Amen, The Great American Trailerpark Christmas Musical, The Sisters of Swing, Marry Me a Little, and Forever Plaid.  For Arizona Broadway Theatre, he has directed and choreographed Saturday Night Fever, A Christmas Story, Carousel, White Christmas, and will return this summer for Catch Me If You Can.  Mr. Casey is a three time Barrymore nominee, twice for his choreography of Ragtime and Little Shop of Horrors at Bristol Riverside Theatre, and for his direction of The Musical of Musicals at Montgomery Theatre.

J. BENNETT DURHAM (Music Director, Ragtime) is director of exploratory studies at DeSales University, where he teaches courses in education and advises students who have not declared a major. He previously served as music director for productions at DeSales including I Love a Piano and The Music Man, and for PSF’s production of Les Misérables. He also served as vocal coach for PSF’s production of Lend Me a Tenor. He holds a Master of Music degree in choral conducting from Westminster Choir College.

NATHAN DIEHL (Conductor, Ragtime) PSF: 8th season as musical director having most recently conducted Evita and West Side Story. At DeSales University, Nate has music directed and conducted over a dozen Act I productions. As an educator, he serves on the Middle School music faculty of Moravian Academy. Nathan can also be seen playing accordion with the Irish pub band The Rogue Diplomats, frequently appearing at Musikfest and other venues from Philadelphia to New York City.

STEVE TENEYCK (Scenic Designer, Ragtime; Scenic and Lighting Designer, Twelfth Night and Alice) 13th season at PSF. Design work: Dallas Theatre Center, Gulfshore Playhouse, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Syracuse Stage, TACT NYC, Big Art Group, Tri-Cities Opera, Madison Opera, Syracuse Opera, Anchorage Opera, Minnesota Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Mill City Summer Opera, The Kitchen Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and The Hangar Theatre. Steve is a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829 and teaches design at Ithaca College in New York.

COURTNEY IRIZARRY (Costume Coordinator, Ragtime) PSF debut. Broadway: SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical (Costume Assistant), Carousel (Costume PA), An American In Paris (Costume Assistant), School of Rock (Costume Assistant), Groundhog Day (Costume Assistant), and The 24hr. Play Festival 2016 & 2017 (Costume Advisor); Regional: White Christmas (Costume Coordinator; Ogunquit Playhouse), From Here to Eternity (Associate Costume Designer; Ogunquit Playhouse), Heartbreak Hotel (Assist. Costume Designer; Ogunquit Playhouse); National Tour: An American In Paris (Costume Assistant), School of Rock (Costume Assistant), & 42nd Street (Co-Costume Coordinator).

ERIC T. HAUGEN (Lighting Designer, Ragtime, Shake in Love, Richard II) in recent seasons, has designed the lighting for some of the more memorable PSF productions such as: Evita, West Side Story,Les Misérables, Fiddler, Oklahoma!, Sweeney Todd, South Pacific, Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker, King Lear, Amadeus, and My Fair Lady, among others. His theatrical lighting has been seen Off-Broadway and in regional theatres across the country. Eric’s Orlando based company, Luminous Design Studios, provides lighting designs for television, themed entertainment, and architectural projects worldwide.

MATT KRAUS (Sound Designer, Ragtime) Broadway: Kristen Chenoweth: A Love Letter, Kathy Griffin Want’s a Tony, Liza’s at the Palace…!; Elsewhere: 50 Shades: The Parody, Forbidden Broadway, Fat Camp, Voca People, Evita (PSF), World Goes Round (Bucks County Playhouse), Lend Me a Tenor, Newsies (Paper Mill Playhouse), Buddy Holly (Walnut St), Absinthe (Caesar’s Vegas), audio coordinator for remote shoots at The Tonight Show. Matt recently won an Emmy for his work on Disney’s Broadway Hits in London.

J. ALEX CORDARO (Fight Director, Ragtime, Twelfth Night, and Richard II) Other PSF credits: Caesar, Henry V, Fiddler, As You Like It, Othello, and Shrew; Regional credits include: McCarter, Wilma, The Actors Theatre, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, PSF, Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival, The Lantern, Theatre Exile, Inis Nua, Philadelphia Artists Collective, Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia Opera Company, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Alex is a Certified Teacher and Theatrical Firearms Safety Instructor with the Society of American Fight Directors.

GAIL EVE MALATESTA* (Stage Manager, Ragtime) just opened a world premiere for Royal Caribbean, on Symphony of the Seas, the largest ship in the world. Broadway: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Design for Living, A Class Act; Off-Broadway/Road: Summer of ’42 (Manhattan Theatre Club), WPA, Ensemble Studio, New Victory, MCC, American Jewish, York, Theatre Guild, Drama League and 3 Drama Desk Awards; Regional: Williamstown, Goodspeed, Orlando Shakespeare, Cape Playhouse, North Shore, Ogunquit, Bay Street, Pasadena Playhouse, Two River, Music Theatre North, Gateway, Downtown Cabaret, New London Barn and Theatre-by-the-Sea; BFA: Boston University.

CAROLYN REICH* (Assistant Stage Manager, Ragtime) 4th season at PSF. PSF credits: Evita, West Side Story, Les Misérables, The Three Musketeers, Blithe Spirit, The Foreigner, As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew, Henry V; New York: Cherry Lane Theatre, Billie Holiday Theatre, New World Stages, York Theatre; National Tour: The Bodyguard,The Bridges of Madison County; Regional: Trinity Repertory Company, McCarter Theatre, Hartford Stage. Carolyn is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

*Member of Actor’s Equity Association

About Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy, is the only professional Equity theatre of its scope and scale within a 50-mile radius. PSF is one of only a handful of theatres on the continent producing Shakespeare, musicals, classics, and contemporary plays, all of which can all be seen in rep and in multiple spaces within a few visits in a single summer season. Similarly, PSF will be among just a handful of theatres on the continent this summer to produce three Shakespeare plays in a single summer season.  A patron would have to travel seven to nine hours from PSF to find a comparable range of offerings at a single theatre within a few weeks’ time.

The Festival’s award-winning company of many world-class artists includes Broadway, film, and television veterans, and winners and nominees of the Tony, Emmy, Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, Hayes, Lortel, and Barrymore awards. A leading Shakespeare theatre with a national reputation for excellence, PSF has received coverage in The Washington Post, NPR, American Theatre Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and in recent seasons The New York Times has identified PSF as one of the leading summer theatre festivals in the nation. “A world-class theater experience on a par with the top Bard fests,” is how one New York Drama Desk reviewer characterized PSF.

Founded in 1992 and the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PSF’s mission is to enrich, inspire, engage, and entertain the widest possible audience through first-rate productions of classical and contemporary plays, with a core commitment to Shakespeare and other master dramatists, and through an array of education and mentorship programs. A not-for-profit theatre, PSF receives significant support from its host, DeSales University, from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. With 150 performances of seven productions, the Festival attracts patrons each summer from 30+ states. In 26 years, PSF has offered 161 total productions (69 Shakespeare), and entertained 900,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 38,000+ in attendance each summer season, plus another 14,000 students each year through its WillPower Tour. PSF is a multi-year recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts: Shakespeare in American Communities, and is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and the Shakespeare Theatre Association. In 2013, leaders of the world’s premier Shakespeare theatres gathered at PSF as the Festival hosted the international STA Conference.

The Festival’s vision is for world-class work.