Chad Bradford accepted into the Stage Directors and Choreographers Observership Class of 2019-2020 AND 2020-2021!

Thrilled by to be chosen out of a nationwide pool of directors to participate in this year's SDCF Observership Class.


The Observership Program provides directors and choreographers paid opportunities to observe the work of master directors and choreographers as they create productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway and at leading regional theatres across the country. SDCF Observers may have access to the entire rehearsal process from first rehearsal through opening night.  Observers will have the invaluable opportunity to observe first-hand the techniques, disciplines, approaches and insights of master artists as they create new productions and revive classics.  In addition to Observership opportunities provided through SDCF, members of the Observership class are also eligible to apply for the Kurt Weill Fellowship and the Shepard and Mildred Traube Fellowship.  For more information check out:

August 31st, 2019   |   Permalink   |  

"A very like-able AS YOU LIKE IT"


Review from for Shake on the Lake's AS YOU LIKE IT, directed by Chad Bradford

by Diana Louise Carter

(Excepts below)

 It’s hard to believe Shake on the Lake in tiny Perry, NY., is just eight years old.

The company, co-founded by Perry natives Josh Rice (producing artistic director) and Pilar McKay (managing director) has brought a handful of talented actors from across the country. They've parlayed arts grants into a moveable feast of Shakespeare that travels each July and August from the shores of Silver Lake to as many as eight counties.

This is Shakespeare in the best and most accessible of Shakespearean traditions—outdoor venues, minimal and easy-to-transport sets, actors playing multiple roles, and frequent interaction with the audience. While there are body mics and a sound system providing amplification, there are no lights, so shows begin at 6 p.m.generally and the scripts are modified so the plays can end before dusk. The formula has been successful enough to enlarge the cast to 11 this year and create some spinoffsSponsorships mean most of the performances are free this year, allowing fans to see the performances in multiple settings without having to buy multiple tickets.

This year’s production, directed by Associate Artistic Director Chad Bradford, is a delightful As You Like It, costumed in caftans and tiered skirts of the Summer of Love (designed by Nikki Grey). A half-hour of live music precedes the play, including a lively version of the Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want setting the tone and era of the play perfectly.

In this production, the court is more in the imagination, while the rolling lawns of historic mansions or parks call to mind the wooded encampment of the Arden Forest, to which Rosalind and Celia will travel in disguise. The only scenery is a lace-curtained, wood-framed backdrop.

Before we get to Arden, though, the scheming Oliver sets up his brother Orlando to be maimed or killed by Charles the Wrestler, who has already dispatched earlier opponents. Fight scenes, starting with a pre-wrestling tussle between the brothers, are beautifully choreographed, with Oliver (Matthew Duncan) turning bright red when the unhappy and penniless Orlando (Ladarius Jamerson) puts him in a headlock. The actual wrestling scene looks like something out of the World Wrestling Federation with a scene stealing Charles (Rice) making the audience shriek in laughter at his antics. A few improvised lines—a crotch pummelling of Charles followed by Orlando quipping, “He can only speak in falsetto, Lord,” add to the humor without derailing the text.

Once Orlando and Rosalind have clapped eyes on each other, and Rosalind (Madeleine Dauer) has fled to the forest with cousin Celia (Sharon Combs), we meet Jaques, a courtier of the banished Duke Senior, Rosalind’s father. The melancholy fool (Malcom Tucker, when he’s not playing music) practices his meditation, while sitting with criss-crossed legs and arms outstretched and balanced on his knees, as one might find a 60s-era guru. This is a wry Jacques, who seems just as amused by his fellow forest dwellers as he is contemplative.

This production is particularly good at making each of the denizens of the forest distinct, appearing to be peopled by a cast of thousands. Buxom farm girl Audrey (played by Keith Harper) particularly stands out as a curvy wench who goes back and forth between demur and come-hither wriggles. Her, or should I say "his", wig fell off opening night as she chased, and was chased by, Touchstone. Grabbing the lost wig, Harper looked Touchstone (Duncan) in the eye, plopped the wig back on and ad-libbed “Love me for what I am!” with a wag of his head.

The character of Rosalind is often played with great bravado, almost like a female Peter Pan who insists on fixing everyone. Dauer’s performance is more nuanced, allowing the unsure, smitten young woman to peak out now again from her disguise as Ganymede the boy. Phebe, the vain, charmless woman who falls in love with Ganymede, was played with more confidence than usual by Jordan Tudor, who also doubled as a vocalist before and during the play. I would have a hard time believing she wasn’t the understudy for Rosalind, or that she won't play that role someday.

In a small and young company like this one, I presume the costume budget isn't large, but Grey and her assistants worked wonders. Particularly beautiful was the purple and glittery gold of the God of Love (one of several roles played by Margaret Gayford). Ganymede was a bit of dandy with bell-bottom trousers and a floral frock coat. Though all of the actors were skilled enough to double and triple as different characters without the help of costuming, their clothing changes gave early warning to a thankful audience.

Swapping roles between the nasty Duke Frederick and the mellow Duke Senior, Josh Marcks went from a Nazi motorcyclist look in black with silver metalic spikes to a simple white caftan with love beads. At one point, Matthew Duncan made a lightening-swift change from Oliver with a hard, brimmed cap to Touchstone with a skull cap and red clown’s nose—at a speed that seemed almost unbelievable.

Bradford knows how to keep a play engaging and moving at a quick pace. Even though there is essentially no backstage in the Shake on the Lake format, characters seemed to drop in from nowhere, sneaking around the audience to appear in the performance space for each new scene. He solved the problem of having too few actors to play the four couples getting married at the end (Duncan could have been charged with bigamy) by omitting all but the brothers and the cousins they married.



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August 29th, 2019   |   Permalink   |  

Audiences cheer for AS YOU LIKE IT! "A meditation on love: Energetic ‘As You Like It’ opens to record audience in Geneseo"

"A meditation on love: Energetic ‘As You Like It’ opens to record audience in Geneseo"

Review from THE DAILY NEWS for Shake on the Lake's AS YOU LIKE IT, directed by Chad Bradford

GENESEO – “All the world’s a stage” we are told by Jacques in the second act of William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”

And where the Shakespearean troupe Shake on the Lake is concerned, we – the audience – are the players called on to yell out “choo choo” when prompted, or drawn into a scene – whether intentionally, or not.

“It was very exciting to see,” said Bill White of Caledonia, who was attending his first Shake show. “I thought it was hilarious the way they mixed traditional Shakespeare with contemporary language. It was very inventive.”

About 170 people – the largest crowd yet to view a Shake on the Lake performance in Livingston County – helped Shake begin its eighth summer with a July 25 performance on the back lawn of the Wadsworth Homestead. Shows continue through Aug. 11 at various locations across Western New York.

“It’s so wonderful to see what kind of community has been fostered in this community and beyond. We see lives change and people get excited. It’s one of the more beautiful experiences you can have as an actor,” said Madeleine Dauer, who stars as Rosalind.

The Perry-based Shake on the Lake began with one location and one show in 2012. For the past five summers it has taken its show on the road. This year, “As You Like It” will be performed 17 times in eight counties. This weekend, the company has performances scheduled at the Perry Public Beach on Silver Lake.

“We believe in rural theater and rural arts,” said Shake co-founder and producing artistic director Josh Rice.

Rice, in describing the acting company’s intent, explained the troupe “wants to make audience and artists not in these two places (holding his hands apart), but here (intertwining his fingers).”

Wadsworth Homestead has provided the opening night for the past five summers and this year’s debut came on a beautiful night for a show. Temperatures were reasonable, skies were blue and by show time shade had enveloped both the audience and stage area.

“I love how they bring Shakespeare to the modern world. It makes it accessible,” said Terry Brayman of Naples, who joined family members Serena Kniffin of Geneseo, Deborah Klee of Rochester, and others at the show.

“This transcends generations,” Kniffin said. “From seven to 70, we have three generations here tonight and they all enjoyed the play mightily.”

Kniffin liked the theatricality and the passion. Klee appreciated the show’s humor and levity.

“I appreciate this as entertainment,” said Klee, who has seen Shakespeare productions in parks in Rochester and Buffalo, but found Shake’s take “more intimate and personal. It was easy to follow.”

“As You Like It” is Shakespeare’s freewheeling meditation on love, said director Chad Bradford.

“Shakespeare seems to ask ‘What is love?’ or ‘What are different kinds of love?’, and also, and perhaps most provocatively, ‘What is not love?’,” Bradford said.

In directing the production, Bradford said he found inspiration in the “Summer of Love” and other spiritual paths that came from the 1960s and 1970s.

As for the plot: Rosalind’s cruel uncle Duke Frederick (Josh Marcks) usurps his twin brother Duke Senior (also played by Marcks) from the throne and banishes him. Senior’s daughter, Rosalind, disguises herself as a boy to flee persecution in her uncle’s court. Accompanied by her faithful cousin Celia (Sharon Combs) and the clown Touchstone (Matthew Duncan), they seek safety, freedom and eventually love in the idyllic Forest of Arden. There, love notes grow on trees and music bewitches the air.

They also encounter a variety of characters, including melancholy traveler Jacques (Malcolm Tucker), who speaks many of the play’s most famous lines, and Orlando (Ladarius Jamerson), a brave gallant whom Rosalind – putting her own heart in peril as she has fallen for Orlando – instructs him on how to best woo a woman.

Along the way, they discover that love is never simple, idealism is sometimes naïve, and the forest will not protect them from the outside world forever.

And just in case you think Shake on the Lake is playing too close to Shakespeare’s original, Josh Rice – in a significantly smaller role than last summer’s Richard III – channels his best “Macho Man” Randy Savage for a wrestling scene with Orlando. Rice played the role with vigor – thrusting about the stage, pulling in Savage’s catchphrases such as the bombastic “Oh, yea …” and exhorting the audience to respond to his “chugga chugga” with a raucous “choo choo.”

The wrestling scene is in the original play, through Rice acknowledged that he took inspiration from the over-the-top professional wrestling programs of his youth.

“It was a chance to play out my childhood dreams of stage,” he said.

Robin Finley, who had Rice as a student in English and journalism classes in high school, reveled in her former student’s success.

“I might have imagined there would be greatness. He was a bright shining star, and it’s grown,” Finley said.

She said Shake on the Lake has made Shakespeare accessible.

“To bring something like this to a small venue, and make it comfortable for all ages … this is not like something we’ve had before,” she said.

Each performance is accompanied by a half-hour or so of pre-show entertainment. Opening night featured a selection of songs about love: most familiar – Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”; some ironic – Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” or The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”; and one stunner – Jamerson’s cover of The Temptations’ “My Girl.”

The five-act “As You Like” typically plays out in four or more hours. Shake on the Lake does it in 90 minutes or less.

“I don’t know what they actually left out,” said Tom Reagan of Perry, who had re-read the play before coming to the show. “I felt like the whole story was here.”

Reagan said he enjoys Shakespeare and sees Shake on the Lake whenever he can.

“They are,” he said, “fun and energetic and creative.”


by Ben Beagle

August 29th, 2019   |   Permalink   |  

Fantastic review for Shake on the Lake's AS YOU LIKE IT

BWW Review: AS YOU LIKE IT at Shake On The Lake

by Dan and Julie Izzo

Having taught British literature for over a quarter of a century, I have become painfully aware of two initial student misconceptions about Shakespeare and his literature: that he wrote in Old English and that his writings are academic, elitist, archaic and dull. The first false assertion can be dispelled through education. "Hwæt! We Gar-Dena in gear-dagum, þeod-cyninga, þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon!" is really Old English. By comparison one can see that Shakespeare wrote in Modern English. The second erroneous belief can only be dismissed through experience, and schools have been struggling to provide that experience for over 400 years. Unfortunately classrooms aren't famous for being the antidote needed to overcome chronic symptoms of archaic dullness (no offense to my former colleagues intended.) Any reader of BWW knows that live theater is that healing potion, but good live theater like modern healthcare is inaccessible to many people.

As stated on their website, Shake on the Lake is a professional theatre company in their tenth season that specializes in performances to underserved rural communities. They are currently touring Western New York State with a lively production of As You Like It. I had the good fortune to stumble upon the second night of their tour. It was scheduled to be enacted outdoors on the grounds of The Morgan-Manning House in Brockport. This plan was interrupted by torrential rain just prior to the staging. With true theatrical chutzpah and the mantra that "the show must go on," these actors, soaked to the bone, were moved indoors into the Tower Building on the campus of SUNY Brockport. To paraphrase Jacques, they were sans set, sans sound equipment, sans special effects, sans everything. In the modern parlance, it was truly an unplugged performance. But what better way to experience Shakespeare in its purest form than from a traveling band of actors armed with nothing but their skill and improvisational wit.


Shake on the Lake did not disappoint. The show was introduced by a series of modern rock songs accompanied by acoustic guitars, a trumpet, a ukulele and an accordion. The lyrics acted as a dumb show to highlight the theme of the evening--love. This joyous company may have been wet but their enthusiasm was not dampened. From the outset of the play it was obvious that their goal was to create an As You Like It that was relatable to a modern audience. The cast took liberties with the text, often interspersing it with modern colloquialisms and pop song references. The acting was impressively physical, spirited and at times appropriately bawdy. Without the set, the audience could see the actors who were outside the circle of the scene enjoy their comrades performance as much as we did. Their joy and laughter intensified our own. It was clear that this was a company that both worked and played together.

Josh Rice, the founder of the troupe, set the tone early with his WWE inspired characterization of Charles the court wrestler. Part Hulk Hogan and part Randy Flair, he mercilessly taunted Ladarius Jamerson's Orlando from the imaginary top rope, flexed and performed diving elbow drops. Jamerson sputtered and feigned being stunned. The audience was drawn in by the familiar motifs of modern wrestling. Shakespeare became relevant through this and similar parallels throughout the show. High-test energy fueled the motor of the plot.


The entire cast raced through the show playing multiple characters. Ladarius Jamerson's Orlando was confident, handsome and crazily love-struck while his country bumpkin William "ah shucked" his way through a love scene with cross- dressing Keith Harper's Audrey. Madeline Dauer's Rosalind at first blushed wide-eyed with love but later, when dressed as the boy Ganymede, beamed delighting in impish pranks as she tormented her dear Orlando. Sharon Combs as Celia gave a particularly fine supporting performance as cousin and companion to Rosalind. Josh Marcks' versatility was displayed as he portrayed the serene Duke Senior, the fiery Duke Frederick and the emo shepherd Silvius.

As a scholar and lover of Shakespeare, I missed the flights of language that enrich characterization and soar with emotion. But as an improv teacher, I delighted in the spontaneity and creative high jinx that engaged the audience. Shake on the Lake's As You Like It is a perfect introduction to the genius of Shakespeare. It's fast, funny and first-rate. This modern take is for everyone. If you go, you won't see the exact production I saw because with luck and fair weather you will see it in it's fully produced glory, but I can assure you it will be a great evening of entertainment!

July 27th, 2019   |   Permalink   |  

New Teaching Opportunities

I've just published my new website for teaching and coaching!  I'm currently specializng in Shakespeare, Acting, and Singing.


Click here for my new website:

or, take a look at my profile and read reviews: Chad Bradford at




December 28th, 2018   |   Permalink   |  

NPR features Voices UnCaged

Prisoners find their voice through Shakespeare at Groveland prison

  JUL 30, 2018

The universal themes of Shakespeare—love, jealousy, revenge, and redemption—are relatable to almost everyone. That includes some prisoners at Groveland.

They’re part of a theatre education program called Voices UnCaged. It’s designed to work in Correctional Facilities, in large part due to program founder Chad Bradford’s childhood.

When he was 8, his father went to prison for about five years. Now he wants to help rehabilitate prisoners, including those getting ready to be released.

“Every Saturday me and my sister and my Mom would hop in the car from Little Rock, drive all the way to Texarkana, Arkansas which is a good two hours and 45 minutes away or so, and that was our Saturday. So we stayed in contact… Anytime I think you go through some kind of suffering like that you come out stronger,” Bradford said.

Bradford started in Arkansas with Voices UnCaged after getting a fellowship through National Arts Strategies. He said the program faced a lot of resistance there.

“Who do I want coming home to my community? Someone who has had this theater training? Who has invested their live engaged in self-inquiry? Or someone who hasn’t felt anything but punishment for years and years? Who has been told they’re garbage for years and years,” said Bradford.As the prisoners rehearse, you can see how supportive they are in a group setting.

Marshall Gilcrease is participating for a second straight year.

“At first I was against the idea of joining. Who wants to do a play in front of a bunch of inmates at an almost 1000 inmate prison? You’d be afraid of being laughed at,” he said.

Gilcrease was talked in to joining by his fellow prisoner Thomas Lawson. Gilcrease said this program helped them form a friendship.

“I learned more about who he was after this event last year than I did beforehand. I think the majority of people wear a mask. When they are brought to a level of embarrassment in front of everybody, that mask is momentarily removed,” Gilcrease said.

“We supported each other more for sticking through to it. It’s not exactly easy pretending these plays, Romeo and Juliet in a prison setting… that’s not an easy one. The fact that we both stay committed to our goals and actually stayed in it, we gained a lot of respect for each other and we were able to form a friendship out of it,” he said.

Outside of Romeo and Juliet, the group performed excerpts from Hamlet and Macbeth.

“You can see the raw emotion of somebody when they’re reading Macbeth. Just like we were doing. Is this a dagger I see before me? They are questioning that. They are questioning their sanctity,” Lawson said. 
Lawson said when they read in front of each other, you can see their inner-conflict come to the surface.

For this group of prisoners, it’s a chance to express themselves in ways they couldn’t otherwise.

“You can’t just speak up to your loudest volume and you can’t just be your angriest or be your saddest. You can’t expose yourself that kind of way. You have to be at a more calmer level,” he said.

Lawson said he’d look towards doing Community Theater once he leaves Groveland.

“We’ve done some wrong things, but it’s nice that people know that we’re not just bad people,” said Lawson. “The staff sees us and they don’t act like we’re something that’s just to be discarded and left away. They act like we’re clay. We can be molded. We can be better.”

Anthony Adams has struggled with parole in the past. He thinks this time will be different.

“To remember this freedom by coming down here is like a blessing in disguise… I’ve already has my mind expanded,” said Adams.

Like most at Groveland, he will soon be released back into the Western New York Community.

“When I get back, it’s going to give me something to be able to introduce to some of the younger kids… For me to be able to successfully complete parole this time would be one hell of a step for me,” he said.

Groveland Superintendent Shawn Cronin says it’s difficult for people to see the humanity in others if they don’t see it in themselves. That’s something arts-based programs may help with.

“What we do with them here is important,” said Cronin. “Not because we want to coddle them or maybe treat them better than they deserve. You can’t get around the idea we’ve locked them up, but we didn’t throw away the key. They’re coming back to a neighborhood. They’re going to be your neighbor tomorrow.”

For the rest of the story, follow the link below:

August 23rd, 2018   |   Permalink   |  

RICHARD III shows "Extraordinary Imagination!" -The Daily News


by Ben Beagle

The Daily News


GENESEO — This is the Shakespeare you’d get if William wore tight jeans instead of breeches, replaced doublets with black leather jackets and donned thick-soled Doc Martens boots.

Shake of the Lake’s summer production of “Richard III,” the story of the ruthless, plotting man who would be king, comes with a punk-rock attitude – complete with a couple of repeating lines from a Sex Pistols song.

“I like the extraordinary imagination. They keep finding new things to do with Shakespeare,” said Anne Lutkus of Geneseo, who was among those who turned out July 26 on a sweltering summer evening for Shake’s tour-opening performance at the Wadsworth Homestead.

An estimated 130 people — the largest crowd to view a Shake on the Lake performance in Livingston County — turned out as Shake began its seventh summer. Shows continue through Aug. 11 at various locations in Western New York.

This summer’s production features a true in-the-round stage, which puts the actors in the middle of an area surrounding by the audience.

“‘Richard III’ is reality TV,” said Shake co-founder Josh Rice, who stars in the title role. “Shakespeare was always looking to the audience. ‘I’m doing this. Now, I’m gonna do that.’ The nature of these shows had constant asides. It’s nice to have people around for every one.”

“And it’s not like Will is here to yell at us,” he added.

Gretchen Donnan of York has seen “a bunch” of the Shake shows. She likes the differences among the productions, and found a lot of energy and passion in this year’s performance.

“I like minimalist theater, where only a little bit of costuming and set changes. They can be quick and subtle, but with a lot of creativity on the part of the cast,” she said. “It’s as much or more fun as a more elaborate theater show.”

Susan Morse of Vermont, who is staying in York for the summer, liked the action and the tradition of actors playing multiple parts. She particularly liked Ladarius Jamerson’s unlikely casting as the Duchess of York.

“Each character really stretched their roles,” she said. “I thought it was very creative.”

In “Richard III,” Richard, the Duke of Gloucester — whose physical deformities often leave people overlooking him — is determined to gain the crown of England from his brother King Edward IV. Richard plots his way through a fast-paced — Shake productions run 90 minutes or less — story of plotting, scheming and many deaths.

The story is more tragic and grim then previous Shake on the Lake productions, but there are also bits of winking dialogue, asides with the audience and dark humor.

When Curtiss Johns as Murderer 2 psyches himself up to kill Richard’s brother, Clarence, he sings the 1980s hit “Eye of the Tiger,” but with substituted lyrics like “I’m gonna kill me a duke/make him all bloody.” (Johns said after the show, he expected the lyrics to change with each performance.)

Musically, you may also hear the Clash, a bit of Pink Floyd’s “Money” and the repeated refrain “I am an anti-Christ/I am an anarchist” from the Sex Pistols “Anarchy in the U.K.” whenever cast members are plotting about killing rivals.

“Richard III” is also the most physical of Shake’s shows, which previously have included “Romeo and Juliet,” “Twelfth Night” and “The Tempest.” There are several sword and knife fights, many deaths and a title character with seemingly hundreds of different facial expressions.

“There’s nothing as physical as ‘Richard III,’ and it fits our style — fast, fun and physical,” said Rice, who plays the grueling title role with a left arm kept tightly to his chest at an awkward angle throughout the show, the occasional gimpy leg and a tenuous mental state. “Part of our style is fast, fun and physical.”

“It’s closer to athletics, and that strikes a chord with me,” Rice said. “When I started in theater, I studied stage combat.”

“And,” he said with a wink, “I’m a fan of pro wrestling.”

August 23rd, 2018   |   Permalink   |  

Fun interview with Chad Bradford and Jordy Neill


Recently I sat down with two of my favorite folks, who just happen to be two of our most valued and esteemed AST company members. Chad Bradford and Jordy Neill have been with AST several seasons. Audiences will remember them in last year’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with Chad as Oberon and Jordy as Tom Snout (The Wall). These two talented actors and musicians were also involved in last year’s touring production of Twelfth Night — Chad directed the production, and Jordy entertained audiences with his hilarious Sir Toby Belch. That production made 12 stops last summer in various Arkansas towns and then toured Faulkner County Schools in the fall, after receiving a grant from Conway Development Corporation and Toad Suck Daze.
I asked Chad and Jordy to talk with me about their experience with AST and the exciting challenges they face this season. Chad will direct our touring family show, The Taming of the Shrew, and Jordy will star as Petruchio in this production.

Mary Ruth: Chad, what is your vision for this show?
Chad: I think that The Taming of the Shrew is a love story. It’s funny, provocative and challenging all at the same time. Shrew, of course, like all of Shakespeare’s work, was written in a particular time with a particular audience in mind. The mores and expectations of an Elizabethan audience were very similar, and in some instances, very different than ours. Our task is to bravely confront the differences in our own contemporary expectations with the social norms of the Elizabethan era. In our version, that means embracing the broad characters and physical comedy, and emphasizing the idea of surrender versus submission. We are, in essence, wrestling with the text to bring out how love — that is, true love — allows us to willfully surrender to the passion we feel for our partner, and how when you find the perfect person, that surrender allows you to truly become your “best self.” There is a kind of baggage that this show carries with it; however, I’ll say that you’ve never seen Shrew like this. We plan on taking the audience’s expectations of what this play is about and turning that on it’s head. The challenge is actually what makes producing and directing this piece so exciting.
Mary Ruth: Chad, why did you have Jordy in mind as Petruchio?
Chad: Jordy is one of my best friends, and one of the funniest actors I know! He defies expectation with every role he plays. He learned from a young age to be fearless as an actor, and that’s what I most admire about him — and why he is perfect for Petruchio. Jordy is also tender, sincere, and has a certain comic genius.
If Petruchio is a haughty, testosterone ridden meathead, the way he treats others in the play can seem at best, off-putting, and at worst, downright cruel. However, if we elevate the world into a place where the comedy is broad and our hero Petruchio is somewhat of a clown — unsure of himself, yet sure of his love for Katherine — then I think we find that Petruchio has a depth that can be arresting and charming.

Mary Ruth: Jordy, what drew you to the role of Petruchio?
Jordy: Petruchio is one of those problem characters in Shakespeare that a lot of people have trouble connecting to — for plenty of appropriate reasons! That challenge alone is appealing to me; allowing audiences to view his complexity and helping them toward empathy toward him are my main goals as I head into this process.

Mary Ruth: Jordy, how do you see the relationship between Petruchio and Kate?
Jordy: The relationship is something I hope to discover as we rehearse. I’m excited to work with newcomer Kat Cordes (Kate) and see what we can create together. The discourse between them is at times tumultuous and rigid with a lot of push and pull, but under the surface their courtship reveals a deeper understanding of one another that neither character is able to fully realize until later in the play.
Mary Ruth: Chad, you directed last year’s touring show. What are you looking forward to with regard to this year’s tour? What’s it like to take a show around the state to different locations/venues?
Chad: I love the family touring show. It may be my favorite offering that the festival provides. I think my favorite thing about the touring show is watching and listening to audiences as they leave the theatre hearing phrases like, “I actually understood the story,” or “Wow, I didn’t know I liked Shakespeare,” or my favorite “I didn’t know Shakespeare was funny!” Watching people experience some of the best dramatic literature ever written and having such a positive reaction is the most rewarding thing about the job. Bringing this work to towns that may not have many cultural opportunities is what this show is all about. It truly is ARKANSAS’ Shakespeare festival.

Mary Ruth: Jordy, you’ve done the touring show several times. What have been the challenges and rewards? Favorite character?
Jordy: The touring show is a grind that I absolutely welcome every single season. Anytime I’m unable to do it, I long for the experience. The bond you build on the road with your collaborators is one that remains, and being able to perform in a variety of venues really challenges you as a performer. Favorite tour character: The Dromio Twins in Comedy of Errors.

Mary Ruth: How do you plan to engage young people?
Chad: Renaissance special effects! Meaning original music performed by the actors, dance, simple and striking spectacle, and of course, the timeless humor Shakespeare brings to all of his comedies. I’m also trying some new things this time, emphasizing the commedia del’ arte tradition in the piece and a few more surprises. You’ll have to wait to see!
See you all at the shows!


July 3rd, 2017   |   Permalink   | previews A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM at the Studio Theatre

The Studio Theatre Presents A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

A Midsummer Night's Dream portrays the events surrounding the marriage of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the former queen of the Amazons. These include the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors (the mechanicals) who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set.

Performances are March 30, March 31, April 1, April 2, April 6, April 7, April 8, April 9 of 2017. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances (March 30, 31, and April April 1, 6, 7, 8,) will begin at 7:30pm, Sunday matinee (April 2 and April 9) will begin at 2:30pm.

Ticket Information

Tickets are $20.00 for general admission and $15.00 for Seniors (65+), Military, and Students. There are no assigned seats at The Studio Theatre. The box office will open at 6:30pm on performance dates and the house will open approximately 20 minutes prior to curtain. Tickets may be purchased at We highly recommend that tickets be purchased in advance, as we cannot guarantee availability at the door. The Lobby Bar is open before and after the show and during intermission.

This production is rated PG. This production of A Midsummer Night's Dream was conceived, edited, and arranged by Little Rock native Chad Bradford, exclusively for The Studio Theatre.

Creative Team

Play by William Shakespeare

Directed by Chad Bradford

Dramaturgy by Paige Reynolds

Stage Managed by Javan Massey


THE Studio Theatre

320 W. 7TH Street

Little Rock, Arkansas 72201


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Photo Credit: Caroline M. Holt

March 3rd, 2017   |   Permalink   |  

Chad Bradford named to Creative Class of 2016

Creative Class 2016: Chad Bradford


October 6, 2016

Actor and director Chad Bradford started appearing on Little Rock stages while he was still a student at Hall High School.  Since then, he has appeared Off Broadway, in national tours, and in numerous

regional theatres throughout the U.S.  While often appearing in Shakespeare or other classical plays, he is equally at home in farce, musicals, and drawing room comedies.  In 2015, he played the title character in the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre production of Puss in Boots. In other words, he is a versatile actor.

Chad Bradford

Earlier this year, he directed Twelfth Night for Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre (while also appearing in their productions of West Side Story and A Midsummer Night’s Dream).  Twelfth Night was later remounted at Shake on the Lake Shakespeare in New York and returned to Conway for another appearance.  (This is not his first show to originate in Little Rock and be performed throughout the US. In 2013, he helmed David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries here before it played elsewhere.)  In 2015, National Arts Strategies named him a Creative Community Fellows recipient.

He is currently in rehearsals directing David Ives’s The Liar on the UCA Mainstage.  It plays October 20-22, and 27 & 28.

October 6th, 2016   |   Permalink   |  

Voices UnCaged talk scheduled at UCA Honor's College




AST actor and director, Chad Bradford, will be giving a lecture on October 7th on the University of Central Arkansas's campus as part of the "Unlock Mass Incarceration - American Criminal Justice Reform" series hosted by the UCA Schedler Honors College. Chad's lecture will focus on the impact of his project "Voices UnCaged" and his work with inmates at Groveland Correctional Facility in Western New York. 

"Prisoners examine their lives to create their art, and by doing so, their expression invites others to shift their point-of-view, hopefully leading to greater understanding on all sides."

 -Press Release from AST



October 3rd, 2016   |   Permalink   |  

"Twelfth Night debuted this summer to rave reviews all across the state."

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre to perform Twelfth Night


Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre is thrilled to be involved in Conway’s ArtsFest this Fall, performing its touring production of Twelfth Night at The Lantern Theatre on September 30th at 7 pm and October 1st and 2nd at 2 pm. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at
The production is a remount of our unique one-hour adaptation of Shakespeare’s hilarious comedy that toured to several venues across the state this past summer. Chad Bradford is again at the helm, directing the production, and three of the stars of the summer show reprising their roles--Sharon Combs, Jordy Neill, and Garrett Houston. New to the production this fall are LaDarius Jamerson, Malcolm Tucker, Daniel DeYoung, Harrison Trigg, Xander Udochi, Emily Wold, and Geneva Galloway.
Director Chad Bradford beautifully summarizes AST’s Twelfth Night as such: “Inspired by the groups of traveling performers that came up through India and the Middle East and finally into Europe, known as the Romani people, and at times, less affectionately as “Gypsies,” Feste (our ringleader) and his players, sing and dance through Viola’s quest for love and reconciliation. Feste guides us through the journey as he switches masks and characters, narrating the story and sometimes hopping into the action, as well.”
“Twelfth Night debuted this summer to rave reviews all across the state. And we were thrilled to have been given a grant from the Conway Chamber of Commerce and Toad Suck Daze to extend this production into the fall to perform in the high schools in Faulkner County. We thought a fitting end of this show’s run would be a few shows for the public in conjunction with Conway’s ArtsFest. The folks at The Lantern Theater were gracious enough to allow us the space to perform.”
Additionally, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s 2017 season will be announced at AST’s annual Fall Membership Party on Thursday, September 29th, 2016 at 6:30 pm at the home of Mary Ruth Marotte in Conway, 4915 College Ave. The night’s festivities will include hors d’oeuvres, drinks, an art show and sale of local artists’ work in coordination with Conway ArtsFest, and a special performance by cast members of AST’s touring production of Twelfth Night.

September 2nd, 2016   |   Permalink   |  

Exciting new review for "Playful, entertaining" TWELFTH NIGHT

Shake on the Lake opens playful, entertaining ‘Twelfth Night’

With snippets of songs from rock bands Aerosmith and the B-52s and – for opening night in Geneseo - references to Kelly’s Saloon, Shake on the Lake’s production of “Twelfth Night” is not the Shakespeare you feared in high school. 

It is, instead, entertaining and not at all intimidating.

“These guys are bringing something you think is dead and long gone and making it modern,” said Marsha Abe of Geneseo, who attended Shake on the Lake’s opening night. 

“Twelfth Night,” the fifth summer production from Perry-based Shake on the Lake, is a comedy about the madness of love that involves separated fraternal twins, mismatched lovers, mistaken identities, jealousy, fights and duels. 

About 60 people attended opening night July 28, a balmy mid-summer evening outside the Wadsworth Homestead in Geneseo. The audience, which included visitors from Canandaigua and Little Rock, Ark., was a mix of returning theatergoers, such as Abe, and first timers such as Mary Patrick-Grabowski of Geneseo.

“I heard it was a lot of fun. It looks pretty cool. The people look cool,” she said while watching the pre-show. “And any chance to come to the Homestead is appealing.”

Improv and humor

The pre-show, which begins a half-hour before each performance, introduces the cast as if they are members of a Shakespearean acting company. They perform contemporary songs, write poetry with audience members and engage in other hijinks, such as a marshmallow eating contest.

“I love Shakespeare, that’s all I really needed to go,” said Ron Smith of Canandaigua, who in addition to seeing the show also bested actor Jordy Neill – the conniving Sir Toby Belch in the play — in the marshmallow contest.

“Twelfth Night” features a cast of seven, with each actor taking on at least two roles. Samantha Harrington and Matthew Duncan play fraternal twins Viola and Sebastian, respectively, who each survive a shipwreck – though each thinks the other has perished – and find themselves arriving separately in Illyria. Viola disguises herself as a boy named Cesario and begins working for Duke Orsino (Vinny Mraz), with whom she falls in love. The Duke, however, is in love with Olivia (Sharon Combs), who herself falls for the disguised Viola. From there, hijinks ensue in a fast-paced production that wraps in about 80 minutes.

The cast also includes Fergie Philippe and Josh Marcks, both newcomers to the troupe.

“These guys are really talented,” Abe said of the cast. “I love the improv and the humor.”

Winking at tradition

Improv, local references and contemporary music may be more in the tradition of Shakespeare then some audience members realize.

“Shakespeare often referenced the pubs and places in London in his plays,” said Shake’s Interim Artistic Director Chad Bradford, who directs this year’s production. “This made the play immediate to his audience and provided some local fun.”

The Kelly’s Saloon references in Geneseo came up during rehearsal “and I thought it was a lovely nod to this tradition in Shakespeare,” Bradford said.

The reference to the Geneseo bar will be replaced by other local references in subsequent performances, which included shows in Dansville on Friday and Letchworth and Darien Lakes state parks on Saturday. Today, the production is at Orleans Marine Park in Kent. Performances continues Tuesday in Arcade, Wednesday in Attica and Thursday through Saturday in Silver Lake. The tour concludes Aug. 11 with a show in Springville.

“We are the Shakespeare festival for rural Western New York,” said Bradford, “so adding this touch, I hope, shows our audience the ownership they have with the company and that over the past five years we have become part of the community.”

The inclusion of contemporary music – Aerosmith’s “Dude, Looks Like a Lady” and The B-52’s “Love Shack” offer humorous winks at the “Twelfth Night” plot – acknowledges Shakespearian traditions.

“Using current music of the day in Shakespeare’s work is as old as the Bard himself. Music and songs of his time were put in the play to not only further the plot, but to draw the audience in with something enjoyable, fun and familiar,” Bradford said. “ … If Shakespeare were alive today, I have no doubt we would hear Celine Dion references and Justin Timberlake jokes.”

And audience interaction is not limited to the pre-show. Several times actors exited or entered past the audience and in one scene – in which a trick is played on Olivia’s puritanical steward – the troublemakers hide out among the audience.

“At Shake on the Lake we think of theater as a living art form,” said Bradford. “Shakespeare’s texts are living texts, not dead pieces of literature. In making them fun and unique and immediate for the audience, it’s truly and sincerely my goal to actually use all of Shakespeare’s traditions to keep it as contemporary as possible.”

And with it, dispel any notions that linger from high school English.

“When you read Shakespeare on the page it can be hard to understand. But seeing a performance, the language no longer seems difficult and their interpretation of Shakespeare gives it added humor,” said Rachel Jones, who accompanied her 7-year-old daughter Lena to the youth’s first Shakespeare production. “It was very entertaining and not intimidating.”


For more information: or


July 31st, 2016   |   Permalink   |  

Voices Uncaged "Bard Talk" with Chad Bradford and Shake on the Lake

‘Bard Talk’ reveals Shake on the Lake experience at Groveland prison


Members of the Shake on the Lake theater troupe have spent the past week inside Groveland Correctional Facility.

The troupe, which will begin to stage Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” throughout the Genesee Valley in the coming week, presented a series of theatrical workshops and helped inmates prepare a theatrical piece of their own.

The prison program was part of “Voices UnCaged,” a project created by Shake’s Interim Artistic Director Chad Bradford that brings theater arts into prisons. The project was awarded a Creative Community Fellowship through the National Arts Strategies organization, which supports the development of community outreach projects. 

Groveland is among the first sites to take part in “Voices UnCaged.”

Bradford, in his fifth season with Shake on the Lake, will discuss the experience at Groveland as part of a “Bard Talk,” scheduled for 5 p.m. tonight in Stoody Hall at the Silver Lake Institute, Perry and Embry avenues, Silver Lake. Admission is free.

The talk will feature a conversation among the artists who participated in “Voices UnCaged” and what they learned from the experience.

The residency at Groveland took place evenings from July 18 to 23. Theater educators including Bradford, Shake on the Lake founder Josh Rice and theater artist Vinny Mraz went to Groveland after daily rehearsals for this summer’s “Twelfth Night” production.

Shake will perform “Twelfth Night” at Groveland Correctional on Aug. 5, the summer’s 13th performance.

“Shake on the Lake if very grateful that Chad has brought his project to the area,” said Shake Managing Director Pilar McKay.

Twelfth Night,” a comedy of love and confusion, will open with a performance at 6:30 p.m. July 28 at the Wadsworth Homestead in Geneseo, and be followed the next night by a 6:30 p.m. show at Williams Park Gazebo in Dansville. Then, on July 30, a noon performance is scheduled at nearby Letchworth State Park.

Additional touring performances are 6 p.m. July 30 at Darien Lakes State Park, Darien Center; 6 p.m. July 31 at Orleans County Marine Park, Point Breeze; 6:30 p.m. Aug. 2 at Arcade Village Park, Arcade; 6:30 p.m. Aug. 3 at Attica Historical Society; and 6:30 p.m. Aug. 11 at SYI Park, Springville.

The main stage performances are Aug 4 to 6 at Perry Public Beach, Silver Lake. Times are 6:30 p.m. Aug. 4 and 5 and 2 and 6:30 p.m. Aug. 6.

For more information, go to .

July 24th, 2016   |   Permalink   |  

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reviews PUSS IN BOOTS, new adaptation "hip"


Puss in Boots puts best foot forward 


What should I say about the show that the Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre opened Friday night? That you'll get a kick out of Puss in Boots? That it's the cat's meow?


Where it succeeds, it mostly involves the excellent physical comic abilities of Chad Bradford in the title role (and in the title boots). Puss, a flamboyant feline, with the help of a trio of sidekits (Lauren Linton, Aleigha Morton and Moriah Patterson), sings, dances, sidles, swashes, buckles and uses his innate cleverness to cozen a gluttonous king (Jeremy Matthey), his dimwitted daughter (Katie Campbell) and even a shape-shifting ogre to help to fortune and bliss his cloddish miller's-son master (a fine job by newbie Nick Spencer).


Puss in Boots, the Children's Theatre 2015-16 season opener, runs 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday through Oct. 4 at the Arts Center in MacArthur Park, East Ninth and Commerce streets, Little Rock. Ticket information is available by calling (501) 372-4000 or online at

by Eric E. Harrison

Metro on 09/19/2015

September 19th, 2015   |   Permalink   |  

BIG NEWS: Chad Bradford named Creative Community Fellow through National Arts Stategies for 2015-2016

2000 DUKE ST. SUITE 115 | ALEXANDRIA, VA 22314 512.482.5789 | ARTSTRATEGIES.ORG
Announcing the New Cohort of Creative Community Fellows
June 1, 2015 – Alexandria, VA – National Arts Strategies welcomes 50 cultural entrepreneurs into the Creative Community Fellows program. This group of international Fellows uses arts and culture to drive transformations in their communities. Their work helps to build arts vocational skills for adults on the autism spectrum. It also ignites change in pedestrian behavior and reduces vehicular accidents through the creation of a card game.
With the support of The Kresge Foundation and now in its second year, this program grew out of our exploration of the role of art in civil society and the importance of community in the sustainability of the cultural sector. This program provides leaders working in the community sphere the tools, training and access to a network of support to help drive their projects forward. Working with National Arts Strategies and each other for the next nine months, Fellows study their communities in-depth, learn the importance of partnerships and craft ways to make their projects sustainable.
“We are thrilled to announce this vibrant and diverse cohort of leaders to the world. Our entire team was overwhelmed by the strength of the applicant pool. In our interview process, Fellows impressed us by articulating their dedication not only to their individual projects, but also to advancing the field as a whole,” says Creative Community Fellows program director, Sunny Widmann.
We received nearly 200 applications from 34 states and 7 different countries. We were amazedby the passion of the applicants and we know they are going to play a part in changing this world. Each Fellow enters the program with a community-centered project. The program curriculum is led by experts and world-renowned thought leaders in social innovation, design thinking, strategy and community development. Each month, Fellows will share project updates through the Creative Community Blog. NAS will share tools and resources from the program for anyone to use and share. We aim to build and support a community of cultural entrepreneurs throughout the field, creating a network in which ideas and opportunities flow freely.
Chad Bradford, Little Rock, Arkansas   

This program is the result of the incredible collaboration and support of The Kresge
Foundation, University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice and The
Center for Social Impact Strategy, ArtPlace America and RocketHub.
About National Arts Strategies
National Arts Strategies works with faculty from leading universities in the country to develop leadership programs for leaders and organizations across the arts and culture sector. This investment in leadership capacity has produced the sector’s most diverse leadership community of alumni and faculty. It has also generated changes in the language and core management frameworks used by grantee organizations, partnerships to advance the full range of educational services available to the field and policy discussions with leading grantmakers to enhance field capacity building.
CONTACT: Taylor Craig Program Coordinator 571-482-5789 x28

August 29th, 2015   |   Permalink   |  

Exciting praise from Shake on the Lake

Shake on the Lake presents 'The Tempest'


Posted: Thursday, July 23, 2015 5:00 am

SILVER LAKE — The simple way to differentiate William Shakespeare’s comedies from his tragedies is all in the ending. At the conclusion of the comedies, everyone gets married; in the tragedies, everyone dies. The histories, of course, are based on real events.

But then there’s “The Tempest,” a fantasy play with an open ending. There’s no wedding, although we see there’s going to be one. Nobody dies. And it certainly isn’t based on actual events, since sorcerers don’t exist.

The differences that make this play stand out from most of Shakespeare’s other works, which can be formulaic, made it a favorite for Pilar McKay and Josh Rice, founders of Shake on the Lake, an outdoor Shakespeare production company. And it’s why the troupe will present its touring production of “The Tempest” beginning next week.

The play tells the tale of Prospero, an exiled Duke, who lives on an island with his daughter Miranda and several magical creatures. Using sorcery and manipulation over the other island inhabitants, he lures his enemies, including his brother, Sebastian, to the island in an effort to return to his rightful status. It’s a story of revenge and redemption.

“I like ‘The Tempest,’ because it is a mix of comedy and tragedy,” said Rice, who is directing this year’s show. “It’s one of the few, maybe only, real fantasy plays that Shakespeare wrote, even though it’s not really considered part of his canon.

“There are so many magical elements to it with regards to the music that fills the island, but also the spirit characters.  Being able to play with those magical elements is always really exciting for us, because it allows us to play with spectacle.”

The Shake on the Lake crew has place it’s on interpretation on the story. One main theme is using puppetry for two of its central characters, Ariel and Caliban. Ariel is a spirit enslaved to Prospero in exchange for saving him from an evil sorceress. Caliban is the deformed son of a witch, who also works for Prospero.

“We’re really playing with the idea that all of the people (Prospero) interacts with on the island are puppets,” Rice explained. “He’s puppeteering everything on the island. Using a puppet for a puppet’s sake never works. You always want to find a reason artistically to use that particular form. Because Prospero is enchanting all of these things and has power over them, having them be puppets under his control makes sense to me.”

Ariel will actually appear in three forms, as an actress wearing a mask, as the mask on a stick when it flies around the island, and as a 2-foot puppet.

The producers have also removed all of the text during the storm — The Tempest — that brings Prospero’s enemies to the island. It will be done entirely with music and visual effects.

And since the play is performed in the round — the audience surrounds the stage — McKay and Rice want the audience to interact with the production. They will be given instruments so they can “contribute to the sound and feel of the island.”

Tackling the demanding role of Prospero is  Chad Bradford, an experienced actor who has previously worked for the American Shakespeare Center. Bradford has appeared in every Shake on the Lake production, which made him an easy choice for the main role.

“Chad is as much Shake on the Lake as the two of us,” McKay said, motioning to Rice. “Because we’re a theater production, some people know Josh and some know me, but they see Chad. They know him. It kind of makes sense to make him Prospero.”

What’s wonderful about Chad is that he’s such a versatile actor, Rice added. “He really gets the language in Shakespeare. He knows how to speak it; he knows how to tell the stories; he knows how we like to work.”

Bradford will also serve as music director and vocal coach.

Also in this year’s cast are:Courtney Bennett Baker, Samantha Harrington, Josh McTiernan, Jordy Neill, and Matthew Duncan.

July 23rd, 2015   |   Permalink   |  

"Beautiful" review for LITTLE WOMEN

Playhouse's beautiful musical will hold you by your heart 

Posted 12 hours ago

Impeccably cast and beautifully staged and sung, “Little Women, the Musical” had a Thursday preview audience — frontloaded with females — almost at hello.

Almost. The Omaha Community Playhouse production had a bit of a balky start. (I never did like the scene in which the March sisters act out Jo’s silly melodrama.) But gradually, almost stealthily, the story hooks you with its unabashedly sentimental tale.

That’s not a given. With so many from-the-heart ballads, this sweet souffle could turn gooey if not for strong character work that makes you care and sharp comedic timing that makes you laugh.

Whether it’s sisters, mothers and daughters, or daughters falling in love, “Little Women” is an old-fashioned family show about connections of the heart. Based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel and set in the 1860s, it’s a natural for grandmothers, mothers and daughters to see together.

Director Susan Baer Collins is blessed with talented singers, first to last, who know just what to do with a soaring melodic phrase, a clever patter song or a romantic duet that echoes back and forth.

The story centers on the four March sisters, coming of age while their father is away during the Civil War. Marmee (Camille Metoyer Moten), loving but firm, struggles to keep her daughters in line and the bills paid.

As headstrong dreamer Jo, who wants to be a writer, Sims Lamason carries the show with a combination of strong acting and vocal chops, wringing every emotional drop out of a big ballad like “Astonishing” or “The Fire Within Me.”

Moten is her equal. The show doesn’t really fly until she breaks your heart a little with “Here Alone,” a ballad sung to her absent husband. She’s just as affecting when she sings of grief to Jo in “Days of Plenty.”

Tim Abou-Nasr charms as the orphan boy next door, Laurie. He’s in fine voice as he asks Jo to “Take a Chance on Me” or seals his friendship with the sisters in an energetic ditty, “Five Forever.”

Personal favorites who make the most of small character roles: Bill Hutson as Laurie’s wealthy, imposing grandfather, Mr. Laurence, who turns out to be a softy; Deborah Curtis, who gives commanding Aunt March a heart of gold under all that starch; and Carly Schneider as kind-hearted Beth, as delightful (“Off to Massachusetts” with Hutson) as she is affecting (“Some Things Are Meant to Be”).

As Laurie’s tongue-tied tutor, William R. Pope joins Leanne Hill Carlson as Meg in a beautiful love duet. Chad Bradford brings humor and likability, plus a lovely tenor voice, to awkward Professor Bhaer, a mentor to Jo who is slow to realize he’s smitten. Jen Morris adds likability at last to pouty youngest sister Amy with “The Most Amazing Thing,” which she sings with Laurie.

Add expert music direction by Keith Hart, a bit of fancy stepping from choreographer Melanie Walters, a gorgeous seaside backdrop painted by Michelle Bonker and lovely period costumes by Denise Ervin, and this looks like a hit.

Word to the wise: All those ballads take time. With intermission, the show runs nearly three hours despite generally good pacing.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1269,


January 24th, 2015   |   Permalink   |  

PLAYBILL.COM covers Off-Broadway debut

Mare in the Men's Room, the Story of a Drag King Superstar, Will Have Limited Off-Broadway Run

Goldfish Memory Productions will present David L. Kimple's new play Mare in the Men's Room Oct. 15-19 at the American Theatre of Actors.

Directed by David Shane, the production will star Courtney Alana Ward (School for Husbands, MMF), Michael Hull (Rescue Rue, Vestment of the Gods), Chad Bradford and Catie Humphreys.

Here is how Mare in the Men's Room is billed: "When her marriage starts to crumble, Brigette's homecoming leads her from a quiet life in the suburbs to the vivacious world of drag. She breaks the mold by performing as a new kind of drag king — a man that performs as a woman — and skyrockets into the limelight. As her fame rises, her marriage falls farther away and suddenly the life she once knew no longer exists."

The production follows Goldfish Memory Productions' MMF, which played to sold-out houses at the recent NY International Fringe Festival.

Mare in the Men's Room is the first production to represent Florida State University as part of The Araca Project and was previously presented as a reading at the E. 13th Street Theatre (home of Classic Stage Company).

The creative team also includes Shelley Barish (scenic design), Max Bowman (lighting design), Christopher Metzger (costume design), Dan Spitaliere (sound design) and Ashley Squires (stage management). The American Theatre of Actors - Chernuchin Theatre is located at 314 W. 54th Street. For more information and tickets, visit

September 30th, 2014   |   Permalink   |  

MIDSUMMER interview and preview

‘Shake’ing up ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Posted 4 days ago

SILVER LAKE — Mark Hansen sat alone at a picnic table outside Stoody Hall.


Three others were on a porch swing and inside the hall a puppeteer bellowed anguished cries.

For three weeks, members of Shake on the Lake theater troupe have been rehearsing at Stoody Hall, part of Silver Lake Institute, preparing for tonight’s third open-air, waterfront production.

Inspiration is what it’s all about.

“It’s not the same as in a dark rehearsal room,” said Chad Bradford, director for the production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” “Especially in Shakespeare, there are so many nature images and this place fits into that.”

At first glance, Stoody Hall and its temporary inhabitants give Silver Lake a communal feel.

Permanent residents and summer vacationers stop by to watch and ask questions. The troupe plays music at night and performs in the village of Perry, doing improv and folk.

And tonight, hopes are many come to The Perry Public Beach off Walker Road to lose themselves in Shakespeare and the only live outdoor theater festival in Wyoming County.

Josh Rice, a 1999 graduate of Perry High School, came up with the idea in 2011 when Pilar McKay put the question out on Facebook.

“I asked what people would like to see here,” said McKay, a 2000 graduate of Perry. “Josh was in Little Rock and wrote that he’d like to see Shake on the Lake. So we just did it.”

The first performance came in 2012 with an abridged version of the complete works of Shakespeare.

The troupe followed that with “The Comedy of Errors,” drawing people from throughout Western New York, from Alaska, Vermont, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

“It’s growing every year,” said McKay, who serves as managing director. “The community has been super supportive and the village has offered a lot of help.”

This year’s production features 11 people, all with vast experience in theater. They live in Little Rock, New York City, Chicago and Nashville. McKay lives and works in Washington, D.C. and intern/stage manager and puppeteer Margaret Gayford is from Warsaw.

Most have known each other for years, mainly through affiliations with Rice.

Coming back to Silver Lake every year is like a homecoming.

“It’s very immersive,” said Courtney Bennett, 29, of Little Rock. “We all live and work together for three weeks and it’s like a vacation for us. It’s a job but we get to make great art together.”

Bennett plays three parts, Helena, Titania and Hippolyta.

“People are going to see a lot of fun,” she said. “This is my favorite play of all time. It’s definitely his best-crafted play.”

Jordy Neill, 25, is spending his second summer at Silver Lake.

“It’s beautiful,” he said. “All of us are friends and we’re all over the country so this is where we reunite.”

Reunite, rehearse, perform and “play off each other,” he said.

“We do a lot of improv and it’s very physical and that comes from Josh,” he said.

Rice says people will find the play engaging.

“It’s fantastical, hilarious and shows the human follies of live,” he said. “We’ve put the element of puppeteering into the production, which makes it unique and we have a lot of improvisation and interaction with the audience. We want it to be accessible to people. A lot of people are afraid of Shakespeare and the language so we want to get rid of that fear and it’s what Shakespeare would have wanted.”

At Bradford’s direction, the cast does just that.

“People are going to experience something different,” Bradford, 30, said. “It’s fun and magical and there’s a great element of spectacle to it. Fast, fun and physical are the buzzwords.”

August 19th, 2014   |   Permalink   |  

Glowing reviews of THE FANTASTICKS from Reading, PA and Kalamazoo, MI


'Fantasticks' is warm and funny show about growing up


Saturday March 29, 2014 12:01 AM

The Nebraska Theatre Caravan, the touring arm of the famed Omaha Playhouse, brought its enchanting production of "The Fantasticks" to Reading Area Community College's Miller Center for the Arts Friday night, as part of the Downtown Performing Arts Series.

There are plenty of reasons why "The Fantasticks" was the longest-running show in history. The foremost is the superb score by Harvey Schmidt and the poetic book and lyrics by Tom Jones.

Add to that the wistful wisdom of this fable about the loss of innocence and the true meaning of love; the emphasis on various forms of theatrical craft; and its timeless quality, and you know why it never fades away.

Under Carl Beck's flawless direction, this production did more than justice to the show, and added another layer of meaning by introducing steampunk design elements. The simple set - a gazebo - and Edwardian costumes of the first act gradually gave way to the ornate, gleaming, Victorian/futuristic steampunk aesthetic, complete with lots of steam and a dragon made of knick-knacks.

The message is clear - it's not only the lovers, Matt and Luisa, who lose their innocence and become wiser, if bruised; it's the whole world, as the 20th century encroaches.

Meanwhile, the cast was perfect. Chad Bradford, as El Gallo, the narrator/bandit who opens and closes the show by singing "Try To Remember," has a warm, sumptuous baritone and a commanding presence.

Jennifer Tritz as Luisa and Peter O'Neal as Matt followed the trajectory from giddy adolescents to thoughtful grownups with grace and soaring voices; as their fathers, Andrew Tebo and Jon McDonald made a great vaudeville team.

And Eric Bricking as Henry, the befuddled Shakespearean actor, and Alejandro Gutierrez as Mortimer, the perpetually dying Indian, were hilarious. Dan Chevalier, as the ever-more-elaborate Mute, was fascinating to watch.

Scenic designer James Othuse and costume designer Georgiann Regan gave this classic a new, unique look with gorgeous details. Musical director Steven Zumbrun, who provided the piano accompaniment, brought out every nuance of the score, and choreographer Melanie Walters carried out the gargantuan task of providing stylized movement throughout the play.



Michael Bond, Western Herald, Kalamazoo, MI

A&E Reporter

“The Fantasticks” is a traveling show that came to Miller auditorium exclusively for a one-time performance on March 14 at 8 p.m.

Courtesy Photo

This show has the reputation for being the longest running non-broadway musical, and has been running for over 42 years. This particular production was directed by Carl Beck.

The production starred Peter O’Neal as Matt, and Jennifer Tritz as Lusia. They are two neighbors who are madly in love with each other, but must keep the romance a secret from their feuding fathers. Lusia’s father, Bellomy, was played by John McDonald, and Matt’s father, Hucklebee was played by Andrew Tebo. “I think the story illustrates classic themes of love and family that people of all backgrounds can relate to,” said Gauthier.

As the story develops, it is revealed that the fathers are actually great friends, and have been plotting to trick both of their kids into wedlock since they were infants. They make a deal with the bandit, El Gallo, who plays out their scheme to bring the two together.

El Gallo, who was played by Chad Bradford, provided one of the strongest performances of the cast. His musical performances were strong, his on-stage presence played well along with the other characters, and his overall envelopment into the persona of El Gallo really brought a sense of trepidation for the fate of Matt and Lusia.

“The Fantasticks” came to Miller Auditorium exclusively on March 14. Gauthier said, “[We] included the Fantasticks because it was a new offering of a show that is a long-time favorite of many of our Broadway fans.”



March 31st, 2014   |   Permalink   |  

FANTASTICKS interviews

Community Arts Center offers steampunk musical 'The Fantasticks'

March 27, 2014
By SIMONE BROWN - Sun-Gazette Correspondent Williamsport Sun-Gazette

Nebraska Theatre Caravan will bring the world's longest-running production, "The Fantasticks," to the Community Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

"It's a story about finding, understanding and practicing true love," Chad Bradford, who plays El Gallo, said. "What at first seems like a simple story of forbidden love between a sweet boy and an imaginative young girl soon gets turned on its head when they realize what happens after 'happily ever after.' "

"The Fantasticks" was written in 1960 by Harvey Schmidt, with the lyrics by Tom Jones. It was loosely based on the play "The Romancers" by Edmond Rostand.

Article Photos


The original off-Broadway production became the longest-running musical in the world, running for 42 years with a total of 17,162 performances. The Community Arts Center performance will offer a steampunk twist to the musical.

Bradford's character, El Gallo, is the narrator of the piece.

"Not only do I invite the audience to come and enjoy the story and give commentary on the action, I also decide to take part in the action to provide a little mischief, in order to keep the story moving along," Bradford said.


Bradford first began acting professionally while in college, and later earned a master's degree in acting from Penn State University.

"Since then, theater and music have been my sole profession. I knew this was my path when I was 16 and found myself sitting, still mesmerized long after the curtain fell, in the mezzanine of a Broadway theater. My companions had already left with much of the audience, but I was transfixed. It was one of my first Broadway shows. In that moment, I realized that it was my dream to learn to give others the magic that I had just experienced," Bradford said.

"The song 'Try to Remember' is one that most baritones run across during their training," Bradford said. "I also saw the show off-broadway when it reopened in Midtown Manhattan back in 2006 with Burke Moses in the role of El Gallo."

According to Bradford, the travelling theater experience is one that has opened up new friendships for him so far.

"One of the wonderful things about doing theater for a living is having the opportunity to befriend a truly remarkable and beautiful array of different people. We travel together, at times in very close quarters, so actors have a knack for finding a way to see the good in everyone," Bradford said.

After performing in this show, Bradford has upcoming theater plans in store.

"I'll go on to direct Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' for the Shake on the Lake Shakespeare Festival in western New York, and have a few other projects in the works after that," Bradford said.

"The Fantasticks" tour will be running until April 27, and will travel next from New York to Washington, then down to New Mexico and over to Florida.

"In one way or another, I can't see my life apart from theater, music and art. I heard one famous acting teacher recently say that our profession is not one that we choose, but chooses us. I think that there is an artist inside each one of us, and I feel privileged to be able to make my living through art. And, as my girlfriend reminds me from time to time, I don't know how to do much else," Bradford said of his future.

The show will begin at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are on sale now. For ticket information, visit or call 570-326-2424. For more information on "The Fantasticks," visit

Additionally, "The Fantasticks" will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday at Lackawanna College, 501 Vine St., Scranton. For more information, call 570-961-7810.




Fantastick Finale: Series ends with musical

"It’s a show about understanding what true love is,” star Chad Bradford said. “It’s not necessarily a cut-and-dry, boy-meets-girl kind of love story. It comes out of a time in dramatic literature in America where people were trying to kind of go past the Rodgers and Hammerstein (style) or the kind of predictable love story model.”

A Little Rock, Ark., native and Penn State University graduate, Mr. Bradford portrays El Gallo, the show’s storyteller.

“He’s the one bringing the audience into the action, breaking the fourth wall and really inviting the audience to celebrate romanticism but also at the same time mock it and make fun of how silly it can be,” Mr. Bradford said. “And so he functions not only as the narrator but sometimes he jumps into the story as well to make sure everything is going along as planned.”

“Because it’s sung to the audience, I get to see peoples’ reactions when it’s over,” he said. “Usually it’s people just smiling, and I can tell you, you’re remembering the first time you heard this.”

The show appeals to lots of people, Mr. Bradford said, and became the longest-running musical for a reason.

“The characters are so universal and the themes are so universal that I think that no matter if you’ve never seen it, if you’ve seen it six times, if you’re 19 years old or you’re 90 years old, there’s going to be something in it that’s going to resonate with you,” he said. “Because the themes have to do with love and family and finding your way in the world and finding your way with another person, and I think that even though the piece is 50 years old, I think that’s something that’s going to hold up for another 50 years.”


Contact the writer: cheaney@timessham, @cheaneyTT on Twitter, CAITLIN HEANEY 3/26/14


March 31st, 2014   |   Permalink   |  

Reviews for THE FANTASTICKS National Tour: "Delightful!" and "A Memorable show!"

Follow Through

The Nebraska Theatre Caravan does a delightful The Fantasticks at the Eisemann Center

but is the steampunk theme really necessary?

published Saturday, February 22, 2014

Photo: Christian Robertson
Nebraska Theatre Caravan presents a steampunk take onThe Fantasticks at the Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts

Richardson — The longest running musical in history, presented by the Nebraska Theatre Caravan at the Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts, is, well...the name speaks for itself. The Fantasticks is famous for a reason. It’s simply one of the best musicals ever written, and NTC’s production is a delightful addition to its repertoire.

The Fantasticks, with book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, is a masterful balancing act between high and low theater and comedy. It combines classic themes and scenarios with a truly avant-garde presentation. On a side note, Texans Jones and Schmidt are products of the University of Texas.

The story is simple enough. There are two houses next to each other. In one, Hucklebee (Andrew Tebo) lives with his son Matt (Peter O’Neal). In the other, Bellomy (Jon McDonald) lives with his daughter Luisa (Jennifer Tritz). A wall divides the houses as the two fathers are sworn enemies. This naturally drives their rebellious young teenagers to fall in love with each other.

There’s just one catch. This is the intention of the fathers, who are actually best friends. The feud and wall are constructed falsely with the express purpose of getting their children together. That was step one. But, what is step two? An abduction! They decide to hire someone to try and abduct Luisa so that Matt can fend him off and look like the hero. They hire El Gallo (Chad Bradford), along with his assistant The Mute (Dan Chavalier) and a couple of hapless actors, Henry (Eric Bricking) and Mortimer (Alejandro Gutierrez).

Of course, it totally works, which is where the brilliance of the show truly reveals itself. Before this story starts, there is an overture in which El Gallo and the Mute set the stage for a performance. Inspired by the traveling commedia troupes of the Renaissance, this whole thing is essentially a show within a show. So then, the first act is made to succeed in all its sugary sweet perfection.

The happy ending is not the end of this story. The second act shows the aftermath in the cold light of day. The lovers separate, the fathers actually feud and things look dismal. But, it all leads to the lesson that true happiness comes after struggle. There is no truly happy story. There must always be conflict.

Beyond that, Jones and Schmidt defied convention by taking a somewhat traditional story and not only turning the narrative on its head, but also breaking conventions of staging. The fourth wall is routinely broken; the set—typically—is minimalisitic. Also, the only musical accompaniment is a piano, charmingly played by Steven Zumbrun in this production. The show constantly winks at the audience and at itself. It knows it’s ridiculous. Delightfully ridiculous.

This production employs a fairly imposing gazebo set. It’s more than is typical for the show, but not objectionable. It works. In fact, the only part of the show that doesn’t quite work is the steampunk theme pasted over top of it. It’s unnecessary and more of a distraction than an addition. More notably, the Mute is delightful in the first act in clown white makeup and a cabbie cap. However, in the second act he dons odd brass plated armor, a big top hat banded by the typically steampunk brass goggles, and a Phantom of the Opera-style half mask made of, obviously, brass. It’s borderline frightening. And though the second act is meant to be a little darker, it’s not this dark.

The acting, beyond the costumes, is the strongest aspect of this show. Bradford’s mischievous yet sweet bass voice oozes charisma. Yet, his cunning and guile is firmly underpinned by a sharp sense of humor. He’s the heart of the show. The fathers have the kind of chemistry that would indicate they’ve been friends for years, and their numbers together dare the audience not to grin. Also, Chevalier deserves special consideration because his performance is purely physical and he performs it excellently. His presence, even without dialogue, is always felt.

Finally, Bricking and Gutierrez as the wandering actors, are the best comic relief likely seen. Bricking especially, as the washed-up Shakespearean actor, takes what could easily just be a goofy role and imbues it with a deep and thorough humor. The show is always better when he is onstage, and when Gutierrez is dying, of course. His specialty.

The Fantasticks ran for 42 years at the Sullivan Street Theater in New York for a reason. There’s something about it that is just, well, fantastic. It’s a perfect blend of high and low, of happy and sad, of comedy and drama, and it’s impossible not to feel exhilarated walking out of it. This production is no different. So follow, follow, follow to the Eisemann and see that this plum is perfectly ripe. Thanks For Reading



Review: ‘Fantasticks’ was a memorable show

By Loyal Fairman 
For The Nonpareil

The Nebraska Theatre Caravan production of the musical comedy “The Fantasticks” was two hours of pure entertainment.

The main floor of the Arts Center on the campus of Iowa Western Community College was filled with more than 300 in attendance gave the production a well-deserved standing ovation Saturday night. The Nebraska Theater Caravan is the professional touring wing of the Omaha Community Playhouse. They have performed “The Fantasticks” in many states.

The production under the direction of Carl Beck was remarkable. The cast of eight was outstanding. Chad Bradford opened the show with the beautiful song “Try to Remember.” His singing and his speaking voice was superb. The one female in the cast was Jennifer Tritz. She was beautiful with a voice to match. The story of “The Fantasticks” is about two neighbors divided by a wall. One has a son, one a daughter. The two young people fall in love thinking their dads don’t want them to have a relationship. The plot then gets complicated as well as hilarious, with abduction and some strange characters getting involved.

February 22nd, 2014   |   Permalink   | FANTASTICKS on Tour First-look!

PHOTO CALL: A First Look at New Steampunk-Inspired Fantasticks National Tour

By Matthew Blank
17 Jan 2014 

A national tour of the record-breaking musical The Fantasticks — re-envisioned as a steampunk-inspired production — kicks off Jan. 17 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City, SD.

The 15-week, 60-city tour — produced by the Nebraska Theatre Caravan out of Omaha, NE — continues through April 27 in Cullowhee, NC, on the campus of Western Carolina University.

View the Entire Photo Gallery


Andrew Tebo, Jon McDonald, Chad Bradford and Dan Chevalier

Photo by Christian Robertson

Director Carl Beck, costume designer Georgiann Regan and scenic designer Jim Othuse helm the steampunk-inspired production, which promises "to provide an unparalleled experience, whether you are revisiting this show or seeing it for the first time."

Of the steampunk concept, Beck said in a statement, "It's not an intrusive concept. It seems like the allegoric-quality can blend with the fantasy, giving it a quasi-period feel and making for a stronger statement than [The Fantasticks] usually gets."

The story — by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt — is not being re-written or changed, and the show remains true to its original incarnation, aside from the steampunk-style costumes, set and props.

"It's classical simplicity," added Beck. "It's not a contemporary character tale. It's about a boy who is overly in love with a girl whose fathers are trying to keep them together by pulling them apart. Steampunk seems to lend itself to this story by finding beauty among the broken pieces."

The cast includes Chad Bradford as El Gallo, Jennifer Tritz as Luisa, Peter O'Neal as Matt, Andrew Tebo as Hucklebee, Jon McDonald as Bellomy, Eric Bricking as Henry, Alejandro Gutierrez as Mortimer and Dan Chevalier as The Mute. Steven Zumbrun is the tour's musical director and accompanist.

The complete tour itinerary follows:

1/17-1/18: Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City, SD
1/19: Alberta Bair in Billings, MT
1/21: Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, WA
1/23: Admiral Theatre in Bremerton, WA
1/24: Columbia Theatre in Longview, WA
1/25: Washington State University in Pullman, WA
1/26: Craterian Performances in Medford, OR
1/30: Norfolk Arts Center in Norfolk, NE
1/31: Cottey College in Nevada, MO
2/1: Hutchinson Fox Theatre in Hutchinson, KS
2/4: George Daily Auditorium in Oskaloosa, IA
2/5: Plainview Arts Council in Plainview, NE
2/6: SAMI Center in Spirit Lake, IA
2/7: Merryman Center in Kearney, NE
2/8: Midwest Theatre in Scottsbluff, NE
2/9: Cam-Plex Heritage Center in Gillette, WY
2/12: New Mexico Tech in Socorro, NM
2/13: Clovis Community College in Clovis, NM
2/14: Spencer Theatre in Alto, NM
2/15: Lubbock Civic Center in Lubbock, TX
2/18: Northwest Oklahoma State in Alva, OK
2/20-2/23: Eisemann Center in Richardson, TX
2/25: Ritz Theatre in Greenville, AL
2/27: Hammons Hall in Springfield, MO
2/28: Leach Theatre in Rolla, MO
3/1: Sondheim Center in Fairfield, IA
3/2: Touhill Performing Arts Center in St. Louis, MO
3/4: Vada Sheid Center in Mountain Home, AR
3/5: Doudna Fine Arts Center in Charleston, IL
3/6: Potter Center in Jackson, MI
3/7: Genessee Theatre in Waukegan, IL
3/8: Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg, IL
3/9: Rialto Theatre in Joliet, IL
3/10: Culver Academies in Culver, IN
3/13: Warsaw Performing Arts Center in Warsaw, IN
3/14: Miller Auditorium in Kalamazoo, MI
3/15: Fermilab Arts Series in Batavia, IL
3/16: Charlotte Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, MI
3/18: Univ. of North Carolina in Wilmington, NC
3/19: Johnston Community College in Smithfield, NC
3/20: Brunswick Community College in Brunswick, NC
3/21: Cary Arts Center in Cary, NC
3/22: Wingate University – Batte Center in Wingate, NC
3/25: Butler County Community College in Butler, PA
3/26: Live at Rose Lehrman in Harrisburg, PA
3/28: Miller Center in Reading, PA
3/29: Lackawanna College in Scranton, PA
3/30: Community Arts Center in Williamsport, PA
4/3: North Florida Community College in Madison, FL
4/4: Thrasher-Horne Center in Orange Park, FL
4/5: Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Greeneville, TN
4/11: City Stage in Springfield, MA
4/12: Oneida Area Arts Council in Oneida, NY
4/13: RVCC Arts in Somerville, NJ
4/16: Atlantic High School in Atlantic, IA
4/17: Red Oak Arts Center in Red Oak, IA
4/18-4/19: Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, IA
4/25: City of Buford in Buford, GA
4/26: Harbison Theatre in Irmo, SC
4/27: Bardo Performing Arts Center in Cullowhee, NC


January 17th, 2014   |   Permalink   |  

Interview with the Billings Gazette in Montana

'The Fantasticks' bucks trend - again



by Jaci Webb

Amid the Beat Generation of the 1950s, two brave theater guys, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, set out to make themselves a musical.

At the time, writers like Jack Kerouac rejected the Rogers and Hammerstein view of the world, preferring to show humanity through gritty realism. It was in that atmosphere that Jones and Schmidt revamped the 1956 Wild West version of what would turn out to be the “Fantasticks,” and put it up in May 1960 at a small off-Broadway theater in Greenwich Village. The show ended up running for 42 years.

Fast forward 50 years to the Nebraska Theatre Caravan’s new look to the show — the steampunk-inspired edition.

Steampunk, which came into prominence in the 1980s and ‘90s, mixes elements of science fiction, fantasy and alternative history where steam is the dominant source of power. Costumes for this production have working metal gears, vintage fabric and intricately embellished headpieces.

Director Carl Beck said the steampunk stylization of the musical adds to its allegorical story.

“Steampunk seems to lend itself to this story by finding beauty among the broken pieces,” Beck said.

Chad Bradford, in the role of the narrator and the bandit El Gallo, said he starts the show off with as much “theatrical magic as he can muster.”

“I take on this persona as the bandit, the kind of magician character who goes around and causes havoc in these people’s lives,” Bradford said in a phone interview.

The cast has been rehearsing the show and planned two stops before they travel to Billings to perform “The Fantasticks” on Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Alberta Bair Theater. The Nebraska Theatre Caravan tour will travel to 60 cities over 15 weeks.

“The Fantasticks” story follows two young lovers, Matt and Luisa, who live next door to each other, separated by a wall. Their fathers are feuding and Matt and Luisa can’t be together, so instead they fantasize about their life together.

Sound familiar? The plot sounds Shakespearean and Bradford said that is intentional. His character’s lines are all written in verse and that’s perfect for Bradford, who has spent the last four years performing in Shakespeare productions in New York City, where he is based.

The show is also allegorical as it attempts to point out the flaws in the idealized dream of true love being perfect.

“When the authors set out to write it, one of the things they wanted to celebrate was romanticism and at the same time to mock it,” Bradford said. “There are parts that are very sweet and romantic and then later when it falls down, it’s uncomfortable. At first everything is flowery and wonderful, but in the morning after it’s all over, his breath is bad.”

At the time “The Fantasticks” was ready to open in New York, the heyday of big musicals was waning and people questioned the producers for opening the production. “The Fantasticks” went on to become one of the most widely produced musicals in the world, with productions touring in 67 countries, including Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.

Bradford said part of the reason for the show’s success is its truth about relationships paired with a beautiful score.

“Matt and Luisa have to grow up and learn what it means to truly love someone, to have your own trials and challenges,” Bradford said. “They have to learn to see each other as a real person instead of an idealized role. This comes out of the Beat Generation rejecting societal norms. There is the civil rights movement and the sexual revolution and people weren’t comfortable with the ‘Oklahoma’ of the past. These beat writers were concerned with the truth.”

The most familiar song in the production is “Try to Remember,” which is sung in Act 1 by El Gallo, Luisa, Matt, and by their fathers Hucklebee and Bellomy. A reprise comes later in the play.

Bradford, a baritone, said this is one of the plum roles for someone who sings in his range and he put a lot of effort into his audition.

“It’s a golden-age classic and understanding where it comes from only enhances the experience for me,” Bradford said.

January 17th, 2014   |   Permalink   |  

New Review for RING OF FIRE at the Farmers Alley Theatre

John Campbell

A&E Reporter


Fans of Johnny Cash can walk the line to Farmers Alley Theatre and get rhythm as they see “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash.”

The show hits many of the great songs in the career of Johnny Cash, as well as giving some background on Cash’s life. Cash’s biggest hits such as “Ring of Fire,” “I Walk The Line,” and “Folsom Prison Blues” are featured as well as other classics like “Hey Porter,” “Cry, Cry, Cry,” and “Big River.”

Directed by Sandra Bremer, “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash” boasts an amazing lineup of talent from vocals to the band. The band consists of Marie Kerstetter on keyboard, Cori Somers of the Red Sea Pedestrians on fiddle and other stringed instruments, Matt Landon on guitar, Mark Tomlonson on upright bass and Andy Knibloe on percussion.

The show features Somers, Jim Cummings of the Jim Cummings Band, country singer Shelagh Brown, Julie Cook Brown, Chad Bradford and Ben Williams.

The musical and vocal talent is astounding.  Each vocalist brings a different dynamic to the show.

Shelagh Brown in particular brings an absolutely gorgeous voice to the show. Her vocals on “I Still 


Miss Someone” were astounding. In addition to the show, her album “Anywhere & Everywhere” is available during the entire run before its official release later in 2013.

The show brings both lighthearted comedic moments and somber, darker moments. One highlight is when Julie Cook Brown with musical accompaniment from Somers sings “Flushed From The Bathroom Of Your Heart.” The comedy doesn’t just come from the lyrics, as Julie Cook Brown’s vocal delivery in the song is pure comedic gold. In contrast, Cummings recitation of“Ragged Old Flag” brings forth a very touching patriotic moment, as does the cast’s rendition of “Man In Black.”

Bradford’s rendition of the classic “A Boy Named Sue,” written by poet Shel Silverstein, was excellent. Bradford was able to make the song his own. Bradford’s bass vocals in “Daddy Sang Bass” showed an excellent range and combined extroadinarily well with Julie Cook Brown’s tenor vocals. Williams’ great comedy moment came with “Delia’s Gone.” Willaims has a great dance routine that goes perfectly with the song.

The cast weren’t the only ones to sing. In the middle of the first act, the bandplayed and sang “Egg Suckin’ Dog” without the main vocalists, continuing the comedy aspect in the show.

From the opening of “Country Boy” to the closing of “I’ve Been Everywhere,” everyone who has been touched by Cash’s music is sure to have a good time, from diehard fans to casual fans. “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash” is a great way to remember the music of the legendary “Man In Black” 10 years after his death.

Tickets for “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash” at Farmers Alley Theatre are available for Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 2, 10, 11, and 12 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $31 (except Oct. 11 and 12 which are $33) and are available online at or by phone at 269-343-2727.

October 16th, 2013   |   Permalink   |  

Chad Bradford, Brent Burington & More Set for Nebraska Theatre Caravan's Steampunk-Style THE FANTASTICKS

Tuesday, August 20, 2013; 03:08 PM - by BWW News Desk

For a link to - Click Here.


The Nebraska Theatre Caravan, the professional touring company of the Omaha Community Playhouse, recently cast the national tour of The Fantasticks. The tour performs coast to coast. It kicks off in Rapid City, SD and concludes in Cullowhee, NC. In April, a week of the tour includes educational programming in Southwest, IA made possible by a grant through the Iowa West Foundation.


"Try To Remember" a time when this romantic charmer wasn't enchanting audiences around the world. The Fantasticks is the longest-running production of any kind in the world, and with good reason: at the heart of its breathtaking poetry and subtle theatrical sophistication is a purity and simplicity that transcends cultural barriers. The result is a timeless fable of love that manages to be nostalgic and universal at the same time. Its moving tale of young lovers who become disillusioned, only to discover a more mature, meaningful love is punctuated by a bountiful series of catchy, memorable songs, many of which have become standards.

Through the creative genius of Director Carl Beck and Costume Designer Georgiann Regan comes a steampunk-inspired adaptation of this classic musical which promises to provide an unparalleled experience, whether you are revisiting this show, or seeing it for the first time.

Of the steampunk concept, Beck said "It's not an intrusive concept. It seems like the allegoric-quality can blend with the fantasy, giving it a quasi-period feel and making for a stronger statement than [The Fantasticks] usually gets." He added that the story is not being re-written or changed in any way. Outside of the costumes, set and props, this show is, in its entirety, the original.

"It's classical simplicity. It's not a contemporary character tale. It's about a boy who is overly in love with a girl. [Their] fathers are trying to keep them together by pulling them apart," Beck said. "Steampunk seems to lend itself to this story by finding beauty among the broken pieces."




June 16th, 2013   |   Permalink   |  

Review from COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, ABRIDGED at Shake on the Lake Shakespeare Festival

‘The play’s the thing’—Shake on the Lake scores a hit


By Kristy Kibler


Perry Public Beach played host to many things last weekend, including gorgeous weather, cross-dressing actors and a whole lot of Shakespeare—all 37 of his plays, to be exact. 


It all went off without a hitch at Shake on the Lake’s inaugural production. 

Thursday, July 28 marked the first show, and the menacing grey clouds lurking over Wyoming County that day had Shake on the Lake organizers and audience members alike questioning whether a run to the rain location was necessary. But when show time arrived, the skies cleared as if the Bard himself was pulling strings to help this festival succeed.



The jokes and puns started within minutes, with Chad Bradford taking the stage as a “pre-eminent Shakespearean scholar.” As he introduced their production, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” he lapsed into a passionate soliloquy about the need for Shakespeare in today’s technological age, beseeching the audience to “imagine a world where men can wear striped tights with pride.” 


The plays themselves began with “Romeo and Juliet.” The three Shake on the Lake actors all played a variety of parts, but Josh Rice, the festival founder and a Silver Lake native, primarily covered narration. Bradford played a delightfully melodramatic Romeo with relish, and Austin Blunk portrayed a hilarious Juliet. The actors worked their audience well, eliciting chuckles from every age as they lovingly poked fun at one of Shakespeare’s most prized plays.


“Romeo and Juliet” ran about 12 minutes, leaving the audience wondering how all 37 plays would fit into the 90-minute running time. But Shake on the Lake speeded things up from there, sometimes doing no more than mentioning a play in a skit about a different one. They handled all the histories by making them into a football game (complete with play-by-play announcing) and combined all 16 comedies into one song. 


It was a whirlwind pace, almost manic at times, and the actors kept up without hesitation. A playful wind caused a few audio snafus, and several passes were missed in the football game portraying the life and times of some of England’s royalty. However, the company never let the minor hiccups take away from their performances. 


The production ended with “Hamlet,” one of Shakespeare’s most esteemed plays. It lasted for almost 30 minutes, a length made more noticeable compared to the brevity of some of the other plays. It seemed to drag on just a tad too long, but it was still good fun that included audience participation in the famous “To Dream or Not to Dream” speech, Blunk using Silver Lake itself to act out Ophelia’s drowning and even a super condensed version (“’Hamlet’ without the layers”) performed backwards.


When it was all said and done, audience members gave the company a standing ovation. Phrases like “Pure silliness” and “great fun” could be heard as people made their way to the parking lot, and that about sums up Shake on the Lake—Wyoming County couldn’t have asked for a more relaxed or light-hearted performance. If this was a precursor to future shows, we’re in for a treat.

July 1st, 2012   |   Permalink   |  

Chad Bradford competes for national award in Acting

Chad Bradford to compete for Irene Ryan Scholarship in Washington, D.C.

Published Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Chad Bradford, son of Charles and Kim Bradford of Little Rock, and a senior theater major at the University of Central Arkansas, has been chosen as one of two winners of the Region VI Irene Ryan Scholarship held recently during the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival at Tulsa Community College in Tulsa, Okla.

The Irene Ryan Scholarship was founded by and named after the late Irene Ryan, who is best known for her portrayal of Granny on "The Beverly Hillbillies" television show. Bradford received his nomination to attend the festival for his role as Hamlet in UCA Theatre's production of "Hamlet." He received $500 for his regional win.


Bradford and his acting partner, Doug Tyler of Conway, competed against approximately 300 students from the Region VI area to win one of the two prestigious awards. Region VI consists of colleges and universities in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and New Mexico. They were coached by Dr. Kevin Browne, assistant professor of theater at UCA.

Bradford began his career with the Youth Theatre of Central Arkansas, a program sponsored by UCA Theatre for students in grades three through 12. He graduated from Hall High School in Little Rock and has been the recipient of a performance scholarship from UCA Theatre each semester. He has appeared in numerous productions at UCA, including "Into the Woods," "Bloody Poetry," "One Flea Spare" and "Les Liaisons Dangereuses." He is currently rehearsing for the upcoming production of "The Threepenny Opera."

Bradford has also been a recipient of the James Bridges Scholarship. Bridges was a UCA alumnus and film director, best known for directing "The China Syndrome," "The Paper Chase" and "Urban Cowboy."

Bradford is also a member of Alpha Psi Omega, the national honorary theater fraternity, and recently held a workshop performance of his original musical, "Southern Rivers."

Several other UCA Theatre students competed for the scholarship, including Heather Hooten of Conway, Lacy Dunn of North Little Rock and Taylor Galloway of Maumelle, who also placed in the top 16 finalists. Students receive nominations by faculty for their work in UCA Theatre productions during the previous year.

Three other UCA Theatre students attended the festival to exhibit their work in technical theatre. Bob Kuhn of Marion displayed his costume designs, Kellie Sorrows of Benton displayed her scene design and Alison Whitley of Conway presented her material for stage managing, all for the production of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses."

Bradford will now compete against 15 other finalists from the seven regions across the country at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in mid-April. Two winners will be chosen at the Kennedy Center as recipients of the national scholarship.


UCA Theatre has had two students win the Region VI Irene Ryan competition and compete at the Kennedy Center. In 2000, Nisi Sturgis of Conway was chosen as one of the two national winners and has gone on to a professional acting career in New York City.


By the Log Cabin Democrat

March 21st, 2011   |   Permalink   |