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Graduate Ensemble

Class of 2024

Victoria is a third-year MFA candidate in the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program. She is originally from New Jersey and spent her childhood summers studying theatre at the Paper Mill Playhouse and NJPAC. She holds a BA from Fordham University at Lincoln Center in Theatre Performance and Film Studies. She recently made her Cleveland Play House debut playing "Sandra" in The Play That Goes Wrong directed by Melissa Rain Anderson. Other CWRU/CPH credits include The Tempest, Amadeus, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Watching Butterflies (TYA World Premiere), and The Liar. Victoria has a passion for exploring theatre through a non-American lens and has studied experimental theatre and devising techniques in Berlin, Germany as well as Acting Shakespeare at RADA in London, UK. She is very excited to work in film and theatre upon her return to NYC, her home. Love to her brilliant cohort and teachers, as well as her family. Seni seviyorum. Website: Instagram: vickduff

Josh Bates

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Josh is a Southern California native who received his BFA in Acting from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. (Sic ‘Em Bears). He has performed as an actor in venues all over the country and was most recently seen in Cleveland Play House's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, The Play That Goes Wrong, and Amadeus, and as a musician in downtown Nashville. Other regional and educational credits include The Tempest (CWRU/CPH), The Liar (CWRU/CPH), Everybody (CWRU/CPH), Legally Blonde (Granbury Theatre Company), and The Little Mermaid (Zilker Hillside Theatre). He is also the recipient of the Best Actor Award at the Black Glasses Film Festival for his performance in the short film, Disaster Survivor. He will be moving to New York City this spring following his upcoming graduation from the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program. All glory to God. Instagram: @joshbaetes

Madeline Calais-King

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Madeline is in her final year of the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA in Acting program. Although born and bred in Houston TX, she has performed across the country with the American Shakespeare Center’s National Tour for two years. She has also performed internationally at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, as well as the Krokusfestival in Hasselt, Belgium. Most recent professional credits include: Mary Shelleys Frankenstein (Cleveland Play House), Amadeus(Cleveland Play House), Hamlet 50/50 (Shakespeare at Notre Dame), Watching Butterflies (Cleveland Play House), Much Ado About Nothing and King Lear (Illinois Shakespeare Festival), and Romeo & Juliet (Red Bull Theater). CWRU/CPH credits include: Passage, Everybody, and The Tempest. Other stage credits include: Antigone (American Shakespeare Center or the ASC), The Comedy of Errors(ASC), A Christmas Carol (ASC), Feathers & Teeth (4th Wall Theatre Company), An Enemy of the People (Classical Theatre Company). She’s deeply grateful for the love of God and her mama for getting her this far. After her summer gig, Madeline will establish roots in NYC with her fiancé without whom she’d be less brave, more hangry, and far from herself.

Ellen Grace Diehl

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Ellen is an actor, singer, and dancer. After growing up with classical ballet training, Ellen has studied a wide variety of dance styles and has been teaching and choreographing for over a decade. She works with students of all ages and backgrounds. CWRU and CPH credits include: Ariel, The Tempest; Mary Shelleys Frankenstein; Amadeus; The Play That Goes Wrong. Other credits include: Ado Annie, Oklahoma!; Louise, Carousel; at Round Barn Theatre. Sibella, A Gentlemans Guide; Sophie, Mamma Mia!; Louise, Gypsy; Ariel, Disneys The Little Mermaid; Sandy, Grease at Allenberry Playhouse. Gigi, Gigi at Washington County Playhouse. This summer she will be playing Mistress Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor at Idaho and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festivals before moving to NYC in the Fall. She is endlessly grateful and dedicates this achievement to her parents, Lisa and Abe, and to her grandparents, Peg and Bill Etter. Many thanks also to Don and the entire MFA faculty for their patience and guidance. IG: @ellengracediehl

Dylan Ireland

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Dylan is entering his third and final year of his MFA Acting program for the CWRU/CPH Program. Ireland recently made his CPH debut as Lord Byron and The Creature in Mary Shelleys Frankenstein. Coming from North Carolina, Ireland received a BA in theater performance from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Previous roles include: Cory (Fences), Caesar (Julius Caesar), Tinman (The Wiz), Cousin (Everybody), Guy Jacobs (Blues for an Alabama Sky), Truffaldino (The Servant of Two Masters), M (Passage), Toby Belch (Twelfth Night), and Geronte (The Liar). This year, Ireland was nominated for “Best Performer in a Play” for his work in CWRU’s The Tempest where he played Stephano, and Sebastian. Upon graduation in the spring, Ireland has plans to move to New York City to pursue a professional career in stage acting. Ireland gives glory to God, and his family for their eternal support. Instagram: dylan.ireland_

Shunté Lofton

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Shunté is a graduate of the University of Houston School of Theatre and Dance and is thrilled to soon be a graduate of the Case Western Reserve/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program! Her previous Cleveland credits include: Countess Von Strak (Amadeus), Prospera (The Tempest), Lucrece (The Liar), Death (Everybody), and F (Passage). She also served as the Assistant Director for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. She’s had the privilege of growing up all over the world and comes to Cleveland from Houston. She is thankful to God and to her family for their continued support. A lover of the classics, she has performed her way through over half of Shakespeare’s canon. Some of her favorite credits include: Ophelia (Hamlet) and Princess of France (Love’s Labour’s Lost) with the American Shakespeare Center and Constance (King John) with Colorado Shakespeare Festival. She is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.

Gavin Michaels

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Gavin is from wonderfully rainy Seattle, Washington. Recently he appeared as Victor Frankenstein / Percy Shelley in Cleveland Play House’s critically acclaimed production of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. He has also worked with John Leguizamo at the Guthrie Theatre to workshop his new play, Our Hood, as well as play Borrachio in a workshop of Tanta Bulla, y pa que? a bilingual adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. His other theatre credits include Dennis (u/s) in The Play That Goes Wrong (CPH), and Emperor Joseph (u/s) in Amadeus (CPH), Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (BPA), Orlando in As You Like It (BPA), Ferdinand in The Tempest (Kentwood Players), Hamlet in Hamlet (Kentwood Players), Dorante in The Liar and Caliban in The Tempest (CWRU). His film credits include the school-shooter Derek in the short film Diabolos, Carl in the sci-fi drama The House (Tubi), and Danny in the quirky comedy Danny Doom (Amazon Prime). When he’s not on stage you can listen to him playing his signature flavor of pop-punk/emo at local music venues or on your favorite music streaming platform. @_gavinmichaels /

Alfredo Ruiz

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Alfredo is a Cuban-American actor, musician, and graduate of the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program class of 2024. He recently made his Cleveland Play House debut as Max in The Play That Goes Wrong directed by Melissa Rain Anderson. While pursuing his MFA, Alfredo has returned to his hometown of Miami, FL several times to work on a variety of award winning short films that he's both produced and starred in. Alfredo is freshly based in NYC and eager to launch his career in film and television. Select regional credits include: The Play That Goes Wrong (Cleveland Playhouse House, dir. Melissa Rain Anderson), Mary Shelleys Frankenstein (Cleveland Play House, dir. Michael Barakiva), Amadeus (Cleveland Play House, dir. Laura Gordon), 7 Deadly Sins (Miami New Drama, dir. Moises Kaufman/Michel Hausmann), Grace (Playwright Development Program, dir. Victoria Collado), Wynwood Stories (Juggerknot Theatre Co., dir. Tai Thompson).

Class of 2026

Madalyn Baker

is an actor, illustrator, and musician originally hailing from Northern California. She earned her BA in Theatre from Fordham University, and has spent the last 9 years living and creating in New York City. In addition to being an actor, she writes music, and has her own illustrative art brand called Maddle Baddle. She draws everything from silly cartoons to her own custom deck of playing cards! To learn more about Madalyn, you can check out her work at, or @madmaddybaker.

Byron Johnson

is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. He is the son of Trudy Johnson and the late Byron Johnson. He also has a sister named Destiny. Byron is a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, where he was a collegiate football player and team captain. He enjoys playing sports, being outside, hanging with his family and friends, along with eating good food. Byron also writes poetry in his spare time and hopes to learn the piano and guitar. His acting credits include a Guest Star Recurring Role on SHOWTIME’S American Rust, along with roles on NBC’s Young Rock, and Walker on CW.

Brendan Lowry

is originally from Colorado Springs, CO. He has just finished his BFA in Musical Theatre from Colorado Mesa University, where he had the privilege of working on his dream role and show of Floyd Collins as the titular character in his final semester there. Other credits include Sky Masterson (Guys and Dolls) and Judas Iscariot/John the Baptist (Godspell). He is ecstatic at the opportunity to join the CWRU/CPH program and looks forward to being a part of the class of 2026. He'd like to thank the village of family, friends, and teachers it took to get him to this point. @bkylowry

Christina McSheffrey

(she/her) has spent the last few years in Phoenix, Arizona, where she got her B.A. in Theatre at Grand Canyon University. She has been seen performing in companies across the state, including Southwest Shakespeare Company and Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival. Some of her favorite roles include Adriana in Comedy of Errors and Miranda in The Tempest. She also has an extensive background in improv comedy, where she trained at The Second City in Hollywood. She went back to teach improv at GCU and has taught theatre and voice at Childsplay Theater, The Phoenix Theatre Company, and Phoenix Conservatory of Music.

Calder Meis

is thrilled to be starting this new journey. REGIONAL: 35 MM: A Musical Exhibition (Ben), Grease (Sonny), Joseph...Dreamcoat (Joseph u/s). Other favorite credits include The Last Night of Ballyhoo (Peachy Weil), Abigail/1702 (John Brown), and Footloose (Ren). He received a BFA in Theatre Performance from Baylor University. He would like to thank his girlfriend, Payton, for being his rock in this life. “Cleveland, this is for you!” -LeBron James

Brianna Miller

grew up in Gilbert, Arizona but considers the Midwest a home-away-from-home. She graduated from Earlham College in 2021 with a Bachelor's in Theatre Arts. Since then she has been a part of the acting ensemble at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for their mainstage productions and outdoor tours--yes, in the height of cicada season. Some of her favorite roles include Camae in The Mountaintop (Uptown Performing Arts Center), Matt/Mr. Burns in Mr. Burns; a post-electric play(Earlham College), and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth (Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Park Tour)

Meredith Nelson

is an actor, director, and educator from Denver, Colorado. She received her undergraduate degree from The University of Evansville and is thrilled to be pursuing her master's with CWRU/Cleveland Playhouse. Some favorite roles she's played include Prospera in The Tempest, Betty 1 in Collective Rage, and Julie in Miss Julie. She and her husband are delighted to make Cleveland their new home for the next three years!

Adam Ortega

was born and raised in Plantation Florida. He went to The University of Michigan where he earned his BFA in Acting. After graduating, he lived in New York City and performed Off-Broadway in Drunk Shakespeare. He's very excited to be moving to Cleveland to pursue his master's degree with CWRU/CPH.

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