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CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program Announces Incoming Class

Posted July 28, 2017 in Press Releases

8 Students Selected from Over 800 Candidates

CLEVELAND, OH (July 18, 2017) – The Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program today announced its Class of 2020. The four women and four men represent eight different undergraduate programs from across the United States.

“After seeing a record number of candidates in New York, Chicago and here in Cleveland with outreaches in Atlanta and Washington, DC,” says Donald Carrier, Interim Director of CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program, “we are thrilled to welcome a new group of talented, dynamic, curious, and collaborative young artists who will grow and thrive here in Cleveland, supported by our two great institutions: Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Play House.”

Both institutions are excited to welcome this dynamic new class that will continue the strong tradition the program has established over the course of the past 22 years.

”On the audition tour, we met incredible young artists and are thrilled to be welcoming a unique and promising class,” says Cleveland Play House Artistic Director Laura Kepley, “I am confident that with the excellent training in the CWRU/CPH studios and by working side-by-side with top professionals on Cleveland Play House mainstage productions these talented young theatre makers will make a significant impact on the future of American theatre.”

Jerrold Scott, Chair, CWRU Department of Theater, says, “As the Department of Theater at CWRU enters our third decade in partnership with Cleveland Play House, it's very exciting to welcome the Class of 2020. Every class brings new insights and opportunities, and we look forward to working with them to develop their skills and artistry as the new generation of actors we have helped to nurture.

CWRU/CPH MFA Program Class of 2020

Alex Brightwell is beyond thrilled to be joining the CWRU/CPH MFA program! He was born in West Virginia and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2012 Alex graduated from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program and has since continued living and working in Minneapolis, appearing onstage at Yellow Tree Theater, Minnesota Jewish Theatre, Walking Shadow Theatre, Public Theater of Minnesota, the Strange Capers, and the Guthrie. Alex looks forward to life and theater in Cleveland, and could use suggestions of local bookstores and coffee shops to fulfill his penchant for reading and caffeine.

Conor Canning was born and raised in Alford, Massachusetts and is a 2016 graduate of Georgetown University, where he majored in Political Economy with a minor in Theater and Performance Studies. While at Georgetown, Conor acted with the University’s Theater Department as well the student-run organizations, Nomadic Theatre and the Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society. Notable past roles include Joe Cooper in Killer Joe, George Deever in All my Sons, Stacey Kinsella in The Metal Children, Eduardo in Happy and Angelo in Measure for Measure. Outside of acting his interests include reading, playing soccer and supporting the New York Mets and Liverpool Football Club. Conor is very excited to move to Cleveland and begin the next phase of his education.

Kasey Connolly originally hails from Indiana but has spent the past 6 years living in New York City. She received a BA from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU, with a concentration in The Actor's Artistic Agency within the Creative Process. She explored the question of what it means to be an artist in a collaborative paradigm where one does not also act as the curator. When she isn't pondering such lofty questions, Kasey can be found oogling every dog she passes on the street, trying to incorporate tap dance into Shakespeare plays, and working on her yoga practice.

Comfort Dolo was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee and raised in friendly Fridley, Minnesota. She graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN back in 2014 with double majors in Honors Theatre and Communication Studies. Since graduating, she has been performing around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Favorite credits include: To Kill a Mockingbird (The Guthrie Theatre), TOUCH, a remake of the 1984 Emmy Award winning film project (Illusion Theatre), and various commercials ranging from the Minnesota State Lottery to hand modeling forKeyBank. She is a big fan of theatre for social justice, the German language, and gummy bears!

Gregory James is a Buffalo, NY native with a BFA in Theatre Performance from the University at Buffalo. He is overjoyed to be joining CWRU and Cleveland Play House for his graduate studies. Gregory has been living in Los Angeles for the past six years where he has worked as an actor, writer, and director. Recent credits include John in Summer and Smoke, and Jack in Hound of the Baskervilles with the Actors Co-Op Hollywood. Gregory was also a resident member of the Whitefire Theatre for two years appearing in numerous Seasonal and Hollywood Shorts.

Abdul Seidu is very excited to join the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House Family. Abdul grew up in the Cleveland area and is glad to represent his home town. He received his undergraduate degree at Kent State University where he also competed in Track & Field. Abdul realized his passion for acting in his teenage years and is thrilled to be accepted at such a prestigious MFA program. He is ready to pursue all the teachings that the program has to offer and is humbled to be an ambassador of the CWRU/CPH name.

Courtney Stennett is a native of Eagle, Idaho. She graduated with her BFA in Performance from Baylor University and has since been living and working in Chicago. Favorite recent professional credits include Agnes of God with Aleatoric Theatre, A Little Princess with Windy City Music Theatre, and Seminar with Spartan Theatre Company. Courtney enjoys membership in the League of Chicago Theatres Young Professionals Circle and is on the board of Voice of the City Theatre which is an arts alliance group connecting the community to theatre. She could not be more thrilled for this next adventure in Cleveland!

Elisabeth Yancey hails from eight different states reaching all four corners of the U.S. She is a recent graduate of Wellesley College where she received a B.A. in Theatre Studies. She holds a certificate of classical acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, and a certificate of literature from Cambridge University. Elisabeth has worked with Wellesley Repertory Theatre, ACT 1 Nashville, and the Wellesley Shakespeare Society. She is currently embarking on an adventure to Bali where she will receive her 200-hour yoga teaching certification. Elisabeth is thrilled to join the CWRU/CPH class of 2020!


Since 1996, Case Western Reserve University has partnered with Cleveland Play House. Every two years, eight actors are chosen from the hundreds who audition nationwide to join this rigorous three-year conservatory program. The CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program admits committed and bold young artists who possess a love of language, empathy for the human experience, a vivid imagination and the desire to develop the necessary physical and vocal skills for a successful and sustained career in the ever-evolving performing arts scene.All three years are spent in residency at Cleveland Play House, providing students with unique access to its new downtown Cleveland state-of-the-art facilities and the professional expertise of its staff. Program graduates include Rich Sommer (Mad Men, Buried Child), Elizabeth A. Davis (Once – Tony Award Nomination), AJ Cedeno (Z: The Beginning of Everything), Tom Degnan (Limitless), and Stephen Michael Spencer (Oregon Shakespeare Festival).


Recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award® and founded in 1915, Cleveland Play House is America’s first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, Cleveland Play House has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate and entertain diverse audiences in Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. It has produced more than 100 world and/or American premieres, and over its long history more than 12 million people have attended over 1,600 CPH productions. Today, Cleveland Play House looks toward its centennial while performing in three state-of-the art venues at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland.

The Ohio Arts Council helps fund Cleveland Play House with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. We also thank the residents of Cuyahoga County for supporting Cleveland Play House through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.


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