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Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT marks CWRU/CPH MFA Program's Return to the Stage

Posted October 8, 2021 in Press Releases

(Cleveland, OH) The Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House (CWRU/CPH) MFA Acting Program Class of 2022 makes their joyous return to in-person performances with Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, Twelfth Night. Directed by Sam White, Artistic Director of Shakespeare in Detroit, the production runs October 13-23, 2021 in the Helen Theatre at Playhouse Square. The cast includes Isaac Baker, Harper Case, Kristina Gabriela, Sierra Grabowska, Bridget Kim, Gustavo Márquez, Ricky Ortega, Christopher B. Portley, Jordan Taylor, and Noah Williams. General admission tickets are $15 and can be purchased at 216.241.6000 or

In the land of Illyria, anything can happen. And when a ship wrecks on its tropical shores, mistaken identities, mismatched partners, fights, falls, feints, music and confusion all collide in the pursuit of love. Twelfth Night is a playful, uplifting romp, a celebration of joy after loss.

William Shakespeare wrote Twelfth Night around 1601, most likely as a commission for Queen Elizabeth’s Twelfth Night festival celebrations. First performed in 1602 at the Middle Temple Hall in London’s Inns of Court, it has been produced at countless theaters across the world, and adapted into films, musicals, and television series. Today, the classic play is consistently regarded as one of the Bard’s best comedies.

Donald Carrier, Director of the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program says, “In the third year of the program, the ensemble has traditionally performed in a classical play which invites them to employ the technical, interpretive and imaginative skills that they continue to grow while training. In Twelfth Night, they will encounter adventure, romance, comedy and the drama that comes from loss and pain. I am pleased to welcome our guest director, Sam White, who brings a true passion and zeal for language and Shakespeare.”

At the helm of this production, Director Sam White says, “Our Twelfth Night is a reminder that joy, a deeply rooted yearning for hope and love, is valid and possible. It is possible despite the challenges of our world, without discounting the incredible impact of loss and grief.”

The play is set in the 1950s, and its vibrant vision is heavily inspired by White’s recent trip to Guanacaste, Costa Rica. The production design draws on the country’s lush, harmonious natural wonders, while echoes of colonialism’s complicated impact on Costa Rican cultural identity can be found in Illyria's diverse traditions as well.

Jerrold Scott, CWRU Katharine Bakeless Nason Professor of Theater/Chair and Artistic Director says, “The Class of 2022 has shown themselves to be very skilled with language and style, and Twelfth Night really challenges all of those abilities as an actor. It's a unique play, both in terms of tone and style, and Sam White’s work with them will be a fitting challenge for this stage of their training.”

CPH Artistic Director Laura Kepley says, “Please join me in celebrating the artistry, perseverance and joyful resilience of the CWRU/CPH MFA Class of 2022. As they take the stage and you witness the show, we move together as a community on the road to recovery and renewal. My gratitude to Director Sam White, for leading this process with joy, care, and attention to wellness.”

In March 2020, the CWRU/CPH MFA Class of 2022 was scheduled to make their debut in Will Eno’s Middletown directed by Donald Carrier. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the production was cancelled; however, the ensemble was able to perform for a special “one-night-only” invited audience at their final dress rehearsal.

The students forged ahead through last year, performing in inventive, moving virtual productions The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Electra/Orestes, which streamed to rapt audiences.

In this final year of their training, the students are scheduled to appear in the 2021-2022 mainstage productions, as well as industry showcases in Cleveland and New York to establish professional connections with agents and managers.


Tickets to all performances of Twelfth Night are $15. Student tickets are $7.50 (valid student ID required). Ohio Direction/EBT cardholders receive $5 admission to any performance (up to eight tickets). Tickets can be purchased by calling 216.241.6000 or by



ISAAC BAKER (Sir Toby/Antonio) graduated from the University of Evansville, where he played Bruce Bechdel in the collegiate premiere of Fun Home. At Evansville, he also appeared as Andrew Carnes in Oklahoma!, Georg Zirschnitz in Spring Awakening, Pa Joad in Frank Galati’s Grapes of Wrath; Albert Thornton in Horton Foote’s Lily Dale; and Antonio in Twelfth Night. Other credits include: Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice with the Great River Shakespeare Festival; John Proctor in the Pheonix Theatre’s The Crucible; and Ansel in Brute Candor Production’s premiere of The Cyprus Hatley Chapel.

HARPER CASE (Curio/Officer) is a recent graduate from Case Western Reserve University with a B.A. in Theatre Arts and Business Management. Prior CWRU credits include: Reckless; The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds; Cry-Baby; Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again, and others. She has performed locally in Henry V and Julius Caesar with The Cleveland Shakespeare Festival.

KRISTINA GABRIELA (Viola) is from Corpus Christi, Texas and received her B.A. in Acting/Directing at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Recent credits include: Sophie in Mamma Mia; Ariel in The Tempest; Mimi in Rent; and Beauty in Smokefall. @quirky_kris

SIERRA GRABOWSKA (Maria) is originally from Shepherdstown, West Virginia. After earning her BA in Theater and English from University of Massachussetts: Amherst, she performed in Boston with multiple touring companies and is a company member of Magnificent Bastards, an international Shakespearean improv comedy troupe. Other credits: Juliet in Shakespeare Now’s Romeo and Juliet; Hamlet in Boston Theater Company’s Hamlet; and Puck in Boston Theater Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She also works as a director, fight choreographer, and teaching artist.

BRIDGET KIM (Sir Andrew/Priest) is from Morehead, KY, and received her BA in Political Science and a minor in Theatre Arts from the University of Louisville. While there, she found joy as LeeAnn in A Piece of My Heart; Rebecca in The Long Christmas Ride Home; and Grace in Baltimore. She was last seen as Ginny Yang in the Liminal Playhouse’s production of Smart People.

GUSTAVO MÁRQUEZ (Duke Orsino) was born in California and was raised in Colorado where he received a BFA in Music Theatre from the Metropolitan State University of Denver. Professional credits: Sweat; A Christmas Carol; and Native Gardens (Denver Center Theatre Company). Other credits: The Comedy of Errors; Julius Caesar; The Merchant of Venice; The Tempest; Metamorphoses; You Can’t Take It With You; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; American Idiot; Dracula; and Grease.

RICKY ORTEGA (Sebastian/Valentine) is a Cleveland-based actor and theatre artist. He is a 2020 graduate of Kent State University, where he holds a B.A. in History and was a founding member of Latinx in Theatre, the first Latinx theatre student organization in the Midwest. Most recently, he was seen in Pandemonium and La Frontera and the Heart, both at Cleveland Public Theatre. Other credits include DJ/Lio Morales/Trujillo in In the Time of the Butterflies (staged reading); Benedicto in Vejigantes; and Victor in La Gringa (staged reading) at Kent State University.

CHRISTOPHER B. PORTLEY (Feste) is from Dallas, Texas. He earned his B.S. in Integrative Studies at the University of North Texas where he played Kent in Stick Fly. After graduating, he studied at the Shakespeare Academy at Stratford as part of the 2017 ensemble, where he played Ferdinand in The Tempest and Elbow/Abhorson in Measure for Measure in repertory. Other theatre credits include Delray in Memphis with the Musical Theatre of Denton; and Homer in Father Comes Home from the Wars: Parts 1, 2 & 3 with the African American Repertory Theatre.

JORDAN TAYLOR (Olivia) is originally from Ypsilanti, Michigan, and obtained her B.F.A. in Acting from Oakland University. Her favorite credits include: In The Red and Brown Water; Marcus; or Secret of Sweet; Othello; and Electra.

NOAH WILLIAMS (Malvolio/Captain) is from Alabama where he attended Troy University. While there, he performed in numerous roles, including Tom in The Glass Menagerie; Petruchio in The Taming of The Shrew; and Black Stache in Peter and The Star Catcher.


SAM WHITE (Director) is the award-winning founder of Shakespeare in Detroit. Her credits also include the prestigious 2017 Paul Nicholson Arts Management Fellowship at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She is also a member of the 2017 Cohort for artEquity in Los Angeles, CA. In addition, White served as the Assistant Director for Antoni Cimolino’s 2018 production of The Tempest at the Stratford Festival. She was also a part of the inaugural 2019 cohort for Classical Directing Fellows at The Old Globe in San Diego, CA. White served as the director for 2019’s Twelfth Night at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, Utah and also completed the Director’s Intensive at Yale University during its Summer Session that same year. Her most recent credits include directing A Midsummer Night’s Dream for The Old Globe and University of San Diego Shiley Graduate Theatre Program, as well as Romeo & Juliet for the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

RICHARD H. MORRIS, JR. (Scenic Designer) is a Cleveland-based scenic and lighting designer. His recent designs include: American Son (Pittsburgh Public Theatre); Bourbon at the Border (Allegheny Play Shop Theatre); and Ma Raineys Black Bottom (Karamu House). Morris has designed scenery for over 150 productions and was the recipient of the 2011 National Black Theatre Festival award for “Outstanding Achievements in Scenic Design”. In 2013, Morris was Keynote Speaker at Alabama State University on African Americans in Scenic Design. He is currently Technical Director/Resident Scenic Designer for Weathervane Playhouse in Akron, Ohio. Morris’s scenic and lighting designs have been seen at Akron School of Performing Arts, Ensemble Theatre Cleveland, Cleveland Public Theatre, Oberlin College Theatre, Dobama Theatre, Akron Civic Theatre, and Rabbit Run Theatre. Morris holds a B.A. in Scenic and Lighting Design from Kent State University.

JEFFREY VAN CURTIS (Costume Designer) is Cleveland Play House’s Costume Shop Manager. His CPH design credits include A Carol for Cleveland; My Name is Asher Lev; Bill W. and Dr. Bob; Doubt; I Am My Own Wife; Rounding Third; Proof; Dinner with Friends; and Art. CWRU/CPH MFA credits: Angels in America; Fifth of July; She Stoops to Conquer; A Philadelphia Story; The Winters Tale; An Orchard. Other credits: Singin’ on the Ohio and The Goblins Will Git You at The Lantern Theatre; productions at Coconut Grove Playhouse and Studio Arena Theatre; and work on the film Kansas City. He has also created wigs for a number of CPH productions. He holds his Master of Fine Arts, Costume Design and Technology from University of Missouri: Kansas City.

JAKYUNG CHO SEO (Lighting Designer) is an Associate Professor of Lighting Design and Coordinator of BFA and MFA Design, Technology and Production at Kent State University. She also taught at University of Cincinnati and California State University at Fresno. Regional theatre credits include: Steppenwolf, Congo Square Theatre, Eye to Soul, CATCO, Porthouse, and Lodestone Theatre. International credits include: Face at Edinburgh (UK); What We Want Is for Thrust Dance Company (Japan), where she was awarded the best prize at the International Dance Festival in Saitama; BINARI at Avignon Off Theatre Festival; Theatre Laboratory Elizabeth Czerczuk (France); and Sibiu International Theatre Festival (Romania). Internationally, she has taught lighting design workshops in Thailand, Singapore, and South Korea.

ANGIE HAYES (Sound Designer) has designed and mixed sound for productions at many theaters and high schools. She has also recorded and sound designed for several podcasts including Sidewalk (Munchen, MN) and a radio play series for The Endangered Species Theatre Project (Frederick, MD). She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from the University of Wisconsin: Oshkosh, with an emphasis in Recording Technology and Music Business.

KEVIN INOUYE (Fight Choreographer) is a Certified Teacher and Theatrical Firearms Instructor with the Society of American Fight Directors and a SAG-AFTRA stunt performer, and has choreographed theatrical violence for over 100 productions, including Cleveland Play House’s Into the Breeches!; CLUE; Pipeline; Native Gardens; and Middletown. He is Assistant Professor of Movement, Acting, & Stage Combat at Case Western Reserve University and the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting program. He is a published author, an actor, director, theatrical armorer, and teaches workshops regularly around the country.

MICHELLE LEVINSON (Stage Manager) is originally from Los Angeles, CA and has served as stage manager for A Midsummer Nights Dream; Saint Joan; and Shakespeare in Love at Ohio Shakespeare Festival; Tovic Tomte and the Trolls at Talespinner Children’s Theatre; as well as Station Hope 2018 at Cleveland Public Theater. Levinson worked on 9 to 5; Aint Misbehavin’; and Newsies at Porthouse Theater as a stage management intern. They graduated from the theater program at Baldwin Wallace University in the class of 2020.

BETH McGEE (Vocal Coach) is a co-founder of Shadow of the Run productions and the playwright of WanderLust and DreamWalkers, Cleveland’s first fully immersive theater experience. She was the on-set dialect coach for the Cinemax series Quarry, directed by Greg Yaitanes. She has been the vocal coach for CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program productions of The Seagull; Fifth of July; Macbeth; Clybourne Park; She Stoops to Conquer; The Philadelphia Story; The Misanthrope; and An Orchard. CPH mainstage voice coaching credits include: A Christmas Story; The Grapes of Wrath; A Kiss for Cinderella; The Imaginary Invalid; The African Company Presents Richard III; Lady from the Sea; Antigone; and Dracula. She dialect-coached the film Welcome to Collinwood, directed by the Russo Brothers and starring George Clooney. She is a Professor of Voice and Acting at CWRU and is an active member of Actors’ Equity Association.


DONALD CARRIER is the Director of the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program. recently directed Othello at Texas Shakespeare Festival and As You Like It for the CWRU Department of Theater. For the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program, he has directed Fifth of July; Clybourne Park; The Misanthrope; Shaws Too True to Be Good; and The Violins of Hope; Other directing includes Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Seminar, and Really Really (Beck Center for the Arts); and Becky Shaw (Dobama Theatre). Other selected directing credits include: The Crucible, The Two Gentlemen of Verona; Alms; Twelfth Night; As You Like It; Habeas Corpus; The Pirates of Penzance; and Oh! What a Lovely War. He has appeared at Cleveland Play House in Shakespeare in Love; All the Way; Luna Gale; The Crucible; The Little Foxes; Yentl; In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play; Ten Chimneys; Noises Off; and Lincolnesque. Regional credits include: The National Arts Center, Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, Great Lakes Theater, The Studio Theatre, The Shakespeare Theatre, The Wilma Theater, The Huntington Theatre, The Intiman Theatre, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. He spent nine seasons at the Stratford Festival, three seasons at the Old Globe and two seasons at the Shaw Festival. Television/Film: Guns; The Time Travelers Wife; The Passion of Ayn Rand; and Dead by Monday. Carrier is a proud Lunt/Fontanne Fellow.

LAURA KEPLEY became Artistic Director of Cleveland Play House in 2013 and has directed numerous CPH mainstage productions including Every Brilliant Thing; Into the Breeches!; Tiny Houses (world premiere, also at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); Sweat; The Diary of Anne Frank; Shakespeare in Love; The Crucible; Steel Magnolias; The Good Peaches (world premiere); Fairfield (world premiere); How I Learned to Drive (also at Syracuse Stage); The Little Foxes; Venus in Fur; Good People (also at Syracuse Stage); A Carol for Cleveland (world premiere); In the Next Room, or the vibrator play; My Name is Asher Lev; and CPH readings of Roe Green Award-winning plays Tiny Houses; The Chinese Lady; Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976; Marjorie Prime; and Daphne’s Dive. She joined CPH in 2010, having arrived from Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island where she was Resident Director and Artistic Associate for four seasons and Interim Director of the Brown/Trinity Rep M.F.A. in Directing Program for one. She has also directed for The Alliance Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Chautauqua Theater Company, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Contemporary American Theatre Festival, and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, among others. A native Ohioan, Laura received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and her Master of Fine Arts from Brown University/Trinity Rep. She is a Drama League Fellow and a recipient of the 2009-2011 National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group Career Development Program for Directors.


CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE, founded in 1915 and recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is America's first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, CPH has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate, and entertain diverse audiences across Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. CPH 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 productions. Today, Cleveland Play House celebrates the beginning of its second century of service while performing in three state-of-the art venues at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland. Cleveland Play House is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Cleveland Play House is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. To learn more, visit:

CWRU COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES houses educational and research programs in the arts, humanities, social sciences, physical and biological sciences, and mathematics. Students in the college can choose a major or minor from almost 60 undergraduate programs, design their own courses of study or enroll in integrated bachelor's/master's degree programs. In addition, the college offers graduate programs in several fields where CWRU's small size and special expertise allow it to make a distinctive contribution to advanced education and research. The college's curricular offerings are enhanced by its affiliations with other University Circle institutions, including Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, The Cleveland Institute of Music, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland Institute of Art, and Cleveland Play House. The college offers many arts presentations, lecture series and symposia. It also provides abundant opportunities for students to participate in music, theatre, and dance performances. CWRU is one of our nation’s top universities.

THE DEPARTMENT OF THEATER at Case Western Reserve University offers education and participation in all aspects of drama, with course offerings in acting, stagecraft, costume design, scene design, directing, dramatic writing, and history, literature, and criticism. Bachelor of Arts students have the opportunity to perform as well as to serve on the design and technical teams in four fully produced mainstage theatrical productions each year. The low student to faculty ratio ensures that students are able to work closely with our faculty of highly accomplished artists and scholars. As a discipline that is both performing art and humanity, the department treats all performances as artistic and educational experiences and welcomes the participation of students regardless of their academic majors and career goals. At the graduate level, the Master of Arts degree prepares students for work in professional theater, education, or for further pursuit of graduate study, while the Master of Fine Arts professional actor training program–a collaborative partnership between the Department of Theater and Cleveland Play House–represents a unique alliance between one of the oldest academic theater programs in the United States and the nation’s first regional theater.


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