"Astoria" Cast and Creative Team
Posted 03 January 2017
Astoria: Part One
Adapted and Directed by Chris Coleman
Based on the book ASTORIA:
John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire,
A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival
By Peter Stark
John Jacob Astor/Jacques/Aymes/Robinson/Ensemble
THE CREATIVE TEAM
Diane Ferry Williams
Matthew M. Nielson
Randall Robert Tico
F. Tyler Burnet
Barbara Hort, Ph.D
Bailey Anne Maxwell
F. Tyler Burnet
Frobisher/Thomas Jefferson/Winton/John Reed/Ensemble
Michael is a Portland native and beyond honored to be making his debut at The Armory. He was last seen as Mitch in Adrift in Macao with Broadway Rose Theatre Company and Fabrizio in The Light in the Piazza with Portland Playhouse. Just before returning home to Portland, Michael created the role of Telemachus in the world premiere of Crown of Shadows: The Wake of Odysseus at Round House Theatre in Washington, DC. Favorite roles include Monty in Violet, Gayman in The Lucky Chance, Tim in Suburbia, and Peter in Theatreworks USA’s national tour of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe . He holds a B.F.A in Musical Theatre from Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts. He would like to thank his parents, Diane and Fred, sister Meghan, and wife Caroline, for their never ending love and support.
Alexander McKay/Colter/Ensemble/Movement Director
Christopher is thrilled to return to his home state and make his debut at The Armory. Film: God of Love (Oscar winner, 2011), Asockalypse. TV: A Crime to Remember, National Subway Campaign, Stonyfield Organic Yogurt. New York City: Ensemble/Producer, US by Asia Kate Dillon, Dixon Place; Macbeth, Macbeth, New York Distilling Company. Hartford Stage: John Hancock, POETRY (workshop). HartBeat Ensemble: RFK/Norman Mailer, Jimmy and Lorraine. Barrington Stage Company: Billing, An Enemy of the People. Long Wharf Theatre: Walter/Frank Wild, Endurance. Connecticut Repertory Theatre: Walter Burns, His Girl Friday; Berowne, Love’s Labour’s Lost; Rosse, Macbeth. Two River Theater: Borachio, Much Ado About Nothing. North Carolina Shakespeare Festival: Ferdinand, The Tempest . Great River Shakespeare Festival: Lucentio, Taming of the Shrew . Illinois Shakespeare Festival: Chorus, et al., Henry V; Nathaniel, Love’s Labour’s Lost. Additionally, Christopher is a producing director of MIRROR/FIRE productions, find out more at mirrorfire.org. #BlackLivesMatter
Gavin is very happy to be back at The where he played Joe in Great Expectations , Ligniere in Cyrano, Iago in Othello and Karl/Steve in Clybourne Park. Other local credits include: Ted in American Hero, Harry in The Understudy and Dieter in The Monster-Builder at Artists Repertory Theatre; Ellard in The Foreigner at Lakewood Theatre; Wolf/Red in To Cape, The Tripping Point at Shaking the Tree; Ken in Fifth of July at Profile Theatre; Frank in Body Awareness for CoHo Productions; and Hank in A Noble Failure at Third Rail Repertory Theatre. He has worked regionally and in New York City. Gavin has guest-starred in The Big Easy (USA) and Leverage (TNT), co-starred in Grimm (NBC) and appeared in Portlandia. He is the recipient of four Drammy Awards. Gavin is a graduate of P.C.P.A. and has a B.F.A. in acting from Ithaca College. He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity and SAG-AFTRA.
Chris is happy to be back at The Armory working with Chris Coleman and this amazing cast. Previous credits at The Armory include ten years at the JAW Festival, The Oregon Trail, Great Expectations, Our Town, Futura and Sometimes a Great Notion. Regionally, Chris has worked on readings, workshops and premieres of new plays at several theaters, including The New Play Summit at Denver Center for the Performing Arts and the 38th Annual Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Loiusville. Locally, Chris has performed at Artists Repertory Theatre ( The Liar, Playboy of the Western World , Xmas Unplugged, (I Am Still) The Duchess of Malfi , Mr. Marmalade and Take Me Out). A Bright New Boise, The Aliens, Penelope and A Skull in Connemara (Third Rail Repertory Theatre); Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Portland Playhouse); Falstaff and Romeo and Juliet (Oregon Symphony); Animals and Plants, Hamlet and The Receptionist (CoHo Productions) and several shows at Profile Theatre including The Sam Sheppard One Act Festival, Six Degrees of Separation and The Sisters Rosensweig. He has appeared on Grimm and Portlandia, and produces plays and live comedy. It is an honor and a privilege to create art in the greatest city in the world.
Debut at The Armory. New York: Slough in Thieves (The Public Theater- World Premiere); Horatio in Hamlet (Gorilla Repertory Theater Company); Will in A Prince Among Men (reading, Primary Stages). Los Angeles/Regional: Little Turtle in Ameryka (Critical Mass Performance Group, Ovation Nomination); Jack Worthing in The Importance of Being Earnest (A Noise Within); Edwin in Our Lady of 121st Street (Victory Theatre); Alceste in The Misanthrope (Classical Theater Lab); Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet (The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles); Carlos in The Woodsman (Coeurage Theatre Company); Duke Vincentio/Elbow in Measure for Measure , Benedick in Much Ado about Nothing, Silvius in As You Like It, Rivers/Tyrrel in Richard III (The Old Globe); Barnstormers Theatre, Barter Theatre, American Shakespeare Center, Wilma Theatre, Carolina Shakespeare Theater. Proud company member of Native Voices at the Autry and Couerage Theatre. Film/TV: Jane the Virgin, The Playground. Education: M.F.A., The Old Globe/USD; B.A., UNC Chapel Hill.
CREATIVE TEAM BIOS
Chris joined Portland Center Stage at The Armory as artistic director in 2000. Before coming to Portland, Chris was the artistic director at Actor’s Express in Atlanta, a company he co-founded in the basement of an old church in 1988. Chris returned to Atlanta in 2015 to direct the world premiere of Edward Foote at Alliance Theatre (Suzi Bass Award for Best Direction, Best Production and Best World Premiere). Other recent directing credits include the Off-Broadway debut of Threesome at 59E59 Theaters; a production that had its world premiere at The Armory. Favorite directing assignments for The Armory include A Streetcar Named Desire, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Three Days of Rain, Threesome, Fiddler on the Roof, Clybourne Park, Shakespeare’s Amazing Cymbeline (which he also adapted), Anna Karenina, Oklahoma!, Snow Falling on Cedars, Crazy Enough, King Lear, Outrage and The Devils. Chris has directed at theaters across the country, including Actor’s Theater of Louisville, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, ACT Theatre (Seattle), The Alliance, Dallas Theatre Center, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop and Center Stage (Baltimore). A native Atlantan, Chris holds a B.F.A. from Baylor University and an M.F.A. from Carnegie Mellon. He is currently the board president for the Cultural Advocacy Coalition. Chris and his husband, Rodney Hicks – who is appearing in the new musical Come From Away, which opens on Broadway in March – are the proud parents of an 18-lb Jack Russell/Lab mix, and a 110-lb English Blockhead Yellow Lab. For the past three years, Chris has had the honor of serving as the director for the Oregon Leadership Summit.
Born in Wisconsin to an adventurous family and a father with a passion for the history of the fur trade, Peter Stark studied English and anthropology at Dartmouth College and received a master’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin. Using Missoula, Montana, as a base, he took off for the remote spots of the world, writing magazine articles about travel and adventure in places like Greenland, Tibet and Africa. This fueled an interest in wilderness and the history of exploration, resulting in a number of books, including the book on which the play Astoria is based: ASTORIA: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire, A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival. He and his wife, the intrepid dancer, choreographer and writer Amy Ragsdale, and their two children have periodically lived abroad for a year, most recently in a small town in Northeast Brazil.
Tony Cisek has collaborated with The Armory on the productions of Ain’t Misbehavin’, Sex with Strangers, Our Town, A Small Fire, The Whipping Man, The North Pool, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Christmas Story and Frost/Nixon, as well as the premieres of A Feminine Ending and Sometimes a Great Notion. Tony’s work has been seen Off-Broadway and regionally at Roundabout Theatre, Guthrie Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Arena Stage, Alliance Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Cincinnati Playhouse, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Center Stage (Baltimore), Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Syracuse Stage, New York Theatre Workshop, Cleveland Play House, Folger Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Round House Theatre, Signature Theatre and others. He has received four Helen Hayes Awards in Washington, five Drammy Awards in Portland, and a Barrymore Award nomination in Philadelphia. tonycisek.com
Broadway: Come From Away (2017), Amazing Grace, Lucky Guy, The Scottsboro Boys, Finian’s Rainbow, Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, King Hedley II, One Mo’ Time, The Wild Party, Marie Christine, Footloose, The Tempest, Twilight: Los Angeles, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Perestoika, and Jilly’s Last Jam. Awards: Tony nomination, three Drama Desk nominations, six Lucille Lortel nominations, Hewes Design Award, Irene Sharaff Young Masters Award and the 2009 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Costume Design.
Diane Ferry Williams
Diane Ferry Williams is pleased to be returning to Portland. Diane has worked for many theaters around the country and abroad. Her most recent design is a national tour of How to Succeed beginning in Beijing, China. In the U.S., she has worked for many theaters around the country, including The Marriott Theatre in Chicago, The Alliance Theatre, Theatre Under the Stars, Goodspeed, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, ACT-Seattle, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Ford’s Theatre, Hubbard Street and Regional Dance America. Other international work includes The Harlem Gospel Singers in Paris and the European tour, and Die Shone Und Das Biest in Berlin and the European tour. She has also lit several national tours and premieres. Awards include a Jeff Award, an After Dark Award, a Carbonelle Award, Drammy Awards – including the 2015 Drammy and PAMPTA awards for Ain’t Misbehavin’ – and seven Jeff nominations. Diane has an M.F.A in Theatrical Design from Northwestern University.
Mary McDonald-Lewis has been a professional artist since 1979. She resides in Portland, Oregon, and is an international dialect coach for film, television and stage. She also works as a voice actor, on-camera actor, stage actor and director. Astoria is MaryMac's 27th show with Portland Center Stage at The Armory, and you can also hear her work at Artists Repertory Theatre, where she is a resident artist, voice and text director. She is deeply grateful to the patrons and audience members of The Armory, whose support allows the theater to provide her services to the actors. MaryMac loves what she does, and she thanks Finnegan, Sullivan and Flynn for always wagging their tails when she comes home.
Music Director/Vocal Arranger
Portland Center Stage at The Armory: Drammy Awards for Ain't Misbehavin', Sweeney Todd, Ragtime, Guys and Dolls and West Side Story; Little Shop of Horrors, Our Town, Dreamgirls, The Last Five Years, Twist Your Dickens, Fiddler on the Roof, Somewhere in Time, Black Pearl Sings!, Oklahoma!, The Huntsmen (JAW), The Imaginary Invalid, Sunset Boulevard, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Grey Gardens, A Christmas Carol (composer), Cabaret, The Fantasticks and Bat Boy. Creator of the hit Off-Broadway musicals The Taffetas and The Cardigans (NYC Bistro Award for Outstanding Musical Revue); music supervisor for the West Coast regional premiere of Next to Normal (Artists Repertory Theatre); and assistant conductor/vocal director for the pre-Broadway workshop of Cy Coleman's The Life. Writer/arranger for Disney Live Family Entertainment, American Hawaii Cruises and American Classic Voyages, and developed The Cinnamon Bear Cruise. Rick is the founder/artistic director of Bridgetown Conservatory of Musical Theatre. rlewismusic.com
Matthew M. Nielson
Off-Broadway credits include The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival. Regional credits include Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, St. Louis Repertory Theater, Delaware Theatre Company, Arena Stage, Ford’s Theatre, The Kennedy Center, The Smithsonian, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Barrington Stage Company, Contemporary American Theater Festival, Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Olney Theatre Center, Round House Theatre and Theater Alliance. Film and television credits include The Hero Effect, Death in Time, Elbow Grease, Blue, Epix Drive-In, From Hell to Here, The Good Ways of Things and The Long Road. Nielson is a founding member of the audio theater company The Audible Group and creator of the audio web series Troublesome Gap. He has won several Helen Hayes Awards and various film festival awards for his work in theater, film and television. He is currently running Sound Lab Studios, a recording studio and post-production house. CuriousMusic.com.
Randall Robert Tico
This is Randall’s sixth collaboration with Chris Coleman following Othello, Anna Karenina, Shakespeare’s Amazing Cymbeline, The Imaginary Invalid and Snow Falling on Cedars. He was also the composer and sound designer for Apollo at The Armory, directed by Nancy Keystone. He received a Garland Award and an Ovation Award nomination for Apollo at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Other productions with Keystone include Ameryka (2016 Ovation nomination) Suzan-Lori Parks’ The America Play (Theatre @ Boston Court), Antigone (The Armory, Drammy Award), The Ahkmatova Project, Dr. Faustus, The Rover and Measure for Measure. Other recent credits include the music score and sound design for Macbeth at The New Vic directed by Jonathan Fox; and Hamlet, The Winter's Tale, the vocal score for David Hare’s version of Mother Courage, and music and sound design for The Glass Menagerie, all directed by Jessica Kubzansky. For the last three years, he has been the resident composer/sound designer for the Launch Pad program at UCSB, with director Risa Brainin.
Brandon is a director and producer in Portland, Oregon. He is thrilled to be collaborating on this world premiere adaptation with such an incredible team. Directing credits include: Sex with Strangers and the upcoming Mary’s Wedding (The Armory); International Falls and The Few (CoHo Productions); The God Game (self-produced); The End of Sex (Theatre Vertigo); Dial M for Murder (Bag&Baggage Productions). Brandon has worked with Rose Riordan on multiple shows at The Armory as an assistant director (Lizzie, The Whipping Man, Red, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and A Christmas Story). He has also collaborated with Third Rail Repertory Theatre, Broadway Rose Theatre Company, and Live On Stage. Brandon is the producing associate and JAW co-producer at The Armory. Much love to Sean, Mom and Brittney.
John is an actor and fight director who has been choreographing violence for more than 25 years. He is based in Portland, where he choreographs for many local theater companies and teaches throughout the region at colleges, high schools and middle schools. John’s work has been seen regularly on stage at The Armory, Portland Opera, Artists Repertory Theatre, Oregon Children’s Theatre, Miracle Theatre and many others. John’s work has twice been recognized within the Portland theater community for Best Fight Design.
Benjamin Fainstein is the literary manager at The Armory. Previous dramaturgy credits include Sarah Sander’s Golden (MIDDSummer Play Lab), Kevin Artigue’s The Forcings (JAW: A Playwrights Festival), Meg Miroshnik’s The Tall Girls (Carlotta Festival of New Plays), Marcus Gardley’s The House That Will Not Stand (Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre), and Christopher Bayes and Steven Epp’s adaptation of Moliére’s A Doctor in Spite of Himself (Yale Repertory Theatre). Benjamin has created and premiered numerous original works, including Carnival/Invisible, The Body Politic, Cat Club, Iphigenia Among the Stars, Prototype 373-G and Paradise Sets In. He is a former artistic director of Whistler in the Dark Theatre, associate artistic director of Yale Cabaret, and managing editor of Theater magazine. He is an alumnus of Middlebury College and Yale School of Drama.
Barbara Hort, Ph.D.
Barbara Hort, Ph.D., has maintained a private practice in Portland for over 25 years, working primarily from the psychological perspective developed by the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung. At the invitation of Chris Coleman, Dr. Hort has served as a dramaturg on The Armory productions of Sweeney Todd, Clybourne Park, the 2013 JAW festival, Fiddler on the Roof, Othello, Dreamgirls, Threesome, Three Days of Rain, Ain’t Misbehavin’, A Streetcar Named Desire, and now, Astoria: Part One, providing material on the psychological dynamics of the play that can be used by the artists who are creating the performance.
Imagine being in a room full of artists, watching the birth of an idea, a movement given purpose, a sentence, phrase, scene, act given life. Then imagine that room translating to the stage with lighting, sound, costumes, scenery and props, then you can imagine what Mark’s job is like. Special thanks to the phenomenal production assistants, Stephen Kriz Gardner, Will Bailey, Kristina Mast, Bailey Anne Maxwell and Kristen Mun, who help keep the vision attainable. Prior to The Armory, Mark toured nationally and internationally with musicals including Dreamgirls, The King and I with Rudolf Nureyev, How to Succeed …, Grand Hotel, The Phantom of the Opera, Rent and Jersey Boys. Other Portland credits include several summers with Broadway Rose Theatre Company in Tigard. Regional credits include Alley Theatre (Houston, TX), La Jolla Playhouse (La Jolla, CA) and Casa Mañana Theatre (Fort Worth, TX).
Will is excited to be returning as a production assistant and dresser at The Armory. Most recently at The Armory, he worked on The Oregon Trail. Other recent credits include production assistant on Sweeney Todd and assistant stage manager on The Italian Girl in Algiers with Portland Opera. Will has worked as a production assistant and props master at Artists Repertory Theatre, where production assistant credits include: Ithaka, Mistakes Were Made, X-MAS Unplugged, The Monster Builder, The Motherf**ker with the Hat, Intimate Apparel, Exiles, Blithe Spirit and The Invisible Hand. Will has also worked as a production assistant for Profile Theatre, Portland Shakespeare Project and Portland Playhouse, and a stage manager for Milagro Theatre.
Bailey Anne Maxwell
Bailey Anne Maxwell is thrilled to be returning to The Armory, after acting as production assistant for Little Shop of Horrors, Stupid F**king Bird, Sex with Strangers, Other Desert Cities, Twist Your Dickens (2014 and 2015) and Dreamgirls. Bailey also worked as a deck crew member on Great Expectations last season. In the past, Bailey has worked as a production assistant with Artists Repertory Theatre on The Motherf**ker with the Hat, Foxfinder, Ten Chimneys, The Lost Boy and Seven Guitars. Bailey has recently enjoyed being the stage manager for Up the Fall with PHAME Academy and The Wizard of Oz with Broadway Rose Theatre Company. She has also worked with Profile Theatre as a stage management apprentice on Buried Child, Eyes for Consuela and In the Next Room. Bailey is a proud Linfield College graduate and a member of the EMC program.