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Meet The 2012 Festival 56 Cast Members

Claire Buchignani is so excited to be a part of this season! Currently residing in New York City, Claire most recently starred in Christmas at the Opry at the Smokey Mountain Opry in TN. Claire also had the pleasure of originating the role of Stalker in Somebody/Nobody directed by Jon Jory. She earned her BFA in Acting at the University of Arizona. She was born and raised in Sebastopol, CA. Much love to her family and friends. This is for her Nonno. To find out more, check out

DJ Canaday made his Festival 56 debut this Fall in Tuesdays With Morrie (Mitch) and All the Great Books: abridged(Professor). Originally from California, he currently resides in New York City where he most recently performed Off-Broadway in the revival of Charles Messina's Tenement Plays. Other NY credits include Phantom of the Opera (Phantom standby) and A Christmas Carol (Scrooge, IT Award nomination). He has performed throughout the US and internationally in China, Costa Rica and India. Many thanks to the Morrows for (again!) making DJ part of their amazing family.

Laurie Elizabeth Gardner recently concluded the Professional Musical Theatre workshop at Circle in the Square. Off Broadway/Nat'l Tours: Girl Talk (Janice), Girls Night: the Musical (Kate), Isabelle and the Pretty Ugly Spell (Stepmom). Original cast recording: Ghost of Canterville Chase. Regional: A Christmas Carol at McCarter Theatre (Charlotte Fezziwig), The Music Man at Village Light Opera Group (Zaneeta Shinn), Misia at the York Theatre, Séance at the Snapple Theatre.

Mary Beth Donahoe is absolutely delighted to be a part of Festival 56's ninth season! College credits include: Thoroughly Modern Millie (Miss Dorothy Brown), Oklahoma! (Ado Annie), Joe Iconis Concert, Miss Julie (Kristine), & The Children's Hour (Lily Mortar). Regional: 42nd Street (Diane Lorimer). This fall she will return to Ohio Northern University for her junior year as a BFA musical theatre major. Love and thanks to friends, mentors, God, and the Donahoe team. "I am an optimistic lady." -JA

Drew Hampton is thrilled to be back after starring as Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew. Drew earned his MFA from WIU. Past companies include Playhouse on the Square (Memphis), The National Players and Shakespeare Dallas. This past year, Drew was the Artistic Director at Ridgewater College in Minnesota. Favorite Roles: Ragtime (Younger Brother), I Love You...Now Change (Man #2), and The History Boys (Irwin). Special thanks to the Princeton community for their incredible support!

Zach Handler is a New York based actor who is thrilled to be making his debut in the 2012 summer season with Festival 56. Past credits: Annie with Sally Struthers; Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, Ori & Addison, A Fag's Life, Winnie-the-Pooh, Chicken Little and The Three Musketeers. TV/Film: Celebrity Ghost Stories for Biography channel; Monsters Inside Me for Animal Planet; World's Astonishing News! (Japan); Brokers with Lucid Trance Films. Zach is an Equity Membership Candidate.

Cody Jolly is a student at the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University and is very excited to be making his Festival 56 debut! Some of his favorite roles in previous years have been: Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, Juror 8 in Twelve Angry Men, and Barry in The Boys Next Door. Cody would like to thank Laura and Dexter, as well as the rest of the festival team for all of their help. Special thanks to his family and the Gents are in order. Enjoy the show!

Brian Kocher is ecstatic to make his festival debut! Living on a farm south of Princeton, he was assistant stage manager for Run for Your Wife and was director of Camp 56 last summer. A sophmore pursuing a B.A. in Theatre at Millikin University, Brian's credits include: The Imaginators (William), Solstice: A Concert of Dance, and ...Spelling Bee (Swing). His favorite roles include: Spike Heels (Andrew) and Little Shop of Horrors (Seymour). Many thanks to his friends, family, and faculty for their support!

Brendan Malafronte is very happy to be back at Festival 56 after playing Charlie Brown in the festival's production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. He reprised his role as Thomas' Conductor in Thomas and Friends, Live! and was most recently (un)seen as a puppeteer in the tour of John Tartaglia's Imaginocean. Brendan is happy to be performing alongside such talented actors and directors! Much is owed to his brilliant girlfriend, Alanna Chuyan! "Garlic!? Yeah!"

Stephanie Rita Morgan originates from Massachusetts and received her BFA from the University of Rhode Island. She is a new Chicago resident and thrilled to be a part of Festival 56! Credits include: Rocky Horror (Janet), ...Spelling Bee (Olive), Oklahoma! (Ado Annie), The Wedding Singer (Linda), A Christmas Carol (Mrs. Cratchit), Little Women (Beth), Thoroughly Modern Millie, Little Shop of Horrors, Pippin, Boy Gets Girl, and Amadeus. A sincere and loving thank you to my family, Cory, Jimmy, & Tom.

Justin Ostergard is currently studying theatre at Millikin University where he has performed in numerous shows: A Midsummer Nights Dream (Snug), Sweet Smell of Success (Ensemble), and The Drowsy Chaperone (Ensemble). Other shows include Cats (Skimbleshanks) and Reefer Madness (Jack/Jesus). He would like to thank his parents for the never-ending support and his last words of advice: "Pursue your dreams, y'all. It will change your life."

Tayloir Pace is from Flower Mound, Texas and is a student at Southeast Missouri State University earning her BFA in Musical Theatre. Past roles include A Chorus Line (Maggie), The Sound of Music (Sister Margaretta), and most recently Pajama Game (Gladys). She also participated in the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project's summer intensive held at Northwestern University. She is thrilled to join the Festival 56 family! She would like to thank her parents for all their support and feels truly blessed to be here!

Andy Pollock couldn't be happier to be back for his second season! Recent credits include: Grease (Roger), Arsenic and Old Lace (Mortimer), 42nd Street (Bert), The Glorious Ones (Dottore), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Demetrius), Oklahoma! (Ali Hakim), Inventing Van Gogh (Gauguin), The Laramie Project (Man 4) and Romeo and Juliet (Mercutio). Thank you to all my family and friends and a big thanks to YOU for supporting the arts and live theatre! Enjoy!

Jillian Prefach is absolutely thrilled to be returning to festival for this wonderful season! You may remember her from Songs for A New World, Annie Get Your Gun and as Sister Amnesia in Nunsense. Most recently Jillian reprised her role as Amnesia in Nuncrackers at Circa'21 appeared as the March Hare/Dodo in the Off -Broadway premiere of Alice in Wonderland at the Players Theatre. Jillian would like to thank her friends and family for their love and support. Thank you Laura and Dexter for everything!

Sarah Smith is so excited to be back in Princeton! After appearing last summer in Songs for a New World, Nunsense, Annie Get Your Gun and Kiss me Kate, Sarah traveled to Indonesia on tour with Phantom of the Opera as Carlotta. Other credits include Urinetown(Penelope Pennywise), Annie (Miss Hannigan) and Oliver! (Widow Corney). Thank you to my family for their endless love and support, to my BFB's and a special thank you to the people of Princeton for opening your hearts and homes to all of us!

Jamie Thiessen is a proud graduate from the University of California, and couldn't be more thrilled spend the summer performing here at the festival. Favorite credits include Disney Cruise Line, Titus Andronicus (Lavinia), Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus (Junie u/s), and A Funny Thing Happened... Forum (Geminae) {Jamie prefers to perform in shows with very long titles}. Much love to Mom and Dad for their endless support and car rides to dance class!

Emelie Faith Thompson is thrilled to make her festival debut! Regional credits include: Barter Theatre: Frankenstein, Annie; Wayside Theatre: Steel Magnolias; Heritage Theatre Festival: The title role in My Fair Lady, The 39 Steps, Boeing Boeing; Theatre WV: Grease, Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Nat'l Tours: A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street. She holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Shenandoah Conservatory. Thanks and love to Nate, parents, and beautiful sisters.

Bobby Underwood is very grateful to be spending his summer doing such a wide range of wonderful shows. Favorite regional credits include Anything Goes (Moonface) at Ocean City Theatre, in Oklahoma! (Ali Hakim) at Colorado Light Opera, and Hairspray (Male Authority Figure) at Millbrook Playhouse. Bobby also works as a stand-up comic. A native New Yorker, he loves bagels, Seinfeld, and the Yankees. This one's for Mom, who's been through Reno and been through Beverley Hills, and she's still here.

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