"It is an advantage to have a successful father. Nobody ever wanted my old man for as much as five hundred."
By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
Benny Southstreet ~
"It is an advantage to have a successful father. Nobody ever wanted my old man for as much as five hundred."
Tonight, June 15, Embassy Theatre and Vicky Brenneman State Farm Insurance present one of America's favorite classic musicals - "Guys and Dolls." The show will run this weekend and next, with shows on Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m.
"Guys and Dolls" Stars Lisa Valens, Josh Arnold, Rebecca Bensavage, and Timothy Bambara. Reservations are suggested by calling 240- 362-7183, although tickets will be available at the door until sold out. Admission is $18 adults and $16 students/seniors. For more information , visit embassytheatrecumberland on Facebook.
I am a big believer in performance arts, and supporting these actors and the volunteers who spend hundreds of hours building sets, directing the music and the action on stage, creating costumes, designing lighting and sound techniques - art, theatre and music are so integral to a fulfilling life.
"Guys and Dolls is going to be an incredible show! The cast and crew have done a phenomenal job of putting together this show. This cast has done an amazing job of bringing the characters to life and I am sure the audience will see that reflected on stage. The music for this show is fun and catchy and the cast sounds amazing!" says Mikayla Dodge, music director.
Denise Adams (Mimi) is a student at Frostburg State University in the theatre department. She is new to the Embassy Theatre but no stranger to the stage - having worked with Acting Out for ALS, Apple Alley Players, Allegany High School, and recently Frostburg State University. Denise has been recently seen in "Seussical, Jr." (Bird Girl); "The Wedding Singer" (Linda); "Fiddler on the Roof" (Golde); "The King & I" (Anna) and so many more. Denise is the director for the Braddock Middle School Drama Club, Braddock on Broadway, and has two shows under her belt, "The Wizard of Oz Jr." and "Anything Goes, Jr." and is looking forward to future shows. She has been dancing since the age of 2 with Dixons Dance Studio and recently with YDance Fusion group.
Matt Armentrout (Big Jule) is performing in his eighth play and second musical at the Embassy. Some other plays he has done at the Embassy are "The Odd Couple - Female Version," "The Purloined Generals," "The Proposal," and most recently, "Barefoot in the Park." He has also written for and acted in the sketch comedy group called Those Guys.
Josh Arnold (Sky Masterson), a native of Romney, has sporadically performed over the last 18 years: "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Bye Bye Birdie" (Conrad), "Cats" (Rum Tum Tugger), "Little Shop of Horrors" (voice of plant), "Shrek the Musical" (Donkey), "Great American Trailerpark Christmas Musical" (Rufus Jeter).
Mike Bambara (Benny Southstreet) saw his first baseball game at Ebbits Field in Brooklyn. That day Jackie Robinson stole two bases. Mike’s first appearance on stage was the solo recital of “The Night Before Christmas” in the first grade at Saint Rose of Lima’s School where Mike sang in the Boys’ and Men’s Choir from ages 6-16. One year the Choir appeared on the Jackie Gleason Christmas Show.
As a high schooler Mike continued singing as well as “performing” his daily English Class on an upstart public radio station. Upon graduation from high school Mike played the part of an adult attending two years of Cornell University Engineering school and being asked to leave because in reality he was the John Belushi character from Animal House. So, Mike went off to see the continent of Asia where he helped pave the way for Martin and Charlie Sheen’s stellar performances in “Apocalypse” and “Platoon.”
When Mike returned to Cornell he decided to take to the stage performing lots of different roles in the Ithaca Repertory Company and just living the carefree life of a Theatre student. He graduated and went off to seek theatrical fame and fortune in Greenwich Village. When the pain of hunger overcame him, he surrendered to the grand olde bastions of the Retail Management Training Program, Art stopped its imitations and for the next 35+ years life happened.
Along the way Mike played in regional productions and went back to singing in church. At the age of 56 Mike earned an MSEd and has been teaching high school for the last dozen or so years.
Timothy Bambara (Nathan Detroit) is back on the Embassy stage with producer Jerard Puckett, after successful ventures in 2017 at the Embassy such as "Cabaret," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and "Arsenic and Old Lace." He is also excited to be paired up with his father, Mike (Benny), together again, on stage after a 20 year hiatus.
Tim’s Cumberland acting credits include the Embassy productions of "Cabaret" as Cliff Bradshaw, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" as Dr. Baugh, and "Arsenic and Old Lace" as Mortimer Brewster, Front and Centre Stage’s production of "A Midsummer’s Night Dream" as Theseus, and Cumberland Theatre’s productions of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" as Andre and "Drinking Habits" as George. Other favorite credits include Randall P. McMurphy in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest," Mike Talman in "Wait Until Dark," Jacob Marley in "Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol," Angel Cruz in "Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train," The Visitor in "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," Moss and Williamson in two different productions of "Glengarry Glen Ross," Rosencrantz in "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead," and Luther Bills in "South Pacific."
Timothy holds a BA in Theatre Arts from James Madison University, an MFA in Theatre Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University, and several directing credits from his time in Chicago, IL, including the infamous burlesque show, "Star Wars: A Nude Hope." Tim can be seen next at the Cumberland Theatre in "Night of the Living Dead Live!"
Tai Baumann (Crapshooter) is excited to be performing in the Embassy Theatre production of "Guys and Dolls!" His past roles include Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof" and Captain Von Trapp in "The Sound of Music."
Rebecca Bensavage (Miss Adelaide) is thrilled to be continuing her theater experience as Miss Adelaide. You may have seen her in previous shows such as Ariel in "The Little Mermaid' by Allegany High School or Princess Jasmine from "Aladdin Jr" by Acting Out for ALS.
Gina Brenneman (Choreographer/Vernon) was born in November of 1990, and began discovering dance within her first year of life. Her mother says that she began dancing before she began walking. She was enrolled in dance classes at age 2, and it was immediately clear that it was a passion of hers. She found her talent for choreography at the age of 11 when she began creating dances for her cheerleading squad. She continued cheerleading and dance up until the age of 18 and in that time, she performed in numerous recitals and competitions. From age 21 to 25, she choreographed and taught dance classes to groups that ranged from toddlers to adults. In that time, she also became a certified Zumba instructor and taught classes with her own original choreography. She choreographed her first play at age 26, and found a whole new and exciting avenue of choreography. Gina has always had a deep love for dance and for creating dance. She’s passionate about using bodies to create art, and making sure that the audience always remains entertained.
Hayden Davis (Harry The Horse) is a sophomore at Allegany High School, attends Mountain City Center for the Arts, is a member of their 2x National Award Winning Team Teal, attended The Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta, GA in 2017 and 2018, and was an extra in the movie "Buttons." Hayden studies voice with Shelby Herbert, Musical Theater with Jackie Nixon, takes Tap with YDance. Hayden is also an assistant for the children’s dance class, The Mini Movers. Hayden has been seen in numerous shows around the area, including the Wolf in “Into the Woods, Jr. " by MCCA's National Award Winning Team Teal. He was seen as a featured dancer in Acting Out for ALS "A Christmas Carol, as Geroge Banks in Acting Out for ALS "Mary Poppins, Jr," as Peter in Kidspired's "Narnia," and as The Artful Dodger in Apple Alley's "Oliver." In his spare time Hayden writes, directs, films and acts in YouTube shows, and does voice-overs for other online AnimeShows.
Mikayla Dodge has thoroughly enjoyed her first experience as music director. Mikayla graduated from Frostburg State University with a degree in music management in 2015 and is now the downtown manager for the City of Cumberland. Mikayla performs with her husband, Zach Dodge, as The Dodges. The two perform all over the tri-state area. The Dodges were featured as one of the acts in the Eddie Deezen Talent Show in October of 2017 and most recently in the Concert Extraordinaire, both held at the Embassy Theatre. Mikayla is on the board for the Cumberland Choral Society, and the Embassy Theatre. Mikayla also teaches voice lessons at the Western Maryland Music Center and sings with Queen City Funk and Soul. Mikayla has been seen onstage at the Embassy Theatre in “Anything Goes” (lounge singer) and at the Cumberland Theatre in Little Shop of Horrors (Ronette), “Pirates of Penzance” (Daughter), “The Producers” (ensemble), “Young Frankenstein” (ensemble), and “1776” (Abigail Adams). She was also in Apple Alley Players 2017 production of “The Wedding Singer” (Holly).
Zach Dodge (Lt. Brannigan) is excited to be performing in “Guys and Dolls” at the Embassy Theatre! Zach is a regular at Open Mic and hosts along with his wife, Mikayla. The two go by The Dodges and perform acoustic music throughout the tri-state area. The Dodges were featured as one of the acts in the Eddie Deezen Talent Show in October of 2017 and most recently in the Concert Extraordinaire, both held at the Embassy Theatre. Zach sings with, and is the treasurer of the Cumberland Choral Society. He has been seen onstage at the Cumberland Theatre as Caesar Rodney in "1776" and at the Hope for Hyndman Charter Schools as Mitch Mahoney in the 2016 production of "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." He also teaches guitar and ukulele at the Cumberland Music Academy. Zach graduated from Frostburg State University with a degree in music management in 2015 and is now the church sexton at First Presbyterian Church.
Cece Golden (Mission Band Member) is excited to be in her first show with the Embassy. Having worked with many theatre groups in the area, Maryland Theatre Arts, Acting Out for ALS, Allegany High School, and Apple Alley Players, she has many shows under her belt. Cece has recently been seen in "A Christmas Carol" (Emily), "The Wedding Singer" (Julia), "Fiddler on the Roof" (Chava), and so many more. She is the makeup and hair artist for the Braddock Middle School Drama, Braddock on Broadway, and plans to attend Morgantown Beauty College in the fall. She has been a dancer with the YDance Fusion Group for the past five years.
Sawyer Jenkins (Angie The Ox) Don't let this Crapshooter fool you! Sawyer is a current full time student at Frostburg State University majoring in computer science. Sawyer has been in many productions including being Avram in Allegany High School's "Fiddler On The Roof," Sammy in Apple Alley Players' "The Wedding Singer," Fred Anderson in Acting Out For ALS's "A Christmas Carol" and Bert in "Mary Poppins Jr." This summer, he will be in Apple Alley Players' next production, "Footloose The Musical.
Ed Kegg (Master of Ceremonies) is no stranger to theatre, though he usually prefers to work behind the scenes. He first appeared on stage as Sir Evelyn Oakleigh in the Bishop Walsh High School production of "Anything Goes," and more recently in the sketch comedy show "Sorry, Wrong Door." Behind the scenes, Ed has worked in set construction, sound and lighting, and has played guitar in the orchestras of such shows as "Godspell," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Grease," and "West Side Story." He is grateful for the opportunity to appear in this show, and would like to express his gratitude to Jerard Puckett and the Embassy Theatre for their continued support.
Leigha Nicole Haslacker (Mission Band Member) is a student at Hampshire High School, and will be sixteen this fall. She has been in four productions so far. Leigha has taken dance and singing lessons over the years and is looking forward to being a part of the ensemble in "Guys and Dolls."
Victoria Mann (Allison) is a 22-year-old native of Cumberland and has been acting in her spare time since she was four years old. Some of her recent, notable roles include Helen in "Carrie: The Musical" at Cumberland Theatre and Hermia in "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" for Shakespeare in the Park last summer.
Ellen McDaniel-Weissler (General Matilda B. Cartwright) is a veteran of countless amateur and professional productions across the country, Ellen McDaniel-Weissler studied voice with Dr. Kermit Finstad of Gettysburg College and Dr. Judith Rosenfeld of Peabody Conservatory. Her many roles have included: Abigail Adams in “1776” (Philadelphia) Diane Sikorski in “Minor Demons” (Swarthmore), Nancy in “Oliver!” (Phoenix) Edith in “The Pirates of Penzance” (Denver), Antigone in “Gospel at Colonus” (Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, Washington, DC), Maria in “Twelfth Night,” (FSU), Stella Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire” (Philadelphia) and Sarah Brown in “Guys and Dolls” (Philadelphia). The one-woman shows “Trivial Broadway” and “Oh Death, Rock Me Asleep: The Last Hours of Anne Boleyn,” which Ellen wrote, produced and starred in, has played in theatres across the country, including the Tulsa, Oklahoma, Performing Arts Center and the National Theatre in Washington, DC. She has appeared in several television commercials and has taught classes and summer camps on acting.
Whitney O'Haver (Ferguson) is a 21-year-old actress and makeup artist. She is very excited to be doing another show at the Embassy! You might have seen her recently in "Carrie: the Musical" at Cumberland Theatre, or other numerous shows around the area. This is now her 17th production since 2015.
Jerard Puckett (Producer) - has lent expertise to Embassy projects as its current and past executive director, with ongoing technical work as lighting designer, in creative penning of indigenous historical dramas, creation of projects with diverse area musicians including the Open Mics, direction of Albee’s "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", Jay Presson Allen’s "Tru", Ludlam’s "The Artificial Jungle," book for the original holiday musical "Trouble in Toyland" with Kim Andrews and Mark Baker, and other creative pursuits over 20 years of active participation in Embassy’s mission to provide live performances. Jerard's most recent production was "The Mystery of Irma Vep" - featuring Broadway veteran Mark Baker and Timothy Bambara.
Kevin Shreve (Nicely Nicely Johnson) is pleased to be back at Embassy Theatre in this production of “Guys and Dolls.” Kevin has performed in Potomac State College productions in several roles including Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”, Javert in “Les Misérables”, Mr. Banks in “Mary Poppins”, Candyman in “Willy Wonka” and Will in “Oklahoma.” He has worked with Apple Alley Players in the roles of the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz”, Caiaphas in “Jesus Christ Superstar”, and Reuben in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. Kevin also played the role of Jonathan Brewster in Embassy Theatre’s “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Kevin has been a vocalist with several music groups and ministries over the last thirty years and has performed across the east coast. Professionally, he holds a bachelor’s degree in petro-chemical engineering and an MBA. He is employed as a program manager at Orbital ATK.
Kirk Squires (Crapshooter): This is Kirk's fifth show and first at the Embassy! His favorite roles to play were Lazar Wolfe in "Fiddler on The Roof" and Tom in "A Murder Mystery at the Murder Mystery.”
Adam T. Swayne (Arvide Abernathy) is a musician with a wealth of experience in his repertoire, has performed at Embassy Theatre as Bellamy in "The Fantastiks," as General Kelly in "Purloined Generals" and as The Captain in "Anything Goes." He also starred as Conrad Birdie in "The Addams and Strauss Review." In addition to his stage experience, while Adam lived in Baltimore, he was the lead singer and lead guitar in three different bands - Orion, Hat Trick and Dystence in the years spanning from 1975-1993. Adam has been associated with Embassy Theatre since 2011, and has performed at numerous open mics from 2013 to the present. His specialties are rhythm and blues, classic rock and contemporary pop...with an aficionado for all things Beatles. Adam's claim to fame is that he is expert in music trivia since the beginning of music. Having performed in various charity fundraisers for AIDS (2014) and the Kidney Foundation (2015 and 2017), Adam now continues to enjoy sharing his love of music throughout the area. This summer season, Adam hosts some of Embassy's Open Mics on Sunday evenings.
Brian Tucker (Director/Rusty Charlie) is happy, humbled and honored to be on the staff as Director at the Embassy for this production, as well as playing Rusty Charlie. Past major roles include Harold Hill - "Music Man", Bill Sykes - "Oliver!" for Apple Alley Players, Colonel Pickering - "My Fair Lady" at Potomac State College, Ensemble -"Les Miserables" at PSC and Will - "McNeill's Rangers" at PSC. He has been on the stage at the Embassy as Uncle Billy - “It’s A Wonderful Life”, Mr, Macy - “Miracle on 34th Street” and Comet –“The Eight Monologues”. Past Stage Manager duties include "Jesus Christ Superstar," "James and The Giant Peach" and "Godspell Jr" for AAP, as well as "High School Musical Jr," "Honk Jr" and "Little Mermaid Jr" for Keyser Middle School. He is the general dales manager at Timbrook Ford in Keyser. Lisa Valens (Sarah Brown) is very excited to be returning to the Embassy stage in one of her favorites - "Guys & Dolls" - as the caring and strong-willed Sarah Brown! Lisa was last seen here in "Barefoot on the Park" and "The Last of the Red Hot Lovers." Other credits include Nancy in "Oliver" and Hodel in "Fiddler on the Roof" at Potomac State College and Mimi in "Rent" at The Maryland Theater.
Danise Whitlock (Costumer/Mission Band Member) is an 11 year veteran of musical theatre. She has been involved with PSC Theatre, Front and Centre Stage, Apple Alley Players, Tom Valentine Productions, Caught in the Act, Steppin Out Dance Company and most recently the Embassy Theatre. Danise is also a costumer for PSC, AAP, and the Embassy.
Marene "Rainy" Willison (Agatha) is an account groomer at Little Dog Social Media. She has a love for theater. Played in "Wizard of Oz," "Guys and Dolls," "Once Upon A Mattress" and "Little Abner" at Newport High School in Newport, PA.