Cast and Company Biographies

Nate Merchant -Stage Director --Nate has directed both theater and opera, including Il Barbieri di Siviglia and Don Pasquale with the Bronx Opera, Hamlet, The Importance of Being Earnest, Julius Caesar, and Edmund Ironside for American Globe Theater in New York, Beauty and the Beast, Il Segreto di Susanna, The Face on the Barroom Floor, and Molinos Dear Viento for The coOPERAtive Opera Company in New York and Ondine, Richard III, Falstaff, Brave Hearts, and La Boheme in New Jersey and New York City. He was assistant director for The Yeomen of the Guard and Pirates of Penzance with the Washington Savoyards. Nate has been Producing Director with the American Globe Theater from 1998-2001.

Keith Johnston -Music Director -- Keith is the General Manager of both the Stamford Symphony and the Greenwich Choral Society, holds a Masters of Music in conducting, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in trombone performance with a minor in conducting, from Carnegie Mellon University. His professional experience includes: music director of the Onondaga, (New York) Civic Orchestra, and of the Auburn (New York) Chamber Orchestra and music director of the Allegheny (Pennsylvania) Brass Band, where he led them on international tours to Bermuda and the People’s Republic of China. From 1993-1998, he was music director of  the Pittsburgh Savoyards, where he conducted almost 100 performances, including  The Mikado, Patience, H.M.S. Pinafore, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Ruddigore, The Telephone, Iolanthe and Gianni Schicchi.

Christopher J Hisey,  -Assistant Conductor - An internationally recognized conductor, Christopher Hisey has conducted throughout the United States and in Eastern Europe. He made his international debut with the Ruse Philharmonic Orchestra in Ruse, Bulgaria in January of 2001. Since then he returned to Bulgaria to conduct the Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra in January of 2002 and was immediately rebooked for March of 2002 and invited to conduct on an American Music Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria in November of 2003. Future engagements include concerts in Bulgaria and St. Petersburg Russia, and a recording of American music with the Pleven Philharmonic.

Mr. Hisey has served as Music Director of the Perrysburg Symphony Chorale, Associate Conductor of the Bowling Green Philharmonia and Opera Theatre Orchestra. He has appeared as guest conductor with the Ohio District II Music Festival, the Lexington String Festival, and the Fairfield County Chorale Summer Sing Program. Mr. Hisey is currently Professor of Conducting and Music Director of the orchestra at Fairfield University. He is also a conductor with the Bridgeport Youth Symphony, and on the string faculties of Greens Farms Academy and the Westport School of Music. Troupers is very grateful to Mr. Hisey for agreeing to step in to help us with a severe scheduling conflict

 

Principals

Amy Beebe (Josephine) is pleased to return to Troupers Light Opera Company after performing the role of Mabel in last year’s production of "Pirates of Penzance". Later this spring, she will be performing with the Crystal Opera in Norwalk, where she bowed as Norina ("Don Pasquale") in 2000.  
Last summer, Amy appeared with the Caramoor Young Artists, directed by Will Crutchfield, as well as participating in the Bel Canto Institute which was founded by Metropolitan Opera prompter and Assistant Conductor, Jane Bakken
Klaviter. Amy was delighted to be a finalist in the 2001 Classical Productions competition concert at Weill Recital Hall last November, and in the NYSTA Vocal Gymnastics Competition in 2000.   
Amy supports her ‘singing habit’ by working as office manager at RHS&A, a
management consulting firm in Stamford. She holds a Master of Music Performance from West Texas A&M University.

Monica Candullo (Cousin Hebe) Monica is delighted to be working with Troupers Light Opera.  This will be her debut performance.  She holds a Spanish and Music degree from SUNY Cortland and is currently working on her Masters in Secondary Spanish at IONA College.  When Monica is not teaching, tutoring, going to class you can find her with her family, friends, singing and dancing,  She dedicates her performances to her wonderful supportive family and in the fond memory of her cousin Jack Artuso and Noni.  Never give up on your dreams.  

Lia Gianitsos – (Angelina) This is Lia’s first seaon witg Troupers, and her first Gilbert and Sullivan role. Lia comes to Troupers after having performed in studied both in the US and Europe. She hold a BFA in Vocal Studies from SUNY/Purchase, where she was the 1986 vocal competition winner. Lia’s singing allowed her to travel to Germany, where whe worked and coached in the Stuttgart Staatsoper. Among  her roles are Pamina, Adina and Gilda. Currently, Lia is singing, teaching and coaching in New Haven, where she resides with her two cats Littles and Gizmo, both of whom have a strong liking form Gilbert and Sullivan:  “It was the Cat!”

David Root (Ralph Rackstraw/ Edwin) holds degrees from Kent State University and the Cleveland Institute of Music. These performances of Trial by Jury and HMS Pinafore mark his debut with the Troupers Light Opera Company. Some of the opera companies he has performed with recently include Lyric Opera Cleveland, Cleveland Concert Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Opera Domani, The Vertical Repertory Theater and Bronx Opera. His operatic repertoire includes Tom Rakewell (The Rakes Progress), Ferrando (Cosi fan tutte), Male Chorus (The Rape of Lucretia), Ernesto (Don Pasquale), Tebaldo (I Capuleti e I Montecchi) and, naturally, many of the wonderful Gilbert and Sullivan tenor roles. Mr. Root may be also be heard in recording as the angel Gabriel in the world premier recording of Randall Thompson’s The Nativity According to St. Luke available from Koch International Classics (with members of the Cleveland Orchestra).

David Shimchick - (Boatswain, Foreman) is a lifelong resident of Milford, though he recently moved to Norwalk. Audiences have just seen David as Bellomy in Milford's Eastbound Theater production of The Fantasticks. Other local appearances include the cabarets  A Kick Out of Cole and Gershwin, by George, produced by Leo Mayer, and  Get Happy!, conceived and directed by Kevin Connors. Additional appearances in school and community theater include David in the Thomaston Opera House production of Seesaw, and lead roles inn George M!, Oklahoma, The Boy Friend, Anything Goes, and Damn Yankees. David holds a BA in Theatre Studies from  Georgetown University where he played Claude in Hair, and wrote/performed and original musical entitled Transcending Zones. In addition to his undergraduate degree, David hold s as Masters degree in Elementary Education from Southern Connecticut State University. David is currently teaching fourth grade at John F. Kennedy School in Milford, and working towards a Sixth Year degree in Educational Leadership.

Linda Palmer --  Linda has performed many leading roles over the years for Troupers Light Opera, some of which include Elsie Maynard in “Yeomen of the Guard”, Mabel in “Pirates of Penzance”, Angelina in “Trial By Jury”, and Dame Hannah in “Ruddigore”.  Linda has also performed the role of Laeticia in Gian Carlo Menotti's "Old Maid and the Thief", Georgette in Giacomo Puccini's "Il Tabarro" and Donna Elvira in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Don Giovanni" for Crystal Opera.  Linda continues to be a member of the Connecticut Grand Opera Resident Chorus.  She lives very happily in Norwalk with her cat Beau Beau.

David Schancupp (Learned Judge) made his debut with Troupers in 1982 as Wilfred Shadbolt ("Yeomen of the Guard"), and since then has appeared with us in virtually all the leading G&S bass-baritone roles: John Wellington Wells ("Sorcerer"), Sir Despard and Sir Roderic ("Ruddigore"), Plaza-Toro and Don Alhambra ("Gondoliers"), the Mikado, Dick Deadeye ("Pinafore"), the Judge ("Trial by Jury"), the Lord Chancellor and Private Willis ("Io­lanthe"), and Sergeant Meryll ("Yeomen"), a role which he also performed with the Connecticut Gilbert & Sullivan Society (Middletown), and was our Major General Stanley in last year’s “Pirates of Penzance”.  David has also appeared with the Simsbury Light Opera Company as Pooh-Bah ("Mikado") and the French Ambassador in Gershwin's "Of Thee I Sing", and will be seen next month as Private Willis in SLOCO’s “Iolanthe” (opening April 6).  With the Greater New Britain Opera Company he has appeared as the Sacristan ("Tosca") and Benoit and Alcindoro ("La Boheme").

His musical comedy credits include Ali Hakim in "Oklahoma", Miles Gloriosus in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", the Wazir in "Kismet", J.B. Biggley in "How to Succeed...", the Governor in "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and Tiger Brown in "Threepenny Opera" with Nutmeg Players (Clinton),  Mr. Bumble ("Oliver!”), Hucklebee ("Fantasticks") and Hines ("Pajama Game") with Something Players (New Haven), and the Mysterious Man ("Into the Woods"), Ali Hakim, and his favorite role, Tevye ("Fiddler on the Roof") with the Orange Players.  He recently concluded a run as Hucklebee with the Eastbound Players in Milford. His non-musical appearances include Harry ("Prisoner of 2nd Avenue"), Tito Merelli ("Lend Me a Tenor") and Teddy ("Arsenic and Old Lace").  David is a past president of Troupers, and is currently serving on the Board of Directors of Orange Players.  In his non-theatrical life, David practices law in New Haven.

Rob Stafford  - (Dick Deadeye, Usher)  Bass-baritone Robert Stafford has been an active opera, concert and recital singer since his graduation from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1992.  He has sung in several opera houses in California, including Opera San José, West Bay Opera, Pacific Repertory Opera, the San Francisco Conservatory Opera Theater and the San Francisco Opera Guild’s Opera-à-la-carte program, in roles including Dandini (La Cenerentola), Escamillo (Carmen), Don Alfonso (Cosi fan tutte), Count Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro), Nick Shadow (The Rake’s Progress), Bottom (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), Polyphemus (Acis and Galatea) and the title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.

 In 1996, after participating in the Baroque Performance Institute at Oberlin (where he was a student of Max van Egmond) and Joshua Rifkin’s Akademie für alte Musik in Brixen, Italy, Robert began performing baroque music frequently. His repertoire includes the bass solos in Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum and The Messiah, Bach’s B-minor Mass and Mattäus- and Johannespassions; and later masterworks, such as Mozart’s Requiem, Haydn’s Creation and Lord Nelson Mass, Fauré’s Requiem and Vaughn Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem. With the American Bach Soloists, he sang an all-Bach program, including Cantata 82, Ich habe genug, for solo bass, and with San Francisco’s Magnificat, an all-Buxtehude Cantata program.

His recent performances have included a concert performance of the role of Augustus in the opera Cleopatra by Johann Mattheson with Jos van Veldhoven’s Utrechts Barok Consort, the Mattäuspassion with Stichting Eigenweis in Edam, The Netherlands, Polyphemus in Handel’s Acis and Galatea  with Musica Angelica in Los Angeles,  Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro with the West Marin Music Festival, and the Bruckner Te Deum in Carnegie Hall with the New York Choral Society.

Sam Steckler - (Sir Joseph's Equerry) is a fifth grade student at Glenville School in Greenwich. He has appeared in 5 productions of the Westport Music Theater of CT, including Oklahoma, Oliver and Fractured Fairy Tales.

Larry Welch – (Carpenter’s Mate) -Larry returns to this seaworthy fray of musical theater after a six year hiatus while performing the most important continuing role of his life as a full time dad. So after singing lullabies and show tunes to his two youngest angels, Avery and Thayer, for the past several years, Larry decided to give his family a break and sing elsewhere. This is Larry's first G&S experience as well as with troupers. His work includes a year's tour with the Renaissance Theater Company( a professional and educationally based children's theatre), regional & dinner theatre, and wedding singer. Some of his roles  were El Gallo in The Fantasticks, Lt. Cable in South Pacific, ,Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees, Riff in West Side Story, Capt. Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, Bill Sykes in Oliver, and Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. Larry dedicates this performance to his children Dan, Rachel, Avery and Thayer.

 Wade Woodward - is delighted to make his troupers light opera as Corcoran in Pinafore and the Counsel in Trial by Jury. He was born in South Dakota and grew up in Arizona where he received his bachelors degree in voice performance from Northern  Arizona University. After completing his masters degree from the Eastman school of music, he moved to the tri-state area to pursue a singing career. Last summer he was a resident cast member of the Ohio light opera, and will be returning for another season in May. Other roles of note with various companies include; Billy Bigelow in Carousel, Curly in Oklahoma,  Marcello in La Boheme and the title role in Gianni Schicchi.

Tom Zimmerman (Sir Joseph Porter, K. C. B.)* has been singing professionally for most of his life. After completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Drama and Voice at the University of Toledo, Tom attended the Carnegie Mellon Institute’s Opera Performance Master’s program.

Tom’s multifaceted singing career included four years with the Metropolitan Opera Chorus, and performances with the Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall and at Philharmonic Hall with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He was founder and director of the “What the Dickens Christmas Carolers,” a dramatic choral ensemble featuring choreographed presentations (staged by Tom).

As for Gilbert & Sullivan’s operettas, Tom appeared as (a gleefully depraved) Wilfred Shadbolt, in Troupers’ stunning production of “Yeoman of the Guard,” as a Mephistophelean Grand Inquisitor in “The Gondoliers” and as the addled Sergeant of Police in “Pirates of Penzance.” Tom characterized a very self aggrandizing Pooh Bah (a corrupt politician) in Light Opera 2Go’s “The Mikado,” and repeats his Grand Inquisitor in their 2002 production of “The Gondoliers.”

Currently, Tom teaches voice lessons privately and special classes for “chorus” singers at St. John’s E.C. in Bridgeport, CT.  Broadway a la Carte, a Westport based group specializing in Broadway tunes now includes Tom in their entourage.  *A.G.M.A. (American Guild of Musical Artists)

Chorus

Bill Abbott - has been a chorister with numerous community groups, including the Fairfield Ambassadors of Song, the Meryfield Chorus in Oxford, England, and the Stanford Savoyards in Palo Alto. He joined Troupers in 1997 and is currently the President. He sang in Pirates  last year, and  he sang Giorgio in Gondoliers and has sung in Iolanthe, The Mikado, Ruddigore, Patience, and The Yeomen of the Guard. He is an associate professor in the history department at Fairfield University.

Dexter Anderson - has performed with Troupers since 1990 . He has performed both as a principal , most recently singing the part of Second Yeoman in The Yeomen Of The Guard , and as a member of the chorus . A versatile performer , Dexter has also appeared in productions with The Crystal Opera in Norwalk The New Canaan Town Players, The Putney Players in Stratford Ct. and The St. Paul's Players in Greenwich

Kathleen Bernadette - This is Kathleen' second year with Troupers, having performed last year in the chorus of Pirates. She returns to HMS Pinafore after a 40-year hiatus as a chorus member in the 8th grade. Having studied civil and canon law, she welcomes Trial By Jury. Retired, she is a Third Order Secular Franciscan and enjoys her grandchildren when not on her world travels. Other performances include The Nutcracker, The Sound of Music, New York Telephone variety shows, karaoke and passenger talent shows on cruise ships. She lives in Darien,

Jim Cooper - Jim appeared in Pirates last year and sung 8 roles in the review Next To Heaven, II for the New Canaan Town Players. He also played the New York World in Gayden Wren's Very Truly Yours Gilbert and Sullivan. He has sung a number of roles with the Westchester G&S Club and Savoynet, is a member of the Fairfield County Chorale, and has sung with the Madison Savoyards and the College Light Opera. He is also the author of the only computer science textbook that introduces each chapter with a quotation from Gilbert and Sullivan. While choir director for the First Parish Church of Tyngsboro, he found a number of opportunities to include G&S choruses in the services. He is the Troupers webmaster.

Wendy Falconer -Wendy is happy to return to Troupers after singing in last year’s production of Pirates.  Her vocal credits also include The Music Man with Saint Catherine’s Players and St. Luke’s Choir in Darien.  An active instrumentalist, Wendy plays bassoon with the Manhattanville College Community Orchestra, The Westport Community Band and Saint Catherine’s Players.  Wendy began her involvement with Troupers as a member of the pit orchestra for Yeomen of the Guard and Patience. 

Diana Gladden - Di Gladden is back with us after 21 years of travel. She has sung, with Troupers, in every G.& S. operetta but the Grand Duke, paying yearly dues since, in hopes of returning. During her active years she was on the board; assistant (and married) to our then photographer; on the set crew; and Technical Director for Utopia Limited in ‘74. Her musical credentials include a Masters Degree (Yale School of Music), seven summers at the Fontainebleau Conservatory (France), and a Fulbright Scholarship to study Karnatic Music (South India). She sings with the Darien Messiah Foundation, Branford Chorale, Branford Messiah, and has played French horn with both the Darien Community Band (back when) and the Branford Town Band prior to and since then. She also studied Modern Dance for many years, but has been sidelined by Post Polio Syndrome. "It is absolutely fantastic to be singing G.&S. again!"

John Hoover - John has performed as a Troupers chorister in Sorceror, Pirates, HMS Pinafore, Trial by Jury, Ruddigore, Yeomen, Gondoliers, and The Mikado, and as the solicitor in Patience. He has also performed recently with The Earth-Stage Actors in their productions of The Coat of Many Colors at Hart House Theatre in Toronto, and The Office at The Producer's Workshop in New York City. He is an English teacher at Fairfield Country Day School in Fairfield.

Maureen A. O’Connell is pleased to be making her debut with the Troupers Light Opera Company. An avid fan of the arts, Maureen is an alto in the choir for H.M.S. Pinnafore. She has been taking private voice lessons with Tom Zimmerman, a veteran of Troupers Light Opera who also sang at the Metropolitan Opera. Maureen works as an account supervisor at Jacobs & Prosek Public Relations, with offices in Stratford and Stamford, and New York City. She also writes restaurant reviews for The Hartford Courant. A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, Maureen currently resides in Orange.   

Anne-Marie Stack - sang Kate in Yeomen "many years ago." She studied at the London Academy of Music and Drama and snag for many years with the Thornton G&S Players in Buckingham, England. In more recent times, she has been with the St. Patrick's Cathedral Choir in NYC and has enjoyed small parts with the Rye Arts Center in Singing in the Rain, Oliver, and, more recently, The Music Man. She also sings with the 92nd St Y Broadway Chorus.

Guy Stretton - Guy, the Troupers Treasurer, has been a chorus member since 1987. In private life, he is a financial consultant CPA. He lives in Old Greenwich with his wife Barbara (editor of the Troupers newsletter, The Trumpet) and five cats.   

Bernie Warmflash - This will be Bernard Warmflash's 13th consecutive season as an ensemble performer with Troupers LOC. He has previously appeared in YEOMAN OF THE GUARD, IOLANTHE, TRIAL BY JURY, THE GONDOLIERS, HMS PINAFORE, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, RUDDIGORE, THE MIKADO, and PATIENCE. Bernie's first performance in G&S was at the age of ten in a summer camp production of HMS PINAFORE . He is a graduate of CCNY and NYU College of Dentistry. He practices general dentistry in Stamford, CT. and practices singing with the Troupers.