Actors Co-op Theatre Co. Presents VIOLET


You are invited to review Actors Co-op Theatre Company’s (Ovation Award-Winner 2017 Best Play, Intimate Theatre for 33 Variations) production of the Tony nominated musical VIOLET, with music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Brian Crawley, based on the short story "The Ugliest Pilgrim" by Doris Betts, directed by Richard Israel, produced by Thomas Chavira.  Violet opens Friday, May 11 at 8:00 pm, and will run through Sunday, June 17 at the Actors Co-op Crossley Theatre, 1760 N. Gower Street, 90028 (on the campus of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood) in Hollywood.

Beginning in 1964 North Carolina, Violet rides a bus through the segregated South, to a TV evangelist in Oklahoma. She is convinced he can heal her scar, which was the result of a traumatic childhood accident. Along the way, Violet meets two young soldiers who teach her about love, courage and the true meaning of beauty.  Violet has more than wowed critics and audiences alike with its powerful story and powerhouse score by Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home and Caroline, or Change).

The 1997 Off-Broadway Production

In his review in The New York Times, of the Off-Broadway 1997 production, Ben Brantley said of the score, “… Ms. Tesori has a fine hand for harmonies and counterpoint…” The 1997 Off-Broadway production garnered the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical, the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical, and an Obie Award (Special Citation - Music) for Jeanine Tesori.  In addition, Violet was nominated for seven Drama Desk Awards and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical.

The 2014 Broadway Production

The 2014 Broadway version opened to unanimously excellent reviews. Charles Isherwood described it as "an enduringly rewarding musical. With its tangy flavors of country, gospel, blues and honky-tonk rock, it is also her warmest, most accessible score . . .” The 2014 Broadway production was nominated for four Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical, three Drama Desk nominations including Best Revival of a Musical, and three Outer Critics Award nominations including Outstanding Revival of a Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway).

About the Creative Team

Brian Crawley (Book and Lyrics) playwright and screenwriter. Wrote the book and lyrics for A Little Princess (composer Andrew Lippa) which debuted at Theatreworks of Palo Alto in 2004. He also wrote the book and lyrics for Violet (composer Jeanine Tesori) which was mounted Off-Broadway by Playwrights Horizons in 1997, then remounted in a concert version in 2003 to help inaugurate their new theater. Other musicals include Evangeline with Ted Dykstra, and Down There with composer Lewis Flinn. He appears in the documentary One Night Stand, in which he writes a short musical in 24 hours with composer Gabriel Kahane. For the libretto of Violet, Brian won the Kleban Award. Prior to the Playwrights Horizons production, and on its behalf, Violet was given the Richard Rodgers Musical Production Award and an AT&T OnStage Award. Afterwards, besides a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical, Violet received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical over all the year's Broadway offerings (as did Paula Vogel's play How I Learned To Drive; the first time two off-Broadway pieces took these top awards in the Drama Critic Circle's history). Brian's plays have been developed or staged at Lincoln Center, New York Theater Workshop, the National Alliance of Musical Theatre, and the Eugene O'Neill summer theater conference. He majored in Theater Studies at Yale and has an MFA in Acting from the ACT in San Francisco. Brian is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

Jeanine Tesori (Music) Tony Award for Best Original Score with Lisa Kron for the musical Fun Home. She has also written Tony-nominated scores for Twelfth Night at Lincoln Center; Thoroughly Modern Millie (lyrics, Dick Scanlan); Caroline, or Change (lyrics, Tony Kushner); and Shrek The Musical (lyrics, David Lindsay-Abaire). The production of Caroline or Change at the National Theatre in London received the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. Her 1997 Off-B’way musical Violet (lyrics, Brian Crawley) opened on B’way in 2014 and garnered four Tony nominations, including Best Musical Revival. Opera: A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck (libretto, Tony Kushner; Glimmerglass) and The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me (libretto, J. D. McClatchy, Kennedy Center). Music for plays: Mother Courage (dir. George C. Wolfe, with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline), John Guare's A Free Man of Color (Lincoln Center Theater, dir. George C. Wolfe), and Romeo and Juliet (Delacorte Gala). Film scores: “Nights in Rodanthe,” “Every Day,” and “You're Not You.”  Tesori is a member of the Dramatists Guild and was cited by ASCAP as the first female composer to have two new musicals running concurrently on B’way. She is the founding artistic director of Encores! Off-Center at New York City Center, and is a lecturer in music at Yale University.  A world premiere opening to note is May 16, 2018: “The biggest opening in L.A. this spring is a work by two veterans that defies categorization—playwright David Henry Hwang and composer Jeanine Tesori's Soft Power, which blazes its own trail between musical and dramatic genres.” opens at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. 

About Actors Co-op Production, Cast and Design Team

Richard Israel (Director) is returns to Actors Co-op where he directed Our Town, The Baker's Wife and 110 In The Shade (LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award Winner for Outstanding Musical in an Intimate Venue), among others.  Most recently, Richard was the Theatrical Coordinator for the multiple Emmy-award winning HBO series Big Little Lies, directing all of the Avenue Q sequences in the series.  Regional theatre credits include West Side Story, Rent and Floyd Collins (LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards for Direction and Outstanding Musical in a Large Venue) for McCoy-Rigby Ent.; Kiss Me Kate and Once Upon A Mattress for Cabrillo Music Theatre; the multiple Ovation award-nominated Having It All for the Laguna Playhouse; and Meet Me In St. Louis for MTW.  Intimate theatre productions include Bronies The Musical, The Burnt Part Boys, The Full Monty, Avenue Q, Gypsy, Assassins, Big The Musical and the world premiere of Anita Bryant Died For Your Sins. As a resident director for the Musical Theatre Guild, he has directed Women On The Verge, Do I Hear A Waltz, Road Show, High Fidelity and many others.  Richard is currently working on the original Jeff Marx/Fat Mike musical Home Street Home, and is preparing to direct the west coast premiere of Victor/Victoria for Reprise 2.0. He is recipient of the LA Drama Critics Circle Award for Career Achievement in Directing, and is a proud member of SDC.

Thomas Chavira (Producer) earned his BFA from Abilene Christian University
and MFA from the University of Southern California. Film credits include: Beneath Us (Due for release in 2018). TV: Shameless. At the Co-op as producer: 33 Variations (L.A. Ovation Award Winner for Best Play - Intimate Theatre), Around the World In 80 Days, Dancing at Lughnasa.

Taylor Stephenson (Musical Director) is a music director, composer, actor, & teacher based in Long Beach. He graduated from UCI with a degree in drama where he studied voice & conducting from his mentor, Dr. Gary Busby. He is back at Actors Co-op after musically directing last season’s Lucky Stiff. Past productions include: Next To Normal, Dogfight, Bonnie And Clyde, She Loves Me, among others. In 2013, he won the L.A. Ovation Award for Best Musical Direction for his work on Triassic Parq.  He is a founding member of the acapella group Nothing Diminished.

About the Cast

CLAIRE ADAMS* (Violet) is a proud member of Actors Co-op and a graduate of USC (Fight On!).  Selected theatre credits: Actor Four, Incognito; Cathy, The Last Five Years; Annabel Glick, Lucky Stiff; Penny Pingleton, Hairspray; Squeaky Fromme, Assassins; Philia, Funny Thing… Selected film credits:  The Remarkable Life of John WeldSkinny Fat Girl, Slice, The Musical.  Catch her in Fun Home this fall at San Diego Repertory. AEA.

JOHN ALLSOPP* (Father) is thrilled to return to the Co-op stage in one of his favorite shows. Humbled to get to work once again with such amazing artists, John has enjoyed the gift of performing in many Co-op shows including: She Loves Me, Terra Nova, The Foreigner, Little Shop of Horrors, All My Sons, The Habitation of Dragons, and A Hatful of Rain. John is a member of SAG/AFTRA and AEA and has appeared in numerous television shows, commercials, and films.

JAHMAUL BAKARE (Flick) Previous roles: Festival of the Lion King (Scar), Bumpersticker The Musical (Andy), When Stars Align (Rufus), Part of the Plan (Max/Jackson/Minister), Into the Woods (Wolf/Prince Charming), Candide (Candide), The Tender Land (Martin), Porgy and Bess (Sportin’ Life), Patient Zero (Chaplain), Les Misérables (Enjolras), Madama Butterfly (B.F. Pinkerton), Rigoletto (Duca), La Boheme (Rodolfo), La Cantarina (Don Pellagio), La Traviata (Alfredo), Night of January the 16th (Prosecutor), Secret Garden (Fakir), Violet (Flick), In the Heights (Benny), The Little Mermaid (Sebastian), The Eastside Heartbeats (Eddie /Larry).

 LORI BERG (Old Lady/Hotel Hooker/Gospel Choir) with Actors Co-op for two decades. Roles include: Dolly The Matchmaker; Philamente Learned Ladies; Lady Catherine Pride and Prejudice; Ann 1940's Radio Hour; and  Truvy Steel Magnolias. Last summer Lori sang in Co-op, Too! in Ruthie and Me. She has been a part of the creative team for many shows. Lori is active as a teacher of young artists as well. She has authored a book about her nonprofit work, for which she has been awarded the highest honor by the L.A. County Commission on Women.

BENAI BOYD* (Lulu Buffington/Almeta (Landlady)/ Bus Passenger) has been seen in   Disney’s Frozen Live at the Hyperion, the first live adaptation of Disney’s animated film Frozen and has had a  recurring role as Gary Coleman in the Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning HBO hit Big Little Lies. West Coast Premiere of Henri in The View Upstairs; Linda in The Freedom Machine under the direction of Larry Carpenter; Mabel/Lounge Singer in the West Coast Premiere of Violet; Gary Coleman in The LA Times Critics Choice & Ovation Nominated (2013) Avenue Q. To God be the Glory ALWAYS!!!!

PATRICK CHEEK (Virgil/Leroy Evans/Bus Passenger) is a Georgia native and attended the University of Georgia where he earned his BA in Theatre. Credits: Young FrankensteinThe Music Man (Palos Verdes Performing Arts), The Scarlet Pimpernel (Contempo Productions), Avenue Q, Les Miserables, Into the Woods, and A Christmas Story (Theatre Macon). Love to family and my dog, Ernie! He’s the Wynonna to my Naomi. @patrickwcheek

MATTHEW PODEYN (Billy Dean/Waiter/Gospel Choir/Radio Singer/Bus Passenger) got his BFA in Musical Theatre from AMDA. AMDA credits: Beauty and the Beast, Kiss Me Kate.

EMUNA RAJKUMAR (Bus Passenger/Gospel Choir) was born and raised on the East Coast and moved to California to continue her education. She is grateful to be a part of the cast, helping to tell the story of Violet.  Emuna hopes to continue making strides in her professional career, training, and education.

KEVIN SHEWEY* (Preacher/Bus Driver/Gospel Choir) recently seen on the Actors Co-op stage as Hannay in The 39 Steps  and  as understudy for King Henry in A Man for All Seasons. NYC credits include New York Classical Theatre Company’s Off-Broadway production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Theatreworks USA tour of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Regional credtis: Henry V and Our Town (Chautauqua Theatre Company), The Odd Couple and Present Laughter (Summer Repertory Theater), Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol (Sierra Repertory Theatre).  Kevin has an MFA from UC Irvine and a BA from Azusa Pacific University.

LAUREN THOMPSON (Music Hall Singer/Gospel Choir/Bus Passenger) is a graduate of  Azusa Pacific University and a proud member of Actors Co-op! Co-op stage credits include The 39 Steps, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Cat's Paw. Lauren originated the role of Angela Davis in the two-women play Empty Glasses, directed by Andi Chapman and can be seen playing soccer moms, cops, quirky girlfriends, and villains in various TV/film projects, commercials, and sketches. You can also see her opposite Denzel Washington Roman J. Israel, Esq. directed by Dan Gilroy, or performing as a lead singer with Collective Music.

 MORGAN WEST* (Monty), best known for the recurring role as Colt Bailey on Disney Channel’s Stuck in the Middle, makes his Actors Co-op debut with Violet. TV: Comedy Bang! Bang! (IFC) Camp Abercorn (pilot) Film: Age of Tomorrow (SyFy) Airplane vs. Volcano (SyFy) Constant, The Massacre at Black Divide. Off-B’way: Brother Can You Spare a Dime? Regional/Touring: Avenue Q, 9-BallBus StopThe Drowsy ChaperoneThoroughly Modern Millie. SAG-AFTRA/AEAOriginally from Cleveland, Ohio, Morgan holds a BFA in Acting from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. More at

LILY ZAGER (Young Vi) Lily recently portrayed Belle in Beauty & the Beast at Millikan Middle School. Lily can also be heard voicing the character of Peppermint Patty in Peanuts, currently on Cartoon Network and Boomerang. Lily loves her weekly volunteer work with children at The Miracle Project.

Recent Awards and Nominations for Actors Co-op Theatre Company

Actors Co-op recently received Four 2017 Ovation Awards for their Critics Pick production of 33 Variations: Best Production of a Play, Intimate Theatre, Best Lighting, Intimate Theatre – Andrew Schmedake, Best Scenic Design, Intimate Theatre - Nicholas Acciani, and Best Direction of a Play – Thomas James O’Leary; Two Robby Awards for 33 Variations, the Nan Martin Award Best Production and the Sally Kemp Award Best Actress Drama - Nan McNamara.  In addition, the Actors Co-op Theatre Company has garnered Five 2017 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle nominations, for 33 Variations.

About the Production and Design Team

The Production and Design Team includes Julie Hall (Choreographer), Nicholas Acciani (Scenic Design), Martha Carter (Lighting Design), Cameron Combe (Sound Design), Samantha Ramirez (Property Design), Klint Flowers (Hair/Makeup Design), Wendell C. Carmichael (Costume Design), Derek R. Copenhaver (Stage Manager), Jaime Mills (Assistant Stage Manager) and Selah Victor (Production Manager).

About Show Times and Tickets:  VIOLET  May 11 – June 17. Fridays/Saturdays 8 pm, Sunday matinees 2:30 pm.  Additional Saturday matinees May 19 and May 26 at 2:30 pm. Tickets prices: Adults $34.00. Seniors (60+): $30.00.  Students with ID: $25.00. Student Rush Tickets with ID one ticket per customer: $17 Cash Only, available at the Box Office window for select Friday performances 45 minutes prior to curtain. To buy tickets or make reservations please visit or call (323) 462-8460.   For more about Student Rush Tickets or Group Rates call (323) 462-8460. Actors Co-op Crossley Theater, 1760 N. Gower St.  90028 (on the campus of First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood) 90028.

#     #     #

For press information, to set up an interview, complimentary show tickets, or production photos please contact Nora Feldman, or 818.760.1240.


Claire Adams