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Show Information

By Tammy Ryan

TAR BEACH received its
World Premiere at Luna Stage
West Orange, N.J.
Cheryl Katz, Artistic Director

The show will run for approximately two hours.

There will be one 15-minute intermission.

The video and/or audio recording of this performance by any means whatsoever
are strictly prohibited.

Content Warning: This show addresses challenging subjects including verbal and emotional abuse, rape, and suicide. Please note that there will be brief moments of smoking non-tobacco herbal cigarettes during this performance.

Produced by special arrangement with
Gurman Agency LLC.

From the President
Rick Trietley headshot

Dear Arts Patrons,

Welcome to this 2023–24 performing arts season production. The quality programming you are about to enjoy, and in which the university community takes so much pride, would be impossible without our friends, benefactors, and audience members. We are very pleased to have you join us.

This season is an expanded and eclectic mix of music, drama, music theatre, and stand-up comedy performed by outstanding artists ranging from nationally known acts to Viterbo students. The carefully crafted schedule reflects our dedication to upholding the legacy of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and their goal of sharing the wonder of the arts with everyone in the region.

To all Viterbo arts patrons, benefactors, sponsors, volunteers, artists, and students, thank you very much for your continued support.

Enjoy the show!

“Pace e Bene”
Peace and all good
Rick Trietley signature
Rick Trietley
Viterbo University President

Conservatory Note
Rick Walters headshot

Welcome to the Viterbo University Conservatory for the Performing Arts. We’re so glad you’ve joined in this shared experience of live theatre and music. There’s nothing else quite like it.

This season promises a tapestry of emotions, stories, and melodies, from the enchanting glamour of 42nd Street to the quirky brilliance of Bat Boy: The Musical, and the soul-stirring magic of Godspell.

We’re pleased to bring you new works from some of the most current voices in American theatre. In She Kills Monsters, Obie-award-winner Qui Nguyen offers up a genre-bending “Dungeons and Dragons” romp that can make you laugh even when you’re not supposed to. Tar Beach by Tammy Ryan drops us into 1977 on a New York City rooftop where an overstressed electrical grid leads to a city-wide blackout and the loss of innocence.

Feel the warmth of the holidays with the music of A Viterbo Christmas: The Holly and The Ivy, blending timeless carols and modern classics to launch the season. And in February, mark your calendars for the jazz-inspired romantic short opera, Later That Same Evening.

Thank you for joining us on this artistic journey as we explore new worlds, challenge perspectives, and create memories that last long after the final curtain.

Rick Walters signature
Rick Walters
Executive Artistic Director
Conservatory for the Performing Arts

Director's Note
Brittany Bara headshot

When I was first telling friends and family that I was directing a new play called Tar Beach, my mother-in-law reflected on how she remembered her mother (who was born and raised in Queens) talking about “going to Tar Beach” when she was a kid. Memories of my time living in Queens came flooding back as well.

Memories. Moments captured in time. In the stage directions for the Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams writes, “memory…is therefore nonrealistic. Memory takes a lot of poetic license. It omits some details, others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart.”

We get to explore this moment in time from Reenie’s perspective, her memory. It could be a coming-of-age story, and also a loss of innocence story, or a story about a family enduring hardship…or maybe it’s just the summer of 1977. Whatever this story is, with pieces omitted, exaggerated, and everything in between, it lives in Reenie. These moments are hers.

I’ve been watching a lot of Disney’s Inside Out with my toddler as of late, and in that movie, we see the formation of many of the main character’s “core memories” (the memories that give them their personality). I like to think that the moments and memories contained in Tar Beach are some of Reenie’s core memories. As we watch this 14-year-old child navigate and learn about the world around her, we know that these moments will inevitably stay with her and shape her into the woman she will become.

As you watch this story unfold, what memories are seated upon your heart? How are you transported back in time? And as you look back and listen to the moments in your life, what are some of the core memories that have shaped you?

I’ll leave you with the words of the playwright, Tammy Ryan, “While there is darkness in this story, there is love and humor woven throughout. Fight the darkness.” May we all fight the darkness of our memories.

Brittany Bara


Scenes take place in the Ozone Park, Queens home of Reenie’s memory: on the roof, the second floor hallway, in the girls' bedroom, around the dining room table, and on the beach.

July 12-14, 1977
(and now)


Roger: Zach Sullivan

Brigit: Ruby Brisco

Reenie: Ellie Parish

Mary Claire: Laurelle Bandy

Mary Frances: Savannah DeShazo

Reenie/Mary Claire Understudy: Helen Riddle

Brigit/Mary Frances Understudy: Lauren Canfield

Production Team

Director: Brittany Bara

Fight Choreographer: Mike Speck

Production Stage Manager: Claire Capra

Costume Designer: Lindsey Meath

Scenic Designer: Kit Mayer

Lighting Designer: Chad Kolbe

Sound Designer: Benjamin Gonzales

Properties Designer: Kelsey Taunt

Hair and Makeup Designer: Lindsey Meath

Production Manager: Jason Underferth

Technical Director: Chad Kolbe

Intimacy Director: Mary Trotter

Assistant Director: Spencer Curtis

Assistant Stage Manager: Cortney Piepenburg

Fight Captain: Lauren Canfield

Lead Electrician: Jason Underferth

Assistant Technical Director: Madi Bollinger

Costume Shop Supervisor: Alex Bell

Prop Shop Supervisor: Kelsey Taunt

Dialect Coach: Brittany Bara

Production Crew

Light Board Operator: Lou Xiong

Sound Board Operator: Gabe Karr

Costume Run Crew: Alanna Sawall, August Knaus

Scenic Run Crew: Angel Hernandez

Props Run Crew: Ella Baumgartner 

Lighting/Electricians: Ashlyn Cox, Colin Cada, Connor Martin

Costume Build Crew: Malia Meyer, Elisabeth Meyer, Annie Voss, Xavier Carnicom, Kayla Taylor, Abby Schrunk 

Scenic Build Crew: Sophie LaFave, Clay Corley, Adrienne Moder, Sony Vassor, Trey'lon Salley

Prop Build Crew: Megan Wheelock, Adeline Cramer, Sydney Ellis, Braeden Jackson, Robby Alston 



Laurelle Bandy headshot

Laurelle Bandy
is a sophomore music theatre major with minors in music and dance. She is from Bradenton, Fla. and came to Viterbo last spring. She is super grateful for the opportunity to perform and would like to thank her friends, family, cast, and roommate Claire for all of their support. Go V-Hawks! @laurelle.bee


Ruby Brisco headshot

Ruby Brisco
is a senior music theatre major with a minor in dance from Maple Grove, Minn. She has been seen around campus. In her free time, she is the department's chair of Cool and Fun and is the president of the Haiku Club. She wants to thank her parents for all of their love and support!


Lauren Canfield headshot

Lauren Canfield
is a senior music theatre major from Round Rock, Texas. At Viterbo, she has been Mariana in Measure for Measure, and an understudy in the production of Everybody (death/love/girl). She is very excited to see what the future holds after Viterbo and would like to thank her family and close friends for all of their support and love throughout the years! @laurren_elizabethh


Savannah DeShazo headshot

Savannah DeShazo
is a junior music theatre major with an arts administration minor. Her previous Viterbo credits include, Cop/Ensemble in Footloose, and Mary Frances in Tar Beach. She would like to thank her friends and family for their support. @deshazo4


Ellie Parish headshot

Ellie Parish
is a sophomore music theatre major. You may have seen her as ensemble in Viterbo Student Theatre Project's production of Heathers: The Musical last year. She is thrilled to be playing Reenie in Tar Beach. She hopes you enjoy the show! @elliecparish


Helen Riddle headshot

Helen Riddle
is a sophomore music theatre major from Minneapolis. She can be found performing in local Emerging Professionals Ensemble productions. She would like to thank her family and peers for endless support. @helen.riddle7


Zach Sullivan headshot

Zach Sullivan
is a junior music theatre major with a minor in dance. His previous Viterbo credits include CARRIE: The Musical, Footloose, Significant Other, The Hello Girls, Dance Kaleidoscope, and Tar Beach. He would like to thank his friends, family, and Jenny for their unconditional support. @zachthsullivan

Production Team


Brittany Bara headshot

Brittany Bara
is in her second year as assistant professor of theatre and music theatre at Viterbo. Recent Viterbo credits: The Hello Girls (director). As an actor and director, she has worked extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe. As a Designated Linklater Teacher, Bara is interested in helping people find their authentic voice for use on stage, in business, and in everyday life. Throughout all areas, she focuses her work on cultivating empathy and believes strongly in radical kindness and approaching life with a generosity of spirit. As a performer, favorite roles include Reno in Anything Goes, Woman 2 in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, Mme. Thenardier in Les Miserables, and Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Bara holds a BFA in musical theatre from Emerson College in Boston and an MFA in performance pedagogy from the University of Pittsburgh. Thanks and love to Dan, for everything. For more information, visit www.brittanybara.com


Mike Speck headshot

Mike Speck
is an adjunct instructor at Viterbo, teaching stage combat styles. He is certified teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors and spends his days as the operations director of the Chatfield Center for the Arts (in Chatfield, Minn.). Fight choreography favorites include a 6'1" Tybalt vs a 4'10" Mercutio; a case of rapiers duel where phrase IV's choreography was "phrase II, but backwards;" a six-man smallsword fight structured as a Baroque theme-and-variations; and a stage-clearing bar brawl that doubled as a set change.


Claire Capra headshot

Claire Capra
is a sophomore music theatre major from the suburbs of Chicago. She is excited to be a part of this Conservatory production. Previously at Viterbo, she performed in 42nd Street, Pirates of Penzance and Diamond Edition show choir. She would like to thank her friends and family for their neverending support, as well as her peers, professors, and the production team for making this opportunity possible. @claire_caps


Lindsey Meath headshot

Lindsey Meath
is a senior music theatre major from Dallas who has most recently been seen in Viterbo's productions of The Hello Girls, Footloose, The Elephant Speaks Jazz, and Everybody. She would like to thank all her family, friends, and professors for encouraging her to grow in her craft. She can't wait for you to see the show! Sit back, relax, and let the magic of theatre take you somewhere new! @linzerdeanna


Chad Kolbe headshot

Chad Kolbe
is an associate professor of theatre in his 18th year teaching at Viterbo. He teaches design and technology courses such as stage craft, principles of design, theatre practicum, and stage lighting. He also serves as technical director and lighting designer for the theatre and music theatre department. Before beginning his journey at Viterbo, Kolbe served as instructor and technical director at The University of Northern Iowa. For six years, Kolbe served as the technical director for the Texas Shakespeare Festival in Kilgore, Texas. Before that he served three years as carpenter, head rigger, and assistant technical director for The Des Moines Metro Opera. He enjoys time with family and being outside exploring all La Crosse and the surrounding areas have to offer.


Mary Trotter

Mary Trotter
joined the UW-La Crosse theatre and dance faculty in fall 2023. She teaches acting and musical theatre and most recently directed The Wolves! She is an actor, director, and intimacy choreographer. Professional credits span the country including Black Hills Playhouse, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Imagination Theater, Missouri Repertory Theatre, and Idaho Repertory Theatre. Locally Trotter has served as intimacy director for Viterbo University, La Crosse Community Theatre, and Grey Area Productions. In addition to receiving her BA from Bradley University and MFA from the University of Idaho, she has extensive training with Patsy Rodenburg, Theatrical Intimacy Education, and the Great Lakes Michael Chekhov Consortium. Trotter has produced and directed theatre outreach programs such as Las Memorias and The Performance Project, focused on defining and sharing individual stories of participants.


Spencer Curtis headshot

Spencer Curtis
is a junior music theatre major from Salt Lake City with minors in dance and arts administration. At Viterbo, he's been lucky enough to perform in Measure for Measure (Claudio), The Hello Girls, and The Elephant Speaks Jazz. He's also enjoyed performing with Viterbo's Student Theatre Project, Dance Kaleidoscope, and in Platinum Edition show choir. Love you Kjersten, Jake, Clay, and Family! @rspencercurtis


Benjamin Gonzales headshot

Benjamin Gonzales
is an assistant professor teaching in the areas of theatre history and literature at Viterbo. He previously served as a guest instructor for lighting design and theatre technology at the University of Central Missouri and is also formerly an associate clinical professor who taught an array of theatrical subjects at Washington State University that included lighting design, playwriting, and media literacy. He earned an MFA in theatre arts (focused on dramatic writing) from the University of Idaho. He also earned an MA in teaching and a bachelor of arts in theatre arts and drama from Washington State University. Gonzalez currently serves as the National Chair of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival's (KCACTF) National Playwriting Program (NPP) and has previously served as the representation, equity, and diversity (RED) coordinator. Professionally, he is a theatre generalist with experience in lighting design, set design, sound design, technical direction, production management, direction, as well as playwriting. He specializes in writing verbatim plays that highlight the stories of students who have in some way been marginalized. He also has been known to write scenes and short plays for his students to use for contemporary scene work and/or auditions.


Kelsey Taunt headshot

Kelsey Taunt
has been working as a freelance theatre artist/designer/teacher for over 15 years. She has a BA in theatre from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, with a double emphasis in design and acting. Taunt is excited to be a part of Viterbo's Conservatory for the Performing Arts.


Jason Underferth headshot

Jason Underferth
is a seasoned lighting designer with over two decades of experience illuminating the stages of the Midwest. He has dedicated the past decade to shaping the theatrical landscape as the production manager and lighting design lecturer at Saint Mary's University in Winona. During his tenure, he has artfully designed the visual components for more than 40 shows. Notable productions in Jason's portfolio include Man of La Mancha and Enchanted April, both showcased at The Commonweal Theatre Company. Now embarking on his second year at Viterbo, Underferth is eager to contribute his expertise as the production manager for the Conservatory for the Performing Arts. He looks forward to creating memorable experiences for the Conservatory's upcoming performances through his lighting designs.


Madi Bollinger headshot

Madi Bollinger
is a recent addition to the Viterbo team. Hailing from California, she brings a diverse skill set encompassing lighting, sound, and scenic design, as well as experience as an assistant technical director and stagecraft teacher. Holding a BA in technical theatre from CSU Fresno and an MFA in technical direction from the University of Idaho, Bollinger is well-prepared to contribute to the excellence of our theatrical productions. She brings a wealth of experience, showcasing her expertise in lighting design for notable productions such as Mary Poppins, Be More Chill, Arabian Nights, and Clybourne Park. Additionally, her scenic design credits include Mamma Mia, Into The Woods, and Freaky Friday. Notably, she has taken on the role of Fly Lead in the following productions: Disney's Descendants, Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Spongebob Musical, and more.


Cortney Piepenburg headshot

Cortney Piepenburg
is super excited to be back for another year at Viterbo! She is in her third year on campus, pursuing a BFA in theatre with minors in arts administration and marketing. You may have seen her in past Viterbo productions such as: Pompey in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, Ensemble in Student Theatre Project's Heathers: The Musical, as well as various shows with Diamond Edition show choir and Viterbo's Concert Choir. Piepenburg would like to thank her friends and family for their neverending support and love. @Cortspian

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