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Meet The Cast

Many thanks to these generous souls  for lending their talent to our project! As of today, April 9, 2012, all tracks excepting one have been updated with voices provided by the vocalists introduced below. The final track needing updating is "Act 3.6 Dancing In The Dark", scheduled to be completed this coming weekend.




Cast:

(With Voice and Role Descriptions of the Characters)

In addition to the 11 performers (7 males and 4 females) needed to perform the roles as described below, a minimum of 10 additional males are needed to fill out various choruses and bit parts. Additional females may also sing in some choruses, as noted in the score, or in any chorus if presenting as male. All choruses except for “The Choosers” may be much larger, if desired, although because of some rhythmic and other difficulties, it might be easier to work with smaller groups.

Below, individual performers are separated by horizontal lines.




Charlie Howard - Tenor (ghost of 23 year-old, thin, flamboyant gay man)

The role of Charlie Howard has been recorded by Elliott Jenks, a Concept Engineer working in Westport, Maine. 


Importance: One of two Leading Male Roles

Voice Type: Tenor: Lyric

Range: Low C (three occurrences) to High C (two occurrences, as semi-scream). The part sits in the midrange, with the most sung note being middle C.

Description of the Character: He is emotional, sensitive, humorous, with a biting wit.  He can mime and loves to act—to put on a show. When we first meet him, he does not realize he is dead and, naturally, is confused.  Since he is histrionic, loving to perform, wanting desperately to be seen, he calls attention to himself but no one sees him. In beginning, having been murdered, he is befuddled when faced with his death, witnessing a trial of those who murdered him. He wonders what is happening.  Why is he still here but not really here—seeing but not being seen? He is a guy who likes to act, to do things, not to wait.  He loves to talk and, maybe, listen.  He likes to be on stage. No longer being alive,  he wants to move on, see what else is in store for him in the afterlife.  But an angles tells him he must face one task that in order to “move on” from his self-in-limbo to whatever is next. Begrudgingly, he listens and, gradually, becomes engaged in Rob’s struggle, at once cynically and comically.  Slowly he learns to see humanity even in one of his killers, Rob, and comes to place to forgive and, to his surprise, to find that he is seen for his own inner beauty.



Rob Baritone (age 15, youngest of 3 boys who kill Charlie; Charlie chooses to observe him; dancer in Ensembleone of The Boys)

You may recognize Dexter Jenks as lead vocalist for the South Carolina-based band South Street(Haven't heard of them? You should!) On our recording, in an altogether different style, Dex sings the role of Rob.

Dexter Jenks

Importance: Second of two Leading Male Roles


Voice Type: Baritone: Lyric

Range: 

Low A (three occurrences) to High G (two occurrences, as semi-scream). 

The part sits in the midrange, with the two most sung notes being F and Bb.


Description of the Character: 

When the piece starts, he’s confused. Although he initiated the murder as a way to win approval from his older friends, he can’t accept—and partially can’t remember what happened. He appears as if he were strapped to a board, unable to move. Angry and defensive, frightened and disoriented, he fidgets and acts like a caged animal. He denies having done anything seriously wrong.  He is also ashamed, though, and at times hides his head in Court, averts the eyes of his mother and others, including Mr. B. As he begins to remember the events leading to Charlie's murder, he agonizes over his culpability. He confronts his own denial, gains courage to accept more responsibility and, in the end, sees his role in the murder, and affirms the beauty and humanity of Charlie.  As he comes out of his defensiveness, his body loosens up and seems to blossom, to reach out, as he does indeed reach out, in the last scene.



Alice - Soprano (age 17, Rob's new friend, witness to the murder; also sings in Ensemble)

The role of Alice has been recorded by Eliza Lockhart-Jenks, Candidate for Juris Doctor, 2014, at Northeastern University School of Law. Liza is also recording the part of Terra (see below). Eliza graduated from Hartwick College in 2009 with a BA in theatre and political science.  She is currently surviving her first year of law school at Northeastern University School of Law.  She is hoping to one day be involved in promoting prisoner's rights or in expanding the right to marry to all people (although hopefully that will happen before graduation).  She is not blind to the connection between her majors, goals and the themes of this opera and has loved expanding on and exploring these connections.


Eliza Lockhart-Jenks


Importance: Leading Female Role

Voice Type: Soprano: Light Lyric, Unaffected

Range: Low Db (fifteen occurrences) to High B (one occurrence, as semi-scream). The part sits mid/low, only climbing for the most emotional passages.

Description of the Character: She is self-described as a Plain Jane, sincere, honest, with not-too-high expectations of herself or of life. Her experience as witness to Charlie's murder has left her traumatized, grieving, and guilty. She is the voice of compassion yet struggles to express her feelings adequately. We see this most clearly when she introduces herself to the audience, with her most intense expression going not into her description of being a witness, but into her need to dance, to keep alive., to stay engaged.  Still, her testimony in court is the first honest emotion shown from the witness stand. In a way, Alice shows us decency and directness many others lack in the story.



Jay
 - Tenor (age 16, Rob's friend, one of 3 boys who kill Charlie; dancer in Ensembleone of The Boys)

Tim Bate has recorded the part of Jay.

Tim, with a B.M. from University of Maine at Orono, began his relationship with the stage in an unusual way: working as accompanist for the auditions of Penobscot Theatre's production of Godspell in 1992, the intuitive Director unexpectedly asked Tim to sing. Tim was promptly cast in the lead role. Moving to Portland the following year, he joined the recently founded Maine Gay Men's Chorus, under Founding Director Bruce Fithian. He also began a long, ongoing relationship with Good Theater, working often with Director Brian Allen. Tim works at Skillins Greenhouses in Falmouth, and lives with his partner Will.

Importance: Minor Male Role


Voice Type: 
Tenor: Spinto 

Range: One Octave Range, Low Ab (three occurrences) to High G# (2 occurrences).  The part sits in the higher half of the range.

Description of the Character: Loud and unpleasant, with a lot of unfocused energy expressed in his movement and his singing, he does not have any idea that he is an embarrassment to those around him.  He calls attention to himself, strutting about, thumping his chest as if he were auditioning for a role as Tarzan, yet is slight in build.  He has a young John Travolta look. 



Stu - Bass (age 17, Rob's friend, oldest of 3 boys who kill Charlie; dancer in Ensembleone of The Boys)

Importance: Minor Male Role

Voice Type: Baritone: Lyric

Range: Low C (one occurrence) to High F (1 occurrence). The part sits in the middle of the range, going high only when agitated while murdering Charlie.

Description of the Character: Bossy, the king-pin, the know-it-all, ,  he acts as if he owned the stage, clearly in charge.  When the girls are around, he knows how to impress them, smiling, flirting, impressing them with his good looks and bravado. A big boy, well-built, weight-lifter, he looks like a prototype of John Wayne or Marlon Brando, the most masculine of the boys.  With guys, he is the one who everyone admires and looks to emulate. 


Messenger – Alto (multi-part, each role having a message to share, however obscured – see notes below)

  • Angel (Ageless, lesbian, assigned to help Charlie move on, annoyed by her wings) 
  • Janis (age 18, Stu's friend, drunk) 
  • Mr. B (Director of Rob's Cottage at Maine Youth Correctional Facility) 
  • Choruses: The Choosers, The River
Marge May, a computer programmer from Penobscot, Maine, can be heard singing part of the role as Angel in Act 1. You can also hear Marge's voice by tuning in to "Women's Windows" on WERU in Orland, Maine on Sunday evenings from 8-10, there known to listeners as Magdalen.

Patrice Lockhart, whose bio can be read in relation to her appearance as Gaia, is in the final stages of recording the remainder of the role of Messenger.

Importance: Three Secondary Female Roles, One Minor Role            

Voice Type: Contralto: Lyric

Range:  Low F (7 occurrences) to High F (2 occurrences).  The part sits in the middle of the range, only occasionally visiting the extremes. Angel's role uses the full range, while Mr. B's role sits relatively low but requires great agility. One of the 2 High Fs is sung as Janis, as a semi-scream.

Description of the Characters sung by Messenger:

Angel is, as her name implies, an angel, but one of a different color and quality than normal angels. Ageless and lesbian (not afraid to be her own woman), with a strong personality,  she is assigned to help Charlie “move on” by keeping him focused on what his life—and death—has meant to those who are living.  She asks him (and, as such, the audience) to listen, to hear what hate has done, and, yes, to experience it but come to see that, on its other side, is a far more powerful force: love. By being witness to Rob's spiritual awakening, she helps Charlie move on.  She deeply cares about Charlie (and all of humanity), although she doesn't make a big display of her emotions. She is like a silent movie actress—expressive with subtle nuance in her facial expressions and bodily gestures. She relishes her job, but is annoyed by her wings, which, as they sway, add a slightly comic element to her role and genuineness to her character.

Mr. B is the Director of Rob's Cottage at the Maine Youth Correctional Facility. He takes his work seriously and is always dressed impeccably. He knows what will work for Rob. He trusts in how a boy can come to see his mistakes. He is firm but kind. He has an ironic touch, as does the angel, using humor to get his point across. He believes that “his boys” will succeed in their rehabilitation. He is watchful, patient but persistent especially in the scene where Rob comes to terms with what he has done when his face and posture tell Rob there is a lot more work to do.

Janis is 18 years old and a friend of Stu. We only see her quite drunk,  a familiar state for her.  She is a lovingly exaggerated girl, trying to steal the scene by clinging on to the boys who do not see her anymore than they see Charlie.  She tries to be noticed yet is like vapor to them, but that does not stop her from trying to catch their attention.

As one of the back-up singers for The Choosers, Messenger is middle-aged, but still thinks she is in her twenties.



Opinion – Baritone (multi-part, performing the roles of several strongly opinionated characters – see notes below)

  • Psychiatrist (Unsettled by his findings) 
  • Physician 
  • Pastor Ben Dover (Loud mouth, conservative hate monger) 
  • Principal (Oh, so sure of himself) 
  • Junior (Inmate at Maine Youth Correctional Facility) 
  • Choruses: Gallery, The Choosers, Cruisers, The River; Ensemble

The Role of Opinion has been recorded by Bill Jenks. Bill is a former professional orchestral cellist and conductor who now owns and operates Home Instead Senior Care, providing non-medical home care for seniors. More relevant to this project, though, is his arrest in 1997 (along with two of his children) for participating in a non-violent direct action in support of Jimmy Creech, a Methodist Minister who was put on trial by his church for performing same sex marriages.

Although he has conducted many orchestras (including Chamber Orchestra Oklahoma City, and the Symphony Orchestras of Omaha, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Phoenix, Denver, and Portland, Oregon), Bill has never performed as a singer until now. Participating in this recording with his family has been both humbling and instructive.


Bill Jenks

Importance: Five Secondary Male Roles, One Minor Role    

Voice Type:  Baritone: Dramatic Buffo

Range:  Low Ab (1 occurrence) to High E (nine occurrences).  The note that occurs most often in the part is G, but frequently sings High C and D, once singing an extended line of Ds.

Description of the Characters sung by Opinion:

Psychiatrist (Act 1) is intellectual, circumspect, wanting to parse out his words carefully, couched in objective language leeched of emotion. His matter of fact expression, faintly hide his often distressed feelings and confusion about his results. Unsettled by his findings which reveal Charlie's killers to be “normal”,  he cannot comprehend what they may mean--that the fabric of society is unraveling. He wants to find a way to make sense of it yet he is confused, not sure what it means about society's ideas of manhood, of our rites of passage.

Physician (Act 1) is very professional, upright and objective. His opinion is purely medical in nature, not emotional.  Yet he holds his hands in a way that belies a tension.  And his jaw is set as if, should it move a certain way, his face would crack.

Pastor Ben Dover (Act 1 and 2) has never known weariness. He gets excited just opening his mouth. Confident he is speaking for the righteous and for religious order, he is earnest and eager to have others hear what he has to say.  He should be a portrayed as a person convinced that he is right and not in doubt about his beliefs.  Encased inside him are other voices which we see when he shows up on Middle Street, cruising to hook up for anonymous gay sex. At that point, his angst crumbles his mask of confidence.

Principal (Act 1) is the quintessential self-assured educator who knows he is respected and, equally, wants to be a reasonable voice, not getting caught up in the rhetoric.  He is used to making statements and chooses his words carefully.  But his attempts to down-play the incident in fact reveal his own misunderstanding of what drove the boys to murder Charlie—the implicit acceptance of gay bashing and hate crimes.

Junior (Act 2) is an Inmate at the Maine Youth Correctional Facility, and his opinion is that everyone and everything is stupid (probably even himself). With very little to say, he comes to life in his scowling at others and acting as if he had been perfecting the many ways to demean someone without saying a word.

As lead singer for The Choosers, Opinion is middle-aged, but still thinks he is in his twenties.



Decision – Bass (multi-part, each character somehow helping to define reality for others, to offer structure – see notes below)

  • Judge (Trying to do what's right – for his career) 
  • District Attorney (“DA”) (All business) 
  • Court News Reporter (“CNR”) (Knows he is beautiful, holds microphone) 
  • Court Official (Weak and bored) 
  • Gino (Inmate at Maine Youth Correctional Facility) 
  • Choruses: Cruisers, The River; Ensemble
In the role of Decision, Karl Novak blurs the line between art and real life. Karl, a litigation lawyer for Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman, LLC, in Mount Pleasant, North Carolina, makes use his experience as a stage actor in his work, and in this case, uses his experience in the courtroom to inform his acting. 
Karl Novak

Areas of Practice

Admissions
  • 1988, South Carolina 
  • 2004, Michigan 
  • 2005, Texas 
  • United States District Court, District of South Carolina 
  • United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio 
Education
  • Capital University, J.D., 1988 
  • College of Wooster, B.A., 1981 
  • Professional Memberships 
    • Martindale-Hubbell Rated: AV 
    • Charleston County Bar Association 
    • South Carolina Bar 
    • American Bar Association 
    • The American Association for Justice 
    • South Carolina Association for Justice

Importance: Three Secondary and Two Minor Male Roles

Voice Type: Bass: Dramatic Buffo

Range: Low F (11 occurrences) to High Fb (2 occurrences). The part has a median pitch of F, but the entire range really does get used. Most of the low singing happens when singing the role of Judge, and the voice must be agile and capable of lightness as well as having access to a commanding boom.

Description of the Characters sung by Decision:

Judge acts as though he has always been horrified by Charlie's murder, although, in reality, his attitudes concerning it have evolved during the trial because of his fears that the new powerful voice of the new gay activists and the increasingly strident  anti-gay groups may polarization  the community even more than it is. He has to make a weighty decision as his listens to the witnesses of how to reconcile justice and compassion.  Since he must be the voice of reason and take the moral high ground, he makes a decisive statement about the injustice and civility, knowing the significance of the case.  He is like Sarastro in The Magic Flute.

District Attorney (“DA”) is focused on his work, clear-thinking, and emotionally skilled. His apparent insensitivity toward Alice on the stand is due only to his focus on getting a certain piece of the story from the girl. Otherwise, he knows exactly how to work a crowd and to expose the heinous nature of the murder.

Court News Reporter (“CNR”) works for a local television network. He knows he is beautiful, and makes sure that we know it, too. He is a bit incredulous that Pastor Ben Dover and Principal each have difficulty saying the word “homosexual”, especially when he later hooks up with Pastor Ben Dover on Middle Street. He sees life as a stage – one that he knows how to use. He always holds a microphone to do his interviews, manipulating like a surgeon to make his points.

Court Official has been working at this courtroom for 28 years, and he is broken and bored.

Gino is an Inmate at Maine Youth Correctional Facility and has the respect of everyone there, including the ones running the place. He is strong enough to relax and does not have to be afraid about whom he is seen with or talks to. He knows about Rob's crime before the other inmates because staff members tell him things kept from most inmates. He has a piercing look as if he sees inside of another and could unmask them with a flick of his finger.



Needy - Tenor (multi-part, three roles, each characterized by insecurity – see notes below)

  • Joe (age 16, “cured” homosexual, adores Ben Dover) 
  • Nicholas (Inmate at Maine Youth Correctional Facility) 
  • Choruses: Gallery, Cruisers, The River; Ensemble
You can read about Tim Bate, who has recorded the part of Needy,  in relation to his role as Jay, above.

Importance: Three Minor Male Roles

Voice Type: Tenor: Spinto

Range: Low F (one occurrence) to High G (two occurrences). The part sits in the lower half of the range, with only an occasional high outburst.

Description of the Characters sung by Needy:

Joe is 16 years old, and a pleaser. He wants to say the right thing. What is obvious, moreover, to the most casual observer is that he was “different”. He overdresses. He overplays his lines.  His parents took him to Pastor Ben Dover to cure his homosexuality. He adores Ben Dover.  Although it is easy for us to see through Joe's anti-homosexual rhetoric to frightened young man hidden behind it, his parents (and, of course Ben!) are pleased as punch, as are his friends, by his outspokenness.

Nicholas is also 16, and an Inmate at Maine Youth Correctional Facility, who is scared to death of everything and everyone.  He cowers when someone is too close.  He winces if someone touches him. It is like he has “Victim” printed on his forehead.  Yet his mask is that of tough kid, which slips on and off when he is on stage.

As one of The Boys, Needy is an awkward adolescent. He tries desperately to fit in with the others, but it doesn't quite work. He doesn't know why, nor does he know why his dad is so mean. All he knows is that he is touchy and wanting to be accepted. So he looks around like a puppy wanting to be petted. 


Gaia - Mezzo-soprano (multi-part comprised of two roles – see notes below)

  • Charlie's Mom (In her 50's) 
  • Choruses: The Choosers, The River
Gaia is sung by Patrice Lockhart. Patrice has been a professional harpist for 30 years and is a physician. She graduated from The College of Wooster in 1981, where she received a Bachelor of Music degree, studying with Alice Chalifoux, principal harpist of the Cleveland Orchestra at that time.  She continued her study with Ms. Chalifoux in Camden, Maine and at Cleveland Institute of Music where she earned the Master of Music degree.  She spent the next two decades performing as a soloist, orchestral harpist, and chamber musician, playing with a number of ensembles across the country, including the St. Louis Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Oklahoma Symphony, the Santa Fe Opera, the Chicago City Ballet,  and the Ohio Chamber Orchestra.  She participated in a Grammy Award-winning recording with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and has produced her own solo recording, Little Fire. 

 In 2000, Patrice earned a Medical Degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center while still a member of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra.  A mother of three adult children, Dr. Lockhart practices psychiatry in Portland, Maine, and is the Medical Director of the New England Eating DIsorders Program at Mercy Hospital in Portland.

Patrice Lockhart


Importance: Two Secondary Female Roles

Voice Type:  Mezzo-soprano: Lyric

Range:  Low C (10 occurrences) to High Ab (2 occurrences).  The part is expressive and emotional, mostly in the middle of the range, yet occasionally requiring well-controlled sustained higher notes. Agility is less important than exquisite tuning and tone.

Description of the Characters sung by Gaia:

Charlie's Mom is in her 50s, a woman like Matt Shepard’s mom with stunning dignity and strength. Even while grieving her son's death, she has endured threats and vandalism yet remains steadfast, engaged in the trial.  With deep wisdom and emotion, she captures the stage.  She speaks of a love that justice in its cold precision cannot express.  Although she knows what it is to lose a son, she knows too how Rob’s mom has lost her son too.  The audience (and Charlie) can see the seething sea beneath the stillness, a deep upwelling of love and understanding.  She demands attention but does not need it.

As one of the back-up singers for The Choosers, Gaia is middle-aged, but still thinks she is in her twenties.



Terra – Alto (multi-part comprised of two roles – see notes below)

  • Rob's Mom (In her 40's) 
  • Choruses: The Choosers, The River
The role of Terra is sung by Eliza Lockhart-Jenks, pictured above in relation to her role as Alice. 

Importance: Two Secondary Female Roles

Voice Type:  Contralto: Lyric

Range:  Low Bb (nine occurrences) to High E (six occurrences).  The part is is expressive and emotional, mostly in the middle of the range, yet requiring well-controlled sustained higher notes. Several passages require agility, as well as a strong ear and beautiful tone.

Description of the Characters sung by Terra:

Rob's Mom is trying desperately through eye-contact and her upright bearing to be strong for her son, although she is devastated and shocked by the turn of events, unable to comprehend what has—and is—happening to her son. She is engaged with each witness, casting an eye on them and on her son. Younger than Gaia (she is in her 40s), she fidgets in her chair yet, when she sings, lets all her agony out without masking it,  aching and real.

As one of the back-up singers for The Choosers, Terra is middle-aged, but still thinks she is in her twenties.



Cop 1 (from Gallery) – Baritone

Cop 2 (from Gallery) – Non-singing part

Cop 3 (from Gallery) – Non-singing part

Man 1 (from Gallery 2) – Baritone or Bass


Man 2 (from Gallery 1) – Tenor

You can read about Tim Bate, who has recorded the part of Man 2,  in relation to his role as Jay, above.


Woman (man in drag, from Gallery 1) – Tenor, Baritone, or Bass

The role of Woman is sung by Eliza Lockhart-Jenks, pictured above in relation to her role as Alice. 


Choruses – 10 additional males (TTBB) plus performers drawn from Cast above

Gallery 1 and 2

(10 other males, 4 in drag – see notes about Gallery)

Inmates in Rob's Cottage

(6 other males)
The Choosers
(Opinion, Messenger, Gaia, Terra)
Cruisers
(Pastor Ben Dover, DA, Joe, 10 other males)
The Boys
(Rob, Jay, and Stu, Opinion, Decision, Needy)
The River
(Chorus in Act 4 – entire cast not otherwise in scene)
Ensemble
(Dancers in Act 3 – entire cast not otherwise occupied – 6 in drag)


Notes about Multi-parts and Gallery:

In general, no attempt should be made to hide the use of one actor to play multiple parts. Indeed, the obviousness should be played with. For instance, in the Correctional Facility, both Angel and Mr. B appear in the same scene. This is to be managed by establishing the presence of Angel, presumably precluding the entrance of Mr. B which follows – of course, we never see Angel's face in that segment of the scene. Also, when a multi-part character is listed as a member of a chorus, without being identified specifically as one of the characters played, he is not to be recognized as a specific character already established.

The Gallery is divided in feeling about the killing. One feeling is, as Man 2 says, “That's one for our side.” This feeling supports the hateful rhetoric of Pastor Ben Dover. The other feeling is horror at the inhumanity represented by such rhetoric. However, in 1984 public exploration of the issues both of homosexuality and of hate crimes was in its infancy in the nation, and especially in Maine. Therefore, while opinions were strong, they were also largely unexamined. In Act 1, feelings of members of the two Galleries are often conflicted, and occasionally a member of one Gallery will be inspired to join the other. This might be demonstrated by physically moving from one side of the stage to the other, or by holding a sign with contradictory slogans on the two sides, displayed as appropriate. It will be more effective and clear if the two sides are of clearly unequal sizes at times. It might also happen that a member leaving a Gallery might be intimidated into staying by the hard look, for instance, of a spouse.

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