Meet Our Staff Meet the 2021 Staff for all of our theatre productions. Our current positions are filled for 2021. But, please stay in touch and learn more about our apprentice program here. We begin accepting those applications in January of each year for the season. Brendan Ragotzy Producer / Director Barn Producer/Director Brendan Ragotzy. Brendan literally grew up in the business, from his walk-on debut in 1966's OLIVER! to his work as a stagehand, spot operator, stage manager, actor, director, assistant producer, and now Producer/Director. Combining his parents' attributes with his own practical expertise, the Barn has an ideal leader for its second generation of Ragotzy ownership. In 1989 he made his directorial debut with HAIR, followed by our all-time hit THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, PHANTOM, A FEW GOOD MEN, THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES, TOMMY, BIG RIVER, FOOTLOOSE, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (also playing Pontius Pilate), ESCANABA IN DA MOONLIGHT, THE WIZARD OF OZ, SHENANDOAH, THE CIVIL WAR (one of his favorites), CINDERELLA, MAN OF LA MANCHA, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, MOVE OVER, MRS. MARKHAM, AMERICAN IDIOT, ROCK OF AGES, WE WILL ROCK YOU, BONNIE & CLYDE and MAMMA MIA!, and original comedies THE WHISTLE PIG’S REVENGE, and 2021 season’s DOUBLE “0” 69. Read more about Brendan Expand He also staged his original musicals BILLY THE KID and OLD TIMER, the latter of which received a highly successful New York reading featuring several Barnies and a title role performed by Tom Wopat. Brendan’s first feature film, Fish Mich, got pre-festival screenings right here at the Barn in 2009. His latest original, RAUNCH AND ROLL, in addition to workshop productions here at the Barn, was made into a feature film, co-produced with Friel Films. Starring Barn actress and wife Penelope Alex with Michael Pare, Raunch And Roll the movie had its national release in July 2021. Having received many favorable reviews, it is available for DVD purchase and can be viewed on Amazon Prime and other streaming platforms. Brendan and Penelope are proud parents to Luke, Calli, Jacob, and Melina. Penelope Alex Equity In her 35th season, Penelope has more than established herself as the Barn’s quintessential leading lady. Her resume here is highlighted by a series of compelling performances. Last season’s Mrs. Lovett in SWEENEY TODD and Donna in MAMMA MIA! are additions to her favorites along with Golde in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, Aldonza in MAN OF LA MANCHA, Mona in THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS, (all opposite Robert Newman), and opposite Tom Wopat as Annie in ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. Penelope has appeared in several feature films including RAUNCH AND ROLL... Read more about Penelope Expand a vehicle written for her by husband Brendan Ragotzy, which recently had its national release June 1. She recently filmed her latest feature DORMANT EVIL which features many Barnies. You may have heard her on the radio as she has voiced over 125 jingles and commercials. She will once again, direct the annual Barn Christmas Cabaret. Her longest-running roles are her dearest- wife and mother to Brendan and their children Luke (26), Calli (24), Jacob (21) and Melina (17). Along with her on stage work, Penelope serves the Barn as Publicist and coordinates the hiring and departmental placement of each season’s apprentice company. She’s a native of San Jose, CA, and is a proud alum of San Jose State University. Troy Benton Staff This is Troy’s 21st season at the Barn Theatre. Though he can primarily be found in the orchestra pit he does come up for food, water, and to make guest appearances in the Rehearsal Shed Lounge. As a composer he has penned music and songs for Barn Productions, such as OLD TIMER, RAUNCH AND ROLL, IN HOT WATER, and more. Steven Lee Burright Equity Steven Lee is Baaaack for his fifteenth season, here, at the Barn! Steven began his apprenticeship and 30+ year career in entertainment here in 1987. Read more about Steven Lee Expand The training he received as an apprentice seeking his Union affiliation as a actor and the mentorship of Ms. Dusty Reeds set him on a course of a lifetime. A love affair with the magical Barn has drawn Steven back again and again. As a proud member of our Equity Company, Steven has had some memorable characters pepper his career. He was our original Eddie from THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, Potiphar from JOSEPH…DREAMCOAT, Bobby from RUN FOR YOUR WIFE. Most recently, Steven originated the role of Harry in the Barn’s production of Patrick Hunter’s IN HOT WATER. Steven is humbled to be a part of the Barn’s 75-year history! John Jay Espino Equity This is John’s 9th season here since ’92! Barn audiences will remember him from many roles including Herod in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, Grimsby in Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID, the Narrator in THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW and Sancho in MAN OF LA MANCHA. Read more about John Expand John has also served as the Barn’s musical director for SUNSET BLVD, MAN OF LA MANCHA, BLOOD BROTHERS, SOUTH PACIFIC, BIG RIVER, CHICAGO, and SPAMALOT. John will once again be musical directing our very popular nightly Rehearsal Shed bar show. His Conducting/ Music Directing credits around the country include: BILLY ELLIOT, SMOKEY JOE’S CAFE, A CHRISTMAS STORY: THE MUSICAL, CURTAINS, THE KING AND I, CATS, INTO THE WOODS, BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS, ZORBA, HOT MIKADO and three productions of LES MISERABLES. As an actor he’s appeared as Archibald: SECRET GARDEN, Pseudolus: A FUNNY THING...FORUM, Madam: PACIFIC OVERTURES, Maj. General: THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, Sancho: MAN OF LA MANCHA, L.M.: PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES, and GREATER TUNA. Regional theatres include: Amarillo Opera (TX), Great Lakes Theatre Festival (OH), Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Ocean State Theatre Company (RI), Galveston Outdoor Musical Theatre (TX), Round Barn Theatre (IN), Nebraska Theatre Caravan, Sierra Rep Theatre (CA), Theatreworks (CA), Hope Summer Repertory Theatre (MI), Diamond Circle Melodrama (CO), The Western Stage (CA), And American Musical Theatre of San Jose (CA). John studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Jeannette Fischer Costume Coordinator Nettie (as she is known at the Barn) is an energetic, indispensable member of our team. As manager of our costume shop and storage, Nettie has kept that department running smoothly for over twenty years. Read more about Jeannette Expand Her favorite show was CAUGHT IN THE NET, which she designed and built herself. Often at theatres like the Barn, costumes (like scenery and well, actors) are "pulled" from a stored stock. Nettie oversees that process, conducts fittings, builds costumes, and is always there to aid those little costume emergencies that befall actors during performances. She is the Barn's angel. Nettie resides in Battle Creek with her husband Gary. She has two grown daughters and four granddaughters (Regan, 16 years old; Krista, 13 years old; and Amara, 9 years old; and Laura, 8 years old!) Chris Gray Musical Director Chris started at the Barn Theatre with our outdoor Bar Show last summer and we’re thrilled that he has joined us as Musical Director. Read more about Chris Expand An eclectic musician in the Midwest region, Chris had music directed musicals, opera, symphony orchestra, choral ensembles, and cabarets to name a few. A s a choral accompanist and vocalist, he has toured and performed in over 35 states. Before completing his master’s degree in Piano Performance at Western Michigan University in 2019, Chris earned a degree in Music Theory Composition from Ohio Northern University. He has also studied voice, vocal coaching, harpsichord, organ, as well as choral, orchestral, and band conducting. Chris is currently serving has Music Director at Western Michigan University Musical Theatre program, where he recently music directed 25TH PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE. Melissa Cotton Hunter Equity Melissa is celebrating her ten-year Barniversary this year and thrilled to be spending it back on the Main Stage! Read more about Melissa Expand Barn audiences will undoubtedly remember her recent roles as Shelby in STEEL MAGNOLIAS, SUSAN in BIG THE MUSICAL, and a two-time JANET in THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW (2012 and 2019). Melissa also took home a Wilde Award in 2019 for her appearance as the Beggar Woman in SWEENEY TODD. Past Barn favorites include Bonnie in BONNIE AND CLYDE, Olive Neal in BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, Elle Woods in LEGALLY BLONDE, Ariel in Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID, Lina Lamont in SINGING IN THE RAIN, and Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut in AVENUE Q. While living in New Orleans, Louisiana, Melissa was featured in many productions with the Jefferson Performing Arts Society. You can also find her in a number of upcoming feature films including Raunch and Roll-now streaming! Melissa holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Kent State University. The Covid-19 pandemic brought Melissa a lot of opportunity for growth and she took full advantage by making a permanent move with her Barnie Family to Augusta, MI as well as obtaining her Michigan Real Estate License. When not acting or selling houses, Melissa can be found hanging with her children, Christopher and Cotton, and her Barnie hubby Patrick Hunter. As always, deepest thanks go to the Ragotzy Family for their support, love, and determination to keep the arts alive and thriving! Patrick Hunter Managing Director Patrick returns this summer for his tenth season on the Barn stage. Favorite Barn roles include Beadle Bamford in SWEENEY TODD, Vice Principal Douglas Panch in SPELLING BEE, The Preacher in BONNIE AND CLYDE, Warner Purcell in BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, and Nicely Nicely Johnson in GUYS AND DOLLS, for which he won the Wilde Award for Supporting Actor in a Musical. Read more about Patrick Expand Patrick's directing credits include two productions of DISASTER!, and 2019's BIG THE MUSICAL, for which he was recognized as outstanding director at the Wilde Awards. Patrick's original farce, IN HOT WATER, received a premiere filmed production on the Barn stage, available for purchase as a DVD. Regionally, Patrick is an award-winning actor in the New Orleans area. He holds an MFA in Theatre Performance from The University of New Orleans, and a BFA in Musical Theatre from Ithaca College. Patrick and his wife, Barn favorite Melissa Cotton Hunter, have recently become full-time Michiganders, along with their two children Christopher (6) and Cotton (4). In addition to his work onstage, Patrick holds the newly created position of Managing Director of The Barn Theatre School. Patrick would like to thank Brendan and Penelope for the opportunity to join them in continuing the magical tradition and the vital cultural institution that is the Barn Theatre. Charlie King Equity Charlie is “ALL CAPS” ABOUT RETURNING TO THE BARN THIS SEASON! He apprenticed from ‘91-’94. Some of his favorite roles at the Barn include The Big Bopper in BUDDY: THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY, Clem Rogers in THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES, Caiaphas in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog in MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT, Dr. Scott/Brad in THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, Great Grandpa Alphonse in ESCANABA IN LOVE and Dirty Dave Rudabaugh in the world premiere of BILLY THE KID. Read more about Charlie Expand We are so pleased to have had Charlie bring his banjo, mandolin, slide guitar and harmonica to various Barn productions. He has toured internationally with Barnie Stephen Lynch and is featured on Lynch’s latest release “Lion”as well as Mr. Lynch’s live DVD “Hello Kalamazoo,” and his upcoming album. He is a former member of the musical group Asylum Street Spankers (AUSTIN, TX). He has appeared numerous times on The Bob and Tom Show, as well as America’s Got Talent, and American Idol (where he played lap steel for AI’s 2009 Season runner-up, Crystal Bowersox.) Charlie made his film debut in the A Haunting in Cawdor and recently wrapped Raunch and Roll both filmed here at the Barn and around town. In the offseason, Charlie performs with The Deep Fried Pickle Project Jug Band (who remain humbled to be the current reigning champions of the Chicago Battle of the Jug Bands) and teaches private music lessons. Reach Charlie at firstname.lastname@example.org for fun lessons! Charlie would like to thank his mom for her love, her support…and her basement. Jerry McAllistar Stage Manager This is Jerry’s 6th season at the Barn and we are ecstatic to have him back with us! Jerry has served as stage manager at 3 Below Theatre and The Retro Dome in San Jose, CA as well as production managing. Read more about Jerry Expand He has also stage managed at the Brava Theatre in San Francisco, CA, Theatreworks USA and Kraine Theatre, in New York City. He is a founding member of the Hope Theatre with siblings Heather and Kelly (a Barnie from season ’90), where they produced the American professional premiere of Shakespeare’s EDWARD III. Jerry served as stage manager for 6 years at the NY International Fringe Festival. He is also a director. Some of his favorite shows include MISHKIN’S PARADISE (New York, NY), LAST CALL (New York International Fringe Festival), and MACBETH (Shakespeare in the Park[ing Lot], NY). As an actor, Jerry has been seen as Ceaser Rodney in 1776 here at the Barn, Henry in THE FANTASTICKS at The Retro Dome in San Jose, and in JULIUS CEASER at Shakespeare in the Park[ing Lot]. Garrylee McCormick Hair/Wig/Make-up Master Garrylee has served as the hair and wig master for the Barn Theatre since 1961. In addition, he is the hair and wig master for Western Michigan University’s Theatre Department and is a freelance wig master for national tours playing at Miller Auditorium and DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids. Read more about Garrylee Expand He is a member IATSE Local 26, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. In his free time, Garrylee writes icons, is a printmaker, and photographer. He also serves on numerous city and county volunteer boards, which has included the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the Central County Transportation Authority, Friends of the Library Board, and the Kalamazoo Russian Cultural Association. Michael McShane Lighting Design Mike is a Chicago-based theatrical lighting designer. He earned his M.F.A. in Lighting Design from the University of Florida. At the Barn, he has been a Sound Designer in 2008, Sound and Projections Designer in 2016 and Lighting Designer in 2017 and 2018. Read more about Michael Expand He won the Wilde Award for Best Video Design in 2017 for the Barn's SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN. He returned briefly in 2019 to design lights and projections for EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL and THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW. In Chicago he was a follow spot operator on the Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s acclaimed production of SIX. He designed a pilot production of WICKED JR. in development with MTI available for audiences in approximately 2032. He spent the past year as a line cook in several different restaurants making authentic Japanese tonkotsu ramen, maki rolls, onigiri and chicken paitan. (mikemcshane.weebly.com) Eric Morris Equity Eric is elated to return to the Barn for their historic 75th season! Eric was an apprentice in 2007 and 2009, where Barn audiences saw him as the Lead Tenor in THE PRODUCERS, Tommy in THE WHO’S TOMMY, and Tom Sawyer in BIG RIVER. Read more about Eric Expand Eric is currently based out of the Twin Cities. Most recently, Eric performed in GUYS & DOLLS at the Guthrie Theater and THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY at Artistry Theater. Other Twin Cities collaborators: Theater Latte Da, History Theater, Mill City Summer Opera, Nautilus Music-Theater, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, and Second Fiddle Productions. Regional collaborators: Dayton Opera, Beef & Boards, Gallery Players, and the Heritage Theatre Festival. Eric is the Director of Production at the Old Log Theatre where he directed the critically acclaimed production of A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER. Other Old Log directing credits include GHOST: THE MUSICAL, LEND ME A TENOR, TENDERLY: THE ROSEMARY CLOONEY MUSICAL, THE DIXIE SWIM CLUB, HOW I BECAME A PIRATE, WINNIE-THE-POOH, and THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES. Eric holds a BFA in Musical Theater from Ithaca College. Joe Neisen Choreographer Joe was an apprentice during our 1997 season. We happily welcome him back to the Barn! Joe is a San Francisco native and Las Vegas based Director-Choreographer. Read more about Joe Expand After nearly a decade in NYC, Joe relocated to Las Vegas working for former Park Place Entertainment/Harrah’s/Caesars, and now focuses on large events, product launch, and convention entertainment. In addition, his regional theatre credits include Resident Choreographer at Urbanite Theatre and Sierra Repertory Theatre, Resident Director-Choreographer at Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, The Western Stage and Pacific Repertory Theatre. Joe was recognized by Hartnell College and the State of California for notable achievement in the Arts in 2014. Joe Pehrson Staff Joe was an apprentice at the Barn Theatre from 1994-1996. He appeared in many productions, his favorites being HAIR, LA CAGE…, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, and the world premiere of BILLY THE KID. Read more about Joe Expand Joe is a native of Battle Creek and also a lifelong fan of the Barn Theatre. He is thrilled to be back at the Barn to help launch “Back Forty Pizza”. Bon Appetite! Calli Ragotzy Assistant Calli has finished her first official year of Western Michigan’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program with two more years remaining. Even though she is not going down the traditional route of theatre or film like her siblings and family, she still is able to incorporate her creative side into her future profession through interventions and individualized care. She is even planning on integrating theatre into her Capstone project at the end of the OT program. Read more about Calli Expand Grad school and working at the Barn aren’t the only things keeping her busy, she recently planned her wedding and married Logan Hudson, in October 2021. Logan proposed to Calli in December 2019 on the Barn’s grounds to symbolize where they shared one of their first dates and many days together throughout the past summers. Calli is so appreciative of the continual support and love her parents Brendan and Penelope exude during this exciting (and busy) time in her life. She can’t wait to see what the future holds in the upcoming years for the Theater and her new life with Logan. Jake Ragotzy Assistant Jake is thrilled to be back at the theatre for another amazing summer! Read more about Jake Expand When he isn't carving up the grass in the parking lot with his rider mower or carefully picking up huge bundles of sticks during the summer, he is a student at Michigan State University. He is going into his Senior year and is hoping to attain a Bachelor's degree in Film Studies with a minor in Fiction Filmmaking. You may see him using flawless precision up in the spotlight booth or down in the orchestra pit trying to keep his music together. Either way, Jake is proud to be working again! Luke Ragotzy Equity Luke is so excited to be here with all of you this summer after a Covid layover that felt like much more than one Barn season. This summer, along with being a member of the Equity Company, Luke is the Bar Manager for the Rehearsal Shed and Miss Penelope’s Saloon, which was a Covid renovation that he worked on alongside Steven Lee Burright, Troy Benton and Jerry McCallister. Luke has appeared on stage many times here at the Barn... Read more about Luke Expand most recently as Pepper in MAMMA MIA!, Jake in DISASTER! and the Maniacal Laughing Beaver in EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL. Luke is a Graduate of Western Michigan University with a degree in Theatre Studies with an emphasis in Directing. He wishes to thank his amazing family and his loyal friends for all of their love and support. Thank you all for coming this evening and we hope to see you throughout the summer!!! Samantha Rudy Props This will be Sam's fifth year with the Barn and she is so excited to be coming back again! Read more about Samantha Expand A graduate of the University of Central Missouri in 2016 Sam has worked in multiple areas including props design, stage management, directing and performance. She has worked at theatres across the country including, Wagon Wheel Theatre in Warsaw, IN, Meadowbrook Theatre in Detroit, MI, and Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, FL. She is returning to the Barn after spending the winter season with the Sarasota Opera as their Properties artisan and will be returning to the Opera in the fall. She wants to thank Brendan and Penelope for welcoming her back and can't wait to get back to work. Her portfolio can be found at www.samanthahallapropsanddesign.net Melanie Wehrmacher Costume Designer This is Melanie’s first summer at The Barn, having designed costumes in the Twin Cities, regionally, and Off-Broadway. Read more about Melanie Expand As an actor and writer, she has appeared on stages from New York to LA, and is currently based in Minnesota. She is a member of the Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre, and the Dramatists Guild of America. Melanie is also the founder of Adventures in Hostessville, whose online show The Vintage Magazine Project (History! Comedy! Fashion! Crafts! Snacks!) can be found at youtube.com/adventuresinhostessville. Spencer Wooley Sound Designer Spencer is excited to be making his debut at the Barn Theatre this summer as the sound designer! Read more about Spencer Expand He is a student at Madonna University studying Broadcasting and Cinema Arts. His focus is in film but he loves working on theatrical projects. Recently, Spencer won a NATAS award for sound design. In addition to sound design, Spencer loves to cook and hike.