Main Stage Performers
Special Guest Artist
Dawn Wells is best known for her role as Mary Ann Summers on the CBS sitcom Gilligan’s Island. She was born in Reno, NV, and attended Stephens College in Columbia, MO, where she majored in chemistry. She transferred to the University of Washington in Seattle, where she graduated in 1960 with a degree in theater arts and design. In Hollywood, Wells made her debut on ABC’s The Roaring 20s and was cast in episodes of such television series as 77 Sunset Strip, The Cheyenne Show, Maverick, and Bonanza, before she took the role of Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island. She reprised her character in the various Gilligan’s Island reunion specials, including a reunion cartoon spin-off, Gilligan’s Planet, and three reunion movies. She also appeared as a guest star on multiple TV shows including The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, ALF, Herman’s Head, Three Sisters, Pastor Greg, and Roseanne. Following Gilligan’s Island, Wells embarked on a theater career, appearing in nearly one hundred theatrical productions. She also had a one-woman show at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. In 2005, Wells consigned for sale her original gingham blouse and shorts ensemble from her signature role as Mary Ann. A Beverly Hills auction house, Profiles in History, sold it for $20,700. In 2014 she released What Would Mary Ann Do? A Guide to Life, which she co-wrote with Roanoke writer and well known cartoonist Steve Stinson. The book was released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Gilligan’s Island. In Idaho, Wells runs a business, Wishing Wells Collections, making clothing for people with limited mobility. She is the founder of the Idaho Film and Television Institute, with “a vision of education, technical training and economic development in Southeastern Idaho.” Her manager, Leonard Carter, is a native Roanoker and well-known film maker and videographer. He introduced Dawn to the unique charms of the region, which prompted her to share her enthusiasm for the Star City and lend her enormous talents to Starcropolis.
Simon Adkins has performed in various local plays, including New Works by Friends and Students of Todd, The Ross Laguzza Show, and People Like Ami or Turtle Who Need an Actor Right Now. He is typically cast as a clown, a villain, a villainous clown, a clownish villain, or a character so clever you could put a tail on him and call him a weasel.
Rick Blunt has worked as a professional actor for ten years, primarily at the American Shakespeare Center. While on tour he performed for and taught Shakespeare workshops at places like University of Texas, Georgetown, and Mississippi State. Blunt’s work with Hollins Theatre includes Almost, Maine, Distracted, a devised work called Rockin’ Shakespeare, and a one-hour version of Macbeth which was performed as part of his Shakespeare Bootcamp.
Bonny Branch is a visual artist and ballroom dance and yoga instructor from Roanoke who loves performing. She studied with Double Edge Theatre in MA and the American Dance Festival in NC. Branch has performed with Hollins University in Decision Height, Everything I Know I Learned in Kindergarten, An Initial Condition, Helvetica, and most recently she was Mama in Distracted.
Marion Grey, originally from Roanoke, is a Washington D.C. based actress. She is currently anticipating the release of her first short film (Dinner Party) and her first web series (Speak For Yourself) this fall. In May, she completed a year-long National Tour with Olney Theatre Center’s National Players. Her favorite roles were Puck (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Portia (Julius Caesar). Grey recently graduated from James Madison University with a B.A. in Theatre and Dance.
Tom Honer began his theatre career at St. Cloud State College, after being in the Navy for four years. He also acted in numerous shows at Waterloo Playhouse and Omaha Playhouse, receiving the Fonda-McGuire award for actor of the year while in Omaha. When Honer moved to Roanoke he became involved in Showtimers as actor, director, and member of the board of directors. He has also acted at Mill Mountain Theatre, Hollins University, and Southwest Virginia Ballet.
Thesa Loving has worked in film, television, and theatre. Credits include: film-Distant Vision (directed by Frances Ford Coppola), TV-Americas Most Wanted and Oklahoma Passage. Theatre credits include national tours of Oklahoma! and Fiddler on the Roof, regional tours of Good Ol’ Girls, The Music Man, The King and I, and Noise’s Off. Thesa is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio.
Amanda Mansfield has performed in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Louisville, and Roanoke. She is a founder of Classics at Brucemore and founding director of Children’s Classics at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids. Mansfield most recently appeared in the Hollins Playwright’s Festival productions of Adverse Effects and Helvetica, and in the Off The Rails’ productions of The Children’s Hour and Doubt. She is the donor relations coordinator for the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation.
Michael Mansfield has worked with a wide variety of local arts organizations including Mill Mountain Theatre, Showtimers, Opera Roanoke, Roanoke Ballet Theatre, Roanoke Children’s Theatre, Little Town Players, and Off The Rails Theatre. Most recently he was in Antigone and Proof, and he was lucky enough to be a part of both the Roanoke and New York productions of Helvetica and Adverse Effects.
Nick McCord is an actor and playwright from Seattle, WA who has been making up stories as long as he can remember. As a new Roanoke resident, he is thrilled and honored to be performing in Starcropolis alongside the tremendous wealth of local talent here. McCord currently pursues his M.F.A in playwriting from Hollins University. Say “hi,” he doesn’t bite.
Jasper McGruder has performed at Yale Rep, the Kennedy Center, and the Barter Theatre, including Driving Miss Daisy, Of Mice and Men, Looking Over the President’s Shoulder, and Jimmie Rogers: The Blue Yodeler. Film and TV credits include Malcom X, Fringe, and Unchained Memories on HBO. McGruder performed in Conjur Woman in Rome and with the world tour of Einstein on the Beach. He plays harmonica and has performed at Carnegie Hall.
Vanessa Mills is so excited to be a part of the thriving Roanoke theatre scene. She has a B.A. in theatre performance and some of her favorite roles include Christine Daae (Phantom of the Opera), Cathy Hiatt (The Last Five Years), Luisa (The Fantasticks), and Alice (Closer).
Thom Moore has performed with Virginia Tech, Busch Gardens, Virginia Stage Company-Norfolk, Colonial Williamsburg, the Barksdale-Richmond, and Hollins University, where he appeared in Into the Woods, Caroline or Change, and Violet. He received his M.F.A. in acting from V.C.U. Moore writes music for the banjo and recently recorded an album, “That Evening Sun,” with banjo, mandolin, guitar, and string quartet. He dedicates his performance to his long-time friend Marty Rowe, actress, director, inspiration.
Erica Musyt is a Roanoke native with credits from Mill Mountain Theatre including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Pied Piper, The Wizard of Oz, and Centerpieces. Musyt has a B.A. in theatre from George Mason University. While living in Los Angeles, she worked on the television series Swingtown and films such as Knocked Up, You Me and Dupree, and Spider-man 3.
Mikayla Parker is excited to be a part of Starcropolis. Her recent credits are as Alice in Mill Mountain Theatre’s Alice and ensemble roles in MMT’s Aesop’s Fables, Beauty and The Beast Jr, and Wizard of Oz. She was also in Roanoke Children Theatre’s Rapunzel and Attic Production’s Mary Poppins. Parker loves acting, singing, dancing, and art. She wants to thank Hollins and Ernie for this opportunity, and Ms. Anna for all she taught her.
Charlotte Pearl is in middle school at RVCS and thrilled to be a cast in such an exciting, new, unique event for and about Roanoke and its famous star. She was most recently seen in Mary Poppins at Attic Productions. Pearl is a Mill Mountain Theatre Conservatory student and has enjoyed roles in plays such as Aesop Fables and Shel’s World. She says thank you to the director and all involved in the amazing production.
Patrick Regal just finished his first year at California State University, Fresno as a theatre arts major. Some of his acting credits include The Glass Menagerie, The Frog Prince, Really Really (KCACTF Irene Ryan Nomination), Legally Blonde: The Musical and the world premiere adaptation of Blue Willow in which he originated the role of Janey’s Dad.
Shane Strawbridge is an M.F.A. candidate in the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University. He was recently recognized as one of DFW’s best actors by CBS-DFW and was named the first runner-up in the Southwest Playwriting Competition at Stage West. Strawbridge is a member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of America, Equity Membership Candidate Program, and the Dramatists Guild.
Bayla Sussman is the owner of Baylee’s Best Chocolates in Roanoke. She has performed in musicals, Shakespeare, comedies and dramas, industrials and as a voice talent. She performed at Long Wharf, Candlewood, Organic Theatre, in Free Shakespeare, and in musicals around the Chicago area. Sussman spent 2-1/2 years of her life waving her wand as the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio at several children’s theatres.
Ami Trowell is a graduate student in the M.A.L.S. program at Hollins. She is the creative director of Big Lick Conspiracy, Roanoke’s only professional improvisation troupe. Trowell has been seen on and behind the scenes in shows at Mill Mountain Theatre, Off the Rails, VWCC Theatre, and Roanoke Children’s Theatre. She is a regular on the TV show “Tuned Out” and cohost on “BP and Ami.”
Star Trail Featured Performers
Rick Blunt (Starry Starry Shakespeare) has worked as a professional actor for ten years, primarily at the American Shakespeare Center. While on tour he performed for and taught Shakespeare workshops at places like University of Texas, Georgetown, and Mississippi State. Blunt’s work with Hollins Theatre includes Almost, Maine, Distracted, a devised work called Rockin’ Shakespeare, and a one-hour version of Macbeth which was performed as part of his Shakespeare Bootcamp.
Ginna Hoben (Starry Starry Shakespeare) is an actor/writer residing in Astoria, NY. In the last year, she performed in her self-written play, No Spring Chicken twice, as well as five classical plays in rotating repertory at American Shakespeare Center. Writing credits include The Twelve Dates of Christmas (39 productions worldwide), pierced! (New York and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals), the wind-chill factor, the ten-minute play telephone (The Actors Theatre of Louisville), and the Emmy nominated TV show Brain Games.
Jared Singer (Star Slam Poetry) is an audio engineer and poet living in Brooklyn, NY. He has represented New York eight times at the national slam level including two final stage appearances at the National Poetry Slam and one at the Individual World Poetry Slam. His work has appeared in Union Square Lit Mag, The Careless Embrace of the Boneshaker, The Huffington Post, and The Washington Post. Singer has long believed in the healing power of the mountains, goofiness, and lists of three.