Original Cast and Creative Team
In 2016, Marilyn Forster had written a musical called Sparkler that was to premiere at the Sandusky State Theater. The executive director at the time suggested it be postponed and become part of the 2018 bicentennial celebration of Sandusky. The Sandusky State Theater coincidentally also turns 90 in the same year, opening October 12th, 1928. Marilyn decided that since Sparkler had no relevance to the history of Sandusky - or even anything relatively close - that an original story revealing the artistic legacy of the city would be necessary. She began researching the history of the Sandusky State Theater, and she found that opening night of the new Million Dollar Theater was quite an event. Patrons arrived in droves wearing their finest clothes to attend, as the State was the first theater in the area to offer Vaudeville entertainers of esteemed skill and renown. More research uncovered the exciting days of prohibition, and a bustling waterfront city enjoying the splendor of the Roaring Twenties.
Marilyn was then inspired to construct a representation of those performers' lives, weaving in all the drama backstage occurring two weeks prior to opening night. Sibling rivalry, jealous loves, colliding ships, and family loyalty all emerge in Sophie's Light as a hopeful ghost leads the way. Thirteen original songs, exuberant choreography, and the conflicts of ordinary people were presented in August of 2018 at the State Theater - making for one unforgettable opening night.
Now, our story is able to be presented on stages across the country.
Book and Lyrics
Marilyn Forster has devoted her life to choral and theatrical endeavors. A graduate of Muskingum College with a Bachelor's of Science in Music, she has taught music in grades K-12 in both Ohio and New York State. She has founded and directed five choral ensembles, including: Sunshine Singers, Corning Chorale, Firelands Orchestra Center Singers, and Bay Side Singers. Forster has been a soloist with Muskingum College Choir, Cambridge Orchestra, Ft. Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra, Worthington Chorus, Terra Arts Chorale, and currently Chorale Spectrum in Oberlin. Her love of hand bells has allowed her the privilege of conducting hand bell choirs in Ohio, New York State, and Florida.
Forster's theatrical credits include, music director, choreographer, or artistic director for more than twelve musicals, including: Carnival, Annie, Guys and Dolls, Camelot, Calamity Jane, Wizard of Oz, Beauty and the Beast, The Boyfriend, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, Hello! Dolly!, The Phantom of the Opera, and Jesus Christ Superstar. She has also performed, although her favorite role has to be The Witch in Into The Woods. She is also a published composer for Shawnee Press.
Sophie's Light is Forster's second musical. Her first is a musical review entitled The Follies, presented at the Sandusky State Theater. This endeavor involved over 200 members of the community throughout the production.
Her partner of 35 years is her husband Tom, who has supported and encouraged her to pursue her love of music and the arts.
A performer, producer, composer, and conductor, Michael Shirtz is known for his versatility with jazz, contemporary, and classical music, reaching out to diverse audiences of multi-generations. His interest for traditional music is clearly evident in his work as a conductor and educator, while his passion in jazz and contemporary music is his noted forte.
Shirtz returned to presenting theme shows by releasing the show, As I’ve Learned It (tribute to the music of his grandfather, big band leader Tommy Weldon) in 2014 and also launched his now popular JAZZ @ 8 Series. In 2015 Shirtz released his tribute show, AMERICAN OUR WAY: An American Songbook Story that highlights the music and performers of the 20th Century. Since then, Shirtz has developed several other shows all released this year that include his exploration into faith and spirituality calledIn Finding Faith and a tribute with symphony show called American Songbook Classics. This year Shirtz also premiered the show We Will Arise with iconic singer and actress Maureen McGovern that incorporates music and stories of faith, love, gratitude, joy, and hope.
Shirtz released his album BLUE SKIES this February and plans for two additional albums "In Finding Faith" and "Audition" are currently under way for future production.
Check out more about Shirtz's work as a conductor, producer, composer, and educator.
Below you will find the original cast and crew of Sophie's Light, presented for the bicentennial celebration in Sandusky, OH.
Classically trained in voice, Stacy Tenney Maple has enjoyed singing for many audiences from fans at professional sporting events to Pope Francis at The Vatican and sings in several choirs, including the Firelands Symphony Chorale. With roles that span from “Annie” in Annie to “Audrey”in Little Shop of Horrors, Stacy grew up in community theatre in central Ohio. Beyond the stage, Stacy is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinay arts and is the Executive Chef at Bistro 163 and a radio host on WPCR radio in Port Clinton. Stacy is excited to return to the theatre after taking time off to raise a family. As Sophie’s Ghost, Stacy is honored to carry on the romantic and mysterious legend of the theatre ghost and delighted to find her inner “ghost light” again on our stage.
Pamela Shirtz has spent her life following her passion for performance and education, becoming a strong advocate for the arts both in the classroom and the community. Pamela began her passion for the stage while dancing with D & D Dance in Toledo, which led to opportunities to perform at Disney World and eventually becoming a noted choreographer in her own right.
A passionate educator, when not on the stage, Pamela is a first-grade teacher for Perkins Schools. In 2005, Pamela served as an education specialist with the Amy Biehl Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa, working in developing educational programs and opportunities for both the students and teachers in several township schools. Pamela holds a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education & Reading and a Masters of Educational Administration from Bowling Green State University. Pamela would like to thank Michael and Marilyn for allowing her to have this amazing opportunity! She would also like to thank her friends and family for their unconditional love and support. Last but not least, thank you to the audience for supporting live theater and going on this journey with all of us on stage.
Classically trained by Loretta Robinson at The Ohio State University, Kate has had the privilege of singing in prestigious venues including the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and The White House. Though classically trained, Kate's first passion is for musical theatre. With two decades of experience on the stage, Kate has starred in such diverse roles as Cinderella in Into the Woods, Inga in Young Frankenstein, Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors and many more. Most recently she had the unique privilege of originating the role of Sylvia in the new musical Sophie's Light which premiered at the Sandusky State Theater in Sandusky, Ohio in August of 2018.
Marlee is a graduate of New York City's American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Having a laundry list of stage credits to her name, she has performed on stages in New York, and all over Northwest Ohio including Playhouse Square in Cleveland and HALO Live in Sandusky. Marlee also regularly performs with Anecdote Productions our of Sandusky, OH. She’s very excited to be working on this original musical with friends both new and old, and would like to thank her husband Nathan for his incredible support throughout this whole process.
Elizabeth is extremely excited to be back on the State Theatre stage as Nancy. She studied at Cleveland State University in Acting and English Literature. Her past credits include Girl 1 in Emotional Creature, Sarah in Company, and Madame de Volange in Dangerous Liaisons. Elizabeth would like to thank her family for always support her throughout her career. I love you guys!
Adaleine Jackson is a 2015 graduate of Marietta College with a Bachelors of Music in Music Education. She is the Vocal Music Director at Huron City Schools. She is the choral music director for grades 5-12. She has directed 3 shows at Huron, including “Cinderella”, “Thoroughly Modern Millie”, and “The Sound of Music”. Although she is used to being behind the scenes, she is grateful to the cast and crew of “Sophie’s Light” for the opportunity to be on stage again.
Charlene Gardner has been acting and singing onstage for almost 20 years at various theaters around the area. In the past you may have seen her as Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar, Nancy in Oliver!, Catherine in Pippin! and Ophelia in Hamlet to name a few. Charlene resides in Bellevue with her husband, Anthony, their adorably dramatic two-year-old and soon to be a three-nager son, Lincoln, as well as their two rescue dogs. Charlene would like to thank her family and friends for all of their support through the years and for pushing her to always pursue her love of music no matter how big or small!
Dianna was born and raised in Sandusky and is a recently retired teacher. She and her husband, Randy, are the parents of five and grandparents of 8. She has performed with numerous area singing groups including Bay Side Singers.
“I have many fond memories of attending this theater growing up and it is an honor to perform this original musical with such a talented cast .” Thank you Marilyn and Michael for giving us Sophie’s Light!
Hello my name is Nate Kaczor, I recently graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Science focused in Exercise Science. I teach Anatomy and Physiology, work as a waiter, gym staff, and as a paid actor/model. I’m working my way into film and have been in a movie, tv show, game show, and a commercial. I plan to move to L.A. to pursue acting while continuing education to become a physicians assistant.
Married 24 years to Nicole, 2 daughters: Laura (21) and Chelsea (18) both students at BGSU; wrote and directed church Easter productions for 12 years; choral director for Perkins High School’s musicals Jekyll & Hyde (2017) and Little Shop of Horrors (2018), as well as Co-Director of the play “George Washington Slept Here” (2017). Played Nick Arnstein in BSA’s production of “Funny Girl” (2018). Many thanks to my wife and daughters for their support and allowing me to take the time to be in “Sophie’s Light”!
Joel Miller is playing the role of Julius. Joel holds a Bachelors of Music from The University of Akron. He taught instrumental music for ten years. Joel has composed several pieces for large and small ensembles at the high school and collegiate levels. Past musical productions include ‘Anything Goes’, ‘Damn Yankees’, ‘Lil’ Abner’, ‘The Music Man’, & ’Brigadoon’.
A Sandusky native, Rick has recently returned home after 20 years in Miami. He has performed professionally on cruise ships, casinos, and theaters around the world, as well as on film, TV, and over 30 commercials. Rick is also a Florida attorney and 2017 US Masters Swimming All-American. He coaches swimming in Sandusky.
Nathan would like to thank Wayne and Laura Maslyk, Lynn and Judy Sartor, Monica Markovics, Jacob and Jack Maslyk, Ben Hohman, and Herbert Maslyk for being supportive throughout all his endeavors. Nathan provides promotional services throughout Northern Ohio while also producing his own performances, most prominently in Cleveland. He is thrilled to premiere the role of Phillip!
I am originally from Eastliverpool, Ohio but have resided in Sandusky for the past 17yrs. Just coming off of my run in Assassins at the Harlequins as Guisseppi Zangara. Just want to dedicate this performance to my new extended family!
Randy Miller is playing the role of Jack. He is owner of Miller Dental Laboratory in Sandusky. He is currently in his 50th year in the dental lab business. He is a past member of Sandus - Keynotes, Ferris State Men’s Glee Club, Bayside Singers, Firelands Symphony Singers, Firelands Chorus, and Harlequins Theatre.
Graduated from Bowling Green State University bachelors degree in elementary education and a Masters degree in educational administration. Married to Nancy. We have three sons Nate, Evan, and Drew. I’m in my 11th year is the principal of Monroeville High School. This is my first show.