R&J&Z play at the Stonington Opera House


Join us for this spooky BENEFIT for a very special OCCASION:
the publication of R & J & Z, by Melody Bates. This play was developed with and had its world premiere performances at Opera House Arts in July 2014.

Saturday, October 24 at 7 pm

LIVE Zoom reading -- Talk with the cast afterwards


R & J & Z
A Zoom Playreading

Directed by David Bennett
Stage Manager:  Marci Skolnick


Carson Bates ● Melody Bates ● David Bennett ● J.Stephen Brantley ● Cait Cortelyou ● Margi Douglas ● Jeffrey Frace ● Randy Howk ● Matt Hurley ● Warren Jackson ● Maria Jung ● Rachel Murdy ● Tristan Schuler ● Marshall Spann


A special benefit production to support Opera House Arts THRIVE in these challenging times, with donations supporting our continued ability to produce original theater such as this. This live ZOOM reading is produced under agreement with the Theater Authority. The play has just been published by ORIGINAL WORKS PUBLISHING and we are celebrating! 

Get a close-up view of the play that the New York Times called "boisterous and splendid!" The production team and all-star cast of OHA favorites are cooking up some surprise tricks and treats for this event, and it promises to be a ghoulishly good time. Join us in celebrating Halloween and the great art and artists OHA has nurtured over the years.

We encourage you to support the creativity that happens at the Stonington Opera House, and its artists, by purchasing your own copy of the play HERE.



We wish to express our gratitude to the Performers’ Unions:

through Theatre Authority, Inc. for their cooperation in
permitting the Artists to appear on this program.


Romeo -– Matt Hurley*
Juliet (+Playwright) -– Melody Bates*
Balthasar (+Director) -– David Bennett
Friar Lawrence -– Ren Jackson*
Mercutio/ Paris -– J.Stephen Brantley*
Apothecary/ Escalus- – Rachel Murdy*
Tybalt/ Friar John -– Tristan Schuler*
1st Searcher -– Margi Douglass*
2nd Searcher -– Cait Cortelyou*
Lady Capulet/ Nurse/ Rosaline/ Horde -– Maria Jung*
Page/ Lord Montague/ Horde -– Marshall Spann*
Lord Capulet/ Horde/ Tech consultant- – Randy Howk*
Boy/ Horde -– Carson Bates
Stage Directions -– Jeffrey Frace*

Stage Manager – Marci Skolnick*


* denotes member of AEA

MELODY BATES* (Juliet (Playwright) OHA credits include: AVALON (Morgana, playwright), R & J & Z (Juliet, playwright), Cleopatra, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Merry Wives of Windsor, Mr. Burns, and Twelfth Night.  NY Innovative Theatre Awards: 3 awards and 11 nominations, in categories including Lead Actress, Full-Length Play, and Original Music. NYC acting credits include The Public Theater, BAM, and the Metropolitan Opera, where she recently appeared as a solo dancer in Agrippina. TV and film: Law & Order SVU, PBS Great Performances. Her play R & J & Z will be published by Original Works Publishing in 2020. www.melodybates.com

Matt Hurley performs in R&J&Z at Opera House Arts

MATT HURLEY* (Romeo) New York:  Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing (Classic Stage Co.), If Colorado Had An Ocean (La MaMa), The Gumshoe at War (Signature Theatre), Three Sisters (Baryshnikov Arts Center), Mr. Bengt’s Wife (August Strindberg Rep), What the Sparrow Said (Dixon Place). Regional: Henry IV, The Seagull, Merry Wives of Windsor, Mr. Burns, Julius Caesar, R&J&Z, Romeo and Juliet (Opera House Arts), Red Barn: A New Musical, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Doctor Faustus, Hamlet, As You Like It, Richard II, and Henry IV part I (Independent Shakespeare Company.) Film/TV: “Succession” (HBO), "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" (Amazon), “Hell On Wheels” (AMC). Education: MFA Columbia University

DAVID BENNETT (Balthasar (+Director) David Bennett is a NYC based actor and director. Directing credits include: If Colorado Had an Ocean by Mike Gorman (LaMaMa ETC), Biffing Mussels by Mike Gorman (Stonington Opera House), The Poet and the Lumberjack by Mike Gorman (LaMaMa ETC), and How and Why I Robbed My First Cheesestore by Mike Gorman (LaMaMa ETC). Acting credits include:Balthazar (R & J & Z) Stonington Opera House and Paul Orsino (Illyria) Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant. He spent his teenage years growing up on Vinalhaven.

Warren Jackson David Bennett performs in R&J&Z at Opera House Arts

WARREN JACKSON* (Friar Lawrence)

Ren is super psyched to return to Melody Bates' land of Verona and the undead, even only in the virtual village we've created.

Other NY credit includes: Off-Broadway: MIDSUMMER, Masterworks Theater Co. CORIOLANUS, Harlem Shakespeare Festival; THE LONG CHRISTMAS DINNER, Brave New World Rep.; TITUS ANDRONICUS, NY Shakespeare Exchange; HENRY V, Classical Theater of Harlem. Some Regional: ANTONY& CLEOPATRA/ THE WINTER'S TALE, Nashville Shakespeare Festival; FENCES, Palmbeach Dramaworks, Gloucester Stage; NEA National tours: MACBETH, AL Shakespeare Festival, ROMEO& JULIET, Chicago Shakespeare Theater. SHOES,Victory GardensTheater (BTA nom). Midwest Regional Emmy board Best Ensemble: Chicago children's television show, GREEN SCREEN ADVENTURES. Training: MFA, University of AZ.

J.STEPHEN BRANTLEY* (Mercutio/Paris) Previously at OHA: Romeo And Juliet, R & J & Z, Shakespeare In Love. Other regional: The Legend Of Georgia McBride (ETC Santa Barbara), The Night Alive (Guild Hall East Hampton), Of Mice And Men (Bay Street Theater, North Coast Rep), Off-Broadway: Mope (Ensemble Studio Theatre), Murder In The First (The Directors Co./59E59), Pirira (Theatre 167). TV: “Gotham” (Fox) “The Blacklist” (NBC), “Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter” (Adult Swim), “Single Parents” (Hulu), “Animal Kingdom” (TNT), “Happy!” (Syfy). Brantley is an eight-time New York Innovative Theatre Award nominee and winner of the Micheál MacLiammóir Award for Best Actor at the 2013 Dublin International Gay Theatre Festival.

Rachel Murdy David Bennett performs in R&J&Z at Opera House Arts

RACHEL MURDY* (Apothecary/Escalus) Rachel Benbow Murdy is thrilled to be returning to as The Evil Apothecary, a role she originated at OHA and played in NYC. A devotee of OHA she played the Dukes and Corin in AS YOU LIKE IT, the Duke in MEASURE FOR MEASURE, Paulina in THE SEAGULL, Mrs. Hucklebee in THE FANTASTICKS, and Norma Millay in THE MILLAY SISTERS CABARET. She is an original cast member and creator of THE DONKEY SHOW NYC/Cambridge. See what she is up to with her current singing-ghost project on GOMO TV via  SMUSH Gallery at  smushgallery.com/whatshappening @ghostofmroberon and @rachel.murdy.artwork on IG. 

TRISTAN SHULER (Tybalt/Friar John) a native New Yorker, is a multidisciplinary theatre artist, excited to be working again with Opera House Arts after playing Lancelot in Melody Bates' world premiere of Avalon last summer. Thank you Melody, for keeping the theatre alive with every breath! Theatre Acting credits include: Kristoff (Disney Cruise Line's Frozen); u/s Blaine, Greg, & Ronald (Cruel Intentions: the 90's Musical, Off-Bway); Daveed Diggs, u/s Lin-Manuel Miranda (Spamilton: An American Parody, Off-Bway & Nat'l Tour); Tiny Tom (Urinetown, the Musical, Off-Bway 2015 Revival); Johnny J & Male Swing (Odd Squad LIVE!, Nat'l Tour); Beast (Disney's Beauty & the Beast, Miller-Symphony Hall); Prince Eric (Disney's The Little Mermaid, Zoellner Arts Center). Theatre Directing credits include: The Big Bang Theory: A Pop-Rock Musical Parody (Off-Bway) & Oh My God...Broadway!! (York Theatre, Co., starring Sally Struthers & Thorgy Thor.) Creator of A Night of Play NYC, a monthly playwrights' collective for new works. IG: @TristanJShuler www.TristanJShuler.com

Margi Douglas

MARGI DOUGLAS* (1st Searcher)

CAIT CORTELYOU* (2nd Searcher) Cait Cortelyou is an actor/producer newly based in Atlanta. She created, produced, and starred in the feature film ASK FOR JANE which opened last spring in theaters across the US and Canada. Career highlights include the recurring role of Nurse Monk on Steven Soderbergh’s THE KNICK, the special fashion week episode of BULL on CBS, originating a role in the Off-B’way hit SLEEP NO MORE, and originating the role of Maeve in both the world and New York premieres of R & J & Z. Cait is an alum of the National Theater Institute at the O’Neill, and earned her BA from Columbia in three years. Visit her online at www.CaitCortelyou.com or on Instagram: @caitcortelyou.

MARIA JUNG* (Lady Capulet/Nurse/Rosaline/Horde)

MARSHALL SPANN* (Page/Lord Montague/Horde) Marshall Spann Marshall is thrilled to bring the Page back to life (pun intended) for this production, having been a part of the original NYC cast.  In New York he has been seen in Hard Sparks Innovative Award winning play R&J&Z, Theatre 167’s THE WORLD’S FAIR PLAYS (NY Times Critic’s Pick). He also cowrote, coproduced, and costarred in the web series OLLIE & MOLLY CAN’T GET ARRESTED.

vimeo.com/ollieandmolly Other credits include ROMEO AND JULIET, CRIMES OF THE HEART at PlayMakers Repertory Company, MISS  BENNET CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY at Trustus, OTHER DESERT CITIES, THE BOYS IN THE BAND at Workshop Theatre, and  MACBETH with the SC Shakespeare Company. MFA: Professional Actor Training Program/ UNC Chapel Hill. 

Randy Howk performs in R&J&Z at Opera House Arts

RANDY HOWK (Lord Capulet/Horde/Tech Consultant)

Randy Howk, actor, producer and technology enthusiast, happy to be back in the Blood with my fellow ghouls.

CARSON BATES (Boy/Horde) is a fourth grader who lives in Portland, Oregon. Last summer he played the title character in the Northwest Children’s Theatre play HARRY POTTER! In the summer of 2020, he created the roles of Chef Bob Jerralds (the Greatest Pancake Chef in the World), stowaway Jack Lightfoot, a sentient tree named Root, and a computer entity called SIGGY, for the original play THE PIRATES AND THE CREATURES, which he co-wrote with his sister Madelyn and his aunt Melody Bates. He enjoys programming, playing Minecraft, making magnet videos, acting, writing, and reading. He is excited to join the cast of R & J & Z, and he would like to thank Aunt Melody and his parents for letting him play a part in it. 

Jeffrey Frace directs in R&J&Z at Opera House Arts

JEFFREY FRACÉ* (Stage Direction) Jeffrey Fracé is a performer, director, writer, and teacher. At OHA: Winter’s Tale, Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, As You Like It, Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Measure for Measure, Merry Wives of Windsor, and 10 Real Star Acts. Other credits include the Kennedy Center, New York Shakespeare Festival, American Repertory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, ACT Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Cleveland Public Theatre, Chopin Theatre Chicago, and La MaMa ETC. Most recently he created and performed the dance-theater piece 11 Comets with Rachael Lincoln, and wrote and directed the short film Meg & Siggy Go Swimming. He is a founding member of Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant, and a former Associate Artist of SITI Company. Currently based in Seattle, he heads the acting program at University of Washington.

MARCI SKOLNICK* (Stage Manager) hails from Las Vegas and New York. Her work has taken her hither and yon, Off Broadway and beyond.  With OHA: Romeo and Juliet, R&J&Z, The Last Ferryman. Other credits include: Gwen Stefani: Just A Girl, Christina Aguilera: The Xperience, Baz: A Musical Tour de Force, Blue Man Group Las Vegas, Le Reve and Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity, and with such companies as the Public Theater, Goodspeed Musicals, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, the Kitchen, and Adirondack Theatre Festival. Ms. Skolnick is a proud members of Actors Equity, proud graduate of Hofstra University, and proud cat mom to Pico de Gato.