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Who's Who in"Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" at Matthews Playhouse!

Updated: Jan 10

Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts is proud to be among the first local theatre companies in the Charlotte area to produce "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" January 19-28, 2024. The award-winning Broadway hit is a celebration of Carole King's extraordinary career and features a local cast of multi-talented performers. With a book by Tony® and Academy® Award nominee Douglas McGrath, the production features iconic songs written by Gerry Goffin/Carole King and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil.

Production Team

Billy Ensley- Director

Billy Ensley is excited to return to Matthews Playhouse after having last directed “Mamma Mia!” here.  Billy has been named Creative Loafing Magazine’s Theatre Person of the Year and twice named Creative Loafing Magazine’s Actor of The Year. He received Charlotte Magazine’s ‘Best of the Best’ and The Charlotte Observer’s ‘O’ Award for directing and playing the title role in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” for The Actors’ Theatre of Charlotte (ATC), He has received 7 Metrolina Theatre Association Awards including Best Lead Actor - Musical for both “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “Parade”, Best Director of a Musical for “Bat Boy – The Musical” ATC, “RENT” and “Avenue Q” (MTA Best Musical) Theatre Charlotte, Best Lead Actor - Drama for “The Pillowman” ATC. Recent directing credits include “Something Rotten”, “The Fantasticks” and “Spring Awakening” Theatre Charlotte, “The Legend of Georgia McBride” ATC. For Matthews Playhouse, Billy has directed “Grey Gardens”, “Shrek” “Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” & “Bonnie & Clyde”.  As a singer, dancer, actor & director, a few of the regional companies he has worked with include Busch Gardens, The Opera House Theatre Company, Queen City Theatre Company, Opera Carolina, The Blowing Rock Stage Company, The Hayes Center of Performing Arts, Spirit Square, CPCC Summer Theatre, The Moving Poets, Belmont Abbey, Wingate University, Lees McRae College & Theatre Charlotte. This Spring, Billy will direct the ground breaking, Pulitzer Prize winning musical “Next To Normal” for Theatre Charlotte.

Lisa Blanton- Choreographer

Lisa Blanton has been working as a director, performer and choreographer in the Charlotte theatre community for more than 25 years.  She is thrilled to be back at Matthews Playhouse and working with the fabulous cast and creative team for this production of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”! Her most recent choreography credits include, “Pippin”, “Something Rotten”, “The Fantasticks”, “Oliver”, “Spring Awakening” and “Saturday Night Fever” at Theatre Charlotte; and “Mamma Mia”, “Grey Gardens”, and “Bonnie and Clyde” at Matthews Playhouse. Recent directing credits include “Pippin” and “All Together Now” at Theatre Charlotte; “Seussical the Musical”, “West Side Story”, “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory", “AIDA”, “Children of Eden” and “Zombie Prom” at Matthews Playhouse. She has a degree in Theatre Arts from Wake Forest University and has studied, performed or taught dance most of her life. (Thanks to her family for always supporting!)

Ellen Robison- Music Director

Ellen is a native of Indiana where she taught high school music before moving to Wilmington, North Carolina where she taught music at UNCW for 13 years, while working on the TV shows: “Matlock,” “Dawson’s Creek” and the TV pilot, “Glory.”

She has also music directed over 100 musicals for Opera House Theatre Company. Ordained in The United Methodist Church, she has served at Myers Park UMC in Charlotte, The Riverside Church in NYC and currently, First UMC in Belmont, NC. Over the last sixteen years she has enjoyed music directing at Central Piedmont Community College, Theatre Charlotte, Actor’s Theatre and Matthews Playhouse, most recently “Hello Dolly”.

Cast (listed alphabetically)

Myles Arnold- Drifter

Myles Arnold is excited to be making his Matthews Playhouse debut. He was born in Virginia, raised in Concord, NC and holds a BM in Musical Theatre from UNC Pembroke. He is also proud to be a brother of ΦΜΑ Sinfonia. He now works as an EC Teacher Assistant and a Music Instructor. Myles was most recently seen in “Sunset Boulevard” as Artie Green with Queen City Concerts. He has also performed in shows such as “Legally Blonde” (Nikos & Padamadam), “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Mr. Krabs), “Little Shop of Horrors” (Orin), “Head Over Heels” (Ensemble), “Bye Bye Birdie” (Albert), “Mary Poppins” (Policeman) and even “Heathers” (Ram’s Dad). Myles would like to thank his family, friends, cast and crew for supporting him throughout this amazing show. Instagram: @many_myles_per_hour

Lillian Crowley- Betty

Lillian Crowley is thrilled to be back on stage for her seventh show at Matthews Playhouse since 2015. Her most recent credits include "Mamma Mia", "The Jungle Book", "Miracle on 34th Street" and "100 Dresses". When she's not on stage performing, Lillian is a preschool teacher and theater teacher. She also enjoys crocheting and reading. She would like to thank friends and family for all of their support!

Ryan Dunn- Don Kirshner

Ryan Dunn is excited to be back on the Matthews Playhouse stage in “Beautiful: the Carole King Musical”! An avid fan of the Beatles, Ryan has traveled to Hamburg, Germany to visit the clubs they played in as teenagers (next stop, Liverpool!). He is also a self-proclaimed professional Mario Kart player, a title he bestowed upon himself after winning money at an N64 Mario Kart competition. When he isn’t traveling to historical Beatles sites or fine-tuning his video game skills, Ryan loves to perform. His past productions include George in “Kinky Boots” (Queen City Concerts), Jack Crawford in “Silence! The Musical” (Actor's Theatre of Charlotte),  Pa Joad in “Grapes of Wrath” (Theatre Charlotte), Dr. Gibbs in “Our Town” (CPCC), various roles as a resident Puppeteer at Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, GA and the understudy for Aslan in “Narnia” (Children's Theatre of Charlotte). Instagram: @crazy_cat_homie

Beth Gunther- Marilyn Wald

Beth Gunther is thrilled to be in her second show at Matthews Playhouse! A Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor At Novant Health, she loves hiking, swimming, skiing, traveling, and music festivals. She has performed as a back-up singer for Ben Jones aka “Cooter” from the Dukes of Hazard and also auditioned for season 4 of American Idol with Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move.” In addition to performing, she is currently in the process of completing the 1200 mile Mountains to Sea trail (which traverses North Carolina) by section, with her mother. Her previous theatre credits include “Something Rotten” (Theatre Charlotte), “Mamma Mia” (Matthew’s Playhouse), “Bonnie and Clyde” (Matthew’s Playhouse), “Phantom of the Opera” (CPCC), “Jesus Christ Superstar” (Theatre Charlotte). Instagram: @beegunns

Steve Harper- Drifter

Steve Harper is excited to be back at Matthews Playhouse! Audiences may recognize him from his most recent role as the Mayor in “Seussical”. Steve is an actor, voice actor, and drummer and has played the drums at his church for 15 years! When he is not performing, he also enjoys traveling. His previous shows include “Mary Poppins” as Ensemble (Davidson Community Players), “Little Shop of Horrors” as Audrey II (Mint Hill Spotlight Performing Arts Academy), “Seussical” as Mr. Mayor/Dad (Matthews Playhouse), “Legally Blonde” as Emmett (Mount Pleasant High School),  “12 Angry Jurors” as Juror #5 (Mount Pleasant High School), and “Wizard of Oz” as Tin Man (Mount Pleasant High School).  Instagram: @harper_1998

Johnny Hohenstein- Righteous Brother/Nick

Johnny Hohenstein is returning for his second production with MPH after Spring 2023's “CLUE” (Professor Plum). Some previous roles include The Trunchbull in “Matilda: the Musical” (Arts at The J), William Barfée in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” (Central Piedmont), Ben Jonson in “Book of Will” (Abbey Players), and Mrs. Bumbrake in “Peter and the Starcatcher” (Theatre Charlotte). A huge thank you to MPH cast and crew for this incredible experience, and to Carole King for performing the Gilmore Girls theme song. Much love to family, friends and The DA. Instagram: @JohnnyHoh

Sophie Lanser- Cynthia Weil

Sophie Lanser is thrilled to be back at Matthews Playhouse after having appeared in “Mamma Mia”. Sophie loves to perform in local theatre and has been seen in  “Pippin” as Catherine (Theatre Charlotte), “Mamma Mia” as Lisa (Matthews Playhouse), “Little Mermaid” as Ariel (Springfield Muni Opera), “All Shook Up” as Natalie (Springfield Muni Opera), and “Legally Blonde” as Serena/Brooke Wyndham (Springfield Muni Opera). When she is not on stage, she can be found working out at Solidcore, traveling, or hanging out with her 5 year old cat, Winston, who she adopted when he was only 4 weeks old! Instagram: @sophielanser

Roman Lawrence- Drifter/Assistant Director

Roman Lawrence is excited to be making his Matthews Playhouse debut in “Beautiful”! Roman is an Associate Account Manager with Windmere Insurance who loves hiking, camping, yoga, and theatre. The second child of eight, some fun facts about Roman are that he has a degree in Poultry Science and has been bitten by a monkey (he is happy to report that he made a full recovery). Previous shows include “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” (Theatre Charlotte), “Misery” (Theatre Charlotte), “Ragtime” (NC State University),  “A Trailer Park Christmas” (Ghost & Spice Productions), “The Colored Museum” (NC State University), and “The Blood Beneath” (Seed Art Share). Instagram: @romanl__

Nehemiah Lawson- Drifter

Nehemiah Lawson (Lead Drifter) is thrilled to be making his debut at Matthews Playhouse, helping to bring the music and story of Carole King to life! After obtaining a Doctorate of Dental Surgery with residency training in pediatrics, Nehemiah finally made his return to the theatre in the Queen City. While in Charlotte over the past years, you may have seen him in Theatre Charlotte’s All Together Now, Something Rotten (Minstrel), Pippin (Leading Player), and QC

Concert’s Tick, Tick…BOOM (Michael) and Kinky Boots (Harry). However, his only true claim to fame is guest appearances on ABC’s Bachelor/Bachelorette as the overprotective “undercover brother”. In his daily life, Nehemiah revels in playing the role of pediatric dentist and world traveler. He would like to thank those closest to his heart for their constant love and support in his constant pursuit of the arts. Instagram: @_thesingingdentist

Zach Linich- Righteous Brother

Zach Linick is so excited to be a part of the wonderful cast of Beautiful! Past shows include “Diana the Musical” (QC Concerts), “Pippin” (Theatre Charlotte), and “Something Rotten” (Theatre Charlotte). When he is not performing, he enjoys going to trivia with friends and spending time at the Whitewater Center. He would like to thank the production team for this opportunity and his family and friends for all their love and support. Enjoy the show! 

Brianna Mayo- Shirelle/Janelle Woods

Brianna is thrilled to be making her Matthews Playhouse debut as a part of this Beautiful cast! Brianna was most recently seen in Theatre Charlotte's “Pippin” (Player) and “Something Rotten” (Ensemble). When she isn't singing and dancing, Brianna enjoys traveling, making beautiful charcuterie boards, and obsessing over Survivor. She would like to thank the creative team for this wonderful opportunity, and her family for their ongoing support of her passions. Instagram: @mayobrianna

Joe McCourt- Gerry Goffin

Joe McCourt is excited to be back on stage with Matthews Playhouse! A real estate agent with Giving Tree Realty, Joe has many interests and accomplishments. He has recently published a Children's Christmas Book entitled “When Santa Was A Boy”. He can also be seen performing at local bars as a solo act covering songs from the 70s-today and he has 5 self-written songs on Spotify/iTunes from when he was trying to be a songwriter. In his free time, he enjoys singing, writing songs, playing guitar, acting, writing stories, playing Volleyball, and doing renovation projects around the home. His previous theatre credits include “Something Rotten”, “Jesus Christ Superstar”, “Memphis”, “The Last 5 Years”, “RENT”, “Bonnie & Clyde”, and “Grey Gardens”. Instagram: @joesellsthecarolinas

Raven Monroe- Shirelle/Little Eva

Raven Monroe is happy to be making her return to Matthews Playhouse! She is an actress, playwright, and singer originally from Charlotte, NC. She earned her BA at UNC Charlotte and her MFA at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She has previously graced the stage at Matthews Playhouse in "Godspell", "Oklahoma", and "The Wizard of Oz". Her other work includes "She Kills Monsters" (UNC Charlotte) , "Hamletmachine" (UNC Charlotte), and "Legally Blonde" (Lee StreetTheatre), as well as various new works. She has also appeared in films such as "Nacho Date" (KP Productions) and "#Hashtag" (NPF) Raven has also written plays such as "Ama & Coltrane Beware Beware!" and "Love & Justice and Other Fairy Tales", which was featured in the AAPG BIPOC Playwright Festival, and the Queen City New Works Initiative playwright spotlight. Currently, she is working on Wanderlust's new musical, “Threads”, which will be in workshop in 2024. Raven would like to dedicate every performance to her late father Gregory Monroe, who gave her a love of music and always encouraged her to follow her dreams. Instagram:  @allthingsreign

Lindsey Schroeder- Carole King

Lindsey Schroeder is ecstatic to be portraying the role of Carole King. Years ago her mom came to her raving about “this Carole King musical”. She spoke about Carole’s joy, her journey as a songwriter, and the great rock & roll hits she wrote at such a young age. She told Lindsey that if she ever had the opportunity to play Carole, she had to go for it! Well, after 25 years of voice and piano lessons, many trips performing around the world, and her own beautiful story to tell, here she is. All glory to God! Lindsey would like to send many thanks to her fam, friends, students, cast and creative team, for supporting her throughout this journey. “Mom, thanks for sharing your own Tapestry Album with me, this show is for you!” Instagram: @theschroederstudio and @lindseyschro

Germôna Sharp- Shirelle/Shirley

Germôna Sharp is excited to be making her Matthews Playhouse debut in “Beautiful: the Carole King Musical''! She is currently learning two languages as well as how to play the guitar. Outside of performing, she loves painting, photography, and watching the TCM channel. Her previous theatre credits include Alelia Walker in “For The Love of Harlem” (BNS Productions), Bunny in “Detroit '67” (Theatre Charlotte), Damneesha in “Be A Lion” (Booth Playhouse), Hassan in “Until The Flood” (Dominion Stage), Boyet in “Love's Labour's Lost” (Play On Shakes) and The Radio in “Caroline, or Change” (JusticeTheater Project).  Instagram: @_germona_

Nick Southwick- Barry Mann

Nick Southwick (Barry Mann), gregarious raconteur, is pleased to return to Matthews Playhouse after last appearing in “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum”.  His previous credits include "Sunset Boulevard" with Queen City Concerts, "Legally Blonde" with Lee Street Theatre, and "Hurricane Smith and the Garden of the Golden Monkey" at the Williamston Theatre.  When not performing, Nick can be found working as an Analytics Consultant, playing games, songwriting, or occasionally chasing waterfalls. He would like to thank Anna for all of her overwhelming support and tolerance of sporadic harmony lines being sung at inconvenient times.

Trin Taylor- Shirelle/Lucille

Trin Taylor is thrilled to make her debut on Matthews Playhouse’s mainstage! The Baltimore native was most recently seen in “Christmas Kumbaya” at her Old Courthouse Theatre Debut. Prior, she performed in “Beautiful: A Carole King Musical” at the Green Room Theatre following her GRT debut in “Once on this Island”. A former NCCU theatre major, Trin acted for numerous university productions. She also starred as Mary in “Black Nativity”, at the NC Museum of Art. “Thank you to my soul tribe for your unwavering love and support.” Jeremiah 29:11

Carol Weiner- Genie Klein

Carol Weiner (Genie) marks her 3rd production with Matthews Playhouse (Mother Superior in “Sister Act” 2022 and Bonnie's mother in “Bonnie and Clyde” 2018). Portraying a mother on stage coincides with her real life as the mother of two beautiful young adult daughters who are navigating their own careers and relationships in New York City. While not on stage, Carol is a Portfolio Associate with Morgan Stanley and has been working in finance in Charlotte for over 35 years.

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