UTOPIA, OHIO Artist Biographies
Marci Hedges (Voice of Hannah) is a songwriter, singer and producer in cincinnati. She is currently the lead vocalist with “Clyde Brown Band,” "The Everyday People Band" and sings with the Freedom Conductor Ensemble of the Cincinnati Opera and The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra. Marci is a special education teacher for Princeton City Schools, a traveling teaching artist for The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati in the summer and believes that music is a healing tool that she uses by singing each Sunday in area nursing homes. Marci Hedges, mother of two and born to a family of musicians in Blue Ash/Cincinnati Ohio. Daughter of Eddie Hedges, of Blessed Union of Souls, Marci is excited to cross over to the theatre world and looks forward to doing more work in the near future.
Jeremiah Savon Jackson (Role of Samuel) is a recent Northern Kentucky University graduate, receiving his BFA in Musical Theatre with a minor in Electronic Media and Broadcasting. His collegiate work includes THE PRINCESS PLAYS (Woodsman, King), VIOLET THE MUSICAL (Flick) and THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD (Mr. Phillip Bax/Bazzard).
Clare Jaymes (Stage Manager) is excited to be working with Hugo West Theatricals again after a lengthy break. She holds a degree in Theatre Design and Production with a focus in Stage Management from University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music. She loves theatre, plants, and has an unhealthy relationship with crafting. She is the owner and lead event coordinator of Clarity Events and would like to offer her event planning services to anyone who may need them! She loves a good show or a good party.
Jennie Malone (Role of Sarah) enjoys a multi-faceted career spanning theatre, dance, music and film. In theatre, she has performed on the National Tour of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Southeastern tours of SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN and SANDERS FAMILY CHRISTMAS, and in over 50 productions at regional theatres around the country. Favorite roles performed include Laurie in OKLAHOMA!, Audrey in HANK WILLIAMS LOST HIGHWAY, and Anna in THE KING AND I. Jennie has become a specialist in Actor-Musician shows and is a multi-instrumentalist, often singing, acting, and dancing while playing various musical instruments.
As a vocalist, in May of 2023 Jennie was one of two backup vocalists for Joe Piscopo of Saturday Night Live fame at his concert Joe Piscopo & His Big Band in Indiana. In February of 2023, she sang at NYC’s Carnegie Hall in the Voices in the Hall choir, backing up headliners John Angotti and ValLimar Jansen. Other vocal engagements have included singing aboard SeaEscape Cruiselines in Florida and singing the National Anthem for the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks hockey team.
As a musician, Jennie played keyboard for a year with the National and International Tours of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, performing all over the country, as well as Canada and Tokyo, Japan. You can hear Jennie playing the theme song to the podcast Lost Ladies of Lit, which she wrote and recorded. Jennie also plays steel pan with the Bacchanal Steel Band and has played some notable gigs including opening twice for The Beach Boys, performing aboard the Japanese cruise ship Asuka, and modeling JOCKEY underwear while playing steel pan in a Cirque du Soleil-style show at JOCKEY’s international convention.
Recently, Jennie has appeared in several films, most notably Mark Ruffalo’s Dark Waters (2019) as the Guitar Player/Singer. In 2020 she walked the red carpet at the TCL Chinese Theatres for the LA premiereof the indie romcom Our Scripted Life (2020), in which she played exotic dancer Charlotte Dupree. The film has won 24 awards at film festivals all over the globe, including Best Comedy Feature at the London Film Festival and Best Ensemble Cast at the Global Film Festival Awards in Los Angeles. In early 2021, she appeared as a featured Cave Person in the new Wrong Turn horror film, spawning appearances at regional horror and film festivals over the past two years. On the small screen, she has appeared on the TV show Nashville, and in commercials for White Castle and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Jennie is a member of Actors Equity Association and is also Screen Actors Guild Eligible. Instagram: @jennielynnmalone
Deondra Means (Assistant Director, Dramaturg) was born and raised in Cincinnati and discovered his love for the arts through music at church and at Cincinnati’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts. There, he got involved with all aspects of the arts – technical theatre, piano, choir, drama and musical theatre. After graduating from Webster University in St. Louis, he completed an internship where he served in many aspects of the work, acting tour roles, office support, and fundraising at the St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre. This experience gave him a desire to start his own theater company, Kuumba People of Color Theatre Ensemble. Kuumba means creativity in Swahili. Their first production was Black Nativity by Langston Hughes. Black Nativity is a retelling of the classic Nativity story with an entirely black cast. Traditional Christmas carols are sung in gospel style, with a few songs created specifically for the show.
In 1994-95, Deondra was continuing to work full time, expanding his theatre experiences and activities and bringing black history stories to life. He enrolled at Xavier University as a music education major. While working at The Diner located downtown, Deondra learned that his long-time mentor, former teacher, and friend, Jack Louiso, took the helm of The Children’s Theater of Cincinnati. Deondra shared that he had a bit of an ego at the time and he went to audition for Jack at TCT but never got a callback. When he didn’t get a callback, he followed up and Jack shared that they decided to go in a different way. Deondra was shocked, and then inspired, so he followed up with his local mentors and acting coach.
Less than a year after that, he was able to read for the new TCT series called The Young Adult Series (YAS) and secured the role of Crooks in TCT’s Of Mice and Men. His involvement with TCT grew from acting roles to educational consultancies over the years, while continuing to manage other roles and work to help sustain his family.
Deondra was interested in arts integration and arts expression, helping to develop social skills and self-esteem in children. TCT’s set designer’s wife was Deondra’s music teacher. She witnessed him play the role of Templeton the Rat three times over the years. She started to encourage him to reach beyond acting into writing scripts as well.
With Deondra’s help, TCT expanded its focus into curricular-based literature for young adults where historical stories came to life in workshops like “From the Page to the Stage.” TCT’s WorkShop division focused on turning novels into plays and changed the focus of the writing to be more presentational. Literature specific to young audiences featuring classics could resonate with young audiences. This is where Deondra began to develop his gift and talent as a playwright.
Over the years Deondra sought out experiences from many different theatres, K-12 schools, universities and organizations, including the Freedom Center. Deondra feels God gave him wonderful gifts and with these gifts, he is creating life experiences, memorable moments, developing relationships to help children – especially those in underserved communities – to overcome challenges and become all they are destined to be. As teacher, mentor and performer he wants to inspire children as they grow, discover, and develop.
As a voice actor, Deondra has worked with the Hear / Now Festival, the productions of Blood Cotton and American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s Lollipops Family Concerts and podcasts for The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. Deondra is a featured vocalist with The Hues Corporation and the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra ragtime band.
Brad Myers (Roles of Loughborrow, Wattles, Warren) is a professional guitarist, an adjunct faculty member at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and an actor-musician whose professional credits have included PUMP BOYS & DINETTES (The Carnegie), HOT DAMN! IT’S THE LOVELAND FROG (Cincinnati Fringe Festival) and RING OF FIRE (Memorial Hall).
Playing music since the age of 6, composer/guitarist Brad Myers decided to pursue transcendence through jazz expression at the age of 13. And that purity of spirit and joy of creativity has been at the core of his artistry throughout his musical life. After more than 20 years as a much sought after sideman and co-directing a variety of acclaimed ensembles that crossed the boundaries of multiple musical genres, Brad has decided to emerge as a leader. The 2015 release of Prime Numbers, the first album released on his own label, Colloquy Records, is a stunning showcase for his brilliant talents as both composer and guitarist. Prime Numbers earned worldwide praise from critics and jazz radio alike, including “4 Stars” from Downbeat Magazine and rotation on PRI's Jazz After Hours program. In 2017, Brad and Colloquy have released Sanguinaria (Hopefulsongs), a breathtaking and uplifting collaboration with bassist Michael Sharfe that focuses on the beautiful dialogue and interplay between jazz guitar and double bass in both duo and trio settings.
For the majority of musicians who possess Brad’s level of artistry, there is a tendency to move to a major city on either coast to develop their careers. But Brad went against the grain, leaving his home in the Washington D.C. area in 1994 and moving to Cincinnati to study Jazz Guitar with James E. Smith at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) on an Honors Scholarship. There he discovered not only a large number of outstanding musicians who shared his wide-ranging musical visions, but also a rich musical history. “This was the home of King Records and its classic James Brown albums. Louis Armstrong’s first recordings, Bix Beiderbecke and the Wolverines sides and Jelly Roll Morton’s piano rolls were all recorded at the legendary Gennett Records; and so many of Hank Williams great songs were recorded here at Herzog Studios. George Russell, Frank Foster, Fred Hersch, and Cal Collins all came from Cincinnati. With so many great musicians living here, I want to make a contribution to that legacy.”
Embracing every opportunity that CCM offered him for his personal and artistic growth, Brad honed his skills in the diverse environments of musical theater pit orchestras, big bands, jazz combos and in 1996, Brad made his first of many recordings, as featured soloist with Pat Harbison’s 2:00 Combo on the SeeBreeze release Lady Bird.
In 1998, Brad made a sharp left turn from the conservatory to professional life by joining Ray’s Music Exchange, a popular Cincinnati based funk jazz outfit famed for long energetic improvisational grooves, contributing as guitarist, composer and producer. Drawing upon such diverse inspirations as Miles Davis’ electric bands, Frank Zappa, Medeski, Martin & Wood, The Meters and John Zorn, this groundbreaking ensemble toured from coast to coast for the next 8 years. The group reunited in 2010 and Brad produced their live DVD, A Live Rayunion.
Over all these years, Brad has shared the stage with a variety of top names including John Scofield, Stanley Jordan, Victor Wooten, Bela Fleck, Hammond Artist Brian Charette, the Cincinnati Pops, the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra and many more. He was a featured guest soloist playing the "part" of Cal Collins in Nancy James and Carmen DeLeone’s A Salute to Rosemary Clooney; and he performed with Pernell Santurnini in a live broadcast from the renowned percussionist’s native Curaçao. Brad recently recorded with Fareed Haque in a big band recording of pieces from the guitar great’s Garaj Mahal, and then premiered the music live with him at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center in NYC.
Continuing to create on an eclectic canvas, Brad is heavily involved on the local scene – as a member of Steve Schmidt’s Organ Trio for the past six years; wielding a telecaster with the country/honky tonk group Jeremy Pinnell & the 55s; playing Western Swing music with The Midwestern Swing; performing progressive original jazz with The David McDonnell Group; acoustic vocal jazz and roots music with Jacklyn Chitwood in The Fraid Knots; the music of Steely Dan with the 10 piece supergroup Aja; and funky experimental jazz with Ray's Music Exchange.
With true 24/7 dedication and commitment to music, education is another key component of Brad’s devotion. “My second great love is to share my knowledge with aspiring musicians.” At CCM Brad began teaching privately through the CCM Preparatory Department and at Cincinnati’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts, and for years he’s maintained a teaching studio that balances his performance schedule with his proclivity for passing on his knowledge. In 2013, Brad returned to CCM to pursue his formal studies and in 2015 received his Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies. “Reflecting upon my personal epiphanies as a teenager - hearing Pat Metheny Group at Wolf Trap and John Scofield Trio at Blues Alley; a summer Jazz intensive with Dan ‘Smitty’ Smith at 16 – I know how receptive and open the mind is in young hopeful musicians. I want to contribute positively to that development through everything I’ve learned on and off the bandstand.”
For all musicians who strive for the profound, Brad knows that education is a never-ending process. Combining his earliest studies on piano and switching to guitar at age 10 under the early influence of The Beatles, Hendrix, Yes, Rush and the Allman Brothers; maturing under the later inspiration of Jim Hall, the Bill Evans Trio, Keith Jarrett, Metheny and Scofield; and catalyzing all of that with his own vast set of personal musical experience, Brad Myers is staying busy and happily engaged in making his own powerful mark on the glorious legacy of jazz.
Linsey Rogers (Roles of Esther Wattles, Conductor, Mrs. Prescott, Elizabeth Seaver) is a mulit-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and actor who loves telling stories and connecting with audiences through music. Most recently, Linsey has been working as an entertainer musician for Disney Cruise Lines, singing and playing for guests in the piano lounges aboard the Magic and the Wonder. A graduate of Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, she has worked a wide variety of gigs ranging from studio musician for video game soundtracks to symphony orchestra member to bookseller to member of the musical duo Jellico and much, much more. She has performed both onstage and in the pit for several Cincinnati area theaters, including Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Know Theatre of Cincinnati, Falcon Theatre, Incline Theatre, Memorial Hall, The Carnegie, and the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts. Favorite roles include Annas in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and band member in DARKEST NIGHT at the Gnarly Stump. She is currently working on releasing her first album of original works and particularly enjoys finding creative ways to combine vocals, violin, viola, and keyboard through the use of a looper pedal. When she's not making music, you will probably find her playing pinball in competitions or on her stream What The Flip.
Joshua Steele (Producer, Playwright) is a vocalist, actor, playwright, producer, arts administrator and educator. Professional stage credits include Henry Ford in RAGTIME with Alton Fitzgerald White, Nikki Renee Daniels, Ashley Brown and Ron Bohmer (Cincinnati Pops); Littlechap in STOP THE WORLD, I WANT TO GET OFF (Kentucky Symphony Orchestra); Lemony Snicket’s THE COMPOSER IS DEAD (Cincinnati Pops); SOME ENCHANTED EVENING, THE SUNSHINE BOYS, ROUTE 66 (NKU Commonwealth Theatre); Anthony in THE HOUSE OF YES (Untethered Theatre Company); Scraggly Santa in YES, VIRGINIA with Norm Lewis and Liz Callaway (Cincinnati Pops); Felix in THE ODD COUPLE (Showboat Majestic); the Stepmother in CINDERELLA (The Covedale); Ross Gardiner in VISITING MR. GREEN (Monmouth Theatre); Crumpet and Jocelyn in the paired one-man shows SANTALAND DIARIES and SEASON’S GREETINGS (New Edgecliff Theatre); Jim in I LOVE A PIANO (The Covedale); the title role in THE ELEPHANT MAN (Falcon Theatre); Jesus in COTTON PATCH GOSPEL (Showboat Majestic); Gabe in the Neil Sedaka revue BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO (Acclaim Award winner, Cincinnati Entertainment Award nominee; The Covedale) and Father Virgil Manly Trott in NUNCRACKERS (NKU Commonwealth Theatre). Other favorite roles have included the title role in PETER PAN (Cincinnati Music Theatre), Tobias in SWEENEY TODD (Cincinnati Entertainment Award Winner; Footlighters), Jamie in THE LAST FIVE YEARS and Buddy in SIDE SHOW (New Stage Collective). Joshua has also appeared on classical stages, with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and the Cincinnati Opera.
As a vocalist, Joshua is a featured soloist with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra Boogie Band, and a soloist at Community of the Good Shepherd in Montgomery, OH. He leads the two-time “Best of Cincinnati”-winning a cappella ensemble No Promises Vocal Band, and enjoys performing with his father in the soft rock trio Three Bald Guys. He had the pleasure of touring Italy with the 22-voice New World Vocal Consort, comprised of professional vocalists from across North America.
Joshua is also a playwright, and has written or co-written the plays and musicals HARAMBE, THE GOSPEL OF BARABBAS, CESSNA: A DRAMA NOIR, DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS, HOT DAMN! IT’S THE LOVELAND FROG! and THE LETTERS OF VINCENT VAN GOGH: A LIVE PERFORMANCE. He is currently developing the musical UTOPIA, OHIO, based on three experimental utopian settlements in 1840s southwest Ohio.
In his full-time endeavors, Joshua is the Senior Manager of Memorial Hall, a recently renovated 556-seat venue in Over-the-Rhine, where he hosts more than 250 events and performances annually. Notable acts he has presented at the venue include Matt Nathanson, Graham Nash, Judy Collins, Chris Thile, Del McCoury, Dave Mason, Moth Radio Hour, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Andrew McMahon, Andy Grammer, Christopher Cross, Robert Cray, Jefferson Starship, John Butler and Ricky Skaggs, as well as concert stagings of The Who’s TOMMY and RING OF FIRE. He previously served as the Managing Director of Theatre at The Carnegie in Covington, KY, where he originated and produced the award-winning theatre series and Carnegie in Concert chamber music series. Joshua was honored to be named an Acclaim Award MVP for his producing work at The Carnegie. He was included as one of “10 Who Are Advancing The Arts” and called “Cincinnati theatre’s most impressive multitasker” by the Cincinnati Enquirer, and has been called “the definition of a contemporary impresario” by Cincinnati Citybeat. His productions of PARADE and CHICAGO were named “Best Musical of the Year” by the League of Cincinnati Theatres. Earlier in his career, Joshua co-founded and served as Executive Director of New Stage Collective, served as General Manager of the Vocal Arts Ensemble and interned for the Executive Director of Arena Stage in Washington, DC. Joshua served as President of the League of Cincinnati Theatres from 2014 to 2016.
Since 2012, Joshua has been a part-time voice instructor for Northern Kentucky University’s School of the Arts. He was named a Flame Honoree by the University in 2019.
Joshua holds graduate degrees in arts administration and business administration from the University of Cincinnati, and a degree in vocal performance from The Ohio State University. He lives in Kennedy Heights with his wife, actress Brooke Steele; and their daughters, Daphne and Selene.
Zack Steele (Director, Role of Moishe) is a Singer / Actor / Director / Musician, originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. He holds a B.F.A. in Acting with an emphasis in Musical Theatre from Wright State University and is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in Directing for the Musical Theatre Stage at Penn State University. He has performed on stages across the country and beyond, both as an actor and as a musician… and sometimes as both! Some of his favorite regional credits include: Johnny Cash in RING OF FIRE (Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre; Indianapolis, IN), Anthony in SWEENEY TODD & Patrick in MAME (The Human Race Theatre Co.; Dayton, OH), Bob Cratchit in A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Hanover Theatre; Worcester, MA), Young Ben in FOLLIES (Short North Stage; Columbus, OH), Captain Walker in TOMMY (Memorial Hall; Cincinnati, OH), Jimmy in HANK WILLIAMS: LOST HIGHWAY (Infinity Theatre Co.; Annapolis, MD), Jackson in PUMP BOYS & DINETTES (Great Plains Theatre; Abilene, KS), Patrick in THE ANDREWS BROTHERS (Old Creamery Theatre; Amana, IA), and Dennis in ALL SHOOK UP (Arundel Barn Playhouse, Arundel, ME). He is a proud member of Actors Equity and associate member of SDC.
Jim Stump (Costumes) is a respected Cincinnati actor, director and costumer. His many collaborations with UTOPIA, OHIO’s Joshua Steele include THE BAKER’S WIFE, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, BURY THE DEAD, THE SANTALAND DIARIES, CESSNA and THE GOSPEL OF BARABBAS.