Crazy Mary Lincoln

CML title mockup_01.19.17HHR_BLACK_MaxSizeCrazy Mary Lincoln
Book by Jan Levy Tranen & Jay Schwandt
Music by Jay Schwandt
Lyrics by Jan Levy Tranen

Directed by Tracey Elaine Chessum

June 1-18, 2017
Logan Fringe Arts Space: Trinidad Theatre
1358 Florida Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002
Map & Directions


Mary Lincoln shopped like Nancy, stumped like Hillary, and suffered like Jackie: she was both loved and reviled by the public and the press. With toe-tapping choruses and beautiful ballads, this musical explores the life of the First Family following the assassination of the President, as Mary and Robert Todd grapple with grieving a husband and a father, as well as facing a very new dilemma: does a President belong to his family, or does he belong to the ages?

CRAZY MARY LINCOLN perfectly threads together a golden idea, a compelling story, catchy music, and wry observation about politics, society, and gender in America. – DC Theatre Scene

All in all, CRAZY MARY LINCOLN is a new musical that went through the process and came out a winner. I applaud Pallas Theatre Collective for taking on new work and look forward to whatever its next project might be. – BroadwayWorld DC

CRAZY MARY LINCOLN is quite effective and affectionate musical storytelling with a welcomed re-look at history from a different point-of-view. It is a well-accomplished, very earnest production. …CRAZY MARY LINCOLN deserves to go on to gain a following here in the DC area and beyond. – DC Metro Theater Arts

The musical also sheds light on how the reduced role of women in society may have contributed to mishandling a ferociously strong woman who clawed her way through life –dressed in the best, and daring to live life her way. The songs and lyrics swelled and boomed with regal flair, touching interludes, and cute ditty passages along the way to effectively tell the story. Still in workshop status, the musical is well on its way to a successful production next year.  – DC Theatre Scene

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Jan Tranen headshotChicago-based lyricist Jan Tranen has received national acclaim for her latest piece, A Minister’s Wife. After its successful run at Lincoln Center in 2011, it continues to be performed widely throughout the United States. Ms. Tranen has also written a one-act opera, A Night in Sarajevo, as well as an unproduced children’s musical and a forthcoming piece about Mary Todd Lincoln. Ms. Tranen was a student of Sheila Davis, author of The Craft of Lyric Writing, and a member of New Tuners, a theatre program in Chicago. In additional to lyrics for the stage, she has written a classical song cycle; a handful of country, cabaret, and holiday songs; and a children’s book.




Jay Schwandt received his MM in Composition from Michigan State University in 1998 after having completed his undergraduate work at Albion College. He is the composer of the one-act opera Night in Sarajevo and the musical Crazy Mary Lincoln, both with lyrics by Jan Levy Tranen. Crazy Mary Lincoln, about the life of Mary Todd Lincoln, was a Richard Rodgers Award finalist in 2010. Schwandt contributed over 30 arrangements for the musical Doo-Dah! about the life of songwriter Stephen Foster. Doo-Dah! was conceived by choreographer Michael Lichtefeld and written by playwright Martin Casella and has had readings in Chicago and Stratford, Ontario. Most recently Schwandt toured the country with actor John Vessels in their cabaret An Evening with Lillian Baxter for which he wrote arrangements and original material. Their other show A Very Lillian Baxter Christmas was performed in Louisville in 2013. He is a professor at Ball State University in the Department of Theatre and Dance.

This show is presented at the Trinidad Theatre at the Logan Fringe Arts Space, run by the Washington, DC non-profit Capital Fringe.

Meet The Cast

Zach Brewster-Geisz 5-2012 StandardZach Brewster-Geisz (Ensemble) has worked in DC theater, onstage and off, for over twenty years. Here at Pallas, he has been seen in Lost in Wonderland, code name: CYNTHIA, and She Stoops to Conquer. Other recent roles include Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (WSC Avant Bard); Bréhan in Blood, Sweat, and Fears (Molotov Theater Group); Marty in Dani Girl (Unexpected Stage Company); and Jack in (a love story) (Source Festival). He’s a co-founder of the Siegfried Olsson Band, which is not technically a band but does put out comedy videos on YouTube every week. He serves as Company Manager for Pallas, and teaches at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts.
Burdette croppedMelynda Burdette (Mary Todd Lincoln) has been a performer, teaching artist, and arts administrator for over 15 years. Originally from Frederick, Maryland, Melynda is a graduate of The Catholic University of America’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music holding a Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre and recently earned her Master of Science in Nonprofit and Association Management from the University of Maryland. While at CUA, Melynda was selected to represent the school in Italy and perform a private papal audience for Pope John Paul II. Melynda has performed off Broadway, on tour and in regional theatres across the country. A Helen Hayes nominated performer, Melynda has performed with the Tony award winning Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, American Family Theatre, Washington Savoyards, Maryland Ensemble Theatre, Shawnee Playhouse, Prather Entertainment Group, Venus Theatre, Riverside Dinner Theatre and Toby’s Dinner Theatre. Melynda is currently the Assistant Education Director at Adventure Theater MTC.
1016418_859130180787118_6558851871759819377_nChristine Callsen (Ensemble) is pleased to join Pallas for its 7th season as a Collective Member and Co-Associate Artistic Director.  Recent local credits include Taming of the Shrew (Kate u/s -performed) and Queen of Hearts in Lost in Wonderland with Pallas Theatre Collective, Domestic Animals (Lori) at the Capital Fringe Festival, Swing Time (Betty) at the U.S. Navy Memorial, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Maggie) with St. Marks Players. She also appeared in a staged reading of Perfect Arrangement with The Wild Root Company in NYC, and in the Netflix original series House of Cards. She has worked with numerous theatre companies in the Midwest, where her acting credits included Chicago (Roxie), The Spitfire Grill (Shelby), The Sound of Music (Maria), and Side by Side by Sondheim.  Directing credits include  Sweeney ToddAssassins, and The King and I.  Christine  holds a B.A. in Acting and a Master’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin.
AylaAyla Collins (Mamie Lincoln) is so excited to make her debut with Pallas Theater Collective. She is nine years old and attends elementary school in Alexandria, VA. She was recently seen in Mount Vernon Community Children’s Theater’s productions of The Little Mermaid and The Wizard of Oz. Besides signing and acting, Ayla loves playing soccer, and hanging out with friends. Ayla thanks the Crazy Mary Lincoln production staff for casting her in this show.
BrevanBrevan Collins (Tad Lincoln) is an 8th grader at Carl Sandburg Middle School in Alexandria, VA. He is excited to do his first Pallas Theatre Collective production. He has performed as Tobias in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (St. Mark’s Theater), Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat (Mount Vernon Community Children’s Theater-MVCCT), Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz (MVCCT), plus a host of other roles. When he is not singing and acting, Brevan plays travel soccer and loves hanging out with his buddies. He wants to thank his friends and family for helping him pursue is dreams and the amazing directors and production staff that he has worked with that have helped him grow.
Amy Conley-012917Amy Conley (Ensemble) made her first appearance with Pallas in the staged reading of code name: CYNTHIA and then in The Fall of the House of Usher. She then served as music director for the full production of code name: CYNTHIA and Lost in Wonderland. Amy has also been seen on the stages of Signature Theater (Company – Joanne and Susan u/s – performed both, Threepenny Opera – Mrs. Peachum u/s, and Beaches – Leona u/s – performed), The American Century Theatre (One Touch of Venus), and Little Theatre of Alexandria (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Cabaret (WATCH nomination), The Full Monty), among others. Music direction credits include: Creative Cauldron – Marry Me a Little and Thunder Knocking on the Door; The Keegan Theatre – Man of La Mancha; Foundry Players – Company (WATCH nomination); St. Mark’s Players – Fiddler on the Roof, Jesus Christ Superstar, Secret Garden. Amy is also frequently seen on cabaret stages throughout the area.
EG_headshotErin Granfield (Mary Harlan) is delighted to be part of the premiere of this brilliant new musical! A proud member of Pallas Theatre’s Artistic Collective, Erin made her Pallas debut as the March Hare in last year’s Lost in Wonderland. She has appeared on stages across the country. Favorite credits include the first national tour of the Stroman-helmed Broadway revival of The Music Man (Marian Paroo u/s/ performed), The Secret Garden (Martha), Sweeney Todd (Johanna), Brigadoon (Fiona), and Into the Woods (Witch & Baker’s Wife). A New Yorker for many years, Erin produced and performed her own one-woman cabaret shows and has sung in clubs throughout Manhattan. A National YoungArts Foundation award winner and a Presidential Scholar of the Arts semi-finalist, Erin grew up in here in the Nation’s Capital and attended college in the Land of Lincoln, graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in Vocal Performance and a certificate from Northwestern’s Music Theater Program.
Will Hawkins' Headshot (No Border) (v2)Will Hawkins (Ensemble) is thrilled to be a part of the Pallas Theatre Collective after appearing as Stephen Undershaft in Major Barbara, John Noyes in a reading of Oneida, and in the Ensemble of code Name: CYNTHIA. Originally from Alexandria, VA, Will spent four years at UNC-Chapel HIll earning degrees in Music and Dramatic Art, fled to Cape Cod for a summer to perform with the College Light Opera Company, and finally landed in the DC Area again! He has had the pleasure of playing such roles as Reverend Bullworthy in Truth: the Musical, Bud Frump in How to Succeed in Business…, Bertie Bassett in Lady, Be Good, Hunter in [title of show], Rod in Avenue Q, and Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore. I’d like to give a tremendous thanks to my parents. I could not do this without their unending support!
KoonMadeleine Adele Koon (Ensemble, Choreographer) is thrilled to return to Crazy Mary Lincoln after the Kennedy Center reading! Recent local credits include Sweeney Todd (Johanna) at St. Mark’s Players, the long-running Swing Time! – The Musical (Lori), Lady Lay (Frau L) with Scena Theater, and code Name: CYNTHIA as part of Pallas Theatre Collective’s TableRead Series. She is also a principle character in the web series Redmonton (Jennie), which is on YouTube and Vimeo. Madeleine holds a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from Auburn University. Some favorite roles include She Loves Me (Amalia), The Light in the Piazza (Clara) and Cabaret (Kit Kat Swing/Dance Captain).
MatthewsGarrett Matthews (Ensemble) is excited to be a part of Crazy Mary Lincoln with Pallas Theatre. Recently Garrett has been seen as part of Atlas’ Intersections in Rabbitette as Josef Breuer. He also has been seen with the In Series in Irving Berlin: A Simple Melody at Source, and Don Pasquale and Goyescas at the Hispanic GALA. He also was proud to be a part of the Rainbow Theatre Project in their production of The DOMA Diaries as Oliver/various at Source Theater, after debuting the same role in Capital Fringe ’16. Matthews received his Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the Hartt School in the studio of Cherie Caluda, and since then has appeared locally in musicals such as Awake All Night (Capital Fringe ’15), The Arlington Player’s Man of La Mancha as Dr. Carrasco/The Duke, Heritage Player’s Thoroughly Modern Millie as Jimmy, and Laurel Mill Playhouse’s Sweeney Todd as Anthony Hope.
Rohde croppedChristian Rohde (Ensemble) is delighted to be joining Pallas Theatre Collective for Crazy Mary Lincoln. Still claiming to be new to the DMV area, Christian most recently ventured west to appear in Cumberland Theatre’s production of The Woman in Black as Kipps. Previous DC credits include the In Series’ season opener of Who’s the Boss? (Juryman/Tenor in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury) at Atlas Performing Arts Center, The DOMA Diaries (Capital Fringe 2016 and Rainbow Theatre Project Dec 2016), and La-Ti-Do DC/NYC with whom Christian sang, box office managed, and guest hosted regularly in both cities. Past credits include: The Marriage of Figaro, Shel Shocked: An Evening of Adult One Acts (Tisch School of the Arts: Atlantic Acting School); Pine, The Brink (Tri-State Actor’s Theater). Christian has a BFA in theatre from New York University where he studied with the Atlantic Acting School.
silberRussell Silber (Robert Lincoln) has been active in the Washington D.C. area theatre community since 2010, performing in a wide range of professional and community theaters throughout the region. Russell began working with Pallas Theatre Collective in the ensemble of the TableRead reading of Code Name: CYNTHIA in 2014, continuing in productions of The Fall of the House of Usher (Elistan Usher) and Code Name: CYNTHIA (Georgia Cracker). This summer Russell is grateful for the opportunity to continue the development of Robert Lincoln in Crazy Mary Lincoln that he began at the Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage Festival last fall. LOCAL: Rick/Lorraine/Pan in Bat Boy, Dr. Hazlett/Reporter in Floyd Collins (1st Stage); Thomson (Rutledge U/S) in 1776 (Toby’s Dinner Theatre); Sonny Malone in Xanadu, Drew “Wolfgang Von Colt” in Rock of Ages (Reston Players); Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance (Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre); Dido and Aeneas, La Clemenza di Tito (The In Series); CPT. Christopher Robinson in       Saving Private Poo (Landless Theatre); Leonard Vole in Witness for the Prosecution (Little Theatre of Alexandria); Joseph in Joseph and the   Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (McLean Community Players); Bobby in A Chorus Line (The Arlington Players). EDUCATION: BA James    Madison University.
Annette.WasnoAnnette Mooney Wasno (Ensemble) is a member of the Pallas Theatre Collective. Favorite roles: Veronica’s Mom/Coach, Heathers & Hesione, Triumph of Love (Red Branch Theatre); Madame Thénardier, Les Misérables (Theatre Lab); Britomart Undershaft, Major Barbara (Pallas); Queen Henri, Henri IV-The Regendered Henry IV Repertory (Brave Spirits); Madame Martin, Blood, Sweat & Fears (Molotov); Clara, The Nutcracker (The Puppet Co.). For more info –