© 2019 by Merely Players Presents

Atlanta Cuban Club

5797 New Peachtree Rd.

Doraville, GA

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Nedra Pezold Roberts (Performance Review) is an Atlanta playwright. Nedra is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Working Title Playwrights, the Atlanta Writers Club, and Merely Writers. See www.nedrapezoldroberts.com for more information.


G. M. Lupo is a Georgia author and playwright. Ask him about his book, Rebecca, Too. The piece he wrote, Opposites Detract, evolved from a very different comedy sketch written around 2010. It’s a play about two distinct individuals in Atlanta trying to negotiate their relationship. 


Daphne Mintz, author of Music Alone, is an Atlanta-based playwright, dramaturg, and producer. She’s very proud to have a play included in the first AmpliFest! production and is thrilled to be a part of the MP2 family. Daphne is also a proud Member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Working Title Playwrights, and Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas.


Peter Dakutis, author of Best Mother in Law Ever! is a technical writer/editor who gets busy with his muse through playwriting. In addition to a number of productions around Atlanta, his work has been produced in London, New York, and Boston. Last month, his plays How Horny Ends and What All the Parents Are Doing These Days were included in The Green Room, an intersectional pot play festival in Brooklyn. Peter is a member of Merely Writers and is excited to be a part of the inaugural AmpliFest!His play, Best Mother-in-Law Ever, began as a four-minute piece written for an opportunity on crazy mothers. It was included in The Mother Lode, presented last fall in New York City. Peter wanted to spend more time with these characters, so he wrote the current version. Sylvia may have unusual views, but she comes from a place of love, and love comes in many flavors!


Jillian Walzer is beyond excited, humbled, and everything else in-between to be making her directorial debut with Performance Review by Nedra Roberts and her writing debut of Hit or Miss, a simple story of how connections happen when you least expect them. Jillian usually can be seen on stage and has had the pleasure of working with several theatre companies around town including Aurora Theatre, Lionheart Theatre, New Origins, Onstage Atlanta, Out of Box, and Stage Door Players. Jillian can be seen regularly throughout the year at The Village Theatre and beyond as one of Sketchworks Comedy MainStagers! Next up- Jillian will be returning to OnStage Atlanta for Morningside by Atlanta’s own, Topher Payne opening in May!


Emily McClain, author of The Great Suburban Outback, is a theatre educator and is the co-director of theatre at Buford High School. Her play Slaying Holofernes was selected for the 2019 Ethel Woolson Lab with Working Title Playwrights. Slaying Holofernes  was selected as a winner for the Essential Theatre’s New Play Festival and will have a world premiere in July. Her short plays have been staged at Out of Box Theatre (Santa After Hours 2018 and Women’s Shorts 2019), Merely Players Presents (AmpliFest!), Atlanta AppCo (Culture Series), and Actor’s Express (Courtroom Drama Series). Thanks to her wonderfully supportive husband, Paul, for everything. Love to Graham and Eleanor,


Mary Beecroft, author of Living Dead and Fully, is an Atlanta-based novelist and playwright originally from Nashville, Tennessee. Living Dead and Fully is Mary’s first play, which she is honored to have included in AmpliFest! In addition to being a member of Merely Writers, she facilitates and hosts the Thursday branch of the writers’ critique group, Atlanta Writes, and finds a great deal of encouragement and support from The Forum Writers Group. 


Nick Boretz, author of Guru of Peachtree Vista, is a playwright, jazz pianist, and painter livingin Atlanta Georgia. Years ago, in college, majoring in physics..he had to write a story for an English class. The story had more dialogue than narrative. His teacher showed the story to a friend, William Inge, who met with Nick and said, “Why don’t you write a play?” He did. It was terrible. But, things got better from there. At times.About his play: The grand design could be stated as manifest destiny vs the individual with laughs included.



Courtney Loner, co-director of The Great Suburban Outback, is stoked to be directing at Merely Players. She has previously directed several productions for the Young Performers Programs at Onstage Atlanta, Act 3 Productions and The Little Actors' Studio. She is also a singer, actor, and props master around town. Courtney is grateful to have the opportunity to work with so many wonderfully talented people for the very first AmpliFest! Thank you for supporting live theatre! 


Allan Dodson is privileged to help bring Hit or Miss to life for the first time. Thanks to Jillian for a great play, to Kirstin and Chris for being good sports and great actors, and Joanie and Dan for everything else!


William Thurmond, director of "Living Dead and Fully", has been directing plays and other media for over twenty years. He’s excited to be working with Merely Players Presents on this fantastic selection of plays, and even more thrilled to be working with such a skilled cast. He would like to thank his wife and children for their inspiration and motivation, and encourage you to read their bio’s elsewhere in this program, as they are probably far more compelling than this one. 


Jim Nelson, director of Opposites Detract, is a well known actor/director/playwright in the area. He first appeared on Stage at the age of 5, and has been on some sort of stage ever since. His undergraduate degree was in Theatre from Ohio Wesleyan University. Locally, Jim has been in and/or directed several plays at Main Street Theatre, Lionheart Theatre, New Dawn Theatre, Onion Man Productions, Merely Players Presents, Atlanta Theatre-to-Go, and of course Staged Right Theatre where he currently is the Associate Artistic Director. He has also written several Murder Mysteries that have been produced at several locations. The last 2 were Murder at the Apothecary which was at the 1910 Public House restaurant, and The Wynne-Russell House Ghost Murders at the Wynne-Russell House in Lilburn. Jim is excited to be directing Opposites Detract, written by his friend Matt Lupo for Merely Players, and to be working with such a great cast, and with Joan McElroy and all the other directors involved with AmpliFest. 


Abra Thurmond, director of "The Great Suburban Outback", is thrilled to be directing at Merely Players. She has previously directed at GetScene Studios, OnStage Atlanta and Young Performers. Abra is thankful to have the chance to work with so many wonderfully talented people, including her daughter Lucy. Thank you for supporting live theatre! 


Jillian Walzer is beyond excited, humbled, and everything else in-between to be making her directorial debut with Performance Review by Nedra Roberts and her writing debut of Hit or Miss, a simple story of how connections happen when you least expect them. Jillian usually can be seen on stage and has had the pleasure of working with several theatre companies around town including Aurora Theatre, Lionheart Theatre, New Origins, Onstage Atlanta, Out of Box, and Stage Door Players. Jillian can be seen regularly throughout the year at The Village Theatre and beyond as one of Sketchworks Comedy MainStagers! Next up- Jillian will be returning to OnStage Atlanta for Morningside by Atlanta’s own, Topher Payne opening in May!



Louis Alfred III (Ron in The Guru of Peachtree Tree Vista) is excited appear in AmpliFest! This is his third project with Joan Mc Elroy, the first two being In Lieu of Flowers and Fences, his first under the direction of Dan Guyton. Louis is a transplant from New York and New Orleans. He has appeared in the Alliance Theater Adult acting programs Harvey, The Royal Family, Ten Little Indians and Rumors. He is also pulling "double duty" as the sound designer for AmpliFest!

Louis's character, Ron DeLoo, likes to color outside the lines of life: Life is one great big coloring book. C'mon! He wants everyone to put down the crayons and grab a paintbrush.


Hema Shilpa Uppala (Daphne in The Guru of Peachtree Tree Vista) is excited to be a part of AmpliFest! She is a working actor (stage, TV, film) since the past 2 years in Atlanta. She is an Indian Classical Dancer, choreographer, and performer for the past 30 years. She has done modeling, beauty pageants, dance shows, Indian TV series, Indian regional films, stage plays, and theme-based events. She loves being on stage and on-camera, experiencing different characters in different scenarios.


Maggie Beker (Constance in Opposites Detract and Sarah in Living Dead and Fully) studied at Emory University and the Second City. She is part of a two person creative team The Maggies (she and another girl named Maggie), who create weekly video sketches, release a weekly podcast Zodiac B*tches (ranked #600 in the comedy charts), and improvise at Village Theatre and Relapse Theatre. Check out her work on Facebook and Instagram @themaggies.


Stuart Schleuse (Mr. Walters in Performance Review) is happy to be performing in the 2019 AmpliFest! Play Festival, even if his character is a big ole jerk. A busy performer all over Atlanta, Stuart was most recently seen in Peter and the Starcatcher at Act3 productions. Previous credits: Living on Love, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Stage Door Players), Damn Yankees (Theatre Buford), Silence! The Musical (MAT Awards at Onstage Atlanta),The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, Les Misérables, and Mary Poppins (Aurora Theatre), Greater Tuna , Designing Women: LIVE, and Die Mommie Die! (Process Theatre),1776 (Legacy Theatre), Sweeney Todd (Actor’s Express), It’s a Wonderful Life: A Love Radio Play (Gypsy Theatre and Legacy Theatre) Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol (Out of Box Theatre), White Christmas (Atlanta Lyric Theatre), and Copenhagen (Academy Theatre). 


Chris Mayers (Will in Hit or Miss and David in The Best Mother-In-Law Ever) moved to Atlanta five years ago and usually only regrets it during rush hour and when he accidentally wears jeans during the summer. With training at The Savannah College of Art and Design and at The Atlantic Acting School in NYC, he loves bringing characters to life on stage, on screen, and in audiobooks. Recent theater credits include Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost (Shakespeare on Draught), Applegate in Damn Yankees (Theatre Buford), and Ichabod in The Sleepy Hollow Experience (Serenbe Playhouse). If you run fast enough, you can also catch him on TV in Doom Patrol (DC Universe), The Resident (FOX), Atlanta (FX), and Ozark (Netflix). Much thanks and love to his agents at AMT and his family and friends for being, like, super chill and stuff.


Jessica Wise (Charlene in Performance Review) is an Atlanta actress and writer. She currently works as an editor for Global Savings Group, and this is her first production with Merely Players Presents. Jessica has been seen recently as Lord Montague in R+J Theory in Columbus, Georgia, as well as Beneatha in A Raisin In the Sun, where she earned the 2017 Metropolitan Atlanta Theater Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Play. Jessica looks forward to portraying Charlene in Performance Review, as it is very close to some of her own experiences and observations working as journalist.


Brock Kercher (Will in Music Alone) received his BFA in Acting from The University if Southern Mississippi. HIs recent credits include Murder! At the Strand 2: Dark Matters (Strand Theatre), Peter and the Starcatcher (Act 3), and Tony and Tina's Wedding (Lionheart Theatre). 


In his first theater production, Ambruce Carter (Abiola in The Great Suburban Outback)is overjoyed to be working with Merely Writers and thankful to be apart of AmpliFest! "As a recent transplant from Boston, I couldn't have asked for a better reception from everyone involved in Amplifest. Through and though, this has been an amazing experience." Ambruce currently trains at The Robert Mello Studio, where he recently completed "The Meisner Intensive."


Amber Brown (Melaike in The Great Suburban Outback) is delighted to be joining the cast of the Suburban Outback Experience for Amplifest. As her first time working with Merely Players, she would like to thank all of the people that allowed her this opportunity. She would like to give a special thanks to her mom for ALWAYS being her biggest supporter! 


Joe McLaughlin (Chris in Music Alone) He has appeared in several Lionheart Productions in Norcross, recently appearing as H.C. in The Rainmaker. Next month he will be appearing in the Players Guild at Sugar Hill production of Never Too Late as Harry Lambert. His favorite roles are Dr. Phillip Gottschall in God’s Man in Texas and Wilfred Morganhall in The Dock Brief. He has a degree in Drama and Theatre from the University of Georgia and is an attorney in the private practice of Law in Lawrenceville. Joe is excited to work with this cast, crew and director and to enjoy it all with his wife, Debbie.


Daniel Carter Brown (David in The Great Suburban Outback) is proud to be a part of Merely Players' grand opening of the new space! He is an actor, director, and playwright who is enjoying his new "type": suburban husbands who just don't quite get it. He just finished Tokens of Affection at Out of Box Theatre and will be returning to their stage for Entertaining Lesbians in August. For Amplifest, he's having a lot of fun playing the questionably virile patriarch of playwright Emily McClain's "Sub-American" family. Big thanks to Joanie for making the magic happen!


Lory Cox (Mildred in Living Dead and Fully) is happy to shuffle the souls through Purgatory since she gets to wear a great costume!! Some of Lory's favorite past roles have been Ruby in Second Samuel (Live Arts), Leah in The Jew Catcher (Onion Man), Vernadette in The Dixie Swim Club (OnStage Atlanta), Jinx in Savannah Sipping Society (Gypsy Theatre), and Claire in Proof (Merely Players). She is a proud member of the Artistic Company at OnStage Atlanta and will will next be seen in Morningside there in June.She thanks William, her fellow Purgatory soul-mates, and Joanie!


Debbie McLaughlin (Sylvia in The Best Mother In Law Ever and Lavonia in Living Dead and Fully) has appeared in several Lionheart Productions along with Onionman Productions. She has a degree in Drama and Theatre from the University of Georgia where she met her husband, Joe. She is excited to be part of this talented cast presenting these original plays by local playwrights.


Kris Kozlowski (Mauricio in Living Dead and Fully) was a professional wrestler for a decade in Tampa, Florida. He is new to the Atlanta area and is thrilled to be pursing acting.


Liz Dooley (Laura in Opposites Detract) is a playwright, performer, editor, and writer for ArtsATL. Most recently, in a performance context, she could be seen as Carolyn Bryant in the staged reading of Wesley Goodrich's A Good Place to Raise a Boy as part of the New Works Festival at Lionheart Theatre in Norcross. She is an active member of both Working Title Playwrights and Merely Players Presents: Merely Write! She really does own the clothing and makeup that she wears in this show; make of that what you will. Enjoy the show!


Kirsten Krehbiel (Alicia in Living Dead and Fully) grew up in small town Kansas. After graduating with a performing arts degree, she tried out several different cities before settling in Atlanta for acting. Five years later and you can often find her on stage with Sketchworks doing comedy or working on an independent film. When she’s not playing someone else, she’s at home drinking coffee and snuggling her cat, Dobby. 


Amanda Szymczak (Angela in The Great Suburban Outback and Rima in The Guru of Peachtree Vista) is a seasoned performer whose credits are sprinkled across the country from California Regional Theatre to NYC's Off Broadway. She is excited to make her Atlanta Debut with Merley Players Presents! For more info visit amandaszy.com and like amandasactor on Facebook.


Torreke Evans of Atlanta is excited to be playing the best actor in Atlanta, Brian in "Best Mother in Law Ever". He is excited to be working with Merely Players Presents! Evans is a recent graduate of McDaniel College in Maryland and his credits include George Spelvin in The Actor’s Nightmares, King Henry VI in K Henry VI, and Dionysos in The Bakkahi. He loves his family and #BLM.


Linda Marie Johnson is delighted to be making her Merely Players Presents AmpliFest debut as Beth in Music Alone. Previously Ms. Johnson has performed with the Staged Right Theatre in Wait! as Modesto/Jen-Ya/Floating Pinata Head and in A Doll’s House as The Nurse. With the Players Guild at Sugar Hill she portrayed Cecelia Mathers in Bullets and Badges, and with the Lionheart Theatre
she appeared as Future in A Christmas Carol. Ms. Johnson’s film credits include roles in Dean Film Works projects, namely, Memoirs of a Godfather as Judith, and as the Adoring Fan in Rest Stop. In student films Ms. Johnson created the characters of Edith in Oldr with Emory University, and Aunt Esther in Delusions with My Great Aunt Esther with Tulane University. In addition, Ms. Johnson has sung a variety of roles as a member of the Capitol City Opera Company, most notably, The Secretary in The Consul, Ms. Todd in The Old Maid and the Thief,
and Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible. Ms. Johnson is dedicating her AmpliFest performances with love to her biggest fans, her father Warren Johnson, Sr. and her late mother Alvine Johnson.


Kirstin Popper (Megan in Hit or Miss) is proud to be performing in Amplifest! Kirstin is active in the Atlanta Theatre community as Managing Director of Bad Seed Theatre. She has served as a producer, actor, and/or director for seven runs of The Vagina Monologues and six of A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and a Prayer. She further nurtures her love for theater by attending as many shows as possible and by serving as Board Chair for both Out Front Theatre and Friends of Theater at Emory. By day, Kirstin works at a small marketing & communications agency.


Gene Paulsson (Claudius in Living Dead and Fully) is excited to be making his debut with Merely Players. He began his career in 1971 at Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg, Canada, and worked at various theatres throughout Canada before arriving in the Atlanta area in 1981 for a directing internship at the Alliance Theatre. Gene has served in various capacities at Theatre in the Square, Horizon Theatre, Underground Theatre, Neighborhood Playhouse, Onstage Atlanta, and Staged Right Theatre as well as serving the Lord through drama ministry at Mountain Park UMC and Lawrenceville First UMC. Thanks to my loving wife, Cindy Cobb, for your support these past 30 years, and most of all, thanks to the Lord Almighty for all the trials, tribulations, and blessings that have made me the person I am today!