Casts Announced for Resilience Staged Reading Series at Memorial Hall

CINCINNATI, OH – Casting has been announced for the first two productions of Memorial Hall’s Resilience Staged Reading Series.

THE STORY OF KING LEARRegional Premiere Adaptation
Adapted from Shakespeare by Daniel Elihu Kramer
Directed by Gabriella DiVincenzo
A ruler abdicates power, yet demands honor and privilege.
October 10, 17, 20, 23 & 31, 2020; all performances at 8:00pm


  • Lear, Glouster – Michael Burnham
  • Edmund, Edgar – Duncan Weinland
  • Goneril, Regan – Keisha Kemper
  • Cordelia, The Fool – Julianna Weis-Palacios
MEMO_Michael Burnham

      Michael Burnham

Cincinnati theatre legend Michael Burnham takes a rare acting turn as the eponymous King Lear. A Cincinnati Entertainment Award Hall of Famer and retired CCM instructor, Burnham headlines a cast with strong CCM ties, including local favorite and CCM drama graduate Keisha Kemper, and notable current CCM Acting students Julianna Weis-Palacois and Duncan Weiland.

CRY IT OUTRegional Premiere Dramedy
By Molly Smith Metzler
Directed by Leslie Goddard
First-time mothers reckon with boundaries of class, economy, and the impossibility of “having it all.”
October 15, 22, 24, 29 & 30, 2020; all performances at 8:00pm


  • Jessie – Brianna Bernard
  • Lina – Sarah Zaffiro
  • Mitchell – Aaron Whitehead
  • Adrienne – Miranda McGee
MEMO_Miranda McGee

           Miranda McGee.

Cincinnati theatre star Miranda McGee takes on the role of ambitious and caustic Adrienne, whose high-powered professional life seems incompatible with her role as a mother. A resident actor at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, McGee has trod the boards of nearly all of Cincinnati’s professional theatre companies, along with engagements across the country. Gifted rising professional Brianna Bernard carries much of the play’s weight in the role of Jessie, joining active young actor Sarah Zaffiro (Lina) and veteran local thespian and director Aaron Whitehead (Mitchell), who makes his Memorial Hall debut.

Actor and Director Biographies

BRIANNA BERNARD (Jessie, CRY IT OUT) is endlessly thankful to join the cast of CRY IT OUT in her Memorial Hall debut. Recent Cincinnati credits: PUFFS (Know Theatre of Cincinnati), MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (Cincinnati Landmark Productions), TOO MUCH LIGHT MAKES THE BABY GO BLIND (Cincinnati Artists’ Theatre), and THE OPINIONS OF MEN (Cincinnati Fringe Festival 2020). “Black Lives Matter. Wear a mask. Thankful for everything I’ve learned from mothers, especially mine.”

MICHAEL BURNHAM (Lear, Goucester; LEAR) is a decidedly local director, dramaturg, writer, storyteller, and now and again an actor. For more than forty years, he’s lived sorta happily ever after with the decidedly local documentarist Barbara Wolf. Three or four years ago an insurance lawyer forced them to get married. Luckily, their relationship seems to be surviving. Michael taught at CCM for almost thirty years; has created works for small arts organizations all over town – from Pones to concert:nova to Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati to Know Theatre to Cincinnati Shakespeare Company; is in the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Hall of Fame for Sustained Achievement; and once won a major award at Ithaca’s Fringe for a solo piece previously rejected by Cincy Fringe Festival. “Hey,” he says, “sometimes ya’ gotta get away to be heard, y’know?” Now, while busily editing what might become a musical about the Fisk Jubilee Singers, he gets to read a little Lear with friends. As the I Ching says, “In the afternoon light, unless you drum on a jug and sing, there will be the lament of old age, which is unfortunate.”

GABRIELLA DIVINCENZO (Director, LEAR) is a Boston native who earned a BFA in Acting from the University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music (CCM). Gabriella has been working consistently as a director and producer in Cincinnati since moving to the Queen City in 2015. She is a Co-Founder, Resident Director and the Project Coordinator/Director of Artist Relations at the Cincinnati Artists’ Theatre (CAT). The Liberty Exhibition Hall is home to C.A.T. and where Gabriella has directed a number of her productions including TOO MUCH LIGHT MAKES THE BABY GO BLIND, MEN ON BOATS, LUNGS, and LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS. She has also worked at the Know Theatre as a director in the One Minute Play Festival, and Assistant Director to Brant Russell on the world premiere production of DARKEST NIGHT AT THE GNARLY STUMP. Gabriella has also directed THE FLICK by Annie Baker which was voted a 2020 Staff Pick in CityBeat at The Esquire Theatre.

LESLIE GODDARD (Director, CRY IT OUT) has been performing, directing, and choreographing for over 25 years. She was last seen on stage in SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM at The Lex and as Bridgit in LIZZIE at The Human Race Theatre Company. Other credits include Brenda/ Penny u/s in HAIRSPRAY on Broadway, Francine in JERSEY BOYS (Las Vegas), and roles on many local stages including Gerogie Bukatinsky in
THE FULL MONTY at HRTC, Missy in THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES: CAPS AND GOWNS at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Gemini in A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Roxie in CHICAGO at The Carnegie, and Deb in ORDINARY DAYS at Short North Stage. Among the numerous shows she has choreographed, Leslie had the great pleasure of staging and choreographing THE WHO’S TOMMY and RING OF FIRE at the newly renovated Memorial Hall in Cincinnati. Her most notable accomplishments to date are her two daughters, Jocelyn and Mika.

KEISHA KEMPER (Goneril, Regan; LEAR) is a native of Cincinnati. She graduated from CCM with a BFA in Dramatic Performance. Around town, she has performed as Weezy in ALABASTER and Harry in HARRY AND THE THIEF at the Know Theatre of Cincinnati, with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra during a performance of Prokofiev’s Suite from Romeo and Juliet as the Chorus/Nurse, with concert:nova in THE BRADBURY TATTOOS: AN EXPERIMENTAL ROCK OPERA as (Story)Teller, as Amanda Wingfield in New Edgecliff Theatre’s production of THE GLASS MENAGERIE, and in original works at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. She is excited grateful to be performing during these unsettling times.

MIRANDA MCGEE (Adrienne, CRY IT OUT) is thrilled to be a part of the Resilience Staged Reading Series (assuming she can remember how to act, after a few months in quarantine!). Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Miranda has been a proud Cincinnati resident for over a decade. An AEA member and resident actor at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for twelve seasons, she has also worked locally with The Carnegie, Know Theatre, Clifton Performance Theatre, the Covedale and Madcap Puppets, and regionally with the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Howmet Playhouse and Essential Theatre. When not onstage, Miranda can be seen as a tour guide with American Legacy Tours, leading people through underground brewery tunnels and talking about the fascinating history of Over-The-Rhine. “Did you know Memorial Hall is haunted?” Special thanks to Josh and the amazing crew of people who made this possible, and the continued resilience, strength and fortitude of not only the theatre community, but the beautiful city of Cincinnati. “We’re all in this together!”

DUNCAN WEINLAND (Edmund, Edgar; LEAR) is a Senior in the CCM Acting program. Born and raised in Seattle Washington and a Roosevelt High School graduate, he has worked with Seattle Public Theater and Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Wooden-O. Duncan was most recently seen in Cincinnati as Karl Lindner in CLYBOURNE PARK at the University of Cincinnati. Previous UC credits include Wisehammer IN OUR COUNTRY’S GOOD and Orpheus in EURYDICE. Previous Cincinnati credits include Oliver in LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS produced at Liberty Exhibition Hall.

JULIANNA WEIS-PALACOIS (Cordelia, The Fool; LEAR) is an acting student at CCM. Her past credits include Besty in CLYBOURNE PARK, Kristine in A CHORUS LINE, Graffiti Pete in IN THE HEIGHTS and many other musicals. She is beyond grateful for this experience; it truly has been a gift and reminder in these confusing and somewhat hopeless times. She wants to thank Gabriella DiVincenzo for believing in her and for everything she has generously taught her. She would also like to thank her mom for being everything she could ever need.

AARON WHITEHEAD (Mitchell, CRY IT OUT) is happy to be making his first appearance at Memorial Hall. Working by day at a Cincinnati non-profit, Aaron spends his evenings involved with as much theatre as possible. Some of Aaron’s recent local appearances include THE ELEPHANT MAN (Merrick) with Center Stage Players, THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS (Melvin) at Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, and DRY LAND (Janitor) at Clifton Performance Theatre. Aaron was rehearsing the role of Anthony in THE END OF THE RAINBOW at the Carnegie when COVID-19 hit, cancelling the show. Aaron was also scheduled to
direct THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO at Mariemont Players, but this was rescheduled for autumn 2021. Aaron is glad to have the opportunity to be involved with theatre that has such strong social relevance as a means of speaking out for marginalized voices in these difficult times.

SARAH ZAFFIRO (Lina, CRY IT OUT) is an actress and singer currently based in Cincinnati, OH. She is represented by PCG Talent Agency. Her favorite roles to date include Eponine in LES MISERABLES, Elizabeth in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, Maureen in RENT, and Wendla in SPRING AWAKENING. When she’s not performing, Sarah teaches private acting lessons and enjoys reading classic novels, watching historical dramas on Netflix, and snuggling with her cats.

Box Office
The series takes place in Memorial Hall’s opulent Green Ballroom, which offers a safe setting for up to 24 guests at socially distant tables. Seating is available for socializing groups of two or four; single tickets are not available. Patrons may reserve tables by making a pay-what-you-can donation; the recommended donation is $20.00 per patron. All net proceeds of the intimate productions will directly benefit the theater artists on stage and behind the scenes.

Seats may be reserved online at, or by calling the Memorial Hall Box Office at 513.977.8838 (Tu – Fr, 12pm – 4pm).
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