Broadway Actors Round Out the Cast in Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s Upcoming Ragtime

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          Contact: Tina Slak    
May 1, 2018                                        

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s final casting for the forthcoming musical Ragtime is now set with Broadway actors Nkrumah Gatling as Coalhouse Walker, Jr. and Brandi Burkhardt as Mother.

Ragtime, based on E.L. Doctorow’s 1975 novel and featuring a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens will run June 13 - July 1 on the Main Stage at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University.

Nkrumah Gatling will play the role of aspiring ragtime musician Coalhouse Walker, Jr. Gatling’s Broadway and National Tour credits include Miss Saigon, Hair, and Porgy and Bess. Off-Broadway he has performed in Invisible Thread and Cabin In The Sky. Gatling’s regional theatre credits include performances at such prestigious venues as the Kennedy Center, Theatre Under the Stars, and Goodspeed Opera House. He was recently honored with the 2018 Marc Blitzstein Award at the Lotte Lenya Competition, a competition that recognizes talented singer/actors who are dramatically and musically convincing in repertoire ranging from opera/operetta to contemporary Broadway scores, including the works of Kurt Weill.

Brandi Burkhardt will play Mother,the matriarch of an upper-class family. Burkhardt made her Broadway debut in the leading role of Lucie Manette in A Tale of Two Cities, a role she reprised in London, in concert, and for PBS; she also starred as Sophie in Broadway’s Mamma Mia!. National, international and regional credits include Emma in Jekyll & Hyde: Resurrection, Mary in Mary Poppins, and Laurey in Oklahoma!. On television, Burkhardt starred in NBC's long-running daytime drama Passions, and more recently has guest starred on NCIS, How I Met Your Mother, Mad Men, Brothers & Sisters, Boston Legal, and Law & Order: SVU. As a recording artist, she can be heard as Emma on Jekyll & Hyde: Resurrection, and celebrated her first Gold Record, being the only American alongside some of Europe's greatest singing stars in the recording of Frank Wildhorn's The Count Of Monte Cristo (Mercedes), as well as the concept albums of both Wonderland (Alice) and Bonnie & Clyde (Bonnie).  

Gatling and Burkhardt join the previously announced principal cast, made up of Destinee Rae as Sarah, Bryant Martin as Father, Richard White as Grandfather, Michelle Ragusa as Emma Goldman, Rod Singleton as Booker T. Washington, and Samuel Druhora as Tateh.

Ragtime will be directed by Associate Artistic Director Dennis Razze, who directed PSF’s lauded and sold out productions of Evita (2017), West Side Story (2016), and Les Misérables (2015).

“We have spent four months assembling the cast of 40 actors for Ragtime. With Broadway, opera, regional theatre, television and film credits, this company of actors has incredible voices and talents that will certainly make PSF’s production of Ragtime an unforgettable experience,” says Razze.

Ragtime was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won for best score, book, and orchestrations. Set in the volatile melting pot of New York, three distinctly American tales are woven together—that of a stifled but determined upper-class homemaker, an indomitable Jewish immigrant, and a daring young Harlem musician—united by their courage and their pursuit of the American dream, against extraordinary odds.

PSF’s creative team for Ragtime includes choreographer Stephen Casey, music director J. Bennett Durham, conductor Nathan Diehl, costume designer Courtney Irizarry and original costumes by Tony Award-winner Santo Loquasto, scenic design by Steve TenEyck, lighting design by Eric Haugen, and sound design by Matt Kraus.

Ragtime previews June 13 and 14 at 8pm. Opening night is Friday, June 15 at 8pm and runs through July 1. Single tickets start at $25 and can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

Similar to the last three seasons, PSF expects the majority of performances to sell out. Order early for the best seating options.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s 27th summer season launches with Ragtime on June 13, and features William Shakespeare’s popular comedy Twelfth Night; Shakespeare’s King Richard II playing in repertory, with the same cast alternating performances daily and often on the same day, with the play Shakespeare in Love, based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard; and an actor-driven production of Shakespeare’s spirited and bittersweet comedy All’s Well That Ends Well

The season will run June 1 to August 5 at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the bucolic Center Valley campus of DeSales University.

Children’s programming opens on June 1 with Alice in Wonderland and runs through August 4. Celebrating its ten-year anniversary is PSF’s Shakespeare for Kids, a one-hour production designed for pre-school and elementary age students to actively experience Shakespeare’s vibrant language and characters. On the Main Stage, July 25 through August 4.

The 2018 Festival Season Sponsors are Keith and Stefanie Wexler. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, The Szarko Family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust. The Production Sponsor for Ragtime is Alvin H. Butz, Inc.

New subscriptions and single tickets are now on sale at: or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

Summer 2018 Season:
Main Stage: Ragtime (June 13 to July 1), Shakespeare in Love (July 11 to Aug 5), King Richard II (July 19 to Aug 5), Shakespeare for Kids (July 25 to Aug 4).

Schubert Theatre: Alice in Wonderland (June 1 to Aug 4), Twelfth Night
(June 21 to July 15), All’s Well That Ends Well (July 25 to Aug 5).

About Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy, is the only professional Equity theatre of its scope and scale within a 50-mile radius. PSF is one of only a handful of theatres on the continent producing Shakespeare, musicals, classics, and contemporary plays, all of which can all be seen in rep and in multiple spaces within a few visits in a single summer season. Similarly, PSF will be among just a handful of theatres on the continent this summer to produce three Shakespeare plays in a single summer season.  A patron would have to travel seven to nine hours from PSF to find a comparable range of offerings at a single theatre within a few weeks’ time.

The Festival’s award-winning company of many world-class artists includes Broadway, film, and television veterans, and winners and nominees of the Tony, Emmy, Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, Hayes, Lortel, and Barrymore awards. A leading Shakespeare theatre with a national reputation for excellence, PSF has received coverage in The Washington Post, NPR, American Theatre Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and in recent seasons The New York Times has identified PSF as one of the leading summer theatre festivals in the nation. “A world-class theater experience on a par with the top Bard fests,” is how one New York Drama Desk reviewer characterized PSF.

Founded in 1992 and the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PSF’s mission is to enrich, inspire, engage, and entertain the widest possible audience through first-rate productions of classical and contemporary plays, with a core commitment to Shakespeare and other master dramatists, and through an array of education and mentorship programs. A not-for-profit theatre, PSF receives significant support from its host, DeSales University, from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. With 150 performances of seven productions, the Festival attracts patrons each summer from 30+ states. In 26 years, PSF has offered 161 total productions (69 Shakespeare), and entertained 900,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 38,000+ in attendance each summer season, plus another 14,000 students each year through its WillPower Tour. PSF is a multi-year recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts: Shakespeare in American Communities, and is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and the Shakespeare Theatre Association. In 2013, leaders of the world’s premier Shakespeare theatres gathered at PSF as the Festival hosted the international STA Conference.

The Festival’s vision is for world-class work.