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By Brian Robin

Meet the Cast of "Prelude to a Kiss, The Musical"

The casting process took months. It spanned the country, from Los Angeles to New York, and it netted some of the best and brightest actors from Broadway and regional theatre—award winners and rising stars. Among them are theatre veterans Hannah Corneau(Wicked on Broadway), Jonathan Gilliard Daly, Chris McCarrell (The Lightning Thief, The Percy Jackson Musical on Broadway),  James Moye (Million Dollar Quartet on Broadway) and Tony Award-winner Karen Ziemba.

Directed by SCR Artistic Director David Ivers, Prelude to a Kiss, The Musical,  lyrics by Sean Hartley and Daniel Messé, music by Daniel Messé, book by Craig Lucas, runs April 5-May 4 on the Segerstrom Stage. Rehearsals begin tomorrow for this centerpiece to SCR’s 60th season.

With a stunning vocal range, Corneau (Rita) made her Broadway debut as Elphaba in Wicked and also starred as Edna St. Vincent Millay in the critically acclaimed Transport Group Theatre Company production of Renascence off-Broadway. A New York-based singer-songwriter, Corneau played Yitzhak in the first national tour of Hedwig and The Angry Inch.

Daly (Julius) brings a 40-year stage career to SCR for the first time. He spent 20 seasons as a resident company member and Associate Artist at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, where he appeared in Man of La Mancha, Assassins, Cabaret, The Diary of Anne Frank and Pride and Prejudice, among others. Daly’s other credits include Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, American Players Theater, Arizona Theatre Company, New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, Utah Shakespeare Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, PCPA Theaterfest and Great River Shakespeare Festival in Minnesota, where he is a founding member. Daly has performed his one-man tribute to poet Carl Sandburg all over the country.

Julie Garnyé (Leah) returns to SCR 10 years after appearing in the ensemble for Craig Lucas’ The Light in the Piazza. She was in the original national tour for Come From Away and the fifth national tour of Cats as Grizabella. Garnyé’s Broadway credits include Hair and Chess in Concert and she has appeared in three Hollywood Bowl summer musicals: Les Misérables, Chicago and Mamma Mia, along with First Things Last at London’s Garrick Theatre. Her film and TV credits include “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” The Academy Awards (Les Misérablesensemble), the Daytime Emmy Awards singing a solo during the “In Memoriam” segment and Disney’s Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure as Lyria. Garnyé released two studio singles with Club44 Records: Forgiveness’ Embrace with Stephen Schwartz and Fields of Gold/Both Sides Now with Lance Horne and Eleanor Norton.

Bella Hicks (Ensemble) makes her SCR debut after appearing in the Ensemble and as Dawn on the second national tour for Waitress. Her other credits include Disney’s Rogers: The Musical as Diamond Starkette, Frenchy in Grease at La Mirada Theatre, Bernstein Dances by the Hamburg Ballet at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and as Rudolph during the national tour of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical.

Jimmie “J.J.” Jeter (Taylor) debuts at SCR after playing Alexander Hamilton in the Broadway production of Hamilton. He was the principal standby and assistant director for the original company of Australia. Jeter’s regional theatre credits include Cory in Fences at Pioneer Theatre Company and Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare Theater Company in Washington, D.C. His film and TV credits include the Sundance Channel’s Hold On, Campfire Alfa and season 2 of “The Chi” on Showtime.

Robert Knight (Ensemble) returns to SCR after appearing in the ensemble of the 2020 production of She Loves Me. His most recent credit was as The Baker in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Into the Woods. Knight was also featured as Louis/Charles in the Pasadena Playhouse’s production of Sunday in the Park with George last winter. His regional credits include Jim in Big River at Hale Theater Arizona and Jim Conley in the Ovation-nominated Parade at The Chance Theater. Knight currently is the voice of Cody’s Dad on the kids Netflix series “Cocomelon.”

McCarrell (Peter) originated the role of Percy Jackson in The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, during its off-Broadway, national tour and Broadway runs. Before that, he appeared in the 2014 Broadway revival of Les Misérables as Marius. His television credits include “Peter Pan Live” (NBC), “The OA” (Netflix) and “The Blacklist” (CBS).

A familiar name to SCR patrons, Moye returns to SCR as Rita’s Dad after directing Outside SCR’s production of Million Dollar Quartet at Mission San Juan Capistrano in 2022. Moye played Sam Phillips in the Broadway and off-Broadway productions of Million Dollar Quartet. His other Broadway credits include Dear Evan Hansen, Aladdin, On the 20th Century, Bullets Over Broadway, Urinetown, The Full Monty, A Tale of Two Cities, Far From Heaven! and Ragtime, among others. Moye appeared in the national tours of White Christmas, Little Shop of Horrors and The Drowsy Chaperone and regionally at Ford’s Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Old Globe, Milwaukee Repertory, Signature Theatre Company and Theatreworks, where he won a San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor in Tinyard Hill. His numerous television credits include “Law & Order,” “The Blacklist,” “Royal Pains,” “The Mysteries of Laura,” “As the World Turns,” “The Guiding Light” and “Onion News Network.” Moye appeared with Sean Penn in the film Fair Game and received the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award from James Madison University.

While Caroline Pernick (Ensemble) has appeared in several SCR readings, she appears in her first full SCR production with Prelude to a Kiss, The Musical. A graduate of UCLA’s Ray Bolger Musical Theater program, her credits include Homefront (American Conservatory Theater), A Christmas Carol (American Conservatory Theater), The 39 Steps (Summer Repertory Theater) and Hamlet(British American Drama Academy). Pernick’s songwriting credits include her debut single, “Ghost Town,” which is streaming on all platforms.

Tristan J Shuler (Ensemble) makes his SCR debut. He recently featured in YesBroadway’s 40Under40. His off-Broadway credits include Spamilton: An American Parody, Cruel Intentions: the 90’s Musical, Urinetown and The Big Bang Theory: A Pop-Rock Musical Parody. Shuler also appeared in the national tours of Spamilton: An American Parody and Odd Squad LIVE! Internationally, Shuler appeared in Disney’s Frozen. Most recently, he was a lead performer in the modern revival of the La Cage nightclub at the Hollywood Roosevelt.

DeAnne Stewart (Angie) makes her SCR debut after appearing in the world premiere of Only Gold at the Robert W. Wilson MCC Theatre Space off-Broadway. On Broadway, Stewart appeared in Jagged Little Pill and took part in the North America tour of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

A Tony Award-winner for her role as a timid, abused wife of a mafioso in Susan Stroman’s Contact (2000), Ziemba (Rita’s Mom) has played many of the iconic theatre roles of the last half-century, making her Broadway debut as Diana Morales in A Chorus Line. She went on to play Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street, before playing Polly Baker in Crazy for You and Roxie Hart in Chicago. Ziemba earned her first of four Tony nominations for playing Rita in Steel Pier (1997). She was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for Never Gonna Dance (2003) and Curtains (2007). She has numerous off-Broadway and regional credits throughout the country. Ziemba appeared on television in “Law & Order” and on film in The Producers.

Rachel Lykins (Understudy) began her acting career as an infant, when she played Baby Jesus in her church’s nativity play. Her first lead came at 13 and she later won four first-place titles at the American Association of Christian Schools (AACS) National Fine Arts Competition for Acting and Dramatic Interpretation. A native of Huntington, West Virginia, Lykins has a BA in Communication Studies from Marshall University and is working on her MFA in Acting at UC Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts.

Originally from Miami, Robert Zelaya (Understudy) is an MFA student at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine. He performed on the national tours of Kinky Boots and Once On This Island. Last year, Zelaya appeared in North Coast Repertory’s summer production of Pippin. Recently, he played the Emcee in UCI’s production of Cabaret. Earlier, he played one of the disco-dancing twins in The Comedy of Errors at UCI’s New Swan Shakespeare Festival. 

About the author

South Coast Repertory

South Coast Repertory is a Tony Award-winning theatre is known for producing classics, contemporary hits and world premieres, for having the largest new-play development program in the nation and for advancing the art of theatre in service to the community. 

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