The Milk Dragon, by Suzan Zeder


In this world premiere play for young audiences, two young people journey from a perfect village to a dark and dangerous forest, finding imagination and courage along the way.

Directed by John Newman. March 5-7, 9, 12-14, 16, 19-21. (UVU Noorda Theatre)

Cast and Crew Biographies

Alina Merenluoto (Villager/Sea Turtle) is a Performance Major from Murray, Utah. Previous UVU credits include Ana/Kiki La Loca in Bocon. Off campus she has appeared in Doo Wop Wed Widding Hood, Dancing at Lughnasa, Julius Caesar, Seussical, and Guys and Dolls. “Special thanks to my wonderful Mother and amazing little brother for their encouragement and support. Special thanks to my grandpa, Robert A. Derzon, for the sacrifices he mad e that make it possible for me to live my dreams!”

Allyson Mitchell (Magda Yatzeltoe) is a Performance Major from Herriman, Utah. Previous UVU credits include Death in Blood Wedding. She has also worked with the Grassroots Shakespeare Company, Sundance Summer Theatre, and Paradigm High School. “Special Thanks to my parents for always believing in me, especially when I couldn’t believe in myself. And for the advice to follow my passion instead of what was safe.”

Austin Kimbell (Zack’s Father/Crab/Alpha Wolf) is a Theatre Arts Education Major from South Jordan, Utah. This is his first role at UVU. He has also performed with the Herriman Arts Council and Herriman High School. “Special thanks to John Newman and Suzan Zeder for letting me be a part of this magically production. Thank you to the amazing cast and our stage manager. And thank you to my incredible family and friends who have supported me through all the ups and downs. I wouldn’t be here without you! Thank you!”

Becca Ashton (Dragon/Chorus) is a Theatre Arts Education Major from Draper, Utah. This is her first role at UVU. Previously she has appeared in Our Town, Troilus and Cressida, Henry VI pt. II, and has worked with the Grassroots Shakespeare Company. “Special thanks to my family for their continued support, and to John and Suzan for trusting me to be part of such an incredible production.”

Becki Cowan (Assistant Stage Manager) is a Theatre Arts Education Major from Provo, Utah. This is her first assignment at UVU. Off campus she has worked with the SCERA Center for the Arts, the SCERA Outdoor Theater, The Springville Playhouse, and The Lehi Community Center Theatre. “A big thank you to my family! I love you! And another great thanks to Jill Loveridge for teaching me a different aspect of theater that I have never explored until now. Enjoy this wonderful show!”

Brennan John Newkirk (Zack) is a Performance Major from Cedar Fort, Utah. This is his first role at UVU. Off campus he has appeared in The Pirates of Penzance, Beau Jest, Once Upon a Mattress, The Mousetrap, and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Briana Lindsay (Abra) is a Performance Major from Smithfield, Utah. Other UVU credits include Lily in Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, Nastasia in Jack Frost, Anne Frank in Dialogues, Louise in The Imaginary Invalid, and Pantalone in Androcles and the Lion. Off campus she has appeared in The Perfect Independent Film, The Monkey’s Paw, and Beauty and the Prince. “Thank you to my family and friends for supporting me in my many adventures. I luff you all.”

Chantel Ficklin (Makeup Designer) is a Theatre Art Education Major from Salem, Utah. Previous credits include playing the Servant in The Romeo and Juliet Project, assistant makeup design for Blood Wedding and Caucasian Chalk Circle, and makeup technician for The Story Stone. Off campus she has worked as a dresser at Sundance Summer Theatre. “Thank you to my family for supporting me in my dream. Thank you to the faculty and students for being willing to make my designs come to life. Thanks to Jill for being amazing in all she does! She is the reason I did this show!”

Claire Wilson (Fear/Wolf/Hyena) is Performance Major from Salt Lake City, Utah. This is her first role at UVU. Off campus she has appeared in The Apple Cart, The Scarlett Letter, and The Mill on the Floss. She has recently performed with the Grassroots Shakespeare Company.

Heather Wood (Assistant Stage Manager) is a Theatre Design Major from Smithfield, Utah. Previous UVU credits include being the wardrobe supervisor for The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Off campus she has worked four times with the Utah Festival Opera.

Jarrith Parker McCoy (Fear Chorus/Villager/Elk) is a Performance Major from Tacoma, Washington. This is his first role at UVU. “I would like to thank my high school drama teacher Mr. Bauer for really helping me discover this art that I love so much.”

Jessie Lynn Pusey (Footnote) is a Performance Major from Pleasant Grove, Utah. Previous credits include Lilly’s Mother/Bully in Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, Fluff the Duckling in HONK!, Maritza in Trouble with Tricks, and Duende in Pedro’s Magic Shoes. She was also the properties master for The Imaginary Invalid. Off campus she has worked on The Barber of Seville, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and My Fair Lady. “Thanks to Jill Loveridge for being such a great Stage Manager. Also, thank you to this amazing cast, and a huge thank you to my family and friends who continue to support me in my theatre endeavors. I love you all!”

Jill Loveridge (Stage Manager/Master Electrician) is a Theatre Design Major from Lehi, Utah. Previous UVU credits include production stage manager for Blood Wedding, Caucasian Chalk Circle, and Trouble with Tricks, assistant stage manager for The Imaginary Invalid, and the lighting designer for The Story Stone. Off campus she has worked for Stadium of Fire, The Neil Simon Festival, The Covey Center for the Arts, Sundance Summer Theatre, and Hale Center Theater West Valley. “Special thanks to my parents; brothers Rick, Brad, and Travis; this wonderful cast and design team; Traci Hainsworth; Becki Cowan and Heather Wood; Paige Porter; Jessie Pusey; Tyrell Clement; La Beene; Laurie Harrop Purser; Jon Thomas; Steve Purdy and Daniel Whiting.”
Dr. John Newman (Director) Dr. John Newman is a theatre professor at Utah Valley University and director of the Noorda Theatre Center for Children and Youth. At UVU, he has directed main stage productions of Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, Androcles and the Lion, and The Secret Garden. He has also directed The Hornswoggle Jig, Gathering Grimm, and Princess Academy for the Noorda Theatre Summer Camp’s Youth Production Company. Dr. Newman earned his M.A. from the University of Texas and his Ph.D. from New York University. He is co-author of Tell Your Story: The Plays and Playwriting of Sandra Fenichel Asher. Dr. Newman chairs the Playwrights In Our Schools project and served on the board of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education.
Kaitlin Lemon (Milk Dragon/Villager) is a Performance Major from Kearns, Utah. Previous UVU credits include Girl in Blood Wedding and Cathy in DNA. Off campus she has appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “Special thanks to all of my wonderful professors and peers for all the support.”

Kalee Doyl (Chorus/Fear) is a Performance Major from Payson, Utah. This is her first role at UVU. Previous credits include See How They Run, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 12 Dancing Princesses, and Arsenic and Old Lace. “Special thanks to the wonderful friends I’ve made and my parents for pushing me to live my dream.”

Laicey M. Gibby-Brown (Bag Lady) is a Performance Major from Riverdale, Utah. Previous UVU credits include playing the Bride’s Servant in Blood Wedding and Chrysanthemum/Granny in Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, assistant stage manager for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and light board operator for The Romeo and Juliet Project. This fall she will be the stage manager for An Ideal Husband. Off campus she has appeared in And Then There Were None, Children of Eden, The Wizard of Oz, High School Musical, and Aida. “Special thanks to my mother – she is my number one fan! My grandparents, sister (Sckylar), and dad for supporting me.”

Landon Kraczek (Azdak/Harry) is a Performance Major from Farmington, Utah. This is his first role at UVU. Off campus he has appeared in The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, Robin Hood, The Comedy of Errors, and The Three Musketeers. “Thanks to John Newman for his passion and diligence in bringing theater to young audiences. He has an infectious love of children and the craft. I would also like to give a special thanks to Suzan Zeder for her insightful writing in this play. I will use lessons from its pages for the rest of my life. Lastly, I would like to thank the Utah Children’s Theater for introducing me TYA. They are always producing inspiring and wonderful work.”

Michael Gray (Lighting Designer) is a Theatre Design Major from Hemet, California. Previous UVU credits include scenic design for Blood Wedding, and lighting designer for Next to Normal, The Crucible, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Frozen. Off campus he has done lighting design and lighting programming for Hale Center Theatre West Valley, and lighting design for SCERA Center for the Arts, The Egyptian Theater (Park City) and the Lehi Arts Center.

Ryan Hopkins (Max/Boy) is a Performance Major from Herriman, Utah. Previous UVU credits include Wilson in Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, Jojo in Trouble With Tricks, James/Interrogator in The Short Attention Span Theatre, and stage manager for Murder in the Cathedral and Dialogues. Off campus he has worked for Sundance Summer Theatre and Herriman Community Theatre. “Special thanks to my family for always supporting my passion for theatre. To all the faculty who have helped me grow so much. To my cast members for being so amazing to work with. To our stage manager Jill Loveridge who is amazing.”

Scott Edward Twitchell (Makeup Supervisor) is a Theater Design Major from American Fork, Utah. Previous UVU credits include working as a dresser on The Mystery of Edwin Drood, featured actor/policeman for The Romeo and Juliet Project, assistant stage manager for Blood Wedding, and light board operator for Caucasian Chalk Circle. Off campus he has worked for Sundance Summer Theatre, Timpanogos Arts Foundation Advisory Board and the American Fork City Arts Council.

Suzan Zeder (playwright) is one of the leading playwrights for young and family audiences in the United States. Her plays have been produced by professional, university and community theatres in all 50 states and internationally. She is also the co-author with her husband Jim Hancock of Spaces of Creation: The Creative Process of Playwriting, an innovative body/mind approach to creative writing. Zeder is a four-time winner of the Distinguished Play Award and the Campton Bell Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Alliance of Theatre and Education. She is a member of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre and the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Zeder is the former Head of Playwriting at the University of Texas at Austin, where she held the Theatre for Youth Endowed Chair in Playwriting for Youth. She currently lives in Santa Fe New Mexico. Suzan is deeply grateful to John Newman, the entire creative team, and all of the students involved in this developmental production of The Milk Dragon. Without their creativity, tenacity and generosity this Dragon would still be in his cave! Thank you all for giving him life.

Tatjana Weser (Zack’s Mother/Blue Heron/Echo/Alpha Female/Fear Chorus) is a Theatre for Children and Youth Major. Previous UVU credits include Reader in The Vagina Monologues, Monitress in Suor Angelica, Chorus in Cosi Fan Tutte, and the UVU Ballroom Dance Company. Off campus she has performed with the Utah Symphony and has appeared in Sweeney Todd, The Most Happy Fella, Godspell, and Footloose. “Special thanks to my family for their nonstop support from day one. Dr. Newman, Suzan, Wendy, Jon Thomas, Jill and the entire cast and crew for an incredible devised experience. Thanks to the audience for supporting local art.”

Tyrell Clement (The Word Wizard) is a Performance Major from Elmo, Utah. Previous UVU credits include Jack Frost in Jack Frost, Fat Prince/Duke in Caucasian Chalk Circle, and Balthasar in The Romeo and Juliet Project. “Special thanks to my family and friends for all of their love and support. This cast for making this such a wonderful production to be a part of. My teachers and class mates for pushing me and helping me become a better actor and person.”

Wendy Gourley (Dramaturg/Sound Design) has served as the dramaturg for Eurydice, assistant director for Wiley and the Hairy Man, played Leonata in Much Ado About Nothing, and is currently the playwright-in-residence for the Noorda Theatre. “Special thanks to John and Suzan for the amazing opportunity I had to work on this show. It was pure joy from beginning to end!”