Birthday Candles

by Noah Haidle
Previews May 10 and 11
Opening night May 12
Running through June 3, 2018

Birthday Candles will take audiences on a magical journey with Ernestine Ashworth, from birthday to birthday, as she bakes a life. This world premiere by internationally acclaimed playwright Noah Haidle was commissioned by Detroit Public Theatre.

Each performance runs 90 minutes.


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Claire Karpen (Ernestine Ashworth)

Broadway: Sylvia. Off-Broadway: Into the Woods (Roundabout/Fiasco); The Heir Apparent (Classic Stage Company); Jack (59E59); At the Table (HERE Arts/Fault Line). Regional: Into the Woods (Old Globe, McCarter); Bedroom Farce (Westport Country Playhouse); Richard III, Much Ado, Tempest, Comedy of Errors (Trinity Rep); The 60's Project (Goodspeed); The Last Five Years (Stamford Center for the Arts). Directing: The Woodsman (New World Stages, 59E59); A Soldier's Tale (Chautauqua); Henry IV, Part I, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, A Little Night Music, Trelawney of the Wells, Actor Presentations (Juilliard). Training: Juilliard.


Hallie Bee Bard (Alice, Madeline, Sarah, Ernie)

Hallie is honored to be back on the Detroit Public Theatre stage, where she was last seen in the inaugural season as Olivia in Sex With Strangers. Hallie earned her BA from Alma College and was a Purple Rose Theatre apprentice. She has worked with several professional theatres in southeast Michigan and works seasonally as an actor at Greenfield Village, at The Henry Ford. Most recent credits: Gretchen (Boeing Boeing) and Hallie Jackson (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) at Tipping Point Theatre. Hallie is a Reiki Master and mama to three of the most marvelous people on the planet. She is especially thrilled to be able to help create the world of this beautiful play with such a fine group of people. Thanks to Vivienne and the DPT trinity for the opportunity, to Noah for dreaming up this gorgeous gem, and to James, whom I love the most. And thank YOU for supporting live, professional theatre.


Dani Cochrane (Donna, Joan, Alex, Beth)

Dani is excited to be making her DPT debut! Recent credits include: Kayleen in Gruesome Playground Injuries with Kickshaw Theatre, Girolama in Our Lady of Poison at Williamston Theatre, and Gloria in Boeing Boeing at Tipping Point Theatre. She holds an MFA from the Hilberry Repertory Program at Wayne State University. She wants to thank her husband and daughter for always helping her keep a sense of play in everything she does, all the wonderful folks at DPT for this amazing opportunity, and you, for supporting local theatre!



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Chris Corporandy (Billy, John)

Chris makes, with Birthday Candles, his second appearance on the DPT stage (Adam, Dot) and second collaboration with Ms. Benesch (Tybalt, The Romeo & Juliet Project, Chautauqua Institution). A graduate of the Hilberry (Translations, Side Man, The Master Builder), Chris has worked regionally in Buffalo; Atlanta, at Actors' Express (recipient of the Suzi Bass Award for Supporting Actor, The Judas Kiss); Minneapolis; San Francisco; and in New York (Cherry Lane, The Public, ARS Nova). Chris also works extensively as a voice, speech, and dialect coach (DPT, Tipping Point Theatre, Hilberry Theatre, Alliance Theater, Chautauqua Theater Co) and is on faculty at Wayne State University and College for Creative Studies. BFA Acting - NYU/Tisch, MFA Acting - WSU/Hilberry, Moscow Art Theatre School, Trinity College Dublin. Certified Teacher/Coach of Knight-Thompson Speech Work. Member of Actors’ Equity, SAG-AFTRA, and VASTA. Grateful to you, and you, and efinitely you.

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Michael Brian Ogden (Matt)

Michael is so excited to be making his Detroit Public Theatre debut. Many thanks to all the wonderful collaborators in this process, and endless love to Steph and Lily. Enjoy the show!

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Daniel Pearce (Kenneth)

Broadway: Machinal, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Off-Broadway: Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Ping Pong, Henry V (twice), Henry VI, Measure for Measure, Loves' Fire (Public), The Most Deserving (Women's Project), Falling (Minetta Lane), Passion Play (Epic), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Irish Rep), among others. Regional: Blood and Gifts (La Jolla Playhouse), Ctrl+Alt+Delete (George St), Underneath the Lintel (Geva), among others. International: Loves' Fire (Barbican Centre, London). Film/TV: Murder of a President, Salt, Clowns, Godzilla, "Law & Order (all varieties)," "Chapelle's Show," "Damages," "Queens Supreme." MFA from NYU. 2017 Lunt-Fontanne Fellow.

Creative Team


Noah Haidle (Playwright)

Noah Haidle is a playwright and screenwriter whose work has been produced off- Broadway, regionally, and around the world. His most recent play, Everything Beautiful, premiered last October at Munich’s Residenz Theater, and he is currently the playwright in residence of the National Theater of Mannheim, a position first held by Friedrich Schiller.

His plays are published by Methuen in London, Suhrkamp in Berlin, Nordiska in Copenhagen, and in New York by Dramatists Play Service and Overlook Press. He was a proud resident of Detroit for four years before moving to Los Angeles with his wife and pet bunnies to write on Showtime’s upcoming series ‘Kidding,’ starring Jim Carrey and directed by Michel Gondry, and to develop a series set in Detroit for HBO. Haidle is a graduate of Princeton University and The Juilliard School, where he was a three-time winner of Lincoln Center’s Le Compte du Nuoy award.

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Vivienne Benesch (Director)

Vivienne is in her second season as a company member and Producing Artistic Director at PlayMakers Repertory Company. For 12 seasons, she served as Artistic Director of the renowned Chautauqua Theater Company and Conservatory, presiding over the company’s transformation into one of the best summer theatres and most competitive summer training programs in the country. She directed over fifteen productions at CTC, including an acclaimed re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet featuring the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, Theatre, Opera, and Dance companies. She brought CTC’s production of Amadeus, performed with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and Buffalo Philharmonic, to the Virginia Arts Festival, featuring PlayMakers company member Ray Dooley. She has helmed productions of Leaving Eden, Mr. Joy, The May Queen, Three Sisters, Love Alone, RED, and In The Next Room for PlayMakers, directed extensively for The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and directed The Heidi Chronicles for Trinity Repertory Company. As an actress, Vivienne has worked on and off Broadway, in film and television, and at many of the country’s most celebrated theatres. She has appeared with Gene Wilder, Al Pacino and Blythe Danner, performed with Maggie Smith in the London revival of Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque, and received an OBIE Award for her performance in Lee Blessing’s Going to St. Ives. Vivienne is a graduate of Brown University and NYU’s Graduate Acting Program. As an educator, she has directed for and served on the faculty of some of the nation’s foremost actor training programs, including The Juilliard School, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Professional Actor Training Program, Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Program and at her alma mater, NYU’s Graduate Acting Program. Vivienne also holds a BA from Brown University.

Michael Carnahan (Scenic Design)

Detroit Public Theatre—Detroit ‘67.  Off-Broadway—Atlantic Theater Company: Skeleton Crew ; 59E59: I and You; Second Stage: The Happiest Song Plays Last; Signature Theatre: The Piano Lesson, The First Breeze of Summer, Life Could Be A Dream, The Marvelous Wonderettes, Three Mo’ Tenors, Pygmalion, Howie the Rookie, Brando. Tours—Cheers, Live On Stage; A Christmas Story The Musical. Regional—credits include Kennedy Center, Apollo Theater, Arena Stage, American Conservatory Theater, The Kennedy Center, McCarter Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Baltimore Center Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Pasadena Playhouse, Two River Theatre, Cleveland Play House, Cape Playhouse, Cape Playhouse, Laguna Playhouse, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Northlight Theatre, Signature Theatre, Bucks County Playhouse, Ogunquit Playhouse, Arsht Center, Musical Theatre West, San Jose Repertory, Center Rep. Instagram: carnypics Twitter: @mike_carnahan

Shelby Newport (Costume Design)

Shelby Newport is the resident costume designer, department chair and an associate professor at the University of Michigan-Flint. She received her M.F.A. from Purdue University and completed her undergraduate studies at Cornell College. She designs regionally at Tipping Point Theatre, Kickshaw Theatre, and Flint Youth Theatre, and she is a resident artist at Purple Rose Theatre Company. Her designs have been seen internationally in London and Margate, England. Last summer, Shelby worked on a collaborative production with Detroit Public Theatre and the University of Michigan-Flint of Public Enemy: Flint and is excited to now be designing the costumes for her first production at Detroit Public Theatre. You can see more of Shelby's work at

Cecilia Durbin (Lighting Design)

At DPT: Marie and Rosetta, Murder Ballad, Sex with Strangers; Other Designs: Sense & Sensibility, Love Alone (Playmakers Rep); South Pacific (Triad Stage); Disgraced (Portland Stage Co & Hangar Theatre); The Taming of the Shrew (Chautauqua Theatre); Sex & Other Disturbances (Portland Stage Co), The Little Red Fish (NYC Children's Theatre), All Shook Up, On Golden Pond (New London Barn Playhouse); Hyena (La MaMa, Edinburgh Fringe, United Solo [Best Lighting]); In the Blood (Theatre Horizon [Barrymore nomination]); Martyrs, Don’t Feed the Indians, Amy Surratt's First & Last (Show) (La Mama); Stranger from Paradise (Opera Omaha); The Life Model (On the Boards); Numb (Goat in the Road Productions, JACK); Lust (HERE Arts Center); Measure for Measure (Epic Theatre Ensemble); We Are Proud to Present a Presentation…(InterAct Theatre), A Soldier’s Tale (The Bushwick Starr/The Puppet Kitchen). MFA from NYU; member USA 829.

Kate Hopgood (Sound Design)

Kate is a Michigan-based composer and sound designer. Her recent work has been heard at the Michigan Shakespeare Festival (garnering multiple Wilde Award nominations) and at Chicago's Rivendell Theatre Ensemble (for the Equity, Jeff-nominated production, Wrens and The Electric Baby). In addition, Kate's sound designs are featured in QLab 3 Show Control: Projects for Live Performances and Installations published by Focal Pres.

Pegi Marshall (Props Artisan)

Marie and Rosetta marked Pegi’s DPT debut. Other credits include: Ford’s Theatre, Washington DC; Imagination Stage, Maryland; Southwest Shakespeare, Arizona; and Hilberry and Bonstelle Theatres, Detroit. In addition to designing, Pegi is a professor and researcher. Her grant and fellowship-awarded creative projects and research include theatre and performance installations and research on theatre design sustainability. They have been presented/performed in several US cities as well as in New Zealand, Serbia, Prague, and Canada. As an artist, Pegi emphasizes sustainability and accessibility, as she believes it is important to be socially responsible to the communities in which we create and share our art. Pegi received her MFA from University of Maryland College Park, and she is a USA 829 Scenic Designer.

We are grateful for the support of our show sponsors and our season sponsors.

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Jennifer and David Fischer

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Annmarie and Neil Hawkins