Murder Ballad

by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash
September 28-October 23, 2016

This sexy, explosive rock musical explores the complications of love, the compromises we make, and the betrayals that can ultimately undo us. Murder Ballad centers on Sara, an uptown girl who seems to have it all, but whose downtown past lingers enticingly and dangerously in front of her. Murder Ballad, an Off-Broadway sensation at Manhattan Theatre Club, is a dark thriller with a razor’s edge.


Arianna Bergamaschi (Sara)

Arianna is thrilled to make her USA theatre debut with DPT. Arianna is an Italian singer, stage actress, TV personality and musical theatre performer. She began her career at the age of 14 as the official Italian Disney singer and TV endorser. Since then she hasn't stopped releasing pop albums and being featured in theatre and TV shows in her native Italy. Her favorites theatre credits are Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, Romeo and Juliet, Pinocchio, Three's Company, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In 2013 Arianna reached #5 on the USA dance chart and had over 30 million views on Youtube with the song Sexy People, featuring world famous rapper Pitbull. She is the only Italian artist who has collaborated with such an eclectic array of international artists as Pitbull, Michael Bolton, Il Volo, Shaggy, Will I Am and FloRida.

Arielle Crosby (Narrator)

Arielle is a native Detroiter with a love of God and a lifelong background in music. A graduate of Kentucky State University, Arielle has experience singing opera, musical theatre, gospel, pop, and R&B. Her versatility has garnered her solo and ensemble performances in Europe, Bermuda, and West Africa as well as across the US. She recently caught the theatre bug and has been actively performing on stage ever since. Starting in 2014 she began landing roles in several original plays in the Detroit area including TJ Hemphill's Perilous Times and Kelly Nieto's The Cross and the Light. She transitioned into more traditional works at Stagecrafters of Royal Oak, where she starred in their season closing production of Aida in 2015. She made herself at home and went on to perform in three more productions the following season: August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson (Grace), Mary Poppins (Mrs. Corry/Ensemble), and Dreamgirls (Lorrell Robinson).

Eric Gutman (Michael)

Eric is thrilled to be back with Detroit Public Theatre after a wildly successful run of his one man show From Broadway to Obscurity in the inaugural season. That run was nominated for three Wilde Awards, winning the award for “Best One-Person Show.” He continues to tour his show to theatre and festivals across the US and Canada and, this year, was awarded "Best Solo Show - Musical" at the Orlando Fringe Festival. His favorite credits include Jersey Boys (Broadway, Chicago, National Tour); Forbidden Broadway and Forbidden Hollywood (Off-Broadway and National Tours); Next To Normal and Xanadu (Meadow Brook Theatre); Ordinary Days (Tipping Point Theatre), Forever Plaid (Gem Theatre), and Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Ringwald Theatre as music director). Eric holds a BFA in Music Theatre Performance from Western Michigan University and is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association and The American Federation of Musicians. Visit for more info or follow @bway2obscurity.

Rusty Mewha (Tom)

Rusty Mewha is thrilled to be working with Detroit Public Theatre for the first time. He has been working on stage and screen in Southeast Michigan for the last ten years. He most recently was seen in Morning's at Seven at the Purple Rose Theatre, where he is a Resident Artist. He also performs regularly at Meadow Brook Theatre, and has worked with Water Works Theatre Company, The Encore Musical Theatre, JET, Detroit Repertory Theatre, and Two Muses Theatre. He also works in feature film and TV, commercial and industrial film, as well as voice over.

Creative Team

Julia Jordan (Conceived, Book and Lyrics)

Musicals: Murder Ballad (book and lyrics); Sarah, Plain and Tall (book); The Mice (book, 1 act of Hal Prince's 3hree). Plays: Boy, Tatjana in Color, St. Scarlet, Smoking Lesson, Dark Yellow, Astrological Quit Claim Deeds, Jones. The Kleban Award for librettist, Francesca Primus Prize, Lucille Lortel Playwriting Fellowship, Manhattan Theatre Club Fellowship, Jonathan Larson Award, Heideman Award and two time LeComte Nouy Award, AT&T OnStage Award, The American Spirit Award, three times shortlisted for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award. Her work has been produced at Primary Stages, Actor's Theater of Louisville, SoHo Rep, McCarter Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, Prince Music Theater, Ahmanson, Studio Dante, Wellfleet, Contemporary American Theater Festival, Salt Lake Acting Company and The American Theater, among others. Her plays have been developed at Sundance, The O'Neill, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Playlabs at the Minneapolis Playwrights Center, Cleveland Playhouse, among others. Jordan is one of the founders of The Lilly Awards and is on the Council of the Dramatists Guild.

Juliana Nash (Music and Lyrics)

Juliana Nash was the rhythm guitarist and singer-songwriter for the band Talking to Animals, which was signed to Columbia and Velvel Records. Her work has been featured in films such as Rob Morrow's Maze and Eric Schaeffer's Fall. She is the proud recipient of an MTC/Sloan commission. She is the co-lyricist and composer for Murder Ballad, which was produced at the Manhattan Theater Club in their 2012-13 season and then transferred to the Union Square Theater in the spring of 2013. Murder Ballad was nominated for five Lortel Awards including outstanding musical, Drama League for outstanding musical and the Outer Critics Circle for best musical. Juliana is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and BMI and would like to thank both organizations for their support.

Courtney Burkett (Director)

Courtney is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Detroit Public Theatre. Prior to founding DPT, she served as the Director of Theatre Programs at Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit for five years. Before Mosaic, Courtney was a founding Artistic Partner with Breathe Art Theatre Project. Breathe Art was committed to producing theatre for Detroit and Windsor audiences that celebrated the peaceful international border between the two cities by producing and presenting contemporary plays. Courtney also served as the business manager for the University of Detroit Mercy Theatre Company. While at UDM, Courtney taught in the Department of Theatre and directed and performed in Theatre Company productions. After leaving UDM, Courtney was hired by the University of Michigan to act as the managing director of the CRLT Players. In that position, she oversaw 50 applied theatre performances annually on various campuses throughout the country. Courtney performs and directs with Detroit-area theaters on a regular basis, and her work has been nominated for numerous Detroit-area theatre awards. Courtney received her BFA from Webster Conservatory of Theatre Arts and her MFA from Wayne State’s Hilberry Theatre program.

Jamie Reed (Music Director)

Jamie Reed is honored to be back for her second musical production at DPT. An accomplished music director, pianist, arranger, and vocal coach, Jamie holds a music degree in piano performance from Western Michigan University. Music direction credits include First Date, Eric Gutman's From Broadway to Obscurity, The Full Monty, Cabaret, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Evita, Ain’t Misbehavin, Altar Boyz, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Next To Normal, Theory of Relativity, Shrek, Rent, West Side Story, The Last Five Years, The Pajama Game, Once On This Island, Miss Saigon, and Lippa’s The Wild Party. National Tour orchestra credits include Wicked, Book of Mormon, Chicago, Beauty and the Beast, South Pacific, and Fiddler on the Roof. After a brief stint in New York, Jamie switched gears to international music directing for Holland America Cruise Line. Jamie is currently music directing in Metro Detroit, resident music director at Mason Street Warehouse in Saugatuck, director of music for Orchard UMC, as well as a vocal coach/music director at Oakland University.

Shawn Neal (Drums)

Growing up in Metro Detroit, Shawn Neal became fascinated with the drums at eight years old after he snuck away from his parents at a local music festival and was later found behind the drum riser, air drumming along with a Juice Newton performance. Shawn would go on to play in school band and musicals and later toured the USA and Canada in the early 90s with The Glassmen Drum and Bugle Corps. He performed professionally in rock bands, recording projects, musical theater and orchestras in the USA and Canada throughout the 90s and early 2000s. He has most recently performed in Eric Gutman's From Broadway To Obscurity at Detroit Public Theatre, Hedwig and The Angry Inch at The Ringwald, and Go! Comedy’s RoboCop! The Musical.

Mike Shriver(Bass)

Mike is excited to perform with the band for the Detroit Public Theatre’s Murder Ballad. Mike has performed at community theatres across Metro Detroit in musicals such as Shrek, Mary Poppins, Legally Blond, 9 to 5, and many others. More recently, Mike performed in the supporting band for the one-man musical From Broadway to Obscurity. He began his musical career as a trumpet player, but was drawn to the bass guitar at an early age and has been playing bass for over 20 years. When not performing in musicals, you can find Mike playing in local bands such as the Stardust Big Band, Swingshift jazz band and the Classics rock band.

Jeff Sugamosto (Guitar)

Jeff has performed at local theaters for the last several years and is thrilled to be playing again at Detroit Public Theatre. Previous shows include American Idiot, From Broadway to Obscurity, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Rent, and tick, tick… BOOM!

Monika Essen (Set and Props Designer)

Monikais an award-winning, nationally recognized artist and designer. The recipient of the prestigious Detroit Free Press Lawrence DeVine Award for Outstanding Contribution to Theatre, she studied interior architecture and Environmental Design at Parsons School of Design and received her MFA in scenography from the renowned Hilberry Repertory Company. Monika has designed countless productions in theatre, opera and film; she currently serves as the Resident Designer at the Michigan Opera Theatre, recently designing their acclaimed productions of Frida and The Tender Land. Some of her favorite local designs include: The Foursome and American Wee Pie at Tipping Point Theatre, Richard III and Woman Before A Glass at Performance Network Theatre, God of Carnage at Jewish Ensemble Theatre, and American Hero here at DPT.  Additionally, she creates furniture, museum exhibits, interiors and full sensory, multi-media environments for residential and commercial clients, including the Detroit Zoo. You can see her work at

Cecilia Durbin (Lighting Design)

Recent designs include Sex with Strangers (Detroit Public Theatre), The Taming of the Shrew (Chautauqua Theatre Company), Hyena (Edinburgh Fringe, La MaMa Club), Love Alone (Playmakers Rep), The Life Model (On the Boards), In the Blood (Theatre Horizon [Barrymore nom.]), Each and Everything (Portland Center Stage, co-design), Long Before Afterward (Vencl Dance), Lust (HERE Arts Center), An Experiment with an Air Pump and Machinal (Duke University), I am Gordafarid (Rising Circle Theatre Collective), Measure for Measure (Epic Theatre Ensemble), Sideways Stories from Wayside School and The Seagull (Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble), The Theater at Monmouth 2014 Repertory Season. Residencies at Tofte Lake Center at Norm's Fish Camp, and the inaugural Residency 9 at Chautauqua Theatre Company. She received her MFA from NYU and is a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829.

Katherine Nelson (Costume Designer)

Katherine is thrilled to be stage managing her third production (From Broadway to Obscurity, Detroit ’67) and designing her first with DPT. She is a proud graduate of the Purple Rose Theatre Company apprenticeship program and remains a Resident Artist and Designer there. She stage manages regularly with the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts. As a costume designer, she has experience with numerous area theatres including the Purple Rose, Flint Youth Theatre, Tipping Point Theatre, Water Works Theatre Company, Performance Network Theatre, Wild Swan Theatre, and the Wharton Center; she has worked at the Michigan Opera Theatre as stitcher and wardrobe mistress. She is grateful to Patrick for his presence and support, and to Courtney and the DPT team for their collaboration.

Jill Dion (Choreographer)

Jill Dion is a Wayne State alumna and a graduate of the Moscow Art Theatre School (MXT). Jill was a member of the only English-speaking class to participate in a four year program at MXT. While in Moscow she studied movement under Andrei Droznin and his protege Natalia Fedorova and is currently teaching their method in the Theatre and Dance Department at Wayne State. She is a founding member of Studio Six Theatre Company and has performed all over the world. Jill also works as the Artistic Director for Wayne State’s musical theatre outreach program, Motor City Cabaret, and is the Program Director of the “Month in Moscow” study abroad program. You can see her in commercials, and on film and TV. Look for her movement and choreography in Alice in Wonderland, opening at the Bonstelle Theatre on Oct. 7th. Thank you to Detroit Public Theatre for this amazing experience!

Christopher Corporandy (Dialect Coach)

Chris Corporandy is a voice, speech, and dialect coach and teacher. As a coach, he has worked with the Alliance Theatre (Atlanta), Irish Classical Theatre (Buffalo), and Chautauqua Theater Company, among others. He teaches at Wayne State University and for the Chautauqua Institution's Special Studies Department.  As an actor, Chris has been seen locally at Hilberry Rep (where he most recently assisted dialect coaching on A Flea In Her Ear), and at theaters across the country, as well as a handful of appearances in TV and film.  BFA Acting: NYU/Tisch, MFA Acting: Hilberry Rep