On the streets of Dublin, an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant are drawn together by their shared love of music. Over the course of one fateful week, an unexpected friendship and collaboration quickly evolves into a powerful but complicated love story, underscored by emotionally charged music.
A Note from the Director
I am overjoyed to be returning to The GhostLight after directing Samuel D. Hunter's Lewiston/Clarkston last summer. It was a true privilege being brought in to helm such an ambitious yet sensitive production; how wonderful that the same can be said for Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova, and Enda Walsh's Once!
In this universal story of finding truth and love in community, an Irish busker is creatively resuscitated by a young Czech mother while traversing the streets and pubs of Dublin. Together, they channel their artistic gifts into a musical project, and a connection, that has impacted generations with its depth and tenderness. With a cast of 14 actor-musicians bringing it to life - "it takes a village" could be taken literally - I am honored to share this journey with audiences in Benton Harbor, thanks to the neverending support of Paul Mow and the staff of The GhostLight Theatre. Once proves that, if you risk your heart and open yourself to life's possibilities, music can do more than save your life - it might just bring you home.
- Spencer Ryan Diedrick
Once Cast, Orchestra & Crew
Dan Maxon, he / him - Guy
Meghan Pelkey, she / her - Girl
Kelly Collins, she / her - Reza + Ex-Girlfriend
Wesley Shenker, he / him - Billy
Jessica Lewis, she / her - Barushka
Elizabeth Gaspari, she / her - Ivonka
Doug Peterson, he / him - Da + Eamon
Megan Hamel, she / her - Andreja
Ricky Wallsten, he / him - Svec
Burke Lokey, he / him - Bank Manager, Music Director
Ivan Rodriguez, he / him - Ensemble
Tyler Jacobs, he / him - Ensemble
Laura Chaddock, she / her - Ensemble
Braden Miesse, he / him - Ensemble
Paige Mulick, she / her - Choreographer
Josh Weber, he / him - Stage Manager
Will Hays, he / him - Set and Props Design
Collin Wagner, he / him - Lighting and Sound Design
Beth Ward, she / her - Costume Design
Paul Mow, he / him - Vocal Coach
Lauren Mow, she / her - Properties
Susan Graham, she / her - Volunteer Coordinator
Kristina McCloskey, she / her - Intimacy Coordinator
Spencer Ryan Diedrick (he/him/his) - Director, is a theatre director, producer, and advocate for original & undersung voices. He is thrilled to be back at The GhostLight Theatre after directing last year’s Lewiston/Clarkston. Chicago credits include: Inclusive Playwright Project’s Sketchtopia 2023 (as part of The Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series), THEM (Broken Nose), Black Cat Lost (Red Tape), Fragmented (Our Perspective), Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins (Strawdog), Desire, Desire, Desire (Eclipse), and Sweet Sixteen Extravaganza!!! (Blue Goose). Regional: Tomato Tattoo at Potrero Stage in San Francisco, CA. Spencer is a proud company member of Playground-Chicago. He is eternally thankful for his friends, family, and community. spencerdiedrick.squarespace.com
Dan Maxon, he / him - Guy, has been acting, designing, and directing for GhostLight's many productions since 2019, remaining ever excited for its future. Outside of the theatre, Dan is a school administrator in Berrien Springs, where he oversees the new Arts & Athletic Center and contributes his expertise to designing lights and sound for their productions. During the summer, Dan spends his weekends playing music for weddings, pubs, and vineyards - always accompanied and cheered on by his wonderful partner, Meghan Pelkey. Now, taking on the role of Guy in "Once," Dan is excited to get out there and feel some feelings.
Meghan Pelkey, she / her - Girl, is a St. Joseph native who has loved performing most of her life. Some of her favorite roles include Mrs. Lovett in Lake Michigan College's Sweeney Todd, and Beatrice in The GhostLight Theatre's Much Ado About Nothing. Meghan works at Lake Michigan College and is trying to decide what she wants to be when she grows up. While she isn’t in rehearsals, Meghan enjoys cooking, relaxing at the beach, playing with her cats, and eating sushi.
Kelly Collins, she / her - Reza + Ex-Girlfriend, is stoked to be returning to The GhostLight in Once! Favorite GL credits include Little Women (Jo) and The Light in the Piazza (Franca). Kelly recently graduated from Long Island University with her BFA in Musical Theatre and plans to move back to NYC full-time this fall. Endless thanks to this cast & crew for making The GhostLight feel like home. KellyACollins.com
Wesley Shenker, he / him - Billy, is stoked to be performing at the GhostLight again in the role of Billy! His most recent roles were Max in Cabaret (2023) and Big Deal in West Side Story (2019). He’s been performing in the local theatre community for nearly 20 years. When he’s not been involved in theatre he can still be found on stage behind a guitar, bass or drum kit playing original music and cover songs. He’d like to thank his friends and family for the encouragement over the years to continue performing and pursuing his passions. He wants to encourage other creatives to do the same.
Jessica Lewis, she / her - Barushka, Guitar, Cajon, this is Jessica's first production with Ghostlight. Previous roles include Lakergirl/Dance Ensemble in SPAMALOT (TCP) Flotsam in The Little Mermaid (TCP), Trisha in Five Women Wearing the Same Dress (Beckwith), and Emily Hobbs in Elf the Musical (TCP). In February this year she began playing electric guitar through private lessons and feels very much outside her element for this show. Having never played an instrument before, she is forever grateful to the entire cast for being so wonderful to work with, and their patience in teaching and making her feel a sense of belonging through playing music together, her family for their support, and her son for his patience and graciousness to all the long nights at rehearsal. Ice cream is in your future. She would like to give special thanks to her boyfriend Christian for letting her use his beautiful vintage acoustic guitar, teaching her power chords, drawing cord charts, the sticky note idea, for helping her sharpen her guitar skills in a very short amount of time, and for making the best grilled cheese sandwich.
Elizabeth Gaspari, she / her - Ivonka, debuts at Ghostlight Theatre as Ivanka, but she is no stranger to the stage. She has been singing, dancing, playing the piano, and acting for several years. Recent performances include Matilda in CMW’s production of “Matilda Jr,” Roquefort in “Aristocats Kids,” and Boq in “The Magical Land of Oz.”
Doug Peterson, he / him - Da + Eamon, has had a blast this summer with a triple header at The GhostLight. Appearing in Cabaret, The Sound of Music, and now Once. Many past credits in Chicagoland. Teddy Roosevelt in “The Brownsville Raid, The Defendant in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial By Jury to alderman Thomas Kean in the Jeff nominated “Hizzoner Daley the First” which was also the Executive Producer. Doug studied at Columbia College and Chicago Conservatory of Music. Thanks to everyone involved in this production. All my love to Cindy, Julie and Brian.
Megan Hamel, she / her - Andreja, is a Benton Harbor local, who was lucky enough to grow as a performer in tandem with the Arts District. She is honored to be in her second performance at The GhostLight Theatre. She would like to thank her parents Steve and Peggy, her daughter Ophelia, and Paul and Spencer for the opportunity.
Ricky Wallsten, he / him - Svec, is grateful to be making his debut at The GhostLight Theatre. After studying acting at Western Michigan University, he went on to pursue the craft in cities like New York, NY, and Atlanta, GA. Having not performed on a stage since 2019, Ricky could not be more thrilled to help bring this story of hope, love, and the healing power of music to life with his cherished and immensely talented cast mates!
Burke Lokey, he / him - Bank Manager, Music Director, is the Orchestra Director for St. Joseph High School in St. Joseph, Michigan. Under his leadership, the orchestras have earned top ratings at Michigan school band and orchestra festivals, performed in New York City, California, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and the United Kingdom. In 2012, the SJHS Chamber Orchestra received third place at the ASTA National Orchestra Festival.This past summer, he led a group of over 100 students on a performance tour of Spain. Burke is also the treasurer for the Michigan Chapter of the American String Teacher Association. In 2014, Burke was appointed as the Director of the Lake Michigan Youth Orchestra and has grown the program into four ensembles, including the newly-added Wind Ensemble. He is also the Education Director for the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, where he has helped to develop educational programs for the local community, and has organized master classes with such artists as Rachel Barton-Pine and Christopher O’Reilly.
Before coming to St. Joseph, Burke taught instrumental music in New York City and Rockland County, NY from 2002 to 2010. During that time, he arranged music for, and conducted ensembles that were showcased at such venues as the Avery Fisher Hall, Carnegie Hal,l and New York State Music Association Conferences. Burke has an extensive background in Music Education, having received a BA in Music and String Pedagogy from Arizona State University (101) and a MA in Music Education from Columbia University (108). He has led workshops and presentations on the use of music technology for education and music advocacy in the community. Burke shares his love of music with his wife, Becky and two sons, Ryan and Evan. He also enjoys cooking, sports, reading, and traveling.
Ivan Rodriguez, he / him - Ensemble, was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, and started playing bass guitar at the age of 12. Ivan has performed with multiple bands and genres such as Ska, Rock, Pop, Latin, Folk, Jazz, Blues, and Funk in both electric and upright bass. He moved to the Michiana area at the age of 23 where he has been active in supporting the local scene and is very excited to join The GhostLight Theatre team.
Tyler Jacobs, he / him - Ensemble, 15 years old and born in Hammond, Indiana. Has been a violinist for 7 years. Part of the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra also St. Joseph High School Chamber Group. Performed in a number of orchestra concerts including a solo with the KJSO. However, performing in the play “Once” will be his first experience in a musical, and is very excited about the show!
Laura Chaddock, she / her - Ensemble, is delighted to make her debut with The GhostLight Theatre. With 48 years of musical experience, she has performed in over 30 theater productions including a season with The Ohio Light Opera. She began piano as soon as she could reach the keyboard, performed in her first musical at age 5, and began violin studies at age 7. She recently performed as a Soprano for a Masterworks Choral Performance at Carnegie Hall.
Braden Miesse, he / him - Ensemble, started playing cello when he was five and has been participating in musicals since he was six. He is a junior at Saint Joseph High School and loves reading and history. He would like to thank Mr. Lokey and Paul Mow for getting him to do this musical and all their teaching and support over the years.
Paige Mulick, she / her - Choreographer, is a recent graduate of Western Michigan University with a BFA in Dance and a BA in Arts Administration. Paige is passionate about performing, choreographing, teaching, and administration in the arts. In her time at WMU, Paige worked with choreographers including Kiki Lucas, Carolyn Pavlik, Seyong Kim, Kelsey Paschich, Jeremy Blair, and Katy Copeland. Paige has also performed in and created works for student shows throughout her time at WMU. In addition to her studies, Paige worked as the Production Manager for Orchesis Dance Society, a social media assistant for WMU Dance, and served as the student representative for Partners In Dance. A native of southwest Michigan, Paige trained at The Citadel Dance & Music Center and has been involved in numerous productions throughout her life. You may have seen her choreography in Cabaret (GhostLight), Descendants (CMW), and The Sound of Music (SMSO+GhostLight). In addition to her theatrical work, Paige is currently a company member of CPR Dance: Inhale Movement for their sophomore season in SWMI.
Josh Weber, he / him - Stage Manager
Will Hays, he / him - Set and Props Design, this is Will’s third production at The GhostLight Theatre. Will is going to be a senior at Western Michigan University with a focus in Scenic Design. With notable work in Western's productions of Pippin, Play That Goes Wrong, and Significant Other.
Collin Wagner, he / him - Lighting and Sound Design, this will be Collin’s second show at The GhostLight and he is happy to have been a part of this production. He is also a lighting student at Western Michigan University, his credits include, Cabaret, Thanksgiving play, Footloose, 12 Angry Jurors.
Beth Ward, she / her - Costume Design, she has performed at GhostLight in Much Ado About Nothing, Clybourne Park, and has been involved every season since. She has also participated in theater (both on stage and off) at Twin City players, and Lake Michigan College. When she's not at the theater, she spends her time with her four children and fiancée, doing hair/lashes at The Gallery Salon, and lets her ADHD guide her to various other special interests and creative outlets.
Kristina McCloskey, she / her - Intimacy Coordinator, is a Freelance Director & Intimacy Director working out of West Michigan. Recently at Ghostlight she Directed Much Ado About Nothing, and is working as the Resident Intimacy Director for the Summer Season. Past Intimacy Directing credits include Something Rotten! (Grand Rapids Civic Theatre), RENT (Muskegon Community College), Merry Wives of Windsor (Grand Valley State University), Little Women and Significant Other (Ghostlight Theatre). More at kristinamccloskey.com
Paul Mow, General Manager, Artistic Director & Co-Founder. Prior to founding The GhostLight Theatre, Paul Mow was an accomplished operatic tenor for over a decade, performing at the New York City Opera for five years, as well as several engagements at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center. and with dozens of opera companies and orchestras both domestic and abroad. In addition to his performing on the operatic and concert stages, he won many awards and competitions, most notably The George London Award for the Kirstin Flagstad Prize. His lifelong dedication to the arts has fueled his passion for what he saw as a need for a “more immersive performing experience in Southwest Michigan” which sparked the plans for what is now The GhostLight.
Board of Directors
Brett Lutz, Chair
Roni Buckley, Vice Chair
James Kalabokis, Treasurer
Mary Lynn, Secretary
3 Pillars Music
Chicago Records Management
The Twin City Players
Susan Salas Graham & Jim Graham
WMU Dept of Theatre and Dance