Old, new cast members make up Foster's 50th season
James Neff will portray Stephen Foster this season

By The Kentucky Standard

May 25, 2008

Photo by LYDELLE ABBOTT / The Kentucky Standard

This year, "Stephen Foster — The Musical," has reached a milestone. It is celebrating its 50th anniversary season. This year's production will feature returning cast member James Neff, Fishers, Ind., as Stephen Foster and new cast member Laura Medford, Brinkley, Ark., as Jane McDowell.

This will be Neff's fourth season portraying Stephen Foster. In past seasons, Neff also portrayed Danny in "Grease" and Capt. Von Trapp in "The Sound of Music." Most recently, he performed aboard Celebrity Cruises' Constellation on the Caribbean and Baltic seas. A graduate of Indiana University School of Music, Neff plans to return to IU this fall to pursue a MBA in marketing.

Medford is a recent graduate of Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, Ark., where she majored in musical theatre. She has portrayed many characters, including Lady Larken in "Once Upon a Mattress," Yonah in "Children of Eden" and Miranda in "The Tempest." Medford was also a dancer and singer for "Hollywood and Broadway on Main Street" at The Arkansas Repertory Theatre and was a member of Ouachita Singers and Ouachita Sounds in college.

This year's cast of 53 members is a mixture of old and new, locals and those who have traveled hundreds of miles to participate in the musical. Although most of the actors hail from surrounding states including Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri and Tennessee, there are actors from Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas and New York. The majority of the cast — 29 — are from Kentucky.

Fifteen cast members from Nelson County include: Rascal Amburgey, Charlie Beam, Lee Grigsby Evans, Katie Hazelwood, Trae Harned, Cory Kieslich, Jack Manion, Jan McIntyre, Marcus Monroe, Darrell Parks, Amber Steff, John Strickland, Jennifer Warren, Kelsi Weis and Joshua Rogers.

The actor who has undoubtedly traveled the farthest to participate in the drama is Chris Large of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada who is returning for his second year.

Though this will be the first year for many members of this year's cast, others, such as David Hedrick, Campbellsville, who has been in the drama for 36 years, Gary Vidito, Taylorsville, 21 years, and Charlie Beam, Bardstown, 16 years, are seasoned veterans.

The musical opens June 7. Tickets to the opening night show are $50 and include a dinner garden party at My Old Kentucky Home preceding the show. Tickets for those who wish only to attend the show are $25. Seasonal show times are 8:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, June 7-June 28; and Wednesday, Friday and Sunday July 2-Aug. 15. Saturday indoor matinees are 2 p.m. June 14-Aug. 9. Preferred seating tickets are $23, adults $18 and children $10. Children 5 and younger are free. For more information, visit www.stephenfoster.com.

This story, appearing in The Kentucky Standard, was provided to One Knox courtesy of The Kentucky Standard. Read more stories from The Kentucky Standard at www.kystandard.com.