Plunder & Lightning: A Pirate's Life Cast

Matthew Parker (Vernard DeFoe)
Matthew embarked on his musical journey at the age of 15, touring across the United States and captivating audiences with his silky voice. Notably, he had the privilege of performing in Carnegie Hall and achieved multiple accolades at the esteemed National Festival of Gold. His rich vocal tone and composing ability gained recognition at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, where he returned the following year for honors in Scenic Design, Lighting Design, and Stage Management. Recently, he showcased his talent in notable roles such as Margaret Mead in Hair and Malvolio in Twelfth Night the Musical in the North East Kingdom of Vermont, all while fulfilling the role of Production Coordinator for Vermont State Universities Theaters.
Jay Bowser (Johnny Brown)
Jay will chalk Plunder & Lightning: A Pirate’s Life up as a series of firsts for his career as writer, producer, actor, and director of the show and its music. He is a lifelong creative who challenges convention in both art and business. Jay has pushed the boundaries of combining theater, music, pirate lore and puppets in this full stage rock opera and musical cabaret production. The project is a love letter to his daughter, an actor since birth who developed his love of music theater. While this is Jay’s acting debut, a stage is home having played in various touring bands since age 18 opening for bands Helmet, Sunny Day Real Estate, and others. When Jay’s not writing music or building pirate stuff, you can find him running barefoot around town, or in a creek with his English Shepherd Darcy.
Red (Sally Cuthbert)
Red is thrilled to be working with such a talented crew to bring Plunder & Lightning: A Pirate’s Life alive. Originally from Baltimore, she earned her BFA in Musical Theatre from Emerson College in Boston. After touring the U.S. for a year, she started working at Allenberry Playhouse in 1999 as an actor, director, choreographer, costume designer, and playwright. She performed in 13 seasons of the insanely spectacular Murder Mystery Weekends. Red is an Adjunct Professor of Theatre at Messiah University and works in many local theatres in Central Pennsylvania. When Red isn’t in a theater, she’s building pirate ships out of cake and icing with her two dogs TJ and Pepsi. Red would like to thank her 2 incredible children, Alister and Izzy, for always supporting her dreams.
James Mitchell (Skinny)
James is happy to be making his Plunder & Lightning debut in his memorable role as Skinny. Up until this point, James had thought he’d seen it all with credits in Glengarry Glenn Ross (Dave Moss), Antigone (Senator & Tiresias), Kill Keller (Reverend Neil), Rashomon (Wigmaker), Waiting for Godot (Pozzo) with Narcisse Theatre Company. Black Nativity, The People who could fly (ensemble) and Do you know me (Voiceover) with Sankofa Voices of the eight, The African Company (James Hewitt), Enemy of the People (Edvard), The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe (Aslan/Adult Peter) with Gamut theatre. James would like to thank his friends and family that have continued to support him.
Vanessa Codorniu (Papagalla)
A New York transplant, Vanessa cultivated her craft at NYC’s PRTT Training Unit and NYU Tisch. As a proud member of PRIDE (Puert-Rican Intercultural Drama Ensemble), Vanessa’s journey led her to The Harrisburg Improv Theatre, BIG and The Magnet Theater, contributing her talents to over 14 teams including musical improv group, “The Offbeats.” She has directed at various colleges and the iconic Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Vanessa’s team, Cosmic Trash, brought wisdom and laughter to the Harrisburg Fringe Festival in 2023. Off stage, she teaches improv and leads transformative sessions/classes and retreats. Grateful for the wild adventure, Vanessa cherishes her time alongside her talented crew of pirates!
Brian Silva (Thomas Langhorne)
Brian is excited to join the talented crew of A Pirates’ Life. Brian hails from Carlisle, Pennsylvania and is no stranger to the stage, traveling all around South Central PA performing in various companies living the dream, as well as leading his weekly team to victory! Favorite Credits include: Rent (Tom Collins), Puffs (Wayne Hopkins), Cats (Mungojerrie) and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Dan/One More Angel Soloist).He would like to thank his friends, family, and family for their love, inspiration, and supporting the arts in Central PA!
Jamie Kramer (Uncle Albert)
A co-author of Plunder & Lightning: A Pirate’s Life, Jamie brings a global energy to the production through the eyes of a pop culture philosopher, propagandist and monster engineer. His roles in the show are vast and varied from actor, puppeteer, musician, prop and set designer and creative advisor. No stranger to the stage, Jamie has played roles in Once Upon A Mattress, Fiddler on the Roof and Hello Dolly and is excited to act again after a 35 year hiatus. Jamie currently works for the Palmyra School District and in his free time can be found trying to fool fish with fur and feathers lashed to a hook, tending to his flower garden or making gourmet meals for his wife Michelle and his daughter Hannah.
Matt Newton (Groggy Morgan)
Matt often finds himself the creative force behind the stage and cameras, but is now thrust center stage as the lovable ship's cook Groggy Morgan in A Pirate's Life. Matt has been involved in building Plunder & Lightning from its very inception, collaborating in songwriting, filming, acting in and producing the Plunder & Lightning® web series "Where's Walter?". Some of Matt's best ideas come to him on a disc golf course or while hoisting a beer with friends and family around the fire at one of his favorite camp sites in Pennsylvania.
Ben Chadwell (Plum Bob)
Ben’s an accomplished old salt when it comes to the art of the stage with musical theatre credits that include leading roles in Pippin (Pippin), Assassins (John Wilkes Booth), and Spring Awakening (Melchior). Ben’s comedic savvy can also be seen swinging through Harrisburg Improv Theatre with The Offbeats and Chill Karen. All the world’s a stage for Ben who is a professional permaculture designer. He has also acted in and produced several local film treasures. Ben would like to express gratitude to those who recognized and nurtured his gifts with love and support like his dear Christine, and for being cast in A Pirate’s Life with this ragtag band of creatives!
Stephanie Shaeffer (Tic the Rat)
Stephanie is excited to make her Pennsylvania stage debut in A Pirate’s Life after relocating to Harrisburg from Anchorage, Alaska. She recently worked with Sparkles Productions in Alaska as Magenta in the shadowcast of The Rocky Horror Sparkle Show. She also has been a soloist in several seasons of Koots Kabaret and guest lead singer of Danger Money, an Anchorage cover band. Stephanie has been a fixture in the karaoke scene, often judging or competing in contests or even guest-hosting. She is really enjoying the shorter winter season and more dog showing opportunities.
Emily Murtoff (Tack the Rat)
A jack-of-many trades, Emily slings mortar by day as the owner and operator of Brick Chick Masonry but she dabbles in various creative endeavors by night. Emily has hosted poetry and music open mics throughout Harrisburg and is the Founder and Director of the Harrisburg Writers Group. As a member of the Heinze family, Emily grew up running around the Allenberry Playhouse, mingling with actors and marveling at the magic of theater. However, she never braved the stage herself…until now! Emily is thrilled to make her acting debut in A Pirate’s Life alongside this incredible crew of scalawags. Yar!
Amandine Pope (Narrator, Ensemble)
Originally from France, Amandine received a classical musical formation and theater at the Conservatory Maurice Ravel and loves performing arts. 2019 started her improv journey at the Harrisburg Improv Theater (HIT). She regularly performs with Our Bizarre Adventure, Leg of Lamp, Real Fast Coast Wives of Central PA, Next Level and All Over the Place and in productions Juneteenth HBG: Black Performance Art Mashup and Cosmic Trash, and in the Sankofa AATC play “Between Heaven & Earth.” Amandine has film acted in the Vidjam of Horror 2023 short movies: Séance, Malevolent Ceremonies, and Ghosts and Ghouls of Grandeur. Adventurous, Amandine is delighted to embrace the pirate’s life for this production!
Brian "Splinters" Koch (Bass Guitar)
Brian has been performing in front of audiences nearly four decades. As an art major/theater minor at Kutztown University, he first picked up a bass guitar in 1985 and never looked back. He is a founding member of The Armadillos, taking stages across the country in support of their six independent album releases and as National Finalists in the UnVailed Independent Music competition. He also had the pleasure of sharing the stage with bands such as Train, Matchbox 20, Green Day, Iggy Pop, and many others. Destiny called one summer’s day when Brian met his new neighbor Jay who had moved in across the street, clearly discovering a kindred soul. He is now honored and excited to bring the low end to the deep sea on this epic pirate journey.
"Dread Pirate" Dan Comune (Percussion/Hand Cannons)
Dan is new to the musical theatre scene but certainly knows his way around a stage. His percussion prowess began in high school in drum line but the garage band allure captured his imagination, quickly building a reputation as a go-to power drummer in the east coast alternative/punk/hardcore/metal scene. He was a founding member of Dividing Line which was featured on a compilation with historic punk band The Bouncing Souls. His band Novelty was showcased at the famous CBGB’s in New York and toured to support a record put out under American Machine Records. Dan and Jay have been brothers since 1990 and have been making music together in various forms ever since.
Josiah Ferris (Guitars)
Josiah, eclectic explorer of all things musical and unconventional, honed his craft in the vibrant landscape of punk, indie, emo, and pop bands. Guitarist and co-founder of the band Running from Dharma, he graced stages with renowned acts like Sense Field, At the Drive-in, Coheed and Cambria, and My Chemical Romance internationally. Josiah found himself enchanted by world of musical theatre, joining forces with the talented ensemble at Bare Bones Theatre with dynamic performances in Rent and Chicago, seamlessly applying raw punk energy to the theater stage. Josiah boldly sets sail into uncharted waters, forsaking the familiar stage lights for the allure of adventure and fortune on the high seas.
Jessica Crowe (Director)
Jessica Crowe has been fascinated by pirate lore since she began working at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire at the age of 17. Since then, she has consistently had her hand in just about every aspect of live theatre on and offstage, participating in well over 50 unique productions across the country. Renowned for her ability to herd cats on stage, “Mother Crowe” feels most at home in the director’s chair, stage managing, or producing shows and events. When not involved in productions, she writes as a theatre critic for Broadway World and South Central Pennsylvania Art Works. Jessica likes to spend her free time traveling with her husband, Gregory, and cuddling her four favorite kitties, Luna, Apollo, Artemis, and Pearl.
Gina Wagner (Production Stage Manager)
Gina Wagner is from York, Pennsylvania and is excited to be a part of this epic show. Since 2012 she has been very involved both onstage and offstage in local community theaters in the York area, and has participated in almost 60 shows, as well being a member of two touring companies who take theatre to children and senior citizens. In her spare time she enjoys reading and writing. She would like to thank her daughters for dragging her into community theatre in the first place, and her husband Rob for being so supportive of her.