RED VELVET – Meet the cast

Red Velvet transports the audience to an 1833 rehearsal of Othello…

…for an electrifying moment in theatre history. Though the conversations are imagined by playwright Lolita Chakrabarti,  many of the players are based on real people. Let’s meet the cast:

IRA ALDRIDGE (1807-1867) – Aldridge begins his acting career  with one of the earliest known African-American theatre companies, the African Grove Theatre in New York City.  Its members performed Shakespeare’s plays and their own.  Finding little other opportunity in America as an actor of color,  Aldridge sets out for England. In 1828, he becomes director of a theatre in Coventry. The road is stony, but in time, he will become an international sensation.  CHRISTIAN GIBBS, of Silver Spring, MD, is making his CSC debut as Aldridge. He has appeared with Prince George’s County Shakespeare in the Park as Orlando in As You Like It, and understudied for the roles of Agrippa and Soothsayer in Antony and Cleopatra with Folger Shakespeare. He holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts and a BFA from Howard University. 


EDMUND KEAN (1787-1833)-–  A renowned tragedian with a turbulent life, the British actor Edmund Kean is central to the plot of Red Velvet, though absent from the stage.  In the early 1800s, he is England’s top Shakespearean actor, and leads the company at the prestigious Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, in the heart of London’s West End.  On March 25, 1833, Kean collapses on stage while performing as Othello. How will the show go on?


CHARLES KEAN — An accomplished actor, Charles Kean nevertheless works in his father’s shadow. Charles plays Iago.  He is the presumed heir to the theatre company’s  leadership and the role of Othello. However, the Theatre Royal’s manager has another actor in mind, one never before seen on the London stage.  CSC Resident Acting Company Member RON HENEGHAN*  appears as Charles Kean.  Recent roles with CSC include Brutus in Julius Caesar, and Petruchio in The Taming of  the Shrew, among many others.  His credits in the region include  Olney Theatre Center, Everyman Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, and Alliance for New Music Theatre. Ron is CSC’s Director of Education. *He is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and SAG/AFTRA.



ELLEN TREE —  A prominent British actress who toured Europe and America, she is engaged to marry Charles Kean. She plays Desdemona to Edmund Kean’s Othello. Her fiance urges her to leave the show when Aldridge is hired.  LAURA ROCKLYN, a CSC Resident Acting Company Member, appears as Ellen Tree. With CSC, she has appeared as Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol, Jane in Wild Oats, Miss Wells in Dracula, and Ophelia in Hamlet, among others. She holds an MFA from the Academy for Classical Acting at George Washington University, a BA from Middlebury College, and a Shakespeare Certificate from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.



BERNARD WARDE –  The 1833 playbill for Theatre Royal’s Othello lists actors Warde, Forrester, and Lovell among the cast. In Red Velvet, Warde is an experienced actor with traditional views, who must change roles on short notice after the elder Kean falls ill. DAVE GAMBLE, a CSC Company Member,  appears as Warde.  He doubles as TERENCE, Aldridge’s loyal valet and dresser. Dave has appeared with CSC in Wild Oats, Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Richard II, among others.  He has performed with Folger Theatre, Theatre Alliance, Fells Point Corner Theatre, and Molotov Theater Group.

HENRY FORRESTER – In Red Velvet, this Othello cast member is played as a young actor who questions the theatre industry’s casting traditions. SEAMUS MILLER, a CSC Resident Acting Company Member, appears as Forrester. Miller also appears as CASIMIR, a stage-hand in the theatre in Lodz, Poland, where an aging Aldridge arrives to perform in King Lear.  Seamus has appeared with CSC in Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, Wild Oats, and Titus Andronicus, among others. He holds an MFA from the Academy for Classical Acting at George Washington University and a degree from Cornell University.

BETTY LOVELL – In the 1833 Othello cast, she plays Emilia, the wife of Iago.  MCLEAN JESSE is making her CSC debut as Lovell and as MARGARET ALDRIDGE,  Ira Aldridge’s wife.  She also appears in the opening scene of Red Velvet as HALINA WOZNIAK,  an ambitious, young Polish journalist, who persists to get an interview with the ailing  star Aldridge as he tours in Lodz in 1867.  In Red Velvet, Halina’s interview prompts the flashback to the 1833 Othello performance. McLean has appeared with Virginia Repertory Theatre, Richmond Shakespeare, Firehouse Theatre, among others. She holds an MFA from the Academy of Classical Acting at George Washington University and a BA from James Madison University.

PIERRE LAPORTE — As manager of Theatre Royal from 1828-1831 and 1833-1842, Laporte books notable performances, including the British premieres of operas by Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini.  A Frenchman and a progressive,  Laporte befriends Aldridge after seeing him perform in the provinces.  YURY LOMAKIN appears as Laporte. He has appeared with CSC as Cromwell in Anne of the Thousand Days and as Don John in Much Ado About Nothing with Annapolis Shakespeare Company.


CONNIE – The theatre company’s ever-present housekeeper, a Jamaican woman who is often silent yet always knowing, becomes the audience’s eyes and ears backstage as the players wrestle with their convictions and choices.  TRACEY FARRAR is making her CSC debut as Connie.  Locally, she has appeared in Wig Out with Studio Theatre,  Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom with 1st Stage, As You Like it  and Marley with Baltimore Center Stage, among others. She holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Morgan State University.


Meet our RED VELVET Director

SHIRLEY BASFIELD DUNLAP is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC). Her directing credits include: Buffalo Studio Arena –  Having Our Say  and The Old Settler; Cincinnati Arts Consortium – Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope; Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center – Madness, Menopause and More; Delaware Theatre Company and Des Moines Playhouse – Having Our Say; Human Race Theatre Company – Oak and Ivy; Herberger Theatre – Cookin’ At The Cookery, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Iowa Summer Rep  – Flyin’ West; Madison Repertory Theater  – From the Mississippi Delta and Fences; Metrostage – Pearl Bailey…By Request; Milwaukee Repertory Theatre – From The Mississippi Delta and Having Our Say; Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center – From The Mississippi Delta; Baltimore’s Spotlighters Theatre and Cincinnati Showboat Majestic – Ain’t Misbehavin’; and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts Center – A Raisin in the Sun, to name a few. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts and Coordinator of Theatre Arts at Morgan State University. Ms. Dunlap is an alumna of Morgan State University (1974) and an MFA graduate of the University of Cincinnati (CCM). 


Our production team includes:



SOUND DESISGN – Cheryl Williams

COSTUME DESIGN – Kristina Lambdin






RED VELVET by Lolita Chakrabarti is on stage  February 2 – 25, 2018  at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, 7 South Calvert Street, Baltimore 21202.  BOX OFFICE:  410-244-8571.