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Caged Bird Sings - Cast

Imagine and Discover

Main Stage performances are at the New Hazlett Theatre Center for Performing Arts

Performances are typically 2 hours long.

Showtimes: Friday & Saturday @ 8:00 PM
Sunday @ 2:30 PM


I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

by Dr. Maya Angelou
Adapted for the stage by Myra Platt and Malika Oyetimein for Book-it Repertory Theatre. The play is performed through arrangement with Caged Bird Legacy, LLC. All rights reserved.
Directed by Monteze Freeland

March 9 – 18, 2018



Robert Doswell (Musician) He taught music in New York City’s Public School System for several decades. During this period he also earned a Masters Degree in music education from the State University of New York at Stony Brook as well as a law degree from Seton Hall University. Mr. Doswell and his wife and two daughters moved to Pittsburgh in 1994. He taught music in the Pittsburgh Public School System for the next fifteen years. Currently, Mr. Doswell is teaching piano at the Afro-American Music Institute in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh. He is also currently serving as the organist at the Holy Cross Episcopal Church, also in Homewood. Bob past credits include musical director and pianist for Amahl and The Night Visitors in Pittsburgh, piano accompanist for selected compositions by Billy Harper featuring The Billy Harper Sextets and a choir assembled by the Afro-American Music Institute Performance at the August Wilson Theatre, and was the director of the Robert Doswell Singers in New York from 1980 - 1990.

Denise Sheffey-Powell (Momma) A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Denise received her Bachelor of Science degree from Duquesne University in Vocal Music, under the tutelage of the late Julia May and Mija Novich. Denise has been an active member of the Pittsburgh opera Company since 1982 and has performed various roles with the company, as well as with Civic Light Opera, City Theatre at Hartwood Acres and Pittsburgh Festival Opera. Competitively, she is a recipient of the Leontyne Price Vocal Arts Award and the Pittsburgh District Metropolitan Opera Award. She has been a featured vocalist with the Pittsburgh and Canton Symphony Orchestras. Some of her most distinguished roles have been: Victoria/A GATHERING OF SONS-world premiere opera, Donna Anna/ DON GIOVANNI, Carmen Jones/CARMEN JONES, Bess/Serena/PORGY AND BESS, Julia/JUST ABOVE MY HEAD-premiere jazz opera and Amahl’s mother/AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS. Denise’s style is not simply classical, pop, jazz, or gospel, but rather a mixture of moods that will fit the distinct taste of a universal audience.

Brenden Michael Peifer (Henry Reed) is humbled and grateful to make his professional acting debut in the Prime Stage Theatre production of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Brenden is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Communications, Writing, and Theatre Arts. Brenden has appeared in several Pitt Stages’ productions, including Rhinoceros (Dudard), Baltimore (Bryant), and Our Town (Doc Gibbs). Film credits include the Pittsburgh based web-series Halftime (PJ Miller, QB) and Anthem Productions’ Paper Dolls (Y-Figure and Head Figure). When he’s not acting, Brenden works as the Assistant Sports Director at Pitt’s college radio station, WPTS-Pittsburgh. He is also co-host of Riding the Pine, the satirical sports show of Pitt’s TV channel, UPTV. Instagram: brendenpeifer. Twitter: @brendenp19.

Sam Lothard (Uncle Willie) has been acting, writing and directing since 2007. His last show was as Buckshot in Eugene Lee's East Texas Hot Links. He has performed in Findings, Lights Out, Hercules Didn't Wade in The Water, as well as The Bold and The Sanctified. He's performed as Uncle Moses in The Ballad of Emmett Till, LoBoy in Lower Ninth and an opera titled A Gathering of Sons. You may have seen him in Monteze Freeland's Kalopsia musical. He's thankful for the experience that phenomenal cast members and directors have poured into him. I am blessed to be a part of such a wonderful cast as we take on history and make our own history with such a compelling work by The Legendary Queen of the pen, Miss Maya Angelou. Many thanks to God, my family, and friends. Put God First. Shoot your shot. Chase your Dreams.

Kendall Arin Claxton (Young Maya) received her start in the theater at a young age of four. Her parents create a children’s production company called Anthony Anchor and Friends™. She has spent many years honing in on her craft. Her early credits include The Black Nativity, For Colored Girls, Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963, and the Legacy Project: HUEman, done at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. She is currently obtaining a BFA for Acting at Point Park University’s Conservatory, where she appeared in The Bluest Eye (as Claudia) and Uncle Tom’s Cabin as Topsy. She is more than humbled to take the stage in her first professional role, and tell the story of thee PHENOMENAL WOMAN herself, the late Dr. Maya Angelou. Her passion for Christ and love for people compel her approach her art with a community in mind, she always reminds herself – it’s an US thing! (Philippians 2:1-11)

Linda Kanyarusoke (Maya) graduated from Point Park University in 2013 with a BA in musical theatre. You may have seen her in Conservatory productions of Illyria and Hecuba. As well as the Playhouse Jr. production of Huck Finn. Linda is currently a member of the Saltworks Theatre Company, a group that travels to schools in the region bringing awareness to various social issues through theatre. She is honored to have been given the opportunity to celebrate the incredible life of Dr. Maya Angelou and encourages everyone to seek out more of Dr. Angelou's magnificent work. She would like to give endless thanks to her family, friends, and God, without whom none of this would be possible.

Maurice Redwood (Father) was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. His introduction to theater came in 2003 as sound engineer for Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company’s production of When The Water Turns Clear’. Since, he has studied and worked, both on and off stage, on various productions and performances in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. Also a musician, Maurice has had the opportunity to learn from and perform with musicians from all over. He is a co-founder of Pittsburgh based production company, CREW Productions LLC, which provides production, marketing and media services to local artists, arts organizations and arts supporters. He is also executive producer for the web show ‘The 411 with CREW 412.’ Credits include: August Wilson’s FENCES, August Wilson’s JITNEY (Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre), One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Barbones Productions Co.), Lower Ninth (Caravan Theatre of Pittsburgh), Shakespeare’s King Lear (Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre), Pill Hill, A Soldier’s Play (New Horizon Theatre), and Black Nativity (Shona Sharif African Dance & Drum Ensemble). Maurice thanks his family and friends for supporting and encouraging him in all he does. “I am humbled to be apart of this production and to tell this powerful story. Many thanks to Prime Stage Theatre and to our fearless director Monteze Freeland for the opportunity to bring this story to life!

Roxie Robinson (Mother Dear) hails from small town Elyria, Ohio and makes her Pittsburgh debut with this production. She is elated to be involved in such an admiral able piece of work with a talented and committed company. Roxie studied musical theater at Nazareth College of Rochester, but credits her training to her high school mentor and theater director Patricia Price. Roxie’s number one passion is acting and she hopes to one day spread love and light with her talents. She was first introduced to acting in 1991 with a production of Angels Aware. Too young to be one of the principal actors but dedicated to auditioning, the director created a role exclusively for her, impressed with her raw talents at the tender age of just 5 .It was then that she was bit by the show business bug, and so began her artistic journey.

Malic Williams (Bailey) is thrilled to be working with Prime Stage Theatre on this regional premiere and looks forward to telling the story of Mother Maya Angelou. Most recently he has been seen in Throughline Theatre’s production of Cloud 9, after having appeared in their staging of Yankee Tavern last fall. Malic has also appeared in Pittsburgh Musical Theater's production of Dream Girls and was a cast member of City Theatre's Young Playwright's Festival (2015). Some of his other credits include Shakespeare's Richard III as the titular character, Booth in Top Dog Under Dog by Suzan-Lori Parks, and also an international premier of a new adaptation of Sophocles' Electra by David Skeele at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Malic would like to express gratitude to the cast and crew, his family, friends, and director Monteze Freeland.

Michele Williams (Delores) is an African-American classical singer of Creek descent raised in Eufaula, Oklahoma. Michele has been a chorister with the Tulsa Opera, made her debut with the Red River Lyric opera in their production of Hansel and Gretel in Witchita Falls, Texas. Ms. Williams most recent endeavors include her debut with the Pittsburgh Festival Opera as a William and Marjorie Cadwallader Resident Artist this past summer, with a debut role as The Waters in their new production of A Gathering of Sons. She is presently preparing for her debut role as Louise and Delores in Prime Stage Theatre’s production of Maya Angelou'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She will also be returning to the Pittsburgh Festival Opera to participate in the opera outreach production of Goldilocks in which she will play Momma Bear.