Anansi: The Itsy Bitsy Spider Stories
Meet Our Production Team
Jerian Franco - Producer, Writer, Art Director
Jeri is currently the Artistic Director and Executive Producer at The BiTSY Stage where all performances are free, but she has been involved in the arts all her life. Her grandmother was a playwright (A Worm in Horseradish), and both of her parents were very involved in The Westchester Children’s Players, a troupe that brought theater to under-privileged children all over the five boroughs of New York. Throughout her childhood and young adulthood, Jeri performed in several productions, but her background led to an evolving interest in theater and the theater arts.
When the opportunity to own and operate a small community theater in Denver presented itself, it was a perfect fit. The impact of free theatre on the local community is something she has experienced first-hand and she truly believes that, if we allow ourselves to be inspired, “Art Will Save The World.”
Samantha McDermott - Writer, Director
Samantha has been in theater her entire life and directing for over 10 years. She began directing in Manhattan at the Theater Studio Inc. In 2010 she began adapting and directing Shakespeare’s plays at The Betsy Stage. Her Betsy shows include: Flaming of The Shrew, Juliet & Romeo: The Panopticon, The Travesty of Lear, Beth, Hamlet, and Othello. In 2016 she began a new venture at The BiTSY with fresh inspiration drawn from international folk and fairy tales. BiTSY shows that she has adapted and directed include: The Stonemason’s Wish, Sadko’s Song, The Silent Princess, and (collaboratively) Anansi: The Itsy Bitsy Spider Stories. She is currently adapting the script for the first show of 2018, Jotunheim: A Legend of Thor and His Hammer.
Patti Murtha - General Manager, Writer, Director
Patti is a native Jersey Girl who fell in love with Colorado years ago. She has a varied background in acting, stage management, and arts administration with over 20 years in educational theater as a teaching artist, actor, director, and playwright. The BiTSY brings all that is near and dear to her artist heart together in one fabulous little folktale-loving package.
Matthew Davis - Director
Matthew Davis has been seen several times on the stage at the BiTSY, but is excited to be directing/choreographing here! Since moving back to Denver, he has directed and choreographed for children's theaters in the area. He has been privileged to perform with The National Theater for Children, touring schools with educational theater productions and continues to perform in Denver and the surrounding areas. He has had the pleasure of working as the Artistic Director with Arts in the Open for the past six years. Be the mosquito!
Rekha Ohal - Musical Director
Rekha first picked up a piano at the tender age of five, and never looked back. She started gigging in the Washington D.C. area until she relocated to Denver, where she’s graced the stages at many of the finest venues and events in Colorado including the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, the Taste of Colorado, and Dazzle Jazz. She is a highly sought after pianist and vocalist in the metro area and is delighted to be a part of the staff at The BiTSY.
Christopher Wells- Production Stage Manager
Chris has been working with Lucky 20 Productions since The Betsy Stage. He performed onstage in multiple Betsy productions including portraying Othello in Othello: A Khorus Line. Chris has been helping out as the Production Stage Manager of The BiTSY since its second show, The Stone Coat Woman. Besides running the shows and boards at The BiTSY, Chris also helps out with tech for Rocky Mountain Pro Wrestling (Pro Wrestling, ELEVATED) in Golden, Colorado. Chris loves being a part of The BiTSY family, and hopes you enjoy his work!
Artie Thompson- Choreographer
Artie grew up studying the "classical" dances - ballet, modern, jazz, etc., but when she learned African Dance from Ron Holbrook at the age of thirteen, she fell in love! The styles of dance she learned come from the west African countries of Ghana and Togo, as well as some steps from Haitian voodoo dances. "Until my body stops moving, I will continue to dance and share the steps that have been passed through many generations."
Kaitlyn Althoff - Movement Coach
Kaitlyn has been all over the metro area, having performed in Breckenridge, Littleton, and Aurora, and currently portrays Mrs. Squires in The Music Man at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse. Anansi marks Kaitlyn’s sixth show with The BiTSY Stage, having made her choreographic debut with BiTSY’s older sister, The Betsy Stage. Kaitlyn thanks her family for their undying support, appreciates every opportunity The BiTSY has given her, and adores her new title, Mrs. Stage Manager! Enjoy the show!!
Zach Brown- Lighting Designer
Zach is honored and grateful to have served as lighting designer since The BiTSY's first production. He would like to thank the creative and production staff for their efforts of collaboration on such a fine and rare company. He hopes to continue to work with The BiTSY for as long as possible, not least because each show is a singular learning experience. He is a freelance stagehand and designer, local to Denver.