Dead Man's Cell Phone Continues AU Theatre Season

Dead Man's Cell Phone Continues AU Theatre Season

10/22/15 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University Department of Theatre continues its 2015-2016 season with Sarah Ruhl’s wildly imaginative comedy “Dead Man's Cell Phone.” Directed by guest artist Rachael Swartz, performances will be held in the intimate Studio Theatre on Nov. 5-7 and 12-14 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 8, at 2 p.m.

As in Ruhl’s other works, the MacArthur "Genius" Grant recipient and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist often addresses themes of death and memory. This play is about how the dead is memorialized and the need to connect in today's technologically obsessed world. In particular, when technology and death intersect, people find themselves grieving for strangers.

The play opens as Jean, played by senior theatre major Natalyn Baisden (Wooster, Ohio), has had enough of an incessantly ringing cell phone at the cafe table next to her. As she intervenes, she realizes that the cell phone’s owner, Gordon, who is played by freshman theatre major Waylon H. O'Donnell (West Sunbury, Pa.) is dead.

Comedy, a love story and horror ensue as Jean becomes entangled with Gordon’s quirky, arrogant, entitled, eccentric family including his mother played by freshman education major Emma Dumford of Westerville, Ohio; his widow played by freshman criminal justice major Kaylee Lhotsky of Brunswick, Ohio; and his brother played by freshman history major Tyler MacQueen of Loudonville, Ohio. In addition, Jean must confront the other woman and a stranger who are both played by freshman theatre and journalism/digital media major Ingrid Schmidt of Mansfield, Ohio.

The show’s guest director, Rachael Swartz, is an actress, director and educator from Wooster, Ohio. She received her MFA in Performance from The University of Southern Mississippi and her BA in Theatre from Baldwin Wallace University. She has directed youth programs at The Clinton Area Showboat Theatre and The Lost Colony, and toured the U.S. and Canada as a teaching artist with Missoula Children’s Theatre. 

She currently serves as the education director for Maples Repertory Theatre. Her previous performances include Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music, Betsy/Lindsey in Clybourne Park, Sara Jane Moore in Assassins, Mrs. Candour in The School for Scandal, and Artemis in Eleemosynary. Swartz is an Equity Membership Candidate and member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association, The Lessac Institute, and Dueling Arts International.

The set and sound designs for the Ashland University production of Dead Man's Cell Phone are created by technical director J. Michael Desper, while costumes are designed by resident costume designer Sarah Russell; and lighting design by Patty Lanious. Junior Eryn Reynolds Tramel of Medina, Ohio, serves as the choreographer with sophomore Ceyanna Stasick of Sullivan, Ohio, and freshman Olivia Kimball of The Plains, Ohio, as the show's stage manager and assistant stage manager, respectively.

A pre-show talk with the show's director will be held Friday, Nov. 13, at 6:45 p.m. in the Studio Theatre. This special pre-show event will giving audience members the inside story as they learn more about the production and its creators. 

Single tickets for the performances are $12 for adult; $10 for senior citizens, AU faculty, staff and alumni; $8 for groups of 10 or more, $5 for non-AU students, and $2 for Ashland University students with ID.  

To purchase tickets, call the Ashland University Box Office at 419-289-5125, Monday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.; or purchase online 24/7 at For more information about the department of theatre,, find us on Facebook at or contact Tricia Applegate, coordinator of performing arts publicity and events, at 419-289-5950 or

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.                                                                                ###

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