Three undergraduates and an alumna are cast in the Bickford Theatre play.

January 2016 — Although The Runner Stumbles will entertain audiences at the Morris Museum’s Bickford Theatre, it feels much like a Drew family affair.

Christopher Reyes
Christopher Reyes

Three undergraduates and an alumna are in the cast of the Milan Stitt play, which will be performed at the museum’s professional theatre from Jan. 28 to Feb. 14. And offstage, two other students and two professors are contributing as well.

Set in 1911 and based on true events, The Runner Stumbles centers on a young nun, Sister Rita, who dies under mysterious circumstances, and a pastor, Father Rivard, who’s charged with her murder. The thriller will run for 12 performances and is being co-produced by Drew.

Ryan Genualdi
Ryan Genualdi

The alumna, Lizzie Engelberth G’14, will help lead the nine-person company as Sister Rita. A Denville, N.J. resident, she received a master of arts in teaching from Drew and previously has performed at Dover Little Theatre, Encore and Shakespeare.

As for the undergrads—Christopher Reyes C’16, Ryan Genualdi C’16 and Ava Serene Portman C’17—only Reyes is pursuing a theatre degree.

Ava Serene Portman
Ava Serene Portman

Genualdi, of Murray Hill, N.J., is majoring in history and minoring in film and media studies and writing. He’ll play the role of Amos, a lazy young man who works as the guard of the prisoners in Solon. Amos keeps watch on Father Rivard after he’s brought back to Solon to stand trial for the murder of Sister Rita. Genualdi’s previous acting credits include Not Now Darling (Bickford); The Three Sisters (Drew); and The Venus Hottentot (Drew).

Reyes, of Nottingham, Maryland, is majoring in theatre arts and minoring in French and film and media studies. He’ll play the prosecutor—a pivotal role, according to Bickford Theatre director Eric Hafen. His character, a ambitious and ruthless attorney who’ll stop at nothing to build his own career and solve the crime, is determined to uncover the truth and find Sister Rita’s killer. Reyes’ previous acting credits include You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Drew) and King Hedley II (Drew).

Portman, a Fair Haven, N.J. resident who’s majoring in sociology and minoring in business studies, is cast as Louise, a 19-year-old prosecution witness who introduces the possibility that the priest and the nun had more than a “religious” relationship. Previously, Portman was the lead in Gillian’s Ocean at Drew. Other acting credits include AP Life (web series); Banana Dartboard (FDU Film Series), The Hero Diaries (FDU Film Series) and performances at Holmdel Theatre.

The offstage crew includes Angela Rouse C’16, as a costume designer; Michal Kortsarts C’16, as an assistant stage manager; Professor Jim Bazewicz, as a set designer; and Associate Professor Andrew Elliott, as a sound designer. Both Bazewicz and Elliott are in the Theatre Arts department.

The Bickford Theatre is just three miles from Drew, on Normandy Heights Road in Morristown. Tickets to the show, which range from $20 for students to $45 for the general public, are available here.