Wheelock Family Theatre is a professional theatre associated with Actors' Equity Association. Many of our casts also include children and teens, most of whom are selected from students in our classes and workshops.
Jennifer Beth Glick* (Penny Pingleton)
Jennifer Beth Glick has been performing on the WFT stage for over half of her life, and credits its directors, actors and audiences for instilling a lifelong love of music and theater. She is thrilled to return to WFT as Penny in Hairspray after starring as Anne in last season’s production of Anne of Green Gables (IRNE nomination). An award-winning singer/actor/dancer/lawyer (quadruple threat), Jennifer resides in Needham, Massachusetts with her husband, Ryan, and their son, Charlie.
At the age of two, she made her initial foray into the world of musical theatre, torturing her older brothers with her extended remix of Tomorrow from Annie. After perfecting her craft in the basement and performing the role of the red-headed orphan ad nauseum in at least four community theatre productions, Jennifer dragged her mother to New York to audition for the ill-fated sequel to Annie, Annie 2: Miss Hannigan's Revenge. To the shock of her parents, Jennifer was cast in the production as the Tall Orphan (and has not grown a fraction on an inch since). Though she was convinced she had arrived, after two weeks of performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the show closed and the Broadway opening was canceled. Jennifer’s dream of becoming another dysfunctional child star was thwarted by her parents' resolution that she would have a normal childhood and a solid education. During her teenage years, she continued to perform locally, making her Wheelock debut as Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden under the direction of WFT’s beloved Jane Staab. After graduating from Harvard Jennifer joined the national touring company of Fiddler On the Roof but was only able to endure a nine month extended-stay in Anatevka. She returned home to Boston, had a quarter-life crisis and applied to law school. Several Myers-Briggs tests later, Jennifer works as a trusts and estates attorney and continues to perform in and around the Boston area.
Having grown up at WFT, Jennifer is always thrilled to return to the place she considers her home away from home. Favorite roles here include Gertrude McFuzz in Seussical (IRNE award), Wendy in Peter Pan, Sara Crewe in A Little Princess, and Mary and Martha in The Secret Garden. Combining her musical and legal advocacy backgrounds, and drawing on her WFT roots, Jennifer recently recorded and produced a children's CD, Musicals For Munchkins, featuring a collection of kid-friendly showtunes, to benefit Boston’s Home for Little Wanderers. Through the eyes of pint-sized patrons of the arts, Jennifer has unearthed the thrill and excitement she felt as a little girl belting out show tunes in the bathtub. There is no greater joy.
Gamalia is a member of Actors' Equity Association and has appeared at Wheelock Family Theatre in The Wizard of Oz, The Hobbit, Cinderella, A Little Princess, Kiss Me Kate, The Good Times Are Killing Me, Ole' Sis Goose, The Sound of Music, Beauty and the Beast, The Beanstalk, The Giant and Jack, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Pippi, Honk, Seussical, Hello Dolly, Oliver, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Trumpet of the Swan, Anne of Green Gables, Stuart Little, Aladdin, My Fair Lady, Once Upon a Mattress and Phantom Tollbooth.
"When I saw John Waters’ film Hairspray in the 80’s, it really resonated with me. As a child growing up in the Mission Hill (Roxbury) area of Boston in the 1960s, I have memories of singing Stop in the Name of Love with my childhood friends as we walked to school. My family had one black-and-white television, and when an African-American group or singer appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night, it was monumental! My older sister, would teach me the latest dances she learned from the parties she would go to on the weekends! I could do the shimmy, the pony, the skate, the swim, the monkey and the twist! I idolized my older teenage sister and would borrow her records (when she would let me), and enjoyed watching her hair style change from a ‘swinging sixties’ bouffant to the militant Black Panthers afro! I also remember seeing my parents openly weep with the assassinations of JFK, MLK and Malcolm X. The strong feeling of the loss of hope was palpable - memories of the riots, the horror of hearing about lynchings in the south, and watching my father deal with discrimination at his work place. Growing up in the inner city I also experienced ‘white flight’ when many of my white friends’ families moved or took their children out of public school.
"The world vision Martin Luther King envisioned in the 1960s, is one I feel Wheelock Family Theater embraces, with its mission of inclusion and diverse casting policies. I feel lucky to have found WFT, and have enjoyed being a member of many casts that reflect the diversity of Boston in all aspects - race, gender and individuals with disabilities.
"I am thrilled to be a member of this amazing WFT production!"
Robert Saoud* (Edna Turnblad)
Robert is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and has appeared at Wheelock Family Theatre in A Little Princess, Cinderella, Fiddler on the Roof, Charlotte’s Web, Tuck Everlasting, Pippi, Hello Dolly, Kiss Me Kate, The Tempest, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Phantom Toll Booth and Anne Of Green Gables.
"This is my 16th production with Wheelock Family Theatre. My first show was A Little Princess in 1994, so this season marks my 20th anniversary. WFT has been a wonderful place to grow and train. The theatre gave me my Equity card to play a pig in 1996. I have done Shakespeare, musicals, comedy and drama. I have been cast as the bad guy, the good guy, the funny guy, the serious guy, the witch, and even the fat man/thin man! When I was offered the role of Edna I was a little terrified. It’s become an iconic character in the world of musical theatre. When I was told they wanted to try a different take on Edna, I was intrigued. The rehearsal process has been challenging, but I think it’s difficult to play Edna and not fall in love with her.
I grew up in Detroit, and although I was very young at the time, I remember the race riots of 1968. I did not fully understand the ramifications of what was happening, but I still remember seeing the National Guard trucks rolling into the city. Hairspray deals with race on a much lighter level, but WFT has never shied away from issues that may make people uncomfortable or require them to think. One of my favorite productions I’ve seen anywhere was Wheelock’s staging of Lord of the Flies (and I wasn’t even in it)! Over the years I have made numerous ongoing friendships here. I cannot thank WFT enough for all it has given me."
Robert is a proud member of Actors Equity and Stage Source.
Jenna Lee Scott* (Tracy Turnblad)
Jenna is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and has appeared at Wheelock Family Theatre in Peter Pan, Seussical, Honk, Annie, Phantom Tollbooth and Anne Of Green Gables.
"Auditioning is a hard but necessary part of being a working actor. I have found that the casting process can be particularly trying as an Asian American actress. It’s challenging to prove to casting directors that you aren't just your race. A play that requires an Asian actor may offer me a foot in the door, but I am often asked to portray a stereotype. Landing a role as a member of a family that is not Asian is even more difficult. WFT has been the only venue where I’ve been afforded opportunities to play a range of roles, based on my abilities not my race. Perhaps it’s because some people feel that family members need to resemble one another. Interestingly, this is not the case in my own family where my sister and I were adopted from South Korea by Caucasian parents. My older brother is adopted, too, though he's originally from the U.S. As a child on vacation with my family I can remember being asked if I was a foreign exchange student. Happily, the definition of family is ever-widening and I am encountering more and more acceptance that a family can be comprised of people who vary in a multitude of ways.
My reaction to being cast as Tracy Turnblad at WFT was like one of Tracy's lines in the show...'Ohmigod, it's a dream of a lifetime. I have to [play this part]!' I grew up loving '50s and '60s music, fashion and styles and saw the original film version of Hairspray with Ricky Lake as a kid. It really spoke to me as a girl who was just a little different trying to change the world around her while staying true to herself. I have that same feeling every time I’m cast in a role that's not traditionally Asian. As with Tracy’s desire to be on the Corny Collin's Show, I want to demonstrate to the world that art has the capacity to transform lives. I believe that the theatre world is changing with more new writers creating diverse roles and theatres like WFT championing non-traditional, or 'colorful' casting. Among my reasons for pursuing an acting career was a desire to see myself represented on the stage and inspiring others to do what they love. I’m glad I can pursue these goals at WFT."
Members of Actors’ Equity Association appearing in photos on this website: Jennifer Beth Glick, Gamalia Pharms, Robert Saoud and Jenna Lee Scott.