The NIU School of Theatre and Dance presents Charles Mee’s “Big Love” opening Friday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Sally Stevens Players Theatre in the Stevens Building on the NIU main campus. Other performances are Saturday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, April 16 at 2 p.m., Thursday, April 20 and Friday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 22 at 2 p.m.

“Fifty brides flee their fifty grooms and seek refuge in a villa on the coast of Italy in this modern re-making of one of the western world’s oldest plays, “The Danaids” by Aeschylus. And, in this villa on the Italian coast, the fifty grooms catch up with the brides, and mayhem ensues. The grooms arrive by helicopter in their flight suits, women throw themselves over and over again to the ground, pop songs and romantic dances, and, finally, unable to escape their forced marriages, 49 of the brides murder 49 of the grooms, and one bride falls in.” —

The production is strictly for ages 18+ and will run without an intermission.

Tickets are $7 for the general public and free for NIU students.

Big Love
Written by Charles Mee
Directed by Bethany Mangum-Oles

Assistant Director: Tyra Hazziez
Costume Co-Designers: Alexandra Burkhardt and Jeremy W. Floyd
Lighting Designer: Brandon Wardell
Assistant Lighting Designer: Kev Kollmann
Scenic Designer: Alicia Margerum
Technical Director: Elizabeth Ahles
Properties Designers: Dave Doherty and Eric Brockmeier
Sound Design: Company Collaboration
Fight Direction: J. Cody Hunt
Fight Consultants: Stanton Davis and Rylan Johnson
Intimacy Director: Bethany Mangum-Oles
Movement Choreography: Company Collaboration
Stage Manager: Autumn Dancy
Assistant Stage Manager: Katie Robitschek

This production is strictly for ages 18+ and will run without an intermission.

Content and Trigger Warning:
The following tags provide a general scope of emotional and thematic expectations for this production. Tags: forced marriage, physical violence, emotional violence, violence against womxn, mentions of sexual violence, mentions of suicide, sexism, misogyny, classism, murder.


Lydia – Julia Prieto
Olympia – Maya Paletta
Thyona – Gina Cioffi
Bella/Eleanor – Gabby Gozdecki
Piero/Leo – Abby Lamoreaux
Giuliano – Paul James Lang
Constantine – Tyler Page
Oed – Avery Flores
Nikos – Brennan Olson


A midsummer evening at a villa on the west coast of Italy, present.

Director’s Note

“I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” – Sarah Moore Grimké

I’m extremely honored to share this piece with you. This play is based on one of the oldest plays in the Western world, The Danaids by Aeschylus. But here we are in 2023. As you witness this piece unfold, I’d love for you to keep one question in mind: how much movement have we made?

This one is for my daughter. I’ll fight for you always.

Some places you might consider donating.
Center for Reproductive Rights:
Plan International:
Girl Effect:

Special thanks:
Rich Grund, Ed Klonoski, Dr. Kay Martinovich, Stanton Davis, Jeremy Floyd, Emily Vitrano, Sasha Gelman, Frankie DiCiaccio, Sahin Sahinoglu, Elizabeth Ahles, Autumn Dancy, Tyra Hazziez, Katie Robitschek, Tyler Page, Gina Cioffi, Becky Mangum, Kathy Oles, Abby Lamoreaux, J. Cody Hunt, Abrianna Wilson, Shannon Austin-Goodin, Samantha Bliss, Adam Rager, and Tracy Nunnally. Deepest thanks to the womxn in this production for your bravery and resiliency of spirit. For building this community with me and for your undeniable efforts and availability to pursue and reveal the truth. Deepest thanks to the men in this production for going there with me every step. For facing it all. For holding me, the womxn, and each other in this endeavor. Jason, Bennett, and Georgia: thank you, my precious family. You’re the deepest well of inspiration I have.

Cast Bios

Gina CioffiGina Cioffi (Thyona/Movement Captain) is a first-year M.F.A. acting candidate from San Diego, California with a bachelor’s degree in theatre from University of California, San Diego. “Big Love” marks her debut performance on the NIU stage. Greatest hits include Teresa in “Italian American Reconciliation” (Scripps Ranch Theatre) and Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde the Musical” (UCSD), with special love for garage/found space projects. Thank you to Rick for your partnership and undying support, and to Colette for sharing my heart; being here without you would simply be impossible.

Avery FloresAvery Flores (Oed) is a second-year B.F.A. acting candidate and a psychology minor. This will be his second performance here at NIU. His first theatre performance was last semester playing Steve in “She Kills Monsters” directed by Kendra Holton. Avery is beyond excited and grateful to be a part of this show with director Bethany Mangum-Oles and wants to thank his fellow cast mates, family, and friends for supporting him along this journey.

GozdeckiGabby Gozdecki (Bella/Eleanor) is a second-year B.F.A. acting candidate. She is excited to participate in her second show at NIU. Last semester she made her NIU debut as Joan in “Melancholy Play” also directed by Bethany Mangum-Oles. She feels fortunate to work with Bethany again, especially on a show that discusses urgent societal issues. Gabby hopes you leave this experience with questions and perhaps something to discuss on your way out of the theater. Some of her other favorite credits include Florinda in “Into the Woods” and Charlotte Lucas in “Pride and Prejudice.” Instagram: @gabbygoz

Abigail LamoreauxAbby Lamoreaux (Piero/Leo) is a third-year junior B.F.A. acting candidate from Kenosha, Wisconsin. Previous NIU credits: “Edward II” – wardrobe; “The Conference of the Birds” – Goldfinch, movement captain; “Much Ado About Nothing” – Ursula/Balthasar. Abby is the chief copy editor at the Northern Star, NIU’s student news organization, which recently won several honors at the ICPA Awards in Chicago. She also occasionally writes for the Racine County Eye. “A big thank you to all the father (and grandfather) figures in my life for being truthful examples of the masculine experience, ‘for better or for worse.’”

Paul James LangPaul James Lang (Giuliano) is a first-year M.F.A. acting candidate, originally from the Northeast and now happy to call the Midwest home. He received his B.F.A. in musical theatre from The Boston Conservatory. Some of Paul’s favorite credits include Horst in “Bent,” Sir Andrew in “Twelfth Night,” the Envoy in “The Balcony,” and several different characters in TheaterWorks USA’s touring production of “Junie B. Jones.” He is thrilled to be making his NIU debut with this play, especially as it marks still one of his only opportunities to bring a piece of the LGBTQ+ experience to the stage. Thank you so much to our brilliant team behind the scenes, as well as my family from CT for flying in to see me on stage again after over three years hiatus. Love to Mom, Dad and Molly.

Brennan OlsonBrennan Olson (Nikos) is a third-year B.F.A. acting candidate from Fargo, North Dakota. He was seen this past summer in Studio Vibes’ production of “Legally Blonde” as Emmett. At NIU, Brennan was most recently seen in “Much Ado About Nothing” as Claudio, directed by Kay Martinovich. He is excited to share this story with you and wants to thank his parents for always being supportive in his dreams.

Tyler PageTyler Page (Constantine/Fight Captain) is thrilled to be making his Northern Illinois University debut this season. Tyler is currently a first-year M.F.A. acting candidate and has a B.F.A. in acting from the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University. Some of Tyler’s professional credits include Feste in “Twelfth Night,” Bernard in “Death of a Salesman,” as well as Hugh Whitbread in “Mrs. Dalloway” at the Rogue Theatre in Tucson, Arizona. Some of Tyler’s other credits include Demetrius “Titus Andronicus” where he was nominated for an Irene Ryan Acting Award, Martin Heller “Angels in America: Millennium Approaches,” Richard Greatham “Hayfever,” Josh “If/Then,” Judas “Godspell,” Walter Gifford “The Farnsworth Invention,” Rev. Crisparckle “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Ed “You Can’t Take It With You,” Rev. Fred Phelps “The Laramie Project,” Grantaire “Les Misérables,” King Arthur “Spamalot,” East & Dave “Almost, Maine,” and understudied in the OCA’s production of “Hedda Gabler.” Tyler would like to thank Bethany and the entire team for this wonderful journey. Website: Instagram: @heyyy_tpage

PalettaMaya Paletta (Olympia) hails from Seattle, Washington. Maya is a third-year B.F.A. acting major and dance minor. Previous NIU credits include Agnes Evans “She Kills Monsters,” A-Gay “Hit the Wall,” and dancer in the NIU Best of Broadway Dance Concert. Earlier this semester she contributed as movement director for NIU’s production “Life is a Dream.” Maya is thankful and honored to be trusted in collaboration on such a powerhouse production. Instagram: @mayapapaya5678

Julia PrietoJulia Prieto (Lydia) is a first-year M.F.A. acting candidate from California. She obtained a B.A. in Theatre Arts from California State University, Fresno. Some memorable credits include “Real Women Have Curves,” “Zoot Suit,” and “RENT.” She’d like to thank Madeline Rydberg — and Madeline Rydberg only — for flying all the way from LA to see her Midwest debut.


Production Team Bios

Elizabeth Ahles (Technical Director) graduated from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point with a B.F.A. in technical theatre and design, and environmental ethics certificate. She is currently a third-year M.F.A. student with an emphasis in technical direction. Some notable credits are “Conference of the Birds,” “The Language Archive,” and “She Kills Monsters.” She is looking forward to graduation and her next chapter.

Eric Brockmeier (Properties Designer) is a second-year M.F.A. scenic design graduate student. His previous credits include scenic designer for “Melancholy Play” (NIU 2022), scenic designer for “Hecuba” (Beloit College 2022), assistant scenic designer for “She Kills Monsters” (NIU 2022), scenic designer for the Fall Dance Concert (NIU 2021), scenic designer for “The Games Afoot” (Elgin Community College 2022), assistant scenic designer for the “Conference of the Birds” (NIU 2022), charge artist for “Twelfth Night” (NIU 2021), scenic designer for the University of Northern Colorado’s production of “The Heiress” (2020), assistant scenic designer for “The Cherry Orchard” (2019 UNCO), and assistant charge artist for “The Imaginary Invalid” (2018 UNCO). He would like to thank his friends, family, and professors for their support in getting to this point. Enjoy the show. Joshua 1:9

Alexandra Burkhardt (Costume Co-Designer) is a third-year B.F.A. She has been actively involved in theatre for over a decade. She has previously designed “Sizwe Banzi is Dead,” “13 Suits,” and “Broken Mirrors” with The Outer Loop Theater Company. She was also a stitcher for the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s “The Sound of Music.” She is thrilled to be designing her first show here at NIU. She would like to thank everyone in the costume shop for all their hard work. Additional thanks to her amazing parents for always encouraging her to follow her heart.

Autumn Dancy (Stage Manager) is an alumni of the Auburn High School CAPA program and is now earning her B.F.A. in stage management with a minor in psychology. When not in classes you can typically catch her in her at RVC Starlight Theater, her home theatre in Rockford. She would like to thank her family, friends, and teachers for constantly pushing her to achieve her goals and break generational curses. “I hope you all enjoy the show, take care friends.”

Stanton Davis (Fight Choreographer) is a voice and acting teacher at NIU. He’s in his fifteenth year as a member of the acting faculty. He teaches speech, dialects, verse, stage combat, and rhetoric. He holds a B.F.A. from the University of Utah and an
M.F.A. from the Professional Theatre Training Program at the University of Delaware. Stanton has acted professionally on stage, film, television, voiceover, and audiobook narrations. He’s a certified Fitzmaurice Voice instructor. He lives on a farm with his spouse and many furry and feathery friends.

Tyra Hazziez (Assistant Director) is a writer, dancer, director, and actress, currently completing her third year as a B.A. theatre studies student at NIU. Tyra first found her passion for theatre in the seventh grade after her very first performance in a play at her community church. In high school, Tyra continued the pursuit of her passions as she competed in the August Wilson Monologue Competition as a semi-finalist which finalized her decision to major in theatre. Along with working to obtain her degree, Tyra serves on the executive board of Final Warning Dance Team also housed on NIU’s campus and has recently started her own production company “What’s T.E.A Productions” dedicated to timelessly educating through art. This is Tyra’s very first theater production at NIU and she is excited to share the product of this opportunity with you.

J Cody Hunt (Fight Director) is pursuing an M.F.A. in acting at NIU, and is honored to advise such a talented group of artists in creating safe and evocative stories through physical conflict. Cody was trained in the skills of unarmed stage combat, knife, rapier and dagger, and broadsword by SAFD fight masters Ted Sharron, J. Allen Suddeth, and SAFD fight director Jake Guinn. Cody was trained in stunt falls by Mark Dirkse whose professional affiliations include Sony Pictures Studios and Marvel Studios. Cody most recently served as a fight choreographer and fight captain on Sight and Sound productions like “Jesus” and “Samson.” He also choreographed shows like “Fool for Love,” “Grease,” “Th’ Burning,” and “Anastasia.” He taught the advanced stage combat course at Sight and Sound Conservatory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and holds unarmed and knife workshops for theatre camps and schools around the country. J. Cody Hunt has been a professional actor for ten years and most recently played the role of Man in NIU’s production of “In A Word” by Lauren Yee.  He would like to thank his incredible wife and family for their endless love, support, long days, late nights, and many moves in the pursuit of art. You make it all possible.

Kev Kollmann (Assistant Lighting Designer) is in his first year as an M.F.A. student in lighting design. Kev has recently received his B.A. in theater from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh focusing on Directing and Stage Management. Kev’s works here at NIU have been: “She Kills Monsters”and ”Carmina Burana” as assistant lighting designer and most recently the Lighting Designer for “Life is a Dream.” For more information about Kev please visit their website at

Bethany Mangum-Oles (Director) is an actor, director, educator, intimacy choreographer, and mama of two born and raised in southern California. She is thrilled to be back in The Sally with this project, marking her fourteenth directed production with NIU. Bethany holds a B.F.A. in acting from California State University, Fullerton, and an M.F.A. in acting from NIU. While there, her studies took her to the Moscow Art Theater School in Moscow, Russia and the Adana International Theatre Festival in Adana, Turkey. Bethany is a certified intimacy captain and currently in pursuit of her trauma-informed yoga and Yoga Nidra certifications. She has made her family home here in the DeKalb area and her artistic home at NIU as full-time acting area faculty. She also currently serves the school as head of B.F.A. acting recruitment. Bethany has the unique privilege of serving as the artistic director for MUSE Theatre Collective and rotating voice and movement faculty at the Gately-Poole Studio.

Alicia Margerum (Scenic Designer) is a first year M.F.A student studying scenic design. Credits include “Red,” “Once On This Island,” and “All American Boys” at Mississippi State University where she completed her undergraduate degree. She is grateful for the opportunity to have worked on this show with such a wonderful team and cannot wait to design for more shows in the future at NIU.

Katie Robitschek (Assistant Stage Manager) is a senior B.A. theatre studies student from Aurora. She wishes to pursue stage management and costumes. This is her third show at NIU. Her first show, she worked with the wardrobe team on “Twelfth Night” and her second show she was assistant director for “Melancholy Play.” Previously to NIU she starred in the ensemble for “Cats,” “Footloose,” and “The King and I” in community theater. She also built sets for her high school productions of “The Bad Seed,” and “Monty Python and The Holy Grail.” This play is very important to the culture of being a woman and she is excited to share it with you.

Brandon Wardell (Lighting Designer) is a lighting and scenic designer based in Chicago. He is an ensemble member at Steep Theatre Company, an artistic associate with Griffin Theatre Company, and associate professor of lighting design at Northern Illinois University. Recent designs include “Light Falls,” “Birdland,” “Lela & Co.,” and “Earthquakes in London” (Steep Theatre Co.); “Two Trains Running” (Court Theatre); “Blues in the Night” (Porchlight Music Theatre); “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” (Steppenwolf Theatre Co.); “A Number” (Writers Theatre); “Cardboard Piano” and “The Vibrator Play” (TimeLine Theatre Co.); “Men On Boats” (American Theatre Co.); “Solaris,” “Titanic,” “London Wall,” and “Men Should Weep” (Griffin); “The Game of Love and Chance” (American Players Theatre); and “Million Dollar Quartet” (Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival). Brandon earned his M.F.A. from Northwestern University.

Production Staff

Scenic Coordinator – Sahin Sahinoglu
Scene Shop Supervisor – Adam Rager
Scene Shop Graduate Employees – Elizabeth Ahles, Eric Brockmeier, Alicia Margerum
Scene Shop Graduate Assistants – Jordyn Crooks, Sunshine Despeines, Mike Kozel, Kairin Rozenfeld-Mayberg, Tyler Sikorski
Run Crew – Jukarri Cobbins, Destiny Davis, Haley Johnson, Skylee Pierce

Costume Design Advisor – Jeremy W. Floyd
Costume Director – Lori Hartenhoff
Costume Shop Supervisor – Clare Richey-Kaplan
Wardrobe Crew  – Amorion Boyce, Sophia Dimond, Sania Henry, Elisa Perrone

Lighting Design Advisor – Brandon Wardell
Resident Head Electrician – Chris Kurszewski
Lighting Shop Graduate Assistant – Kev Kollmann
Lighting Shop Employees – Logan Bryant, Conall Doherty, Timothy Peters
Student Electricians – THEA 210 students, THEA 295 students, THEA 395 students

Properties Director – Dave Doherty
Properties Graduate Assistants – Eric Brockmeier, Ski Sciaraffa
Properties Shop Staff – Sarah Blickem, Rebecca Formeller, Mike Kozel, Xavier Smith, Alexander Thomas

Technical Direction Advisor –
Tracy Nunnally
Production Assistant – Jordan Clifton
House Management Supervisor – Cornelia Hayes
Production Graduate Assistants – Ariel Mozes, Kev Kollmann, Gina Cioffi