Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival Presents The Merry Wives of Windsor June 26 to July 7

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (PSF) proudly presents Shakespeare’s fan favorite comedy, The Merry Wives of Windsor. Directed by Matt Pfeiffer, the production runs June 26 to July 7 on the Main Stage at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University.

Returning to the Festival are PSF alumna Taysha Marie Canales (Much Ado About Nothing) as Mrs. Ford and Karen Peakes (Blithe SpiritThe Taming of the Shrew) as Mrs. Page, the eponymous ‘Merry Wives.’ Scott Greer (most recently seen in The Play That Goes Wrong) plays the legendary Sir John Falstaff. Making his PSF debut, J. Paul Nicholas stars as the mild-mannered Mr. Page, alongside PSF veteran Akeem Davis (The TempestSense and Sensibility) as the jealously irate Mr. Frank Ford.

Joining them in the cast are numerous Festival regulars including Sean Close (Slender), Jim Helsinger (Justice Shallow), Dan Hodge (Pistol), Anthony Lawton (Parson Hugh), Eli Lynn (Nym), Suzanne O’Donnell (Mistress Quickly), and Ian Merrill Peakes (Dr Caius). Rounding out the cast are Tyler Borneo (Simple), Abby Jeanne (Rugby), CaSandra Kay (Anne Page), Devin Romero (Bardolph), Isaiah Caleb Stanley (Host of the Garter), and Christian Tuffy (Fenton).

“My goal is to see myself and my own experience in Shakespeare’s work, and try to convey that on a very human level to a 21st century audience,” said director Matt Pfeiffer, now in his 25th season with PSF. “I was trying to imagine who could come into a suburban town in 1970s America and cause a big ruckus,” he says. “I looked at Falstaff as kind of an Elvis figure – you know, like a traveling Vegas road show act – in an attempt to remix Shakespeare’s language and world into a kind of 1970s American icon.”

To help create this persona, the play’s original music is also inspired by Elvis. Pfeiffer collaborated once again with Alex Bechtel, the music director and composer to create the play’s original score. The two have previously worked together on PSF scores for The Two Gentlemen of Verona (2014), The Taming of the Shrew (2016), Twelfth Night (2018), and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2021).

Joining Pfeiffer and Bechtel on the creative team are Grace Aumiller (Sound Designer), Alyssandra Docherty (Lighting Designer), Paige Hathaway (Scenic Designer), Colleen Hughes (Intimacy Director), Pei Lee (Costume Designer), and Eli Lynn (Fight Director). Josiane M. Lemieux is the Stage Manager and Emma D. Emde is the Assistant Stage Manager.

Patrons can enhance their experience with show extras including: a post-show champagne toast on opening night, Friday, June 28; a Savoring Shakespeare dinner specially themed to the play with behind-the-scenes insights on Saturday, June 29; prologues offering insights into the play held 45 minutes prior to curtain (excludes previews); a talk-back with the actors on Wednesday, July 3; and an Audio Described and Open Captioned performance on June 29. (For specific times of all events visit

The Production Sponsor for The Merry Wives of Windsor is Amaranth Foundation and the Co-Sponsors are Douglas Dykhouse, Joanne Hartshorne, and Theatre League, Kansas City.

The Festival’s 2024 Season Sponsors are Lee and Dolly Butz. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, the Szarko Family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust.

Tickets can be purchased online at, or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455], ext. 1, or in person at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University, in Center Valley.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, the official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, features acclaimed actors from Broadway, television, and film, and is the summer home to over 200 artists from around the country, including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Emmy, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Jefferson, and Barrymore Awards.

The 2024 Summer Season—May 29 to August 4, 2024

For the full season line-up click here.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival Leadership:

JASON KING JONES (Artistic Director) Prior to moving to the Lehigh Valley with his family, Jason spent ten years at Maryland’s Olney Theatre Center, where he served as Senior Associate Artistic Director and Artistic Director of National Players, America’s longest-running touring theatre company. In the past twenty-five years Jason directed over seventy-five productions, mentored hundreds of early-career theatre makers, and established various in school and summer educational programs. He is an Acting Company alumnus, a proud member of the PSF Board, and a member of the Shakespeare Theatre Association’s IDEAA Committee, and Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Nonprofit & Business Partners Council. Jason holds a BFA in Theatre Performance from Missouri State and an MFA in Directing from Boston University.

CASEY WILLIAM GALLAGHER (Managing Director) has worked at PSF for 26 seasons. Over the years he was a box office intern, a stage management intern, the assistant house manager, box office manager, company manager, assistant producer, director of development and worked directly with PSF Founder Jerry Schubert in the early years of the organization. Since 2004, in his role as general manager and later managing director, he served as the administrative leader of the festival, working very closely with former Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy and the box office, business, development, marketing and production departments. Casey now serves as co-leader of the Festival with Artistic Director Jason King Jones. Beyond PSF, Casey was treasurer for the Shakespeare Theatre Association, director of audience services for The People’s Light & Theatre Company, a board member for Civic Theatre of Allentown, a peer panelist for the New Jersey Council on the Arts and a judge for the Greater Philadelphia Barrymore Awards for excellence in theatre.  Casey thanks the PSF year-round staff, the summer staff, the WillPower Tour staff, the Festival board of directors, the volunteer Guild and all the other stakeholders who contribute and play a part in bringing theatre to life onstage and in our community.

 Actor Bios

TYLER BORNEO (Simple) is a rising sophomore at DeSales. DeSales: The Drowsy Chaperone (George), Twelfth Night (Orsino’s court musician, u/s Sir Andrew Aguecheek, u/s Captain), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Jean-Michel).

TAYSHA MARIE CANALES (Mrs. Ford) Regional credits: Much Ado About Nothing (PSF); All My Mothers Dream In Spanish (Azuka Theatre); KISS, Fat Ham (2021 filmed World Premiere), Dance Nation, Dionysus Was Such A Nice Man, Romeo and Juliet, Passage, Passing Strange, When the Rain Stops Falling, An Octoroon, The Hard Problem (The Wilma Theater); A Streetcar Named Desire, NO CHILD…(2021 Filmed Production), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Arden Theatre); Shakespeare In Love, All My Sons (People’s Light). Taysha is the 2018 F. Otto Haas Emerging Philadelphia Theater Artist Recipient and a three-time Barrymore Award nominee. She is a founding member of the Wilma Theater’s resident acting company, the HotHouse. BFA in Acting from Arcadia University.

SEAN CLOSE (Slender) PSF: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised] [again] (Daniel) and Much Ado About Nothing (Don John). Regional: 1812 Productions, The Play That Goes Wrong (Dennis/Perkins), This is the Week That Is (News Anchor/ Ensemble); Theatre Horizon, TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever (TJ); Arden Theatre, A Midsummers Night’s Dream (Lysander/ Flute); Quintessence Theatre, One Man, Two Guvnors (Francis); and many others. TV/Film: 21 BridgesDispatches From Elsewhere.

AKEEM DAVIS (Mr. Ford) from Miami, FL, is a graduate of The Florida State University. PSF: Henry V (2015), Longaville (Love’s Labor’s Lost, 2016), Duke Orsino (Twelfth Night, 2018), Demetrius (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2021), Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing, 2022), Trinculo/Edward (Tempest/Sense and Sensibility, 2023). Regional: Arden Theatre: A Doll’s House, Gem of the Ocean; Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company: The Arsonists; Folger Theatre: District MerchantsKing John; People’s Light: All My Sons; Theatre Horizon: Lobby HeroIn The Blood; InterAct Theatre, The Dangerous House of Pretty M’baneMarcus/Emma; Theatre Exile: Buzzer; Simpatico Theatre Project: The Brothers Size. Barrymore Award for Outstanding Supporting Performance. Helen Hayes nominated. Recipient of the 2015 F. Otto Haas Award for Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist, Akeem is a proud man of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

SCOTT GREER (Falstaff) Last seen at PSF in Twelfth Night, he is a 30-year veteran of Philadelphia theatre, and has worked for 1812 Productions, Walnut Street Theatre, InterAct Theatre, The Wilma Theater, People’s Light, Delaware Theatre Company, Theatre Exile, Act II Playhouse and many more. Regionally, he has worked for Actors Theatre of Louisville, Round House Theatre, and The Pearl Theatre in New York. He has won six Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, including the F. Otto Haas Award for Emerging Theatre Artist. He was named “Best Theatre Talent” by Philadelphia Magazine.

JIM HELSINGER (Justice Shallow) PSF acting credits: Stephano (The Tempest), Lady Bracknell (The Importance of Being Earnest), Malvolio (Twelfth Night), Gremio (The Taming of the Shrew), Dogberry (Much Ado About Nothing), and more. PSF directing credits: The Mystery of Irma Vep, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Lend Me a Tenor, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and others.  Off-Broadway: The Death and Life of Sherlock Holmes, The Taming of the Shrew, The Contrast. Regional: title roles in Cyrano de Bergerac, Hamlet, Dracula, Henry V. Television credits: From the Earth to the Moon, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, Noah Knows Best, Mortal Kombat. Helsinger is celebrating his 30th season as the Artistic Director of the Orlando Shakespeare Theater in partnership with UCF.

DAN HODGE (Pistol) is very pleased to be returning to PSF where he has previously appeared in As You Like ItThe Taming of the ShrewHenry VMeasure for Measure, and King Lear. In Philadelphia he has appeared at InterAct, the Arden, Walnut Street Theatre, Wilma Theater, and the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective which he helped found. Dan holds an MFA from The Old Globe, San Diego, as well as a BFA from the University of Evansville. He currently works as a ghostwriter of romance novels and westerns.

ABBY JEANNE (Rugby & u/s Justice Shallow) is a recent graduate of DeSales, and she is thrilled and full of gratitude to be back as a part of the PSF community this summer. DeSales: Mrs. Van Buren in Intimate Apparel, Feste in Twelfth Night, Fox in Pinocchio!  PSF: Puck in the community tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, James in James and the Giant Peach, Mrs. Palmer in Sense and Sensibility, and Spirit in The Tempest.

CASANDRA KAY (Anne Page) (she/her) is a recent graduate of DeSales. PSF: Henry IV, Part 2 (Page), James and the Giant Peach (Ladybug), The Tempest (Islander & u/s Miranda), Sense and Sensibility (Miss Grey). DeSales: Intimate Apparel (Mayme, Mrs. Dickson u/s), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Charlotte), The Drowsy Chaperone (Mrs.Tottendale), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Congregation, u/s Esmeralda), Crumbs from the Table of Joy (Erminia, Dance Captain), The Trojan Women (Cassandra).

ANTHONY LAWTON (Parson Hugh) has acted in Philadelphia for thirty-two years. Favorite roles include George in Of Mice and Men (Walnut Street Theatre); “man” in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (1812 Productions); and Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet (Arden Theatre). In 2005, Lawton received grants from the Independence Foundation and Philadelphia Theatre Initiative to write and develop The Foocy, which garnered five Barrymore nominations (including Best New Play). In 2016, his adaptation of The Light Princess (with music by Alex Bechtel) was nominated for 8 Barrymores, winning for Best Original Music. The Philadelphia City Paper named him the city’s “Best One-Man Theatre” for his solo productions of The Devil and Billy MarkhamThe Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters.

ELI LYNN (Nym) (they/them) is an actor, Intimacy Director, and Barrymore-nominated fight director. PSF credits: Hal (Henry IV, Pt. 2), Jess (Complete Works … Abridged), Flute (Midsummer). Recent regional credits: Big Alison (Fun Home, New Light Theatre), Trevor (TPTGW, 1812 Productions), Orsino/Toby (Twelfth Night) and Jean 3/Prince (Thrive, American Shakespeare Center), Aramis (The Three Musketeers, Cleveland Playhouse), Dorcus/Dion (The Winter’s Tale, Folger Theatre). They have studied stage combat for 15 years, and are recognized as an Advanced Actor Combatant with five international organizations. Recent fight credits include: The Lightning Thief (Drexel), Noises Off (DTC), Sense and Sensibility (PSF), TPTGW (1812). They’re also an Artistic Associate with Philadelphia Artists’ Collective.

J. PAUL NICHOLAS (Mr. Page) has worked locally, as either an actor, director, or fight choreographer, with Theatre Exile, The Wilma Theater, Philadelphia Artists Collective, Interact, Inis Nua, and People’s Light, and won two Barrymore awards. He has also worked regionally in over 30 productions at theaters all over the country, including the Lincoln Center in NYC, and on the Broadway tour of The CuriElious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time. Paul has also appeared in ten network TV series, including opposite Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown; eight seasons as attorney Linden Delroy on Law & Order: SVU; and currently recurring as NYPD detective Mike Adams on FBI. He earned an MFA from the Academy for Classical Acting at GWU.

SUZANNE O’DONNELL (Mistress Quickly) Recent PSF credits: Every Brilliant Thing (Narrator), Twelfth Night (Maria), The Merry Wives of Windsor (Mistress Ford), Lend Me a Tenor (Maria), The Importance of Being Earnest (Miss Prism). Florida Rep: A Doll’s House Pt. 2 (Nora), Orlando Shakespeare Theater: The Winter’s Tale (Hermione), Othello (Emilia), Much Ado About Nothing (Beatrice), and The Taming of the Shrew (Kate), 1812 Productions: Boston Marriage, Folger Theatre: The Comedy of ErrorsArcadia, Arden Theatre: Dancing at LughnasaRomeo and Juliet. Suzanne is a graduate of DeSales University.

IAN MERRILL PEAKES (Dr. Caius) PSF: A Midsummer Night’s DreamAs You Like It, Blithe Spirit, The Taming of the Shrew, et al. Philly: Lantern Theater: Lifespan of a FactMolly SweeneyFaith Healer; Walnut Street Theatre: Blithe SpiritMatildaPeter and the Starcatcher; Arden Theatre: Something Intangible (Barrymore Award), All My Sons (Barrymore Award); The Wilma Theater, Delaware Theatre, 1812 Productions, Philadelphia Theatre Company: Sideman (Barrymore Award); Theatre Exile: Red Light Winter and Invisible Hand (Barrymore Award nominations). Regional: ACT, Seattle Rep and Shakespeare Theatre: Charles III; Folger: R and G are Dead (Helen Hayes Award), Henry VIIIMacbethThe Game of Love and Chance (Helen Hayes nominations); Denver Center for the Performing Arts: The CatchGlengarry Glen Ross (Best of Denver Awards); Actors Theatre of Louisville, Shakespeare Santa CruzGulfshore Playhouse. Ian is a brand new company member at People’s Light where he played Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.

KAREN PEAKES (Mrs. Page) a proud DeSales grad, back onstage at PSF, after last appearing in Blithe Spirit and The Taming of the Shrew in 2016! Primarily working in the Philadelphia area in theatres such as Walnut Street Theatre, Arden Theatre, The Wilma Theater, Act 2 Playhouse, People’s Light, Delaware Theatre Company, InterAct, The Lantern, and 1812 Productions, she has also worked extensively with The Folger Theatre, in DC, The Peterborough Players, in NH, and The Gulfshore Playhouse, in FL. She is a two-time Audie Award Nominated audiobook narrator.

DEVIN ROMERO (Bardolph) is an actor currently based in New York City, originally from Edinburg, TX. He studied acting in Texas before moving to New York to attend Circle in the Square Theatre School. He is now a graduate and has since acted in several productions on stage and on film. He most recently played Jeff in SubUrbia at brooklynONE Productions, as well as Orestes in The Oresteia at Gallery Players Theatre.

ISAIAH CALEB STANLEY (Host of the Garter) (he/him) is an actor based in Brooklyn. Most recently seen in the Philadelphia premiere of Samuel D. Hunter’s A Case for the Existence of God.

CHRISTIAN TUFFY (Fenton) (he/him) PSF: The Tempest, Sense and Sensibility, James and the Giant Peach, community tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Little Red, The Taming of the Shrew (YC Project). DeSales: The Drowsy Chaperone, Twelfth Night, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Intimate Apparel. 

Creative Bios
ALEX BECHTEL (Composer/Music Directoris a multidisciplinary artist dedicated to the creation of new works of music, theatre, and musical theatre. His work at PSF includes seven seasons of new music for Shakespeare; all collaborations with Matt Pfeiffer. Bechtel has two Barrymore Awards for Outstanding Original Music, one for Leading Actor in a Musicaland one for Music Direction. Bechtel’s musical The Appointment, a collaboration with Lightning Rod Special, was included on The New Yorker’s “Best Theatre of 2023” list, and the “Best of 2019” lists from the New York Times, Vulture, and TimeOut NYC. His newest musical Penelope had productions this year at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and Signature Theatre in DC.

ALYSSANDRA DOCHERTY (Lighting Designer) is a Philadelphia-based lighting designer originally from Vernon, NJ, and a DeSales University Theatre alumna. PSF: The Adventures of Robin Hood & Maid Marian, An Iliad. Select Regional: Here You Come Again (Goodspeed Musicals); Once On This Island, What the Constitution Means to Me (Arden Theatre Company); Always Patsy Cline, Peter and the Starcatcher, Noises Off, Man of La Mancha [Barrymore Award Recipient] (Delaware Theatre Company); A Sherlock Carol (Wesport Country Playhouse); The 39 Steps (Virginia Stage Company); The Garbologists, Sweat (Philadelphia Theatre Company); The Woman in Black (Florida Repertory Theatre); The Flatlanders, The Play That Goes Wrong (1812 Productions). Her designs have been recognized with Barrymore and Ostrander Award nominations in Philadelphia and Memphis respectively.

EMMA D. EMDE (Assistant Stage Manager) Her recent credits include Regional: The Tempest, Sense and Sensibility (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival); The Three MusketeersA Merry Christmas CarolHenry VThe 39 StepsA Merry Little Christmas CarolThe Hobbit (Virginia Stage Company); Collegiate: Nightfall with Edgar Allan PoeShe Kills Monsters (University of Nebraska at Kearney). Emma graduated with honors from the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a BA in Theatre. She is also a proud member of the Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Honors Society, The National Honors Society of Dance Arts, and Actors’ Equity Association.

PAIGE HATHAWAY (Scenic Design) is based in the Washington, DC area. She has designed regionally at The Writer’s Theatre in Chicago, the Village Theatre in Seattle, Amphibian Stage in Fort Worth, TX, Barrington Stage in Pittsfield, MA, The Muny in St. Louis, Asolo Rep in Sarasota, Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia, and People’s Light in Malvern, PA, among others. In the Washington, DC area she has designed at the Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, Signature Theatre, Round House Theatre, Theater J, Imagination Stage, Studio Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, and Olney Theatre Center. She received her BFA from the University of Oklahoma and her MFA from the University of Maryland. She is a member of USA 829.

COLLEEN HUGHES (Intimacy Director) As an intimacy director and coordinator, Colleen brings a trauma-informed and human-first approach to scenes of simulated sex, nudity, and hyperexposure. Through her collaboration with trusted colleagues, she is at the vanguard of a movement to bring increased agency and transparency to the entertainment industry. She has collaborated with artists from around the globe, including Maya Hawke on the official music video for Thérèse, with over 5 million views on YouTube (also available on Apple Music); Samantha Shay at Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch in Germany; and immersive work with Virgin Atlantic’s cruise line in the Mediterranean, and Punkdrunk’s Sleep No More in NYC.

PEI LEE (Costume Designer) was born in Taiwan but also grew up in Spain, Chile, Brazil, and USA where she has worked professionally for many years. Some design credits include: Artscape Theatre (Cape Town, South Africa): Calling US Home; Olney Theatre Center: Fiddler on the RoofThe AmateursMatilda [Helen Hayes Nomination—Best Costume Design for a Musical], My Fair LadyThe Little MermaidThe TempestThe 39 StepsTriumph of LovePeter PanMiracle Worker, and Monster; National Players: Macbeth, The Comedy of ErrorsOdysseyRomeo and JulietAnimal Farm; Forum Theatre: The SkrikerThe Last Days of Judas Iscariot [Helen Hayes Nomination—Outstanding Ensemble]; Rorschach Theatre: References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot; Catalyst Theater: 1984; Adventure Theatre: The Jungle Book.

JOSIANE M. LEMIEUX (Stage Manager) spent this past summer as the Interim Director of Production for PSF. Prior to that, she was Director of Production for four years at Maryland’s Olney Theatre Center, where she oversaw over fifty productions, including the world premiere of Cinco Paul and Bekah Brunstetter’s A.D. 16. Prior to that, she was an AEA stage manager for over twenty years with Olney Theatre Center, The Acting Company, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Huntington Theatre Company, Crossroads Theatre Company, Playwright’s Theatre of New Jersey, Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, and TheaterWorks USA. She is on the faculty at DeSales University and a member of Actors’ Equity Association.

ELI LYNN (Fight Director) (they/them) is an actor, Intimacy Director, and Barrymore-nominated fight director. PSF credits: Hal (Henry IV, Pt. 2), Jess (Complete Works … Abridged), Flute (Midsummer). Recent regional credits: Big Alison (Fun Home, New Light Theatre), Trevor (TPTGW, 1812 Productions), Orsino/Toby (Twelfth Night) and Jean 3/Prince (Thrive, American Shakespeare Center), Aramis (The Three Musketeers, Cleveland Playhouse), Dorcus/Dion (The Winter’s Tale, Folger Theatre). They have studied stage combat for 15 years, and are recognized as an Advanced Actor Combatant with five international organizations. Recent fight credits include: The Lightning Thief (Drexel), Noises Off (DTC), Sense and Sensibility (PSF), TPTGW (1812). They’re also an Artistic Associate with Philadelphia Artists’ Collective.

MATT PFEIFFER (Director, Merry Wives & S4K) (he/him) He’s acted and/or directed over 50 productions with PSFl. Other credits include Arden Theatre, People’s Light & Theatre, Lantern Theater, InterAct, 1812 Productions, Delaware Theatre Co, Theatre Horizon, Walnut St Theatre, Bristol Riverside, and DeSales University among others. Matt is a 12-time Barrymore nominee and winner for best Director for The Whale and The Invisible Hand both with Theatre Exile. He’s a proud DSU grad (‘99) and a recipient of the F. Otto -Haas Award.


Information provided to TVL by:
Tina Louise Slak
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
The Professional Theatre at DeSales University
2755 Station Avenue
Center Valley, PA 18034
p: 610-282-WILL [9455]