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Speranza Theatre Company presents 

A Chain Around the World


Playwright................................. JENNIE CONTUZZI
Director......................................... MIKAELA KAFKA
Producer.........................................HEATHER WAHL
Stage Manager..............................MAXINE SPANN
Costumes/Props Designer..........MARCI ELYN SCHEIN
Sound Engineer................

Nellie Bly................................... RACHEL BRUDNER
Woman 1................................. KIMBERLY BOLLARD
Man 1.......................................PATRICK O'CONIS
Nellie Bly (Cover)....................SAMANTHA RESNICK
Woman 1 (Cover).................................JOELLE ZAZZ
Man 1 (Covers)
Meet the Company


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RACHEL BRUDNER (Nellie Bly) is an NYC-based actor, thrilled to be making her Speranza debut! Some favorite recent credits include JUDY MOODY & STINK (Judy Moody) - ArtsPower, PINKALICIOUS THE MUSICAL (Pinkalicious) - Vital Theatre, LITTLE WOMEN (Beth) - Holmdel Theatre Company, National Tour of PEPPA PIG’S ADVENTURE (Swing), THE EMANCIPATION OF SUGAR AND BABY (Sugar) - “Weasel Fest” - Brick Theatre. She received her BA in Theatre at Muhlenberg College. Rachel also records voiceovers for Little Fox English, where her voice can be heard in several animated audiobooks, and she can be seen in several “Mother Goose Club” videos (Netflix). She is a proud Teaching Artist and the Program Manager at Treasure Trunk Theatre! She is honored and excited to be telling Nellie’s story!


SAMANTHA RESNICK (Nellie Bly Cover) is an actor, singer, and teaching artist based here in New Jersey. She holds a BFA in Musical Theatre with a minor in Gender Studies from Long Island University Post. Favorite credits include BRIGHT STAR (Margo) and the world premiere of THE {W}RIGHT SISTER (Katharine Wright) at Lees-McRae Summer Theatre, THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR (Anne Page) at Texas Shakespeare Festival, and WE CAN DO IT: GREAT WOMEN IN HISTORY (Various) at Bright Star Touring Theatre – which also featured Nellie Bly! They are passionate about new work that is grounded in education, history, and community, and so excited to debut with Speranza Theatre Company in A CHAIN AROUND THE WORLD.

KIMBERLY BOLLARD (Woman 1) is an actor, writer, and educator based in NYC. Recent theater credits include a devised collaborative theatrical experience called ANANSI’S STORY FESTIVAL (Mary Ellis) at ReThink Theatrical, VOTES FOR WOMEN (Alice Paul Swing) at Speranza Theatre Co., and PEOPLE, PLACES & THINGS (Emma) at T. Schreiber Studio. She recently starred as the lead in the feature film “Asking for a Friend” by Toasted Entertainment. She has written for several satire publications such as Reductress, McSweeney’s, and GOLD Comedy. In addition to acting, she is the Executive Director of TRUE Mentors in Hoboken, NJ, and proudly serves as a teaching artist for Speranza Theatre Co. She graduated from Rutgers University with a double major in Theater and Journalism and a minor in filmmaking. She is ecstatic to bring several characters to life in A CHAIN AROUND THE WORLD, and she hopes you enjoy the show! @kimberlybollard


JOELLE ZAZZ (Woman 1 Cover) is a professional actor, director and teaching artist. Previously, and most recently, she has worked with NJ Rep, The Mile Square Theatre, Premiere Stages, the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ, Dreamcatcher Rep, and more.


PATRICK O’KONIS (Man 1) is an actor and a theater educator splitting his time between the New England and New York City area. He received his BA in Theatre from College of the Holy Cross(16’) and his MFA in Acting from Brooklyn College (18’). He specializes in immersive theater starring in The Stranger Things Experience (Netflix/Fever), The Polar Express Train Ride (Warner Bros), and Horseshoe Empire (MJCH). He also works in regional theaters throughout the eastern seaboard including the Wilbury Theatre Group Indecent  and Cumberland Theater Escape to Margaritaville . For more information check out his website at


SCOTT TOMJACK is an actor, comedian, & writer who is extremely excited to be making his Speranza debut. Scott is an alum of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts NYC & Montclair State University BFA program. Scott made his television debut as one of the Kid Crew on  the longest continuously running American children’s program, “Captain 11” (KELO-TV) Based out of NJ , Scott has appeared for such NJ theater companies as Alliance Repertory Theater, 12 Miles West, Luna Stage, and The Women's Theater Company. Favorite credits include Max in THE SIGN IN SIDNEY BRUSTEIN'S WINDOW & Martin in SEMINAR for The Women's Theater Company. Scott also appeared as Bob in The Garden State Film Festival award winning Best Homegrown Short Film, “The Doorwalker” (Parkbros).

TREY RADU-BLACKBURN (Man 1 - Cover) is an actor and writer. He received his MFA in Acting from The New School for Drama. Theatre credits include: King Lear (Royal Shakespeare Company, Brooklyn Academy of Music); The Christians (Playwrights’ Horizons); Peter and the Starcatcher (Theatre for Humanity); Invasion (Estrogenius Festival, Best Actor Award); As You Like It (Brimstone Creek Productions, Sharon Springs, NY); Janey Miller’s World Tour (Speranza Theatre Company). Screen: Going Both Ways (webseries); Meet: The Webseries (webseries). He is a co-founder of Asterism Theatre Company. Instagram: @treykthethird @bearleftembroidery @threedottheatre


JENNIE CONTUZZI (Playwright) Jennie is the Managing Director of Speranza Theatre Company and a member of New Perspectives Theatre Company Women’s Playwriting Lab. Other shows for Speranza include VOTES FOR WOMEN, UNVEILING LIBERTY (co-written by Charlotte Rahn-Lee), HISTORY ALIVE: THE REVOLUTION COMES TO JERSEY CITY, and WOMEN RISING: STORIES OF HOPE.

MIKAELA KAFKA's (Director) true passion is ‘New Works’. And her other passion is History. That is why she is delighted to once again work with Speranza! revealing an intriguing moment in the History of Jersey City. Directing credits; Apples in Winter’(World Premiere, Centenary Stage Company) Wendy’s Shadow (PERRY Award for ‘Best Original Musical” 2016), Women Rising:Stories of Hope, Unveiling Liberty, History Alive, The Revolution, and most recently History Alive! Votes for Women (Speranza Theatre Co.), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Circle Players), Murder on the Nile, The Selfish Giant, The Unexpected Guest (Players Theatre NYC), ENRON (GarageTheatre Group), and Dragons Breath by Michael C. Oday (NYC Fringe). She most recently directed the Zoom version of the office farce, The Bigsley Project by Catherine Castellani which can be streamed on YouTube. 

HEATHER WAHL (Producer) is the founding artistic director of Speranza Theatre Company - awarded the 2022 Arts Organization of the Year by the Jersey City Arts Council and a proud member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance. Heather has produced 15 full length plays, numerous original educational plays, countless staged readings, directed and/or choreographed 50+ productions, and acted in shows from off-Broadway to regional work in 36 of the contiguous United States. Speranza Producer Highlights: A CHAIN AROUND THE WORLD, WALK BY THE WAY OF THE MOON; VOTES FOR WOMEN; WOMEN RISING STORIES OF HOPE; UNVEILING LIBERTY; JANEY MILLER’S WORLD TOUR; A PIECE OF MY HEART; THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES; and THE DAUGHTERS OF EVE.

MAXINNE SPANN (Stage Manager) is excited to stage manage her first show with Speranza Theatre! With a B.A in Theatre Arts from Centenary University, concentration in Musical Theatre, she also graduated with credits for Elementary Education and a certification for Teacher of Students with Disabilities. During her time as a student, not only did she train to be a performer, she was also a student employee in the theatre’s scene shop, where she learned the trade of a technical theatre artist. She experienced all sides of theatre and can’t wait to apply all that she’s learned. Some of her favourite credits with Centenary Stage Company/NextStage Repertory are MARISOL (Marisol & Sound Designer), AVENUE Q (Christmas Eve), SHE KILLS MONSTERS (Narrator/Farrah the Fairy & Sound Designer), and ANNIE: THE MUSICAL (Star-to-Be & Audio 1).

MARCI ELYN SCHEIN (Costumes, Props) is thrilled to be back at Speranza Theatre Company working with this amazing team of women. Marci is a performer in all disciplines of musical theatre, jazz and classical vocal music as well as a producer, director, musical director, choreographer and vocal coach/instructor. Marci is the owner/Artistic Director of Little Fig Stage, Inc. a performing arts company based in Chappaqua. NY and NYC. As a proud member of AEA, Marci has worked with The Garage Theatre Group, The Players Theatre, Speranza Theatre Co. and many more as an Actor and Stage Manager, as well as Director, Costumer, and Props Artisan off Broadway and regionally.


NICHOLAS VON HAGEL (Sound Engineer) is invigorated to be out and about again, working again with Speranza Theater Company. Nicholas currently freelances as an audio designer for numerous community theater and professional groups, as well as an audio mentor for middle/highschools, and theater camps throughout Essex and Morris county areas. Nick has designed many seasons with 4th Wall Theater, Montclair Operetta Club, Gas Lamp Players, Aspire Performing Arts, and NiCori Studios and Productions, to name a few. Nicholas also has his hand in lighting design with Mosaic Dance Theater, InterACT, NJTAP, along with a variety of production work with local high school arts programs. Nicholas is the Technical Director and Auditorium Coordinator at the School Districts of the Chathams, handling sets, lights, sounds, stage management and managing the student crew for all Chatham High School events.

Production Team
About Speranza and More


Speranza Theatre Company is a non-profit women's theatre company and member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance. Founded to provide an opportunity for artists, particularly females, to share their voices through entertaining and challenging theatre, Speranza presents professional theatrical performances, free readings of new works, and educational programming.


Jersey City Office of Cultural Affairs



Hudson County Cultural Affairs

Speranza Theatre Company Board of Directors

Crystal Davis/


Diana Basmajian/


This program is made possible by a grant from the New Jersey State Council  on the Arts, a division of the Department of State, and administered by the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, Thomas A. DeGise, Hudson County Executive & the Hudson County Board of County Commissioners, as well the support of The Jersey City Office of Cultural Affairs, and Museum of Jersey City History.

About Nellie Bly
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