CATS – Creative Team
DIRECTOR – Ashley Wright
Ashley (he/him) is an award-winning director, actor, and playwright who is currently working throughout Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver. He has been a professional theatre artist for over thirty years, and has performed on all major Canadian stages and internationally. He has directed works for the Freewill Shakespeare Company, Studio Theatre, Workshop West, Citadel Theatre, and more. Ashley’s direction for Henry V garnered four Sterling Award nominations (the most to date in Freewill Shakespeare history), and his own play Silent Words received the Sterling Award for Outstanding Direction.
Ashley has an MFA in Directing from the University of Alberta and a BFA in Acting from the University of Victoria. He has taught acting courses at the University of Alberta, adjudicates speech arts festivals throughout Canada, and has facilitated multiple Shakespeare acting intensives with Bard on the Beach. Ashley consistently imparts a meticulous planning process when directing, and creating an atmosphere of joy and risk-taking in rehearsal rooms. He is known for his vivacious energy, and looks forward to spreading his impassioned love for storytelling through musical theatre with the cast of Cats.
CHOREOGRAPHER – Julie Murphy
Julie (she/her) is a multi-award-winning dance choreographer based in Vancouver, BC. As a dancer, she trained in Edmonton, AB and has been a company member with Viva Dance, Toy Guns Dance Theatre, and MOD Contemporary Dance Movement. She has received dance awards including: 1st Place at the Dance Power Canadian Dance Championships; 1st Place Duet at the Peaks Invitational; and received a scholarship for studying dance abroad from Broadway & Cirque Du Soleil’s L.J. Jellison. Julie has choreographed over 200 dance pieces for live performance in jazz, lyrical, tap, contemporary, and musical theatre styles; and has accepted over 60 professional dance choreography/teaching contracts over the years. Her competitive routines boast a 91% success rate for gold/first place standings, and her past students have gone on to study with the IPT program at Harbour Dance Centre and National Theatre School of Canada.
Julie is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance (Adv. II), and holds both a Bachelors in Education and a Bachelors in Arts (Drama) from the University of Alberta. She is known for her bright attitude, passionate demeanour, and setting high standards in the rehearsal room. Her teaching philosophy centres around ensemble-building and cultivating a culture of belonging, which she is looking forward to bringing to the cast of Cats!
MUSIC DIRECTOR – Sean Bayntun
A descendent of Ukrainian, Austrian, and British immigrants, Sean grew up, and currently resides, on the ancestral and unceded lands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh speaking peoples
Having grown up steeped in classical music, Sean made his orchestral debut at 16 with the White Rock Symphony, and at 18 performed as a soloist with the VSO. He graduated from UBC with a BMus before attending Rice University (Houston) on full scholarship studying with Dr. Jon Kimura Parker. With Dr. Parker’s encouragement to explore genres and performance beyond classical piano, Sean played Otto in Design for Living and music directed Bat Boy: the Musical.
Returning to Vancouver in 2006, Sean joined a pop/rock band as a keyboardist/writer and began freelancing as a session and performance musician. He’s played in dozens of bands and is currently an active member of Leisure Club and DAñSE.
In 2009, he music directed Songs for a New World (Not Another Musical Co-op), and the following year was the MD for PSP’s production of Bat Boy. As an MD, his many nominations and awards include The Wild Party (Pint-Size Tall), The Light in the Piazza and Herringbone (PSP). Recent work includes Starwalker (Raven Theatre) and Anne of Green Gables (Gateway).
Some of his first theatre work was with Theatre Under the Stars, where he was rehearsal pianist, orchestra player, and eventual guest conductor (The King and I, Big!, and Oklahoma!), and it is an absolute blast to get to work in Malkin Bowl once again!