February 27, 2017

JUSTIN KIRK, DEVIN KELLEY and RYAN McCARTAN will also appear with national and Twin Cities artists including Sally Wingert, Tyler Michaels, Warren Bowles, Serena Brook, Michelle Barber, Michael Brindisi and more
Six playwrights, six directors and 24 actors come together to create and perform six plays in 24 hours; event supports Spotlight Education and UMD Theatre Scholarships

MINNEAPOLIS—Hennepin Theatre Trust announced today that celebrated actors MELISSA GILBERT and TIMOTHY BUSFIELD are joining the cast of the Minnesota premiere of THE 24 HOUR PLAYS® on Monday, March 13 at 8 p.m. at the historic Pantages Theatre (710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis). This one-night-only event brings together the extraordinary talent of local and nationally-known artists to create six new theatrical plays within 24 hours.

Gilbert, beloved for her role as Laura Ingalls Wilder on NBC’s “Little House on the Prairie,” returns to the Minnesota stage. She performed here in the Guthrie Theater’s production of the musical Little House on the Prairie in 2008 and the national tour in 2009 at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts. She will be joined by her husband, Busfield, known for his roles on “The West Wing” (NBC) and “Thirtysomething” (ABC). He has also appeared on Broadway and directed more than 125 episodes of television including “This Is Us” (NBC).

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Melissa and Timothy to the cast of The 24 Hour Plays,” said Kelli Foster Warder, Director of Education for the Trust, who is coordinating the production. “They join an inspiring cast and creative team that we hope will compel people to support a wonderful night of theater for a great cause.” In honor of the Pantages Theatre’s 100th anniversary, the Trust and the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) School of Fine Arts are partnering to support emerging musical theatre talent in Minnesota.

Six playwrights, six directors, 24 actors and a musical guest create six short plays in the course of a single day — and perform them in front of a live audience at the Pantages Theatre. The performance will feature some of the hottest theatrical talent in the Twin Cities, as well as nationally recognized performers from Broadway, film and television. The actors, directors and writers graciously volunteer their time and talent to produce this exciting evening.

Proceeds support Spotlight Education, the Trust’s flagship education program that engages Minnesota high schools and students in the performing arts and UMD Theatre Scholarships for students enrolled in the UMD Theatre program.

The all-star cast also includes stage and screen actors with Minnesota ties. Justin Kirk (“APB”/Fox, “Weeds”/ Showtime, “Angels in America”/HBO) moved to Minnesota when he was 12 years old and appeared in productions at Children’s Theatre Company. Devin Kelley (“Frequency”/The CW, “Resurrection”/ABC) began acting and singing as a child and graduated from Eastview High School in Apple Valley. Ryan McCartan (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again”/FOX) was born and raised in Minnesota and participated in the Spotlight Education program when he attended Minnetonka High School.

The cast and creative team of THE 24 HOUR PLAYS includes actors: Sasha Andreev, Michelle Barber, Denzel Belin, Warren C. Bowles, Michael Brindisi, Cat Brindisi, Serena Brook, Timothy Busfield, Melissa Gilbert, Osh Ghanimah, Michael Gruber, Devin Kelley, Justin Kirk, Ryan McCartan, Tyler Michaels, Ann Michels, Kasano Mwanza, Hope Nordquist, Tod Petersen, Kory Pullam, Stacia Rice, Tim Sitarz, Tony Vierling, Tatiana Williams, Sally Wingert; directors Jamil Jude, Lauren Keating, Christy Montour-Larson, Peter Rothstein, Bill Payne; writers Alan Berks, Julia Jordan, Heather Jean Meyer, Christina Ham, Harrison David Rivers; musical guest David Darrow.

The cast also includes will Rachel Williams (Apple Valley) and Reese Britts (Andover). Both actors are students at UMD School of Fine Arts and former Spotlight Education Triple Threat Award winners.

Due to an unexpected scheduling conflict, Joel McKinnon Miller will not be appearing as previously announced.

On Sunday, March 12, the actors, directors and writers gather in the evening at the Pantages. The actors present their props and the writers get inspired. The writers vie for the actors they want to work with and stay up all night writing six new plays. The following day, the directors begin in the morning and choose the play they want to direct. Once the actors find out their roles, rehearsals begin and take place throughout the day. Following a short run-through in the afternoon, the curtain rises with the debut of six new plays.

THE 24 HOUR PLAYS is made possible by United Properties with additional support from Sun Country Airlines, Jimmy John’s, Priority Courier Experts, Sherman Associates and Chanhassen Dinner Theatres.

Ticket prices start at $49.00. All pricing includes a Building Restoration Fee of $4.00. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for $154 which include premium seating, a pre-show VIP reception and admission to the post-show cast party; VIP tickets for $79 include admission to the post-show cast party.

Tickets are on sale now at the State Theatre Box Office (805 Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis), by calling (800) 982-2787 or by clicking to

MELISSA GILBERT  Melissa Gilbert made her on-air debut modeling baby clothes at the age of two. In the summer of 1973, she joined the cast of “Little House on the Prairie. Melissa’s other series credits include “Stand By Your Man”, “Sweet Justice” which she executive produced, and “Secrets and Lies.” Gilbert has starred in over fifty television movies and feature films. Her company, Halfpint Productions, produced several, including the Emmy award-winning  “The Miracle Worker.” Melissa made her stage debut in 1979 as Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker”. A member of the legendary Actor’s Studio, Melissa’s other professional theater credits include Laura in Glass Menagerie, Elma Duckworth in Bus Stop,  Melissa Gardner in Love Letters, and Rose White in “A Shayna Maidel,” for which she wan an Outer Critic’s Circle Award and Theater World Award. In 2008 Melissa created the role of Ma in the Guthrie Theater’s presentation of Little House on the Prairie:The Musical touring north America the following year. Most recently Melissa played M’Lynn in a production of Steel Magnolias. In 1996, Melissa made her television directing debut with the ABC after school special “Me and My Hormones,”and later co-produced the A & E documentary “Child Stars: Their Story,” Gilbert served two terms as the 23rd President of Screen Actors Guild. She served two terms as Vice President on the AFL-CIO executive council, as Vice President for the California Labor Federation, and as a commissioner on the California Film Commission. Gilbert was one of Hollywood Reporter’s “Women of the Year” for three consecutive years, was honored with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Award and,when she was twenty-one, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Melissa is very proud to tell people that her star is just a short walk from her father’s. A New York Time’s Best-Selling author, Melissa’s books include, “Prairie Tale: A memoir”, “Daisy and Josephine” and “My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours”. In 2015 Melissa and her husband Timothy Busfield co-starred, co-wrote and co-produced the multi-award winning short film” One Smart Fellow.” In 2016 Melissa became the Democratic nominee for The US House of Representatives in Michigan’s 8th District. She had to drop out of the race to undergo her third spinal fusion surgery from which she has completely recovered. She is the proud mother/stepmother of four sons, two stepsons and a stepdaughter. She is also grandmother to her absolutely perfect, brilliant granddaughter, Lulabelle Rose. Melissa lives in Michigan with her husband Tim and their three dogs.

TIMOTHY BUSFIELD  Timothy Busfield is a Producer, Director and Emmy Award winning actor with over 650 professional credits. As an actor he has been a series regular or recurring character in 14 series including “Thirtysomething”, “The West Wing”, “Entourage”, “Sleepy Hollow”, Secrets and Lies”, “ED”, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”, “Trapper John, M.D.”, “The Byrds of Paradise”, “Champs”, “Family Ties”, “Without A Trace”, “The Paper Chase”, “Reggie” and “All My Children”. Timothy has appeared in over 40 television movies and feature films, including “Field of Dreams”, “Stripes”, “Revenge of the Nerds”, “Nerds in Paradise”, “Quiz Show”, “Sneakers”, “Striking Distance”, “Little Big League”, “First Kid”, “National Security”, “23 Blast”, “Strays”, “Trucks”, and “One Smart Fellow” which he co-directed, co-wrote, and acted in. Timothy has directed over 125 episodes of television, including “This Is Us” and multiple episodes of “The Fosters” (also directed the pilot), “thirtysomething”, “Sports Night”, “Damages”, “Lipstick Jungle”, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”, “Without A Trace”, “Las Vegas”, “The Night Shift”, “Secrets and Lies”, “The Glades”, and many more. Timothy has served as a Producing Director on 7 series including “Secrets and Lies”, “Mind Games”, Lipstick Jungle”, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”, “Without A Trace”, “ED”, and the mini series “Maneater”. In theatre, Timothy has appeared on Broadway twice, most recently as Lt. Daniel Kaffee in Aaron Sorkin’s “A Few Good Men.” Timothy founded two of America’s most successful professional theaters, The Fantasy Theatre (AKA the B Street School Tour) and The B Street Theatre, both in Sacramento, California. Now in their 31st season, the theaters perform annually for over 200,000 children and adults throughout northern California. Timothy has an honorary PhD from Michigan State University and serves as an Artist in Residence and Director of National Content for their PBS affiliate WKAR. He lives with his wife, television icon and fantastic cook, Melissa Gilbert.

HENNEPIN THEATRE TRUST is a nonprofit organization that creates positive change through the arts by bringing together people, businesses and organizations in WeDo™, the West Downtown MPLS Cultural District. We serve the community through our four theatres – the Orpheum, State, Pantages and New Century – and our unique arts, culture and education programs. Learn more at and

UMD SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS (DEPARTMENT OF THEATRE) provides academic and professional training in the theatre arts, is housed in the Marshall Performing Arts Center (MPAC), which includes a 550-seat flexible thrust/proscenium theatre, a black-box experimental theatre, fully equipped scenic and costume shops, computerized lighting control, digital and analog audio playback stations and studio space for acting, dance and design.

The Department of Theatre offers two majors: a Theatre Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Theatre Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). In addition, we offer minors in dance, theatre and film studies.

Throughout the year, UMD Theatre offers a variety of shows for the public.

THE 24 HOUR PLAYS® bring together extraordinary artists to create time-limited theater around the world. In addition to The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway and The 24 Hour Musicals in New York City, regular events take place in London, Los Angeles, Dublin, Germany, Athens, Helsinki, Mexico City and Florence. Through collaborations with organizations including The Old Vic Theatre, Dublin Youth Theatre, Urban Arts Partnership, Cornerstone Theater Company, The Orchard Project, Bennington College and The Del Sole Foundation, The 24 Hour Company’s productions have raised millions of dollars for charities.