War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds

A Chilling Re-Telling of the Infamous “Panic Broadcast”
Adapted by Leah Lopez and Orion Couling, Written by Leah Lopez, Directed by Orion Couling
In 1897, H.G. Wells stunned the literary world with a novel that would define science fiction. In 1938, Orson Welles aired a radio broadcast that left listeners everywhere shocked and panicked. In 2020, War of the Worlds: Northern Edition enters the virtual stage with a bold new adaptation. Setting this tale’s riveting beginning chapters in the heart of the Upper Peninsula, we explore the horror of invasion from an unstoppable force and the pure determination of the human spirit. This project will air as a virtual play and radio broadcast, celebrating a timeless story with a new art form.

Thursday, November 5 at 7:30pm

Friday, November 6 at 7:30pm

Saturday, November 7 at 7:30pm

Sunday, November 8 at 7:30pm

Tickets are $17 General Public, $12 NMU Employee/Senior/Military, and $5 NMU Students. 


A link to the virtual performance will be emailed to ticket holders before their chosen date.

Download the digital program here!

Cast List


Eunice Preston Anna Morozov
Dorothy Preston Sonja Madsen
Conrad Frank Oliver Rush
Leona James Lila Hartung
Camille James Zoe Zimmer
Nella Walker Ashley Gardner
Harold Brenner Will Smith
Veda Brenner Danae DeValve
Prof. Alton Mirand Jacob Laitinen
Hildy Charles Kate Karling
Alonso Russell/Student John Fatla
Passerby/Tough 1 Ryan Boos
Lucille LaMere/Tough 2 Samantha Wardisiani
George Ansen Noah Proctor
Bernard Colton Sebastian DeWitt
Newsboy Lila Hartung

Creative Team


Director Orion Couling
Scenic Designer Lex van Blommestein
Costume Designer Shelley Russell
Sound Designer Mark Shevy
Director of Photography Dan Zini
Properties Designer Keli Crawford-Truckey
Production Stage Manager Megan Donovan
Technical Director Ross W. Johnson

Additional Artistic Staff


Visual Effects Supervisor Dan Zini
Graphic Designers Lex van Blommestein, Sam Perkins Harbin
Assistant Sound Designers William Squires IV, Ryan Harvey
Sound & Music Supervisor Dan Zini
Mix Engineer Dan Zini
Creature Design Sam Perkins Harbin
Sound Assistants The students of BC 473M - Advanced Media
Production - Multimedia under the direction of
Professor Mark Shevy
Stage Manager Aubrey Wolck
Script Supervisor Toni Danz
Properties Coordinator Aubrey Wolck
Acknowledgments Iron Antiques

Forest Roberts Theatre Staff


Director of Theatre Bill Digneit
Production Manager David Pierce
Costume Shop Supervisor Ann Juidici
Scene Shop Foreman Ross W. Johnson
Properties Artisan Keli Crawford-Truckey
Lighting and Sound Supervisor Dan Zini
Marketing Manager Lilith Kontos

Cast Bios

Anna Morozov (Eunice Preston) is a freshman at NMU and is pleased to take part in this show as her first production here. Her previous roles include Jo March in Little Women, Golde in The Fiddler on the Roof, and Minnie Fay in Hello, Dolly!. Anna is so excited to take part in this production in the face of the pandemic. She would like to thank her dear friends for encouraging and inspiring her to continue to grow as an actor. She hopes you enjoy the show!

Sonja Madsen (Dorothy Preston) is in her second year at Northern and is majoring in both archaeology and metalsmithing. She has been absolutely thrilled to enter NMU’s theatre scene with this production, previously having worked on and with numerous shows at her hometown community theatre in Minnesota. She hopes you enjoy this show and that it provides a moment to relax and reflect in a time when connection, especially with theatre and the arts, is of unparalleled importance.

Lila Hartung (Leona James/Newsboy) is excited to be performing in her first production at Northern Michigan University. She is a part of the inaugural Musical Theatre BFA program, and can be found around campus playing in the university's orchestra, working on theatre projects, and running late to class. Her up and coming projects include "Beautiful" from Heathers, "What Baking Can Do" from Waitress, and A Christmas Carol directed by Paul Truckey.

Zoe Zimmer (Camille James) is a third year student who has previously been in NMU’s productions of Fringe Festival (Valiant Woman), Beauty and the Beast (Milkmaid/Knife), Scrooge (Ghost of Christmas Future), The Full Monty (Joanie), and Cats (Rumpleteazer). She is very excited to be a part of War of the Worlds because it gives her a chance to do theatre in these uncertain times. 

Danae DeValve (Veda Brenner) is a senior at NMU going into her last year at Northern, and hopes this show will not be her last performance before she graduates in May 2021. The last show she performed in with the Forest Roberts Theatre was Medieval Dinner Theatre, in which she played Mary the Nobody. She’s currently majoring in theatre with a minor in writing.

Jacob Laitinen (Prof. Alton Mirand) is a native of Marquette, MI and is a theater major with a minor in music at Northern Michigan University. Jacob started back at school in 2017 after a 7 year hiatus, and is ecstatic to be in his final year at Northern. His previous roles at NMU include Beedle Bamford in Sweeney Todd, Edgar/Sante in Nightfall With Edgar Allan Poe, Professor Porter in Tarzan, Creon in Antigone, Thenardier in Les Miserables, and The Snail With the Mail in A Year with Frog and Toad. Jacob has worked professionally playing Sikes in Tecumseh Outdoor Drama and Rowdy in Beacon on the Rock, as well as performing in the chorus of several Operas at the Pine Mountain Music Festival. He has also played Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Beast in Beauty and the Beast, Herr Shultz in Cabaret, Sebastian in The Little Mermaid, Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Show, and Ali Hakim in Oklahoma. Jacob would like to thank everyone for coming out, and he hopes you enjoy this wonderful production.

Samantha Wardisiani (Lucille LaMere/Tough 2) is making her Forest Roberts Theatre debut in War of the Worlds. She grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and is excited for all of the upcoming opportunities. She would like to thank Orion for giving her a chance and making the atmosphere very welcoming, and gives a special shout out to the cast because they are all wonderful and talented! She would also like to thank her family for all their support. 

Creative Team Bios

Orion Couling (Director) is the award-winning founder and executive director of EDGE of Orion, an Illinois NFP. He is a specialist in project-based learning and carries 20 years of adventure-based teaching experience. He created the Constellation Project, a program that celebrates inclusion and neuro-diverse participation. With over 100 directing credits in professional and youth theatre to his name, he remains one of the foremost experts in dynamic educational theatre. His “edu-tainment” style is known to bring levity and inspiration to classrooms and audiences. He has presented at Northwestern University’s Inclusion Theatre festival for the past three years and has given lectures at universities, high schools, and community theatre programs. Orion is also a stage combat instructor, stunt coordinator, and a licensed Maritime Captain. Orion proudly serves as a board member for History Alive. When not leading the “inclusion revolution,” you’ll find him playing with his Irish Folk-rock band “Finger on the Trigger,” leading ghost tours, or by the water.

Shelley Russell (Costume Designeris a professor of theatre arts at NMU. Shelley teaches a variety of courses, including playwriting and stage combat. She's directed over fifty productions including Beauty and the Beast, RENT, Romeo and Juliet, Peter Pan and Legally Blonde. She enjoys all aspects of theatre, and has acted and sung in numerous productions, created dance and fight choreography, designed costumes, and written plays and musicals which have been honored by the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award Competition, KCACTF, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the State of Michigan. She served as executive director for LST and in 2011 was honored by NMU with the Distinguished Faculty Award. Playwriting credits include Holdin' Our Own, Beacon on the Rock, Haywire, Points North, and Water, Woman. 

Megan Donovan (Production Stage Manager) is a freshman this semester at Northern Michigan University and is majoring in theatre technology and design. She hopes to one day be a stage manager or lighting designer on Broadway or a Broadway touring show. Megan started her theatre journey in 2014 with Tecumseh Youth Theatre and over the years has helped with 15 shows at TYT, the Croswell Opera House, and Tecumseh Center for the Arts. This is her first show at NMU and she is very thankful for the opportunity to PSM War of the Worlds

Toni Danz (Script Supervisor) is a junior at Northern Michigan University and was accepted into the BFA program last year for the theatre technology and design degree. Working on this show was such a great experience for her and she looks forward to many more online projects. She loves staying productive in the theatre department even though live performances aren't going on. Adapt and overcome!

William Squires IV (Assistant Sound Designer) is a junior theatre technology and design major with a focus in sound at Northern Michigan University. He is extremely excited to be working on War of the Worlds, as this is his first assistant sound design opportunity due to cancellations caused by COVID-19. At the Forest Roberts Theatre, William has worked as an A2 for Beauty and the Beast and as a board operator for A Christmas Story and The Full Monty. He also has worked with Westwood High School as a board operator for their production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying Jr. William is eager to start production on War of the Worlds and to gain experience and knowledge to take forward with him to future employers/productions.