Theatre Under The Stars Announces the Cast of Spring Awakening

HOUSTON — Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is excited to announce the cast of Spring Awakening.

“I’m so thrilled to be spending time with this music! I’ve spent so much of my time over the past decade listening to it, aching to be able to direct my own version,” said Taibi Magar, the Director of Spring Awakening. “At last: I can! I am also looking forward to all of the wonderful local actors and artists we are working with. Houston has such incredible talent, I was blown away at auditions.”

Leading off the cast are Sophia Introna as “Wendla,” Wonza Johnson as “Melchior,” and Nathan Salstone as “Moritz”. Joining them are Austin Colburn as “Otto,” Blake Jackson as “Hanschen,” Brian Mathis as “The Adult Men,” Liz Mikel as “The Adult Women,” Ana Yi Puig as “Anna,” Juliette Redden as “Martha,” Grayson Samuels as “Georg,” Raven Justine Troup as “Ilse,” Alex Vinh as “Ernst,” Zachary J. Willis as “Ensemble,” and Katja Rivera Yanko as “Thea”.

As previously mentioned, Spring Awakening, is directed by Taibi Magar and will be choreographed by Marlana Doyle. They are joined by Music Director, Alex Navarro; Set Designer, Ryan McGettigan; Costume Designer, Jen Caprio; Lighting Designer, Bradley King; Sound Designer, Andrew Harper and Wig Designer, J. Jared Janas. Casting for Spring Awakening is provided by Associate Artistic Director, Megan Larche Dominick, CSA.


Austin Colburn (Otto) is a Houston native and currently pursuing his BFA in Musical Theatre at Sam Houston State University. Austin has previously been seen at TUTS in A Chorus Line (SwingJerome Robbins’ Broadway (Ensemble), as well as All Shook Up (Ensemble). Additional credits at other institutions include: Footloose (Ren McCormack), Newsies (Jack Kelly), American Idiot(Johnny), West Side Story (Riff), and Heathers (JD).

Sophia Introna (Wendla) making her TUTS debut! Recent credits include In the Heights (“Vanessa”, Playhouse on Park Theater) Fat Kid Rules The World (“Waitress”, Theater Row), Emerson Loses Her Mind! (“Roxeneh”, Hudson Guild Theater). Bonnie and Clyde (“Blanche”) and She Kills Monsters (“Agnes”) at Rider University.

Blake Jackson (Hanschen) will be making his TUTS debut! Recent credits include: Stages Repertory Theatre; “Orin”, et al (Little Shop of Horrors), “Hand Some” (Panto Star Force), “Joey”/”Newt”/”John” (Who Am I This Time? And Other Conundrums of Love), “Don Price” (Big Fish). Classical Theatre Company; “Frank Gardner” (Mrs. Warren’s Profession). Obsidian Theatre; “Hedwig” (Hedwig and the Angry Inch).

Wonza Johnson (Melchior) Wonza returns to TUTS directly from the 1st and 2nd national tour of Hamilton, and having after performed in TUTS’ 2016 production of How to Succeed… Other notable credits include Holler If You Hear Me, Dreamgirls, Hairspray, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, All Shook Up, and Aida.

Brian Mathis (The Adult Men) Making his sixth appearance at TUTS, he has appeared regionally at Dallas Theater center, Casa Manana, Arizona Theater Co., Syracuse Stage, Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the National Equity Tours of Seussical and JC Superstar. CBS and Lifetime Television.

Liz Mikel (The Adult Women) Liz has appeared on theater stages internationally, regionally and on Broadway (including more than 40 Dallas Theater Center productions). She is a proud member of the Tony Award winning, Dallas Theater Center’s Brierley Resident Acting Company. Liz has also made her mark in television, (“Friday Night Lights” and “Dallas”); in films, (Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins and Get On Up!) and commercials, picking up numerous awards along the way.

Ana Yi Puig (Anna) is a senior BFA Musical Theatre major at Texas State University and she is over the moon to be making her TUTS debut! Favorite credits include: Hunchback… (“Esmeralda”), Speech and Debate (“Diwata”), and …Spelling Bee (“Olive”). Regional: Mamma Mia! (Ivoryton Playhouse) and A Christmas Carol (Hippodrome State Theatre). Ana plans to move to NYC after graduation. @anayipuig

Juliette Redden (Martha) recently graduated from Texas State University with a BFA in Musical Theater. TUTS debut. Regional credits include: Newsies (“Katherine”), All Shook Up (“Miss Sandra”), Seussical (“Mayzie”).

Nathan Salstone (Moritz) recently made his Broadway Debut in the original cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Off-Broadway: Enter Laughing (York Theater) Regional: Rags (Goodspeed Opera House), Rock Of Ages (Pittsburgh CLO), Merchant Of Venice (Texas Shakespeare Festival), andFloyd Collins (Front Porch Theatricals). TV: “Mozart In The Jungle”. Graduate of Carnegie Mellon University BFA Acting and Musical Theater 2017.

Grayson Samuels (Georg) returns to TUTS after appearing in The World According to Snoopy(“Charlie Brown”). Regionally, he has been seen in An American Daughter (Williamstown), SeussicalMy Fair LadyOne ManTwo Guvnors, and Freaky Friday (Wagon Wheel). BFA, Texas State University.

Raven Justine Troup (Ilse) is elated to continue her performance streak with TUTS. Following up a year with shows like The WizMamma Mia!, and Seussical, Raven can’t wait to see what the coming year has to offer.

Alex Vinh (Ernst) is beyond thrilled to return to his hometown and make his TUTS debut! Some of his favorite roles include: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (“Chip”), Office Hour(“Dennis”), Sweeney Todd (“Tobias”), Bat Boy (“Bat Boy”), The Winter’s Tale (“Autolycus”), and A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine (“Gino”). He is a graduate of Texas Christian University and has recently moved to New York.

Zachary J. Willis (Ensemble) will be making his TUTS debut! A recent Sam Houston State graduate, Zach was most recently seen in the world premiere comedy, A 3D Adventure at Circle Theatre in Fort Worth, TX. Also, in the DFW area, he has appeared as “Eugene” in Grease, and the most fabulous “Ozian” in The Wizard of Oz at Casa Mañana. Houstonians may remember him as “Terpsichore” in Xanadu at Stages Repertory Theatre. Other credits include “Moritz” in Spring Awakening (Uptown Players), two spins as “Mereb” in Aida (The Firehouse Theatre & Plaza Theatre Company), and the ending song English singing voice on Dragon Ball Super.

Katja Rivera Yanko (Thea) is a Houston native that’s over to the moon to be back at TUTS! Some favorite credits include In the Heights (“Daniela”, MT Wichita), Footloose (“Wendy Jo”, The Muny), Dogfight (“Rose”, OU), Bring it On (“Nautica”, TUTS), and concert performances with The Houston Symphony & OKC Philharmonic. She recently received her BFA from The University of Oklahoma.

When it debuted on Broadway, Spring Awakening offered a raw and honest portrayal of youth in revolt, shattering expectations of what musical theatre can be. The show earned eight Tony Awards® in 2006, including Best Musical. Based on Frank Wedekind’s controversial 1891 expressionist play of the same name and featuring an electrifying alt-rock score, Spring Awakening follows a group of adolescents as they navigate their journey into adulthood with a poignancy and passion that is illuminating and unforgettable.

Spring Awakening is a bit of a departure for us in the sense of the subject matter and in the modern rock score,” said TUTS Artistic Director, Dan Knechtges. “However, I want TUTS to honor recent exemplary theatre in addition to the traditional classics. This soul-stirring story from the late 1800’s is remarkably relevant today.”

Spring Awakening runs October 8 through 20 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets start at just $30, and are available online at, or by contacting the TUTS Box Office by phone at (713) 558-8887 or in person by visiting the Box Office located at 800 Bagby Street.

Theatre Under The Stars is grateful to our 2019/20 Season SponsorsChildren’s Memorial Hermann HospitalUnited AirlinesKTRK ABC-13, and Hampton Inn / Homewood Suites Downtown Houston. TUTS is supported in part by the City of Houston through the Theater District, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

THEATRE UNDER THE STARS (“TUTS”) – (Dan KnechtgesArtistic DirectorHillary J HartExecutive Director) – was founded by Frank M. Young in 1968 and is Houston’s leading musical theatre company for performance, arts education and professional theatrical training; ranging from the classics to new work development. As a 501c3 performing arts organization, TUTS is dedicated to breaking down barriers to access by focusing on inclusivity, education, and community engagement through a commitment to artistic excellence, programs in the community, technique-based curriculum at the Humphreys School of Musical Theatre, and explorative, creative life-skills at The River Performing and Visual Arts Center. For more information, visit