King of Hearts

King of Hearts

Directed by Michael Cooper

Music Direction by Ellie Jarrett Shattles

Choreographed by Kelly Hasandras

Produced by Marnie Near


King of Hearts is a musical love story with music by Peter Link, lyrics by Jacob Brackman, and book by Steve Tesich, and is based on the popular film directed by Philippe de Broca.  Set in the fictional French village of DuTemps in September 1918, just at the end of World War I, this story follows Private Johnny Able, whose mission is to defuse a bomb intended to destroy the village. The residents have fled, leaving behind only the inmates of the local insane asylum, who happily take over the town and proclaim Johnny their King of Hearts. A marvel in its reach and in its moods, King of Hearts is a romantic escape into the fantastic to discover the redemptive power of love while raising the question of who is more insane, the asylum’s patients or those who wage war.

Running May 31 – June 16, 2024 at The Whisenhunt at ZACH Theatre.

Age Recommendation: 12 and up (based on adult situations & violence)

Duration: 2 hours and 30 minutes (including 1 intermission)

Note: This musical contains depictions of warfare. With consideration for the intimate audience, artillery fire and explosions will be carefully simulated.

Join us for a Post-Show Cast Talkback on Saturday, June 15 at 1:00pm.

Enter Our Raffle for a Chance to Win a Five Night Stay in Costa Rica!

We are excited to offer five nights at Casa Navidad in Costa Rica to the lucky winner of our King of Hearts ticket raffle! Purchase raffle tickets by clicking the buttons in the flyer below. Good luck!

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Cast and Production Team

Patrick Regner (Private Johnny Able)

Patrick is thrilled to be back in Austin working with The Alchemy. An Illinois native, Regner spent eight years performing in Chicago before making the big move to Austin nearly two years ago. Though he’s returned to his home state, he’s very excited to return to Austin to act in King of Hearts. When he’s not acting, he fills his time with directing, stage managing, and assisting with lighting, set building, and run crew. Thank you to all who have come out to support us!


Leslie Hethcox (Barber)  

Leslie’s Alchemy premiere in Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory was reviewed as “… effortlessly endearing … with winsome and irresistible charm.” Regional. Beauty and the Beast; Cabaret; CATS; Chicago; A Chorus Line; The Drowsy Chaperone; Follies; Footloose; The Full Monty; Grand Hotel; The Importance of Being Earnest; Into the Woods; Little Shop of Horrors; Oklahoma!; Pageant; Peter & the Starcatcher; The Play That Goes Wrong; Ragtime; The SantaLand Diaries; Singin’ in the Rain; Something Rotten; Sophisticated Ladies; The Tempest; T*E*X*A*S; Xanadu;  Tours.  Fame, European.  MS Asuka; HMS Queen Elizabeth II; MS Seaward. Companies.  Ballet Mississippi, Chamberlain Ballet, Fort Worth Ballet, Lone Star Ballet. Film.  Richard Linklater’s Bernie.

Sarah-Marie Curry (Jeunefille)

Sarah-Marie Curry has been an actor and working artist for over a decade.  Alchemy credits include: Mack & Mabel (Mabel) and The Baker’s Wife (Genevieve). Regional acting credits include: The Last Five Years (Jaime), Fun Home (Alison), Reefer Madness (Mary Lane), Company (Jenny), Into the Woods (Cinderella) to name a few. On stage she has been called “hilarious” “fierce” “truly exceptional” and is an Austin local award winner for Outstanding Lead Actress in multiple productions over the years. For show updates and more go to

Chelsea Lane (Madame Madeleine) 

Daughter of a Grammy nominated singer, Chelsea Lane is an Austin based singer and actress. On the weekend, you can find her belting it out as the front woman of the cover band, Blind Date and during the week, working towards her acting career and running after her two incredible little girls. She wants to thank her husband, Mark, and daughters Evie and Audie for being the best cheerleaders anyone could ask for!

Sebastian Vitale (Genevieve) 

Sebastián, born in Argentina, moved to Austin, Texas in 2020. As an actor in Buenos Aires, he performed in large musical productions like Cabaret, Jekyll & Hyde, and Aladdin. He has released two music albums (Spotify) and has written and composed music for three Spanish musicals, directing two of those musicals “PASO A PASO” and “OTRA VEZ EL PUTO AMOR”. He directed a play for kids based on a web series named “Papa x 2” (Youtube) which he wrote and starred as the lead. As an actor he has done TV shows including a Houston based kids show “Considera la materia”, Jake & Blake – Disney and El Marginal – Netflix. He has led the musical “Mack and Mabel” and “The Baker’s Wife” (as Mack and The Baker), earning a nomination for a B. Iden Payne Award for both roles here in Austin with the Alchemy Theatre. He was the lead in “Follies” in Concert (as Benjamin) with Entr’act company and performed as Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast”. He played lead role for El Cid with Austin Shakespeare. He is a vocal coach teaching in Austin. More info on his website:

Sara Zare Ranjbar (Duchess/Village Woman) 

Sara Zare was born into a family with musical interests in Iran. Growing up, she would always listen to her father sing professionally and she developed an interest in Persian classical music and started her vocal training in that genre. Due to the ban on female singing in Iran, she started to apply abroad and managed to get admitted into the music program of Georgia State University in Atlanta and continued to do her postgraduate studies at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. She made her musical theatre debut in the world premiere of ‘Covidious, A Musical Satire’. Additionally, she was one the eight female vocalists at the festival of ‘Let Her Sing’ in 2021 and performed in the world-famous music festival of SXSW in 2022. She was awarded the silver medal of the Global Music Awards in 2021. Instagram: @sarazaresings

Tim Blackwood (Duke/German General)

Tim is excited to be working with Alchemy Theatre for the first time.  Tim has been hanging around the Austin Theatre scene for over 30 years.  Some favorites include; O’Henry Stories and Enemy of the people with Austin Shakespeare;  The Outsider with Beyond August Productions; Admissions with Jarrott Productions; The Goat with Capital T Theatre; Mary Poppins, Present Laughter, Porgy and Bess, and High School Musical with Zach Theatre;  Kiss Me Kate with Austin Playhouse; Into the Woods and Will Rogers Follies with Zilker Summer Theatre.  Tim would also like to thank his two wonderful sons for their ongoing support.

Max Green (Lieutenant Cooper/Patient) 

Max (he/him) is excited to be coming back to The Alchemy Theatre Co. for a second time. He is an actor born and raised in Austin, TX. You may have seen him in productions around town like: Always A Boy (Seth), Lobby Hero (Jeff), Matilda: The Musical (Mr. Wormwood), The Baker’s Wife (The Teacher), Twelfth Night (Sir Andrew), & The Foreigner (Charlie). Max would like to thank his friends and family for believing in him & always encouraging him to push forward. Lastly, Max would like to extend a very special thank you to you who’s reading this! Thank you for coming to the show, we hope you enjoy.

Rachel Ditzig (Patient/American Soldier) 

Rachel is thrilled to be making her theatrical return with The Alchemy Theatre. She’s devoted this past chapter of her life to teaching devised theater to teens, graphic design, and singing/playing bass in her band, Wezmer. Some of her favorite past roles include Millie (Picnic), Laurey (Oklahoma) and Sister James (Doubt). It’s been 7 years since Rachel’s last musical, but she’s kept her love for them alive with regular living room karaoke sessions. She is honored to be transitioning out of her living room and onto the stage alongside the rest of the King Of Hearts cast.

David Dech (Underground Barber/Patient/German Soldier) 

David is so grateful to be a part of such an amazing cast. David is a musical theater student from Austin Community College most recently seen in ACC’s production of Batboy (Rick/Lorraine/Dillion), and Georgetown’s production of Sound of Music (Rolf). He would like to thank the friends and family that continue to support him on his journey.

Noah Steele (Commandant Kost/Patient) 

Austin native Noah Steele grew up surrounded by theatrical opportunity. Starting in the Church around age 4, burping for talent, he has continued to perform in some capacity throughout his life. After the last two years with the Alchemy as Frank Wyman in Mack and Mabel and Doumergue in The Baker’s Wife, he’s excited to join the world of King of Hearts.

Nicholaus Weindel (Bishop)

Nicholaus Weindel just got promoted from Priest in The Baker’s Wife to Bishop in King of Hearts. The Alchemy Theatre’s resident “holy man” hopes that in the next show he can play the Pope! You can also hear his beautiful voice as Preston Goodplay in Rooster Teeth’s CAMP CAMP and in the podcast So You Want To Be A Hero. He also studies at the Carol Hickey Acting Studio and in his free time enjoys a good cup of tea. Find him on Instagram at @nuweindel or don’t but remember…God is watching you.

Christopher Saenz (Demosthenes)

Christopher is exhilarated to be making his Alchemy theater debut. He was last seen in Gaslight theaters production of Godspell as Judas/John the baptist. Christopher is also a filmmaker and singer/songwriter with multiple shorts and singles under his belt. Born and raised in Houston Texas, he moved to Austin five years ago to study acting, landing him in the Carol Hickey acting Studio where he has steadily taken classes ever since. He would like to thank his family for believing in his dream.

Michael Cooper (Director)

Michael is the Artistic Director of The Alchemy Theatre. Michael has directed numerous productions in Chicago and Los Angeles, with his Austin credits being the Alchemy Theatre productions of The Baker’s Wife, The Virgin Trial, Mack & Mabel, Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory (2019 & 2023), The Waverly Gallery, and Reverie Theatre’s production of Outside Mullingar presented at the Mastrogeorge Theatre. Michael has also directed the Alchemy’s staged readings of Peter and Alice, Domesticated, The Virgin Trial and a new play, The Sunflower Apostle, which he also wrote. Michael is an alumnus of Lincoln Center Theatre Director’s Lab West and has performed Off-Broadway as Whizzer Brown in William Finn’s In Trousers. He is also the author of Dorothy Parker–Story Time for Grown Ups, based upon the rebellious life and extraordinary short stories of Dorothy Parker.

Marnie Near (Producer) 

Marnie is a theater producer living in Austin, TX.  Marnie studied acting and producing at Northwestern University as well as at ACT in San Francisco.  She earned her MBA at Duke University and spent much of her career in the field of marketing. Combining her passion for the arts with her strong business background, she has most recently produced The Baker’s Wife (2023), an award-nominated production of Mack & Mabel (2022), The Virgin Trial (2022) and an award-nominated production of Kenneth Lonergan’s The Waverly Gallery (2019) for The Alchemy Theatre.  Marnie currently serves on the Board of Directors for Zach Theatre and as Board Chair for The Alchemy Theatre in Austin, TX.  She is also working as a producer on the film Bird.

Dr. Ellie Jarrett Shattles (Music Director/Pianist)

Ellie holds a D.M.A. in Opera Performance from The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Shattles has an extensive background in performing, playing and music directing. Recent music directing credits include Next to Normal (Deaf Austin & Ground Floor Theatres, 2019), Mack and Mabel (The Alchemy Theatre, 2022), The Last Five Years (Deaf Austin & Ground Floor Theatres, 2022), Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief (St. Stephen’s, 2023), Baker’s Wife (The Alchemy Theatre, 2023), Lizzie (Doctuh Mistuh Productions, 2023) Ride the Cyclone (University of Texas, 2023), Peter and the Starcatcher (St. Edward’s, 2024), and Mean Girls (St. Stephen’s, 2024).

Kelly Hasandras (Choreographer)

Kelly is a choreographer and performer living in Austin, TX.  Her most recent choreography credits include movement for Disco Dracula, Entanglement the Musical, Human Resources the Musical, Ramalamadingdong High the improvised musical (2023 B. Iden Payne award), The Rover (2019 B. Iden Payne award), fight choreography in Once There Were Six Seasons (2019 B. Iden Payne Nominee) among many others. She won best Actress in 2017 at the 48 Hour Film Festival and she was nominated for best Dancer/Choreographer by the Austin Chronicle 2017. She is a certified DanceAbility International instructor and holds a BA in Theater and Dance from the University of Texas in Austin.  During the day Kelly co-directs the nationally recognized and award-winning teen art program, Totally Cool Totally Art with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department.

Britney Salyer (Stage Manager) 

This is Britney Salyer’s 4th production with The Alchemy Theatre, and she is so grateful to have found such a wonderful collective of artists and collaborators. On-stage she is a comedian and professional wrestler; off-stage she’s a huge film nerd, traveler, and pursuer of life.

Zackary Read (Lighting Design/Sound Design/Projection Design) 

Zackary is a lighting designer and technician, currently studying at the University of Texas at Austin where he intends to hone his skills in stage lighting. As a designer, he has previously worked with The Alchemy Theatre and the University of Texas on productions such as Fall For Dance 23, The Baker’s Wife and The Smartest Girl in the World. As a technician, he has worked with companies such as Texas Performing Arts, The Long Center and other outdoor venues. His skills as a technician include anywhere from Lighting Programmer to Assistant Supervising Electrician. Visit for more!

Paige Freeman (Graphic Designer) 

Paige is a graduate of the CHAS Acting Conservatory program, working actor, and creative director with experience designing for Broadway and Off-Broadway theater productions, NY based stand-up comedians, and Grammy Award-winning record labels. Her work has appeared in: The New York Times, BBC Music Magazine, The Tonight Show, Late Show, and The Late Late Show. Paige played Brianne/Chaya in The Alchemy Theatre’s production of Mary Jane and designed the posters for Alchemy’s The Waverly Gallery, A Christmas Memory, Mack & Mabel, The Virgin Trial, Frost Bites: A Holiday Cabaret, The Baker’s Wife, Pipeline, and for Reverie Theatre’s  production of Outside Mullingar | @paigefreemanhoover

Stephanie Slayton (Costume Designer) 

Stephanie designed the costumes for the Alchemy’s productions of A Christmas Memory, Mack & Mabel, The Virgin Trial, The Baker’s Wife, and Pipeline. She most recently worked on wardrobe for the feature, In Space with Markiplier. She is a student at the Carol Hickey Acting Studio, a writer, and an actor.

Corey Green / Lucky Giraffe (Set Designer)

Lucky Giraffe is a scene shop serving the film, commercial, event, and theatre industries. They are based out of Spiderwood Studios, just east of Austin, and serve the greater Texas area. LG prioritizes emotional intelligence in all relationships, believing those interactions serve clients and employees alike, helping produce the best product using highly skilled labor.

Guinevere “Gwenny” Govea (Marketing Team) 

Gwenny is a media professional, actor, and award-winning maker-of-musicals. She holds a B.A. in Theatre and Dance and a Bachelor’s in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin. She is always grateful to be a part of the Alchemy team. For more about Gwenny, visit and follow her instagram @gwennygov.