Off the Rails Theatre Board Members

Our board is comprised of directors, designers, technicians, educators, and actors with decades of combined experience.

Rob Bessolo

Rob is happy to have spent the last 28 years making a living working as a professional in the theatre and entertainment industry.  After moving here from Dallas temporarily in 1994, and never leaving, he has worked in and around the Roanoke area for just about every arts producing and presenting organization. Some of these include Jefferson Center, Mill Mountain Theatre, Opera Roanoke, Opera on the James, Roanoke Ballet Theatre, Roanoke Children’s Theatre and FloydFest.  Currently he teaches technical theatre and design for the theatre program at Roanoke College. Rob has been a part of Off the Rails Theatre from the beginning having had a part in every performance. Among other things has designed several of the sets, as well as designing lights on every show.

Miriam Frazier

Miriam Frazier has a degree in theatre from Drew University.  She co-founded OTRT and served as its Artistic Director and Board President for the first seven years.

Kathy Guy

Kathy’s passion for theater started in her early years, leading her to create a life centered around the creation and production of quality theater.  She started her career with a BA in Theatre Arts (class of ’73) from Hollins University. After graduating, Kathy dabbled in community theater while working with the local Stagehand’s Union (IATSE Local 55), eventually becoming treasurer—which made her a pioneer of sorts, being one of only three women employed by the Union at that time. In her usual, full steam ahead fashion, Kathy started her own community theatre group in 1985 (The Acting Company of the Roanoke Valley), making regular appearances in schools and churches throughout the valley for years to come.

In 2003, Kathy founded GAMUT-Gypises And Misfits Unknown Theatre-a tiny but tenacious professional theater group that developed a reputation for producing edgy, off-beat shows of extremely high quality. After grappling with some unexpected legal fuss and muss, the group grudgingly agreed to change the name, creating the current incarnation: Off The Rails Theatre.

As Producing Director of Off The Rails, Kathy continues to knock Roanoke’s local theatre out of the park, bringing a lifetime of experience and vision to each production.

MaryJean Redon Levin

MaryJean Redon Levin most recently appeared with Off the Rails in God of Hell, The Children’s Hour and Love Letters. She has also performed frequently with Mill Mountain Theatre (To Kill a Mockingbird, Grease, Oliver!, The Music Man), Showtimers (12 Angry Men, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Sylvia, I Hate Hamlet, The Shadow Box), Roanoke Children’s Theatre (The Giver, Tuck Everlasting), numerous regional theaters, and local television and radio commercials. She is an interior designer with Halifax Fine Furnishings.

Michael Mansfield

Michael has a BS from JMU and an MA from VT. He has acted for theatre, film, and television. Michael also provides technical support (including lighting, sound, and video design) for many local arts organizations. A list of the local arts groups Michael has worked with includes Off the Rails, Mill Mountain Theatre, Showtimers, Opera Roanoke, Gamut, Roanoke Ballet Theatre, Roanoke Children’s Theatre, Little Town Players, Off The Rails, Hollins University, and Virginia Western Community College. Michael has judged theatre competitions for the VHSL for more than 15 years and is also a judge for the ESL Shakespeare Competition. He is supported in all his endeavors by his wife, Amanda, and his daughters, Evelyn, Gwyneth and Emma. Michael is thrilled to be a part of the Off The Rails board- bringing challenging, important theatre to the Roanoke Valley.

Owen Merritt

Owen Merritt recently made his directorial debut with Twelfth Night at Showtimers. Some of Owen’s recent roles include Welsh in The God of Hell, Katurian in Pillowman, and Chance in An Initial Condition. Owen would like to thank his wife, Andrea, for her love and support.

Rachel Sailer

Rachel Sailer moved to Roanoke in 1983 and worked as a publicity assistant and actor at Mill Mountain Theatre.  In 1986 she took a job as the drama teacher and director at Salem High School.  She just retired after 30 wonderful years teaching all levels of drama and directing over 100 productions.  For the past few years she has been acting at Off the Rails Theatre.  Her favorite roles with this company are Dorothea in Eleemosynary, Mrs. Tilford in The Children’s Hour, and Cassandra in Vanya, Sonya, Masha and Spike. Her first production as a director for Off the Rails was for ‘night, Mother.  Rachel was married for 41 years to the late scenery and lighting designer, John Sailer.  She has two children:  Amy, a poet and adjunct professor, and Jacob, a scenery and lighting designer and builder.

Melissa Webster

Melissa Webster has been doing technical production for Off the Rails since they were GAMUT! She knows it is an honor and privilege to be part of a group of technical theatre staff members and board of directors that are at the top of the local theatre game. Melissa started her professional theatre career with an internship at Mill Mountain Theatre in the the 1990’s. She has done costuming and wardrobe for operas, ballets, musicals, plays, and bands since graduating with a BFA in Technical Theatre from Longwood. She, along with her husband Barry, also sit on the board of the Roanoke Skatepark Initiative and volunteer for lots of nonprofits and festivals in the Roanoke Valley.

Thank you for supporting live local theatre!