JOHN ALTIERI’S (Valad/Ensemble) regional theater credits include The Threepenny Opera (Long Beach Opera); The Love of Three Oranges (La Jolla Playhouse); The Two Gentlemen of Verona and A Flea in Her Ear (San José Rep); and 1776 (Santa Barbara CLO). Los Angles productions include Jesus’ Kid Brother and Sweet Deliverance (Hudson Theater); Hello Again and Boy (Blank Theater); The School for Scandal (A Noise Within); Henry IV (Odyssey Theatre Ensemble); and, Paris Barclay’s Letters From ‘Nam (Disney’s ASCAP). John has also worked with Circle X, Sacred Fools, Zoo District, the Met Theatre, Long Beach Playhouse and Buzzworks. Originally from Boston, John holds theater degrees from Duke University and UCLA.

JONAH BLECHMAN (Husam/Teenage Rumi) has been working in the entertainment industry for over 22 years. He has co-starred in such films as This Boy's Life opposite Leo DiCaprio (with Robert Deniro), Fall Time opposite David Arquette and Mickey Rourke, and 1999’s Sundance Special Jury Prize Winner Treasure Island. In 2003 Jonah performed Hedwig in the acclaimed equity production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Jonah has produced and directed film, as well as choreographed film, television commercials and industrials. 

He is currently in post-production as Executive Producer and star in the anticipated feature Another Gay Movie, hich will be released theatrically in 2006 by TLA Releasing. Jonah produced Sessions for Comedy Central starring Jeremy Sisto and Josh Lucas; and is also a co-producer on the documentary feature The Kids Of Whitney High.

As an entrepreneur, Jonah created the fashion label U-WARE as seen on CNN and New York Magazine. U-WARE went international within the first year and can be found in specialty boutiques like L.A.’s Fred Segal. Amongst his eclectic dance background, Jonah was trained by Baryshnikov at the renowned American Ballet Theatre and performed in his hometown with the San Francisco Ballet.

RON BUTLER (Wandering Man) most recently appeared the HBO produced film Everyday People, on the television shows Boston Legal and Invasion, and on stage in the La Jolla Playhouse’s workshop production of Zhivago. Other theatre credits include: NYC – Merrily We Roll Along, Suburb, Clean, Once In A Lifetime, The Virgin Molly, and All Things Considered. Regional – Death of A Salesman (Missouri Rep), Big River (Alabama Shakes), Ring Round the Moon (Arena Stage), and Zero Positive (Woolly Mammoth). Other film & television credits include: Spartan, Homicide, Summerland, Guiding Light, and Loving.

Joshua Wolf Coleman (Alladin) has worked with some of the most prestigious theatres in the country, including the Actors Theatre of Louisville (The Piano Lesson), La Jolla Playhouse (Randy Newman’s Faust and A Midsummer Night’s Dream), The Mark Taper Forum (Home Life of Polar Bears), and South Coast Repertory (Randy Newman’s Education). Select TV and Film credits include Hildalgo, House, ER, and The West Wing.

LAILA DAGHER (Mahsa) is thrilled to be playing Mahsa in Accepting Rumi. She is a junior at Occidental College and majoring in, you guessed it, theater. An all around performer at heart, Laila has been caught doing everything from TV and film (including the lead role highly-acclaimed Tahara Project), to theater, to flying trapeze at the local circus school. Favorite roles include Cunegonde in Candide, Mary Warren in The Crucible, Anne Egerman in A Little Night Music, and Lili in Carnival. She'd like to give a big thanks to her family, friends, and everyone involved in the production.

JAMEN NANTHAKUMAR (Young Rumi) is pleased to return to Los Angeles stage in Accepting Rumi. Jamen made his professional musical theatre debut in 2004 as Young Nitya in the L.A. World Premier of Blue Dove. Subsequent regional credits include Chip in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (Moonlight Amphitheatre), Newsboy in Gypsy (Welk Resort Theatre) and his portrayal of Winthrop in The Music Man (Carlsbad Cultural Arts Center) brought in rave reviews. He has numerous stage, film and commercial credits as well as a guest appearance on “The Wayne Brady Show.” Jamen is a 6th grader at Aviara Oaks Middle School in Carlsbad and studies under the tutelage of Broadway alumnus Gina Feliccia DeLuca.

MELISSA VAN DER SCHYFF (Ghevere/Mary) is thrilled to be working on Accepting Rumi with such a talented team. Melissa most recently starred as Mary Jane in Deaf West Theatre's Tony Nominated revival of Big River, which took her from Deaf West Theatre and The Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles to Broadway's American Airlines Theatre and the 2004-2005 National Tour of the U.S. and Tokyo, Japan. Melissa earned a special Tony Honor along with her Big River castmates. Melissa has appeared onstage in L.A. in numerous other plays including the world premiere of Tyler Hanson's Ballad at Theatre Geo and The Lex for which she received a Dramalogue Award and an Ovation Nomination. Television and Film appearances include Chicago Hope, Love & Marriage and the comedy improv pilot The Whitey Show produced by Seinfeld's Jason Alexander. Melissa's most recent film appearances include the leading role of Mary in the Showtime original movie The Great Commission, Salome in Vincent Gallo's Hollywood Salome and Carol in the 2005 Ashton Kutcher comedy A Lot Like Love. Melissa was voted the (Women in Music) "2003 Artist of the Year" by listeners across the globe for her debut original pop CD entitled UrbanPeasant which is available at

ALI SPUCK (Ida) recently ended a run of Tight Quarters as the critically acclaimed Inez at the Whitefire Theatre in Studio City. New York and Los Angeles credits include Jesus' Kid Brother at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood and at the New 42nd Street Studios in NYC, Bite! at the Egyptian Arena Theatre in Hollywood, Snoopy!! at Garry Marshall's Falcon Theatre in Burbank, and I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change at Downstairs Cabaret Theatre in NY. TV/Film: E! TV's Infamous (Lorena Bobbitt), Campus Ladies (Oxygen Network), It's a Miracle (PAXnet), Apprehension (SoCal Film Group), The Leftovers (AMC HorrorFest). National/ International Broadway Tours: Jekyll & Hyde (Nellie), Grease (Rizzo), Buddy: the Buddy Holly Story (Maria Elena Holly). Regional Theatre: Schoolhouse Rock Live (Dori), Cinderella (Joy), Last of the Red Hot Lovers (Bobbi Michele), All's Well that Ends Well (Diana). She's also the voice of a prominent cable channel, and an accomplished voice over artist. More information is available at Thanks to Stage 9 for the hard work, and to Michael Donovan for being her Number One Fan and for all his advice and support.

Hollis Turk (Rumi) makes his west coast theatre debut with Accepting Rumi, but he is no stranger to the theatre. For two years he served as an International Officer of the International Thespian Society, whereby he traveled across America promoting theatre in America's High Schools. Since a young boy, Hollis has appeared in over 42 stage productions, most recently singing the lead in the Lafayette Opera’s critically acclaimed Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers. He has also been seen at the Pantages Theatre when he watched Wicked, and at The Kodak Theatre, when he saw The Ten Commandments. Hollis wishes to thank all producers and directors of his future feature films and television shows. “Thank you for this challenging opportunity to portray such a complex and inspiring life on stage.”

Michael Uribes (Elder, Ensemble) is originally from the Bay Area. He began acting there around twelve years ago. He has most recently been seen in the latest production of the new musical Tight Quarters in an ensemble role. He has spent the last three years as a member of The Company Rep, which perfomed in this very space. Roles there include Picasso AND Schmendiman in Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Kilroy in Camino Real, Matt in The Fantastiks, and Guildenstern in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Roles in the Bay Area include Ken in Rumors, Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, and Bardolph in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

KRYSTAL L. WASHINGTON (Rumi’s Mother) gives honor to God for all of her abilities, and is extremely excited to be a part of Accepting Rumi, her first west coast gig! Recent credits include Mimi Marquez in the Broadway production of RENT, Mimi Marquez in the National Tour of RENT, and Jude in the musical Womyn In Three for the NYC Fringe Festival 2004. Many thanks and all my love to my parents James and Sarah, Candice, Rondell, and countless friends and family members for the never-ending love and support.

ROBERT L. WILLIAMS (Ibn/Ensemble) is best known to Los Angeles audiences as Toby Belch in his adaptation, An Appalachian Twelfth Night at the Globe Playhouse, which received a 2003 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Nomination, as well as rave reviews and Critic’s Pick from The Los Angeles Times, Daily Variety, Curtain Up, Backstage West, Frontiers, and Entertainment Today, and played to sold out audiences. Robert also produced and appeared in the Los Angeles premiere of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [Abridged], which held the distinction of the longest-running comedy in Los Angeles.

A native of Gulfport, Mississippi, Robert received his MFA from The Alabama Shakespeare Festival / University of Alabama Master of Fine Arts Program. As a company member, he appeared in several productions including King Lear, Peter Pan, As You Like It, Henry IV Part 1 and Part 2, Richard II, Ah Wilderness, Our Town, Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Balm in Gilead, Big River, and Lend Me a Tenor. He has performed in over half of Shakespeare’s canon and has worked throughout the US in over 40 productions. His film appearances include Boys on the Side and Forrest Gump. He has also appeared on The Donnie and Marie Show and Howie Mandel. He is currently co-writing the film adaptation of An Appalachian Twelfth Night for Touchstone Pictures.

JACOB WITKIN (Shams) was born in South Africa and emigrated to London, England where he studied music and singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and The London Opera Center. He started his theatrical career with the renowned Sadler’s Wells Opera Company and Benjamin Britten’s English Opera Group. Since then he has amassed extensive credits in theatre, film, television, radio and voice-over in England and the USA, including many productions in London's West End, on British television and with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-on-Avon and London, working with such consummate performers and directors as Ian McKellan, Judy Dench, Trevor Nunn and John Barton. He came to the United States in 1987 and has been a California resident since 1992.

Most recent theatre credits are Marco the Prince at the Odyssey Theatre, Zorba in the Joslyn Center Theatre production of the musical in Palm Desert, and Valldemosa at The Royal Court Theatre.

ANDREW ROSS WYNN (Rumi’s Father/Sultan) hails from our nation's capital, where he worked extensively as a professional stage actor. He has acted at many of D.C.'s most prestigious theaters, including The Kennedy Centre, Arena Stage, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. In 2001, Mr. Wynn received a Helen Hayes award nomination for his performance as the Major General in The Pirates of Penzance.

Since his move to Los Angeles, he has been in the trashy rock musical Sneaux at the Matrix, the Minnesota musical parody Don't Hug Me at the Whitefire Theater, as well as commercials and several short films. Mr. Wynn has also written and performed at the Improv Olympic West.

He would like to thank his wife, Cynthia, for her raucous laugh and radiant smile.