Journey Through
Egypt

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When Women Ruled the World:
Journey Through Egypt

Travel through time to meet the seven female rulers of Ancient Egypt! The quirky and eccentric Oracle leads us in an evening of fun!

  • Discover why Cleopatra is famous for all the wrong reasons
  • Get inspired by Nefertari
  • Find out why Hatshepsut was the most prolific builder – and why she was nearly lost in history
  • This hilarious romp through Egypt features beautifully designed costumes straight from Cairo, exciting choreography, and a powerful message for the whole family.

Two Shows! Friday and Saturday, November 11 and 12

VIP Experience – 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:45 pm) – $35 per ticket

  • Only 26 seats available per show
  • Includes pre-show entertainment, intimate conversation with the director, writer and set/props designer, premium seating, swag bag and more!

General Admission – Doors open at 7:45 pm

VIP Show Starts

Friday, November 11 – 7:00 PM
Saturday, November 12 – 7:00 PM

Regular Show Starts

Friday, November 11 – 8:00 PM
Saturday, November 12 – 8:00 PM

Center Stage Theatre
1665 Quincy Ave, Ste 131
Naperville, IL 60540

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Meet the Cast

Amber Gore

Amber’s passion for dancing started when she was girl and was later pursued when she started competitively dancing in high school. Now, a wife and mother of three, Amber has danced with Raksanna Productions  since 2016. She joined Raksanna’s Desert Flames, the professional team in 2021, and this is where her passions come alive through her art.

Charlene Meier

Charlene took her first dance class (yes, a belly dance class) before most of you were born. Work on the road and life in general got in the way… until she was able to resume classes in 2012. She was a member of mid-Michigan’s Habibi Dancers from 2015 until she retired to New Mexico – which was where she met Raksanna and began studying with her via workshops and online classes when the pandemic hit. This year, Charlene joined Raksanna in her annual trip to Egypt, where Charlene immersed herself in the culture, music and food – and now, here she is! She is thankful for all the people and experiences that have led to her being a small part of this awe-inspiring production

Chelsey Medrano Cepeda

Chelsey discovered her love for dance at the age of five (5). In her early years, she participated in ballet and hip hop classes and recitals. It was during Peter Pan: The Musical and her performance as a reina in a cultural festival that Chelsey discovered she loves being in the spotlight. When she was just eight (8) years old, her secret talent was belly rolls – and that’s when she knew she was destined to be a belly dancer. Chelsey always felt connected to the beauty and art of belly dance. Her style is a mixture of earthy and exotic. Chelsey joined Raskanna’s Near East Dance Ensemble in October 2021.

Darrell Dortch

Darrell Dortch is a singer and dancer making his theatrical debut in today’s performance. Typically, he’s behind the scenes setting up props and audio/video equipment. When Darrell is not performing on stage or setting up backstage, he works as a full-time IT Cloud Consultant for a company headquartered in Tallahassee, FL. He has been in the IT industry for over 30 years.
Additionally, Darrell is a part-time DJ, soccer coach, basketball coach and plays tennis in his spare time. He is married to Wanda Gibbs, who is also in the show, and they live in Yorkville, IL with their daughter Aaliyah.

Davina Holmes

Davina Holmes has been belly dancing with Raksanna since March 2020. The allure, costumes and movement of belly dance inspired her to join Raksanna’s Near East Dance Ensemble. Davina loves all aspects of belly dance – from the history, body articulation and props that are used to enhance a beautiful dance. The intricacies of this dance form continue to motivate her. She enjoys family adventures with her husband, Patrick Holmes who plays the drummer in this show, and their two boys. Davina’s competitive spirit keeps her busy with her monthly movie trivia team and seasonal Scrabble tournaments. She holds a B.A in Elementary Education, an M.A in Reading (Specialist) and an M.A in Instructional Leadership.

Malika

Malika joined Raksanna’s dance group with the intent to have some fun and pursue her interests in dance. She has a background in Indian classical and Bollywood dancing, and enjoys learning different styles of dancing in her free time. Music, culture, and dance inspire her. Malika spent her childhood in the Middle East and dancing to the Egyptian drums brings back happy memories.

She has her Masters degree in Biochemistry and enjoys a successful and busy career in the Pharmaceutical industry. She moved to the United States in 2005 and lives a quiet life in the suburbs with her family. Malika hopes to inspire her daughter to follow her passions and interests and prioritize her happiness, so she can spread the joy to those around her.

Janelle Magana

Janelle has been a member of Raksanna’s Near East Dance Ensemble since October 2020. What she enjoys most about dancing is that it gives her an opportunity to express herself artistically and emotionally in a fun, feminine, and sensual way. As a dancer, she’s inspired by the quote: “practice makes improvement.”

When she’s not dancing, Janelle enjoys working out and spending time with her family. She loves traveling and likes to spend as much time outdoors as possible.

Janelle has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Public Relations, speaks English, Spanish and French, and has studied in Canda and Mexico.

Karri Ann Reynolds

Karri began acting at the age of nine and has a BFA in Theatre Performance. She took a belly dance class to meet new people and was instantly hooked. She began dancing with Raksanna in 2012 and has been involved in the productions of Confessions of a Belly Dancer, The Fourth Pyramid, The Life and Legacy of Om Kalthoum, and Scandalous. She is thrilled to be part of When Women Ruled the World, Journey Through Egypt and plans to be part of many more productions in the future.

Kim Cassidy / Zerlina

This year marks 50 years since Kim took her first tentative steps onto the dance class floor. She has since studied many dance forms including ballet, tap, jazz, modern/lyrical, and most recently – the mother dance form of ALL dance forms – Raks Sharki, or Oriental dance. She studied theater in college, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Dance and Drama from the University of Texas, as well as a bachelor of science in Nursing from Northern Illinois University. Since 2021, Kim has served as assistant director of Raksanna Production’s student dance troupe, Near East Dance Ensemble. In addition, she was part of the touring company of Confessions of A Belly Dancer. Favorite past productions include Star Spangled Girl, Perfectly Frank, Tales of Thurber, The Dining Room, and Is There Life After High School? Kim thanks her family and friends for supporting and encouraging her, and dedicates tonight’s performance to Kelly King, her college roommate and fellow thespian for her long-suffering patience.

Assistant Director’s Note:
Dame Judy Dench once said, “I think you should take your job seriously but not yourself – that is the best combination.” And, to that end, one of the most important things theatre and dance (belly dance in particular) is to take the subject matter and the production – but not myself too seriously. I’ve tried to bring that sense to the character of the Oracle. Belly dance has truly changed my life. As a result, I enjoy helping people explore the possibilities of dance beyond exercise in the classroom. The great Martha Graham once said, “Great dancers are not great because of their technique. They are great because of their passion” and each member of our dance team is passionate. It is my joy and privilege to help them be as great as they can be.

Patrick Holmes

Patrick Holmes is a trained percussionist and highly skilled with various percussion instruments. He created a Drum Line program for children in grades 4-5; his drum line has performed at various community events in Villa Park and the annual Lilac Parade. Patrick enjoys hiking and camping with his family. Patrick’s spirited nature keeps him active with his monthly movie trivia team and seasonal Scrabble tournaments. He is married to Davina Holmes, who is also in this show. Patrick holds a B.A in Elementary Education and an M.A. Reading (Specialist).

Rachael Ventsias

Rachael has always had a passion for performing. She joined the school choir in 4th grade and continued until high school where her senior choir won two awards from a national competition in 2008. She also enjoys working in and around theater, whether it be as a stagehand, background actor for a play or musical or in a living acting environment, like her work as a haunted house actor at Statesville Haunted Prison and for Zombie Army Productions.

Rachael has danced with Raksanna for eight (8) years now. It all started with some curiosity about her sister-in-law’s dance team and a google search. She found Raksanna, following her curiosity to learn a style of dance she always admired. She fell in love from the first class – the dance, the music and the meanings of the movements. Rachael has worked hard in the dance for the past eight years and is proud to be a part of the Near East Dance Ensemble.

In her non-dance time, Rachael is an animal lover. She currently works two jobs as a Dog Trainer and as a Veterinary Assistant in Naperville, IL.

Raksanna

In addition to producing and directing When Women Ruled the World: Journey through Egypt, Raksanna is honored to portray Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Raksanna has danced and acted in numerous roles and productions over the years, including Om Kalthoum in The Fourth Pyramid: The Life and Legacy of Om Kalthoum, and loves sharing her passion for Egypt, the dance, the culture and the history with audiences across the globe. Learn more about Raksanna here.

Wanda Gibbs

Wanda Gibbs has been a belly dance performer since March 2015, when she lived in the East Bay of California. She always loved to dance. After starting belly dance classes in 2014, Wanda joined a troupe to share the stage with. During 2014-2019, she trained with several instructors in various styles of belly dance and performed with different troupes at local festivals and haflas, such as Rakkasah West and Carnival of Stars in the Bay Area. In September 2020, Wanda moved to the Aurora, IL area and continued dancing with Raksanna and joined the Near East Dance Ensemble (NEDE). As part of NEDE, Wanda has performed in a fall hafla 2021 and in the professional show at Got Hips in March 2022. She belly dances because of the sisterhood, the exercise, learning a new culture and it’s fun to shimmy across the floor.
Wanda has a Bachelors degree from San Francisco State University in International Business and has worked for FedEx as a Customs Broker for over 30 years. She lives with her husband, Darrell Dortch, who is also in the show, and stepdaughter Aaliyah in Yorkville, IL.

Yuxin (Lucy) Liu

As an IT professional for almost 30 years, Lucy started belly dancing in her later 50s. She’s fallen in love with this beautiful activity ever since the first class she took. This show is her second performance, and Lucy enjoys learning the body isolation/ separation’s movement, even though it’s challenging. Lucy loves to dance with her team and will be onstage for When Women Ruled the World, Journey through Egypt. She hopes she will get stronger with each performance.

Jodie Dutton

The dancing bug bit Jodie Dutton at the age of 12 when she accompanied her mother to dance class. She became hooked and has belly danced ever since. She has professionally performed as a belly dance and was a member of the original cast of Confessions of a Belly Dancer. During the day, Jodie works at First American Title Company where she helps people get their dream house. She hails from Plano, has five children and a niece, and soon to be five grandsons and three great-nephews. She is thrilled to be reprising her role as stage kitty for an entirely new and different production. Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain.

Bailey MacRae

Bailey MacRae, playwright for When Women Ruled the World: Journey Through Egypt, is a Chicagoland based actor and writer. He specializes in screenplays, stage plays, and of course playbill bios. Having been introduced to the production through a good friend participating in the belly dancing class, Bailey was delighted by the challenge presented in When Women Ruled the World: Journey Through Egypt, which incorporates so many powerful messages to while setting the stage for the stunning dance performances, and hopefully get a few chuckles along the way. Bailey considers himself lucky to work with such a talented cast, such progressive and supportive production, and he looks forward to more collaborations in the future.