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Paper Swords

Paper Swords Poster.png

Book by Kelsey Nighthawk

Music and lyrics by Matt Day


PAPER SWORDS is a romantic comedy musical, focusing on two groups of live action role-players (LARPers) as they navigate adolescence. When the king announces his retirement, the teenagers and the kingdom of Eloren are thrown into shambles. To determine the next ruler of the land, the knights of competing teams Ferndrey and Silvermore must battle one another for the throne. Full of young love, heartbreak, awkwardly-long high fives, nostalgia and wonderfully catchy tunes, PAPER SWORDS will have you in tears (from laughing and/or crying) as you exit the theatre.


5451 N Broadway Ave

February 5 at 8 pm

February 7 at 10 pm

February 15 at 3 pm 

February 16 at 6 pm

February 21 at 7 pm 

Creative Team

Matt Day (Music & Lyrics) is incredibly excited to premiere Paper Swords at the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival!  Matt grew up loving everything about music while playing the piano, guitar, and saxophone. After graduating from Indiana University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics Education, he began work on composing his first musical, which eventually turned into Paper Swords.  Matt works as a high school math teacher in Indianapolis while also working as a professional guitarist, playing in pit orchestras around the city.  Matt’s other work includes: Make Me A Match (2019 IndyFringe Festival - Audience Choice Award Winner), No Limits (Song - NASA/Purdue University).


Kelsey Nighthawk (Book) graduated with a Bachelor’s in English from Indiana University. She works as a content marketing specialist at Seven Corners, a travel insurance company. After seeing Rent, she became obsessed with musicals. When Matt asked her to help bring Paper Swords to life, she jumped at the opportunity. She lives in Indianapolis with her three cats, one dog, and one husband. 

Logan Boyd Jones (Director) is a Chicago-based director, stage manager, and producer. Recent credits include Packing (About Face Theater), Southern Gothic, The Recommendation, Bootycandy, and Apartment 3A (Windy City Playhouse), Something in the Game (American Music Theatre Project), and The Nutcracker (2015-2017) and The Last Defender (The House Theatre of Chicago). Logan also serves as the Project Manager for Ensemble Consulting. He is formerly the Production Manager and Marketing Manager at American Theater Company. He holds a BA in Theatre and French from Kansas State University and is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association.


Samantha Westlake (Music Director) is honored to be a part of the Paper Swords team! Samantha is currently in her second year at DePaul University in the MFA Comedy Screenwriting program. Recent musical directing credits include Super Jazzed (The Second City) and Liberators: An American Musical (CMTF) as well as accompanying theatre, improv, and dance throughout Chicago. Samantha is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit, MI where she received a BMus in Music Composition and served as assistant musical director for Legally Blonde The Musical, Next to Normal, and Oklahoma! A native of Windsor, Canada, Samantha is grateful for all her friends and collaborators in the Chicago theatre community.  


Danny Ferenczi (Avery) is ecstatic to be making his CMTF debut alongside the incredible cast of Paper Swords. Regional credits include: Peter and the Starcatcher (Big Noise Theatre), Incomplete Conversations (Silent Theatre Company), Now or Later (Intrinsic Theatre Company), Hands on a Hardbody (Refuge Theatre Project), To the End of Reckoning (Shakespeare All Stars), It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (Oil Lamp Theater), The Fires of Nero: Rise of a Dictator (Phoenix Rising Productions) The Glitter Girls (James Downing Theatre), My Fair Lady, Oklahoma!, Sondheim on Silver (SW Michigan Symphony Orchestra), and Parade (Manhattan Concert Productions). Much love and many thanks to Underscore and the many artists that brought this incredible show to life!


Elise Delap (Elena) is a recent MFA in Acting Graduate of Northern Illinois University.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Theatre with a Concentration in Musical Theatre from The University of Indianapolis. Previous acting credits include: Louise in Gypsy (Footlite Musicals), Cordelia in King Lear (University of Indianapolis), Maeve Sullivan in Blue Stockings (NIU), Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie (NIU), Nell in Intentions (NIU), Ophelia in Hamlet (NIU), and Emily in Our Town (NIU). She is also an instructor with the Children's Theatre Company of Chicago, and enjoys seeing authenticity, collaboration and storytelling skills flourish amongst her students. 

Katie Cutler (Liz) is an actor, writer, improviser, and a Chicagoland native with a degree in the performing arts and writing from Cornell College. Katie is a graduate of the iO training center and Second City Conservatory, and an alum of Second City’s Musical House Ensemble responsible for writing and performing Game The System: A Competitive Musical. Katie is an ensemble member with the musical improv groups Storytown and Helpful Nudes, and has several credits at the Annoyance Theatre in shows including Bite Sized Broadway, Shark Tank: The Musical, and Y2GAY.


David Marden (Will) received a BFA in acting from Ball State University in 2014 and has spent a majority of his time in Chicago working in various audience services related positions with The Second City, A Red Orchid Theatre, Windy City Playhouse, and Underscore Theatre Company. Selected credits include The Pillowman (Michal), Major Barbara (Charles Lomax), and Romeo and Juliet (Prince Escalus). David is excited to work with everyone involved with Paper Swords, especially its book writer, Kelsey Nighthawk, who he’s known for over 18 years.


Natalie Rae (Bren) is thrilled to be back at the CMTF for Paper Swords. She was last seen in It’s a Wonderful Life! with Oil Lamp Theatre. Favorite Chicago credits include: The Ballad of Lefty and Crabbe (Evelyn) at Underscore, Oh Hi Johnny- The Roomsical (Michelle) in the CMTF, Wife Material (Angie) with Underscore Theatre, The Last Five Years (Cathy), The Hunchback of Norte Dame (Florika), The Butler Did It (Charity Haze) with Jedlicka Performing Arts Center, The Odd Couple (female version- U/S Florence) with Oil Lamp Theatre, and Standby the Musical (Samantha) with Towle Theatre. She also has a BA in Musical Theatre from University of Wisconsin Green Bay. She wants to thank her family and friends for their unwavering love and support


Cody Robison (The King) received his MFA from the Hilberry program at Wayne State University where he also had the opportunity to study abroad at the Moscow Art Theatre. His most recent Chicago Credits include Mad Beat Hip and Gone (Promethean) and Whose Body? (Lifeline). He is excited to be working with the Paper Swords team. Here's to what we do.


Nola Tellone (Nora) is so excited to be cast in the musical Paper Swords! 

Nola has been singing acting since she was 5 and loves to be on stage! Nola has been a member of the Lookingglass Youth Ensemble for 4 years and recently participated in the Goodman Theater audition based summer intensive Play Build. When Nola is not singing and acting you will find her playing her ukulele, hanging with friends and spending time with her family. Nola is so grateful for this opportunity to work with other actors to put on this great show!   


Allie Wessel (Sam) is a Chicago-based actor/singer/comedian with her BFA from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. You may have seen her in “Bye Bye Liver: The Chicago Drinking Play”, a popular comedy show and interactive drinking game, or in last years’ Chicago Musical Theatre Festival performing in “Unison.” Other Chicago credits include: The Holiday Radio Show 1943 (Doris), Goldstar (Reese), Frances Makes History (Bria), Grump Live (Brenda) and Incomplete Conversations (Madeleine). She is also the co-creator of the webseries “I Hate You, Too” which you can catch on YouTube and follow on Instagram at @ihateyoutooseries. She is represented by 10 Mgmt. 


Will Rupert (Jeffrey/Waiter) is a recent Ball State alum and Chicago baby who is thrilled to make his debut in the city working on Paper Swords! Will is incredibly passionate about new works, so getting the chance to work on one in the city is a dream come true. When he's not on stage, you can also catch Will proofreading obituaries for the Chicago Tribune, a job that sounds fake but is hilariously real. Some past credits include Avenue Q (Princeton/Rod) at Crossroads Repertory Theatre, Bunkerville (Flowerpot) at Ball State University, and Pericles (Cleon/Boult) also at Ball State.

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