Billy Baloo
Patricia Neal Stage

Billy Baloo

Extended! October 6-7, 10-14,17-20 and 24-28 at 7 pm / Matinee October 15 at 3 pm
About the play section.

Billy Baloo


Director: MJ Bruder Munafo
Musical Director: Bill Peek
Book by Michael Mason, newly adapted by Willy Mason
Music & Lyrics: Jemima James, Michael Mason & Willy Mason
Lighting Design: Ernest W. Iannaccone
Scenic Design: Mac Young
Costume Design: Cynthia Bermudes
Projections: Sam Mason
Musicians: Eric Johnson and Geordie Gude

A musical tale of love, gold, and beavers! 

1879. In the town of Solderville, high up in the Colorado Rockies, there live three gold prospectors and a floater, Billy Baloo. When the heiress of the Perfection General Store arrives in town, a dream is born. The town is transformed and its population explodes; bringing tasty vittles, love, strife, and danger. Fortunately Billy’s boat is sturdy and the beavers are on his side.

Michael Mason began writing Billy Baloo in 1973, inspired by the songs of Jemima James. He worked on it intermittently until he died in February of 2023. He had begun talks around its first staged production with MJ Bruder Munafo, artistic director of Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse. Willy Mason, son of Michael and Jemima, newly adapted the script for this small theater production and presents it here with MJ, Jemima, and his brother Sam, in loving memory.

Willy Mason
Willy Mason was born in 1984 in Tarrytown NY. His father, Michael Mason, was recording the first song demos for Billy Baloo on the Otari tape recorder in the next room. His mother, Jemima James, was writing songs that would later be incorporated into the play. A few years later his brother Sam was born and together they began studying to take over the family musical. Willy graduated from MVRHS. He has written and recorded 4 full length albums of music which were released internationally. When he is not touring and recording music he works for Oleander building and salvage.
Lexie Roth
Lexie Roth (known for Chappaquiddick) is an actress, singer-songwriter and chef raised in Northern Westchester, New York and has called Martha’s Vineyard her home since age 16. She is the daughter of Arlen Roth (born October 30, 1952 in New York, USA), an American guitarist, recording artist, performer, tutor and author. Her song "Call You My Hon" was featured in the award winning feature film "Maria My Love" produced and directed by Jasmine McGlade Chazelle starring Karen Black. Roth has released three albums of original material and is featured on albums along side Keith Richards, Jose Feliciano, Steve Miller, Slash, Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Eddie Brigati Jr. (The Young Rascals), Levon Helm and John Sebastian (The Lovin’ Spoonful). Roth lost both her mother, Deborah, and older sister, Gillian MacKenzie Roth (b. 1983) in an auto accident in 1998. Gillian was a gifted actress and guitarist who had just signed to have her own Nickelodeon Show, "The Gunks", an all-girl band loosely based on "The Monkees". She recorded the theme for the show just 2 days before the accident.
Phil Lee
Dubbed by the Nashville Scene as ‘the world’s most cautious thrill seeker’ Phil Lee is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and performance artist who has spent the past 60 years traversing the globe, alternately entertaining and irritating the public in equal measure. He has 6 highly acclaimed (and two not so much) albums under his belt and has worked with and for, such musical notables as producers Jack Nitzsche, Richard Bennett and David West and artists Crazy Horse, Billy Joe Royal and the Flying Burrito Brothers. As for Billy Baloo… His entanglements with the Mason family began in 1972 in NYC when Michael Mason invited him to be the drummer for their fantastic folk duo, Michael and Jemima. While it has not been all petunias, Phil says he wouldn’t trade a second of it for all the gold in Solderville. That it’s led to this, in the words of Mil the miner, is something wonderful. One of the aforementioned albums Some Gotta Lose, in fact, was produced by Willy Mason.
Paul Munafo
Paul has been a familiar face at Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse for over 30 years. You may have seen him on stage, singing or acting. You can also find him in the scenic shop, where he works as the Master Carpenter, building scenery for all our productions. He also manages the care of our beautiful restored historic theater building.
Jonathan Lipnick
Theatre: The Buffer, Crown Cork Cafeteria, Till Then, The Working Theater, founding member; The Room Where I Was Held, MV Playhouse; The Writer, Actor’s Studio; Film/TV; Fleishman Is in Trouble, The Naming of the Things, Trophy Boys, Ryan's Hope, Masada. He is currently developing a one person show on S.N. Behrman. Jonathan served as a consultant on This Must Be the Place and The Chosen. He is thrilled to be back at MV Playhouse. WGA and SAG AFTRA solidarity!
Jessie Pinnick
Jessie is an actress from Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from Northwestern University's Theatre Program, Jessie went on to lead her first feature film, PRINCESS CYD, and appeared in Chicago television staples such as, SHAMELESS, CHICAGO MED, and CHICAGO FIRE. Jessie now lives in New York City and can be seen in the upcoming Batman spinoff series, THE PENGUIN, premiering on HBO sometime in 2024. She is absolutely thrilled to be making her MVP debut in this one-of-a-kind musical with such a special cast and crew!!!!
Ty McDonald
Ty McDonald of Vineyard Haven enjoys stories and storytelling of many styles and forms. He creates and shares publicly some of them, most recently via his podcasts "Places to Be" and "The Jalapeno", and as original audio poems ("A Bridge in the Fog") recorded with various vocal and musical contributors. As a child, he was somewhat obsessed with films, including the critically-not-acclaimed "Three Amigos" to the point that his dear mother had to hide the VHS tape from him. Ty sells software to large businesses by day, and moonlights as a reggae/funk/disco/dance DJ. He looks forward enthusiastically to his theatrical debut as Kevin Kelly, a silver miner in "Billy Baloo”
Michael Mason (Writer)
Michael Mason was a writer and editor of non-fiction books including The Country Music Book, Psycho-Business Skills; and children's books including Clyde of Africa, The Book That Daniel Wrote, and Willie. He recorded an album with Mitch Miller for Columbia Records which has not been released, and he was a staff songwriter at Famous Music alongside his wife Jemima James. In the 60s he worked with John Hendrix and Yoko Ono on The Stone and other performance art and installations. Later he worked installing sound systems in prisons and other public spaces, and for the City Of New York testing computer monitors for electromagnetic radiation. His song Girl In A Tree was covered by many, including Burl Ives.
Jemima James (Writer)
Jemima grew up in Colorado and studied art at the Boston Museum School. In the early 70’s she and her partner, Michael Mason worked as staff songwriters for Famous Music, the music-publishing arm of Paramount. She has worked as a prep cook, farm hand, preschool teacher, and caretaker for the elderly. In the mid 80’s she and Michael moved to the island and raised their sons, Sam Mason, filmmaker, artist, drummer, and Willy Mason, singer, songwriter, writer. In 2016 Team Love Records released Jemima's double album and a new one is coming out in winter of 2024.
MJ Bruder Munafo (Director)
In addition to developing and directing plays, MJ serves as Artistic & Executive Director of MV Playhouse. She has been at the Playhouse in many capacities since she first appeared onstage in 1984. Her work as a stage director is extensive. Recent credits include MISS MAYBELLINE’S NOCTURNAL FLIGHTS OF FANCY, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, and the 12 x '20 PROJECT. She dedicates this season in loving memory of her ardent supporter and Playhouse angel, Marilyn Meyerhoff.
Mac Young (Set Design)
Mac Young is a formerly Boston based actor and scenic designer, now returned to MV. A graduate of Bennington College, he has acted, built, and designed for such Boston companies as: Imaginary Beasts, Whistler in the Dark, ArtsEmerson, Huntington Theatre Company, Actor's Shakespeare Company, Lyric Stage, Wheelock Family Theatre, and Fiddlehead Theatre. He has designed here at MV Playhouse (The Outcasts of Penikese Island (in which he also performed), Kansas City Swing, A Walk in the Woods), and performed at the Tisbury Amphitheater (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry IV, A Winter’s Tale, MacBeth). He also contributed the book design and layout for a two volume edition of the plays of Jon Lipsky. He has toured the globe improvising inebriated Shakespeare, and is happy to be back in VH, where the commute to the theater can't be beat. You can see more of his design work at
Cynthia Bermudes (Costume Design)
B.A. Fashion Merchandising; B.A. Fashion Design Oregon State University. She spent several summers working at Shakespeare festivals. For years she was proprietress of a design and alteration studio. Love of theater and design h brought her to Martha's Vineyard Playhouse, where she has designed many shows over the years.
Ernest W. Iannaccone (Lighting Design)
Ernie has designed lights and sets for numerous productions at Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse since 1993. Ernie has a Master of Fine Arts Degree from New York University in Lighting Design and a BA in Music Education from New Jersey City University. He is a Project Manager in the System Sales Department for High Output/Boston.
Sam Mason (Projections)
Sam is the son of Michael Mason and Jemima James and the brother of Willy Mason. He lives in NY, where he is an animator and a director.
Bill Peek (Music Director)
Bill Peek has been a year-round island resident for six years. He serves as Organist and Music Director for the West Tisbury Congregational Church as well as for summer services at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs. He is the director of the Island Community Chorus, has worked with the Island Theater Workshop and served as Music Director for the MV Playhouse production of Angela’s Mixtape in 2018. Before moving to the Vineyard, Bill enjoyed an active career as choral director, music educator, and performer in the New York area. He has a life-long interest in traditional music and has performed widely and recorded with several different bands playing piano, guitar, banjo, and bass.
Eric Johnson (Musician)
Eric Johnson has lived on the Vineyard since 1996. He has dual careers as a musician and psychotherapist. He is grateful to be collaborating with this talented group of performers to bring Mike Mason's long-awaited vision to the stage.
Geordie Gude (Musician)
Geordie Gude has been making music since he was a child. He received his first harmonica when he was nine years old, and since then has played with "a whole lot of folks in a whole lot of places”. There are many things he loves about music, they way tunes stretch you, make you grow, but the thing he loves most is playing with other people. When Willy Mason asked him to be a part of Billy Baloo he was honored. “I’d never done this kind of thing. If Willy felt I could bring something I had to trust that, and give it everything I have to offer.” And if you know Geordie Gude, he pours his heart into the music he makes for people, with people. "You come together for a reason in this life, and sometimes that reason makes itself very clear. This is one of those moments.”