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Meet the “Best If Used By”

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Rebecca Axelrod

A versatile singing actor with classical training, Becky (Jacqueline Sturgeon) has sung over 30 leading roles in musical theatre, including leading soprano roles with the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players.


She performed for 19 years with New York Cabaret Unlimited, an American songbook touring ensemble located in Westchester County.


After retiring to Essex in 2012, she has enjoyed many roles with Stage 284 in Hamilton. Favorites include Aunt March in Little Women, Aunt Martha in Arsenic and Old Lace, and Jack’s Mother in Into the Woods. She also created a staged reading of her great-great-grandfather’s letters from the Civil War.


Last April, Becky debuted at the Firehouse Theater as Mrs. Jarrett in Escaped Alone.


She feels both hugely challenged and enormously grateful to Doug for writing Best If Used By for her and Barbara.

Becky graduated from Oberlin College with a BA in Music.  She worked for many years for Phillips Oppenheim, an executive search firm in Manhattan. She feels grateful to be living near her two daughters, son-in-law, and three grandchildren, and singing with her church choir and the Paul Madore Chorale.

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Barbara Bourgeois

Barbara Bourgeois (Josephine Duquesne) has been performing in and around the Boston area for the past 40 years.


Some of her favorite roles include Jennie in A Murder Of Crows (Quannapowitt Players), Abby in Arsenic and Old Lace (Arlington Friends of the Drama), Clairee in Steel Magnolias (Acme Theater), Deliverance Hobbs in Saltonstall’s Trial (Punctuate 4 Productions), and Nell in Haiku (Act) for which she won the NETC best actress award.


Barbara has also appeared in TV commercials, training videos and film. 


Barbara was raised in Holbrook, MA, and earned a BA in business education at Boston University. She and her husband raised four children, and Barbara has five grandchildren. She worked for a dermatologist for 20+ years. 


She always wanted to act, but never pursued it till her mid-40s.


“I am so fortunate,” she says, “that I am still able to follow my dream after all these years.”

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Kristina Grundmann

Kristina Grundmann (Director) has been involved in every aspect of theatre: directing, designing, running tech, and even acting since high school. Most notably, she founded Castle Hill Productions in Ipswich in 2015, where she presides as Artistic Director after directing Lettice & LovageBlithe Spirit, The Mousetrap, Sense & Sensibility, and Arcadia.


Her work at Castle Hill also includes developing and refining public programs, including this year’s brand-new Harrington Circus. Prior to her work at Castle Hill, she produced Vincent at the Firehouse, with Best If Used By’s author Doug Brendel in the solo role.


Kristina is eternally grateful to Doug for the opportunity to bring Best If Used By to life. 

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Doug Brendel

Doug Brendel (Playwright) began his theatre career as Bigot the Bad Elf in a first-grade Christmas musical. Doug still appears occasionally in community theatre productions, when they’ll have him. 

Doug is the author of two award-winning novels (at and the humorous blog commenting on life in small-town New England from the standpoint of a newcomer. (He’s a recovering Chicagoan.)


Doug and his wife Kristina Grundmann composed the two songs performed in Best If Used By.


Professionally, Doug makes his living as a fundraising writer for charitable causes.

Doug and Kristina lead, a volunteer humanitarian-aid charity in Belarus. 

Contact Doug personally via to inquire about booking him to speak in per­son or online at your book club, group meeting, school, or other function.

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