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Meet the STL Cast & Crew of Marshall The Miracle Dog

Movie Poster

Not very often does a feel-good movie come along that really pulls at the heartstrings and appeals to children, tweens, and adults with relevant themes, such as bullying, courage, and kindness. Marshall The Miracle Dog is one of those long-awaited family films. Moreover, I’m thrilled to have witnessed the making of this movie, from start to finish. And the best part? I got to be an extra in the restaurant scene, even if you blink you might miss me.

The movie, filmed mostly in Edwardsville and Troy, IL, as well as St. Louis, was as much fun to make as it is to watch. Sure the movie features Hollywood stars like Matthew Settle, Shannon Elizabeth, and Lauren Holly, but many of the cast and crew are originally from St. Louis. Even though most of them have moved to LA to follow their dreams, they all love to come home to their Midwestern roots right here in the Lou.

If you haven’t seen the Marshall movie trailer yet–what are you waiting for? Watch it here! 

Finally, without further adieu, meet the STL crew and cast of Marshall The Miracle Dog.
marshall collage

 

 

Jay Kanzler (Director)

Jay with Lauren and dog handler

Jay Kanzler directs Lauren Holly and Debbie Pearl, animal trainer.



 
Jay Kanzler wears man hats. He is a director (23 Minutes to Sunrise, 2012, St. Benedict’s Rule, 2009), assistant pastor at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Ellisville, and an attorney with Witzel, Kanzler, Dimmitt & Kanzler L.L.C.

“I am very lucky to have an opportunity to pursue my different vocations.  All are important to me, and they each draw upon important experiences from the others.  It can be hectic at times when there is an overlap of obligations, but the key is staying focused on what is most important,” says Jay, who officiated his sister’s wedding on one of the few days off during production.

Working on the Marshall movie is a labor of love for Kanzler, who owns Day of Fun Pictures, LLC.

“Cyndi and Chris Benson approached me with the story and the preliminary plans for making the movie in St. Louis.  I was immediately drawn in by the story and the mission, and offered to help in any way possible.  The relationship grew quickly into a collaboration,” he says.

One of the best parts of working on this project was the cast of children and dogs.

“Kids and dogs rate in the top five of cutest things in the world (cats and grandparents are up there too).  You cannot help but enjoy being around them.  The energy and life they exude for everything is contagious.  As a father of two, I also know that kids and dogs sometimes don’t listen to everything they are told. The kids in this movie, however, were very talented.”

Jay has directed a number of films, but the Marshall movie is different.

“This one is the first film that has broad commercial appeal across several demographics.  My other films have been more narrow subject matter.  Also, it is a far larger budget than my other films.  A larger budget does not automatically translate to a better movie, but it certainly allows you to make a movie that is more closely aligned with your vision.  We were able to secure great talent both in front of and behind the camera.  We were able to spend three weeks filming rather than ten days (“23 Minutes to Sunrise”).  It will show up in the final product.”

In fact, Jay finished production a little ahead of schedule, which hardly ever happens in the movie biz.

“We were able to shoot on a tighter schedule because everyone on the film was committed.  They performed above and beyond what they ‘had to do.’  I was so proud of everyone.  We also worked hard to plan the project out in advance.  Each day people showed up to work with a plan to execute.  That plan was sometimes disrupted by weather, uncooperative dogs, or just unforeseen circumstances; but for the most part, the planning worked.  We came in on budget, and within the anticipated schedule.”

The Marshall movie features some of the actors Jay worked with in “23 Minutes To Sunrise,” including Haley Busch, Dingani Beza, and Jilanne Klaus. He also got to work again with Chris Benson, who he calls “the best cinematographer in town.”

“We work well together because he is great at what he does.  We have a collaborative dynamic that allows us each to listen to the other’s opinions with an open mind.  Very little ego involved.  My mantra in filmmaking is, ‘Gather great people together, let them do those great things, and stay out of the way.’”

Chris Benson (Director of Photography)

Chris, camera director

Chris Benson

Owner of Lamplight Films, Chris Benson has served as Director of Photography on a multitude of films, commercials, music videos, and documentaries.  Working on Marshall The Miracle Dog, however, was the most personal one because much of it was filmed in his hometown, Troy, IL.

After graduating with departmental honors from Webster University in St. Louis, Chris immediately began shooting his first 16mm feature film, “Amateur Hour,” and has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.

With the success of “Amateur Hour,” Chris moved on to photograph the Emmy award-winning short film “Full Circle,” which premiered at the Urban World Film Festival in 2001.  This success led to an adjunct professorship teaching film studies at Webster University.

In 1999, Chris’ first 35mm feature film Hairdo U brought him attention from producers in Los Angeles allowing him to shoot such feature films as Sy-Fy Channel’s Showdown at Area 51 , Ghost Image distributed by Fox International, Say Goodnight and Phase 4 Film’s The Tomb, the last of which took him to the Ukraine.  Chris has also shot 2nd Unit/Additional Photography for such films as Alice Upside Down, Saving Shiloh, Saving Grace B. Jones directed by Connie Stevens, The Weinstein Co’s Killshot, and the Oscar nominated Paramount Pictures film Up In The Air.

In addition, the success of his music videos have led him to shoot such iconic characters as Nelly, Chingy, Richard Marx, Murphy Lee, Lil Wil, and Yo Gotti.

His commercial work continues to grow as well, and he has won many Telly Awards and regional Emmys for his clients, which include Trendmasters Toys, Scottrade, Verizon Wireless, St. Louis Rams, Honda, Aunt Jemima, Anheuser-Busch, Bacardi, the U.S. Army and the St. Louis Cardinals.

His personal motto: “Films are never finished…They’re abandoned.”

For our sake, we hope Chris never abandons his love of making movies.

For more info on Chris, check out his website, www.chrisbensondp.com.

Ira DeWitt (Music Supervisor)

ira dewitt headshot

Ira DeWitt

There’s no mistaking the office of Ira DeWitt is that of a successful music producer whose clients include R&B stars Ginuwine, Johnny Gill, and Ron Isley. As the CEO and founder of Notifi Records, an urban-music label based in St. Louis with another recording studio in Los Angeles, Ira is passionate about music, especially R&B.

“Music makes everything better,” says Ira, who has created an incredible soundtrack with various local and national artists for the Marshall The Miracle Dog. “Music touches people’s soul and provokes emotion like nothing else can.”

The music definitely enhances Marshall’s story and features originals from cast member Nathan Eswine, who plays Drew, the jock boyfriend of Grace. Also adding to the soundtrack are Phoebe Elliot, who is a Nashville artist originally from St. Louis, and record producer/rock star Gilby Clarke, who played guitar for many bands, including Guns n Roses.

“I called on people I know and received hundreds of submissions. In the end, I put together a thoughtful warm and fuzzy soundtrack, which features about 10 songs, from feel good to sad.  Working on the Marshall movie has been a fun experience,” says Ira, who cracks sunflower seeds in her mouth after a workout, making the most of every minute.

“I’ve never released a record that hasn’t gone top 5 Billboard, both as an album and a single. I like the creative part of music, and I’ve always wanted to be in it. I’m a huge R&B head, and my favorite artists include Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie, Diana Ross, Baby Face, and Ronald Isley. The only one I never met was Marvin Gaye, and I really regret that.”

The red hallways are lined with framed vintage album covers of more of her favorite artists, including Prince, The Isley Bros, The Supremes, Michael Jackson, Led Zepplin, Marvin Gaye, Van Morrison,  Earth Wind and Fire, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Nelly, N.W.A., Chingy, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay Z, New Edition, Bruch Springsteen, and, of course, the World Champions St. Louis Cardinals.

We recently chatted in her office in Brentwood, where I admired the many photos of her with celebs, from Oprah Winfrey to Lionel Richie. She has made a name for herself in the cutthroat music industry and recently returned from a whirlwind tour with the former Commodores singer/songwriter, who she says is “the nicest guy ever.”

In the back of her office, a room is set up with a fully stocked bar, drum set, guitars, and a comfy red leather couch. Her Old English Sheep Dog named Fifi (short for Fiona) lies on the wood floor like a shag carpet and welcomes visitors.

Married to Bill DeWitt, president of the St. Louis Cardinals, Ira is a working mom who never stops. They have two children, Natalie 15, and Will, 12, who are students at John Burroughs School and enjoyed summer camp in LA, where Ira worked on some new record deals.

Ira’s background is as diverse as the music she loves. Born and raised in Turkey, she moved to Canada at age 10 and studied psychology and philosophy at the University of Western Ontario. She moved to St Louis in 1996 and earned a doctoral in education and psychology from St Louis University.  She taught statistics and human development as an adjunct professor at SLU in 2006.

“I have a lot of different interests, ya know, and I’ve always had a passion for music even though it’s not always a stable thing. Fortunately, I have a husband who will let me pursue this,” says Ira, while she fetches Fifi’s ball that has rolled under the couch.

In addition to making chart-topping records and taking care of her family and dogs, Ira is currently working on a partnership with the University of Missouri St Louis that allows students to get a recording degree.

She has an exciting life, for sure, and one of the highlights of her career is when Ron Isley thanked her at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards.

“I was in the audience when he accepted a Grammy for his album, “This Song is For You.” He mentioned my name. I was so happy,” she says.

Indeed, music creates happiness. Enjoy a sneak peek of the movie soundtrack right here!

Cyndi Willenbrock (Author and Producer)

Marshall Bio-cyndi

Cyndi and Marshall

Watching her words come to life on the big screen is a dream come true for St. Louisan Cyndi Willenbrock, who wrote the beloved children’s picture book, Marshall The Miracle Dog, after adopting the three-legged Yellow Lab. Marshall’s true story about being rescued from an animal hoarder and how this loveable dog spreads the message of bullying prevention, forgiveness, kindness, and acceptance of others has resonated with people worldwide and continues to make a difference in the lives of children and adults.

Marshall’s story about his resiliency and spirit has touched so many lives, in fact, he has inspired his own movement, The Marshall Movement. As a result, many projects have evolved from the book that carry his message to believe in miracles (he died three times on the operating table after he was rescued).  A few years ago, Cyndi gave up her successful career as a biotech salesperson to train Marshall as a Certified Therapy Dog in order to visit classrooms and children’s hospitals and carry his life-changing message to never give up.

Today, she and Marshall are busier than ever.  Cyndi has spearheaded a middle school character-based curriculum, called The Marshall Mentor Program, which teaches about anti-bullying and anti-animal cruelty among other social issues facing our children today. Plus, Cindy is developing ideas for a children’s book series, a television series, and even a Broadway musical!

“The minute I realized this dog has a message to carry, I realized we had an opportunity for all these platforms to give a voice to Marshall. Bottom line, his message is the importance of being kind to yourself and others,” says Cindy, who also has a dog Mooshy.

For more information, please visit www.themarshallmovement.com.

Bill Chott (Gary)

Lauren with Lucas and Bill

Lauren Holly, Lucas Carroll, and Bill Chott

Famous for his character as Mr. Laritate in Wizards of Waverly Place, Bill Chott is also well known for his contribution to the ever growing improv comedy world. What a lot of people don’t know is that this talented actor is also a skillful magician, animal lover, and friend to the Special Olympics. This St. Louis native now calls Los Angeles home, but he loves to reconnect with his roots and get together with family, friends, and the local improv scene where it all got started.

A graduate of Ritenour High school, where he was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2010, Bill performed in all the musicals and was active on the radio station KRSH, the Acappella choir, and National Honor Society, as well as DJ’ed for many of the dances.

An alumna of Chicago’s ImprovOlympic, Bill was a student of Del Close, an actor, writer, and teacher who coached many of the best-known comedians and comic actors. In the 1990s, Bill toured the country with the Second City and continues to do voice-overs, commercial work, television and film, and improv in various shows around Los Angeles (Improv Olympic West), as well as festivals/events in Canada and throughout Europe.

After working as an actor in Chicago and New York, he moved to LA because it was the place to work in film and TV. In 2006, he bought a house in St. Louis and started a local branch of his improv school, The Improv Trick.

“I was back and forth between LA and St. Louis every three months. Doing so interfered with my career, so now I’m back to visit and teach/perform improv only once or twice a year,” he says.

Bill’s resume includes the voice of announcer for Saturday Night Live’s “The Ambiguously Gay Duo” segments, created by Robert Smigel, and he has worked with Daily Show regulars Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell. He also worked with all three of these great talents on The Dana Carvey Show in 1996.

Show biz runs in the family.

“My dad used to write industrials, and still writes and leads a singing group in the senior community in where he and my mom live in St. Ann. He instilled me with a love of show biz. My brother did plays in college and my sister worked in radio. We all love to sing together when we can,” says Bill, whose always makes time to perform magic.

“I do close-up, sleight of hand, parlor magic and even for the big stage. I’m a total magic dork with a collection of over 75 vintage magic books,” said Bill, who also helped revive the burlesque scene in LA. In fact, he used to host shows as the top banana in the Velvet Hammer burlesque at the El Rey Theater.  More recently, he performed at The Magic Castle in Hollywood this summer.

The Marshall movie was a real treat for him.

“I made some great new friends and was a great reason to come back home. Usually when I come back home I have to put work on hold. This time I was able to combine a lot of my passions. Marshall and I visited with the Special Olympics team Missouri for their sendoff event for the USA games,” he says.

“I also snuck in some magic because their theme was MO Magic. Lucas and Zach, who are also in the movie, came out and improvised with me at The Improv Shop in the Central West End, where I was able to see a lot of friends and family.”

The message of the Marshall movie resonates with everyone, especially Bill.

“I think people need inspirational stories, and this film is extremely inspirational. Sometimes people need a reminder to not give up five minutes before the miracle happens,” says Bill, who recently lost his German shepherd/Chow mix, Wally.

“It was hard on us, and we’re hoping to rescue a new dog soon.”

Meanwhile, Chott can’t wait to see Marshall The Miracle Dog movie.

“This movie happened because so many people believed in this story and want to share it with others. I can’t wait to see it at the premiere and see what happens with the story from there. There’s a lot left to tell.”

When Chott was in town over the summer, he appeared on the Charlie Brennan Show. Check it out here!

Zach Louis (Luke)

Jilanne with Lucas, matt and Zach

Lucas Carroll, Matthew Settle, Zach Louis, and Jlianne Klaus

“The best part of the movie was getting to play a bully. When will I ever get permission to give a kid a wedgy?,” says Zach Louis, who went to Westchester Elementary in Kirkwood and North Kirkwood Middle School.

“I’m really a nice guy, I promise, but it’s fun to get paid to be a jerk.”

This cutie pie really is a nice guy and an animal lover in real life. In California where he lives now, he has a rescue named Doc, who is half Jack Russell, half Daschund. When he visits St. Louis, his favorite things to do are hang out with friends and eat St. Louis pizza, of course.

his favorite things to do when he is in town is hang out with friends and eat St. Louis pizza, although he misses his dog named Doc, a Jack Russell/ Daschund who his family rescued from Washington, MO.

For Zach, being in the limelight feels comfortable because his parents, Mark Anthony and Dana Daniels used to be well-known local radio personalities.  Since the age of three, Zach would be on air with them at various radio stations including KEZK, KHITS 96 and KLOU.  They retired from radio when they relocated to LA for Zach to pursue his dreams of acting. That was in 2012, when Zach was 13.

Today, Zach holds his own ground as an experienced actor and voice-over artist. He has been in eight films, including “The Last Days of Shaniko” and “Fear.” He was nominated for a Young Artist Award for his role in the family film “Golden Winter”.

He and his dad are still side-by-side. Mark accompanies his only son on the set because he is still a minor.

“Getting into show business was Zach’s idea,” says Mark. “Dana and I wanted to wait until he was old enough for it to be his decision.  We love our son and, like every parent, want to give him a chance to chase his dreams.  Plus, there is great food on film sets.”

Since the beginning, Zach has excelled in everything he does. He appeared in local theatre and at age 10, he joined a hip-hop dance crew where he was discovered by a modeling scout during a performance. Next, he worked in independent films, commercials, and print modeling in St. Louis and Chicago.

Zach can act, model, dance, and, oh yeah, he ‘s funny, too. He is a member of the Second City Teen Troupe and performs improv comedy on stage every Saturday night at Second City on Hollywood Boulevard. Zach also performs stand up comedy throughout LA at venues including the Lyric Theatre and Sal’s Comedy Hole on Melrose. 

Zach is also a two-time All-American for youth football, and a self-proclaimed comic book nerd.

After the Marshall movie, Zach jumped right into his next project.  He heads to Colorado in September to shoot a seven-episode web series called “Camp Abercorn”.

“Watching Zach on the big screen is crazy, surreal, and emotional.  It’s really hard to put into words how proud I am of him.  He works so hard to make his dreams a reality,” says Mark.

Mark Anthony and son Zach Louis

Mark Anthony with his son Zach Louis

Follow Zach’s adventures on his dad’s blog, dadager.blogspot.com,  and check out a radio interview they did while filming the Marshall movie this summer. Just like old times.

Nathan Eswine (Drew)

Nathan, Haley with Lucas

Nathan Eswine, Haley Busch, and Lucas Carroll

Get ready to swoon over this teen hearthrob, whose chiseled good looks are as likeable as his kind personality. He not only can act, this 19-year-old singer/songwriter also performs two of his own songs, “Fire Now” and a piano ballad called “Wherever You Go,  in Marshall The Miracle Dog!

Nathan discovered his passion for acting during his freshman year at Webster Goves High School, where he landed his first stage role as the lead character George Hay in the fall play Moon Over Buffalo. Next, came title roles in various one-acts and theatre projects, which gained him a reputation throughout the community. He recently branched out into television, guest starring in two episodes of Laura Linney’s new show, “The Big C,” and his career has just begun.

After Nathan moved to LA about a year ago, he ironically landed his first movie role back in his hometown St. Louis. His parents still live in the Lou and he has two younger siblings, a sister, 17, and brother, 10, who he likes to challenge in trampoline basketball.

The Marshall movement is a highlight in his career so far.

“Everyone has literally inspired me, and doing this film has affirmed that this is what I want to do. I’ve found my high,” says Nathan, who portrays the football player boyfriend of Haley Busch in the movie. “The film is important because it’s inspiring and true. There needs to be much more of this happening today. The film’s anti-bullying and animal abuse themes are messages that people can relate to. I really hope that people will leave the film looking at life a bit differently, and recognize how important and relevant these things are. Marshall’s story is remarkable, and I’m so fortunate to be a part of getting it out there,” who is in love with his family pet, Nala, an American Pit Bull Terrier / Border Collie mix.

Listen to Nathan’s original song, “Fire Now” in the movie trailer!

Haley Busch (Grace)

Haley Busch w Marshall

Haley Busch with Max, who plays Marshall

As a legacy of the famous St. Louis Busch family, this talented actress is making her own way in the movie industry. A graduate of Villa Duchesne, she has deep family roots in the Gateway City, but she calls LA home now. One of seven siblings, she appears in the Marshall movie with her 12-year-old sister Maddie.

“I started acting at a young age and traveled back and forth from LA my whole life. However, my parents wanted me to finish high school and have a normal childhood, so I waited until I was 18 and a high school graduate before I moved out there by myself. I also attend Loyola Marymount University there and studied psychology,” says Haley, whose fresh, good looks light up the big screen.

Busch takes her acting profession very seriously and has participated in many acting workshops in LA. She’s also worked with Dorothy Paul, owner of Crystal Sky Productions, who discovered Michele Pfeiffer. In fact, that’s how she landed a part in the movie “Bratz”, which is based on a line of cartoon characters and dolls. While working on “Bratz,” she met Jon Voight, who also offered her a part in a romantic comedy that he produced called “The Final Song”.

“I have worked with some wonderful people here locally as well and have made a few films with Jay Kanzler and a few other directors/producers. I try to do at least one film a year on top of taking a full load of credits each semester and work on student films. I’m writing now as well and working on a script to make my own films,” she says.

A true animal lover, Haley had a blast working on the Marshall movie.

“It was great to be able to work with Jay again as well as many of the same crew members. We really become a family on set. It’s hard to leave everyone when it’s over,” says Haley, who plays Drew’s better half in the movie.

“This movie has an incredible message. It’s important to portray bullying among teens and the effects that it has. Also, it displays the importance of animal protection and fighting for animal rights. At home, I have a lot of pets and have learned to work with and train all animals from monkeys to elephants. So I was excited when I got to work with dogs and help tell a beautiful story.”

Actually, Busch has eight dogs in her family: Snoop and Gauge (Black Labs), Kaiser (German Shepard), Dixie (Bernese Mountain Dog), Cosmo (Papillon), Leo (Chihuahua), and Lola and Pepe are both mixes.

No wonder she gets back home as often as she can.

“I’m hoping to get more work in St. Louis and bring more jobs here. St. Louis is so beautiful with incredible architecture, history and rich tradition, and I absolutely love coming back home. Some of my favorite things to do are going to our family farm, Grant’s Farm, as well as to our other family farm in St. Charles. I enjoy riding horses, playing polo, and spending time with family and friends.”

Jilanne Klaus (Carrie)

Jilanne headshot

Jilanne Klaus

With her friendly smile, sparkling eyes, and blonde tousled curls, Jilanne Klaus is as adorable as she is talented as Dr. Carrie Henry, the veterinarian.  In real life, she is a mom of three children, who are also professional actors and have appeared in many commercials and even the Marshall movie! So, the movie was kind of a family affair for Jilanne, the only St. Louis actress in the movie who still lives here.

Originally from Belleville, Illinois, Jilanne attended Althoff Catholic High in Belleville and always attracted attention with her wholesome good looks and many talents. As a young soloist dancer, homecoming queen, and Illinois’ Junior Miss, she got used to being in the spotlight. Before she ended up as an actress, Jilanne studied pre-med at the University of Notre Dame and then went to school in France before she moved  to New York City with a dance scholarship at a Broadway studio and studied at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Through waiting tables and performing on stages across three continents, she earned her first union card. Eventually she settled in LA, where she dabbled in television, before discovering her love for feature film acting with her debut indie role in “The Colony” (1995) with John Ritter. Thanks to her good Midwestern work ethic and bubbly personality on set, this hard working actress enjoys much success in independent films, frequently working with the same directors and actors more than once. For example, Jay Kanzler directed her in “23 Hours To Sunrise,” also featuring Eric Robert.

So, how did Jilanne move from LA back to the St. Louis area?

“My mom (Judee Sauget) opened a production company in Sauget, Illinois  to try to bring me ‘home’ from LA. I guess it worked. My first film, a short entitled, “America’s Favorite Pastime,” screened at the St Louis International Film Festival in 2001, where I re-met my husband Rick Barnes, who I knew from growing up in Belleville,” she says.

In 2004, Jilanne moved back to St Louis to get married to her beau, and today they are raising three children.  The only thing missing in the family is a dog.

“We do not have a dog now, but will probably get one next month—the kids are lobbying hard for a pug,” she says.

Meanwhile, being in  the Marshall movie was her opportunity to be around plenty of dogs.

“I truly enjoyed being a part of Marshall the Miracle Dog. As a mother of three, I REALLY appreciate the anti-bullying message! Respecting self and others is something I try to teach my children… this summer our family motto is ‘be kinder than is necessary,’” she says.

Currently, Jilanne is  working at Coolfire Studios in downtown St. Louis doing voice overs for the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Dingani Beza (Coach Penner)

Dinagni with Marshall

Dingani Beza and Marshall

An accomplished actor from Jefferson City, Dingani Beza is no stranger to the big screen and stage. He previously worked with Director Jay Kanzler in “23 Minutes to Sunrise,” so being in the Marshall movie felt like coming home again. This handsome LA-based actor has other movie roles under his belt as well, including Asylum (2010) and  Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill (2011), in which he and his identical twin brother Zondwayo Beza appeared beside him.

With degrees from Columbia College and Westminster in Missouri, Dingani’s strong work ethic comes from his family, going back to his grandfather who lived in a small village in northern Malawi, Africa, called Ethuleni. His grandfather worked in the mines and it was his dream to one day make enough money to pay for a decent education for his son.

“My mother shared a story with me about how my father, as a little boy, walked with his grandfather, for two days to the post office to pick up a package his father had sent him from South Africa. In that package was a single notepad and pen. My father was the only one in the whole village with a notepad and pen. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in America…. and when he returned to Malawi…. the story goes that my grandfather met him over 10 miles outside the village, wearing a white DR coat and carrying a staff…. well, my grandfather marched in front of my father’s S.U.V….. it took all day as the truck crept along at 5mph while my grandfather nodded to passersby…. proud of his son,” says Dingani.

His father went on to be a college professor and became a member of Parliament for the Republic of Malawi. He passed away in 2009, but his accomplishments inspire Dingani to this day.

Dingani, by the way, is a South African name that means “What are you looking for?”  And from the looks of it, we can expect big things from this talented actor.

Greg Warren (Coach Larry)

Dingani with Greg

Dingani Beza and Greg Warren

Comic actor Greg Warren is a funny guy, and his role as assistant Coach Larry with a lisp will win him even more fans. In the movie, he goes on a tangent about chewing gum, and the chemistry between him and Coach Penner is entertaining.

“I come from a family of storytellers. My mother’s kitchen was a gathering place where people sat around the table swapping yarns, old tales repeated and new ones eventually becoming part of the lore,” he says in an article.

Greg’s stories are inspired by his midwestern upbringing. His father was a high school wrestling coach and his mother made him play clarinet in the band. Greg has captivated audiences with anecdotes about the conflict inherent in meshing two high school identities — varsity wrestler and band geek.

At Kirkwood High School, Greg honed his gift for characterization, delivering dead-on impressions of teachers and coaches.

In college, after a year at West Point (spent marching off demerits and learning how to fold T-shirts properly), he transferred to Mizzou. There he became an All-American wrestler, earned a degree in journalism, and started doing stand-up at a club in Columbia. The comedy bug got under his skin.

While in college, Greg won a comedy contest and was invited to perform at Dèjà Vu, a local club in Columbia, MO. After a stint selling Jif and Pringles for corporate giant Procter & Gamble, Greg made the decision to become a full-time comedian. This bold move led in 2002 to an invitation to the prestigious “Just for Laughs Festival” in Montreal, where Greg performed as one of the featured “New Faces of Comedy.”

Since then, he’s been on a roll.

His acting TV credentials include stand-up on “Premium Blend” on Comedy Central, Country Music Television,  a finalist on BET’s  network, “Coming to the Stage”, and a semi-finalist on NCB’s “Last Comic Standing.”

Greg was also a favorite on the nationally syndicated “Bob and Tom” radio show, which led him to tour theaters across the country with the “Bob and Tom Comedy All Stars Tour,” and he was also a regular guest on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”

In addition to his television and festival appearances, Greg continues to tour all across the country, performing his act at clubs such as the Funny Bone and The Improv. Greg’s background recently resulted in a gig doing color commentary on college wrestling for Fox Sports Midwest. Greg’s Midwestern upbringing and his ability to provide humorous social commentary gives him a wealth of material that continues to gain him fans throughout the country.

 Take a look at Greg’s his latest gig, and check out his website here www.gregwarrencomedy.com.

cast under paviollion

The cast and crew of Marshall The Miracle Dog.

Watch for Marshall The Miracle Dog in early 2015!