The 39 Steps

“A mere four actors take on a dizzying number of roles for the play (the formidable and versatile Gwen Grastorf and Christopher Walker are each credited aptly as “cast of dozens”), and the show continually makes cheeky reference to how much its players are working overtime to pull off the gags.

And it’s hard to underestimate how essential Grastorf and Walker are to the show’s success. The pair play dynamically off of each other, finding ways to incorporate a half dozen characters in mere minutes of stage time. Grastorf is as at home embodying a busybody hotel owner delighted by the arrival of star-crossed lovers to her rooming house as she is inhabiting the vaudevillian performer “Mr. Memory.”” – DC Theatre Scene

“The police? And vaudeville performers, hotel keepers, villains, henchmen, dour Scots, trainmen, miscellaneous officials, and pre-show announcers telling patrons to turn off their cell phones, among many others. All are played by the “cast of dozens,” Gwen Grastorf and Christopher Walker, who contain multitudes, and whose entrances, exits, accents, genders, and frequent rapid costume changes are a whirlwind of delight.” – DC Metro Theater Arts

“Gwen Grastorf and Christopher Walker – dressed as old-time ushers, and sets a tone for a funny, snappy, witty evening. Their nod to the arch, slightly over-the-top film acting of the 30s works beautifully.”  “Grastorf and Walker both play “Cast of Dozens,” and this is not an exaggeration! Quick offstage costume changes (and even quicker ones onstage) transform both actors – sometimes within 1 or 2 seconds – into truly dozens of characters. They each have some fantastic moments, especially Grastorf as a “Mrs. Danvers” type and Walker’s various policemen.” – BroadwayWorld DC 


“It’s impossible to pick favorite moments, but Gwen Grastorf’s affecting and wholesome spin on Orpheus has stuck with me. ” – Broadway World DC 

“Constructed as a series of vaguely-connected vignettes, the show features spectacles as varied as gossipy roomies as Fates, hapless ladder crews, not to mention a shadow-theatre trip to Hades and back with a dapper, swaggering crooner Orpheus (one of Gwen Grastorf’s finest efforts ever!).” – DC Metro Theatre Arts

“…Gwen Grastorf in a suave white suit and fedora for Orpheus. Ms Grastorf is a superb singer” – DC Theatre Scene

The Tarot Reading

“Each of the seven mediums performs three revelations, each loosely based on a Tarot card, which results in a showcase of an amazing range of talents and topics. Actor and vaudevillian Gwen Grastorf, for instance, beguiled with cups-and-balls magic tricks as she told of family deception around her dad’s cancer.” – DC Metro Theatre Arts

“And sometimes a piece is so well thought out it barely needs a Seeker: Medium Gwen Grasdorf’s The Magician is a miniature tour de force; while telling us of her father’s inability to speak the truth she mixed in some magic.” – DC Theatre Scene 

“The honesty and bravery of some of the performances is striking…for The Chariot card, talented Gwen Grastorf (a cast member of Happenstance Theater Company) wove multiple characters into an exploration of one’s lack of control, using merely a length of rope. Tiny people swung from tightropes, tragic accidents occurred, and, yes, a chariot ride of the gods.” – DC Theatre Scene

The Late Wedding (Helen Hayes Nomination: Outstanding Supporting Actress, Helen Category) 

“Jacob Yeh and Gwen Grastorf play the first couple, obsessed with the past. They are completely lost in dreamy nostalgia until a faulty memory hurls them into a crisis. Grastorf and Yeh share a great energy, perfectly in sync with each other even as their characters go from totally sedate to clear panic.”

“…Grastorf, playing an innkeeper locked in a game of hide-and-seek with her husband so extreme that they haven’t seen each other in years. Chen’s outlandish scenario is entrancing when explained by Grastorf, even with the frequent asides to DePinto critiquing the writing and making editorial notes.” – DC Theatre Scene

Bon Voyage! A Happenstance Escapade:

“Embodying this noble progress is Gwen Grastorf as Marianne, the national symbol of liberty” – The Washington Post 

“Gwen Grastorf plays the icon Marianne, a kind of ur-Lady Liberty herself, striking poses and spouting political philosophy of libertéégalitéfraternité. ” – DC Theatre Scene


“Gwen Grastorf is a hoot as a none-too-assured yodeling dancer, standing against a tacky Tyrolean village backdrop, gamely beginning her bit, faltering, then getting encircled by an enormous hook that emerges to drag her offstage.” – Takoma Voice 

The company has collaborated to create a satisfying production with something for everyone. Highlights include…Gwen Grastorf and Sarah Olmsted Thomas’ singing sister act, charming the house whether perched on a swing or miming the lyrics to their tunes.” – Broadway World DC 

“Gwen Grastorf’s commitment to character in Moxie will leave you cheering for her determination and delighting in her physical comedy skills.” – The He Said She Said Experience 

Christmas Revels 

Grastorf is a graciously regal creature, possessing the energy of earthen spirits for her grandiose arrival up the aisle of the house. Moving with grace and nobility, Grastorf is the splendid embodiment of nature in winter. Her slow and deliberate motions mirror that of the icy outlook of the season. Radiant like winter’s snow with a glistening light, Grastorf occasionally lends her voice to the musical affairs of the program, enhancing numbers like “Ivy, Chief of Trees” to sound exceptionally melodious.” – TheatreBloom

Cabaret Noir

“Gwen Grastorf sings a darkly comic rendition of “Falling in Love Again,” and she and Sarah Olmsted Thomas had the audience in hysterics as they faced off as competing femme fatales, their conflict eventually culminating in a delightfully absurd barroom brawl.”  – DC Metro Theater Arts

“Grastorf, who also takes to song with her fantastical rendition of “Falling in Love Again,” understands the nuances of comedic timing in her delivery. Revisiting relationship dynamics from previous cabaret shows, Grastorf reminds the audience why they love these outings with Happenstance Theater as much as they do. Her snazzy under-the-street-lights tap-dance routine for “Tea for Two” is one of the most endearing and yet amusing moments in the piece. Sharing this scene with Sabrina Mandell, and Mark Jaster who poses as the lone-standing street lamp, Grastorf delivers the lightheartedness needed in a film noir to provide balance against all of the melodrama.”   – TheatreBloom

Inheritance Canyon

“Shell, an aspiring scientist, splits into two beings played by the well-matched Esther Williamson and Gwen Grastorf.” “The show is easy to watch, and the actors are all solid.” – The Washington Post

“The cast is truly superb all around…Through a strange twist of sci-fi fate Dr. Kröger creates a Shell double, and Williamson and Gwen Grastorf should be commended for their chemistry, perfectly mirrored acting, and subtlety as one Shell slowly diverges from the other.” –

The Duchess of Malfi

“…the Duchess’ defiantly loyal attendant Cariola–played with focused intensity by Gwen Grastorf…” “The affection and devotion too of Cariola’s to her mistress and the young daughter in her charge, and the defiance of Cariola’s human will to survive and endure touches us as well. The moments on stage between these two women are among the production’s most effective. Rounding out the play’s portrayal of women, Ms. Grastorf also plays Julia, the Cardinal’s concubine; she portrays Julia as a sexual outlaw and societal insurgent, and we see in Julia the future rebellion of a sexualized modern age.”  – DC

“Gwen Grastorf manages to show both her amazing range and her equally amazing legs as she hops from elegant slattern… to virgin of Vestal proportion.” – DC Metro Theatre Arts

“Gwen Grastorf makes the most of her contrasting roles as the Duchess’ devoted handmaiden and the Cardinal’s lusty mistress.” – DC Theatre Scene

IMPOSSIBLE! A Happenstance Circus:

“Gwen Grastorf dazzles the audience with her sassy portrayal as “The Human Phoenix.” Singing and dancing with incendiary spirit, Grastorf makes the most out of this number, one of the most entertaining and amusing segments in the show. But it’s her sketch as “Lily Fields” with her “Magnificent Menagerie (featuring Mark Jaster) that really impresses the audience. The segment, done again almost in complete silence (with a brilliant underscore featuring Karen Hansen) captures the audience’s attention as Grastorf presents three incredible animals and the tricks she can do with them. The relationship built between Grastorf and Jaster in this sketch is incredible; each animal (portrayed in a series of three by Jaster) has a unique personality and intense physical portrayal that is very realistic, matched by a well-paired personality and physicality radiating from Grastorf. Surely my words cannot do this particular sketch justice, but it is easily one of the most sensational in the show.” – DC Metro Theater Arts

“Gwen Grastorf, a lovely presence, takes on the funny fire act, while singing “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire.” “ – MD Theatre Guide 

“Grastorf shows off impressive jazzy vocals in “I Don’t Want to Set the World On Fire.” “ – DC Theatre Scene

Cabaret Macabre:

“Grastorf, in her recurring character of the Maid, gets to seek some well-wrought vengeance on those that she had served throughout the show and is a joy to watch.” – DC Theatre Scene

“Gwen Grastorf and Sarah Olmsted Thomas take on the role of sisters in several sketches throughout the production. Grastorf and Thomas share kindred spirits and even when one of their sororal relationships goes awry they unearth the intricate nuances of this bond through their facial expressions and covert gestures…Grastorf, reprising her role as the surly and often silent maid, is featured several times throughout the production in this unsettling skin, doing a marvelous job of maintaining the stoic presence that such a character requires to be truly effective.” – DC Metro Theater Arts

A Commedia Romeo & Juliet:

“Gwen Grastorf brings sincerity and simplicity to Juliet, while gamely jumping in as the Prince when needed.” – Broadway World DC

“The show was straightforward, undemanding, funny, sweet, comforting, and then Gwen Gastorf delivered the preeminent, “O Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou Romeo“ soliloquy, and I was thunderstruck. Suddenly all the bumbling fun was harnessed into the palpable passions of a young girl’s first true love. Her realization of the text was magnificent. And that shift, alone, in ambiance created a shiver.” – DC Metro Theater Arts

“While every actor makes a strong contribution, the two standouts for me were Tyler Herman, who played both the Nurse and Count Paris as well as several minor characters, and Gwen Grastorf who not only played Juliet, but covered the Prince and other incidental characters.  Both of them managed to find humor in some of the unlikeliest spots, but Ms Grastorf especially never lost sight of the underlying tragedy.” – Washington City Paper

“A special commendation must go…to Gwen Grastorf, whose performance as the faux-dead Juliet made me wish to create a new Olympic category in Death Acrobatics.” – DC Theatre Scene 

“In these Fools’ hands this scene was howlingly good, the characters not only oh-woeing incessantly but tossing the lifeless Juliet (played by Grastorf) around the stage. It was the most effective rendering of the scene I’ve ever seen and one of the funniest five minutes of theater I’ve experienced.” – Shakespeareances

The Illusion 

“Gwen Grastorf brings comic simplicity to the role of the maid (who is attracted to the son, naturally), and Joe Brack is witty as various types of rivals. All four performers have an easy way with Kushner’s often elevated language, even when their characters’ speeches begin to run on.” – Washington Post

“The excellent timing between Tucker and Grastorf in each of the scenes, as well as Grastorf’s cool reactions contrasted with Tucker’s over-the-top reactions to the events that unfold are comedic genius.” – DC Metro Theater Arts