Women of the Arts 2019: Another Grand-Visioning Fellini

“They are the abstract and brief chronicle of the time…” wrote Shakespeare in HAMLET when the Prince spoke of actors. Well, Sara Fellini, Adam Belvo, and their own cry of players are taking that statement to heart by bringing to life productions steeped in rich history. Their production of THE BRUTES sailed from acclaim at the Planet Connection Theater Festivity to a New York Times covered run in the West Village. Now, they’re taking the lovely bright summer to whisk us to a mansion during the coldest, darkest summer on record to present MARY’S LITTLE MONSTER. The Mary is Mary Shelley, the monster … yeah well.

1781fe-f49bee1b1eec4e11ae749bc1d2c42fa9_orig.jpgArtistic director, Sara Fellini, is described as “brilliant” by her colleague, Adam Belvo. And who are we to dispute, especially with a record like hers. Sara is an award-winning playwright, actress, and skilled artisan whose work has been featured at The Davenport Theater, The Players Theatre, Paradise Factory, IRT Theater, and Under St. Mark’s. Her own play, Hazard a Little Death, was nominated for six awards at the Planet Connections Theater Festivity and won Best New Script. She wrote and played the lead in her play, In Vestments, which went on to win two 2015 NYIT awards and be acclaimed by the New York Times as “wrenching and visually eloquent.” She also appeared as the titular character in another play of her own writing, The Execution of Mrs. Cotton (called “darkly humorous” and “deliciously ghoulish” by the New York Times) at IRT Theater as part of their 3B Residency. As Artistic Director of spit&vigor (www.spitnvigor.com), she has offered up plays peppered with the booth family and Lincoln’s Assassination; the creation of literartures most feared creations, and oh yeah, Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi in the afterlife. We spoke with her. I hope we could keep-up!

 

  • Tell us about your journey as a director in New York
My journey so far is just beginning. I co-directed this exact play by Thomas Kee, MARY’S LITTLE MONSTER, about three years ago in New Orleans. I convinced my friend Kaitlan Emery to co-direct it with me because I was too afraid to do it myself, and we performed it at our friend Pandora Gastelum’s puppet theater called the mudlark public theater. It’s a gorgeous place, kind of like a haunted house, with Pandora’s beautiful hand-made puppets lining the walls of the entryway, and in the bathtub in the bathroom, along with several very babied cats that are the sweetest creatures. It was an incredible experience, and the perfect place to produce such a sexy and mysterious play. From that I had the confidence to direct our next production, THE BRUTES by Casey Wimpee at The Flamboyan as part of The Planet Connections Festivity, and then again at The New Ohio Theater as part of their curated Hosting Program. We were nominated for seven Planet Awards for that production, including Outstanding Direction. I’m very loyal to plays that I adore, and so now I’m directing MARY’S LITTLE MONSTER once again, and now at Torn Page, the historic home of Rip Torn and Geraldine Page, which is an old Victorian type house with a very grand room in which we’ll be performing an extremely intimate chamber production. This play has a way of attracting absolutely perfect venues. 
  • Tell us how you and your partner(s) formed spit&vigor? 
Adam Belvo and I formed spit&vigor in 2015. We had just produced our play IN VESTMENTS at The Center at West Park (in their incredible chapel space that was being renovated at the time, a perfect spot for a play about a crumbling Catholic church) via the theater company Theater4thePeople. At the time the company was comprised of essentially just our friend, who had to drop out of producing midway through the production to focus on directing it, so it was essentially me and Adam producing the whole piece. It was a great crash course in producing, because we got the space about two months before opening and had to throw a huge production together, 12 cast members with live music in a gorgeous space that unfortunately had no light grid. It was thrilling and amazing, and we knew we just had to keep producing theater. Adam is very practical, and I’m extremely impractical, and we had a good push-pull going. So we formed our own company, and along the way we’ve collected many collaborating artists, and just this year added Nick Thomas as third producer, who pushes us to bigger and better things. 
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  • You do “double-duty” by acting and directing; difficult? fun? necessary? desired? etc… 
I really think it’s the only way to do it, at least for me. When I’m reading a play, I see it happening around me, and I imagine every element of it. I also do costumes and set, and each element is so deeply entwined that to me it’s more like I painted a full painting or wrote a whole novel. Other artists have total authorship of their produced works, and I don’t have that, but I do like being able to create a world for actors to live in, and for lighting designers to light. And as an actor myself, I have the ability to negotiate a scene from the inside and out. 
Because I have so much creative input, it kind of frees me up to field a lot of input from actors, and to be flexible with their feelings and desires for their characters. I also get to know every inch of each play inside and out, so I can speak with expertise and give what I hope is valuable advice. It’s important to me to read every stage direction and really get the sense of what a playwright is going for, because so much meaning can be hidden in phrasing and subtle movements and I want to respect the vision of the playwright – and when you expand yourself to your fullest ability, you are much more capable of respecting other artists and their vision because you’re not making yourself small in any respect. 
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  • As an artist, and a woman, how has “reality” of working in New York differed from your original expectations? 
I grew up in New York, and I’ve been kind of producing theater here since I was a kid. I was involved in my church’s youth ministry which was essentially a theater group that did community service on the side. We had a wild group leader, and she always encouraged us to take control of our projects. I directed a scene of our production of Les Miserables and played Eponine, made sets for their production of Dear Edwina, ran the light board for Cats, and contributed to costume design by being an unbelievable snot about all of my costumes. And producing in off-off-Broadway and off-Broadway is remarkably similar to producing in community theater, despite what the Man might want you to think. I think the only difference is that when you produce at higher levels you have to fight a lot more insecurity, and vanity, and “this is the way things are done”-ness, because of the impression that the stakes are higher. But the stakes are what you make them, and I know when I was working in community theater the stakes were deadly to me personally and they are still deadly, and all the more reason to have fun and live fully in your work. 
I think the best thing to do as a woman doing any kind of job is to forget you’re a woman. Don’t expect people to not listen to you, don’t expect your words not to land, don’t feel bad when you need to give hard direction, just expect the same respect that you give to everyone else, and sometimes respect means complete honesty, delivered as kindly as possible. 
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  • What are future plans?
This production will be heading to The Players Theater in May 2020, our company’s off-Broadway debut. So if you can’t see this show, keep your eyes peeled, but you should get tickets now while you can still touch us from your seat. Beyond that, my personal dream for spit&vigor is to own and operate a bar&theater and produce a curated season. That’s a very long-term plan, but I invite any advice (or donations) to that end. 

Women of the Arts 2019: Some great “Shit” from Amanda Levie

23435068_10210153535138467_3512492459862456312_nNO PEEKING THEATRE is full of shit … and they’re taking it to L.A.!  “The Shit Show” By Leelee Jackson is an immersive restructuring of the theatrical experience. Feeling the show NOT seeing it as NO PEEKING restructures its productions to create a sightless theatre experience. A world of feelings, olfactory and audible storytelling, tangible and taste-able moments. Blindfolded, the audience is told the story with the help of rain, wind, sound, smells, taste and so much more. “We couple the audience’s imagination with literal 3D effects to create a sensory, immersive, and stimulating experience,” says Amanda Levie, artistic director of NO PEEKING. “We are planning on being bi-coastal and non-profit, but we need help!” she exclaimed.

Levie has created a truly unique theatrical experience. It hearkens back to the glory days of radio but applies a 21st century “human” touch. Now she is making this sensory experience bi-coastal and bringing this production to California, right in the playwright’s own backyard.

NO PEEKING is actively seeking donors and – if monetary gifts cannot be made – individuals willing to spread the word about No peeking, the Shit Show, and the L.A. Campaign. For more information on how you can help, visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/no-peeking-in-los-angeles#/ or contact Jay Michaels at 347-497-4814 or jmae.events@gmail.com .

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  • Tell us more, Amanda! About you, your journey as an artistic director, and your concept-company. 
This idea actually came out of my final thesis for my undergrad degree in 2011-2012. I was chasing my degree in theatre production with a concentration in lighting design and although I wanted to take directing I’d been denied from the class three times.  Instead I was placed in theatre administration.  Feeling left out and marginalized in the department, when I started learning about Theater’s “attempt” at equity and accessibility, I realized our whole industry had a LOT of work to do, especially in terms of adhering to ADA.  For our thesis, we were charged with creating a concept that would change “the world of theatre”.  As someone going into theatre for lighting design, I essentially fired myself for this concept.  I think it was a scary concept for me but it seemed so much more worth it if we could include more of the world rather than the few stuffy elite, taking what has now become a luxury commodity for granted.  For our entire 4 years we’d been told that theatre was “dying” but the model we were using was set up to exist and cater to the lifespan or a few unchanging generations.  How was Visual Art able to move so quickly and sharply into these clear cut eras and that hasn’t seemed to happen for theatre?  Because we were accepting the structure and appeals of the wrong group.
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  • Tell us how you created this show and the company? 
This show, as many of our shows, was submitted to us, very grassroots style.  We post on facebook we share out website and we tell people if you have something written worth telling, lets read it and lets produce it.  The Shit Show was written by Leelee Jackson who is based in Los Angeles and when we received her work last fall, a new opportunity presented itself: the opportunity to bring a play across country.   This is the first full length show proposed that was so far away, so we thought, why not?
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  • Quite an ambitious move … taking the show to the West Coast. Difficult? Fun? Necessary? Desired? etc… 
All of the above.  Many people who attend our shows believe that No Peeking Theatre is doing well because they have heard of it.  The truth of the matter is that we are still really very grassroots.  When I tell others they are not only surprised but encouraging in the idea that it needs to going elsewhere and expand.  I agree but as a woman of color every move I seem to make is a modest and self negotiated move.   Much of that is because the budget has always derived from my paychecks and monthly saving goals.  How I pay our cast and crew is accumulated in the form of $5 and $10s in a small can that I have set aside over a number of months.  The other and I’d say primary reason my goals have been modest is trying to better my odds of hearing “yes”.  It’s very easy for someone with this kind of ambition to be denied based on the idea that I am out of my league or way ahead of myself or too big for my britches.  This is true for me in technical theatre, production, directing, etc.  So this year I did something I consider daring.  I set the biggest goal for the company to date.  And even now people have commented that this goal is not only totally realistic but reasonable.  I’ll get better at aiming higher.  It’s been a tough habit to break!   
  • As an artist, and a woman, how has “reality” of working in New York differed from your original expectations? 
I think people create a legitimacy around New York theatre that is extremely hard to dispel.  I think ‘d been disillusioned back in 2006 when i was living working and going to school at Marymount Manhattan College.  The idea of success in New York seemed to indicate inevitable victory and happiness.  But it’s not like that.  Much of New York life was suffering for me.  I wasn’t able to afford food, I walked around with holes in the bottoms of my shoes for months during the winter.  I wasn’t able to afford my books.  Nonetheless I made the Dean’s list had a 3.89, auditioned my butt off, increased my credits.  But i did look around and I  realized that much less determined, ambitious, intelligent, and hard working people were skating by effortlessly.  i had realized well before No Peeking who was getting the keys to access the world of theatre.  I don’t think I knew the full extent but I’d definitely witnessed it on a smaller scale.  Our industry was not searching for new innovative minds, especially those who were not only ambitious, but also in need.  I think it’d be even a bit erroneous for me to even call it “our industry” because people like me and much of the people who work with No Peeking, the world of theatre very much does not include them in any level or department of theatre.
My reality right now is to change it and although i know people want me to change it in NY, I want to do it everywhere.
  • What are future plans?
iconsquare110D2EFE-D9DB-4B92-9482C832137AFEFB.jpgThis year we are going non profit!  We are in transition from having fiscal sponsorship through Fractured Atlas to having our very own 501c3.  This will open up so many opportunities for us to create the programming we’d like and make more theatre using new technology, concepts, stories, etc.  We have three works in development which is the most we’ve ever had at one time and we’re hoping to do at least one show out of the NY/NJ area at LEAST once a year.  In addition we’ve created a podcast to give perspective and insight to different disciplines of art and what its like to be an artist nowadays.  We did this to tear down stereotypes that are harmful to artists and the arts industry.  I don’t have any intentions of stopping that so I also hope that grows in the upcoming months and years. 

Women in the Arts 2019: Stephanie Windland on TV

36957639_10160517216825514_1230539736968331264_nPs in a Pod, a new web series, created by and starring Alex Pires, co-starring Stephanie Windland and executive produced by Richard Wingert starts on a blind date between Pete (Pires) and Polly (Windland) at a bar in Brooklyn. At first, they seem to be “two peas in a [neurotic] pod” but something is off. After a ton of awkward fumbling – including an uproarious attempt at sex – they simultaneously realize they are perfect as friends. As luck would have it, Polly is looking for a room and Pete needs a room-mate. A best friendship is born! “Pod follows how funny and real it is to have a close, platonic friendship between a man and a woman,” says executive producer, Richard Wingert.

“By eliminating the “Will they? Won’t they?” dynamic we make room for a ton of very funny and very touching situations that audiences have been deprived of in an episodic sitcom format,” creator and star, Alex Pires, exuberantly exclaimed; while co-star, Stephanie Windland chimed in with “The world is going through a paradigm shift in terms of the roles men and women play separately – this series shows how they come together under this new way of thinking,” she said regarding the evolving friendship the series depicts.

Pod follows the characters through semi-story lined episodes “a day in the life” style. We see them struggle – both comedic and realistic – with germaphobia, stereotypes, cultural-diversity, identity, romanticizing the past, relationships, depression and so much more.

We learn something new about the Ps – Pete & Polly – every episode. Things that we know or will learn about ourselves as well. It seems the stronger their friendship, the wilder things get. They just want to be happy and healthy but between self-sabotage and the universe who knows what will happen!

Stephanie, voluble and excited, had plenty to say about the fun she’s having on Ps in a Pod

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Tell us about yourself.

This is the annoying answer, but I’ve been performing since I was able to speak. At any family party or public event, you can bet that I was in the center of the room singing Old McDonald had a farm like it was my 11 o’clock number. I grew up in the Theater world doing musicals and plays, and it wasn’t until recently that I decided to try my hand at film. Comedy in particular is something I’ve always gravitated towards so I’m really spending time exploring that now, with improv and variety shows and P’s in a Pod of course. Alex approached me at the perfect time in my life because I had just decide to switch focus to film and comedy. He was like “Hey I’m working on a sitcom, would you…” and I was like “yes yes I’m in let’s go”.  -Stephanie

What inspired you about Ps in a POD?

Alex had the original inspiration, and approached me with the concept and characters. In building the world from there, I was very inspired by shows like Broad City and Friends and Seinfeld. I’m also constantly inspired by the things I see in NY every day, and the characteristics of the people I meet. I’m very attracted to the minuscule things that everyone has in common but no one talks about. 

51237947_10213864101333766_7334328489589342208_n.jpgIn terms of creating Polly, I’m most inspired by comedic actresses who aren’t afraid to be silly and look ugly. (Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Julia Louis- Dreyfus) Comedy has to be free of vanity and that’s something I really want for Polly. -Stephanie

Share with us, your creative process. Collaboration, delegation, storyboards, brainstorming, moral/message, etc.  


When Alex asked me to be his partner, he already had a lot of the show written. So we started out by reading through some of the episodes and getting a feel for their relationship and quirks and their individual perspectives on life. Then over a few weeks, we started to carve out what it was we wanted to say with this show and with our characters, and how to do that while still making it funny. My favorite part of the creative process is when we disagree strongly with each others ideas, and then and even better idea comes out of it. 

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As an actor, the challenge is forgetting what has to be done on the production side and really focusing on the character and what they’re thinking in the moment. We have a team that’s really dedicated and focused, which makes it easier to just concentrate on acting for shoot days. But sometime you can’t help but think about whether or not you ordered enough food for crew, or if you ever sent that important email to your editor. -Stephanie

Tell us about your vision for the future in terms of TV, sitcoms, programming, networks, etc.

We just finished crowdfunding so now we’re working to complete the rest of our season. We’ve started meeting with future directors, and discussing ideas and it’s all very exciting. First and foremost, our goal is to get our show out there and make people laugh. However, to be able to do that on a larger scale, requires some major support. Our ultimate goal is to be picked up by a major platform that will want to produce P’s in a Pod and show it to the world! I’d love to see our show somewhere on Comedy Central, or explore these characters in a raunchier way with a platform like HBO. I’m just excited to see how people react to the characters and where this adventure takes them (and us). -Stephanie

Watch the Pilot and tell us what you think.

Send comments to Jmae.Happenings@gmail.com.

Make a Differnce … Watch TV

click here for the pilot: Ps in a Pod PILOT

Women of the Arts 2019: Jessica Jennings: Continuing a Theatrical Legacy

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On West 54th Street, there stands a theatre next to a bustling police station. A simple colored banner waves at ongoing traffic. Not an unusual thing in New York? Well, this one is. It’s the legendary American Theatre of Actors. The “ATA” is one of the last standing theatres that ushered in the off-off Broadway movement of the 60s and 70s (reaching a pinnacle in the 1980s). The theatre is still run by its founder, James Jennings. Standing with him is his daughter, Jessica Lynn Jennings, a theatrical luminary in her own right as a director, producer, and founder of numerous arts organizations, including the world-philanthropic Ripple Effect Artists.

The ATA will serve as host for another milestone. The Green Room, a new musical that will have its East Coast premiere in September at the historic space. Intimate in nature (four characters), but powerful in scope, this paradigm shift in American musical theatre will feature Jessica Jennings at the helm as director.

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Ms. Jennings with ATA founder … and her father … James Jennings

Opening the fall 2019 season, this anticipated musical journey has been compared to Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along” but with the sense and sensibilities of the 21st century millennial artist. THE GREEN ROOM is the story of four friends who want to NOT be on Broadway – but want to take the more intellectual OFF-Broadway by storm.

It takes someone who understands the heart of the artist and the power that Off-Broadway now has … even over Broadway. Ms. Jennings has that in her DNA!

Tell us about yourself. 

I have a diverse background in dance and theatre. I pull on my full range of experiences and skills when I take on directing. Each script calls for it’s own set of needs, so drawing from different techniques is useful.  I like to ask myself: what are the rules of this world? Are we in reality? Are we in a metaphysical landscape? Is there an era or culture that we must pull from?  These kinds of questions help me determine how I proceed.  But ultimately the actors are creating characters and they must be fully physically involved.

Your own story reads like that of the great vaudevillians. 

I was raised in the theatre by theatre parents right here in Hell’s Kitchen. I was put on stage before I could walk.  I did a lot of theatre and commercials.  My earliest stage memory was being in a production of “King John” at age 4 and calling for line during a performance. 

I really gravitated toward dance.  I spent my childhood investing most of my time in that arena. I danced with Neubert Ballet at Carnegie Hall; a production of “Cinderella” at City Center with Ft. Worth Ballet; traveled to a The Edinburgh Festival with Cumberland Ballet; at 12 I danced for Sean Curran.  Then, as a teenager, I really got into modern dance.  Training at the Martha Graham School and then at University of the Arts (UArts, BFA).  I went on to form a dance company from 2005-2006 before I decided my body needed to retire.

My background in dance was really very saturated and high level.  I received some lovely accolades for my choreography, and a Dominic  DiPaolo Award from UArts for my Senior Thesis choreographic work “Plunging for Acquiescence.”  During college I kept returning to stage every summer.  I’ve done over 20 Shakespearean productions.  It wasn’t until 2010 that I put all my skills together and started directing.  It was really a very natural and obvious transition.  I enjoy it immensely and I think my skills in dance are very telling with my work.  I love moving actors on stage.  Martha Graham said “the body never lies” and that’s become my litmus test as I direct. I have a knack of physically spoting where the actors’ bodies are in or out of character.  It could be as simple as the way they hold a cup, or how they hold their head.

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From L to R: Creators, Chuck Pelletier and Stephen Foster with Jessica and Miller-Coffman Prods. artistic director, Stephen Miller.

What inspires you about GREEN ROOM? 

This is such a fun fun fun piece. I had a smile plastered on my face when I first listened to the music.  The music is inspiring and uplifting and witty.  I think all theatre people will have a fondness for this musical.  It portrays our story; it’s a glimpse into our world.  That inspires me. 

Share with us, your creative process. How you work with living composers/writers possibly sitting right next you you! Not to mention, building your staging, working with singers, etc. 

When you have living writers you have to respect their vision and their words more than with public domain works.  The creativity I bring as a director MUST be collaborative.  So I simply ask questions about the work, about the background.  In this case we have a tried and true musical that’s been successful around the country and also in Ireland.  Minor changes to update the text and lyrics were discussed, and agreed upon: for example, the political commentary has been updated over various versions to address the Clintons, then the Obamas.  Our version will mention the Trumps.  It has to or else we are dated.  

Chuck and Stephen have been more than generous with their time and collaboration.     I met them first through a conference call.  I asked questions about their expectations and their vision.  I needed to know if there was any nuance from past versions that should be adhered to or if I’d have the reigns completely.  (I have the reigns!)  I mentioned I would like to have some diversity in the casting when we bring it to NYC.  We worked together to agree on how to achieve that, on where there was freedom and where there was limitation.  Our producer also had a very clear vision that the character ‘Divonne’ should be ‘of weight’; he wants to show body diversity and it was very easy for all of us to get on-board with that.  

Casting?  

Casting is the tricky part.  When there are four creatives who have a say we each deserve to be heard.  I think we achieved that by the end of the process – everyone getting a say in why X actor will not work, why Y actor has a chance.  I came to the process very wide-eyed, knowing there were certain parameters, and also knowing that we’d have to make tough decisions.  We had brilliant talent in the room, but, for example, when our top-choice actor looks 35 years old and you’re casting for 18-22 yrs, you have to make a choice to either cast everyone up in age or everyone down in age.  

Working with singers?

I have a musical director, David Fletcher, who is working with them a week before I begin.  I am jazzed to have them put their own spin on the songs and I look forward to digging in to that work.  These actors will need more vocal warm-up, but ultimately the soul of the work is always the emotional work. 

You’re doing double-duty as the set designer?

Here we have a tried and true piece and many past-production designs that are all very similar to one another.  Our physical stage plays a role in how the set can be.  For example, we do not have a thrust or proscenium and so we have come up with two solutions that will work for the play-within-the play.  I can work with either final concept as long as the couch on stage is set at an angle and not squared off to the front.   

Give us your take on your characters – what does it mean to be a 20 something in the 21st Century. 

I’m a little older than that.  Being 20 something has always been a proving ground.  A time you start adult-ing, making tough and life decisions, sometimes messing it up.  Trying to prove your worth and separate yourself from being a kid.  I ‘think’ being 20’s nowadays means you are also proving to older adults that you have depth.  For better or worse everyone older is judging them for growing up around so much technology and want to know that they can be detached from a phone and social media.

Personally, what does the show mean to you?

“The Green Room” is like a walk down memory lane.  An homage to my youth and my days in college.  It’s cathartic. 

What’s next? 

Next… I won a Puffin Grant for the American Theatre of Actors to bring Phil Paradis’ plays on climate change to stage.  The project, “Cloudy with a Chance of Dystopia,” will rehearse in October and run in November.   The main event is his play “Footprints of the Polar Bear,” together with a few of his short plays that include “Natural Rarities Up for Bid,”  “The Perfect Place,” and a few others.  I will direct one or two of these works.

THE GREEN ROOM make its New York Premiere SEPTEMBER 25th – OCTOBER 26th at one of the original theaters that brought about the storied off-off Broadway movement, THE AMERICAN THEATRE OF ACTORS (314 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019).

GREEN ROOM POSTER

This Recent Tragic Event is a True Learning Experience

Edited by Natasha Dawsen

89491650437842e3a49a454f8ec22b98.jpgSet the night after September 11, 2001, Recent Tragic Events follows a blind date happening in the shadow of a tragedy.

Written by Craig Wright, and directed by Jake Lipman, this fateful date has been arranged between an attractive advertising exec, Waverly (played with intellectual intensity by Jaya Tripathi) and a tentative and bookish bookstore manager, Andrew (the excellent Matt Gibson).

But this is not just an ordinary blind date, filled with awkward pauses and sizing up of appearances. Each of the blind daters seem inextricably stuck together in this moment in time: Waverly is tethered to her phone, waiting for an important call while trying to flirt with Andrew, while Andrew ricochets from chair to perusing her books to staring deep into her eyes, all the while making multiple unsuccessful attempts to leave the confines of her apartment.

As the company’s stage manager (Loralee Tyson) informs the audience at the top of the show, the events of the piece could go in two possible directions; she invites an audience member to flip a coin, and from there, a tone is sounded for the moments where the action could go one way or another. This conceit was slightly distracting for me in the beginning, but it should be noted that the playwright is known for twisty television writing for shows like “Lost,” and it does eventually play out in the second act.

eda2f34a77607ca3e5d0b35884bd9199.jpgFrom this tense beginning, the play makes a left turn into an almost sitcom-like territory, complete with a group of quirky friends and neighbors. Next door neighbor and musician Ron stops by, (the hammy yet likable William Douglas Turner) and invites himself in, along with his depressive girlfriend (Jake Lipman, a lot of fun to watch), making for the weirdest of double-dates and much of the play’s sillier moments.

While Recent Tragic Events vacillates between dramatic and comedic moments, it poses philosophical questions about the role of fate versus free will in the course of our lives—which the play never fully answers. But maybe that’s the point—seeing this play nearly two decades after 9/11, I was struck by how little we know today about the events and actions taken leading up to this national tragedy, and yet the not knowing does not change the fact it happened.

Thanks to this ensemble of gifted actors, Tongue in Cheek’s production of Recent Tragic Events is an effective one, filled with moments of real warmth, humor, and connection.

Recent Tragic Events is currently running May 8-18 at The Bridge Theatre, Shetler Studios, 244 West 54th Street, 12th Floor. For tickets, go to http://www.tictheater.com

Inola McGuire reviews The Buffalo Hero

The Buffalo Hero of World War I

A play written and directed by Kenthedo Robinson

The American Theatre of Actors 314th West 54th Street, 4th Floor, NYC

The first performance of the actors in this historic and enlightening period piece was dynamic, and the audience was elated to see the heroic character of a fallen Buffalo Soldier hero by the name of Wayne Miner of the 92nd Division of WWI.  The actors in this play are the following:  Darrell Wyatt, Ms. D, Bereket Mengistu, Challeane Mullgrave, Mark J. Robinson, Shatique Brown, and Timothy Patrick Walsh.

The audience sees the characterization of the soldiers, and in a few scenes, Private Wayne Miner exemplifies in honor and courage to the core of his being.  On the other hand, Private Seymoure’s character joins a rigid military with a history of institutional racism with his preconceived mindset that is very confrontational through the eyes of his fellow privates, his lieutenant, and his captain.  Captain Blu, III is a Caucasian man with a southern background, and he tells the privates what he thinks about them in the harshest forms of insults about their race.   Nonetheless, Private Rucker’s character, a functional illiterate who hails from the state of Texas, finds himself in the military.  There is room for everyone!  Private Miner teaches him some basic skills.  His encounter with the racist captain reminds him of all of the racism he had experienced and what was prevalent before, during and after WWI in the United States of America.  As a reminder, the privates find themselves in the state of Iowa of all places.

Private Seymoure’s character stays defiant and Captain Blu assigns him to the cleaning of the latrine on the army compound as a form of punishment for his insubordination to his superior.  Unfortunately, the private finds himself stuck in the latrine for a considerable period of time, and his constraining to inhale urine and feces becomes the brunt of the jokes among the Captain and his white counterparts.  This experience forces him to curb his enthusiasm and halt his militancy.  The audience witnesses his transformation in awe!  The uppity private becomes a much humbler soul.

Private Miner shares a spiritual connection with his mother, and he communicates with her in a special way when he is alone.  He discusses his experiences with her, and her wise words of comfort fortifies his spirit.  Yet, from time to time, he and the other privates receive mails from their home states; but Private Rucker’s character accepts help with the reading of his mail from Private Miner.

As the play progresses, the audience sees the blatant inequality in the treatment and the lack of preparation for combat for the private soldiers.  Lieutenant Clark who is a college graduate tries his best to standup to Captain Blu.  Captain Blu uses his caring nature for his men to manipulate any advantage he seems to gain over him.  The audience surmises that the military’s intention is to keep the privates as stevedores around the base.  With the insistence of the lieutenant on the privates’ behalf, there are substantial changes, but Captain Blu continues to delegate his orders to the lieutenant without hesitation.

In an environment where there is a war, there is the presence of the Red Cross to care for the wounded and the sick; and the American military had incorporated nurses of African descent to assist its soldiers.  Private Miner and his fellow soldiers find themselves in France, although they are not fully trained for combat.  Captain Blu continues his ill treatment of them, but Lieutenant Clark attempts to curtail his unreasonable behavior towards Private Miner and the other men at times.  Captain Blu’s states his requirements for unity, loyalty, and courage from his men.   Both Captain Blu and Lieutenant Clark stay in constant contact via radio with their superiors, and the soldiers on the front line suffer heavy casualties.  Now, the decision for the removal of the wounded and the dead in the trenches falls on the backs of Privates Seymoure and Rucker.  With the inability to drink to calm his nerves, Private Rucker becomes helpless and he is unable to cope with the situation around him.   Private Seymoure gets shot and Private Rucker leaves him at the site, but he returns to base and he reports to Captain Blu and Lieutenant Clark the latest development.

Captain Blu becomes irate and he begins to hurl insults at Private Rucker who ignores him.   Private Rucker seems frozen with fear and his ill preparedness for the misery of war.  Lieutenant Clark reminds Captain Blu of all the things that are wrong in their situation, and Private Miner offers to rescue his colleague, Private Seymoure with success as the audience observes his agony before he dies.  Yet, there is another problem to be solved by Captain Blu and Lieutenant Clark wants him to reconsider his actions.  Captain Blu wants to make a name for himself for a promotion in rank.  The shortage of ammunitions on the battle field, and the urgency for the delivery to the soldiers with the machine guns, can be the ideal opportunity for his promotion.  Private Miner volunteers to take the ammunitions to the soldiers.  Despite being wounded on his way to the battle field, he manages to deliver the supplies safely to the troops before he succumb to his wounds.  His effort saves the day!  Private Miner’s bravery allows his feat to live on as a Buffalo Soldier until the end of time.

The audience realizes that Private Wayne Miner died from his injury or injuries, and after his mother receives the notification of her son’s death; she instructs the officer to bury him in France.   The military surely complied with her wish.  Private Miner’s grave site is known to the public in France!

The reviewer’s response to the play and the developments that transpired during and after WWI in America.  African-American women gained acceptance in the Red Cross at the end of the war.   The play shows us that the more we think that things have changed in America, there is still a current of bigotry permeating among people of influence.  In the year 2019, America is divided and the politicians have not addressed this issue whole heartedly in order to enact lasting change.

I will surely recommend the play, “The Buffalo Hero, The Wayne Miner Story” to fellow theatre goers.  It is a must see production.  They are going to learn about the courage and honor of one man whose action probably change the course of history in WWI.  The playwright did an excellent job with his research and the storytelling of a hero’s story.

 

Women of the Arts 2019

Jessie Fahay is a real renaissance woman!

maxresdefault (3)Founding Executive Director, Jessie’s love for theatre, philanthropy, and ethical business practices.

She grew up with a love for viewing visceral theatre productions that move audiences along with the philosophy that “We are here to create and contribute. Not Compete.” -Robert Anthony.

Her accomplishments range from being a published author and playwright, attaining an MBA, and winning the New Jersey Governor’s award for one of her original written works. After graduating from Marymount Manhattan with a BA in Theatre and Production Management, she spent years acting in New York with numerous touring and not-for-profit theatre companies along with being cast in several television/film roles.

b8.jpgAt the helm of Ripple Effect Artists, Fahay – since 2009 – is a virtual one-woman band as lead-producer, webmaster, marketing executive, and more-than occasionally performing.

She is the author of the popular, “What Method? The Different Ways an Actor Can Train.”

But in the end, her main goal is to open the door to young and emerging artsiosts so they can create their own … Ripple Effect.

Ripple Effect Artists invite you to a special Earth Day celebration at the opulent Triad Theater on Easter night: EARTH DAY CABARET! Special event, Sunday evening, April 21, 2019 @ 6:00 – 7:30 pm at The Triad, 158 W 72nd St, New York City.

Special performances by notates from on and off Broadway: Dylan Adams, Jessie Fahay, Rance W Wright, and interfaith minister and artist, Sandra Bargman.

b38.jpgTell us about yourself as an artist?

As an artist, I am someone who is always up for challenging myself and leaving my comfort zone.  Transformation is what I find so important and moving in any artistry and I strive to have myself transform with every role I take on.  I also have done this as a writer and singer.  (Side note—making audiences laugh has always been quite important to me).  It is always about marrying mind, body, and voice to bring about technical excellence along with inner truth.   

Tell us about Ripple Effect?

b65.jpgI began this company along with Jessica Jennings after I participated in a weekend long course (at a place called Landmark Worldwide) and got that I wanted to create theatfr that made an impact along with theatre artists with whom I trust and love to collaborate.  I had no idea how to produce or begin a 501c3 or fundraise or anything!   And I just started and kept being willing to fail and kept stating where I wanted the company to go.   And now, 10 years and 10 shows, five concerts, many fundraising events, and two international teaching trips later (along with other programming), here we are!   I love that we create partnerships with Human Rights Leaders and have them speak at our shows.   It can and does in deed cause a Ripple Effect….

You’re a world traveler so share with us what are the theater arts from around the world.    

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Traveling and studying Theatre around that world hasn’t made a huge difference for myself as an actor/singer and for the company.   My studies in Russia at the Moscow Art Theater School taught me about cohesive ensemble and how to bring that to a company.   My Masters in the UK has shown me such practical and useful ways to bring body and vocal techniques to any performances along with really thorough text analysis.  In general, learning about as many cultures as possible while traveling is key to understanding how stories are put together and how historical/cultural context can shape every aspect of a script.  

Tell us about the cabaret?

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I am so excited for this cabaret!   These singers are fantastic and such professionals.  They are all singing poignant songs that will give the audience chills as well as make us think about this topic. 

Is Global warming a cause-celeb for you?

Global Warming is a major topic for me because it IS something we are dealing with right now.  The up-rise of disastrous storms cannot be ignored.  Many are dying and suffering due to the fact that we do not have infrastructure to support such disasters.  

It’s right in the middle of the holiday season … was that to give it more “spirituality?”    

Yes!   And to create a fun activity after Afternoon Easter celebrations. 

You are an author as well?

Yes!  My book is titled “What Method? The Different Ways an Actor Can Train.”   

CHECK OUT THE BOOK HERE

What’s next for the company … and for you, if they’re not connected.

I am out to enhance my own Acting career and hitting the audition circuit soon!   The company is producing 2071: The World We Will Leave Our Grandchildren”  in August at the Episcopal Actors Guild Theater.  

Here’s the BIG question … What’s it like being a woman running an arts company in NYC in the 21st century? 

At times it is quite inspiring because I have made some wonderful connections with other effective female producers and directors and have had them be my mentors.   Watching how they grew as business women through the 80s/90s and beyond has taught me fortitude and tenacity as well as the ability to make requests when needed and stand my ground when it comes to a specific vision.   

I still am sometimes spoken to as though I am not the “real deal” and at times I have to remind people of the fact that I have done my due diligence (and have an MBA).   I think this may be due to my age as well as my gender.  However, we are in an exciting time.  These last 10 years have proven that people of my generation (the older end of millennials who grew up in the 90s) can create startups and new businesses and new concepts FOR businesses at a young age.  Having a career that we design has become a priority.   I know many young women such as myself who have begun charities and businesses of their own and there are great resources for them.   It is a matter of charities and companies growing together and creating partnerships that will have all missions thrive.  In other words, we gotta stick together.

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Women in the Arts 2019

8OeQLO2OJake Lipman is an artistic director, producer, writer, director, actress, festival producer, intellectual, entrepreneur … and that’s just the top of the list.

Her current play, RECENT TRAGIC EVENTS by Craig Wright with share The Bridge Theatre @ Shetler Studios with a festival of her own creation, SPRING PLUS 1 SOLO SHOW FESTIVAL. AND she will do the same again in the fall with her next powerful piece. 

Ms. Lipman’s company, Tongue in Cheek Theater, just like its founder, wears many artsistic hats, its works are designed to make you think, feel, and laugh. that last one is very important.

OPENING in MAY:
RECENT TRAGIC EVENTS by Craig Wright
The Bridge Theatre @ Shetler Studios
244 West 54th Street. 
Eight performances, May 8-18 (Wed-Sat nights)
When accomplished advertising exec Waverly opens the door to her Minneapolis apartment on a warm September night, she’s aghast. How could she have forgotten her blind date, Andrew, would be picking her up? As she scrambles to get ready, a series of twists and unexpected guests waylay them on their night out. A thought-provoking comedy about a blind date with destiny.

in repertory with

SPRING PLUS 1 SOLO SHOW FESTIVAL
also at The Bridge Theatre @ Shetler Studios
Two shows: May 12-13; (Sun & Mon nights)

Visit www.tictheater.com for more information and to buy tickets.

Jake Lipman received her Masters of Fine Arts from the Actors Studio Drama School at the New School and her Bachelor of Arts from Smith College. As an actor, she has toured nationally, appeared in New York and regional theater, TV, independent film, and voice-over work, in addition to producing, writing, and directing theater and film. In 2006, she formed Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions (TIC).

It’s been a while since we spoke to Jake and things have only gotten better. We’re thrilled to have her as one of the prominent women of the arts 2019.

Tell us about yourself as an artist?

I’ve been acting since I was 7, and it’s funny, the first role I ever played was a producer in a play called The Great American Musical Disaster. I wore reflective aviator shades and a white Miami Vice-like blazer. Many years and an MFA later, I would finally learn what a producer does, mostly by doing. And that’s what the word “producer” means to me – I get involved in anything and everything a piece requires. I love collaborating with other people, on casting, in the rehearsal room, workshopping new plays, directing, and yes, still acting.

Lipman & Co. in the celebrated office comedy, Relentlessly Pleasant

Tell us about your company? 
I graduated with an MFA in acting and thought: now what? The answer was to produce a play with a great role for me, and from there, I found my inner producing artistic director.

I founded Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions (www.tictheater.com) in 2006 to ensure I was always working on thought-provoking comedies. I’ve now produced 40 productions, acted onstage in many, directed a dozen, and written a few. I love the many different creative challenges each aspect of a production requires of me. And I get to work with the incredibly talented people of New York. It’s a great place to make indie theater happen.

8OeQLO2O.jpegSerious matters that evoke a chuckle? Very classical and rare today. Care to elaborate?

What’s that old adage that comedy is tragedy + time? That’s certainly been true for me, from writing a solo show about scattering my mother’s ashes in Ireland (Up a River) to writing and directing Relentlessly Pleasant about the challenges women face in the workplace. But mostly, I think people want to see something that engages them and surprises them. If I can make them laugh and then think about why they laughed, I’ve engaged my audience and done my job.

What is your creative process as a writer?

To be clear, I didn’t write my latest piece, Recent Tragic Events  — the very talented Craig Wright did! But I have written and produced several plays, including Relentlessly Pleasant (2018) and The Inn at Lake Devine (based on the novel by the same name).

My process is very structured – I create a master plan with deadlines for when I’ll have drafts and send them to readers for their input. This keeps me honest, and waking up early and drinking lots of coffee while I write. I love this period of getting up early and writing. I look forward to it, and frankly, I don’t even sleep particularly well, because I’m working out my next twist in my head and my brain won’t fully turn off to let me sleep.

Then, I workshop the piece and revise, and I love to hear it aloud. That really helps flush out what’s not working and helps me refine further.

But to answer the question a bit more succinctly: structure and lots of coffee.

Do you write with the intention of direction or acting – or both – in the play or is that an organic decision?

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I think of myself as an actor first and foremost, so I develop works for me in a key role. With The Inn at Lake Devine, the lead character is this feisty young woman from Massachusetts, and when I first read the book, I thought, that’s me! I am her! So that was the impetus for my reaching out to the novelist to adapt her book. I wanted to fully play out that role. With Relentlessly Pleasant, I wrote one of the leads for myself but very late in the process, my director had to back out due to a change in jobs, and I had to take a deep breath and direct it instead of act in it. That was a big, hard pill to swallow. But fortunately, my cast was so incredible, and their portrayal of every character so surpassed what I had envisioned, that I was able to enjoy the play coming together as a whole new thing. That was deeply satisfying.

Who do you write for… who is your audience?

My desired audience is my dad, or people like him. He’s this jovial, funny, smart guy in his seventies who sees a lot of movies, is reasonably well-informed and well-read, but not stuffy. He’s not into things that need to be explained or that are deliberately esoteric. If he gets one of my shows, I am confident that I’ve put forth work that is accessible, entertaining, and engaging.

What’s it like being a woman in the arts in the 21st century – post #MeToo, during Trump? 

Oy. I am of two minds. The first mind says, well, it’s scary and it sucks. But the second mind says, screw that, you never had to ask for permission to do the shows you do, you just did them. And you will continue to make your own work and opportunities. So I sometimes think the former, but mostly I try to live the latter.

What’s next for you?

A bunch of things! I am producing, directing, and acting in Recent Tragic Events, May 8-11 and 15-18, 2019 at The Bridge Theatre @ Shetler Studios (tickets are on sale at www.tictheater.com). The show is set over the course of a night when a man shows up for a blind date and ends up entrenched in the life of the woman he picks up. I’m curating my 15th Plus 1 Solo Show Festival of new works, which runs for 2 nights, May 12-13, 2019 during the dark nights of Recent Tragic Events. I showcase 3 new solo shows and a musical guest, and it’s always a great night of theater.

And, I’m helping a dear friend develop her solo show, Untransmittable, which will be showcased as a staged reading on May 14.

dSWBQ0qkAnd then, last but not least, I have adapted Relentlessly Pleasant into a TV pilot and am taking meetings to see about developing it further for a steaming service. It’s early days yet but I feel passionately about making a piece that centers around women at work and the comedy of power dynamics.

Women of the Arts 2019

WAR OF WORDS, PART III

Articulating The Arts: The Art of Protest: April 3 – 6 (April 3 – 5 @ 8pm; April 6 @ 7pm) at TADA Theatre 15 W. 28th St, NYC, 2nd Floor. Tkts: http://www.articulatetheatre.com/ata-5-the-art-of-protest.html

Articulate will team playwrights with visual artists to create a signature benefit event examining other art forms through the lens of theatre. It brings together the ATC ensemble and guest artists with unique works of art to use as a springboard and source of inspiration for new theatre works.

We asked the artistic director, the brilliant Cat Parker,
one question:

Why are you doing this? 

 

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Cat Parker – Artistic Director of Articulate Theatre Company/ Director (This is Bull)

Why Am I Doing this Project?

In January of 2013, I gathered together 40 friends and colleagues and asked them a question: Does NYC really need another theatre company? We all agreed that, indeed, NYC did NOT need another theatre company. Then I asked them if we should start one anyway. Again, the response was unanimous: Of COURSE we should!

I’m doing this project for those people.

Articulating the Arts started off as a way to give a large portion of our 50 member ensemble the chance to strut their stuff, and try new things – act in a role they normally would never audition for, step out from behind the curtain and try acting instead of stage managing, etc. But it quickly turned into a crowd pleaser so we ramped up the production values, and reached out to guest playwrights, directors and actors.

But we haven’t forgotten the learning element to this gig. We use Articulating the Arts as a way to learn more about other art forms. When we used classic paintings as inspiration, we read about the paintings and the artists, when we used folk music, we had a panel discussion about the history of folk music in New York City, and when we used children’s folklore, we brought in playwrights and producers to discuss the value of storytelling.

This production will be our 5th Articulating the Arts, and, given the state of the world, it was a no-brainer to discuss the artist’s role in affecting change, thus was born “The Art of Protest.” Many of us have signed petitions, gone to protests, created provocative memes online. But it was the visuals of those signs at the protests that caught my attention. Some were planned and elegantly created, some were scrawled on the floor of someone’s studio apartment 10 minutes before they ran out the door, a literal sign of hope in their hands.

I’m doing this project for those people, too.

Articulating the Arts: The Art of Protest is also a benefit production. It will help us to do our Fall production. The indie theatre community is really starting to come into its own in terms of production levels and their value in the NYC community at large. The playwrights, the directors, the actors, the designers – we’re not doing “Billy and Suzy make a play in the garage” theatre. These artists are professionals, passionate and talented. Articulating the Arts helps to give them a platform upon which to shine, and from which to share stories that will make a difference in our world. Personally, nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing change happen on a script page, in a rehearsal hall, in the sharing between the stage and the audience, and in the conversations about the issues as people leave the theatre.

So, I’m doing this project for all the people involved, and all the people who attend. And I’m doing it for me, too.

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Women in the Arts 2019

images.jpgJILTED TO PERFECTION, a short musical romance, written and starring acclaimed opera singer, Debra Cook, after a joyous and celebrated run last summer on Theatre Row, returns for a special showing at The Triad, the posh NYC cabaret, on Saturday afternoon, April 13 @ 3:00 p.m., 158 West 72nd Street (between Amsterdam & Columbus aves) with tickets available at www.triadnyc.com. Two drink minimum, light fare available.

Ms. Cook’s semi-autobiographical musical love letter to her departed husband. This is no simple love story, however! The musical, enhanced and explored further, tells the story of a shamed and divorced Mormon mother who – after a botched audition for the Metropolitan Opera – meets the strange and older Fred. He – upon immediate attraction – pursues her despite her fears, her missed dates, and her biases. The musicalization of their unorthodox romance takes them to two coasts and Utah, Scientology, Fred’s third [ex]wife, Debra’s son, their mission as artists, and Fred’s fluctuating health. Debra’s realization that Fred was right about them being soul mates, but it may have come too late. The musical ends with a special appearance that will provoke great thought, hope … and tears.

Ms. Cook is celebrated in many fields.

She is managing director of Utah Conservatory, Head of Voice Department and member of piano faculty. Served 10 years as Adjunct Assistant Professor for the University of Utah’s Actor Training Program, also developing the Department of Theatre’s Musical Theatre studio courses, as well as a year for the U’s Music Department. Served 11 years on the music faculty at Brigham Young University, teaching voice, group voice and diction; and served as past president of the Southern Utah Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Ms. Cook has performed opera and concert work throughout the United States, including solo performances with the National Choral Society at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, Utah Symphony, and several seasons in repertory with Utah Opera Company. She performed off-Broadway, is featured as Roxanne in Stuart Crane’s cast recording of Cyrano, and serves as a professional choral conductor and competition adjudicator.

WELL!

Let’s turn the mic over to her to tell us about her musical that has taken NYC by the heart!

What inspired you to turn this romance into a musical? 
There are a few inspirations here.  
First, Fred, as an educator, wrote throughout his career about acting, performance and philosophy. As an “original thinker,” he has seminal concepts to help the performer assume a viewpoint in a most genuine way, which not only turns out authentic performers, but translates into a healthy approach to life, avoiding some of the traps that can discourage performers and even cause a bit of craziness in their lives.  We’ve all seen it…actors overdosing and ending their lives from depression, or simply having trouble assessing themselves and their skills.  We worked to implement these concepts in our little realm of teaching at our conservatory and in college classes.  I wanted to finish that book. For various reasons that I do not want to go into, there was a strong impression that the book needs to wait. I realized that Fred’s maxims and methods were evident in our relationships, our anecdotes, our failures, our ability to make our own choices, a sense of mission, our love, and our recognitions in the ups and downs of life.  Thus, a musical made sense.  Could I hide the concepts into the story?  Could this crazy love letter honor these concepts and the man who so joyfully lived them?   
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Second inspiration is Gene Fisch and his New York New Works Theatre Festival.  After working as a consultant for four years on another big musical, the writer entered Gene’s festival in 2017, and it soared to the finals while I served as Musical Director and assisted with various aspects of the production.  In the process, I recruited a few volunteers from Park City to help with the show.  One of them, a very close girlfriend, went to several of the shows and said, in passing, “Hey, Debra.  We’ve seen a lot of theatre here.  I bet we could write something and get into this festival.”  So, several weeks later, we met with another writer and began a concept that led to “Jilted to Perfection.”  And the product was not at all what we had started with. Musicals have a way of taking a journey, and most times you are best to go with it. We all agreed to scale down our original concept of three women’s stories to just one story, So, both Gene and my dear friend, Kristen Brown, were inspirations.
What was the most difficult part of writing the piece?  
There is a tie here.  
One is carving out the time. We are all busy people, with more distractions that we can number. While a new composer is working, they have to exist, like earn a living, clean the bathroom, be a family member or friend, or even serve as a church lady
Second is the arduousness of writing of the music.  I’m a slow, slow, slow composer.  It does not flow out of me like yummy chocolate at the fondue table, instantly sticking to the page or, even, sticking to my memory. As a singer, the melody was not as tough as the harmony.  And, as a teacher, I had scads of prolific exemplars in my head and had to step back and realize that it was okay to just be me.  If being me was not as brilliant as the great ones (we all know who they are), so be it.  The goal would be that the music would serve as a vehicle for communication on a higher level of consciousness than the text alone.  Period.  It helped me finish a song…eventually.    
Where do you go from here?
In May, I will present the “mini-musical” version of “Jilted to Perfection” at the Classical Singer National Convention (CSMusic) in Chicago, along with a talk back session about the process.  We’ll see about the a theatre that is looking at it for an upcoming season, and the requests for performances locally.  In the meantime, each showing provides a bit more insight about what works and what needs to change.  But mostly, I plan to enjoy the process from here….experience the joy as a writer and a performer, and share that joy with others.    

Ms. Cook’s granddaughter. An integral part of the production. See it to find out.