Kate Gill provides some sound views on the arts

“I have worked for many years as a communications strategist at a New York City ad agency. After thousands of interviews over thousands of hours, it’s still fascinating to me to uncover how people feel (often they cannot say) and insights about how they can be motivated. All of this work feeds and informs my plays. But the core inspiration for my writing is usually one small thing that inexplicably stops me and makes me see something in a new light – a newspaper item, a personal story, a scientific fact, or an odd comment – and I begin to imagine a story…” says playwright Kate Gill, who spoke with us thoughtfully and proved to be a perfect addition to our our list of lady-influencers of the arts in NYC.

Soundview Summer is just such a story. Billy and Jack thought they had found the ideal summer job. Decent hours … good money … and it was a no-brainer … just clean up the Soundview Nuclear Power Plant. After being nominated for three MITF Awards after its initial workshop presentation, it is now on the verge of opening its first full-scale production.

Hudson Theatre Works will present a limited run of Kate Gill’s powerful stage play about two young men’s altered lives due to the unsafe surroundings of their summer job at a nuclear power plant.


Preview is November 3 @ 8:00 pm; Opening is the following night, November 4 @ 8:00 pm; and will run November 5 @ 3:00 pm, November 9, 10, 11 @ 8:00 pm, November 12 @ 3:00 pm, November 16, 17, 18 @ 8:00 pm, November 19 @ 3:00 pm, at Theaterlab, 357 West 36th Street, NYC, a unique incubator of indie works. Come for the engaging play, study the unique theater setting. For tickets, go online at www.theaterlabnyc.com.


Why this piece, this subject? Why now?

I started writing Soundview Summer years ago. By chance, I met a man just a few months ago, who believes his health was ruined by working in a nuclear power plant and he shared his very moving story with me.  Today with all the political talk about less regulations and letting business do what’s best for business – an environment is emerging where workers could be less protected and more likely to be damaged or exploited.


What’s the parable or moral of this play? Who do we feel-for?

Living with a lie destroys your life – you are only free when you you live your truth.
What is your opinion of indie theater? 

It’s where much innovation and creative energy comes from – it is freer than commercial theater to explore new territory.

Finally, my favorite, what’s it like being a woman in the NYC arts scene in the 21st century?

It’s great! Not prefect yet full of opportunity – far more opportunity than there was when I was younger. And while women seem to be losing ground in the political world they continue to strongly gain ground in the arts.




Jake Lipman speaks Tongue-in-Cheek

Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions completes its revival of  Theresa Rebeck’s Mauritius tomorrow, October 28.  All of us at Five Star Arts Journals congratulate and celebrate Jake Lipman, founder AND producing artistic director, for shepherding another great work for a great group of workers.

Mauritius closed 28, 2017 at The Bridge Theatre @ Shetler Studios, 244 West 54 Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY. Tickets are $18 at http://www.tictheater.com or by calling 1-800- 838-3006.

We’re thrilled to add Ms. Lipman to our list of lady-influencers of the arts in NYC:


Tell us about yourself as an artist.

I am an actor, who, after completing my MFA, started producing theater as a way to showcase myself and productions that excite me.

I founded my own production company, Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions (www.tictheater.com) in 2006. Our mission is to produce and create thought-provoking comedies.

As producing artistic director for TIC, I am able to dig in artistically to nearly all facets of a show, not the least of which is selecting our productions (or sometimes creating new works!).

I act in most of TIC’s productions, and over the course of my nearly 12 years running TIC, I have also directed (Ruby, How I Learned to Drive, Our Town, Whale Song, Places, Please), devised new works (Buffalo Heights – our summer 2017 Planet Connections production was nominated for 4 awards), curated (14 iterations of TIC’s solo show festival, Plus 1), and written plays (adapted the best-selling novel, The Inn at Lake Devine into the world premiere play with music in 2015).

And there are a number of other, smaller, pieces to production that I find very artistically satisfying: hiring great crew and casting my shows, designing my shows’ artwork, researching the show’s world, creating props, sourcing costumes, writing press releases, updating my website, and doing interviews like this!


Kris and Natalie get married

Why did you create Tongue in Cheek?

The last year of my grad program, at the Actors Studio Drama School at the New School, we did a repertory season, in which every MFA candidate produced and acted in a production.

We picked our productions, which of course featured a prime acting role for us, and then we got to weigh in on everything else: casting, selecting a director from our classmates, creating a design proposal for costumes, set, props, lighting, and music. I loved looking at a production so holistically, and so once I had my MFA, I decided to try it on my own.

My first TIC production was The Baltimore Waltz by Paula Vogel – it had a great part of me, the play was funny yet thought-provoking, and, just as important, the play has a small cast with nominal production needs.

That first production went really well, and I was bit by the producing bug. I’ve produced 35 productions since then, acting in many, directing occasionally, and getting to create theater that speaks to me. My life is infinitely richer for all the shows, collaborators, and audiences I’ve produced through TIC.


What is the biggest obstacle I face as a producer/artistic director?

This is a tough question, because sometimes the obstacles, or limitations, like a small budget or venue, can result in ingenuity, and scrappiness, that I find invigorating.

That said, my personal biggest obstacle, in running a theater company, is that it’s hard to know how to reach the next level and how to set ambitious, but obtainable, goals.

Next level work could be any or all of the following: longer runs, top-notch designers and collaborators, audiences largely comprised of people I don’t know, developing new works and gaining critical and audience recognition.

There isn’t really a map or a class I can take that will tell me specifically how to get to the next level, so I have to continue to push past my fears of the unknown and try one or two new things at a time, like developing new works with new collaborators, and see where they lead.


What’s the moral of your next production, Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck, and why are you reviving it?

Mauritius is a play about two estranged half-sisters who disagree about what to do with a valuable stamp collection that they inherit. Things get sticky when one sister tries to sell the stamps to some seedy characters on the stamp black market.

As the playwright says in the play, the intriguing thing about stamps is that it’s the errors that make them valuable. The same can be said for all 5 characters in the play: we are all flawed, complex, and intriguing to each other, and therein lies the conflict and the humor.

I’m reviving Mauritius because it’s beautifully written, and a true ensemble piece, with twists and turns. It keeps you guessing.


What is your opinion of indie theater?

To me, indie theater means innovative theater. We tell stories with small budgets, yet a lot of inspiration and ingenuity.

One of my donors told me that he loves that when he comes to one of my shows, he can see every actor’s eyes. This comment makes me laugh, because I often book small venues, but it’s also kind of great: for $18, an audience member at one of my shows has a great vantage point into the story; they’re part of the action.


What’s it like being a woman in the NYC arts scene in the 21st century?

I am a proud feminist and artist, and to me, that means producing works which feature great roles and arcs for women, and working with collaborators who would also describe themselves as feminist (which is not to say female-only).

Some ways for me to ensure this happens is to curate and create new works that are explicitly female-driven stories.

When I adapted The Inn at Lake Devine in 2015, it was important to me that over half of the play’s roles were for women. Of course, I had great source material: the book on which the play is based is about a young woman with drive and moxie, Natalie Marx. I developed the play so I could star in it, and nearly every review described my character as “feisty.” As a woman in the NYC arts scene in the 21st century, that’s a pretty great credo: be feisty.

Mauritius runs for 7 performances, Oct. 18-20 and 25-28, 2017 at 8 PM at The Bridge Theatre @ Shetler Studios, 244 West 54th Street, 12th Floor, NYC. Tickets are $18 at www.tictheater.com and 1-800-838-3006.

Dorian Palumbo reviews Ilia Volok in “Diary of a Madman”

img-2556_1_origWriters write to show us what they think, feel, and believe about a particular situation.  We, as members of the writer’s audience, demonstrate that we are interested in the writer’s point of view by buying a ticket, sitting ourselves down in a seat, and allowing them to guide our attention for a short while in order to communicate it with us.  But when we experience a revival of an older work, we don’t sit down without our modern cultural baggage.  Even the most celebrated writers, and the most gifted of actors, might find it hard to get us to check it in the vestibule before entering the venue.

So is Nikolai Gogol’s “Diary of a Madman” a tragic story of a poor, ill man whose path winds inexorably toward an institution?  Or, in these days when every state has criminal stalking laws on the books, and rightly so, is it simply a story that somewhat romanticizes paranoid schizophrenia, a mental illness for which we, today, have better understanding  (and also better treatments, albeit not perfect ones.)  I don’t think it’s possibly not to entertain the latter perspective, while still being able to appreciate the former.

img-2468_1_origThis one-actor play, at approximately 70 minutes, is performed with consummate skill and precision by Ilia Volok, an amazingly talented actor whose face the audience will no doubt find familiar, as he’s done over 150 film and television roles.  His rendering of the character of Poprishchin, the titular Madman, is at once both touching and frightening and he careens from descriptions of mundane and quite ordinary behaviors to strange certainties; dogs have always been able to talk, that he, himself, is Kind Ferdinand the 8th of Spain, and that China and Spain are actually the same country.

Poprishchin is obsessed with Sophie, the daughter of the man he works for, hanging around outside her gate, following her as she goes about her shopping and despairing over her attention to a young Chamberlain.  Ultimately his obsession leads him to confront poor Sophie in her own bedroom, the act which leads to his incarceration in an asylum.  As a woman in 2017 I am, of course, utterly unable to argue that that is not where he belongs, despite the horrendous conditions he experiences therein.

Whether you burden “Diary of a Madman” with current attitudes regarding breaking and entering or madness, there is still something in this short play that Gogol hints at very cleverly and, yet, is never so unsubtle as to try and highlight or explain – Sophie’s father, “His Excellency”, the Director of the place where Poprishchin works, judging by Poprischin’s description of him, demonstrates the entitled cluelessness of the very rich toward the very poor.

How is it that the Director invites Poprishchin into his home to organize papers and sharpen pencils on a weekly schedule and doesn’t notice that he’s showing signs of being desperately unhinged?   Apparently, the Director is so wrapped in his own bubble of indifference and wealth that he’s utterly unaware that he is exposing his own daughter, in her own home, in her own boudoir, to the attentions of someone who is dangerously mentally ill.  He doesn’t notice a single odd quirk – not the disheveled clothes, not the paranoid affect, nothing at all.

The Direction of the play is simple, elegant and inspired.  Eugene Lazerev composes his picture, chooses music, guides lighting and costuming, to create an environment where Ilia Volok can personify the story without any sort of editorializing.  With this kind of directorial support, Volok is able to validate that, yes, there is no question that we’ll be watching someone who’s very ill, but that his illness isn’t all there is to him.  It’s rather like a singer opening a concert by performing their biggest hit song; by beginning with madness established by the theatrical environment, we are then free to try and connect with the other parts of the madman’s personality, his love of theatre, his yearning for self-respect, that are being slowly obscured by the disease as it progresses.

And in a nod to modern folks with modern sensibilities, Volok and Lazarav don’t make any attempt to elicit sentimental sympathy for Poprishchin’s behavior while still allowing us to feel sorry for the man himself.  This is a tightrope act that comes off beautifully.

img-2487_1_origDiary of a Madman will run until November 12th at the American Theatre of Actors, Beckmann Theatre, 314 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019.  Tickets are $30, and can be obtained either by using smarttix.com, or by calling the ATC at 212-581-3044


Dorian Palumbo reviews Stephanie Satie in “Coming to America”

Back in the 50’s and 60’s we still had what they used to call “monologist” – one of the most famous was Danny Thomas, a Lebanese immigrant whose name at birth was Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz.  Though Thomas performed his monologues in nightclubs, those venues were soon taken over by comics who told jokes and did “bits”, and the art of monology was left to live and breathe only in the theatre, and even then with the assumption that there would be a full-blown play around it.  Exceptions abound; Studs Terkel’s “Working” in 1974, and more recently the brilliant works of Anna Deveare Smith, who transforms herself into each of the men and women who feature in the monologues she writes.

Still, though pure monology exists, it’s rarely celebrated the way the United Solo play festival celebrates it, and rarely done as well as Stephanie Satie, following the path of Deveare Smith and Thomas, does it with her show “Coming to America: Transformations.”

Like Deveare Smith, Satie collects, curates, enhances and embroiders the stories told to her by immigrant women from places like Cambodia, Afghanistan and Russia, then renders the characters onstage herself.  As a teacher of English as a Second Language, Satie came to know these women and, by extension, their immigration stories, as she helped them improve their language skills.  Like Thomas, nee Kairouz, Satie is an American born of immigrant parents with an ache to tell the stories of her family and other families having a similar experience, and “Coming to America” is only her latest work to be thus inspired.

“Coming to America” comes in at around an hour, and in that time Satie inhabits ten different characters whose immigrant experience is fascinating, fraught, and shows us not only about the indomitable female spirit, but also indirectly reminds us that the America to which these women came years ago is changing into an America into which some of them might never have arrived at all.  Indeed, the last story tells of a Syrian immigrant who was one of the first to immigrate to Norway, explaining that Syrians don’t even consider America a possibility any longer.

Satie performs each of these roles, with a minimum of costuming, and transitions from each to each with ease, with the help of some careful and respectful direction from Anita Khanzadian.  I do wonder if it might have been possible to explore fewer character studies than the ten Satie has chosen, in favor of exploring some of the others in more depth, intensity, and poignancy.  That said, the stories of all of the women Satie has chosen are interesting, authentic, and extremely informative, and Satie renders them with affection, verve and much, much style.

Sadly, the performance that I saw on Sunday, October 22nd, was the only one listed as part of the festival.  Indeed, most of the performers in UnitedSolo seem to have been given a single slot.  However, Stephanie Satie has an online presence at www.refugeestheplay.com, and is represented by Jeannine Frank, Frank Entertainment, if you would like information about further performances.


Dorian Palumbo reviews Lane Bradbury in LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU … AGAIN!


So many little girls dream of having a career on the Broadway stage.  At Don’t Tell Mama, I had the great good fortune of spending time in the company of a little girl who did exactly what so many dream of, and with sweetness, with verve, with panache.

The inimitable Lane Bradbury was the original Dainty June Gypsy in 1959.  Her career has not only included musical theater but also dozens and dozens of television appearances, beginning with Gunsmoke and stretching up through Party of Five, and iconic films like Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.   In her most recent turn at entertaining us, a cabaret memoir called Let Me Entertain You, Again, Lane shows us that artists are born, not made, and that once you’ve got “it”, it never goes away.

Like the character of Dainty June, Lane gives the impression of being eternally childlike yet lets you know she has a naughty side that you will find delightful.  The show is written for her by Doug DeVita, who creates just the right pace and tone.  Not content with simply writing patter between numbers, DeVita showcases the moments in her life when Lane was in conflict with parents, a feckless lover, the legendary Jerome Robbins, and the even more legendary Ethel Merman.  Though the stories themselves are Lane’s own, DeVita deftly shapes the evening by giving them a sophisticated framework from which to sing out, baby, between songs by Jule Styne, Steven Schwartz, and Harold Karr.

We even get a tad bit of audience participation, with Ms. Bradbury calling out for a volunteer from the audience to sing the part of Louise so that she can give us a very sweet rendition of “If Mama Was Married.”  I can think of a half-dozen friends of mine who would have loved to jump up on that stage for the honor of singing with Lane.  And a half-dozen more who would have felt like belting Jerome Robbins after Lane told us the “teapot story”  from the run of Gypsy – well, of course, I’ll just let Lane tell you that story herself.

With Joe Goodrich providing rock-solid musical direction and support on piano, and Bradbury’s daughter Elkin Antoniou directing, Lane Bradbury is given the perfect platform, from which she radiates an almost supernatural charm and elegance.

Sadly, the performance I caught at Don’t Tell Mama will not be repeated there, but judging by the enormous enjoyment of the audience and the glee with which Ms. Bradbury performed her evening of songs and stories, I’m sure she will perform again soon.  For more information you may contact Stephen Hanks at Cabaret Life productions (cabaretlifeproductions@gmail.com) to see if there’s another show coming round.

And, as if it’s not enough to sing, dance and entertain folks like a veritable firecracker, Lane Bradbury is also the artistic director of Valkyrie Theatre of Dance, Drama & Film back home in Los Angeles, a non-profit that uses the arts to bring hope, healing and identity to at risk children and teens.  Find them at the URL: (http://valkyrietheater.org/) for more information, or to make a donation.

Two Cheeky Chicks of SHE-MOON join the September Series of Women in the Arts

Carissa Matsushima and Producer and Performer, Sara Minisquero give us the poop

… um …

get to the bottom

… um …

seat us in the

… um …

crack down on the …



Tell us about yourself as an artist.

17201446_10154112472841017_6336902960890580916_nCarissa: I’m a singer, dancer, actress who refuses to stick to one performance medium. I allow all my outlets to inform each other. I like to work closely with people in small groups to create socially conscious dance/theatre. But when I write music alone I’m usually tackling that age old topic of heartbreak. What can I say, I’m a big sap.




sara3Sara: I consider myself a multidisciplinary theatrican. While acting has always been my strong suit, I find joy and fulfillment in BTS production work as an SM, designer, dramaturg and producer. And I’m discovering new performance mediums, like this performance being my burlesque debut






OK, here it is … why women’s tushies??? 

Carissa: An ass is not just an ass. It’s where my lovers rest their weary heads and thirsty hands. It’s what keeps me from grinding my sitting bones into the chair or the floor. It helps me balance while I stand. What’s more, the asses of women are the asses of half the population. Mightn’t we pay a little attention to these misunderstood, misused and precious parts of our flesh? To pay respect, to say I’m sorry on behalf of all the “assholes” out there, to let them know that they are loved and wanted.

Sara: Women’s bodies, in general, are heavily policed and sadly, still a political hot button issue. I work at the very venue Margaret Sanger was arrested in for starting a public forum about birth control. For the feminine tush- we don’t often get to discuss our butts in a non-sexualized lens- and I find that to be incredibly disconcerting. Women need a safe, encouraging, and inclusive forum just to celebrate a body part men have put on a pedestal since time immemorial. 

What’s it like tackling such a  topic as women’s bumms

Carissa: It makes sense that this is what I do with my time and talent. Butts are great fun and I believe in disguising serious matters in levity when it comes to performance.

Sara: Refreshing, to say the least. When we first gathered for a developmental forum with our cast, we swapped stories with painful memories and voiced our frustrations about societal norms, gender expression and internalized misogyny. I felt incredibly blessed to have blasted past the awkwardness of taboo and dove right into incredibly personal “secrets”- that weren’t foreign or bizarre experiences, we echoed each other with every revelation- and I think that’s why our show is going to find a very accepting audience of women ready for this kind of material. 

What the biggest obstacle you are facing with this show?

CarissaMy biggest obstacle doing music for this show is questioning whether or not I am doing the performers justice by what I’m giving back to them sound wise. 

Sara: Fundraising and logistics. We have a sizable cast and it’s old hat to expect scheduling around everyone’s dayjobs, personal lives, etc. is a mental gauntlet. Plus, we’re so committed to the ethos that every butt gets paid- the blood, sweat and tears of volunteer work just isn’t worth it in the long run when you’re expecting an exceptionally polished product. Begging for money puts you in a really vulnerable spot, but we are actively supporting the artists who have donated goods and services to our indiegogo by creating a Moon Market prior to showtime, giving them an exclusive vending opportunity for a huge audience. 

What’s the parable or moral of the story? 

Carissa: The moral of the story is that in order to grow into our most realized selves, we have to face that which is right in front of us. In this case, it’s our bodies and the bodies of others. It’s important to look at where we come from, critically analyze how we look at each other, and identify how we want to grow to become more inclusive, more understanding and loving and accepting, and then we actualize that knew paradigm by creating community and art around it.

Sara: I think our moral is about self love and acceptance, defiance of patriarchal norms, and bringing some care and attention to a shadowed part of ourselves- our “behind” but also our root, our past, our foundation. 

What is your opinion of indie film and theater? 

Carissa: Very microcosmic, maybe not reaching the masses, but it certainly influences the mainstream, so we must make it and make it good.

Sara: I adore the independent arts world for its bravery in the face of commercialism. Knowing full well your product might not suit the majority’s tastes- or making very bold statements, playing with avant garde mediums- yet valuing the freedom to stick to your guns. I admire that, and I think there’s a more supportive network once you can establish yourself and your message and get taken seriously for your creative choices.


Finally, my favorite, I’m sure you have both commercial and indie creds, so what’s its like being a woman in the NYC arts scene in the 21st century… commercial v indie. 

Sara: Being a woman in the NYC arts scene is more challenging than it is for men by far- part of what we address is SHE MOON is about the highly competitive and aesthetic driven nature of being an actress, how talent is of lesser consideration than the woman’s physical stats. I never really felt I fit a commercial “type” at all- the bafflement of many a professor or casting agent can confirm. Whereas in a more independent realm I defy all types and have been very lucky to be gifted with roles that may be a stretch of your expectation but allow me to showcase my legitimate skill as an actor. I’m humbled that I’ve been given challenging roles throughout my indie career- roles I never expected to book because they seemed “out of my ballpark”. I think indie directors are more willing to take chances, particularly given women voice where typically they are silent or overlooked. 




Sabrina joins September’s Women in the Arts

Sabrina HernandezSabrina Hernandez joins our list of


One in a Million, a rousing off-Broadway musical, encompasses the teachings that the apostle Paul instructed to Timothy about wealth. “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:9 NIV). The play is set at the home of Wanda and Suzy Velez. They both host an annual Christmas party attended by several members of their church. The evening would test their convictions and reveal secrets about themselves. As the story unfolds, each character in the play – no matter how holy they purport to be – becomes tempted by the idea of how more money would make their lives better. Without careful consideration of the consequences, they all throw caution to the wind and find themselves gambling. One in a Million is produced and directed by Kevin Davis.


Tell us about yourself, Sabrina, as an artist.
I love to do all types of work: drama, comedy, musicals, films, especially films! Basically, if I have to act, I like to do it. I’m very lighthearted with my work, so I never fall in love with an idea of a character, or what I think a character should be. I believe that being this way makes it easier for directors to direct the way they want the character to function and act, and it helps me evolve the character beyond what I initially thought the character would be. I also like to find at least one thing that can tie me to my character, a common ground. This allows me to look at things from my character’s perspective a lot easier, and it helps me create the genuine emotions that character would feel. 

When dealing with pieces that delve into religious or spiritual matters, do you feel a stronger sense of responsibility in conveying the message?
I think it’s important to always convey the message of any artistic piece with accuracy, otherwise I’m not doing it justice. I feel a strong sense of responsibility, because I am a part of the artistic piece itself, and it would be terrible for me to be a hindrance to the delivery of it’s message. I don’t think I feel any stronger of a responsibility with religious pieces as I would with secular messages, because if I am helping convey the message it is because I agree with it, so it all has equal importance to me.

What role does independent theater play in the New York art scene ? 
The independent theater is a platform for fresh and new ideas to sprout wings. It’s more accessible to less “established” faces to gain opportunities to display their talent, whether it be on stage or behind the curtain. It also allows for more niche and obscure theatrical concepts to have a platform, which caters to an otherwise ignored audience. Perhaps these obscure concepts can make their way into pop-culture, and ultimately influence theater as a whole. It also allows people who don’t really have the resources to constantly see Broadway shows to access a less expensive, but just as entertaining, theatrical experience. It’s important to be able to have affordable artistic entertainment.

Dream role?
My dream role would be a strong, Latina female lead in a film or TV show, that doesn’t necessarily focus on stereotypical depictions of Latina women. Usually, roles for Latina women include passionate outbursts and feisty attitudes, as well as some sort of financial struggle or some subservient position in their professional life. I’d like to depict a Latina woman who has her life together and who doesn’t necessarily fall under these strict stereotypical depictions. Latinas can be shy, and we can react rationally to situations without having to slap someone in the face or yell in Spanish. This role can be a comedy or a drama, or even an action role.

one in a million

“I’m writing my dream roles now.” September Spotlight on Women in the Arts: Stephanie Satie

art_stefanie-satie_091412COMING TO AMERICA


SUN 10/22 2:00PM

Stephanie Satie makes a triumphant return to the United Solo Festival with Coming to America, a stirring portrait gallery of women whose lives have been transformed, first by extraordinary events in their country of birth, then by their response to America.

Under the direction of Anita Khanzadian, Satie embodies women from diverse countries and ordeals: “Nine fascinating women, each character so distinctive you forget it’s the same actor.” – The Loyolan (USC). The engrossing work returning to United Solo for one-night only “… conveys the universal longing to break out of repression… [and] leaves an indelible impression.” – The Tolucan Times.

Opening before the Jewish High-Holidays, Ms. Satie hopes to secure a second performance from which a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a woman’s charity.

COMING TO AMERICA will perform at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street, New York City. TICKETS, with a price of $35 (plus a $2.25 Theatre Restoration Charge) are available at the Theatre Row Box Office and online through Telecharge at www.telecharge.com. You may also call Telecharge at 212-239-6200. When placing your reservation, please provide: the FESTIVAL name (United Solo Theatre Festival), the name of THEATRE (Theatre Row – The Studio Theatre), and the specific DAY and TIME of SHOW you would like to see.

s2Ms. Satie is an inspiration. An artist who connects her work to the world, and who wants nothing more than to educate, enlighten, and of course, entertain.

Tell us about yourself as an artist. I’m an actor/writer/onetime dancer, a former New Yorker, but still one in my heart. My career has been eclectic, performing on and Off-Broadway, in regionals, in L.A. theatre, and internationally and now, as a solo performer.  I’ve studied languages and traveled and I think, maybe because I was an only child and first generation American, I liked morphing into other people. I began writing for myself as a way to use my abilities and interests and to play roles no one was writing for me.

s5Your last one, I’m told, was about children of the Holocaust. powerful topics you choose! Is there a more powerful responsibility when working with such material? I’m very interested in the way catastrophic events affect ordinary people. Their lives become extraordinary. I feel a huge responsibility when working with such material and interviewing, for example, child survivors of the Holocaust. Some of the women I interviewed brought a lot of humor to their stories and yet audiences are reticent to laugh at such a serious subject. Humor is a survival tool but with a subject like the Holocaust, the viewer needs to feel safe that I am not trivializing the lives of survivors and that they are not being disrespectful. It’s a fine line. In both Silent Witnesses and Coming to America, the play I’m bringing to United Solo Festival in October, the danger is always appropriating lives or making one person appear “representative” of an entire group and that’s not possible nor should it be. Sometimes a 2-3 hour interview becomes just a five minute monologue. How do I retain the intent and quintessential character of the person I interview while shaping their story for dramatic effect. It’s always a balancing act.

s3What is the draw to the one-woman show format? I love the one-person format. I love doing it and seeing it. I love the characters I speak to onstage and speak as; the chance to constantly morph from one character to another of different ethnicity, size, sometimes gender and to expand who I am as both an actor and a human. My world becomes larger. My first inspiration was Anna Deveare Smith and I’ve seen so many other wonderful solo performers.  Also, I think it is empowering as you can create your own work and be a little less dependent on someone hiring you for their project.



s4What do we, the viewer, need to come away with from your show? I hope people who see Coming to America will immerse themselves in these powerful stories. We’re so bombarded by sound bites, articles, the internet, television; our nervous systems are constantly being manipulated and it’s exhausting. To sit in the quiet, sacred space of a theatre and witness lives unlike our own can make us once again remember what America has been for so many who have come here or yearned to come to our shores, when once they were welcome.



September Spotlight on Women in the Arts: Nj Ambonisye

NJ AMBONISYE appearing in ONE IN A MILLION, the musical:

With dreams of playing Nala in the Lion King, Nj shared a few theatrical thoughts.

I am a dancer first,  actor second, and singer third. I actually think I am many more things before a singer, LOL. Stage is where I began and I will always do it but recently I am branching out to writing, directing, choreographing, producing. That is the plan.  To create narrative for people as weird as me! I treat [every role] with the same care as I do other pieces that have strong messages; all the research and exploration that it requires to convey the message (s) and entertain in the way that only I can. 

[Independent theater]’s role is as the training and maintenance for an artist, as the inspiration of any great show, as a way for creators without money or a popular idea to birth a show.

Nj Ambonisye

One in a Million, a rousing off-Broadway musical, encompasses the teachings that the apostle Paul instructed to Timothy about wealth. “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:9 NIV). The play is set at the home of Wanda and Suzy Velez. They both host an annual Christmas party attended by several members of their church. The evening would test their convictions and reveal secrets about themselves. As the story unfolds, each character in the play – no matter how holy they purport to be – becomes tempted by the idea of how more money would make their lives better. Without careful consideration of the consequences, they all throw caution to the wind and find themselves gambling. One in a Million is produced and directed by Kevin Davis.

one in a million

September Spotlight on Women in the Arts: Mariela Perez

One in a Million, a rousing off-Broadway musical, encompasses the teachings that the apostle Paul instructed to Timothy about wealth. “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:9 NIV). The play is set at the home of Wanda and Suzy Velez. They both host an annual Christmas party attended by several members of their church. The evening would test their convictions and reveal secrets about themselves. As the story unfolds, each character in the play – no matter how holy they purport to be – becomes tempted by the idea of how more money would make their lives better. Without careful consideration of the consequences, they all throw caution to the wind and find themselves gambling. One in a Million is produced and directed by Kevin Davis.

Mariela PerezMariela Perez, anther one of the ones ion a million spotlighted here at Drama-Queens shared a few minutes and a few words with us:

Tell us about yourself as an artist.

As an artist I am grateful that the arts exist. I do not consider the arts a job, I consider them an escape. I am especially appreciative of acting because it allows me to view the world from another point of view.


When dealing with pieces that delve into religious or spiritual matters, do you feel a stronger sense of responsibility in conveying the message?

I believe that in terms of religious beliefs people have to find their own way into what they want to believe, therefore, when dealing with religious ideologies, my goal it is not to influence nor educate the audience about such ideologies but to demonstrate how they fit into the character’s life.


What role does independent theater play in the New York art scene ?

I believe independent theater plays an important role in the New York art scene. It gives starting actors an opportunity to be part of something important and lets them have a taste of the responsibilities that come with being part of the arts.  


Dream role?

My dream role would be anything with action. I especially love science fiction movies that depict other worlds or futuristic ideas.