Hail! Caesar

Producer Jake Minter teams with one of New York’s last original off-off Broadway theatre organizations, the American Theatre of Actors to bring one of Shakespeare’s politically charged and all-too-timely plays back to live theatre in a rarely seen uncut version.
JULIUS CAESARJune 21 – July 2American Theatre of Actors 314 West 54th St, New York City
Reminiscent of Orson Welles’ version of the 1930s, this modernized in timeframe version offers up a devastating hypothesis of how Fascism and Communism can overthrow Democracy. Shakespeare’s masterpiece about conspiracy, government overthrow, corruption, and greed, begs the ironic question being asked today in political arenas – which side is the right side?  
Production directed by the founder and artistic director of the American Theatre of Actors, James Jennings with James C. Gavin as Caesar (June 21-28) with Alan Hasnas assuming the role after that. The ensemble cast includes David Allard, Nicolás Capella, Curtis Cunningham, Samuel B. Dolman, Billy Gillen, Leonardo Gómez, Sam Hardy, Meeno Morales, Sophie Morrison, Connor O’Shea, Dustin Pazar, and Jonathan Gregory Power — and featuring Jane Culley.* (Ms.Culley appears courtesy of Actors Equity Association)

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/julius-caesar-tickets-640241147507
$17(plus fees) use “EarlyBird” discount code online (offer ends June13)$22 (plusfees) use “HailCaesar” discount code online (offer runs June 14-20)
$27 (plus fees) use “Et tu Brute” discount code online (General Admission)
$30 at the door – CASH only
HEALTH& SAFETY at the ATA: ADA Access: please call 24 hours in advance if a wheelchair ramp is required to get over the 3 steps at the front of our facility: 212-581-3044. Masks in the theatre are optional until further notice. If you are feeling unwell or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, have been exposed to anyone within 14 days of your visit, or have been instructed to self-isolate, we ask that you stay home and contact the ticket site (or producer of the show) to discuss a ticket refund or exchange. Ticket purchasers are responsible for informing and providing this information if they are providing the ticket for a guest. Anyone that does not abide by our protocols may be denied entry to our facility. We recognize that public health guidelines may change and therefore our policies are also subject to change without notice. If you test COVID positive within a week of being in our facility, you may have exposed others. Please call us as a tracing contact: 212-581-3044.

who can turn the world on with her smile?

The Maria Konner Interview Series Part 2 of 3 by Jen Bush

What is the best description of a person who has so much talent in so many areas?  There are actors, performers, entertainers, performance artists, singers, musicians, etc. Maria fits the bill for many of those categories.  

“I would call myself an entertainer.  I’m a performing musician (piano, guitar, singing, song writing, script writing), but I’ve discovered the most important skill in being a good performer is to have a really good time and share that with the audience.  You are there to entertain them.  I found that I could do that by simply doing what I love to do and having a really good time, especially if I can do it with other performers.  I cherish seeing other performers bringing it on and creating a shared experience together.”  

“So in my case, I’m definitely NOT acting.  I’m lucky in that I can play myself as a character (with some exaggeration!) and I have PLENTY of material for that! And I’m an entertainer more than a performer because when I play the piano for example, I’m not focused on precision or consistency, I’m focused on delivering my emotions though the music.  There are plenty of other pianists who are technically much better than me, but I have no desire to be technically great and all the practice that goes along with it.  I only want to learn new things if they can help me write a more novel song.  I very rarely practice, I PLAY.  And I’ll keep playing a song until my body just intuitively feels good and then I know it’s ready for showtime!”

This talented entertainer took some lessons, observed other artists closely but mostly had the ambition to learn on her own.  She made the commitment to acquire the skills that brings joy to her and others whenever she performs. 

“I’m mostly self-taught but took lessons at various points and picked up techniques along the way as I played with and watched other musicians.  I remember Paul McCartney saying that when he was young, he used to stand by the front of the stage on the side and watch guitarists hands to see what they were doing – and then when he was up on stage he saw young folks doing the same thing watching him! I was one of those young folks.”

Maria went on a safari of sound.  She learned how to play multiple instruments both in the traditional manner and purely by feel.  Her amazing analytical mind made connections between instruments and techniques.  Once music was demystified for her, the floodgates opened and Maria was rocking and bluesing and rag timing and everything in between.

“I started playing the piano at around 7 years old because I saw my older sister taking lessons, and I just wanted to know how to read all those notes and make music.  I told my mom I wanted to take lessons.  For just over a year or so, I took lessons where I learned the basics – scales, fingering, how to read music.  I learned to play mostly children’s music, rag time, and a little classical.  But I quit because I got bored.”

“My mother pushed me into taking up a band instrument.  I learned to play the saxophone in one day (but pretty badly) because I already knew how to read music.  But I got bored with school band and quit that too. I was a bit of a geek and loved science, math, and did a lot of reading – so I got bored quickly. But then it all changed when my mother tried one last time and found me a jazz saxophone teacher who introduced me to chords, blues and improvision. He also dazzled me with his creative energy – I had NEVER seen an adult like him before!  I immediately understand what improvision meant…I could play how I felt!  Reading somebody else’s music was just a chore!  Music is supposed to be a joy, even when you’re feeling down when it soothes you.  Since he knew I could play piano he suggested I try some chords out on the piano, but within a few weeks he lost me as a sax student, because I was hitting that piano hard every day.  I would spend hours in that back room rolling my fingers over the keys of that magnificent instrument trying out different chord voices until I liked the way they sounded.  And then I would try different improv licks over it.  And since I could read music, I started going through my dad’s old music books playing all those old songs, and I just loved learning so many ways chords were used to write songs.  I wondered, “Who teaches people how to do this? Is this some kind of secret?”

“I started learning pop music by either listening to it and figuring it out, or buying the sheet music.  I remember my first big purchase was the music to “Stairway to Heaven” – it had a black cover and was a 7+ page fold out.  So exciting to open that up and play that for the first time!!!  OMG, I’m playing “Stairway”….and learning all its secrets! I would pick the parts out the sheet music that made the song unique or that I liked, and then ditch the sheet music and improvise it after that. To me it wasn’t about playing it “right”, I wanted to feel it inside of me, and play it the way that made me feel good and connected to the universe. And soon I was introduced to the piano player Oscar Peterson and the band Steely Dan, which blew my mind as I thought, “who taught them how to do this!!!!!”. I had to try to figure out what they were doing!”

“I was obsessed.”

“Because music meant so much to me.  In a suburban world which seemed to lack any soul or divinity, music was my ONLY lifeline to it.  Going to Temple certainly wasn’t getting me there.”

“And one day in Junior High School, the music teacher gave us each an acoustic guitar…just for one session.  I fiddled around with it in the back trying to figure out how to play it and when the bell rang, I panicked.  Dammit, I need to figure this thing out.  I asked my mom to PLEASE buy me a guitar, I NEEDED it!  She bought me a cheap $50 guitar at Sam Goody’s at the mall, and after that my grades declined a bit as I spent hours learning how to play the guitar by comparing the guitar to the piano, and figuring out the guitar notation in the sheet music. Now I could play The Beatles Day Tripper properly! And then I discovered Heavy Metal and had to get an electric guitar – I worked a summer as a cabana boy to pay for it.  Then I had to hang out with the kids on the “other side of the tracks” to play rock music.  The rest is Maria history!”

                For someone of Maria’s vast acumen, writing music and lyrics was simply a natural progression.  While other people are watching episodes of “Law and Order” with a glass of wine in their hands, Maria is creating art that is personal and authentic.

“When I was young, I never thought of myself as a writer, but I found myself needing to do it first in school and then for work. So I figured if I’m going to do it, I might as well enjoy expressing myself.  And I found out I was pretty good at it.  People often complained to me about my writing style being too up front and honest, and I used to shrug them off thinking, you don’t understand me.  Expressing myself was just too important.  And then a friend suggested I try writing music with him, and I found I was pretty good at that – I had learned so much by playing so much other music across so many styles.  And then I started writing on my own, including the lyrics. And I really enjoyed writing and recording.  Much more interesting than watching TV or going to a bar to get drunk.  I’d rather be with the divinity of music. I’d rather go to sleep thinking about something I created vs. having an alcohol or TV watching hangover.”

The series concludes in OUTerStage.com

Rollin Jewett’s caper-comedy, OUR LITTLE SECRET premieres at Playwrights Horizons

Play and screenwriter Rollin Jewett returns to the Downtown Urban Arts Festival with a dark comedy involving breaking and entering. Lydia Kalmen & Thamer Jendoubi in OUR LITTLE SECRET with Vincent Ticali as Lt. Banks. Production directed by Jay Michaels.  

Friday, June 16 @ 7:30 p.m. at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater @ Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street, NYC. Tickets @ DUAFNYC.com. 

Picture it: A lonely young girl decided to put on her sexiest nightie (just because) and sits in her apartment watching horror movies. There’s a knock on the door. On the other side of that door is a towering muscular stranger wearing all black and brandishing a gun. That’s only Page 1 of OUR LITTLE SECRET, a dark romantic comedy involving an unlikely relationship between Darlene (Lydia Kalmen) and Sam (Thamer Jendoubi) and a plot to save his son from an abusive stepparent. No crime is complete without the appearance of a clever detective (Vincent Ticali).

Rollin Jewett – whose forte is dark humor (American Vampire on film and Socky Tells All and The Big Dream on stage) supplies a witty script filled with red herrings and New York theater notable, Jay Michaels directs with fast-paced caper comedy.

The world premiere is presented by the Downtown Urban Arts Festival (DUAF), an annual multi-disciplinary arts event held in New York City, presenting new groundbreaking performance and visual art from storytellers from America’s burgeoning multicultural landscape and from around the world who share their stories that interpret our history and our times.

Theatre/Film/TV mainstay, Lydia Kalmen heads this cast. She was heard screaming and being possessed by demons in The Dark Offerings, the first horror movie to film during the pandemic (currently on Amazon).  She won high-praise for her work in a recent New York revival of A Doll’s House as Nora. This is her second collaboration with Rollin Jewett and Jay Michaels as she created the role of Nurse Todd in Socky Tells All, which premiered on Theatre Row last year. She also appeared as Lucy in Dracula in New York.

Thamer Jendoubi earned his MA in Acting from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in the UK and – upon returning to New York – continued his training with the Maggie Flanigan Studio in Manhattan. He created the role of Omar in Mohammed Saad Ali’s drama, A Lonely Night in Coney Island, in New York in 2017. 

Vincent Ticali, a celebrated NY actor, singer and musician, recently appeared in the premiere of By Its Cover (benefit performance for Trevor Project) and Delta in The Sky With Diamonds (starring Austin Pendleton). Film: All the Little Things We Kill, The Forest Hills, Ali and the Queens, The Hat Man. Television – The Blacklist, Blindspot, Ways and Means (CBS pilot). Vinny also enjoys his work in front of a microphone as bassist/vocalist in the popular NY party band, Current Affair!   

Jay Michaels is an award-winning director/producer with a specialty in promotion. His acclaimed series of wildly successful Shakespeare productions utilizing unique production schemes put him solidly in the New York theatre scene. As Event Producer: the Drama Desk Award-winning American Theatre Exchange and Broadway productions: Guys & Dolls (1992), Damn Yankees (1994) The Vagina Monologues starring Eve Ensler (2003) and Beginnings (2017) plus live events featuring James Earl Jones, David Canary, Tovah Feldshuh, Vera Wang, Jon Stewart, Heather Headley, Daryl Roth, Barry Weissler, Bill Oberst, Jr. and Hillary Clinton. As a National Tour Manager: Cats, Edwin Drood, Les Misérables. His boutique promotional firm, Jay Michaels Communications/Channel I creates visibility through an internal multi-level platform of content driven print and TV programs for independent artists and their productions in New York and nationally. Michaels is also a commentator for the FearCon Network, The Boston Sci-Fi Channel, and other programs.  

Rollin Jewett is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, singer/songwriter, poet, author and photographer. His screenwriting credits include “Laws of Deception” and “American Vampire”. His short stories, poetry and photography have been published in numerous literary magazines and anthologies and his plays have been produced all over the world including several premieres Off-Broadway. This is his third collaboration with Jay michaels at the DUAF. Mr. Jewett’s novels, poems and short stories are available on Amazon.com and his chart-topping tunes can be found on Spotify.com.  

Carolyn Brown explores Storme DeLarverie

Carolyn M. Brown Interview Part I by Jen Bush

Storme DeLarverie is a pivotal figure in LGBTQ+ history.  She was a singer, bouncer, MC and bodyguard who graced the stages of The Apollo and Radio City Music Hall.  As a big band singer, she went under the name of Stormy Dale.  Her Stormy Dale persona was a male impersonator of Harlem’s famed Jewel Box Revue which was America’s first racially integrated and gay-owned drag show.  She is known as the “Rose Parks of the Gay Rights Movement”.  In June of 1969, police raided a gay club in Greenwich Village, NYC called The Stonewall Inn.  Storme’s scuffle with the police during that raid was said to have ignited the Stonewall uprising.  Hers is a fascinating and important story to tell, and her legacy was honored by Carolyn M. Brown.

Staged Reading of Storme, 5/19/23 @ 7pm, 34 Marin Blvd., Jersey City, NJ 07302 (Ticket includes 1 free drink.  Post show cocktail hour.)

We had the wonderful opportunity to have an in- depth and insightful discussion with playwright and director Carolyn M. Brown who was incredibly generous with her information and time.  In Part I of the interview, we delve into the work itself and how it came about.  In Part II we get a more personal glimpse into the passionate and talented artist herself.

About Carolyn M. Brown

Carolyn M. Brown (she/her) is an award-winning journalist, magazine editor, non-fiction author, playwright, producer, and principal of True Colors Project LLC, a social enterprise that produces works by underrepresented artists. Brown’s career spans decades developing content via a portfolio of media platforms—print, digital, broadcast, and live events. Publication credits include Forbes, Inc., Essence, Diversity Woman, The Source, and Black Enterprise. She received the 2012 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Magazine Article, “Black & Gay In Corporate America” (BLACK ENTERPRISE) and is a 2013 GLAAD Media Award Nominee for Outstanding Magazine Article, “Why Gay & Lesbian Couples Pay More” (BLACK ENTERPRISE). She was one of the youngest playwrights to have a staged reading at the Schomburg Center in New York with her play Accessories. She was a Co-Founder of All In Black And White Productions LLC, a theatrical company with Equity Showcases and Off-Off Broadway productions performed from 2006-2011, including her marriage equality play The Engagement which enjoyed a six-week run. Brown alsoco-founded My True Colors Festival: Fighting For Social Justice and Cultural Diversity Through The Arts. She currently serves as vice president of All Out Arts/Fresh Fruit Festival, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting homophobia and prejudice through the arts. Brown is the co-author of CLIMB: Taking Every Step With Conviction, Courage And Calculated Risk To Achieve A Thriving Career And A Successful Life. She has penned two other books: The Millionaire’s Club and Nobody’s Business But Your Own. She also served as an ambassador for the “Many Faces One Dream” LGBT+ economic empowerment tour hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the National Black Justice Coalition, and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Being a New Yorker I’m familiar with the Stonewall riots and I’ve even been to The Stonewall Inn.  I have never heard the name Storme DeLarverie.  Ms. Brown was cognizant of the fact that many others had not heard that name either.  That was part of the impetus for Ms. Brown to create this piece.  It began as part of an art installation and grew from there.  Ms. Brown wanted to crystallize the muddled facts and celebrate a brave heroine who deserves a place at the table of history.

“The idea for STORMÉ the play was sparked by a photo essay that I wrote thanking Stormé for her role in the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, which accompanied a mural of Stormé DeLarverie by artist Rachel Wilkins for her 2020 “Shoulders of Giants” exhibit, a 30-piece multi-media body of work paying homage to the advocates, change-makers, and unsung heroes, who helped to bring about social and political progress for LGBTQ+ people.” 

“What’s more, June 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969 which stands as the watershed moment in LGBTQ+ history for galvanizing the modern-day LGBTQ+ rights movement. However, historical accounts of the Stonewall Rebellion practiced a tradition of whitewashing and gender washing by erasing key minorities and focusing on white gay men when talking about the Gay Rights Movement. Blacks and Latinos—butch lesbians and trans women—fought back against the police in 1969. Just the same, the contributions of Black LGBTQ+ activists like Bayard Rustin also have been downplayed or overlooked in the Civil Rights Movement. A fact that was underscored by Dave Chappelle when he released his $24 million 2021 Netflix stand-up comedy special, “The Closer,” in which he spends 50 out 72 minutes jabbing at the LGBT+ community and creating an “us vs. them” dynamic between Black and LGBT+ communities as though they’re mutually exclusive groups.”

“I wanted to write a play that explored the life and legacy of Stormé DeLarverie as a trailblazing LGBTQ+ activist, singer, male impersonator, bouncer, and loving partner (she was with the same woman for 25 years until her partner’s death). I particularly wanted to highlight Stormé’s legacy of throwing the first punch, a story that is both disputed and contradicted, but is nevertheless an essential part of LGBT+ resistance that deserves to be elevated and embraced. Additionally, I wanted share rarely depicted details about the Stonewall Rebellion and ensuing gay liberation activism, specifically the contributions of trans women of color.”

“Stormé died the day before Stonewall was made a national monument, and her name wasn’t mentioned once. Her story was diminished. And that’s by design. For too long, the narratives of queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, Asian, Latino, and gender-expansive people have been suppressed, silenced, and erased. That’s why it’s so important to tell stories like Stormé’s that celebrate our history, our identity, and our resilience. STORMÉ is a pivotal moment in speaking my truth. Gay Black civil rights activist Bayard Rustin said, “we need in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.” I live by that mantra.”

In modern times, history is hyper-chronicled via cell phones and the widespread use of social media.  In 1969 technology didn’t exist to capture moments in time accurately.  This is one of the difficulties one faces when writing a show about history.  Of course, one of the biggest challenges for any playwright is getting their work out there in the world in a fully realized production seen by the masses.  It is Ms. Brown’s mission to make that happen.

“One of the challenges in creating this historical piece was knowing how to strike the balance between including too much or too little history in telling Stormé’s story. In general, history is full of mysteries, unanswered questions, and gaps in recorded documentation. That was even more so the case with this piece, because so little has been written about Stormé DeLarverie and the Jewel Box Revue. A primary historical record is the 1987 documentary film short “Stormé: “Lady of The Jewel Box Revue” by Michelle Parkerson.”

“In the wake of worldwide uprising and protest in support of Black Lives Matters, Justice for George Floyd and Police Reform during the summer of 2020, media outlets started to do a better job in telling a truer story of the Stonewall Rebellion. I wanted to show that much like Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955 played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement, Stormé’s scuffle with the NYPD in 1969 during a raid at the Stonewall Inn was instrumental in the Gay Rights Movement.”

“The biggest challenge in creating this piece is bringing this important production to the stage and sharing this story with even more people beyond readings and workshops as part of the development process. I remain due diligent in my efforts to raise adequate funding to mount a full stage production.”

Ms. Brown recognizes that creating a piece of theatre that reflects history comes with an extra sense of responsibility.

“The Stonewall Rebellion, which was referred to as a riot by homophonic news outlets, was not just one night, it was six days of civil disobedience against police brutality and discriminatory practices. Many of the protestors on the frontline were gender-nonconforming individuals such as Stormé DeLarverie and trans women of color, such as Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Marsha P. Johnson, and Sylvia Rivera. Again, a fact that is often overlooked. The result is an erasure of the contributions of Black and Brown TGNC people in fighting police violence and unjust policies.” 

“Today, immense violence and discrimination perpetuated by state legislators and polarizing political leaders against LGBTQ+ people, particularly against trans people, is escalating as evidenced by the current wave of anti-trans laws, misinformation campaigns, and transphobic and homophobic attacks.  There are over 100 anti-LGBTQ+ laws proposed or passed in the United States. These laws include restrictions on transgender people’s ability to access healthcare, participate in school sports, and use public restrooms that align with their gender identity. In addition, there are so-called “religious freedom” laws that allow businesses and individuals to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people under the guise of religious beliefs. The reality is that these laws allow groups to weaponize religious freedom to erode our fundamental civil and legal rights. Legislators are banning content and diminishing First Amendment Free Speech while remaining steadfast against banning assault rifles to amplify the Second Amendment.” 

“As historical and LGBTQ+ content came under attack in this country, a fire blazed in me to tell not only Stormé’s story, but also to give historical accounts of Black LGBTQ+ icons like civil rights leader Bayard Rusting, pianist-composer Billy Strayhorn, and genderbending blues singer Gladys Bentley. I am speaking of the growing number of state bills restricting what schools can teach about American history, race, politics, sexual orientation, and gender identity, which increased 250% from 2021 to 2022, reports PEN America. Over 1,800 books with LGBTQ+ content were banned in more than 5,000 public schools in 2002. A number of these books are memoirs, denying people the right to tell their own historical narratives.” 

“In writing STORMÉ, it was important for me to acknowledge historical events pertaining to LGBTQ+ people of color and marginalized communities, because I believe in the adage “those who fail to learn from history” or “those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” History will be repeating itself under state laws as LGBTQ+ people face a growing threat of being banned from public view. My concern, my fear is that we are heading toward an era of police arrests and brutality of LGBTQ+ people for violating laws that restrict our culture and our history.”

This piece is timely considering all of the government interference that is happening in LGBTQ+ communities all over the country.  Progress is being rescinded. 

“Anti-drag legislation was part of the impetus behind creating this piece.  Honoring the life and legacy of Storme DeLarverie was another.  “Tennessee is the first state to ban drag shows from being presented in public spaces. The new law criminalizes drag shows and classifies male and female impersonators as “adult-oriented performance” harmful to minors as defined in Tennessee’s obscenity law. Tennessee is not alone. There are dozens of bills moving through state legislatures across the U.S. designed to ban drag performances.” 

“In the past two years, there has been an onslaught of state bills restricting LGBTQ+ rights that could have far-reaching consequences. For me this harkens back to unjust practices that led up to the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969 which galvanized the Gay Rights Movement. Police arrests of people (cross-dressers) for not wearing what was considered as three pieces of gender appropriate clothing (3-piece rule) was under the guise of violating the masquerade law, while police raids on bars serving LGBTQ+ patrons, who were deemed as disorderly by their mere presence, was under rule of the New York State Liquor Authority.”

“In part, this is why I wrote my musical play STORMÉ. I wanted to pay homage to the life of Stormé DeLarverie as a big band singer, a Stonewall Rebellion icon, and a male impersonator at the infamous Jewel Box Revue, America’s first racially integrated and gay-owned drag show that toured nationally and internationally. I also wanted to highlight the consequences of forcing certain social groups to live on the fringes rather than in the mainstream due to racism, sexism, genderism, heteronormatism, and classism.”

“Artists play a unique and important role in capturing and responding to what is happening culturally, socially, and politically. In times of social unrest and political turmoil, art has always been a powerful tool for providing a platform for marginalized voices to be heard. STORMÉ is a timely and important reminder of the resilience of LGBTQ+ people of color in the face of growing censorship that seeks to erase us.”

For Larry Daggett – there is no music without the message

Larry Daggett Interview

Bullet Points is a new work by Larry Daggett. 

A staged presentation of this powerful new musical will take place on:
June 10 @ 7:00 p.m. & June 11 @ 2:00 p.m

Theatre Row Theatre
as part of the New York New Works Festival
410 West 42nd Street, N

Bullet Points tells the story of one woman’s attempt to navigate her thoughts and feelings on both sides of the gun control issue – with the hope that this subject will resonate long enough in the American consciousness that both sides of the debate might begin to find a path toward ending gun violence in schools.  This dark comedy focuses on Sarah, a Florida high school teacher who returns to work on the same day as a school shooting which sends her life spinning in wildly unpredictable directions – both tragic and comic.  “The theme of the show concerns the “us versus them” mentality that cuts our country in half,” says acclaimed composer Larry Daggett, “It’s about learning to listen to people on the opposite side of an issue even if they disagree with your point of view.”

Larry Daggett is a multi-hyphenate powerhouse of an artist.  He’s the whole package with the head of a businessman and the heart of an entertainer.  His vast credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, Opera and a multitude of work in regional theatres as an actor, producer, composer-lyricist, orchestrator and musical director.  As a businessman he is the CEO for New Tune Entertainment, LLC.  His award-winning company is dedicated to the development and production of original musicals on stage and film.  He lives and breathes the arts.  For his latest work Bullet Points, he wears the hats of book writer, composer, lyricist and director!  It was a pleasure to chat with this talented individual about this work and his career.

When Larry Daggett was a small child, he took his bow in a community theatre production, said “see ya later alligator” and shed his reptile skin for the first and last time.  While he might secretly be hoping to don a gecko costume, he grew up and made his indelible mark in the entertainment industry.  “I grew up in Southern California where I started appearing in plays at the age of six. My first role was as an alligator in a community theatre production of the play “The Happiest Millionaire.” I’m sad to say that was my last appearance as a reptile, although hope springs eternal there might be another in my future! What inspires me most in the theatre is when a writer takes a risk. Musicals have the unique capacity to move an audience emotionally (through music) as well as intellectually (through lyrics). In an increasingly digitized world where we all communicate through texts, email, and cell phones, the theater is one of the last bastions of community engagement. Something magical can happen when everyone in the audience comes together to receive the message they see on stage as well as to feel the energy of everyone sitting around them. When an entire audience suddenly erupts in laughter or collectively chooses to become so silent that they can hear every word whispered by the actors on stage, they are no longer individuals watching a show, they have become a community focused upon a single goal.”

Mass shootings and gun control are unfortunately current hot button topics which Mr. Daggett was not afraid to tackle in this production for many reasons.   “There are multiple reasons I wrote this show, some obvious, others not so. Firstly, we should not live in a country where students are more concerned about coming home alive than they are about passing a math test. The right to bear arms and the right to survive school should not be at odds with each other, yet they have become so. I went to a high school with a long history of violence from guns and gangs. I know the effect that can have upon a person’s life and how it can alter your view of the world. Another reason I wrote the show is because our society and our politics have become so polarized that getting anything productive accomplished has become next to impossible. Today the idea of two sides of an argument meeting each other half way and coming to an agreement seems outside the realm of human possibility. We’ve become so determined to pull in opposite directions that having meaningful legislation passed In Congress has become a unique occurrence rather than the norm. A third reason I wrote this show happened by accident when I discovered that a person who I believed to be open minded and liberal was in fact as closed minded and rigid as this side she railed against. Without going into lengthy detail I saw that she was perfectly willing to forgive anyone on her side, even if they committed mass murder, than she was to allow someone on the opposite side to disagree with her point of view. When I heard that, my eyes were opened to the fact that proving your side is right and the other side is wrong has often become more important than saving students’ lives.”

Mr. Daggett’s creative process is meticulously detailed.  He recognized a paradigm shift in musical theatre which is reflected in his songwriting in service to the audience.  “Writing a musical is an extremely difficult task. It requires you to be at two locations simultaneously, which is physically impossible. As the book writer it requires you to see the story from 30,000 feet in the air, and by that I mean you must be able to see the direction in which the show is moving and to ensure that the plot does not get entangled in minutia or lose its focus. At the same time, you must also see the show from two inches off the ground, meaning when you are writing the lyrics and the music for a song you must be concerned with every detail: every syllable of a lyric, every note on the page. All these details matter enormously, but it is almost impossible not to become so engrossed by them that you lose sight of the direction in which the story should be traveling. I usually start out with an outline of the entire show and then I make an outline of each song. Each song should have an arc: by the end of the song the characters and the plot should be at a different place than where the song began. The days of songs being put in a show purely for the purposes of entertainment have pretty much vanished. Audiences nowadays don’t have the patience for big production numbers that have nothing whatever to do with the story. They can feel their cell phone buzzing in their pocket and are itching to pull it out to see who was trying to call them. If you don’t keep their attention by constantly moving the story forward, you’ve lost them. That wasn’t true 50 years ago when composers could insert songs simply because they were beautiful or clever. I think of shows like The Most Happy Fella, which has one of the most glorious musical theatre scores ever written with long sections of resplendent music, most of which would be cut if it was written today because it’s not necessary for the plot. These days, when many shows are 90 minutes long with no intermission, every second on stage counts.”

Being that Bullet Points addresses school shootings which is currently a big problem in the U.S., Mr. Daggett had some insights on the topic.  “For the past 30 years the side that would like to see stricter rules for gun ownership has met increasing resistance from the side that would like to see no rules for gun ownership. The side that would like to see logical legislation such as background checks, raising the minimum age to own a weapon, closing the gun fair loophole (where anyone at any age can buy a weapon without a background check) have all met increasing resistance from the side that believes in the “slippery slope” philosophy that if they give in, even an inch, to the most logical gun legislation, that their weapons will be confiscated by the federal government. While I agree that such measures as background checks and closing loopholes would be highly effective, I seriously doubt they will ever get passed. For one thing, they attack the problem head on, which only strengthens the resolve of resistance from the opposite side. More importantly, they don’t address the source of the problem, which, in my opinion, is how much money the gun lobby is able to funnel to candidates who support their cause. In my opinion, many of America’s problems could be improved if we changed the way our campaigns are financed so that lobbying groups would no longer able to contribute millions of dollars to their chosen candidates. Every contribution comes with access to the candidates and the understanding that if their candidate doesn’t vote the way the lobbyists want them to vote, that come the next election cycle the millions of dollars spent toward their campaign will go the candidate’s opponent. It’s obscene that TV pundits can proclaim without fear of contradiction that the candidate who has the biggest financial war chest is probably going to win, even if that candidate has no political knowledge or experience. This completely betrays the principles upon which this country was founded.”

 Mr. Daggett is hoping audiences walk away from this show with a collective impetus to take action against school shootings by engaging elected officials.  “We’ve gotten to the point in our country where there have been so many school shootings that many people think nothing can be done about them. This is not true. America is a country of great energy and great potential. If enough of us come together to insist that this problem be eradicated and make it clear to our elected officials that if they don’t take action to do so they will be voted out of office, then this problem could begin to be rectified.”

Bullet Points is a work in progress that has come far in its development.  Mr. Daggett will continue to adjust it as needed and is hoping that this reading will be the launching pad for a full theatrical production.  “This reading at Theatre Row will be the first time I’ll hear the show read out loud in front of a live audience. Although the show has already been rewritten more times than I can count and has had numerous virtual readings on Zoom, once I hear a live audience ‘s reaction I’ll go back and reevaluate those points in the show which need clarification or trimming. After that, the process begins of getting the show produced at a theatre which has a history of producing new works that address cutting edge issues. There’s certainly nothing wrong with a theater choosing to do some shows whose entire purpose is to leave the audience feeling cozy and comfortable. The problem with those shows is the audience often forgets about them by the time they reach the parking lot to drive home. The issue of gun violence in schools is not going away. In fact, it has only gotten worse as time progresses. Somewhere along the line we have to collectively face this problem and seek solutions to end it. So, if anyone reading this article knows of a theater which would be willing to take a risk on producing a new musical that deals with a topic so timely that barely a week goes by without it raising its head again, I hope they will contact me about producing the show at that theater.”

Mr. Daggett has some wise parting words that hold out hope for positive change.  “Americans have solved seemingly insolvable problems in the past. We have fought wars to end oppression overseas and a war to end slavery here at home. We have the energy and ability to address this problem. No parent, even the most ardent supporter of the Second Amendment, wants to hear that their child has been killed in a school shooting. I think if we all keep our eyes focused on the direction in which we want to move, namely zero school shootings, and put aside our need to proclaim that our side is right and the other side is wrong, I think we could finally find a way to solve this problem.”

Get to the point by getting your tickets to Bullet Points

June 10 @ 7:00 p.m. & June 11 @ 2:00 p.m.

Theatre Row Theatre
as part of the New York New Works Festival
410 West 42nd Street, N

Robert Liebowitz @ ATA: Written in the Stars & Suic!de Bridge

James Jennings is theater royalty; there is no other way to say it. Since 1976, he has served as Founder, Owner/Operator, President & Chief Bottle Washer of the American Theater of Actors, an off-off Broadway venue, which has provided literally thousands of aspiring theater artists of all stripes–this humble scribe included–a place to hone their craft, to strut their art, and to make the world a slightly better place.

He also is an artist in his own right, as a playwright, and his latest effort–‘Written in the Stars’, a short one-act, is book-ended with the longer one-act ‘Suicide Bridge’, written by Emmy-Award Winner Charles Kipps.

In ‘…Stars’, Sondra (Ginger Kipps), a citizen of the world, is disheartened and a bit overwhelmed about the state of women throughout the planet; her roommate, Millie (Marie Laine), is not quite as upset at that current plight, and just longs for an easy, mindless evening at the local bar.

The obvious dichotomy is soon enhanced by the mention (in passing) of some nefarious ways these two ladies indulged in when they were younger. No doubt there was perhaps some occasional bombings of banks, and/or government buildings…and while Millie seems to have settled into ‘retirement’ from that lifestyle, Sondra is most determinedly not going to go quietly into that good night. The pre-show selection of 1960s rock/psychedelia music (Strawberry Alarm Clock!) sets the proper mood, and certainly sets the stage for some anticipated fireworks.

But just as suddenly as the groove, the pulse, of the play is set, it is suddenly over…and while we see a determined Sondra getting ready–walker and all–to board a plane to a foreign country, and to liberate women (not quite sure how) and free them from their bond, there is a sense of disappointment and frustration, if only because Mr. Jennings has composed the beginnings of a solid, compelling play ripe with dramatic possibilities.

Usually some ingredients of a theatrical experience get lost in the sauce when the playwright decides to direct his or her own work; happily, that is not the case here. Mr. Jennings kept his play moving at a brisk pace, and the repartee between the two actresses were handled with gentle, determined aplomb.

We hope the playwright will set a few moments aside for himself, and continue to work on this promising endeavor; the dramatic avenues are limitless We also hope that, when not banging away at the laptop, or possibly typewriter, Mr. Jennings will continue to provide a theatrical home for the next generation of theater artists, for the next 47 years.

‘Suicide Bridge’ is, in the overall, a better written play, but not as well directed. A young, pregnant woman (the excellent Isabel Van Natta, the gem of the evening) is about to hurl herself off of an unnamed New York City bridge, when–comically or not–she is interrupted by a middle-aged financial non-wizard (ably played by Alan Hasnas), who intends to do the same thing. While Mr Kipps has a good ear for dialogue, understands humor, exposition, dramatic tension, and varies the pulse of his play with an appropriate irregular heartbeat, the issue here is not the nuts and bolt of the art of playwriting; rather, it is how the writer wishes to convey, execute, and apply what he wishes to say. It is unclear–and remained so throughout the play–if Mr. Kipps is composing a comedy, a drama, a tragedy, or a allegorical tale.

The director, it would seem, failed the playwright. While the brief, simple set of a platform served as a launching pad into the river below (East?) quite easily, it felt as if the performers were doing their thing on a pier resting over the Mississippi River on a quiet night in August, rather than the bustling, frenetic energy of Manhattan at night. There is a specific reference to the couple being able to view the Empire State Building, adorned with its green and red lights–an obvious reference to Christmas, and probably in the evening, or even the wee-hours of the morning. However, the characters were not dressed for winter, and the set was strangely devoid of sound effects and other theatrical devices–fog horn, sirens, cars honking, construction, proper night lighting, the usual, low-lying fruit that enhances a theatrical experience and creates that wonderful thing we call Theater Magic. A miss.

The evening is earnest, heart-felt, and has its heart in the right place–an affirmation of life. Overall, a modestly successful evening in the theater.

Jam with JAM’s cast!

Meet the Cast of Mike & Mindy’s Wild Weekend JamMusic & Lyrics by Bucky Heard & Timothy D. Lee of The Righteous Brotherswith a book by Eileen Nelson & Mark Corallodirected by Scott Werntz
Join us for a special industry presentation.Two Showings: Thursday, June 1 @ 1:00 p.m. & 4:00 p.m.Open Jar Studios, in the heart of Broadway1601 BROADWAY, 11th Floor, NYC(Broadway & 48th Street – Enter on 48th)

Together since high school, Mike and Mindy found love and shared a dream of becoming huge singing sensations. BUT… With BIG dreams come BIG responsibilities. Therefore, to keep their dreams from being “flushed down the drain forever,” a plumber and a hairdresser they became.

Flash forward 10 years (circa 2005), Mike and Mindy continue working their day jobs, while tirelessly going on gigs and auditions. This fun-loving couple loves music so much, they even hold “Weekend Jams” at their place in Brooklyn, for all their wacky family and friends to sing, dance, and have a good time. Well… Sort of… You see, when Mike shares the news that a hot-shot music producer may show up to hear the duo sing, Mindy’s old school Italian parents kill the vibe. They say give up on this “Pipe Dream” and take over the family plumbing business. To add injury to insult, they want the kids to stop producing music and start producing grandkids. Angry and upset, Mike and Don come to blows, causing Mike to storm out of the party leaving his cell phone behind. 
Will Mike and Don find resolution? Will Mindy change her parents’ minds? Will that hot-shot music producer show up to make their dreams a reality? Come see for yourself!

Meet the cast of this rousing toe-tapping good old-fashioned musical:
Austin Michael* made his Off-Broadway debut in the World Premiere of “Mike & Mindy’s Wild Weekend Jam” originating the title role of Mike. Credits include “Mamma Mia!” tour with the original Broadway team, “Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan” alongside Cathy Rigby, Robert Westenberg, Tom Hewitt, and Kim Crosby; and recently, as the iconic role of Frankie Valli in Dodger Theatricals “Jersey Boys.” 

Bethany McDonald is a British performer who moved to New York City to originate the lead role of Mindy in her Off-Broadway debut for the World Premiere of Mike & Mindy’s Wild Weekend Jam. Bethany trained professionally for four years across Barcelona and London, graduating from London School of Musical Theatre.

Peggy Lee Brennan* played Frenchy in the original B’WAY production of GREASE (with Patrick Swayze); Radar’s girlfriend, (Lt. Linda Nugent) in the hit TV show,
M* A*S*H; and Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street (everywhere).Peg sang and danced with The Rhythm Kings, Cab Calloway, The Nicholas Brothers, Arthur Duncan, and Steve Allen at venues across America including Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.

Geoffrey Hastings Haberer* worked with Samuel L. Jackson, Mickey Rooney, & other household names in productions such as A Soldier’s Play Nat’l Tour, Grease (Danny), Girl Crazy (Dusty) at Seattle Rep, Applause with Phyllis McGuire, the Off-Broadway One-Man Show Ananias, & his own One-Man Show Amaze. 

Alexandria Corallo is thrilled to be part of Mike and Mindy’s Wild Weekend Jam yet again as Lisa. Favorite past productions include Little Women (Jo March) The Wizard of Oz (Glinda) and Matilda (Lavender). As a TikTok celebrity, she was dueted alongside Ben Platt and has a following of 265K followers. Follow her on TikTok at@alexcorallo_ to experience her amazing talent. 

Carmen Romano made his off-Broadway debut in 2021 in the new musical “Mike and Mindy’s Wild Weekend Jam.”  A native of Ohio, Carmen has resided in Las Vegas for the last 15 years performing in the World-Famous stage musical, “Legends In Concert.”Carmen has performed all over the world including Russia, Japan, Finland, Thailand, and Germany.  

Patricia M. Lawrence:  Off-Broadway and Regional: Swing for the new Ahrens and Flaherty musical Knoxville; Roz in Mike& Mindy’s Wild Weekend Jam; serial killer Amelia Dyer in Blood On My Mother’s Apron; and Ensemble/Norma Understudy in Sunset Boulevard.TV: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Blacklist.

Michelle Jennings’ recent Off-Broadway appearances include Diva/Executive in A Sketch of New York (Producers Club Theatre), and Countess in Figaro 90210! (Duke Theatre). She has appeared regionally as Ariel Truax in Grumpy Old Men, The Musical, (Fireside Theatre); Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music (Black Rock Theatre, CT); Ida in Titanic, The Musical (Milwaukee Rep); and Rose in the staged reading for The Journey Home.

John Fredrickson is thrilled to be rocking out once again with the remarkable company of Mike and Mindy’s WWJ since the previous Off-Broadway run in 2021.  Favorite theatrical credits include Warner (Legally Blonde), Max (Sound of Music), Tommy (Brigadoon), Sky (Guys and Dolls), Cliff (Cabaret), and Seymour (Little Shop). 

Kat Hernandez has appeared in several film, television, and theatre productions over the years. You may have seen them in iCarly, Hannah Montana, and Bama on Broadway! to name a few.

Mark Corallo is an actor and co-writer of Mike & Mindy’s Wild Weekend Jam where he plays the role of over-the-top high school drama teacher Mr. C.  Mark began his career on MTV as a dancer and then moved into film & theatre. He is a trained comedic & improv actor performing at Upright Citizens Brigade & Peoples Improv. Select Theatre Credits: The Frankenstein the Musical (Blind Father, Sinister Priest), My Big Gay Italian Funeral (Rabbi) My Big Gay Italian Christmas (Significant Other). Mark’s writing credits include Mike & Mindy’s Krazy Karaoke Party, Closets, FireEscapes, & Spootie and the Ooties, a children’s book. 

*members, Actors Equity

Featuring high-spirited choreography by Andrew Winans
An award-winning New York City-based director and choreographer, Andrew’s credentials include Assistant Director on the A Chorus Line premiere in China and Assistant Choreographer on the recent International Tour. In addition, he has assisted TONY winners Bob Avian and Baayork Lee on numerous other A Chorus Line companies and events, including New York City Center, U.S. National Tour, Japan Tour, The Apollo Theatre and The Public Theatre. Andrew re-staged A Chorus Line at Algonquin Arts Theatre and Summer stock Stage, nominated for multiple BWW Regional Awards. Current projects in NYC include Maddie: A New Musical (Director/ Choreographer) and Mike & Mindy’s Wild Weekend Jam (Choreographer).

The Drama Book Shop will serve as host for a special night with celebrated New York playwright, Doug DeVita,

Tuesday, June 6 @ 7:30 p.m., THE DRAMA BOOK SHOP, 266 West 39th Street, New York City. RSVP here

Produced by Jay Michaels Communications & Next Stage Press, DOUG DEVITA: FABLING will feature Mr. DeVita discussing his latest work, FABLE, a play about the creation of the legendary Broadway musical, GYPSY, as well as his canon of other works. Lane Bradbury, the original dainty June from the original Broadway production of Gypsy starring Ethel Merman will be in-hand to offer historical commentary and selections from the play will be read.

The event is free with purchase of one of Mr. DeVita’s playsfrom the Drama Book Shop.

FABLE is in development for an off-Broadway run this fal lproduced by Emilee Dupre and directed by Jay Michaels.

Doug DeVita has earned numerous accolades for his writing, including being a two-time O’Neill Semi-Finalist, a Finalist for the Davenport Theatrical Reading Series, and a Semi-Finalist for multiple prestigious awards, such as the Barrington Stage Company’s Burman New Play Award, the Normal Avenue’s New American Play Series, and the Campfire Theatre Festival. As a member of the Dramatists Guild, Doug has had work published by Next Stage Press and Smith & Kraus. This promises to be an exciting event, and we hope to see you there!

A powerful STORMÉ is coming

New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s The Stages Festival presents the Paterson Performing Arts Development Council and
True Colors Project presentation of
A musical play written and directed by Carolyn M. Brown

Special Presentation: May 19 @ 7:00 p.m.
Art House Productions, 345 Marin Blvd., Jersey City, NJ

Based on a true story and real events, Carolyn M.Brown’s STORMÉ tells the story of Stormé DeLarverie – a big band singer going under the name of Stormy Dale – a male impersonator of Harlem’s famed Jewel Box Revue (America’s first racially integrated and gay-owned drag show) who became an icon of the historic 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. She has been called the “Rosa Parks of the Gay Rights Movement.”

Stormé’s scuffle with police on that fateful day in June of 1969 at the Stonewall Inn was as instrumental in igniting the modern-day Gay Rights Movement. While many accounts water down the actual incidents, Brown’s play pulls no punches in sharing rarely depicted details.

After a successful run in NYC in 2022, STORMÉ now returns for this special night with negotiations underway for another New York run. These special showings are setting the stage for a major New York revival next year in conjunction withthe 55th anniversary of Stonewall.

This event is part of the Alliance’s Stages Festival, the state’s largest annual theatre festival, which providesfree and discounted theatre events for all ages throughout the months of March,April, and May. This event is $5 when ordering online at http://www.njtheatrealliance.org/stages or $10 at the door.

The Stages Festival offers over 70 in-person and onlineperformances, workshops, classes, and events at theatres, libraries, and othercommunity venues throughout the state. The program was developed to encourage New Jersey’s residents to attend their local professional theatres by making the experience affordable, accessible, and fun.

For more informationabout the production, visit http://www.stormetheplay.com or http://www.mytruecolorsfestival.com

“The Alliance is proud to offer this powerful moment in history as part of the 2023 StagesFestival,” said John McEwen, Executive Director of the Alliance. “For more than 25 years, The Stages Festival has providedtheatrical experiences for more than 200,000 residentsacross New Jersey. We are thrilled that we can bring communities together through the power of theatre.”

The New Jersey Theatre Alliance 2023 Stages Festival is made possible by support from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey; Ocean First Foundation; Fund for the New Jersey Blind; New Jersey Manufacturers; and Customers Bank. A full calendar of events is available at http://www.njtheatrealliance.org/stages.

New York’s MARK NADLER nominated for the French Tony Award 

International cabaret and theatre artist, MARK NADLER, has been nominated for the Trophée de la Comédie Musicale, the French equivalent of Broadway’s Tony Award, for creating the role of Eugene in Gaby Deslys at the Theatre de Passy in Paris this past March.

Mark is now creating the role of Myles Bell in the upcoming production of Donald Steven Olson’s new musical TRANSFORMATION: The Christine Jorgensen Show – a featured event at this year’s Fresh Fruit Festival.

He co-stars with film and TV personality, Nicola Gorham, making her New York stage debut as the title character.

TRANSFORMATION opens at The Wild Project, 195 E. 3rd Street, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side starting April 27 for a limited run. Visit freshfruitfestival.com for tickets.

The Trophée de la Comédie Musicale ceremony with be held on June 12 at Casino de Paris.