(DIRECTOR, BOOK, LYRICS)
Like Grandmaster Flash, Stanley Kubrick and David Berkowitz, Julien Nitzberg was raised in the Bronx. At age 16, he was a founding member of the cult New York hardcore punk band Artless. Playing noise guitar, Nitzberg was known for frequently mocking racist skinhead members of the audience. This seemed fun until the night when the band were opening for legendary hardcore band Minor Threat and Nitzberg got pulled off the stage and stomped by a gang of skinheads. After several steel toed boot kicks to the head, Nitzberg was pulled back on stage bleeding. Despite his injuries, he immediately went back to mocking the Nazis and hasn’t stopped to this day.
The son of a Holocaust survivor, Nitzberg grew up in a family that saw the worst of humanity which resulted in his nihilistic love for pushing the envelope by combining black comedy and scathing social commentary In the world of theater, Nitzberg wrote and directed the controversial comic operetta The Beastly Bombing or A Terrible Tale of Terrorists Tamed By The Tangles Of True Love. This musical commented on the insanity of Bush-era politics by focusing on a pair of Al Qaeda terrorists who come to New York to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge only to have their plan thwarted by a pair of white supremacists who have shown up at the same time with the same plan. Neither succeed in blowing up the bridge but the two pairs of terrorists quickly bond when they realize, in song, that they share a love of hating Jews. It was dubbed by the Huffington Post “the first great work of comedy to emerge from the post-9/11 little planet of horrors.” It was staged in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Amsterdam and won the LA Weekly Theater Critics Musical of the Year Award.
In the world of film, Nitzberg is best known as the producer and director of the documentary feature The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. This film about a family infamous for criminality and tap dancing was the first non-Jackass feature produced by Johnny Knoxville. The film explored how the coal economy of West Virginia helped create the fatalistic hopelessness that led to the opioid epidemic. Nitzberg received multiple death threats for making this film and was also threatened with a lawsuit from coal industry trade groups who were upset about their portrayal in the film. White supremacist blogs attacked the film for showing white people who were on welfare and committing crimes. The film was distributed theatrically by Robert DeNiro’s company Tribeca Film and was shown on Showtime and Netflix.
Most recently, Nitzberg was a producer and writer on Cinemax’s animated series Mike Judge Presents Tales From the Tour Bus. He has also written scripts for HBO,Showtime, Amazon Films, TNT, USA, IFC, Paramount Studios, CBS Studios and NBC.
Drew Erickson is an American musician, composer, arranger and record producer based in Los Angeles. As a session musician and/or orchestral arranger, he has contributed to recordings of many artists including Florence & the Machine, Father John Misty, Mac Demarco, Weyes Blood, Milton Nascimento, Ronnie Spector, Tim Heidecker, Jonathan Wilson & Neon Indian.
Drew grew up playing the hammond organ at church in his hometown Dallas, TX, and has been a featured organist at several churches in Los Angeles, including First A.M.E., 2nd A.M.E., Ward A.M.E. and Brookins-Kirkland in South L.A. He was the keyboardist/organist in Roger Waters’ touring band during the North American leg of his ‘Us+Them World Tour’, and has also toured internationally with the bands of Jonathan Wilson, and Neon Indian.
Nicole Morier has assembled a remarkable resume of hits and song placements all over the world. Some of Morier’s best-known work includes five songs recorded by Britney Spears over three albums, including “How I Roll,” which Rolling Stone named the “Best Pop Song of 2011.” Varied artists such as Tom Jones, Selena Gomez, Ellie Goulding, and Demi Lovato have engaged Morier’s songwriting skills, leading to chart-topping pop hits in Germany, Australia and Sweden as well as the #1 U.S. Billboard Dance track “Dirty Talk” (Wynter Gordon). As a recording artist with her band Electrocute and under the moniker Coco Morier, she’s written and produced original music for many films and television shows. She also toured as guitarist for legendary French singer/actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Nicole is currently working on developing artists as a producer from her studio in Los Angeles and composing film and TV music for Hans Zimmer’s licensing company. She recently co-wrote and sang on a single with electronic dance artist Oliver and hip hop legends De La Soul.
Max Townsley is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and composer. Based out of Denton, Texas, Max spends a large part of the year touring the globe as a guitarist and keyboard player. Currently he is composing music for the film Inner Sanctum directed by filmmaker Bobby Weiss.
(PUPPET DIRECTOR and DESIGNER)
Robin Walsh discovered puppets on her first day of college, and has never looked back. She’s on a constant search for puppet zen and loves proving that alternate realities exist – and creating them!
LEIGH R. CRAWFORD
Leigh Crawford was born into a show business family. His mother was raised in a Catholic orphanage in Brazil where she learned ballet and Frevo, a traditional Brazilian dance, which lead to an early career at the historic Santa Isabel Theater. Upon moving to the United States, she parlayed the dance skills taught to her by the nuns into becoming a Las Vegas showgirl, moving with her nine-year old son into the Circus Circus Casino, where Leigh spent much of his childhood.
Realizing the unreliability of a show business career, Leigh went into finance. He was an equities analyst, then portfolio manager for Trust Company of the West (TCW), advisor to Global Platinum Securities and co-founder of The Mgrublian Center for Human Rights. In 2010, Leigh founded Crawford Capital.
In the world of the arts, Leigh executive produced the musical Sneaux, directed by Andy Fickman. He has been an Ambassador and member of the Artistic Director Circle of the Center Theatre Group, comprised of patrons offering major support to specific areas of Artistic Director Michael Ritchie’s vision. Leigh is a lead sponsor of the 2018 Dia de los Muertos Festival at the 24th Street Theatre.
Leigh’s daughters are also involved in theater. Lilla Crawford portrayed the title role in the Broadway revival of Annie, starred opposite Johnny Depp in the film Into the Woods and is currently in The Who Was Show on Netflix. Savvy Crawford played young Amelie in the Broadway musical adaptation of the film Amelie and will be playing Sofia Vergara’s daughter in the film Stano.
When the Jackson 5 first arrived in Los Angeles in 1969 for their debut on the Ed Sullivan Show, they stayed at the home of Tony DB Jones, whom Michael nicknamed ‘Tomay Cat.’ They’d all met about a year earlier at their Motown audition in ’68, when Tony realized that the only way to convince the president of Motown Berry Gordy to pay attention was to appeal to his interest in new technology. Gordy had no interest in seeing the sons of Joe Jackson from Gary Indiana, yet prided himself in being one of the first companies to own a reel to reel video machine. Tony taped the audition, Berry signed them, recorded I Want You Back, and it ended up knocking out the Beatles for the #1 spot on the record charts.
Tony first became involved in Motown by the invitation of his cousin Suzanne DePasse, who started as creative assistant to Berry Gordy and ascended to become President of Motown. She brought Tony into the fold after his studies at Dartmouth and Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire. Tony started as assistant, and after the Jackson 5 were signed, he was placed in charge of their print and public image and, after going on tour with the band, became their road manager. Suzanne later explained in an interview: “My cousin, Tony Jones, and I were responsible for everything that had to do with the Jackson 5 except making the record — their wardrobe, their choreography, their lineup for the shows, putting them in school, finding them a house, all that stuff.”
Tony went on to become a Motown executive before leaving to become a talent manager, guiding the career of many artists including Lionel Richie and Jennifer Holliday. He was instrumental in getting Jennifer Holliday to star in the original production of Dreamgirls on Broadway for which she won a Tony Award.
Tony recalls Michaels curiosity about the business from an early age when young Michael’s toes were peeking out from behind a window drapery while he was hiding and listening in on business meetings. They continued to be friends as Michael grew up, and Tony was a key part of helping create the ABC miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream. Tony was also a producer on the ABC series Motown 40: The Music is Forever. Tony has found that most dramatic representations of Michael Jackson never dealt with the true complexity of Michael’s life, and felt that, through its unique allegorical reimagining, For the Love of a Glove told a truer version of Michael’s story than any of the more realistic attempts had ever accomplished.
When Michael Jackson debuted the moonwalk, Betsy Zajko immediately taught it to herself as a means to traverse the school corridors between classes, solidifying her place as one of the weirdest 7th graders in Cleveland.
A former journalist, host and producer for CBS and NPR, Betsy has received awards from the Associated Press and the Society for Professional Journalists. While at NPR, she co-produced and hosted the national holiday program A Change Of Season and was producer/director of radio commentary working closely for several years with writers such as Harvey Pekar of American Splendor fame. Since moving to Los Angeles, Betsy has produced numerous shows for the acclaimed Rogue Machine Theatre Company including the monthly spoken-word show Rant & Rave and the play Where The Great Ones Run which was written by Mike and Molly creator Mark Roberts. She also directed Felicia Michaels’ first comedy special My Hole Story which was taped before a live audience in Los Angeles in 2018.
As an actor, Betsy Zajko is a recurring celebrity match voice on The Cartoon Network, and has appeared on stage, film and television. Her work in plays has taken her to many theaters including Steppenwolf, the Cleveland Playhouse, and Boston Court. Most recently she was directed by Jason Alexander in Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound at the Odyssey Theatre and appeared at the Rubicon Theatre to great acclaim in the West Coast premiere of Nick Payne’s Incognito and most recently, 4.48 Psychosis at Son of Semele.
On TV and film she has guest starred in Masters of Sex and co-starred in Curb Your Enthusiasm, Mike And Molly, Body of Proof, Striking Distance and The Colony. She has also appeared in numerous commercials including recent Super Bowl spots for Geico and Toyota Prius.
Betsy is Puppeteer and Technical Coordinator of Performing Arts at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County operating, fabricating and repairing animatronic creatures built by the Jim Henson shop.
Burk Zanft was raised in the musical theater community by a mother whose career as a Radio City Rockette was tragically cut short when she became pregnant with Burk. In the womb, she began programming Burk with a love of musical theater by holding a boombox up to her stomach playing an endless loop of the soundtracks to A Chorus Line and Kiss of the Spider Woman. Fulfilling his mother’s dreams, as a young man he starred in acclaimed productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and West Side Story. After a brief time running for office in the ugly world of South Florida politics, he decided to return to his first love by becoming a producer in the less ugly world of musical theater. This is his first L.A. production.
Heather Marie Marsden has enjoyed a diversified career, encompassing the big and small screen, stage, and the recording studio. Heather has starred in, recurred or guest starred on over 49 TV and Film titles, including The Office, Hometown Hero, Lucky, Pool Boys, Charmed, Drake & Josh, Austin Powers, That Thing You Do! She voiced the immensely popular character, “Sarah Lyons” in the award-winning game Fallout 3, and narrated the Spike TV Video Game Awards.
When not on camera, Heather often returns to her theatre roots. She has had the honor to work with multiple Tony award-winning directors and writers, and Grammy winning song-writers while originating roles in award-winning plays such as “Zephyr” in Mask (directed by Richard Maltby, Jr.) at The Pasadena Playhouse, and “Elyssa” in The Beastly Bombing at The Julia Miles Theatre (Off-Broadway.) As part of the Chicago cast, she delivered 190 consecutive performances as “Dyanne” in Million Dollar Quartet. Other regional and tour credits include “Rosie” in Sweet Charity, and A Chorus Line, directed by Baayork Lee.
Heather’s musicianship has led her to the recording studio, where she has co-written and co-produced two pop/rock releases and a Billboard charting dance hit that showcase her as a talented and credible songwriter and vocalist. Songs from her releases have been heard on LA’s 103.1 as well as films and TV shows including Justified, Jane by Design, Law & Order CI, Miss Teen USA, Melrose Place 2.0, and more. Her single “Venice Freak” entered the Billboard Dance Charts at #25, alongside Madonna and Beyonce, and appeared on Trance Divas 2. Heather did vocal arrangements of Disney songs for her well received jazz e.p., So This Is Love, (BFM Music/The Orchard.) She was Asst. Musical Director, vocal producer and on-camera talent coach for two Subaru (“Put a Little Love in Your Heart”) campaigns. She continues to be a busy live and session vocalist singing on film and TV scores (The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virgina, Tanner Hall), national commercials (Subaru, McDonalds, Barbie, Toyota), song demos (Bob Dylan) and artist releases.
Andrea Keller is an acclaimed architect and interior designer who has reimagined and designed major spaces for the W Hotel Westwood, the Mondrian Hotel Los Angeles and the London West Hollywood. Needing an expert at period details, the Hearst Family hired Andrea to replicate the distinctive Hearst architecture style of the 1920’s when she built the Hearst Ranch Store on the Hearst Castle property. Recently she designed the Moss Theatre at the New Roads School as well as the A Noise Within Theatre in Pasadena.
Andrea has taught at Otis College of Design, USC School of Architecture and lectures on Architectural History for the Institute of Classical Architecture. Her firm is AKA Architecture + Design in Downtown LA.
Recipient of the 2015 Stage Raw award and 2014 Ovation nomination for sound design, Christopher Moscatiello is a composer, music director and sound editor/mixer for theater, television and film.
Recent television credits include The Walking Dead (AMC), Eureka (SyFy), Human Target (Fox), Psych (USA), Caprica (SyFy), The Cape (NBC), Trauma (NBC), and he has scored full series for National Geographic and Discovery Channel, as well as specials and promos for HBO, Animal Planet, MSNBC, The History Channel, The Learning Channel, BBC, and ZDF Germany.
Theater credits include The Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, The Folger Shakespeare Theater, The Smithsonian Institution, Rogue Machine Theatre, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, Antaeus Theatre Company, Skylight Theatre Company, Pacific Resident Theatre and The Road Theater.
An East Coast native, Chris spent several years in Boston as Associate Artistic Director and Conductor of the Boston Chamber Ensemble. During that period, he wrote a ballet commissioned by the Kirov Ballet Academy that had its world premier in Washington, DC. Also while on the East Coast, he was the production music director for the theater program at American University, and the supervising composer for The Washington Opera’s Create and Produce program. He also served as Master Sound Engineer for the Washington Folklore Society Folk Festival, Staff Engineer at Wooden Nickel Sound and Recording, and as Technical Director for The Stage Door theater program in Arlington, Va.
“One of the best costume designers working today. Period.” – Tim Robbins
Ann Closs-Farley is widely recognized for her fearless, astute and super imaginative approach to costume design. Growing up on a farm as the ninth of fourteen siblings, she became a young seamstress by necessity, cutting up family hand- me-downs to create new and outrageous outfits for herself. During her 20 year career, her work in large scale spectacles like The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway or Disney’s Toy Story, The Musical reveal why she is known for lifting words from a script and turning them into a visual dream come true. From prosthetics to wigs, puppets to restoration pieces, Ann makes magic happen with her jaw dropping original ideas.
Credits include: Zoot Suit (Mark Taper Forum), Pinocchio (Deaf West), Our Town (Pasadena Playhouse), Pelleas Et Melisande: Opera (Severance Hall), Bat Boy: The Musical (Union Square), Eric Idle’s What About Dick? (Orpheum). Ann is a long-time member of The Actors’ Gang and evidEnce Room theater companies, and her work has graced stages worldwide, including The Signature Theatre, The ClevelandPlayhouse, Kirk Douglas Theatre, Geffen Playhouse, La Mirada, and the Getty Villa.She is currently designing for Shanghai Disneyland Park, Universal Studios and Carnival Cruise Lines.
Derrick McDaniel has been working in the live theater arena for over 20 years, both in Los Angeles and New York. From Romeo and Juliet to Guys and Dolls, Derrick has designed lighting for many plays, musicals and events. A few of his lighting credits include, “Mercy Seat” (2012 LA Weekly Awards Winner) at the Inside the Ford Theater, “Death House” at the Road Theatre on Lankershim, “Spring Awakening” at the Whitefire Theatre, “The Addams Family”at the Madrid Theater; and “Freud’s Last Session”at the Odyssey Theater.– and many others. Derrick is an award-winning designer and has been nominated for several Ovation Awards, as well. Recently, he was nominated for an NAACP Theater Award for “Les Blanc” at the Rogue Machine Theater.
ADRIAN ROSE LEONARD
(ASSISTANT PUPPET DESIGNER)
Adrian Rose Leonard has built and performed puppets since the start of her career in 2006 when she joined the team at the Nashville Public Library’s Wishing Chair Productions. While there, she carried on the traditions of puppeteer Tom Tichenor, as well as helping to create new works for the repertoire. In an effort to expand her puppetry skills, Adrian moved to Los Angeles in 2011 where she quickly found work at the legendary Bob Baker Marionette Theater and with The Rogue Artists Ensemble.
Her puppetry design and fabrication knowledge has allowed Adrian to work with various styles of puppetry, from stop-motion and table-top to shadow and hand puppets, working with such studios as Screen Novelties, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, Shadow Machine and Rick Lazzarini’s Character Shop.
Some of Adrian’s recent performance work can be seen on ABC’s The Gong Show, where her 8-foot-tall Grimmy Reaperton puppet managed to avoid the gong! She’s also puppeteered on the Dreamworks film Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, Adult Swim’s Mr. Neighbor’s House ,the all-puppet feature film Yamasong: March of the Hollows. She’s also proud to have puppeteered on the award-winning short film Mill at Calder’s End, produced by Heather Henson’s Handmade Puppet Dreams.
Sitting in front of MTV in her living room in Kansas City, Victoria Hoffman vowed that someday she would teach herself the Thriller choreography ‘cause it was so incredibly cool. She knew she would rock it. But now, many years later, she asks herself regularly, how long is a vow valid?
Victoria Hoffman is a Los Angeles based Actor, Casting Director, Director, Professor and Producer. She received her MFA in Acting and Directing from UMKC, in conjunction with Kansas City Rep. She is the Resident Casting Director at the multi-award winning Rogue Machine Theatre Company. She has also branched out to cast projects at Boston Court Pasadena (the sold out runs of Streetcar Named Desire and The Judas Kiss), A Noise Within (Frankenstein, A Picture of Dorian Grey and Othello), The Greenway Court (Curious Incident, Herland), and The New American Theatre (Boxing Lessons). Currently the Manager of Casting at the AFI Conservatory, she oversees campus wide casting needs for the first year MFA cycle films and for classroom exercises and table reads.
As a director, she recently won an Encore Producer’s award for her production of Acid Wash Love in the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival. At Pasadena City College, where she is an Adjunct Professor of Theatre & Film, she directed David Ives’ All in the Timing, and David Hirson’s La Bête.
As an actor, Victoria had the honor, the joy and the excitement of debuting with The Troubadour Theatre Company as Portia in their production of Julius Weezer. Local faves include Noël Coward’s The Vortex at Malibu Playhouse & The Matrix, Nick Salamone’s critically acclaimed The Sonneteer at LA Gay & Lesbian Center, I Love Lucy Live @ Greenway Court, and Twelfth Night (directed by Armin Shimerman) for WEHO Shakespeare in the Parks. Regional highlights include: A Christmas Carol at the Kodak Theatre with Christopher Lloyd & John Goodman, Charley Bacon with Tony Plana at South Coast Repertory, Tartuffe and Crimes of the Heart at Kansas City Rep. Television & Film credits may be found on her website– www.victoriahoffman.com. IG & Twitter @VicHoffmanLA
Jill McGraw has been a roadie for Electric Mayhem, Special Forces at Angie Tribeca, Craft Director at Camp Firewood and Banana Grabber at Bluth’s Banana Stand.
Benita Elliott is a costume designer, assistant costume designer and wardrobe supervisor. She studied Costume Design at LACC’s Theatre Academy and technical instruction in LA Trade Tech’s Fashion Design Program. Credits include: For The Love Of A Glove; Bronco Billy The Musical; One Night In Miami’s LA World Premiere; Culture Clash’s Sapo @ The Getty Villa; a—- Kris Keiser 2019 Netflix project; LA Dance Project at ACE Theatre; Los Angeles Ballet; Circle X Theatre; talk show pilot The Raw Word co-hosted by Michael Eric Dyson, Claudia Jordan and Dr. Dan; the racially prescient Emmitt & Ava; the late Henry Ong’s Dream of The Red Chamber at Robey Theatre Company. She was the featured cover artist for LA’s Department of Cultural Affair’s 2016 African American Heritage Month Calendar.
(KEY ART DESIGN)
Ellen G was born in 1980 in Baku, Azerbaijan of the Soviet Union. When moved to Saint Petersburg at the age of 9, she had studied the classic art and painting and from there on, in a self-instructive manner, Ellen had developed her own style, which follows the Old Masters techniques and the realistic school, starting her work by focusing on Afro-Caribbean portraits. Techniques Ellen uses vary from big scale, oil on canvas portraits to watercolor, acrylics and pen/ink on paper with no use of projection, or a light table, but by observation only. Ellen is renowned as both, a DJ and a graphics design artist, from the team My Lord Sound & Graphics, active since 2003, alongside her spouse Ranking Levy. After being introduced to the vast genres of Jamaican music in 2001 Ellen had begun a high resolution series of oil on canvas portraits created as an elegy to greater than life, world renown Jamaican artists, who had died mysteriously and as an ode to those who are still with us. In 2003, she had visited for the first time the Island of Jamaica where she had been exposed to the Afro-Caribbean culture and everyday life, taking pictures which would become the blueprint of her for upcoming Ghetto Youths portraits. The two arrays would eventually compound the Ghetto Classic series. The works in the series aim to accentuate the subtleties of the enigmatic atmosphere of the music based culture, which is serene and numinous on one hand- yet afflicted with the frailty of one’s fate that derives from constant gun threat and political instability that the country routine is saturated with. Aside the oil painted canvas series, Ellen’s dominant body of work consists of hand painted artworks for album covers and posters commissioned by record labels and independent artists of the international Reggae scene across the world (England, Scotland, U.S.A, Germany, France, The Arab Emirates and more).
Ellen is living in Israel since 1993. She has a BA in The History of Arts and English and American Studies, acquired at the Tel Aviv University and now is working on her Master’s Degree in Philosophy.
Michelle is a graphic designer, videographer, casting associate and media producer for her home Rogue Machine Theatre and other intimate theatres across Los Angeles. She stage manages (Nude/Naked at McCadden Theatre, Too Much Sun at Odyssey, American Saga: Gunshot Medley at Rogue Machine, The Blind Date Project at Edinburgh Fringe ’17), assists backstage, makes theatre trailers and occasionally produces plays (most recently The Lost Virginity Tour at McCadden Theatre and The Pleasure Project at Adelaide Fringe, Australia). Michelle loves to hang out with her cats Nuka and Nova, write mediocre poetry and watch bad horror movies. She is forever grateful for the love and support of Amanda Bierbauer, Ramon Valdez, John Perrin Flynn, Betsy Zajko, Rachel Sorsa and Mary Alexandra Stiefvater.