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For more information about our former guests and luminaries, please click on their images below.
JESSICA HECHT has appeared on television in Dickinson, Bored to Death, Red Oaks, Jessica Jones, The Loudest Voice & Succession. She played Sonya Barzel on The Sinner and was nominated for an Emmy for her role as Karen in Netflix’s Special. Known for her roles as Gretchen Schwartz on Breaking Bad & Susan Bunch, the wife of Ross Geller’s ex-wife on Friends, she was a featured cast member in the sitcom The Single Guy. Hecht had played Amy Burns in the comedy-drama Dan in Real Life (2007), with Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche and appeared in Woody Allen’s Whatever Works, Sideways, & A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Broadway roles include her Tony-nominated performance in A View From the Bridge w. Scarlett Johansson & Liev Schreiber, Harvey with Jim Parsons, as Golde in Fiddler on the Roof directed by Bartlett Sher and The Price opposite Mark Ruffalo. In 2018 she won an Obie for her performance in Admissions at LCT. With producer Jenny Gersten she runs The Campfire Project, a theatre-based wellness project that creates plays in refugee camps.
STEPHEN HANNOCK is an American luminosity painter known for his atmospheric landscapes and incendiary nocturnes. The artist has demonstrated a keen appreciation for the quality of light and the limitations of conventional techniques for capturing it. His experiments with machine-polishing the surfaces of paintings give a trademark luminous quality to his work. The larger vistas also incorporate diaristic text that weaves throughout the composition. His design of visual effects for the 1998 film What Dreams May Come won an Academy Award. His works are in collections worldwide including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Yale University Art Gallery. His painting of the Connecticut River Oxbow was chosen for inclusion in the recently published Metropolitan Museum of Art, Masterpiece Paintings. In addition, Hannock and frequent collaborator Sting were the contemporary annex to the recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled, Thomas Cole’s Journey, Atlantic Crossings. Mr. Hannock’s second monograph will soon be published by The Artist Book Foundation.
MICHAEL R. JACKSON won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle for A Strange Loop which had its 2019 World Premiere at Playwrights Horizons in association with Page 73 Productions. In addition to A Strange Loop, he also wrote Book, Music and Lyrics for the upcoming White Girl in Danger; and Lyrics and Book for the musical adaptation of the 2007 horror film Teeth with composer and co-bookwriter Anna K. Jacobs. Awards and associations include: a New Professional Theatre Festival Award, a Jonathan Larson Grant, a Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, an ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Award, a Whiting Award, the Helen Merrill Award for Playwriting, an Obie Award, A Drama Desk Award, a Dramatist Guild Fellowship. He is an alum of Page 73’s Interstate 73 Writers Group. He has commissions from Grove Entertainment & Barbara Whitman Productions and LCT3 and is a newly-elected member of the Dramatists Guild Council.
MICHAEL URIE last appeared on Broadway in Bess Wohl’s Grand Horizons at 2nd Stage and produced Drew Droege’s Happy Birthday Doug at Soho Playhouse. NYC Theater: Tony Kushner’s A Bright Room Called Day, Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song, Buyer & Cellar, How to Succeed, High Button Shoes, The Government Inspector, Homos, or Everyone in America, Shows For Days, Angels in America, The Temperamentals. As director, Michael helmed Bright Colors and Bold Patterns on stage, He’s Way More Famous Than You and The Hyperglot on film. He co-produces Pride Plays. Regional: The Shakespeare Theater, The Old Globe, Seattle Rep, The Folger, South Coast Rep, Barrington Stage, and Center Theater Group. Film: Lavender, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, The Decoy Bride, Such Good People, Abducted. TV: Modern Family, The Good Fight, Younger, The Good Wife, Hot in Cleveland, Partners, Workaholics, Almost Family and Ugly Betty. Training: Juilliard.
PAULA VOGEL is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright whose many plays include Indecent (Tony-Award), How I Learned to Drive (Pulitzer Prize, Obie, Lortel Prize, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, NY Drama Critics Awards for Best Play), The Long Christmas Ride Home, The Baltimore Waltz & Desdemona. Other honors include the American Theatre Hall of Fame, the Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, the Lily Award, Thornton Wilder Prize, Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement, William Inge Award, Elliot Norton Award, Susan Smith Blackburn Award, PEN/Laura Pels Award, a Guggenheim and many fellowships and residencies. Her plays have been translated and performed in over 22 languages. A distinguished theater educator and mentor, she was playwright-in-residence and professor at UCLA, Sewanee, Shanghai Theatre Academy and Nanjing University, University of Texas at Austin & the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis. From 1984 to 2008 she founded & ran the playwriting program at Brown University where she started a women’s theatre workshop in Maximum Security at the Adults Correction Institute in Cranston, RI. Most recently she was the O’Neill Chair at Yale School of Drama. A Broadway revival of How I Learned To Drive awaits the reopening of live theater.
Tony and Emmy Award winner JUDITH LIGHT is critically acclaimed for her film, television, and stage work, as well as a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star recipient. Television: The Politician, Manhunt: Deadly Games, Transparent, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, Ugly Betty, Dallas, Who’s the Boss, One Life to Live. Film: Before You Know It, Ms. White Light, Save Me, Ira and Abby. Stage: God Looked Away, All the Ways to Say I Love You, Thérèse Raquin, Lombardi, Other Desert Cities, The Assembled Parties, Wit. Light is an advocate for the HIV/AIDS and LGBTQIA+ communities and is on the board of directors of the MCC Theatre in NYC.
photo by Victoria Will
Actress & singer KEALA SETTLE is the breakout star of The Greatest Showman alongside Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron & Zendaya. The Hawaii native’s performance of the film’s Oscar-nominated song, This Is Me, as the Bearded Lady became an explosive anthem of self-acceptance propelling the soundtrack to the top of the charts worldwide. Her electrifying live performances have stunned audiences on The Today Show, Graham Norton Show, The Ellen Show & the 2018 Academy Awards where she brought the audience to their feet. In 2019 she joined Hugh Jackman on his World Tour, The Man. The Music. The Show. On Broadway she earned a Tony-nomination for her stirring performance in Hands on a Hardbody, and appeared in Les Miserables & Waitress. Film appearances include Ricki and the Flash alongside Meryl Streep. Her recordings include Feels So Good featured in Target’s “Do More” campaign. She effortlessly bridges the space between Motown soul queen and modern pop star.
GREGG BARNES, costume designer, received Broadway’s Tony Award & the Drama Desk & Outer Critics Awards for Best Costumes for The Drowsy Chaperone. He received another Tony & Drama Desk Award for Stephen Sondheim’s Follies starring Bernadette Peters as well as Tony nominations for Mean Girls, Tuck Everlasting, Legally Blonde, Something Rotten, Kinky Boots & Flower Drum Song. His designs for other Broadway shows include Pretty Women, Aladdin, Elf, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Side Show, Bye Bye Birdie & To Be Or Not to Be. An Olivier Award winner for Kinky Boots & nominee for The Drowsy Chaperone, Legally Blonde, Dreamgirls & Pageant, his designs have been seen at Radio City for Sinatra, The Christmas Spectacular, and at Madison Square Garden for The Wizard of Oz. His work is represented in major Regional theaters including the Old Globe where he was an Associate Artist, the Ahmanson, Signature, Arena Stage & McCarter Theaters, Glimmerglass Opera & the Paper Mill Playhouse where as Resident Costume Designer from 1989-1999, he designed close to forty shows.
TOM KITT is an acclaimed composer & lyricist. He received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as two Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Orchestrations for the highly lauded Broadway musical Next to Normal. He is also the composer of the musicals Almost Famous, The Visitor, Flying Over Sunset, If/Then, High Fidelity, Bring it On, the Musical with co-composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, Superhero, Disney’s Freaky Friday, Dave and The Winter’s Tale, All’s Well That Ends Well and Cymbeline for The Public’s NY Shakespeare Theater. Other credits include SpongeBob Squarepants, the Musical, Head Over Heels, Jagged Little Pill, Grease Live!, Rise and American Idiot. He received an Emmy Award as co-writer with Mr. Miranda for the 2013 Tony Award opening number, Bigger. As musical director, conductor, arranger and orchestrator his credits include the Pitch Perfect films, 2Cellos featuring Lang Lang (Live and Let Die), 13, Kennedy Center Honors, Everyday Rapture, Laugh Whore, Pippin (Deaf West) and These Paper Bullets.
STEPHANIE BLYTHE, mezzo-soprano, is a renowned opera singer and recitalist. One of the most highly respected and critically acclaimed artists of her generation, her repertoire ranges from Handel to Wagner, German lieder to contemporary and classic American song. Ms. Blythe has performed on many of the world’s great stages, such as Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Paris National, San Francisco, Chicago Lyric and Seattle Operas. Her live Met Opera HD broadcasts include Orfeo ed Euridice, Il Trittico, Falstaff, and the complete Ring Cycle. Recordings include her solo crossover album, “As Long As There Are Songs” and works by Mahler, Brahms, Wagner, Handel and Bach. She was named Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year in 2009, received an Opera News Award in 2007 and won the prestigious Richard Tucker Award in 1999. Currently the Artistic Director of Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar she was recently appointed Director of the Graduate Vocal Arts Program at Bard College. Ms. Blythe occasionally moonlights as the dramatic tenor, Blythely Oratonio.
JACK O’BRIEN has won three Tony Awards for his direction of Hairspray, Henry IV and The Coast of Utopia. Other Broadway credits include All My Sons, Carousel, The Front Page, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, It’s Only a Play, Macbeth, The Nance, Catch Me If You Can, Impressionism, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Tony nomination), Imaginary Friends, The Invention of Love (Tony nomination & Drama Desk winner), The Full Monty (Tony nomination), More to Love, Getting Away with Murder, The Little Foxes, Damn Yankees, Two Shakespearean Actors (Tony nomination) and Porgy & Bess (Tony nomination). Off-Broadway includes Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem, Pride’s Crossing and Hapgood (Lucille Lortel Award). Other productions include Il Trittico at the Metropolitan Opera, Guys & Dolls at Carnegie Hall, Much Ado About Nothing for the NYSF, Love Never Dies and Hairspray (Olivier nomination). Mr. O’Brien was Artistic Director of the Old Globe Theatre from 1981 till 2007. He has directed six programs for PBS’s “American Playhouse.” His book, Jack Be Nimble, is published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
DAWN FRENCH has been making people laugh for thirty years. On purpose. Writer, comedian and actor, she has appeared in some of the UK’s most long-running, cherished and celebrated television shows including starring as The Vicar of Dibley, French and Saunders, Murder Most Horrid, Jam and Jerusalem, Lark Rise to Candleford and Roger and Val Have Just Got In. Dawn stars in the successful Delicious for Sky and plays the leading role in a series for ITV, The Trouble with Maggie Cole. She also stars in Kenneth Branagh’s Death On The Nile, which will be released in October, and is currently filming Roald & Beatrix, for Sky which will air Christmas 2020. Theatre credits include, A Midsummer Night’s Dream playing Bottom, My Brilliant Divorce, Smaller, and her one woman show Thirty Million Minutes, which toured the UK, Australia, ending in the West End. A bestselling novelist, her memoir Dear Fatty was published to critical acclaim in 2008. Three bestselling novels followed and her fourth will be published in October 2020.
DORIE GREENSPAN is a luminary in the world of food & cookbooks. A culinary guru, she debuted her On Desserts column for the New York Times Magazine in 2017. Inducted into the James Beard Who’s Who of Food & Beverage Winners, she has won five James Beard Awards, two IACP Cookbook of the Year Awards. With two New York Times Bestsellers, she is known for her books, Baking: From My Home to Yours, Dorie’s Cookies, Baking With Julia, Around My French Table and Baking Chez Moi. The Brooklyn-born Greenspan burned down her parents kitchen at age 12, couldn’t cook when she got married and gave up working on her doctorate in gerontology to bake cookies in a restaurant basement, a job she was fired from. She is among the first culinary professionals to produce cooking apps for mobile phones and tablet computers and her blog Everyday Dorie is visited by many. She lives in New York City, Westbrook, Connecticut, and Paris.
JANE KACZMAREK is best known for playing Lois on Malcolm in the Middle for 7 award winning seasons. Her television career began with The Paper Chase and Hill Street Blues after graduating from the University of Wisconsin and the Yale School of Drama. In New York she’s appeared both on and off Broadway and for 6 seasons at Williamstown Theatre Festival, with Alfred Molina in And No More Shall We Part, S. Epatha Merkerson in The Roommate and Tell Me I’m Not Crazy with the late Mark Blum. L.A.credits include Kindertransport, (Ovation Award), Raised in Captivity (LA Drama Critics Award), Good People (Ovation nominee) , The Stage Manager in Our Town with Deaf West Theatre and again with Mr. Molina in A View From the Bridge (BBC radio) and Long Day’s Journey Into Night filmed and available for viewing on Broadway HD. Ms. Kaczmarek’s foundation Clothes Off Our Back raised over $4 million for children’s charities by auctioning celebrity apparel. A mother of 3, she serves on the Board of The Pasadena Conservatory of Music, Pasadena Educational Foundation and the Pasadena Playhouse.
MARISA TOMEI continues to bridge the gap between rich, dramatic performances and smart, comedic turns. Marisa won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mona Lisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny subsequently earning Oscar nominations for In the Bedroom and The Wrestler. She recently starred as Serafina in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of the acclaimed Tennessee Williams play The Rose Tattoo, marking her return to the Broadway stage, having previously appeared in Wait Until Dark, Salome, Top Girls and The Realistic Joneses for which she was awarded a Drama Desk Award. She recently wrapped production on Netflix’s action film, Sweet Girl, where she appears alongside Jason Mamoa and stars in Universal Pictures’ The King of Staten Island from Judd Apatow which was released nationwide in June, 2020. Other notable films include: The Big Short, Love is Strange, Crazy Stupid Love, Ides of March, Loitering with Intent, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, What Women Want, Happy Accidents, and Slums of Beverly Hills. Tomei is a founding member of the Naked Angels Theater Company in New York City.
ANIKA LARSEN created the role of Cynthia Weill in the multi-award winning musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical which ran for almost five years on Broadway. For her performance she was awarded the Drama Desk Award and nominated for a Tony Award. The actress and singer debuted on Broadway in Rent going on to appear on Broadway as Kate Monster/Lucy Slut in Avenue Q, All Shook Up and Xanadu. Her multiple appearances Off-Broadway and in Regional Theaters include a Lucille Lortel Nomination for her appearance in the musical Zanna Don’t! The versatile singer performs a variety of styles of jazz, pop, Latin and Broadway tunes with her husband, trumpeter Freddie Maxwell, in the Larsen/Maxwell Quintet including performances at Feinstein’s 54-Below. She has also served as Adjunct Theatre Arts Faculty at SUNY New Paltz. Larsen is set to return to Broadway in the musical adaptation of Cameron Crowe’s film Almost Famous, playing the forward-thinking yet hyper vigilant widowed mother, Elaine. The musical opened last fall at the Old Globe in San Diego to outstanding reviews.
TONY SHALHOUB is an actor who is instantly recognizable from his Emmy-award winning role as Abe in Amazon Studios The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and as Adrian Monk, the detective in the TV series, Monk from 2002-2009 for which he won three Emmy Awards having been nominated eight times. He was also awarded a Golden Globe for Monk, and a combined six Screen Actors Guild awards for Monk and The Amazing Mrs. Maisel. From 1991-1997 he played the romantic taxicab driver Scarpacci in the NBC series Wings. His over fifty film roles have included Men in Black I & II, Spy Kids and Cars films, as well as The Siege, Galaxy Quest, Quick Change, Barton Fink and Big Night. His many Broadway appearances include The Band’s Visit for which he was awarded the 2018 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. Other Broadway roles included Tony nominations for Act One, Conversations With My Father and Golden Boy for which he also received a Drama Desk nod. Mr. Shalhoub is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.
image credit: Keith Barraclough
KENNY LEON (Director) is a Tony Award-winning Broadway and television director. Most recently, he directed the Broadway premiere of Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece, A Soldier’s Play. He also directed The Underlying Chris at Second Stage Theatre Company and last summer’s acclaimed production of Much Ado About Nothing at the Delacorte/ Shakespeare in the Park. Broadway: A Soldier’s Play; American Son; Children of a Lesser God; Holler If Ya Hear Me; A Raisin in the Sun (Tony Award; 2014); The Mountaintop; Stick Fly; August Wilson’s Fences, Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf. Off-Broadway: Everybody’s Ruby, Emergence-See! (The Public), Smart People (Second Stage). Television: “American Son” (adapted for Netflix), “Hairspray Live!,” “The Wiz Live!,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Dynasty,” “In My Dreams.” Author, “Take You Wherever You Go.” Artistic director emeritus, Kenny Leon’s “True Colors Theatre Company.”
Actress CONSTANCE SHULMAN is instantly recognizable as Yoga Jones in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. She is well-known as the voice of Patti Mayonnaise for the Nickelodeon animated TV series Doug, ABC’s Disney’s Doug, Doug’s First Movie and for playing Shelly Ray in the TV comedy The Faculty. Her signature voice has been described as a “scratch and southern-accented marvel”. Shulman’s stage appearances include starring in the original production of Steel Magnolias where she created the role of Annelle. She recently appeared on Broadway in the revival of The Rose Tattoo starring Marisa Tomei. For many years she was also the “face” of Kraft Mayonnaise.
Viewers of House of Cards will recognize REED BIRNEY as the actor who played Vice President Donald Blythe. He played Tom Connolly on The Blacklist and has many other television credits including The Americans and Home Before Dark. He is a distinguished stage actor, having won the Tony Award for his 2016 performance in The Humans. Mr Birney was an original Broadway cast member of 1984, Casa Valentina and Picnic. In 2011, Mr. Birney received a special Drama Desk Award for his versatile and finely nuanced performances over the past thirty-five years and for exceptional work in three off-Broadway plays, Tigers be Still, A Small Fire and The Dream of the Burning Boy.
TONYA PINKINS has won or been nominated for nearly every award there is in American theater. A Fulbright awardee, she starred on Broadway in Tony Kushner & Jeanine Tesori’s Caroline or Change and won the Tony Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for her portrayal of Sweet Anita in Jelly’s Last Jam. You may have seen her in All My Children, Madam Secretary, and Fear the Walking Dead. As a producer, writer and director, she conceived Truth and Reconciliation of Womyn; Narrative Stories and Songs for the Soul in ten minutes or less involving women spanning the globe in age, culture and ethnicity. Ms. Pinkins is currently in post production on a socio-political horror film set during the 2020 election called Red Pill. (@redpillmovie2020).
KATE BURTON is a Swiss-born Welsh-American actress, daughter of actor Richard Burton and Sybil Christopher. On television, Burton received critical acclaim as Ellis Grey in Grey’s Anatomy, and as Vice President Sally Langston on Scandal. Ms. Burton is a three-time Emmy Nominee and Tony Award Nominee. She has appeared in countless films, television series and fourteen Broadway shows including The Constant Wife, Hedda Gabler and The Elephant Man. A graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Drama, she is currently a University of Southern California dramatic arts professor.