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Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Archive for the category “Producer”

Margaret Fofonoff

meg's photo 2Executive Producer/Artistic Director/Writer
Boston, Massachusetts USA

What is your favorite line from a play?
“What are we crazy or something?” from Guys and Dolls characterizing those wonderful and stressful moments in our theater world that we would not trade for anything.

What play or production changed your life?
A production of Ragtime at The Strand Theatre in Boston. It was a show that I always dreamed of doing since I love the score, story and imagery. It was the experience of a lifetime to do this show where it really meant something in the heart of inner city Boston. We also made an important political statement just before the 2012 election that was heard far and wide. It is not often one has partners like the American Civil Liberties Union and The City of Boston, who both really care about making a difference. We all are on the same mission to make the world a better place for everyone. It is rare one has the opportunity to give back.

When I looked around on opening night at the diverse sea of faces in the audience, I knew this was not like any audience I had seen in any other Boston theater. At intermission I remember a lovely older African American patron, unconnected to anyone in the production, approached me, grabbed both my hands and said, ”Thank you so much for doing this, it means so much.” I will never forget that moment as it embodies why we all do what we do.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
So many things! A production in NYC, writing a new work, collaborating with my son writer/filmmaker, changing the world for the better in as many ways as I can.

What is your best escape?
Ballroom dance. It takes me away from everything else and the music and steps fill my head and make me smile.

Margaret Fofonoff (Executive Producer & Artistic Director, Fiddlehead Theatre Company) founded Fiddlehead theatre in 1993 and continues to produce and direct all shows and drive the artistic direction. Fiddlehead is a medium professional IRNE and Broadway World award-winning theater. She has a BA from Boston University with honors.

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June Rachelson-Ospa

-2Book Writer, Lyricist, Producer, Educator
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration? I look at my family and friends. I love
writing for kids. Making them feel good about who they are in the world.

What’s your favorite movie / pop culture guilty pleasure? My favorite movie is Casablanca. I love the Eagles. And I adore old black and white horror films. Homicidal by William Castle is the best!!!

What play or production changed your life? Hair on Broadway when I was a teen. My Dad took me and Fluffer hopped off the stage and pulled me up to sing Let The Sun Shine In. At that moment I knew that THEATRE WAS FOR ME!!!

Is there anything you still dream of doing? I dream of having something that I’ve written getting published and touring all over the world!

I feel most like myself when I ….am hanging out with my two sons Jon (20) and Jake (26). Unconditional Love does it all the time.

What is your best escape? Horse Back Riding in the mountains.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you? How shy I was when I was a kid. I used to avoid people and walk with my head looking down at my shoes.

June Rachelson-Ospa’s company is Bozomoon Productions. Writing and Producing musicals with Partner Daniel Neiden over 15 years. Tourettaville, the first musical we wrote about my son Jon’s struggle with tourette syndrome, went to the Kennedy Center. Jon is a film major in college, son Jake is an animator and husband Jerry designs Macy’s Parade!

Susan Jonas

Susan Jonas, member of the League of Professional Theatre Womendramaturg & producer
New York, New York USA

The production that changed my life was NICHOLAS NICKLEBY. I was 23 and I wept when it was over because I felt sure that I had seen the best show I would ever see. In the decades since I have seen thousands of shows, certainly some as great, but nothing has rivaled that experience. NN was a revelation. It articulated dramatically what was truly theatrical—the imagination of the actors, director and adaptors, and brought to life Peter Brook’s THE EMPTY STAGE. The brilliant acting challenged American naturalism with transformation, alienation and powerful emotion. The book, THE MAKING OF NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, details the process used to adapt the novel; the actors were directly involved. I think it made me fall in love with adaptation, dramaturgy, what we now call “devised theatre,” and a less hierarchical production process in which the director’s vision is not solely privileged, but the actors and all members of the team contribute substantially. Rehearsal is exceptionally improvisational and responsive, and the level of engagement is total. Of course this takes a lot of time, the lack of which, here,  is the single most damning aspect of our art.

My best escapes? Work – exercising my brain and imagination to create. That’s the best escape from feeling the inevitability of mortality. My best escape from the daily grind is reading. I have always loved books, in theory and in my bookcases; Kindle me not. Reading is almost as necessary to me as air. If I had to pick a favorite novel, I’d be lost. Perhaps I fell in love with NICHOLAS NICKLEBY and adaptation because they bring together my husband and my mistress, theatre and literature.

And dogs. So clear about their needs and their state of mind, so lavishly appreciative. I watch my dog prance down the street, happy from the simple pleasure of being out in the world.  Dogs remind me to have joy in simple things; to wag my tail.

What I dream of is seeing our goal of 50/50 in 2020 realized, and knowing I was part of the movement that made it happen.

Susan Jonas has held  leadership positions at several theatres, and worked as a:  producer; administrator; director; dramaturg and adaptor; in fundraising and grant-making; teaching in higher education; editing books and writing about theatre; curating many panels symposia.  Susan’s scholarly passion is the restoration of women to the history and canon of theatre.

Laura Caparrotti

Laura Caparrotti, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenArtistic Director of Kairos Italy Theater, actress, director, producer, critic, theater absolute lover.
Rome, Italy and New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration? Life, images, books, social/political issues: when something strikes me inside, it stays with me until I do something with it.

The ONE OF your favorite: book The Via Veneto papers by E. Flaiano / movie: Rocco and his brother by L. Visconti / line from a play: Men shut their doors against a setting sun – Shakespeare –
To dream, to laugh, to move on, to be free, on my own
To have a keen eye and a voice of strong tone,
Wear my hat awry as I prefer,
For no reason at all engage in combat or pen a verse!
To work without worry of glory or fortune
Such a voyage of which we dream to the moon!
Pen not a line that from myself departs
And comes from anywhere except straight from my heart,
Be satisfied with flowers, leaves, fruits of the land
If they’re in your own garden and grew by your hand!
And, if at all, you should triumph by chance,
Don’t give unto Cesar, take up your stance
Stand up for yourself, you merit, ‘ti’s thee
In short, the parasitic ivy I disdain to be
So even without the tree or the stone
I won’t get very high, perhaps, but alone! Cyrano de Bergerac (not great translation)

/cocktail: too many!

Artists/People who changed my theatrical life: the Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo who taught me how to breathe at theater, the actor Mario Carotenuto who taught me how to smell theater, the actress Lucilla Morlacchi who taught me how sacred theater is. And my parents, who made me experience theater since I was little.

Is there anything you still dream of doing? A lot! I want to keep bringing Italian theater to the States and to open the first Italian theater in New York. And I want to do theater all my life!

I feel most like myself when I …. Dance/Theater.

What is your best escape? Dancing

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you? I am an open book, able only to hide deep sadness. I guess it’s a survival instinct!

Laura Caparrotti is a director, actress, journalist, teacher, lecturer, consultant, dialect-coach, curator with an Italian accent. She studied and worked professionally for over ten years in Italy before relocating to NY where she founded KIT-Kairos Italy Theater, now the main Italian theater company in New York. And she can cook!

Catherine Schreiber

Catherine SchreiberProducer, Actress, Writer
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration?
People

My favorite current quotes
“Any idea that isn’t dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.”
— Oscar Wilde
“Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.” -Louis D. Brandeis

What play or production changed your life?
Desperate Writers – successfully producing the play I co-wrote, and acting in it. This jump-started my producing career, and I started producing on Broadway in 2010.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Being a lead producer on a major Broadway hit and seeing shows like Scottsboro Boys and Stick Fly get the widespread attention they deserve.

I feel most like myself when I ….
am acting on stage

What is your best escape?
Traveling with my family, being away from computers and phones, but it’s pretty impossible. I have a hard time not working, but I love what I’m doing, so I really don’t need an escape.

Catherine Schreiber: Tony-nominated producer (four productions): Peter and the Starcatcher, Clybourne Park, The Scottsboro Boys, Next Fall; other recent productions: The King’s Speech (London), Stick Fly, Desperate Writers (Off Broadway). Catherine is also a feature/tv/stage actress and writer. Founder: Center Theatre Group. B.A. Yale College. Happily married with children. wowcatherine.com

chandra thomas

chandra thomas, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenActor/Writer/Producer/Youth-Arts Advocate
New York, New York USA

What play or production changed your life?
i actually kind of bookmark my life by plays…

like BIG RIVER, the first play i ever saw when i was just a wee one. My mom took me to see a play at a “big theatre” (her way of describing a Broadway show). i remember it being one of the first times that i got to pick out my own outfit — my first step to what i perceived as womanhood.

There was THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES — the first play i ever performed in. After a year at a new school, it was my performance as Lady-In-Waiting #4 where i finally discovered a space and air and expanse that welcomed me just as i understood myself to be.

i learned how to balance embarrassment and purpose as i pranced around the stage in very little clothing in SWEET CHARITY in front of my Physics/Calculus teacher, Mr. Book (who was as by-the-book as his given name would indicate).

Of course, there’s THE LARAMIE PROJECT where i stepped onstage for opening night minutes after breaking up with a longtime boyfriend. Or A RHYME FOR THE UNDERGROUND where i gave myself permission to bring together all of the creative worlds that i so adore like multi-character performance, rapping, performance poetry, singing, dancing, writing, revising, producing & plain-ol’-makin’-it-happen.

But the game changer (or perhaps better called the “play changer”) was seeing the original Broadway production of RENT. This production was the first time i experienced people, stories, lives that i knew and recognized… and in a “big theatre” no less. Before my eyes and ignited in my spirit was a validation that what i had to say (and what people like me from where i called home had to say) had a place in the global discourse and in the professional theatre world. That what we had to say mattered.

Originally from New York, chandra thomas performs on stage and screens small & large, writes plays, performance poetry, screenplays and Twitter updates, produces performance and film projects and is continually inspired by the young women of viBe Theater Experience, the non-profit, arts-education organization she co-founded. www.chandrathomas.com

Paula D’Alessandris

Paula D'Alessandris, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenDirector/ Producer
New York, New York USA

What’s your favorite pop culture guilty pleasure?
My favorite guilty pleasure is that I can (and do) watch PRIDE & PREJUDICE every time it’s on. Which, thanks to cable, it always is.

What play or production changed your life?
When I directed my first show – Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter and it got a huge positive reaction that I wasn’t expecting. I knew that pursuing a directing career was the right path for me.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Directing at the Donmar and the Royal Court

What is your best escape?
I haven’t found one yet but I’m open to suggestions!

Paula D’Alessandris is the Artistic Director/Founder of Mind The Gap Theatre dedicated to producing new British plays in NYC and in fostering an exchange of new work between US/UK artists.

Pat Addiss

Pat Addiss, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenProducer
New York, New York USA

I never look for inspiration, it just happens. Went to brunch last weekend, discussing my Bully Project and suddenly a major idea popped into my head. I think you need to expose yourself to as many diverse experiences as possible without an agenda. Most important EMBRACE LIFE.

Favorite Book 3 CUPS OF TEA (However since the word came out that he lied so much, I have lost the faith) so my oldie Goldie is TIM by Coleen McCullough
Favorite Movie Avatar
Favorite Line From A Play  I’M STILL HERE!
Favorite pop culture guilty pleasure Tetris
Favorite Cocktail Coffee Martini at Sardi’s

What play or production changed your life? Little Women

Anything You Still Dream of Doing? Making a difference…Helping more people across the world.

I Feel Most Like Myself I guess when I wake up in the morning.

What Is Your Best Escape? Traveling the world…

What Is the one thing nobody Knows About You? If I told you everyone would know. Guess my answer could be I am basically a very private person.

Pat Addiss, native New Yorker, Finch College grad. Ran promotion company for 30 yrs, gave to daughter Wendy, so she could produce Broadway plays: Little Women, Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life, Bridge & Tunnel, Spring Awakening, 39 Steps, Passing Strange, Promises, Promises, A Christmas Story The Musical, etc. CTI grad, Boards: NJ REP & Premieres.

Penny Landau

Penny Landau, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenPublicist, Producer, Writer, Editor at www.nitelifeexchange.com

Where do you look for inspiration?
I look to the pros in my business. There is an exceptional group of women who paved the way for my generation; Betty Lee Hunt & Maria Pucci, Berenice Weiler, Dorothy Olim, Madeline Gilford. These are the women I learned from, or tried to. I only hope that I can be as good at my job as they are at theirs.

What’s your favorite book/movie/line from a film?
Exodus, by Leon Uris, which sent me on my first journey to Israel. The other is To Kill A Mockingbird, both Harper Lee’s novel & the film. Nothing has ever touched me the way those words did. My other favorite film is Random Harvest. It’s probably the most romantic film on the planet & everybody knows that Greer Garson can do no wrong. The opening number with her in a kilt & tam as a British dance hall performer circa WWI, alone is worth the price of admission. Movie line? “First of all, your name’s not Eve Harrington!” & it ends with Mrs. Fiske.

What play or production changed your life?
Funny Girl. I’d never seen anything like Barbra Streisand on a Broadway stage before. I was 16 & absolutely mesmerized & saw the show ten or twelve times. Well, in those days, standing room was $2.50 & a seat was $6.75…do the math.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Returning to Israel one more time & appreciating it in ways that I didn’t when I was younger.

What is your best escape?
Paradise? Hawaii. Mental Health Days? Atlantic City. I love the boardwalk & the beach. My mother told me that it was her mother’s favorite place to go & that was during the “Boardwalk Empire” days. It must have been glorious!

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
I’m a total SciFi junkie, obsessed with quantum physics, time-travel & the space/time continuum. Yup, I’m an egghead geek! And in my heart, still a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. They’ll be back; nobody can live in LA forever.

Penny Landau saw her first Broadway show, West Side Story, when she was 9 years old. Since then, she’s performed, stage managed, directed, teched, taught & for the past 28 years, run her own PR firm, Maya PR. MA: Brooklyn College/Theatre History; PhD: Bowling Green University/American Theatre History & Directing.

Sheila Speller

Sheila Speller, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenProducer, General Manager
New York, New York USA

Where do I look for inspiration?
I find inspiration in all that surrounds me that I can integrate into my life. The collaborative process of creating theatre inspires me. My mission is to produce original works from new voices that speak to a multicultural America that are refreshing, thought-provoking, and entertaining. Stories that touch many and reflect our common human experience. Producers inspire me because the business and entrepreneurship of theatre drives me. Helming an Off-Broadway production providing jobs for over 70 theatre professionals in the midst of a down economy was especially rewarding.

What’s my favorite book, movie, cocktail …?
Favorite books, From Option to Opening by Donald C. Farber, Esq., The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter, and Oh, the Places You Will Go!, Dr. Seuss. Favorite escape movie, The Five Heartbeats. Favorite cocktail, Water!

What play/production changed your life?
Performed the Steam Heat dance number in a high school production of The Pajama Game. Two Gentlemen of Verona and Raisin on Broadway are two out of many! The Maids by Jean Genet, the first full-production play I produced in NYC two decades ago and portrayed the lead role of Claire.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Influence new audiences of theatre-goers and supporters, one production at a time.

I feel most like myself when I …
… am in motion.

What’s your best escape?
My Bikram yoga practice.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about me?
I still feel a thrill of excitement walking through the Times Square Broadway theatre district.

Sheila Speller is the president of Orielle Creative Company, a theatre business consulting company. Holds an MBA. Commercial Theatre Institute (’07). Member: Women in Arts & Media, Past-Board Member (VP, Communications), League of Professional Theatre Women, New York Women in Film & Television, The Broadway League – Adjunct.

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