About Us – Staff
Sandi Durell is Publisher/Editor of TheaterPizzazz.com and has been writing, reviewing, producing, having a voice in the theater, cabaret and entertainment communities for over 25+ years. She is a Voting Member of the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards; member of the American Theatre Critics Association. Sandi’s columns can also be found at: www.thethreetomatoes.com (see NYC Life) and www.theaterlife.com.
Sandi is a producer of Broadway & Hollywood Live! Revues, has produced numerous Songwriter Events for the American Popular Song Society (APSS), the benefit CD “Our Heart Sings,” and is a producer on the Award winning film “Broadway the Golden Age” (with Rick McKay), along with continually producing various musical events.
She is a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women, Board Member of American Popular Song Society (APSS), Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU – Advisory Board),100+ year old Dutch Treat Club, The Lambs; an occasional theater “angel ” and has had a career as a vocalist-performer.
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS-REVIEWERS-INTERVIEWERS, PHOTOGRAPHERS, VIDEOGRAPHERS:
Elizabeth Ahlfors was born and raised in New York, graduated from NYU with a degree in Journalism. She has lived in Italy, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and now she and her family are back in New York. Over the years, she has written articles on the women’s movement, women in American history, medicine, childcare, and a weekly column in Pennsylvania called Woman Today . She published three books on women in American history: A Housewife’s Guide to Women’s Liberation, Twelve American Women, and Heroines of ’76 (for children). Her first love was always for music, cabaret, and theater – in the audience, not performing. Previously a Philadelphia correspondent for Theatre.Com and InTheatre Magazine, she has reviewed theater and cabaret for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia City News and Spotlight Magazine. She now writes regularly for Cabaret Scenes, Curtain Up, Curtain Up’s Cabaret Nights, Total Theater and nytheatre-wire. She was previously a judge for the Bistro Awards and is a voting member of Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle.
Writing was Mark Ryan Anderson’s first love, kindling an ardor spanning the entertainment industry. A graduate of the British American Drama Academy at Magdalen College, Oxford and holding a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre, he actively pursues his career on Film, TV, and Stage. Mark is also the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of ‘Random Seeds Productions,’ a Virtual Reality content creator of immersive films and experiences focused on story-driven narrative design. www.MarkRyanAnderson.com @ItsMarkRyan
Joel Benjamin – born in the Lower East Side at just the right time, when the old and the new were still in perfect balance. He began studying dance to overcome early health problems and went on to appear in seven Broadway shows as a child actor/singer/dancer. He attended Columbia University as an undergraduate and NYU as a graduate student, danced with some major ballet and modern troupes, formed his own company, the American Chamber Ballet and, when that petered out, became the “Massage Therapist to the Stars.” Writing is now his preferred creative outlet. Member Outer Critics Circle.
Michael Bracken first reviewed theater on WFUV Radio when he was a student at Fordham University. In 2001, he returned to the station as a professional, delivering weekly live reviews of plays and musicals, as well as occasional features. He went on to review and write about theater for Newsday, Time Out New York, Broadway.com, and Metro. He also hosted Theater Night on WNYE-TV. He holds degrees in communications from Fordham and law from UC Berkeley. He is delighted to be part of the Theater Pizzazz team.
Always a New Yorker at heart, Monica Charline Brown recently graduated summa cum laude from Otterbein University with a BFA in Musical Theatre and a dance minor. The transition from performing in college and summer stock, to navigating the theatre scene in the city, has been exhilarating. Monica is pursuing opportunities leading to Broadway and the film and television industry. She enjoys discovering new artistic venues through writing for Theater Pizzazz. monicacharlinebrown.com
Linda Amiel Burns is the creator and director of The Singing Experience, Award Winning workshops in musical theater and cabaret since 1977, (featured in The NY Times, The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning and others), directed, written and booked hundreds of acts and revues. President of American Popular Song Society (APSS), formerly The New York Sheet Music Society, since 1998, Linda produces and hosts several of their monthly programs. She is a member of SAG-AFTRA and has been writing and reviewing since 2002.
Myra Chanin, aka as Mother Wonderful, has been called a cross between Julia Child and Woody Allen–unfortunately not by either one of them yet. Actually she’s funnier than Julia Child, — now in butterfat heaven, and she cooks better than Woody Allen, alive or dead, ever did or will. She’s also the author of several Mother Wonderful Books, the name a former suitor dubbed her Philadelphia cheesecake business which produced a cookbook which produced appearances on Oprah, Charlie Rose, Maury Povich and Hour Magazine. In New York, after a few stints on the Joey Reynolds all night radio show, she became his talent booker, part time sidekick, surrogate mother as well as the manipulative Bubby of Joey’s dysfunctional Friday Night Jewish Hour family. She now writes for several web publications and is working on a novel about her husband’s family, which Alvin is praying will be published posthumously.
JK Clarke is Photo Editor and Assistant Editor at Theater Pizzazz, a Drama Desk Member and a freelance writer living in NYC. He has ghost written one very successful novel (can’t tell you which one…hence the “ghost” part) and also contributes jokes pseudonymously to US Weekly and InTouch Magazine. He has previously written reviews and the iCanine pet column for other publications. JK also created the blog “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Ethical Dog Ownership.” He spent his formative years studying Shakespeare with The Great Books Society starting at the age of seven. JK grew up attending theater regularly at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon where he had studied the entire canon by his 18th birthday. He spends his daylight hours and pays his rent as a dog care expert and owner of a dog care service, The Leash We Can Do.
Jordan Cohen grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, close to Trenton, NJ, and as a teenager enjoyed many weekends in and out of the city to see shows. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in theatre at Northwestern University, Jordan decided to make New York his permanent home. He has spent several years involved in the theatre scene, most notably as the co-founder of an indy theatre company and as the external researcher for the Drama Desk nominating committee, under Barbara Siegel (also a Participating Member). Jordan is currently in pursuit of a PhD in theatre at the Graduate Center, CUNY. He has taught in the Theatre Department at Hunter College for three years and the Communications Studies Department at Baruch College for one year. He is currently a Writing Fellow at Hunter College.
Fiction, food, history, performing arts, politics and satire (you can’t have one without the other), Lisa Joy Reitman-Dobi clearly enjoys variety. Taught by brutally savage British professors, she will self-edit until she faints from hunger. She is a graduate of Barnard College at Columbia University, and completed her MFA at LIU’s Southampton Writer’s Program. A member of the Dramatists Guild of America since 2002, Lisa Joy is thrilled to join a publication devoted to live performance.
Eric J. Grimm a New York based writer specializing in film, television, theater and music coverage and criticism. He is the popular culture writer for specialty coffee website Sprudge.com and a frequent contributor to fashion and music blog Swagger New York. Eric has a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and American Studies from Brooklyn College.
Peter Haas has been involved with music and writing throughout his life, and continues to combine them. A banjo plunker and folksinger since his early 20s, he was co-star of Channel 13’s first children’s show, “Once Upon a Day;” wrote scripts and songs and performed on childen’s albums for Pickwick Records; and produced and co-starred on the folk album, “All Day Singing.” As a volunteer performer for Hearts & Voices, he discovered the cabaret community and its songs, and has been a fan and chronicler ever since. An ASCAP-award-winning lyricist, his work has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall, Feinstein’s at The Regency and the Metropolitan Room. Daytimes through the years, Peter served as writer, editor and executive for such firms as CBS, CBS Records and McGraw-Hill. He now operates his own firm as a business and entertainment writer.
Magda Katz has been in the entertainment world for most of her life as a child actress, assistant to the head publicist of Avco Embassy Pictures, theatrical print agent. She went on to manage the show business career of her 2 children for over 15 years. For the last five years Magda has been filming and editing video trailers of live performances as well as celebrity interviews. Broadway After Dark was the first website to feature her video trailers. She contributed in creating a star studded 90th birthday party for Mickey Rooney at Feinstein’s at the Regency Hotel. Her video trailers have a large international following. Videos are featured at: www.theaterpizzazz.com. All of Magda’s videos can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/user/MagdaCorrespondent
Samuel L. Leiter is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. An award-winning author and editor, he has published twenty-six books, most recently Kabuki at the Crossroads: Years of Crisis, 1952-1965 and Rising from the Flames: The Rebirth of Theater in Occupied Japan, 1945-52. Among his other books are Ten Seasons: New York Theatre in the Seventies; the multivolume Encyclopedia of the New York Stage; The Great Stage Directors: 100 Distinguished Careers of the Theatre ; and the multivolume Kabuki Plays on Stage series. From 1992 to 2004 he was editor-in-chief of Asian Theatre Journal. His many honors include a Fulbright Research Fellowship and an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Emeritus Fellowship. From 2012-2014 he was a nominator for the Drama Desk Awards. Since 2012, he has reviewed nearly 600 New York productions on his blog, Theatre’s Leiter Side (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Marilyn Lester is a playwright, producer, scriptwriter, dialogue consultant, and dramaturge. Additionally, Marilyn is a communications specialist with experience in journalism, market research, advertising, public relations, new media, and publishing. In television, Marilyn worked in development with the late producer, Alvin Cooperman, and in film with Big Bear Films. She is a member of The League of Professional Theater Women, The New York Coalition of Professional Women in the Arts & Media, the Dramatists Guild, The Actors Fund, and The Episcopal Actors Guild, and The Authors Guild.
Brian Scott Lipton was Editor in Chief of TheaterMania.com for seven years, and has been Managing editor of DNR, Accent, and Encore. In addition, Brian currently covers theater for IN New York, Where, Edgeonthenet.com, TDF Stages, and Cititour.com. He has also written for such prestigious publications as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, W, Art & Auction, and The New York Post. Brian is currently a member of the New York Drama Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle, and a voter for the Tony Awards. He is a graduate of NYU Law School and Tufts University.
Maryann Lopinto: Photographer-at-large
Carol Rocamora is a critic, educator, playwright, translator and biographer. She has translated Chekhov’s complete dramatic works, published in three volumes by Smith & Kraus, and has written theatre biographies on Chekhov and Vaclav Havel. Her play “I take your hand in mine…” was originally directed by Peter Brook at his theatre in Paris, and has since been translated into 10 languages and performed all over the world. She teaches at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her new collection of adaptations – entitled Troika – will be published in 2016. She is a member of Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk.
Beatrice Williams Rude – a copy editor at Fairchild Publications, Broadcasting & Cable magazine, free-lanced at the (New York) Daily News and New York Post. She reviewed books for Variety. Her theater reviews first appeared in Friends Journal, a Quaker magazine. She was the New York assistant to playwright Dale Wasserman for the last seven years of his life —witnessing the creation of “Man of La Mancha” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Her observations and calls to conscience appear in The Constant Columnist.
Matt Smith is a writer and theatre enthusiast based in New York. In addition to his work for Theater Pizzazz, his writing has appeared on Playbill.com, BroadwayWorld.com, The HuffingtonPost blog, and in CityGuide Magazine. He also has experience in stage management, having SM-ed two productions with Shakespearian company, What Dreams May Co., and serves as a production assistant on Broadway Nosh, a cooking-based web-series, which streams monthly on Broadway.com. For more information or further inquiry, please visit www.mattsmiththeatre.com.
Miriam Spritzer is originally from Porto Alegre, Brazil and has been involved with the performing arts her whole life on and off stage. In addition to her work as a tv reporter for the renown South-Brazilian channel TVCOM, she is also the co-founder of Funnygirl.com.br that became one of the most popular websites for musical theatre in Brazil and is the theatre insider for newyorkspy.com. She has also written for RM Magazine, a South-Brazilian fashion magazine. Miriam has a Business degree by Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing and is a certified Executive Coach by NYU.
Martha Wade Steketee has worked as a court researcher, policy analyst, editor, theater critic, and dramaturg. She has been member of and nominator for theater awards committees (Jeff in Chicago, Drama Desk in New York); reviews scripts for theaters, festivals, and competitions; and is on the Boards of American Theatre Critics Association, Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, and League of Professional Theatre Women. She contributes to a range of publications including HowlRound, TDF Stages, the Clyde Fitch Report, Dramatics, and Chance Magazine. Her blog Urban Excavations focuses on live performance and film. Steketee lives in New York City.
Michael Lee Stever is originally from Sacramento, Ca and has called New York City his home for over twenty years. Having worked successfully for over fifteen years as an actor, singer & dancer and now works on both coasts as a full time freelance filmmaker, camera man, editor, writer. He had the supreme pleasure of meeting TheaterPizzazz editor-in-chief Sandi Durell while working as UPM on the documentary, ‘Broadway: The Golden Age’ and is elated to be working with her again in the internet arena. Stever’s mini-documentaries ‘Resurrecting Carrie’ featuring Academy Award nominee Piper Laurie and ‘Jan Broberg’s Guide To Thespians, Sociopaths & Scream Queens!’ featuring Elijah Wood have been official selections at several east coast film festivals, and can be viewed right here at TheaterPizzazz. To learn more, visit Michael at www.MichaelStever.net or http://about.me/michaelstever
Carole Di Tosti, Ph.D. is a published writer, a novelist and poet. She has been writing theater and film reviews and interviews for Blogcritics since June 2013. Blogcritics has a global readership of 1 1/2 million a month. She also writes articles on wine, food, cabaret shows and exhibits ( i.e. NYBG). She authors/manages three blogs: The Fat and the Skinny, All Along the NYC Skyline, A Christian Apologists’ Sonnets. As a free lance writer, she contributed articles for Technorati on various trending topics from August 2011 – June 2013. She has written for The Mobility Resource and New York Theatre Wire. As a free lance writer and blogger, she covers NYC trending events and writes articles promoting advocacy on health and wellness among others topics.
Marcina Zaccaria has published reviews and profiles, including an article honoring the original dancers of “West Side Story.”Monologues from her plays are published in “InterJACtions: Monologues from the Heart of Human Nature (Vol. II)”, available on Amazon.com. She has participated in the Soho Rep Writer/ Director Lab and was an Adjudicator for the New York International Fringe Festival. She completed a writer’s residency at chaNorth, part of Chashama, and wrote and directed “Revolution: An Artistic Explosion.” She is a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women, and a reader for the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Marcina is Administrative Assistant and writer at TheaterPizzazz.com marcinazac.weebly.com.