Under Woodside is a poetic prose play written as an homage to Dylan Thomas’ Under Milkwood. It captures a day in the life of the residents of Sunnyside, Queens.
Sunnyside Gardens Park- July 30 @ 7pm (@49th Street & 39th Ave, members and guests only)
Hunters Point South Park- August 6 at 7pm (@Kayak Launch across from 2nd St. & 56 Ave., FREE)
Central Park’s Summit Rock- August 7 at 6:30pm (enter @ W. 81st Street in Central Park, FREE)
Astoria Park’s North Lawn- August 12 at 7pm (@intersection of Shore & Ditmars Boulevards, FREE)
McCarren Park’s Bedford Lawn -August 13th at 6:30pm (at intersection of Bedford & Lorimer St., FREE)
Doughboy Park- August 14th at 7pm (@ intersection of 52nd St. and Woodside Ave. FREE)
To support this play (and all the beautiful humans who helped create it) Venmo us @Stage Jewels NYC!
Primary Character Breakdown
Note from the writer: In order to capture the diverse personalities of city people, many of our actors in Under Woodside play two to four roles. See descriptions of the main characters below.
Father Dan- Pastor of a church. Deeply kind and loving yet lonely and pained. Has lost his faith but not his profession.
Jenny Johnson- Bartender, sex worker, care taker to her mother who has dementia. Disillusioned, overworked and underpaid, loves animals.
Jasmine Little- an outgoing social media influencer. Outspoken and politically aware. Builds people around her up constantly and encourages them to face their fears. Best friends with Preeda.
Galo Luis Clay- A Spanish immigrant to queens. Tattoo artist and amateur musician. He loves Star Wars. He is energetic, smooth and charismatic but nerdy as hell.
Juan Diaz Gonzalez- inwardly neurotic yet outgoing a dancer and yoga teacher. A recent implant to Queens who relies on his friendships to navigate life in the city.
Taffeta Aubergine- a scatterbrained yet brilliant baker. She is outgoing and trying to find her place in the world.
First Voice- a narrator
Fiona Fiddle- an Irish bartender and amateur songwriter. Speaks matter of factly but always has an ear to listen. She genuinely notices people and builds community around her.
Second Voice- a narrator
Guitar Skeeter-an introverted nonbinary artist. Writes songs and sketches. Getting over a recent breakup.
Preeti Jung- Shy and thoughtful. She works in her parents’ restaurant. Best friends with Jasmine.
Stephanie Brooke Taylor
Mrs. Tzimas-Lymberopoulos- an obsessive compulsive cleaner. Twice widowed. A lonely woman who dreams about her dead husbands every night. Wants to have community but has a hard time talking to people.
Luke Christensen- a missionary. A socially isolated man who lives in his mother’s basement and wants to save people.
Mr. David- a renaissance man and entrepreneur. Overworked but loves it. Assertive and outgoing. Best friends with Juan.
Bryna is a NYC based Director, Actor, Singer/Songwriter, and Choreographer. For over 20 years she has devoted her efforts to the ever-evolving landscape of performance art. After moving to NYC in 2014, Bryna became a resident director at The AlphaNYC, a company focused on giving emerging actors a launching pad to build their professional resume in the heart of the Manhattan Theater District. As an artist particularly devoted to the development of new works, Bryna has had the great fortune to direct a broad range of original projects, ranging from Our Own Odyssey (Fuerza Festival), The Owl Girl (The Center at West Park), and Waste, Fraud, and Abuse (13th Street Repertory Theatre), a musical she also helped write and workshop. On the other side of the table, Bryna established herself as an actor in the NYC theatre scene by taking on such roles as Feste (Twelfth Night), Ophelia (Hamlet), Jo March (Little Women), Puck (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Wendy (The Terrible Tragedy of Peter Pan), Ben (Matt and Ben), and Tricia (Dog Sees God). Bryna was also an original cast member of the Off-Broadway hit God Save Queen Pam (The Players Theatre). In her “down time”, Bryna is the other half of the dynamic duo Ponce Funeral Home Project. Many thanks to Juliann for entrusting me with the awesome responsibility of bringing this gorgeous new piece of art to life. www.brynakearney.com
Juliann Lavallee (they/them) is a Chicago born, New York City based, actor and writer. Jules’ plays, Damned, DisCards: A Shakespearean Reshuffle, and The Culture of Now, debuted at Dixon Place. Discards has since enjoyed a second run at Manhattan Repertory Theater. The Culture of Now went on to The Acorn Theatre. Lavallee’s short piece, “Soul Food,” premiered at Beyond the Ingénue in El Barrio’s Shakespeare Festival. As an actor, some of Juliann’s favorite roles include Loki in Hell Hath No (Turned to Flesh Productions), Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Upstage Productions), Samantha in 16 (Headless Productions), and Vixen in The Eight: Reindeer Monologues (Alpha Theatre). Jules is currently working on a modern magical realism queer play called Nyad’s Dream and a one act that explores life in the grave called “Pictures of the Dead.”
First Voice & Fiona Fiddle/Fight Coordinator/Music Consultant/Production Assistant
Caeden Musser (they/them) is a Queens based playwright/actor/fighty human. Favorite roles include Agravaine, (The Table Round and The Seige Perilous, Turn to Flesh), Iilyan (Damned, Dixon Place), Bardolph/Westmoreland (Henry V, Occupy Verona), Launce (Two [gentlemen] of Verona, Monsterpiece Theatre), Fontaine (The Brutes, spit&vigor), Cressida (Troilus and Cressida, Rosedale Theater), Tybalt (Romeo and Juliet, Rosedale Theater), and Cassandra (The Trojan Women, The Baron’s Men). In NYC, they’ve trained with Dylan Hintz and Abra Burkett of SAGA Action Arts, Jared Kirby/NYCSS, Shakespeare & Company, and The Humanist Project. Currently, they're working through rewrites on a free verse, queer adaptation of the Cassandra myth and the fall of Troy.
Father Dan/Mr. Tzimas
Ahkai Franklin: Ahkai was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, where the world of
dance primarily existed at parties or on TV. While he loved to dance and perform for
family at parties and other gatherings, Ahkai never saw dance as anything more than
something to do for fun. One night Ahkai went out to see his aunt dance professionally;
what he saw changed his life forever. Bitricia Knighton danced with Garth Fagan Dance
Company for twenty-five years; during that time Ahkai saw the company perform
whenever it was in New York City. It was in watching these performances that Ahkai's
love for dance would be born, and because of it his future would be set in stone.
His formal training started at the age of thirteen at the Trevor Day School in Manhattan.
He trained in basic technique, improvisation, and choreography. His style and
basic knowledge of dance would grow as he observed his surroundings at home and
the dance he saw on popular media. While acquiring his BFA in theater at Wesleyan
University he would lead several dance troupes, eventually founding his own. During his
college years and those that followed, he would hone his choreographic voice and learn
how to run, on a small scale, a company of dancers. He went on to dance behind
emerging artists, perform a multitude of lead roles for the renowned Afrikan Women’s
Repertory Theatre NYC, dance and teach with New-York-based dance companies
like Mix’t Dance Company and Arch Dance Company, and open for major recording
artist Snoop Dogg. Then two things happened that changed Ahkai’s life forever: he
started teaching dance full-time and he met Garrett Minniti.
Ahkai is the co-Artistic Director and co-Founder of In It For Life Productions, based in
New York City. In It For Life produced eleven showcases and original Off-
Broadway productions, as well as seventeen dance workshops across the country since
its inception in 2007. IIFL events have featured some of the country's most sought-after
choreographers, educators, and dancers. In March of 2013, IIFL finished its first Festival
of Arts & Education, which consisted of two weeks of live theatre, dance performances,
and educational workshop experiences. It was held at the Theatre at Saint Clement's,
the 3rd oldest Off-Broadway house in New York City. At the conclusion of the festival,
Ahkai and Garrett officially decided to put In It For Life Productions on hold and invest
all of their energy into The Breakthrough Outreach & Performance Not-for-Profit
Corporation. Also known as The Breakthrough Movement, it is a not-for-profit dance
company consisting of dancers and apprentices from across the continental United
States, Canada, and Central America. The company’s aim is to inspire change in local
communities around the globe through thought provoking performances and local
outreach initiatives, all while providing opportunities and training for dancers who might
not have access to a burgeoning dance community.
Ahkai continues to teach throughout the tri-state area. And he continues to work
with local theater, dance and film companies. Ahkai has recently been working on music
video choreography for emerging artists, flash mobs for weddings and other events,
competitive Hip-Hop choreography, and student/independent film projects. His current
credits include a number of off-off, and off-broadway theater works (The Roaring Girl,
Mary V, King Lear, and Dancing Girl), the independent movie Shakespeare’s Sh*!storm
or Prospero’s Revenge, directed by Lloyd Kaufman, the movie Barry (2016), now
streaming in Netflix, and the show Pixar in Real Life, currently streaming on Disney+.
He continually seeks to inspire students, young and old, to speak through dance and
performance what can’t be said out loud. Having grown up in a place were escape is the
only way to survive, Ahkai believes that dance can help heal the scars that people
develop throughout the course of their lives. Dance helped to save his life, so why not
pay it forward and help to save someone else’s?
When not dancing, choreographing, rehearsing, planning, writing, or meeting about the
world of dance; the Bronx native spends time with his amazing and supportive wife,
cooks, reads, writes, and thanks God for the precious life granted to him. (Aw shucks)
“Sometimes in life when nobody opens the door, you just have to knock down a wall!”
-Garrett Minniti and Ahkai Franklin
Jasmine Little/Jenny Johnson/ 2nd Woman
Alexandra Eller is a NYC based actor, writer and fight choreographer. She is also a student at the City College of New York, where she is studying Theatre and Journalism. Past credits include Denise Savage (Savage in Limbo), Goneril (King Lear) and Selena (Kiss the Fortune Teller). Alexandra wants to use her talents as an artist and performer to leave a positive impact in the world, and hopes to one day create her own theatre company. She would like to thank Bryna and Juliann for this amazing opportunity, her parents, friends, and mentors for always supporting her dreams, and her chihuahua Bambi, for keeping her sane throughout 2020. Black Lives Matter, Black Trans Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ Lives Matter.
Galo/Juan/Mr. Lymberopoulos/Relative 3
André Sguerra is a NYC based Actor, Puppeteer, and SAFD Actor Combatant. Past credits include Tybalt in Juliet and Her Romeo (TTF Productions), Arthur in After the Blast (Lincoln Center LCT3), and Fight Corps in the Robin Hood Scenario at New York Renaissance Faire. https://backstage.com/u/andresguerra
Taffeta/1st Woman/Relative 2
Brigette Estola is a theatre creator and performer, poet and comedienne. A Michigan native and graduate of Carthage College, Brigette has been a New York based artist for the last ten years. Her favorite roles include Mae West (Anna Karenina Lives!), Janis Joplin (Beehive: The 60's Musical), Ursula (The Little Mermaid), and Roberta (Danny & the Deep Blue Sea). Brigette has also self-produced four productions, including her plays Up Above & All Around and HIS HERS MINE YOURS. Infinitely grateful for her people and always excited to bring new works to life! www.bestola.com
Daniel is the casting director of Queens-based theatre company, Rude Grooms, and co-host of the podcast This Wooden O. Recent credits include: Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet (Rude Grooms), Duke of Clarence in Richard III (NY Shakespeare Co.), and Caesar Octavius in Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare Happy Hours). Website: www.DanielKemperActs.com Social Media: @TheDanielKemper on Instagram and Twitter.
Guitar Skeeter/1st Confessor/Relative 1/Priest
Kristin Sgarro (she/they) is a queer actor, musician, and emcee (who also composes, arranges, music directs, and classically directs) in New York City. For over a decade, Kristin has been working as an actor and musician regularly in Shakespeare's canon, while supporting their special love for new and devised works. They have appeared in various projects with AMiOS, No Exit Theatre Collective, Stag & Lion, and in works-in-progress hosted by The Dramatists’ Guild, The Bechdel Group, and SheNYC (With Dignity, most recently). Earnest credit is also due to Regeneration, Upstart, and Winebox for their hospitality over the last year.
Kristin is also the Founder and Artistic Director of Match: Lit, a [let’s-mess-with-]Shakespeare company, and in addition to performing/producing/composing, emcees its monthly reading series BARDcore, where a clever adaptation of a Shakespeare play meets trivia over libations with fellow Shakesnerds. (https://www.matchlit.org)
As a musician, Kristin has composed and arranged for several indie NYC theater companies, including AMiOS' SHOTZ!, Everyday Inferno, and for Victoria M. Fragnito's new play, Scar Tissue, along with numerous other independently produced projects. Select MD credits include The Last Five Years, Assassins, Captain Louie, Schoolhouse Rock Live!, A Year With Frog And Toad, and one-woman Fringe favorites Fate, Fury, and Musical Theater and Monica Lewinsky Sings Your Heart Out!. (More at https://www.kristinsgarro.com)
Noor Mondal is the daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants. Her recent film role was Rajit in the short sci-fi film “Metrics”. Noor has trained at several acting studios in NYC including the William Esper Studio and The Barrow Group. Noor loves learning languages, she can speak Bengali, Hindi, and Spanish and she is learning Korean presently. She currently resides in Jamaica, Queens. When she is not acting, Noor enjoys spending time with her family and her 6 cats.
Stephanie Brooke Taylor
Mrs. Tzimas-Lymberopoulos/Mrs. Johnson/2nd Confessor/Another Mother
Stephanie Brooke Taylor is a NY based stage, film, TV, and voice actress originally from Texas. After a childhood of musical theatre, she's gone on to work with regional theaters coast to coast. Internationally, she's performed and taught Shakespeare in Italy and is the Head of Drama at The Main Idea in Maine. She has her BFA from NYU under the thumb of Stella Adler. Currently, you can hear her in radio plays on WPKN, as Prime Minister Tabitha Thompson in the podcast, Starcrossed, and as Quinn in the animated kids news app, Little News Ears. Upcoming projects include voicing the Dragon Mizuchi in the animated series, Anodyne, Ginny Field in the fan horror film We Spent Fri the 13th at Crystal Lake: Not Clickbait, Joyce in the feature film Even the Earth is Dizzy with Gildafilm Productions, and Norma in Psycho & Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice with Parody Network News: Series 2. She is thrilled to be a part of this beautiful play with such fine folks and to be LIVE.
Luke Christensen/Mr. David/Mr. Ghosh
Weston Pierce began training at Playhouse West-Philadelphia where he studied Meisner for several years. During that time, he acted in about two dozen short films and a small amount of theater. He moved to New York over a year ago to pursue acting work. He enjoys acting both on stage and on camera. In his mission to follow Christ, he uses acting to help tell stories that he hopes will instill good qualities in people and encourage them to become better versions of themselves.
Lisa LaGrande feels so privileged to help bring this beautiful play to life. Lisa has worked as an Intimacy Director on a number of new works including Our Own Odyssey and Modern Day Martyrdom by Chris Rivera, Hel Hath No by Caeden Musser, Radio Hour by Laurel Andersen, and even explored a few classics like Antony and Cleopatra with Hudson Warehouse. She looks forward to continuing her education with IDC to better serve the community in this important work. Lisa is also a gifted movement director, actor, and playwright. She'd love to thank this amazing cast and Bryna for their trust in this process and Juliann, who's passion for this piece, and their faith in all of us, never ceases to inspire and always makes the world a little brighter. www.lisalagrande.com.
Papa Ernie Vega
Music Consultant (Galo's Song)
Papa Ernie Vega is a singer, guitarist and songwriter from Queens, NY. His love for the poetry of Dylan Thomas and his immigrant family’s roots in Woodside and Sunnyside made him a natural choice to contribute to this production. He loves to play rock n roll and folk music and when he’s not dabbling in musical theatre, he can be heard leading his band, the Dream Shadows, at the Jalopy Theatre and other fine venues around town.
Prop Assistant Designer
Kat Miani is an Aussie actor and writer who has been living in New York since 2015. Most recently, she has appeared in DisCards (Manhattan Rep), Sixteen (at Dixon Place) and Heartless (a short film). Kat has trained as an actor and dancer and she is currently studying acting at HB Studios.