Pinny Gniwisch, Producer
Pinny Gniwisch is one of the founders of ICE.com as well as a guru of Internet marketing. He frequently lectures worldwide at International Internet conferences on a myriad of topics relating to Internet marketing. Additionally, he is the youngest board member at Shop.org, and an adjunct professor at McGill University, as well as Rutgers Center for Leadership Development. Pinny is now trying his hand in the theatre world through the exciting production of “RIO” the musical.
Mitch Magonet, Author and Composer
Mitch Magonet is a self-taught musician based in Montreal. With a degree in Industrial Relations from McGill University, Mitch became a composer, producer, lyricist and author whose credits include Disney’s “High School Musical – Sing It”, “Cirque du Soleil”, “Queer as Folk”, Disney’s “Tarzan – the video game”, Ubisoft’s “Speed Devils” and “CBC Curling”. Fascinated by the intricate rhythms, music and characters of Rio, Mitch began an eight year journey of discovery about this violent, yet beautiful city. After learning about the tragedy of the ‘Candelaria Massacre’ where many homeless street-kids were brutally murdered at the church by the police, Mitch, with his collaborator Joey Miller, felt that there was an important story to be told. Within six months, they composed a crop of exhilerating songs that explored this fragile and powerful world. Workshopped at Mirvish Productions in Toronto and Catholic University in Washington D.C., ‘RIO’ is ready to move from the Sambadrome to the stage.
Joey Miller, Author and Composer
Joey Miller has studied Musical Theatre in Toronto and New York as a member of Lehman Engel’s B.M.I. Theater Writer’s Workshops. The musical “That Scatterbrain Booky” (Y.P.T.) for which he wrote book, music and lyrics won the 1991 Dora Award for Outstanding New Musical. Other musicals he has collaborated on are: “Outrageous” (w/Brad Fraser) – CanStage – 2000 Dora nomination, “The Growing Season” & “….the Mummy’s Revenge” (w/James Saar), “Eight To The Bar” and “Flying” (w/Stephen Witkin – Caesar’s Palace Atlantic City), “Prince And The Pauper” – (w/Leslie Arden) – Winner of a 1989 Dora Award for Outstanding New Production – National Arts Centre Ottawa, “A Gift To Last – The musical” and “War Brides” (both with Grahame Woods), “Joy” (w/Maja Ardal – Workman Arts) and “Capone” and “The Boys” (w/Frank Peppiatt) and “Never Trouble Trouble” (w/Michael Miller)- Dora Nomination. He has also written for t.v., recordings, industrials and film.
2012: Official ‘Next Link Selection’ of the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) for the musical “RIO” (book, lyrics & music by Mitch Magonet & Joey Miller)
2011: Finalist of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) for the musical “RIO”.
2011: Featured artists on the ”Shows You Should Know” compilation from NAMT
2000: Dora Award nomination for the musical “Outrageous” by Joey Miller (w/Brad Fraser performed at CanStage)
1996: Dora Award nomination for the musical “Never Trouble Trouble” by Joey Miller (w/Michael Miller)
1991: Dora Award Winner for Outstanding New Musical for the musical “That Scatterbrain Booky” by Joey Miller for which he wrote the book, music and lyrics. (Performed at Y.P.T.)
1989: Dora Award Winner for Outstanding New Production for the musical “Prince And The Pauper” by Joey Miller (/Leslie Arden performed at the National Arts Centre Ottawa)
Scott Faris, Director
Scott Faris has directed “Chicago, The Musical”, in sixteen countries around the world in over a dozen languages plus tours in the US and the UK. He directed Bette Midler’s latest show, “The Showgirl Must Go On”, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and “Walking With Dinosaurs”, The Arena Spectacular, on tour in the US and the UK. Scott most recently directed William Shatner on Broadway in his one man show “Shatner’s World – We Just Live In It”. He started his career as an actor performing in musicals, among them “A Chorus Line”. He learned his directing skills by working as a production stage manager for some of the top directors on Broadway on several Tony Award winning productions. Also in Las Vegas, he directed “EFX!” starring Michael Crawford and was part of the production team that created the amazing Siegfried & Roy at the Mirage. He directed the national tour of “Sweet Charity” starring Molly Ringwald and later, of “Trading Spaces” fame.
Charity Wicks, Musical Director
Charity Wicks, a frequent music director and pianist for new works, was recently traveling the country with the National Tour with “Billy Elliot” as a conductor/keyboard player, and was the conductor/keyboard player for “Spring Awakening” on Broadway, as well as the Associate Music Director for the First National Tour. She’s played for “Wicked” and “In The Heights”, and frequently music directs final projects for NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing program. Charity recently was the music director a new opera with the Polish roots band, the Warsaw Village Band in Vancouver, BC, and was the associate conductor of the world premier of Stephen Schwartz’s opera, Séance on a Wet Afternoon. Charity holds B.M. and M.M. degrees from Temple University and D.M.A from The Manhattan School of Music.
Kate Dunn, Choreographer
Kate Dunn has honed her expertise through impressive experience in various mediums including the following. Dance: Royal Ballet Company, Sydney Dance Company, Chunky Move, Bangarra Dance Theatre. Musicals: “Contact”, “On Your Toes” and “Chicago”. Films: “The Phantom of the Opera”, “Beyond the Sea”. Associate choreographer: “Dirty Dancing”, “Billy Elliot”.
Jack DePalma, Creative Consultant
Jack is the creative director for the National Arts Management Company. Jack has been a major force in the development of some of the US’s most well-known productions, including “Chicago”, “Annie Get Your Gun”, “Seussical”, “Wonderful Town”, “Sweet Charity” and “This is Our Youth” to fruition from the initial developmental phases through to opening nights. He has supervised the translation of the Chicago script into various languages for production around the world. Jack also, was play Development Director at the Old Globe in San Diego (one of America’s flagship regional theatres) where he worked closely with the executive producer, Lou Spisto in planning their seasons. Among the production were Duncan Sheik’s “Whisper House”, Leslie Bricusse’s “Sammy” and the Broadway bound musicals “The First Wives Club” and “Robin and the 7 Hoods”. Jack was also the casting associate for the feature films “Nighthawks”, “King of Comedy”, “Author! Author!”, “Yentl”, “Once Upon a Time in America” and “The Last Temptation of Christ”.
Jason Najjoum, Casting Director
Jason is originally from northern Virginia. A proud graduate of Emory University, Jason now makes New York City his home. Recent casting credits include “Myths & Hymns” (Prospect), “Dancing at Lunacy”, “Blood”, and “Bad Evidence” (the cell), “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (The Hive), and numerous readings for Prospect Theater Company, New York Theatre Barn, The Hive, and The Pack. Commercially, Jason has worked at Donna DeSeta Casting, Godlove + Company, Background Inc, Foreground Inc, Strickman-Ripps Casting, and Broadcasters on numerous on-camera commercials, webseries, print campaigns, and other on-camera projects, from Kiefer Sutherland’s webseries “The Confession” to a commercial for Ford Explorer and a promo for the Oprah Winfrey Network. When not casting, Jason is the Creative Development Associate and an Executive Producer of NYTB in the D-Lounge for New York Theatre Barn, and is a new member of the New York Musical Theater Festival’s Reading Committee and Packawallop Productions’ artists collective, The Pack, and is a proud member of The Hive Theater Company. Recent producing credits include ”I Married Wyatt Earp” (Prospect Theater Co./NY Theatre Barn), “Dancing at Lunacy”, “Blood” (the cell), “Bandage: A Fight Play” (The Brick), “Male Matriarch” (FringeNYC), “Another Place” (The Anthropologists at HERE), “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (The Hive), and “Bad Evidence” (the cell). Jason was an assistant to lead producer Ken Davenport on the Broadway revival of “Godspell”.
Colin McGurk, Set Design
Colin McGurk is a scenic designer and visual artist in New York City. He is chiefly focused on a visionary approach to art and design, and is equally fascinated by both the golden ratio and Discordianism. He received his MFA from UC San Diego. Credits include ”Joe Turner’s Come and Gone”, “The Seagull”, and “The House of Bernarda Alba”. Colin received his BA in Theatre from Lehigh University in 2006 and returned as a design apprentice in 2007. He has exhibited his fine art in the US and Italy, and his scenic design for “The House of Bernarda Alba” was exhibited at the Prague Quadrennial 2011, an international scenogrophy conference.
Nicholas Gonzalez, Pipio
Nicholas is thrilled to be in the new musical RIO! Credits include the Nation Tour of A Christmas Story the Musical (Flick), and Zombie Prom: Atomic Edition (Joey). Nicholas was also featured on the television series Sesame Street. Recently, Nicholas worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company/Matilda the Musical on adapting the English accent. Special thanks too his family, Nancy Carson, Jody Prusan, and Brad Ross for all of their love and support. Learn more about Nicholas at NicholasDanielOnline.com. Nicholas is a proud member of Actors Equity!
Jose Candelaria, Rui
Jose Candelaria is an actor, singer/songwriter, and alumnus of the University of Miami. Last seen in the world premier of Angel of the Amazon: A New American Opera at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Credits Include THEATER: Jesus Christ Superstar, The Hidden Sky, Kingdom, The Who’s Tommy. TV/FILM: The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, Bored to Death, American Idol 7, and I Am A Fat Cat. Thanks to everyone at HTA and to my family, friends and fans for all of your support.
Nik Walker, Samson
Nik Walker (Samson) is honored to join up with RIO! Street cred includes Into the Woods (Centerstage/Westport Country Playhouse, dir. Mark Lamos), Miss Saigon (Ogunquit Playhouse, IRNE Nominee for Best Supporting Actor) RENT (Pioneer Theater) and Topdog/Underdog (Stella Adler Studio of Acting). Love to God, Mom, all fam/friends, The Mine Talent Agency and Ridley Scott, Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba for bringing the heat to the summer movie season with Prometheus.
Dennis Kenney, Mafalda
Dennis Kenney is grateful to be a part of RIO! Credits include The Pantages Theater’s Production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Buzz Who, Grinch Understudy) The role of Eddie in the Las Vegas Company of Mamma Mia! Mame at the Kennedy Center starring Christine Baranski and Harriet Harris as well as the First National Broadway revival tour of 42nd St. TV roles include Alex Rodriguez in a musical on Comedy Central’s The Onion Sportsdome as well as appearances on The Young and the Restless, Nip Tuck and the CBS Diversity Comedy Showcase. He holds a B.F.A in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University.
J. Manuel Santos, Pantera
J. Manuel Santos is honored to be a part of this fantastic new musical! His New York credits include Applause with City Center’s Encores! Series and the revival of West Side Story (original cast; Bernardo u/s), where he had the privilege of taking over as Chino for the last 6 months of the production. His Television credit is Smash (known as Manuel)! Thanks to Mom, Jerry and John for the love and support.
Lelund Durond, Ferreira
Lelund Durond OFF-BROADWAY: The Glass Menagerie, Kumble Theater; A Raisin in the Salad, NYC Fringe Festival; Henry V, Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, Emancipation, Classical Theatre of Harlem; The Doll Confessions (LDTG), Urban Stages; Dreamgirls, Kumble Theater. INTERNATIONAL: Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song: A Hood Opera, Sons d’Hiver Festival, Paris. REGIONAL: Blue Door, PlayMakers Repertory Company; …and L.A. is Burning, Florida Studio Theatre; Bloody Blackbeard, Triad Stage; A Christmas Carol, Actors Theater of Louisville & Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park; Well, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Cleveland Play House. Mr. Durond holds his MFA in acting from the CASE/Cleveland Play House Professional Actor Training Program.
Zurin Villanueva, Omarta
Zurin Villanueva hails originally from the great NYC! Regional credits: Ain’t Misbehavin; Crossroads, Crowns; Arena stage and The Stephen Schwartz Project; metro stage. Nobody’s Perfect; The Kennedy Center (national tour). Most recently played Josephine Baker in an original musical written about her early life directed by Maurice Hines. Education: Howard University BFA Laguardia High School of the performing arts and Dance Theatre of Harlem. All my love to the Walkers and Villanuevas for their relentless support. Avid D.I.V.As!
Mercedes Ruiz, Fiction
Mercedes Ruiz is delighted to be making her NYMF debut. She has appeared on stage in Stockholm Brooklyn at the Cherry Lane Theater, on film and in several commercials. Her hobbies include singing and dancing. She hopes to fulfill her dream of becoming a professional singer. A recent graduate of the vocal program at talent Unlimited High School, Mercedes will be attending Adelphi University in the fall with plans to pursue a degree in Sociology.
Tanesha Ross, Neves
Tanesha Ross (Neves) is thrilled to be making her NYMF debut!! Broadway and National Tour: HAIR; 5th Avenue Theatre: Pippin, Rocky Horror, HAIR; Village Theatre: Saint Heaven (Seattle Times Footlight Award), Chasing Nicolette, Aida, Evita; Westchester Broadway Theatre: Rent. Thanks to Jason Najjoum, the creative team of Rio, and my loving and supportive family and friends. Se podes olhar, ve. Se podes ver, repara.
Gilbert Glenn Brown, Father Hermeto
Gilbert Glenn Brown – BFA NYU T.S.O.A. Theater: NEC – Leslie Lee & Charles Strouse’s – Martin: A New American Musical, Charleston Olio, Harriet Jacobs – Kansas City Rep, Civil War Christmas – Huntington Theater, Forgive Me – Mid-Town International Theatre Festival , TopDog/UnderDog – Seattle Rep/Circle Theatre Group, Miss Evers Boys -National Black Theatre Festival, Malcolm X – Tour, Live From Death Row… Scottsboro Boys (Fountain Theatre), DWB in Beverly Hills – Matrix Theatre. Film: DreamGirls , Rain, Children of the Struggle, Raising the Heights, Night Falls on Manhattan Television: Mercy, ER, The O.C., Cold Case, Shark, CSI: Miami, The Shield. 3 NACCP Theatre Award nominations, COLSAC Best Lead Performance Award Drama Critic and a L.A.Weekly Award.
Kelechi Ezie, King Momo
Kelechi Ezie is an actress, singer, and writer from Buffalo, New York, thrilled to maker her NYMF debut in RIO as King Momo. Kelechi’s short film The Truth About Beauty and Blogs was just an official selection of Roger Ebert’s Film Festival. Other select credits includeThese Seven Sicknesses at The Flea Theater and Daniel Beaty’sTearing Down The Walls. Kelechi is graduate of Princeton University, where she earned a degree in History/Theatre & Dance.
Nina Crupiti, Saki
Nina is thrilled to be part of this exciting show! Off-Broadway/NYC: Jesus Christ Superstar “Soul Singer” (Lee Strasberg Theater), Christmas Rappings “Mary” (Theater at Judson), Atonement (Original Cast & Recording, The Actor’s Temple). Regional: Miss Saigon “Mimi, Gigi u/s” (Walnut Street Theatre, Houston TUTS), The King and I “Ballet Corps, Tuptim u/s” (Walnut Street Theatre), M. Butterfly “Suzuki” (Forestburgh Playhouse). Graduate of NYU Tisch, CAP21. She thanks her new husband, Michael, and their beautiful family.