Florida Studio Theatre Announces National New Play Development Initiative

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FST Launches national New Play development initiative

(Sarasota, FL) – Florida Studio Theatre (FST) is proud to announce the launch of The Playwrights Project, an artistic initiative employing 32 of the country’s top playwrights, sketch comedy writers, and musical theatre developers. With funding from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), FST has hired these artists as full-time staff writers. The material generated during this time will be considered for future production in FST’s Mainstage, Cabaret, Sketch Comedy, and Children’s Theatre programs.

“The Project was conceived within the first few days of the theatre shutting down due to COVID-19,” said Richard Hopkins, FST’s Producing Artistic Director. “FST, like the rest of our nation, was brought to a sudden standstill. Three days after closing the theatre, I had a revelation about Shakespeare—he, like every good artist, instead of following the dark and writing about the plagues of his time, took the road less traveled and followed the light. He wrote, without judgment, about the wonder of humankind. Which made me think that now is the time for FST to inspire the creation of plays. To ask playwrights to write like Shakespeare and reveal humanity’s complexities without judgment.

“FST is serving as a light during this uncertain time,” said Sandy Rustin, an actress and award-winning playwright participating in the Project. “I am beyond grateful for FST’s continued and ongoing support of me and my work. I cannot express how much it means to me—especially now.”

“I’m honored to be a part of this Project,” shared Carole J. Bufford, one of the most in-demand young performers in New York’s cabaret and jazz scene. “It is a blessing to have work at all during such a tumultuous time. Knowing that FST has brought together so many artists to create new works is equal parts thrilling and comforting. Art will always prevail. We need it to challenge our minds, to escape our reality, to delight and take joy in, to celebrate the past, and to forge a new path into the future.”

Florida Studio Theatre is partnering with theatres across the country to bring new plays to fruition. Arizona Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Sean Daniels (The White Chip, The Haunted Life) will collaborate with FST’s artistic staff to develop Tampa, following two brothers who, though they are bound by blood, take different paths through life.

Thomas Gibbons (Permanent Collection, Bee-luther-hatchee), the playwright in residence for Philadelphia’s InterAct Theatre Company, will work with Kate Alexander, FST’s Associate Director At-Large, on a new play exploring the dilemmas that arise with the prevalence of digital manipulation.

In conjunction with FST Associate Artist Jason Cannon, Mark St. Germain (Relativity, Dancing Lessons), an Associate Artist at Barrington Stage Company, is developing a historical drama about the real-life meeting of Frederick Douglass and John Brown before Brown’s attack on Harper’s Ferry during the Civil War.

Kenneth Jones, a New York-based playwright, librettist, and lyricist, will also join forces with FST’s Kate Alexander to create an original play about a family business in Southern America that is at a crossroads.

“My play, Alabama Story, was slated to have three productions in Spring 2020,” said Jones. “Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Those productions were scuttled and resulted in a profound and immediate loss of income for me. It felt like a miracle when FST offered me the chance to work on a new script.”

In addition to working as staff writers, Playwrights Project artists will enhance FST’s online educational offerings by leading workshops, tutorials, and contributing to virtual classes. The artists will also participate in online forum discussions and special Q&A sessions with small invited audiences.

A full list of participating playwrights and artist bios follows the end of this release. For more information on The Playwrights Project, please contact Lydia Baxter, FST’s Public Relations Associate, at lbaxter or 941-366-9017 ext. 338.

About Florida Studio Theatre
Known as Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by artist, Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company then acquired the former Woman’s Club building, becoming the first permanent venue. Shortly after Producing Artistic Director, Richard Hopkins arrived, the building was purchased and renamed The Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American Theatre, presenting contemporary theatre in its five theatre venues: the Keating Theatre, the Gompertz Theatre, the Parisian style Goldstein Cabaret and John C. Court Cabaret, and Bowne’s Lab Theatre.

Even with its growth, Florida Studio Theatre remains firmly committed to making the arts accessible and affordable to a broad-based audience. FST develops theatre that speaks to our living, evolving, and dynamically changing world. As FST grows and expands, it continues to provide audiences with challenging, contemporary drama, and innovative programs.

PLAYWRIGHTS PROJECT ARTIST BIOS

Gabriel Barre
Gabriel Barre (Director) is an internationally acclaimed director who directed Amazing Grace on Broadway and in Washington DC. Off-Broadway credits include the original productions of Manhattan Theatre Club’s The Wild Party, Summer of ’42, john & jen and Almost, Maine. National Tours include Amazing Grace, Pippin, and Cinderella. Regional theatre credits include the original production of Memphis at North Shore Music Theatre and Theatreworks in Palo Alto, CA; A Sign of the Times at the Delaware Theatre Company; as well as Billy Elliot, Sweeney Todd, Finian’s Rainbow, Houdini, Camille, A Sign of the Times and many others at Goodspeed Musicals and at the nearby Norma Terris Theatre. International credits include: the Mexican premiere of Billy Elliot, The Scarlet Pimpernel in Japan, and numerous shows in Korea and China, and the Czech Republic, including the world premiere of the new Czech musical, Holmes, The Legend, which opened last fall, and the Frank Wildhorn musical, Carmen, which recently celebrated its 12th sold out year anniversary. He is thrilled and grateful to be working with Florida Studio Theatre again, where he directed a production of the Kander and Ebb revue, The World Goes Round, a few years ago.

Sarah Bierstock
The World Premiere production of Honor Killing ran for eight weeks at Florida Studio Theatre (FST) to full capacity audiences. Its second production was at Athena Project in Denver, CO. Honor Killing was read at WAM Theater in West Stockbride, CT, as part of the Fresh Takes Series. In 2017, it was featured in the New Works Reading Series (Athena Theater), Sarasota Festival of New Plays (FST), and the PROJECT W Festival (InProximity Theater). Sarah received an award for 2nd Runner up for The Woodward International Playwriting Prize at the University of New Hampshire. Honor Killing received was a Finalist for the 2017 Ashland New Play Festival, a Semi-Finalist for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival (2017), a Semi- Finalist for the Premiere Stages 2017 Play Festival, a Semi-Finalist for the Id Theaters 2017 Playwriting Conference, a Finalist for the Hudson River Artists Playwriting Award (2017), a Semi-Finalist for 2016 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, and was a Semi-Finalist for Stage Left Theatre’s Playwriting Residency (Chicago, 2017). Sarah was commissioned by Center Stage (Baltimore) to participate in the “My America: She” project. Her second play, Mothers & Daughters (MAD), was part of the NNPN’s Women in Playwriting Festival (Spring 2019).

Deborah Brevoort
Deborah Brevoort is an award-winning author of plays, musicals, and opera librettos. She is best known for The Women of Lockerbie, which is produced internationally. Her plays, which have been produced at theatres across the US, include: Blue Moon Over Memphis, a Noh Drama about Elvis, The Poetry of Pizza, The Blue-Sky Boys, The Comfort Team, The Velvet Weapon, Into the Fire, and Signs of Life. Her latest, My Lord, What a Night, will open at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC after a rolling world premiere at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Orlando Shakes, and Florida Studio Theatre. A two-time winner of the Frederick Loewe Award in Musical Theatre for Coyote Goes Salmon Fishing with Scott Richards, and King Island Christmas with David Friedman. Her latest is Crossing Over, an Amish hip-hop musical with Stephanie Salzman. She has written the librettos for seven operas, which have been produced at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fort Worth Opera, Opera Colorado, and others. Her plays are published by Applause Books, Samuel French, DPS, and No Passport Press. She teaches at Columbia University and NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

Carole J. Bufford
A recipient of the Nightlife, Bistro, and BroadwayWorld Awards for Outstanding Vocalist, Carole has become one of the most sought after young performers on the American vintage pop, cabaret, and jazz scene. She recently enjoyed a highly praised 10-month solo run at New York’s Birdland Jazz Club and a monthly residency at Feinstein’s/54 Below. Carole is the creator and star of multiple shows, including speak easy. (featuring the Grammy Award-winning Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks), Come Together, and You Don’t Own Me, which earned her rave reviews from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Times (UK). Carole is the Gold Medal winner of the American Traditions Vocal Competition.

José Casas
José Casas is a playwright and Assistant Professor who heads the Playwriting Minor in the Department of Theatre & Drama at the University of Michigan. His plays/books include Flint, the vine, antonia, and 14. His plays, la ofrenda and somebody’s children, were awarded both the Bonderman National Playwriting Award and the American Alliance for Theatre & Education (AATE) Distinguished Play Award. His book, Palabras del Cielo: An Exploration of Latina/o Theatre for Young Audiences was awarded the AATE Distinguished Book Award.

Jeffrey Couchman
Jeffrey Couchman is co-author (with Scott Alan Evans) of the play Three Wise Guys, based on Christmas stories by Damon Runyon, which premiered Off-Broadway at the Beckett Theatre. He has written the book and lyrics for two musicals: Battleship Potemkin, based on Eisenstein’s classic film, and Blood and Fire, about the beginnings of the Salvation Army in Victorian London. He has written screenplays for Imagine Films, Warner Bros. TV, and other studios. His fiction has appeared in many literary journals. He is author of the book The Night of the Hunter: A Biography of a Film (selected by the Financial Times of London as a Best Book of the Year) and editor of an annotated edition of two film scripts by James Agee, The Night of the Hunter and The African Queen: First and Final Screenplays (University of Tennessee Press). Couchman teaches screenwriting at the College of Staten Island.
Sean Daniels
Sean Daniels is a Director, Playwright, Husband, Artistic Director, and most exhaustingly, the father to a toddler. As a writer, he has been produced commercially Off-Broadway by Tony Award Winner Tom Kirdahy, and at Arizona Theatre Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, City Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, and Dad’s Garage. His play, The White Chip, was a New York Times Critics Pick and is in talks to return when theater does. As a director, he has directed at theaters such the Manhattan Theatre Club (Off-Broadway), The Kennedy Center in Washington DC, to the West End in London.

Sean has been named “one of the top fifteen up & coming artists in the U.S., whose work will be transforming America’s stages for decades to come” & “One Of 7 People Reshaping And Revitalizing The American Musical” by American Theatre Magazine. He is the Artistic Director of Arizona Theatre Company, where he first fell in love with a theatre as a kid, though he is a native Floridian, having gone to high school and college there (Go Noles!).

Stephan deGhelder
As a playwright/satirist/lyricist, his work has been seen in Chicago, Florida, Washington DC, New York City, Canada, and Abu Dhabi. His award-winning musical satirical cabaret shows, License to Bash and Prime Ribbing, ran for several years in Florida, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. He was a featured writer for FST’s cabaret shows, Laughing Matters and Older Than Dirt. Stephan’s performance credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, national tours, regional theatres, television, commercials, and film in the United States and abroad.

Thomas Gibbons
Thomas Gibbons has a long association with InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia, which has premiered nine of his plays: Pretending to America, 6221, Axis Sally, Black Russian, Bee-luther-hatchee, Permanent Collection (NNPN Continued Life of New Plays Fund), A House With No Walls (NNPN Continued Life of New Plays fund), Silverhill, and Uncanny Valley (NNPN Continued Life of New Plays Fund). Other plays include The Exhibition and Homer. His plays have also been seen at the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theatre, Off-off-Broadway at Blue Heron Theatre, Contemporary American Theater Festival, Northlight Theatre, Florida Stage, Unicorn Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, New Repertory Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Kirk Douglas Theatre/Center Theater Group, Aurora Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre, San Diego Rep, and many others. He is the recipient of seven playwriting fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Roger L. Stevens Award from The Fund for New American Plays, the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award, the NAACP Theatre Award, two Barrymore Awards for Outstanding New Play, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.

Bruce Graham
Bruce Graham – PLAYS: Burkie, Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar & Grille, Moon Over the Brewery, Minor Demons, Belmont Avenue Social Club, According to Goldmman, Desperate Affection, Stella and Lou, Coyote on a Fence, The Champagne Charlie Stakes, Funnyman, The Craftsman, North of the Boulevard, Rizzo, The Philly Fan, Sanctions, and Gary. AWARDS: Barrymore Award for Best New Play (Something Intangible, Any Given Monday), Joseph Jefferson Award (The Outgoing Tide), and a Jeff nomination for White Guy on the Bus, whichis currently nominated for London’s version of the Obie Award. Two new plays, Good Americans and The Flatlanders, will open next season at Florida Rep and 1812 Productions. His work is included in The Best 10 Minute Plays of 2015, 2016, and 2018.

Graham recently returned to acting, appearing in Moonlight and Magnolias, Rumors, Lost in Yonkers, Time Stands Still, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Hurlyburly and Pterodactyls. MOVIES: Dunston Checks In, Anastasia, and Steal this Movie. TELEVISION: Roseanne, Leg Work, Cedar Cove, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Trading Christmas, The Good Witch, Hunt for the Unicorn Killer. Along with Michele Volansky, he is the author of The Collaborative Playwright. Graham teaches playwriting and film courses at Drexel University.

Kenneth Jones
Kenneth Jones’ play Alabama Story was a 2016 nominee for the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award and a 2014 Finalist in the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. By Fall 2020, it will have been seen in at least 34 cities around the nation since its 2015 premiere by Pioneer Theatre Company. Other plays: Two Henrys (two-time Semi-Finalist in the O’Neill NPC, developed by Pioneer Theatre Company, Hudson Stage Company, Red Mountain Theatre, Pacific Resident Theatre); Hollywood, Nebraska (developed in Off-Broadway’s NewTACTics New Play Festival; Lab Series at Actors Theatre of Indiana; Wyoming Theater Festival); Circa 1976, or Somewhere in the Suburbs of a Swing State Shaped Like a Mitten (O’Neill NPC Semi-Finalist); and Ten Minutes on a Bench. Musicals: It Happened One Christmas, co-conceived with Karen Azenberg (Pioneer Theatre, 2015); Naughty/Nice, with composer Gerald Stockstill (published by stagerights.com); Voice of the City, with composer Elaine Chelton (developed by York Theatre Company and Human Race Theatre Company). He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, BMI and The BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop (Advanced). He writes about his work and advocates for other theater makers at ByKennethJones.com.

Mark Kendall
Mark Kendall’s one-person show, The Magic Negro and Other Blackness, was produced by Dad’s Garage Theatre and the Alliance Theatre (both in Atlanta). It was also performed at ARS Nova’s ANTFEST and The New Ground Play Festival at Cleveland Play House. He completed the Comedy Central Chris Rock Summer School Program, where he pitched jokes at The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Mark was the Readers Pick for Best Comedian in Creative Loafing Atlanta in 2019.

Rachel Lynett
Rachel Lynett is a queer Afro-Latinx playwright. Her recent credits include Apologies to Lorraine Hansberry as a semifinalist for the O’Neill Theatre Conference, Rich B*tch as a semifinalist for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and commissions with Theatre Lab and Florida Studio Theatre. Her plays have been featured at Barrington Stage Company, Theatre Lab, Theatre Prometheus, Unicorn Theatre, Jobsite Theatre, Laughing Pig Theatre Company, Capital Repertory Theatre, Teatro Espejo, the Kennedy Center Page to Stage Festival, Theatresquared, Equity Library Theatre, Chicago, Talk Back Theatre, Stage Left, American Stage Theatre Company, and Orlando Shakespeare Theatre.

Ben Mackel
Ben Mackel is an actor, composer, and singer/songwriter from Asheville, NC. As an actor, he’s worked in theatre and film regionally, including Barter Theatre, NC Stage Company, and Florida Studio Theatre. As a composer, he’s had shows produced at Flat Rock Playhouse, Barter Theatre, and South Carolina Children’s Theatre. As a singer/songwriter, he’s toured extensively with The Blue Eyed Bettys and as a solo artist known as Threadbare. More information at benmackel.com, theblueeyedbettys.com, and threadbaresongs.com

Michael McKeever
Michael McKeever has written 30 full-length plays that have been produced at theaters across the United States, Canada, and Europe. His play, Daniel’s Husband, has played Off-Broadway twice—first at Primary Stages at the historic Cherry Lane Theatre (Nomination for Off- Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Work), and at the Westside Theatre, where it ran for five months. McKeever’s play After appeared Off-Broadway at 59E59, where it enjoyed a highly successful three-month run. Other theaters that have produced his work include Penguin Rep, Marin Theatre Company, New Conservatory Theater Center, Phoenix Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Palm Beach Dramaworks, Komödie Dresden (Dresden, Germany), Och-Teatr (Warsaw, Poland), and Theater in der Josefstadt, Kammerspiele (Vienna, Austria). McKeever’s work has been nominated four times for the nationally renowned Steinberg/American Theatre Critics New Play Award. He has won numerous Carbonell and Silver Palm Awards, and has received three Florida Individual Artist Fellowships. He is also an award-winning actor and designer. McKeever is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Actors’ Equity, and a co-founder of Zoetic Stage in Miami. michaelmckeeverplays.com

Scott Michaelsen
Recent credits as Music Director include Sister Act and A Year with Frog and Toad at Post Playhouse; Grease and Camelot at Sierra Repertory Theatre; and FST’s March 2020 revival of Unchained Melodies. Scott has also frequented as a choir accompanist, Classical pianist, middle school band instructor, and children’s theater Music Director.

Julia Morales
Julia Morales is a writer, director, and performer originally from Houston. She currently resides in Chicago, where she writes and performs with The Second City Touring Company. She is an American Musical and Dramatic Academy alumni and has studied and performed sketch and improv comedy across the nation for over 18 years. She has been acknowledged for her efforts to promote diversity and equality through her performances and writing.

Sam Mossler
Sam Mossler recently appeared at FST in The Nether and Kunstler. Other FST productions: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, How to Use a Knife (Chef George), Other People’s Money (Garfinkle). New York: The Owl and The Pussycat (Creative Space) and The Sexes: According to Dorothy Parker (NY Comedy Club). Regional: The Philadelphia Story (New Harmony Theatre); The Tempest (Shakespeare on the Hudson); and The Threepenny Opera (Connecticut Grand Opera). As a writer, Sam’s plays have been produced in New York and Los Angeles, and his screenplays have received honors from the Austin Film Festival and the International Screenwriters Association. He is most proud of his work as a Teaching Artist in FST’s Education program. sammossler.com

Jason Odell Williams
Jason Odell Williams is a writer and producer originally from Columbia, Maryland. He has been nominated for an Emmy Award, an Off-Broadway Alliance Award, and an L.A. Ovation Award. Two of his plays, Handle With Care and Church & State, are published by DPS and have won two Henry Awards and 3 Theatre Bay Area Awards. Together, those two plays have had over 100 regional productions across the US and Canada. Jason was the winner of the 2012 Hudson Valley Writers Workshop contest and his work has been named as a Semi-Finalist for the 2019 and 2020 National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, a Finalist for the 2018 InterAct Theatre Company’s New Play Award, and a Semi-Finalist for PlayMaker Rep’s 2020 Thomas Wolfe Playwriting Competition. Other plays include: Division Street (CenterStage at the JCC); Someone Else (NC Stage); and Baltimore in Black & White (cell theatre). Upcoming productions of The Whole Shebang and On The Market (theaters to be announced soon). He lives in Manhattan with his wife and writing partner, Charlotte Cohn, their daughter, and their rescued dog.

Tricia Paoluccio
Tricia Paoluccio grew up on an almond farm in Modesto, CA, and learned how to sing by listening to Dolly Parton records. Her Broadway debut came as Brittany Murphy’s understudy in the role of Catherine in the Tony Award-winning revival of A View from the Bridge, opposite Allison Janney and Anthony LaPaglia. Other Broadway credits include Julie Taymor’s The Green Bird and Fiddler on the Roof as Chava, opposite Alfred Molina and Harvey Fierstein. Off-Broadway highlights include originating the role of Donna in the comedy Debbie Does Dallas, Cressida in Troilus and Cressida (directed by Sir Peter Hall) with TFANA, and Carol in Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque (the inaugural production at the new Signature Theatre). Her television/film credits include the upcoming feature indie Portrait of a Young Man (which was filmed in Florida in 2019), Hunters, Plot Against America, Homeland, Chicago Med, Bull, OITNB, The Affair, Law and Order and many more. She played Dolly Parton at the Ryman Auditorium in the musical Stand By Your Man, and recently played Doralee in the Sacramento Music Circus production of 9 to 5.

Larry Parr
Larry Parr has had hundreds of regional productions. Dramatist Guild and Sarasota Area Playwrights Society member. Awards include: Hi-Hat-Hattie (Kansas City’s Drama Desk Award for Best Musical, Florida Individual Artist Recipient, American Cinema Foundation’s First Prize for Screenwriting); My Castle’s Rockin’ (Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre’s ScriptFest, first white playwright produced in the history of the National Black Theatre Festival); Invasion of Privacy (1999 Gold Coast Players best-play award, The National Arts Club’s Playwrights First Award, Ashland New Play Festival, Theatre Conspiracy’s New Play Competition, Florida Individual Artist Recipient); Sundew (Southern Appalachian Repertory Theater’s Annual Play Competition); Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow (Florida Individual Artist Recipient, The Sarasota County Arts Council’s John Ringling Fellowship Grant, Daytony Award – Best Overall Production; Shunned (Southern Appalachian Repertory Theater’s ScriptFest Winner, Utah Shakespeare Festival, New American Playwrights Project, Julie Harris Playwright Award Finalist). He was a winner of FST’s Short Play Competition nine years in a row. He won STAGES ’93, the 1994 Porter Fleming Playwriting Competition, The Arion Award For Music Excellence, Civic Recognition Award, and the Broome Agency’s Best-Novel Award. In 2000, and in 2010, FST presented him with the Barbara Anton Playwriting Award. www.larryparr.info

Sandy Rustin
An actress and award-winning playwright, Sandy was recently named to the Broadway Women’s Fund’s “50 Women to Watch” list. Her comedy, The Cottage, is in development for an upcoming Broadway production, and her adaptation of CLUE is slated for a 2021 National Tour, and her adaptation of Mystic Pizza is expected to premiere next year. She is currently developing work for Disney Theatrical and Disney Cruises. Sandy created and wrote the Book & Lyrics for Mattel’s American Girl Live, a musical that toured nationally. Last season, Sandy and collaborator, Sarah Saltzberg adapted I Married an Angel for NYC’s City Center’s Encores! Her sketch comedy musical, Rated P … For Parenthood, opened Off-Broadway, was optioned for TV development, and is available for licensing. Other plays: Struck (NJ REP, Theatre Raleigh), Houston (New American Musical Award), and Elijah (“Best Play” – Midwestern Jewish Plays Project). Sandy currently has an original television series in development with MarVista. Sandy is the Founding Co-Artistic Director of Midtown Direct Rep. She is a Northwestern University graduate and a member of ASCAP, SAG, AEA, and the Dramatists Guild, and is represented by Abrams Artists. This season, Sandy is working on The Suffragette’s Murder, a commission as part of FST’s Suffragist Project. www.sandyrustin.com

Nick Santa Maria
Nick is a 40-year show business veteran. On Broadway in Grease!, and Mel Brooks’ The Producers for 5 years playing almost every male role. He’s been a stand up comedian, and a main performer/writer/composer for the popular Improv comedy troupe, Mental Floss. He has written material for two off-Broadway shows, Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know and Real Men, The Musical (writer/composer/lyrics). He has appeared in every form of show business except ballet and circus.

Kyle Shoemaker
Kyle Shoemaker is the Assistant Director of Sketch at Florida Studio Theatre. He is a performer, improviser, and filmmaker.
Kyle is a founding member of the FST house team Come What Will (improvised Shakespeare) and performs with FST Improv, On Deck, and Big Bang Improv. He has a degree in Film Production Technology from Valencia College. Kyle could not be more thrilled to be a part of FST.

Mark St. Germain
Mark St. Germain (Playwright) Mark has written the plays Freud’s Last Session, Dancing Lessons, Best of Enemies, Relativity, and, with John Markus, The Fabulous Lipitones, all seen at FST. Other plays include Ears on a Beatle, Camping with Henry and Tom, The God Committee, and Out of Gas on Lover’s Leap. Mark wrote the perennial musical, The Gifts of the Magi, with composer Randy Courts and Stand By Your Man, The Tammy Wynette Musical, for Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Television work includes writer/consultant for The Cosby Show and Dick Wolfe’s Crime and Punishment. He co-wrote Carroll Ballard’s film Duma, as well as produced and directed the documentary My Dog, An Unconditional Love Story with Richard Gere, Glenn Close, and others. Mark wrote the award-winning children’s book, Three Cups. He is an Associate Artist at the Barrington Stage Company in the Berkshires.

The Swingaroos
Award-winning vocalist, Kimberly Hawkey, leads a dazzling sextet assembled from NYC’s finest swing players. Whether paying tribute to classic Hollywood, the Great White Way, or beloved big bands of the ‘30s and ‘40s, The Swingaroos will light up the joint with their outstanding musicianship and irrepressible cheer. Broadway’s Assaf Gleizner entertains from the piano, supporting high-flying musical arrangements and delightful surprises at every turn. This lighthearted replica of Golden Age “territory bands” leaves sold-out crowds humming along and cheering for more!

Bruce Vilanch
Bruce Vilanch has the same hair color as Dolly Parton, as well as the same bra size. He has written for some of her stage appearances over the last half century and was part of the second wave writing team on her infamous TV series on ABC Sunday nights. He has six Emmys, none of them for that show, but two of them for co-writing a couple of his 23 Oscar telecasts. In fact, he is the “EGOT” of awards show writers, having penned many Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, and Tonys. For six years, he was a Hollywood Square, just to the left of Whoopi, and for two years he starred on Broadway and on tour as Edna Turnblad, Baltimore housewife, in Hairspray (for which the bra size came in handy). He has written for about everyone in show business, which was documented in the film Get Bruce!, featuring his frequent collaborators Bette Midler, Robin Williams, and Billy Crystal.

Matt Walker
Matt Walker has been performing and teaching improv across the country since 2010. He worked at the Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics and performed at iO West, The Second City, Upright Citizens Brigade – LA, and The Pack Theater in Los Angeles. Matt performs with various groups, including The Third Thought (Tampa, FL). Currently, he performs with FST Improv and produces shows, including The Estate Show and The Never No Show in St. Pete.

Brandon Wardell
Brandon is equally at home in the spotlight or behind the scenes. A 5-time Tony and 4-time Grammy nominee (one Tony win for Porgy and Bess) and a member of the Recording Academy; he has performed, produced and recorded all over the world. His band, Under the Streetlamp, has 4 PBS Specials airing nationally. Broadway/NYC: James Joyce’s The Dead, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Assassins, Good Vibrations, Catch Me if You Can, and Evil Dead The Musical.

Robert Woo
Robert Woo has written for shows including Making It and The Kelly Clarkson Show. He’s also punched up and produced scripts for NBC, CBS, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon. He’s won spots in the Nickelodeon Writers Program and NBC’s Late Night Writers Workshop. He’s performed improv and sketch comedy for a couple decades now. He takes a multivitamin every day.

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