Julie Benko, Andrew Barth Feldman, Judy Kaye & More to Star in RUTKA Concert Performance

The cast also features Nathan Levy, Zachary Noah Piser, Presley Ryan and more.

By: Jan. 09, 2023
Julie Benko, Andrew Barth Feldman, Judy Kaye & More to Star in RUTKA Concert Performance

Casting has been announced for a concert performance of the new musical RUTKA. Selections from the show's exhilarating indie rock score will be presented on Monday, January 23, 2023 at 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Public Library for Performing Arts at Lincoln Center (40 Lincoln Center Plaza). Ticket inquiries may be made at RutkaRSVP@KGMTheatrical.com.

The cast for the presentation will include two-time Tony Award winner Judy Kaye (The Phantom of the Opera, Nice Work if You Can Get It), as Grandma/Narrator; Julie Benko (Fanny Brice in Broadway's Funny Girl) as Dvorah; three of the actors who played the title character in Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway: Andrew Barth Feldman as Janek, Nathan Levy as Jumek and Zachary Noah Piser as Lolek; Zoe Siegel (credits at 54 Below, The Green Room 42) as Micka; Gabi Carrubba (Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen) as Minda; Zoe Holtzman (Essential Voices USA) as Nina; Annabelle Kempf (Broadway's Billy Elliot the Musical) as Rozna; Lana Schwartz (Off-Broadway's Endangered!) as Rutka; Cara Rose DiPietro (Arena Stage's Catch Me If You Can) as Stanislawa; Presley Ryan (Lydia in Broadway's Beetlejuice) as Tusia; Ben Cherry (Broadway's Indecent) as Yaakov; and Oscar Williams (Broadway's Fun Home) in the ensemble.

The creative team for RUTKA features music and lyrics by Jocelyn Mackenzie & Jeremy Lloyd-Styles, from the Brooklyn indie rock trio Pearl and the Beard, book by Sarah Gancher (Russian Troll Farm, Hundred Days), dramaturgy by Ken Cerniglia (Hadestown, Peter and the Starcatcher), and direction by Wendy C. Goldberg, the former Artistic Director of The National Playwrights Conference at The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and a two-time chair of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama Jury.

RUTKA is a contemporary rock musical based on the internationally acclaimed Rutka's Notebook, a diary by 14-year-old Rutka Laskier. Rutka documented her thoughts, hopes and experiences during three months in 1943 while living in the Jewish Ghetto in Bedzin, Poland. She left her diary behind following her deportation and it would remain hidden for 63 years until it was published in 2006. Following its relatively recent discovery and authentication by scholars, Rutka's Notebook has drawn comparison to the Diary of Anne Frank. (In an odd coincidence, Rutka Laskier and Anne Frank were born on the same date: June 12, 1929).

The vibrant, unique, and resoundingly memorable score of RUTKA gives voice to a group of teenagers as they cope with the unimaginable events surrounding them. Rising from one of the darkest events of human history comes a story of hope, resilience, and resistance. RUTKA captures both the angst and elation of young people finding their way amid the mess of a world that adults leave behind.

"When I first heard about the idea to pair the story of Rutka Laskier with contemporary music, I thought it was brilliant," director Wendy C. Goldberg commented. "The show feels modern and raw, utilizing its indie-rock musical score to directly reach modern audiences. In this way, RUTKA helps reclaim voices that were taken far too soon, and to introduce new generations to these stories in a way that feels entirely relevant and current to them. With shocking incidents of anti-Semitism, hatred, and division on the rise, it is crucial to have a project like this to enact meaningful change for future generations."

RUTKA is produced by Think System Productions and Executive Producer Cody Lassen (Spring Awakening, Indecent, How I Learned to Drive).

General management is by KGM Theatrical. Casting Director is Daryl Eisenberg and Ally Beans of Eisenberg/Beans Casting. Musical director is Sharon Kenny.

Jocelyn Mackenzie

(Music and Lyrics) is a Brooklyn-based musician, maker, and medium. A singer, songwriter, songwriting coach, artist, stylist, and psychic, she released her debut solo album PUSH on Righteous Babe Records in early 2021. Arranged entirely for string quartet about healing through radical self-love, PUSH was co-created by an all-star team of collaborators including Franz Nicolay, Adam Schatz, Jo Lampert and more. Best known as the singing drummer from indie-pop trio Pearl and the Beard, the group released six studio albums in their tenure and boasted an extensive touring history across the US, UK and Canada with noteworthy artists such as Ani DiFranco, Neko Case, Iron & Wine, Ingrid Michaelson, Lucius, Dar Williams and Lady Lamb. Jocelyn's first solo EP features a song co-written by Ani DiFranco, and her music and voice over talent have appeared in film, theater, commercials, and television. On stage, she has been involved in The Bengson's Hundred Days and as a performer and devising member of Trusty Sidekick Theater Company's Mendelssohn Electric. Mackenzie holds a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (2005) and is skilled in makeup, costume making, knitting, crochet, graphic design, and fabrication. She is also a psychic medium. At her core, Mackenzie's extra-sensory skills inform her songwriting and visual art, integrating media and meaning to create work that is both sensual and personal.

Jeremy Lloyd-Styles

(Music and Lyrics) had his roots in seemingly corrosive soil. The half black/white musician began his journey in the desert city of Riverside, CA, home to meth factories, smog, orange groves, the largest auto dealers in the country and a chair that President Taft sat in once. Lloyd-Styles then headed to New York where he believed he'd be that one in a million. Upon visiting his first NYC open mic he quickly realized that even IF he was miraculously that one in a million, in this city that meant there were eight more like him. So, he returned to the drawing board, and formed the trio Pearl and the Beard with Jocelyn Mackenzie, which would go on to sell out shows, thousands of records and grow a devoted fan base through extensive touring and word of mouth. The band would tour nationally and internationally, sharing the stage with acts like The Lumineers, Sharon Van Etten, Ingrid Michaelson, Neko Case, Bastille, and was taken under the wing of folk hero Ani Difranco. Their music is featured in numerous films and TV series. The fatigue of a touring lifestyle, the sands of time and the desire to be close to family and friends caused Lloyd-Styles to focus more on songwriting and began a new chapter in his career as a composer. He has written the music for films, commercials, and podcasts. With hands and feet firmly planted in rock, folk, punk, classical, ambient, R&B and pop, Jeremy creates an amalgamation of unique musical sounds and textures.

Sarah Gancher

(Book). Sarah Gancher's writing has been presented by stages worldwide, including London's National Theatre, Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre,
Budapest's Quarter6Quarter7 Festival, The Public Theatre, New York Theater Workshop, Playwrights Horizons, Steppenwolf, Berkeley Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Hartford Stage, RoundHouse (DC), Seattle Rep, and Ars Nova. Recently, the online production of her play Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy was included in the New York Times' Best Theater of 2020 list. Other honors include the Richard Rodgers Award, New York Stage and Film Founders' Award, The Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, the Edinburgh International Festival Fringe Award, a Toulmin Foundation commission, several Lortel, Drama Desk and Drama League nominations, and the AR Gurney Prize. Sarah's seven play cycle 7th explores how Jewish identity has changed over time in Budapest's historically Jewish seventh district; the cycle includes Seder, The Place We Built and Klauzál Square. She frequently collaborates on musicals, including Hundred Days and The Lucky Ones with The Bengsons and Anne Kauffman, and Mission Drift with Heather Christian, Rachel Chavkin, and The TEAM. Her work in the realm of large-scale spectacles includes partnerships with Blue Man Group and Cirque d Soleil. An alumna of Ars Nova Play Group, WP Lab, P73 and The Playwrights' Realm, she is a current resident at New Dramatists. She also plays jazz violin. MFA: NYU.

Ken Cerniglia

(Dramaturg) is a veteran dramaturg, writer, creative consultant, and organizational leader. His dramaturgy is most prominently reflected in the innovative Broadway hits Hadestown (eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical) and Peter and the Starcatcher (five Tony Awards). During his 16 years at Disney Theatrical, Ken developed over 70 titles for Broadway, touring, international and licensed productions, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Freaky Friday, Aladdin, Newsies, The Little Mermaid, High School Musical and Tarzan. He adapted several Disney librettos for young performers; conceived and developed Marvel Spotlight plays for teens; and edited Peter and the Starcatcher: The Annotated Broadway Play (2012) and Newsies: Stories of the Unlikely Broadway Hit (2013). Ken co-wrote the book for the new musicalAtlantis, which premiered in 2019 at Virginia Repertory Theatre, directed by Kristin Hanggi (Rock of Ages). Several other musical writing projects and a TV series are currently in development. Ken is past president of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA), co-founder of the American Theatre Archive Project, and Artistic Director of Two Turns Theatre Company. Ken serves on the boards of New Light Theater Project, VideoOut, and Soul Slice and holds a Ph.D. in theatre history and criticism from the University of Washington.

Wendy C. Goldberg

(Director) has spent over 20 years leading the foremost programs in the development, direction, and the production of theatrical works. As Artistic Director of the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center for 18 seasons, under Goldberg's tenure the O'Neill was awarded the 2010 Regional Tony Award, the first play development and education organization to receive this honor, as well as the 2016 National Medal of Arts from the White House. Wendy's work is featured in the book The O'Neill: The Transformation of the Modern American Theater. She has overseen the development of more than 100 projects, which have gone on to receive numerous Tony Awards. She is the first woman to lead the conference in its 50-year history. Wendy has twice served as the Chair of the Jury for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Wendy is one of the leading directors in this country and contributors to the directing field, having served for 13 years on the Executive Board of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. Her directing credits include many world premieres, revivals, and musicals at some of the most esteemed theaters across the country, including Arena Stage, The Denver Center, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cincinnati Playhouse, The Guthrie, The Goodman, Signature, Center Stage, Alliance and Paper Mill Playhouse, among others. Ms. Goldberg has been represented on Broadway with Rock of Ages where she served as Creative Advisor. In 2019, Wendy founded TheFrontOffice, a theatrical and media development company. Wendy was hired to help direct the worldwide phenomenon Red Dead Redemption 2, the largest open world video game in the history of gaming and the best opening weekend for an entertainment product in the history of entertainment. She is in active development for On the Rise, about elite junior tennis in collaboration with LeBron James's media company. Wendy began her career at Arena Stage, where she was the company's Artistic Associate for 5 seasons, helping create and leading Arena's new play initiatives. Other than the theater's founder, she is the youngest director to have directed for Arena Stage in its 50-year history, making her main stage debut at the age of 26. Ms. Goldberg has directed in every major new play development program in the country. Wendy created The National Directors Fellowship at The O'Neill for the development of directors, a collaboration with the Kennedy Center, SDCF and the National New Play Network. Wendy was awarded 2 SDC "Standout Theatrical Moment of the Year Awards" for the program's commitment to diversity and inclusion. Wendy has been a guest instructor for all the leading MFA in playwriting and directing programs across the country and serves as a mentor to the third year and recent graduates in directing from the Yale School of Drama. Wendy is a Master Lecturer at Boston University's MFA in Directing Program. She is an honors graduate of the University of Michigan (BA) and holds a MFA in Directing from UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television where she received the distinguished alumni award in 2014.