Karen Mason and Marni Nixon to Star in Reading of New Musical A WOMAN ON TOP, 7/9-10

By: Jun. 19, 2014
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A Woman on Top , the new musical for both sides of the aisle inspired by the current political climate, will have a special industry reading next month. The reading will star Karen Mason -- Drama Desk-nominated Broadway star of Wonderland, Mamma Mia and Sunset Boulevard, as well as a prolific concert and recording artist -- and be directed by Dan Knechtges (Lysistrata Jones, Tony Award nominee for Xanadu choreography). The show has music by Rhonda Kess, and lyrics by Rhonda Kess and Dale Kiken and a book by Dale Kiken. The reading will take place on Wednesday, July 9 at 3:00 PM and Thursday, July 10 at 2:00 PM at The New 42nd Street Studios (229 West 42nd Street). Industry members interested in attending should email AWOTrsvp@gmail.com and indicate their affiliation.

In the show, Senator Virginia Stanton has had it all: career, marriage, family, success, and divorce. Reaching toward her ultimate goal, Virginia seeks the Presidential nomination of her party while her ex-husband, Governor George Reitman, seeks the same for the opposition leaving them locked in a series of political arm wrestling matches that tests them both.

The Ghost of English Suffragette Minnie Lansbury makes a surprise visit to the "green room," leading Virginia through a series of dreams of her life's journey. Minnie reminds Virginia of the great support and solace she received from her immigrant Grandfather Max who, as it turns out, shared some history with Minnie back in England. The Ghosts of some famous American Suffragettes also appear to bolster Minnie's tale. Having raised her daughter Lindsey as a single mother, Virginia confronts the difficulties of a teenager from a split family who yearns for a mother and not a politician. Who will win this tugging match between Virginia and George? And will there be a clear winner?

The cast also includes Frank Vlastnik (Broadway: Big, The Sweet Smell of Success, A Year with Frog & Toad), Marni Nixon (Broadway: Nine, Follies; Film: The King and I, West Side Story, My Fair Lady) and Sarah Cetrulo (The Black Suits by Joe Iconis).

For more information and song samples, visit www.awomanontopmusical.com.

KAREN MASON Broadway: Wonderland, Hairspray, Mamma Mia!(Drama Desk nom), Sunset Boulevard (NY, LA),Jerome Robbins' Broadway, Torch Song Trilogy, Play Me A Country Song. Off-Broadway: Unfinished Business (written by Karen Mason & Barry Kleinbort, Kander and Ebb's And the World Goes Round, Carnival(Drama Desk nom), Karen Mason Sings Broadway, Beatles and Brian. Regional: Wonderland (David A. Straz PAC, The Alley-Houston), White Christmas (St. Louis Muni Opera, world premiere), Side by Side... (Coconut Grove Playhouse), Gypsy (Sundance Theatre). Awards: 10 MACs, 3 Bistros, 1 Nightlife Award. CDs: Right Here, Right Now(MAC 2009 CD of the Year), Sweetest of Nights, When The Sun Comes Out, Better Days(1998 Emmy Award), Not So Simply Broadway, Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!. TV: L&O, L&O SVU.

RHONDA KESS is a composer that started her musical career as a Conductor/Pianist, conducting opera and Musical Theater in the States and the UK. Specializing in contemporary opera and Musical Theater, Ms. Kess founded the Music Theater Company The New Music Settings Ensemble, which specialized in contemporary and 20th century staged works. Specializing in the American musicals of Kurt Weill, Ms. Kess was the Music Director for the new concert version of Johnny Johnson, with a new text by Tony Kushner, which was first performed in Merkin Hall. Rhonda went on to conduct this version in Royal Festival Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, making this the British premiere of Weill's Johnny Johnson. Rhonda conducted the British premiere of Weill's Knickerbocker Holiday at the Barbican Centre with the English Chamber Orchestra and soloists, in her own concert version. Other premieres included selections from Weill's Lady in the Dark and The Seven Deadly Sins.' While living in London Miss Kess taught Musical Theater at Trinity College of Music, and served as Education and Music Theater Conductor for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. At Trinity Rhonda put on musicals every season, including The Music Man, Flower Drum Song, Gypsy, Oklahoma! and Fiddler On the Roof. Rhonda was the first woman to conduct the London Sinfonietta in Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the first woman to conduct in Mexico City, conducting the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico as part of the Prokofiev Centennial. Rhonda first conducted in New York at Merkin Hall as part of the first New York International Festival of the Arts, leading members of the Brooklyn Philharmonic and soloists in the New York premiere of Harrison Birtwistle's chamber opera Punch and Judy. As an active vocal coach in Los Angeles working with singers and actors, Rhonda appeared on "The Tonight Show" with rapper Ludacris, with both of them trying to teach Jay Leno how to sing. Rhonda holds degrees in Orchestral Conducting and Opera/Vocal Coaching from the USC School of Music and the Mozarteum. With the New Music Settings Ensemble she has received grant awards from The National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council.

DALE KIKEN was born and raised in Colorado where he inherited a good ear and a love for music and musical theater from his mother, a well-known local vocalist. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Psychology with a minor in Computer Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Dale relocated to California where he received his Juris Doctor Degree from Pepperdine University School of Law at Malibu. Dale practices law in Southern California where he currently focuses upon litigated estates, trusts, conservatorships, and guardianships, although his experience has also included corporations, securities, real estate, international law and entertainment law. Dale and Rhonda Kess met at a Jewish Film Festival where they became partners in creative crime. A Woman on Top is their second collaboration. Their first, Lost and Found - The Trial of Saint Bernadette premiered in Los Angeles in 2013 at Saint Finbar Church and will be staged next year in Ventura, CA. Dale has also written the upcoming romantic murder mystery novel The Long Dance, and is completing the first of two books chronicling his travel adventures.

DAN KNECHTGES Lysistrata Jones (Direction & Choreography), Xanadu (directed by Chris Ashley, Tony nomination, Drama Desk nomination), Sondheim on Sondheim (directed by James Lapine), 110 in The Shade (starring Audra McDonald) and The 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee (directed by James Lapine.) Dan also choreographed the Off-Broadway incarnation of The 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee at Second Stage, which earned him a Lucille Lortel Award nomination. Off-Broadway credits include directing the play Tail! Spin! (starring Mo Rocca and Rachel Dratch) for the 2012 Fringe Festival, Merrily We Roll Along for Encores! at City Center (directed by James Lapine), Vanities at Second Stage and directing and choreographing Lysistrata Jones for the Transport Group. Other credits include Der Schuh Das Manitu (Berlin, Germany), Guys & Dolls (Great Lakes Theatre Festvial), The Nightingale (LaJolla Playhouse), Vanities (Theatreworks Palo Alto), Give It Up! (Dallas Theatre Center), Girl In The Frame (Goodspeed), Boys From Syracuse (Centerstage Baltimore), Godspell (Papermill Playhouse). Dan's choreography can be seen in the Todd Solondz's movie Palindromes, Dark Horse , White Collar on USA Network, The 2011 TV Land Awards with Liza Minnelli, and in Fatboy Slim's music video "It's a Wonderful Night," which reached #1 in the U.K. For more information visit www.danknechtges.com

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