Kenita R. Miller, Julia Murney and More Will Take Part in WATCHER IN THE WOODS Reading

The reading is Thursday, April 25, 2024.

By: Apr. 22, 2024
Kenita R. Miller, Julia Murney and More Will Take Part in WATCHER IN THE WOODS Reading
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Producers announced today an industry reading of the new musical in development WATCHER IN THE WOODS, music by Johanna Telander, book & lyrics by Douglas Thompson, music direction by Brian Walters, directed by Saki Kawamura, based on the 1976 novel by Florence Engel Randall. The reading is Thursday, April 25 at 12:00 and 3:30pm at Urban Stages (259 West 30th Street). By invitation only.

The industry reading of WATCHER IN THE WOODS will feature Elise F. Daniells as “Saundra,” Allyson Hernandez as “Kate,” Julie James as “Mrs. Thayer,” Colin Kane as “Mark/Marcus,” Charlotte MacLeod as “Ellie,” Jade McLeod as “Jan/Karen,” Kenita R. Miller as “Mrs. Fleming,” Julia Murney as “Mrs. Aylwood,” and Kelli Ruttle as “Stage Directions.”

A staged production of WATCHER IN THE WOODS is scheduled for Fall 2024. Dates, theater, and casting to be announced soon.Watcher in the Woods: A New Musical is a supernatural family drama; a ghost story and mystery, combining the spine-tingling thrills of Goosebumps with the emotional heart of The Secret Garden—a musical reminder that we must come together to carry on.

Summer. 1976. It’s been nearly a year, and Jan is still haunted by the traumatic loss of her father. Now, her mother has moved Jan and her little sister into a creepy old house, surrounded by dark woods. Here, the haunting is real.

Forces she cannot see, and feelings that are not hers, compel Jan to unlock the fifty-year-old mystery of a young girl's disappearance in the woods. Someone, or something, wants her to know the truth: the only way out of the woods ... is through.

Other adaptations of the 1976 novel include the 1980 Walt Disney Studios film, The Watcher in the Woods, starring Bette Davis, David McCallum, and Kyle Richards; and the 2017 Lifetime remake, starring Anjelica Huston, directed by Melissa Joan Hart. Watcher in the Woods: A New Musical is an all-original work, solely based on, and expanded from, the novel.

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ELISE F. DANIELLS (Saundra) is a classically trained opera and musical theatre artist, loving both worlds equally. Before moving to NYC in 2022, Elise spent her time studying, performing, and making fun TikTok videos in Arizona while obtaining her master’s degree in music during the pandemic. Her previous credits include Off-Broadway’s Harmony, The Color Purple (Squeak), the world premiere of the opera Southern Crossing, Dreamgirls (Lorrell), and Carmen (AZOpera Chorus). Follow her projects via the Pantera/Murphy Agency and @elisedaniellsmusic

ALLYSON HERNANDEZ (Kate) defines multi-passionate as an author, performer, composer, producer, executive coach, and mom. Her novel, Ballad of Dreams, was published in January 2022 through New Degree Press and is an Amazon #1 Best Seller and a new release in Musicals. The accompanying concept album of original music she composed, Ballad of Dreams, is available on all streaming platforms as well as an Audiobook which she co-narrated, on Audible and Applebooks. Allyson appeared on national TV on the “Tamron Hall” show where she was interviewed and performed her original song “It’s Never Too Late.” She produced an Industry Reading of Ballad of Dreams directed by Karen Carpenter. She originated the role of Audrey McKenna with Broadway veterans, Erin Davie, Hunter Parrish, Robb Sapp, Nicholas Rodriguez, and Alan H. Green. She performed and produced a sold-out album release concert at the Triad Theatre, in New York City. Off-Broadway / National Tour / Regional: If This Hat Could Talk (Apollo Theater), A Christmas Carol (Syracuse Stage), Women of the Wings Concert (54 Below; composer and performer). Her debut EP, “Soul Stories” is on Apple Music, YouTube, and Spotify. She has a BFA in Musical Theater from Syracuse University and is a proud Actors Equity Association, ASCAP, and Maestra member. She's also the Founder and President of AH Coaching Group which specializes in leadership development and Coaching for Women Executives. IG: @allysonhernandez_extra, @balladofdreamsthemusical

Julie James (Mrs. Thayer) has appeared on Broadway and around the world in numerous concerts, cabarets, theatre and recording projects. Julie is also an award-winning radio personality and Program Director at Sirius XM, curating all the music for the On Broadway and Metropolitan Opera Radio stations, and has hosted her talk show “Broadway Names with Julie James” for over a decade, taking her listeners on the town, backstage and into the studio for fun, lively conversations with the biggest and best of Broadway and beyond. Just some of the incredible talents who love visiting her show include Hugh Jackman, Julie Andrews, Sting, Rita Moreno, Steven Spielberg, Bryan Cranston, Cyndi Lauper, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Patti LuPone, Leslie Odom, Jr., Sarah Paulson, Idina Menzel, Isaac Mizrahi, Billy Porter, Sara Bareilles, Neil Patrick Harris & many others. Julie was honored to sit with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg at the Supreme Court, in one of her last interviews, January 2020. She also worked on in-studio projects at SXM with mega watt talents such as Barbra Streisand &Bette Midler, has sung numerous jingles & parody songs for The Howard Stern Show, and recently appeared with Conan O’Brien for the launch of his Team Coco Radio channel. Some of Julie’s favorite recent musical roles are Pennywise in Urinetown and The Witch in Into the Woods. She is also known as a go-to host for special events, on Broadway & across America, covers many red carpets including over 10 years of the TONY Awards, and is often called upon as an on-camera theatre expert for NBC, CBS, Google, NY1 and more. @julie_james

COLIN KANE (Mark/Marcus). Off-Broadway: Lighthouse The Musical (Thrapp Theatrics). Tour: Sex n' The City: The Parody Musical (Entertainment Events, Inc). Regional: A Christmas Carol (Portland Playhouse), Appropriate (Profile Theatre), Loch Lomond (Broadway Rose), The Rocky Horror Show (Lakewood Theatre Co.), A Year With Frog and Toad (Oregon Children's Theatre), and many more. An alumni of Portland State University, he would like to thank the arts educators in his life, his family, Taryn and Luma, and Grandpa Bill.

Charlotte MacLeod (Ellie) is a Sophomore at the famed Laguardia High School where she recently performed in Rising Stars 2024. She made her Off-Broadway debut in The Bedwetter as “Abby,” after booking the staged reading. Other credits include Broadway Close Up at Merkin Concert Hall, “Young Virginia” in a staged reading of Galileo at the Powerhouse Theater, and as a soloist at Bergen Performing Arts Center, Laurie Beechman Theater, and many other cabaret events. TV/Film: “Cyberchase: For Real” (PBS), “Saturday Night Live,” short film Margo and Perry, and several national commercials. Charlotte would like to thank her parents for their love and support, her manager Lisa Calli, and her agents Ellen and Rachel at Paradigm.

Jade McLeod (Jan/Karen) (they/them) is a proud Canadian, St Clair College graduate and brand-new New Yorker. They are thrilled to be bringing Jan’s story to life. National Tours: Jo in Jagged Little Pill. Selected Regional: Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Mamma Mia! (Stage West Calgary), “Veronica” in Heathers (We Are Here). Much love to my family, both chosen and otherwise, and every trans and queer person brave enough to be themselves. Follow the chaos: @jadeemcleod

Kenita R. Miller (Mrs. Fleming). Broadway: for colored girls… (Drama Desk, Drama League, & Tony nominations), Come From Away (Hannah), Once On This Island (Grammy nominated), The Color Purple (Celie), Xanadu. Off-Broadway: Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (Encores! Off-Center), Bella: An American Tall Tale (Playwrights Horizons), Merrily We Roll Along (Encores!), Wild Party (Encores!), Langston In Harlem (Drama Desk nomination; Audelco Award), Working (Drama Desk Award), Avenue Q. Regional: Parade (Barrymore Award Outstanding Featured Actress), Once On This Island (Timoune/Mama Euralie), Ragtime (Sarah). Film/TV: tick, tick…BOOM!, “Sesame Street,” “Bull,” “Hostages,” “Blacklist.”

Julia Murney (Mrs. Aylwood). Some green witch: appeared on Broadway as “Elphaba” in Wicked after playing the role on the national tour for which she received an Acclaim Award. Some other New York stuff: The Wild Party (Drama Desk nomination), Lennon, The Vagina Monologues, Falling (Drama Desk nomination), A Class Act, The Landing, Crimes of the Heart, Queen of the Mist, Time and Again (Lucille Lortel nomination), Baby, Between The Lines. Some TV: “Succession,” “Madam Secretary,” “30 Rock,” “Sex and the City,” “Brothers and Sisters,” all the Law and Orders, “First You Dream,” and about a gazillion voiceovers. Some film: Big Time Adolescence, Not Okay, The Report. She’s been appeared in or directed regionally in productions and solo concerts from Carnegie Hall to Sacramento, Maui to Malaysia, and a lot of spots in between. Some recordings: several original cast albums, the Grammy nominated Actor’s Fund Benefit of Hair and her first solo album, “I’m Not Waiting,” available on iTunes. Insta:@pepamama

Kelli Ruttle (Stage Directions). Off-Broadway: Bill W. and Dr. Bob (Soho Playhouse). NY Theatre: Cherry Jam (Burning House Company/IRT), A Tale of Troy (NY Shakespeare Exchange). Regional: select credits include Tartuffe (La Jolla Playhouse, Des McAnuff dir.); Ten Chimneys, The Life of Galileo, Cloud 9 (Cleveland Play House); Hamlet (Idaho Shakespeare Festival). Film/TV: “The Food That Built America,” Gunfight at Yuma, Sonnet 10, Skinned. M.F.A. from CWRU/CPH, alumna of BADA.Saki Kawamura (Director) is an NYC-based theatre/film director originally from Japan. As an immigrant artist, her works reflect an international viewpoint, which incorporates eastern culture and values, as she aims to create theatrical experiences which will build bridges across cultures. Recent directing credit includes: ICEBERG (Ren Gyo Soh), The Sugar Plant, Everest (Chain Theatre), Grown-ups, The Giving Tree (Unfix NYC), The Man Who Turned Into A Stick, Spite, Margaret’s Bed, The Librarian (ASDS Rep). Associate/Assistant credit includes: The Cher Show (1st National Tour), Murder on the Orient Express (Paper Mill Playhouse), JOY: A NEW MUSICAL (George Street Playhouse), Clue (Paper Mill Playhouse), A Jolly Holiday: Celebrating Disney's Broadway Hits (Paper Mill Playhouse) and Mystic Pizza (Ogunquit Playhouse). Saki is currently the Associate Artistic Director of Ren Gyo Soh, an award- winning butoh theatre company in NYC. A member of Roundabout Directors Group Cohort 5. MFA Directing at Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University.

Brian Walters (Music Director) is a NYC based Music Director, Pianist, Conductor, and Composer. Off-Broadway: Des Moines (Theatre for a New Audience). Selected productions and presentations: The Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Kalevala: the musical, In the Heights, Hello Again, A Little Night Music, Cabaret, Heathers. Brian has served as Music Director and Pianist for National Theater Institute at The Eugene O’Neill Theater Institute, Goodspeed Opera House, The Acting Company, Theatre SilCo, ArtsPower Touring Theater, Montclair State University, and the New Studio on Broadway at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Concert performances at Lincoln Center, The Kimmel Center, NJPAC, Hudson Theater, Jazz @ Lincoln Center and more throughout the US and Canada. Brian is an award winning composer; recent compositions include orchestral scores for stage adaptations of Frankenstein and Macbeth.

Johanna Telander (Music), a Finnish-American singer-songwriter and composer, began her career as a Finnish teen pop star signed under Universal Music Group, and in the nearly two decades since, she has written for film, tv, radio, theatre, and performed in legendary NYC venues, from The Bitter End to Lincoln Center to The United Nations. She is currently working on three stage musicals in development, releasing her first solo songwriting album, and weaving her unique music touch into film scores, including the award winning indie short, Gray Land. Her latest single, "For You to Know," is igniting the indie music scene, while Kalevala The Musical”, Johanna’s debut musical, has reached international acclaim both in and outside of theater communities around the globe, with its concept album having been listened to in over 100 countries. Other career highlights include performing with Residente and Bad Bunny on the "Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon”, and portraying a Dutch Actress on 30 Rock. She is also a published poet, with her most recently released book of poems, A Deep Blue Green Song, available in most places books are sold. @telanderjohanna @johannatelander

DOUGLAS THOMPSON (Book/Lyrics, Producer) is an NYC-based writer, producer, and performer. Most recently, Douglas adapted and produced the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Disney’s The Happiest Millionaire at Joe’s Pub, starring Lesley Ann Warren (Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella) and Joyce Bulifant (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), reprising their film roles, alongside Brooke Shields, Dana Ivey, Tonya Pinkins, Brad Oscar, Nicholas Barasch, Luca Padovan, Sam Poon, Cherish Myers, and a special video appearance by John Davidson. Douglas wrote, produced, and starred in his one-man show, Dougie Who: A Live Rock n’ Roll Adventure Through Time and Space, inspired by Doctor Who and the music of David Bowie, originated the role of Billy in Daryl Roth's Off-Broadway production of Dear Edwina, and toured nationally as lead conman, Freddy Benson, in the Tony-winning musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Douglas is a proud graduate of the Texas State University Theatre program.

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