MultiStages Presents World Premiere of TEMPLE OF THE SOULS, 12/8-23


MultiStages will present the world premiere of TEMPLE OF THE SOULS, with book & libretto by Anita Velez-Mitchell, music composed by Dean Landon & Anika Paris, orchestrations & arrangements by Dean Landon & additional lyrics by Anika Paris. Opening at The West End Theatre & running from December 8-23, TEMPLE OF THE SOULS is Directed & Developed by Lorca Peress, with Musical Direction by Bruce Baumer, Choreography by Milteri Tucker, Costume Design by Mark Richard Caswell, Scenic Design by Yanko Bakulic, Lighting Design by Alex Moore, Mask Design by Kyla McHale, Sound Design by Josh Millican & Production Stage Manager, Jessica V. Urtecho.* TEMPLE OF THE SOULS tells the story of Amada & Guario, two young lovers in a forbidden union during the culture war between the Spaniards & the nearly-extinct Taínos of Puerto Rico.

The creative team behind this multilingual (English, Spanish, Taíno) Musical Drama are three women with a special connection – Anita Velez-Mitchell & her two granddaughters, Anika Paris & Lorca Peress. At 95, Anita Velez-Mitchell is still an active creative force in the world of both theatre & the written word, an accomplishment that is not lost on either of her granddaughters: Anika Paris, an award-winning composer & lyricist & Lorca Peress, not only the Artistic Director of MultiStages, but the Director & Developer of this amazing production, TEMPLE OF THE SOULS.

Featured in this AEA Approved Showcase Production are Jen Anaya* Kenneth Kyle Martinez, Robmariel Olea, Ricardo Puente* & Joshua Torrez* with Theresa Burns, Victor Cervantes, Raquel Faria, Bradley D. Gale* Giselle Gastell, Randall Marquez, Laura Riveros, Laura Lebron-Rojas, Alexis Sweeney & Patrick Valley. The multicultural Artistic Company represents Puerto Rico, Spain, Portugal, South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada & the US. This world premiere production includes contemporary, traditional music, dance, masks, puppetry & Matinee Talk backs on Taíno culture.

Anita Velez- Mitchell (Book/Libretto) is a poet, writer & performer from Vieques, PR. She appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” at Carnegie Hal & in nightclubs as a solo artist, her career culminating in 1963, as Anita in West Side Story, returning in 1972 as dance coach for the Lincoln Center revival. Her many awards include 2011 Family Pride Award (Inst. of Puerto Rico for the Elderly) “Poet of the Year” (Puerto Rico’s Julia de Burgos Poetry Prize for bilingual, book-length poem, Primavida: Calendar of Love, 1986, Mairena Press); Primavida (Association of Puerto Rican Writers & Poets Award & University Press Award); Prince of Asturias Award for Belles Lettres; Partners in Education Award; Center of Ibero-American Poets & Writers Awards in short story, poetry, essay & drama; Isaac Perez Award (1994); Thanks Be To Grandmother Winifred Foundation Grant; “2000 Woman of the Year” (National Conference of Puerto Rican Women in the USA). Publications include bilingual poetry, short stories, plays, essays, translations, novelette Loco de Amor, a Vieques tale published in 2006; A Newyorican Tale premiered for Danisarte at Julia de Burgos Center in 2009. She is the subject of two documentaries, received the Proclamation from NYC in 2006 & has addressed the UN General Assembly several times on behalf of Vieques, PR.

Anika Paris (Composer, Additional Lyrics) is a singer/songwriter & recipient of ASCAP’s Abe Oleman Scholarship at the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Nashville’s City Song Festival & ASCAP’s Pop Plus Award for the past seven years. A published songwriter with Universal Polygram & Warner Bros, her songs are featured in major motions pictures starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Affleck, Mariah Carey, Mira Sorvino & John Turturro, & on soundtracks alongside Carly Simon, Dido, Belinda Carlisle & Six Pence None the Richer. She has also released three solo CD’s (EAR/Sony, Warner Brothers London, Abbeylane Records). Anika is the only female composer for Telepictures Television shows (“Ellen,” “Extra,” “The Tyra Banks Show,” “Bachelor,” “TMZ”) & has songs on Lifetime, MTV, HBO’s “Sex in the City” & the Gracie Allen Award-winning documentary Dancing Through Life. As a performer, she has been a musical guest on TV’s “Late Night with Craig Kilborn,” “Latin Explosion” (with Christina Aguilera and Ricky Martin), “Celebrity Justice,” toured Canada, the states & even performed for the Royal Princess of Thailand. She had the honor of sharing the stage with legendary Stevie Wonder, John Legend & John Mayer in an MI & HPA benefit concert. She is a published poet with Kansas City Star, Helicon Nine Editions, Gival Press, Soft Blow Poetry & soon to be three-generation poetry book with Scapegoat Press featuring poems by Anika, her mother, Gloria Vando & her grandmother, Anita Velez-Mitchell.

Dean Landon (Composer, Arranger, Orchestrator) is a double platinum & gold Award-winning songwriter/producer & staff writer for Warner Bros. His credits include Roch Voisine’s Higher CD - By Myself (#1 Canadian charts); double Platinum CD for Kissing Rain, Gold CD for Chaque Feu, With These Eyes (translated into French, Ne Viens Pas, Europe/Canada over 200,000 copies); producer/co-songwriting for Edel America/Sony artist Anika Paris - It’s About (sold over 250,000 in Germany & Belgium); I’m No Ordinary Girl (Miramax movie Bounce, Gwyneth Paltrow & Ben Affleck), Gold selling Arista Soundtrack; N Love N Love (sci-fi movie The Calling), John Turturro movie Fear X, Two Tickets to Paradise (John C. McGinley and D.B. Sweeney), Wise Girls (Mariah Carey, Mira Sorvino) & producer on Anika Paris’ Chocolate & Wine. Co-producer with twin Chris Landon for Tayrn & Taylor Dayne, Narada Michael Walden, Jose Quintana, Richie Zito, Guy Roch; produced/wrote for BMG, Arista Records, Universal, Warner Bro’s & Sony artists. TV credits include “Oprah,” “Extra,” “American Idol,” “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” “The Sharon Osbourne Show,” “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette,” “Dr. Keith Ablow Show,” “Judge Mathis,” “Headliners and Legends,” TBS Movies, High School Reunion, Surviving Motherhood, Paramount Pictures, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, ABC Sports, GM Motors, TNT, Molson Indie CFL Grey Cup & Global Television.

Lorca Peress (MultiStages Artistic Director) specializes in multicultural & multidisciplinary theatre. She founded MultiStages in 1997, has directed the majority of its productions & has acted in & designed others. Her recent credits are Black Girl You’ve Been Gentrified at Joe’s Pub, Alcestis (American Thymele), LPTW New Play Fests (w/Kathleen Chalfant at The Cherry Lane, Kathryn Layng at New World Stages) & Lincoln Bicentennial Concert (w/Queens College, Ruby Dee & Sam Waterston at Riverside Church). She teaches at Strasberg & NYU-Strasberg Studio & was a curator for NYU hotINK Festivals for nine seasons. She has been a Judge & Panelist for theatre companies & organizations. She is a graduate of Bennington College, NTI & the recipient of the La MaMa Inky Award, N.W. Dible Foundation Grants, Manhattan Community Arts Grants from LMCC & DOCA, Dramatist Guild Fund & Jewish Communal Fund Grants. She is Co-President of the League of Professional Theatre Women & an SDC member.

Since 1997, MultiStages has presented over thirty new works in productions, readings, festivals & six New Works Contests. Its mission is to encourage new collaborations between emerging/established playwrights & artists (from within & outside the theatre arena), to develop new artistic ideas & to produce new multicultural, multidisciplinary works that include elements of art forms not traditionally found in plays. By supporting these cross-collaborations, new works are created that enrich, explore, & reinvent the world of theatre.

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