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'Castronauts' Opens Tonight at NYMF


CASTRONAUTS, or How I Killed Fidel, a revolutionary new musical by Bobby Houston, Patricio Bisso and Randy Courts, will receive its world premiere as part of this year's 5th annual New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF). Directed and choreographed by Will Pomerantz, Castronauts runs September 16 through 28 at The Zipper Factory.
"El Club Voodoo" is an illegal cabaret on a side street in Havana  where impressaria "Lolita" presides over an unruly troupe of drag queens and dancing girls - until the night Castro himself decides to take a look. Farce turns to fiasco-and a desperate flight to Florida in a '56 Chevy.  CASTRONAUTS is a spicy blend-a witty backstage comedy and an unexpected profile in courage.
The production stars Hechter Ubarry (original Man of La Mancha) as Lolita, April Ortiz (orig. B'way cast of La Cage) as Mama, Nancy Ticotin (LCT's Bernarda Alba, B'way revival of WSS) as Sofia, Skie Ocasio (Bacardi), Guto Bittencourt (Brazilian productions of Les Mis and Chicago) as Ricky, Ngozi Anyanwu (Kiki), Terry Lavell (Amazona), and Candace Reyes Newton (Growing Up 70's) as Mercedes.
CASTRONAUTS design team includes lighting by Cory Pattak, sound by Chris Rummel, costumes by Lisa Renee Jordan, set by Brian Prather, and music direction, orchestrations and additional arrangements by Dimitri Nakhamkin. Kelly Furlough is production stage manager.  Castronauts is produced by Bobby Houston.
Bobby Houston (Book and Lyrics) is an Academy-Award-winning filmmaker,  who is making his New York theater debut with "Castronauts."  His most recent documentary, "Mighty Times: The Children's March" won the Academy Award in March 2005.  Previously, "Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks" was nominated for an Academy Award in 2003 and won an Emmy. Both films were produced by HBO and the Southern Poverty Law Center.  He has also written and directed narrative features and network television, and starred in the original Wes Craven horror classic,  "The Hills Have Eyes"
Patricio Bisso (Book) was born in Buenos Aires , Argentina , but moved to Brazil at age 17, where he started working, first as an illustrator, then as an actor/performer, costume and set designer, finally as a director of large-scale one-man shows. He did the costumes for the screen version of "Kiss of The Spider Woman", among more than twenty films. His alter-ego, Olga del Volga, a Russian orgasmologist, was a regular on a national soap and a phenomenon in Brazil . He is currently living in Argentina , with his mother, of course.
Randy Courts (Composer) collaborated with playwright/lyricist Mark St. Germain on the musicals The Gifts of the Magi (10 consecutive seasons at the Lambs Theater, two national tours, over 200 productions around the world); Johnny Pye and the Foolkiller (Lambs Theater, AT&T New Plays of the Nineties Award); Joseph and Mary (Los Angeles, Dallas, Indianapolis and in concert in New York, starring Kris Kristofferson); Jack's Holiday (Playwrights Horizons, three Outer Critics Circle Award nominations including best musical); The Book of the Dun Cow and The Gingerbread House. Courts and St. Germain also contributed songs to the review A ... My Name Is Still Alice and to Cass Morgan's True Home. In 2008, Randy's new musical The Magic Tree House will go on national tour, and Castronauts, Or: How I Killed Fidel will receive its world premiere at the NYMF in September.
Will Pomerantz (Director/Choreographer) has developed many new plays and musicals in New York and regionally. He has directed presentations for NAMT and NMTN, and has been associated with such organizations as The Signature Theatre, The Studio Theatre, The Pittsburgh Public, The Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Denver Center, The Mark Taper Forum, New Dramatists, Soho Rep, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The American Music Theatre Festival, and New York Theatre Workshop. He is currently Director-in-Residence for The Culture Project/45 Bleecker, where he has recently overseen the production of Guantanomo by Victoria Brittain and Gillian Slovo, directed by Nicolas Kent and Sacha Wares, and directed Julia Jordan's Tatiana in Color: The Trial of Egon Schiele. Will recently directed a full-scale revival of Gershwin's political satire "Of Thee I Sing" at Bard College . Will has been a guest artist for The Juilliard School (three seasons), The National Theatre Conservatory at The Denver Center, Purchase College Conservatory Acting Program, The Atlantic Theatre Company School, and Louisiana College .
About The New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF):
Hailed as "the Sundance of Musical Theatre," The New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) exists to revitalize one of America's greatest art forms by discovering, supporting and promoting new musical theater artists, producers, and projects, and by introducing a diverse audience to the vibrancy of contemporary musical theater. Since its inception in 2004, the three-week annual festival has premiered more than 130 new musicals - many of which have gone on to award-winning productions in New York, in regional theaters and on tour in 38 states, and nine countries worldwide. NYMF 2004 hit Altar Boyz has played well over 1,000 performances off-Broadway and is now in its fourth year at New World Stages; fellow NYMF alum [title of show] opened in July 2008 at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway.

Widely regarded as the essential source for new material and talent discovery, NYMF is the flagship program of The National Music Theater Network, a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization, and is presented in association with and, and is supported by amNewYork, Barnes & Noble Booksellers,,, King Displays, Panasonic Astrovision, and TheMENEvent. NYMF is supported, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

Festival memberships are on sale now and can be purchased online at or by calling (212) 352-3101; single tickets ($20) went on sale on September 1. For more information, visit


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