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American Idol's Guarini to Star in Reading of New Musical March 23

American Idol runner-up, Justin Guarini, will star in the industry only Equity staged reading of the new musical THE AWAKENING OF ANGEL DeLUNA - with book & lyrics by Judylynn Schmidt, and music & lyrics by Lee Ellis - produced by Kate Griffler on Monday, March 23rd at Theater 80 (80 St. Mark's Place) at 3:00pm & 7:00pm. Tracy Bersley directs and Barbara Anselmi acts as music director.

Set in a Hoboken Circus during the Great Depression, THE AWAKENING OF ANGEL DeLUNA weaves the enchanting tale of Angelina "Angel" DeLuna, a fallen trapeze star whose faith is tested when a mystical stranger comes to dismantle her beloved carousel. As Angel's carousel world comes crashing down around her - the lives of the entire circus troupe are forever changed as together they learn what truly matters in life.

The cast for the Equity staged reading of THE AWAKENING OF ANGEL DeLUNA includes: Bethe B. Austin in the title role, Justin Guarini, Vayu O'Donnell, Dan Sharkey and Kirby Ward.  Ms. Austin was recently seen opposite Chita Rivera and George Hearn in Kander and Ebb's THE VISIT. Mr. Guarini - the first season American Idol runner up to Kelly Clarkson - starred opposite Ms. Clarkson in the 2003 film "From Justin to Kelly." Mr. O'Donnell recently appeared in The Essentials' production of PERFECT HARMONY. Mr. Sharkey last appeared on Broadway in the 2000 revival of THE MUSIC MAN, and appeared on Broadway in the Harold Prince helmed SHOWBOAT. Mr. Kirby is an Olivier Award Nominee for Best Actor and a Helen Hayes Award Nominee for Best Actor for his portrayal of Bobby Child in CRAZY FOR YOU. Lighting design is by Jen Schriever.

Judylynn Schmidt (Book & Lyrics) originated THE AWAKENING OF ANGEL DeLUNA as a play which was workshopped through The New Jersey Playwrights Workshop, and received staged readings throughout New Jersey. THE AWAKENING OF ANGEL DeLUNA was presented as a full musical with composer and co-lyricist Lee Ellis at a Staged Reading at the Dramatist Guild in 2007.  Ms. Schmidt's play THE LAST LAUGH was performed at Amandla Theatre in Howell New Jersey.  She is the author of the one-act play IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE CAROUSEL, and RATTLED (co-authored with Damion Kirk). Along with Kate Griffler, she is co-author of the story "Live Your Life," featured in the Best Selling book, "Chicken Soup for the Survivor's Soul."  

Lee Ellis (Music & Lyrics) began performing professionally with the Light Opera of Manhattan, appearing in Theatre, Television, Film and entertaining audiences in cabarets worldwide - including two years as the singer/pianist on the Four-Masted Sailing Ship, "Sea Cloud." While working with Tony Award winning producer John Glines in the STAMP OUT AIDS project, Mr. Ellis co-produced the first series of benefits for Broadway Cares with his writing partner Tug Wilson. Mr. Ellis has two CD's of his original music available - "Michael" and "Return to Love." 

Tracy Bersley's (Director) directing credits include: NOT A PIPE DREAM (The Vineyard Theatre); TIBET: THROUGH THE RED BOX (HERE, Lincoln Center Lab); RAPPACCINI's DAUGHTER (Jim Henson Festival); THE WINTER'S TALE and A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (McCarter Theatre for Princeton University); a reverse gender production of MACBETH (Syracuse Stage); ALICE IN WONDERLAND, THE GREEN BIRD, LOOKING FOR TIBET, and MEASURE FOR MEASURE (Purchase Repertory). Ms. Bersley's choreography credits include: PARIS COMMUNE for the Civilians at The Public Theater; LOVE CHILD (Primary Stages); JANE EYRE and THE TEMPEST (The Acting Company); ROMEO & JULIET (Williamstown Theatre Festival); and ST. JOAN OF THE STOCKYARDS (P.S. 122). Ms. Bersley completed a directing residency for the 1999-2000 season at McCarter Theatre collaborating with such artists as Sam Shepard, David Mamet and Emily Mann. She is a Drama League Fellow.

Barbara Anselmi's (Music Director) credits include THE AUDIENCE (Transport Group, Drama Desk Nominee Best New Musical); BABES IN TOYLAND (Avery Fisher Hall, vocal director), DR. DOLITTLE; MYSTERY OF KING TUT; NATE THE GREAT; MAX AND RUBY (Theatreworks USA) MY FAVORITE YEAR; ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT (Musicals Tonight!) Ms. Anselmi is the resident musical director for the monthly series Monday Night New Voices, produced by composer Scott Alan and has arranged and orchestrated several numbers on "Keys," Scott's soon to be released CD.  

Cesa Entertainment/Jamie Cesa (General Manager) currently produces and general manages Carrie Fisher's one-woman show, Wishful Drinking.  Broadway: produced KIKI & HER: ALIVE ON BROADWAY (2007 Tony Award ® nomination "Best Special Theatrical Event").  Off-Broadway:  produced and general managed LOS BIG NAMES (2006 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominee) and currently produces NAKED BOYS SINGING! (Top 10 Longest Running Show in Off-Broadway History).  

Kate Griffler's (Producer/Angel Wings NYC LLC) recent producing credits include Lane & Co.'s production of O! BALLETTO (International Fringe Festival), Garnica Leimay's ANTIGONES (part of Joyce Soho Presents), and BECOMING, an artist exchange performance and dance program (hosted by CAVE and a-core-dance arts). Ms. Griffler's other producing credits include:  SENSE WHEEL Productions (Kobe Fashion Museum, Japan), and The NYC/MEX Festival de la Ciudad Tour (hosted by danscores by Ofelia Loret de Mola). Ms. Griffler is co-curator and producer of the Reverb Festival held annually at the Ailey Citigroup Theater. She is also a freelance dancer and choreographer whose work has been shown at the Ailey Citigroup Theater, Sullivan St. Theater, TANK, The Gershwin Hotel, and the Akashi Arts center.

For additional information, including inquires about ticketing, regarding the industry-only concert readings of THE AWAKENING OF ANGEL DeLUNA please call 347-442-1106 or email

Bethe B. Austin (Angel DeLuna) was most recently seen opposite Chita Rivera and George Hearn in Kander and Ebb's THE VISIT (nine Helen Hayes nominations, including Best Musical & Best Ensemble). Broadway credits include: SLY FOX (opposite Robert Preston); WHOOPEE; ONWARD VICTORIA (opposite Jill Eikenberry); RAGGEDY ANN (directed by Pat Birch); and NOISES OFF (opposite Dorothy Louden - Drama Desk Award for Best Ensemble). Off-Broadway credits include: OLYMPUS ON MY MIND; ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (Theaterworks USA); IRON CURTAIN; PASTORALE (Second Stage); ZERO POSITIVE (Public Theater); and David Ive's ALL IN THE TIMING. Ms. Austin received a Barrymore Award for Best Supporting Actress in Larry Gatlin's musical TEXAS FLYER.

Justin Guarini (Fred),  Philadelphia native and American Idol Season One runner-up, co-hosts TV Guide Network's weekly series "Idol Tonight" - the exclusive pre-show to American Idol - he also co-hosts "Reality Chat: Idol Wrap," TV Guide Network's weekly in-studio talk show. In addition to his hosting duties for TV Guide Network, Mr. Guarini returns as a weekly video blogger for "Fancast," Comcast's premiere online entertainment site.  He currently stars in season three of CMT's highest-rated original series "Gone Country," alongside legendary artists such as Sheila E. and George Clinton, and hosts a twenty-minute pre-show video recorded exclusively for the new American Idol Experience attraction at Walt Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida. Since starring on American Idol, Mr. Guarini participated in the national Idols Live! Tour and performed for sold out audiences across the country.  Mr. Guarini completed two studio albums including "Justin Guarini" produced by RCA Records and Clive Davis, and "Stranger Things Have Happened," and is currently working on his third album.  He also starred in the films "From Justin to Kelly" with Kelly Clarkson and "Fast Girl" with Mircea Monroe and Caroline Rhea.  

Vayu O'Donnell's (Mike) credits include DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION (Les Freres/Ohio Theater); PERFECT HARMONY (Theatre Row); TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA (Poor Tom Productions); ON THE LEVEE (Epic Theatre); NOBODY LIKES THE MORMONS (ARS Nova); THE HIDDEN SKY (Prospect Theater Co.); PRIEST IN A POOL (Slant/The Tank); EDWARD II and TAMBURLAINE (Shakespeare Theater D.C.); SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH (Williamstown Theatre Festival); and TRIPLE TAKE (Yale Rep).

Dan Sharkey (Deuce). Broadway credits Susan Stroman's revival of THE MUSIC MAN, and Harold Prince's SHOWBOAT. Off-Broadway credits include: CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS (MTC); PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (The Lambs); ILLYRIA (Prospect Theater Co.); and Lone Star Love. National Tours: GRAND HOTEL and THE Will Rogers FOLLIES (both directed by Tommy Tune); and THE SOUND OF MUSIC (opposite Marie Osmond). Mr. Sharkey appeared in the title role of The Guthrie production of SWEENEY TODD.

Kirby Ward (Ollie Blatsky) received both an Olivier Award nomination and a Helen Hayes Award nomination for originating the role of Bobby Child in CRAZY FOR YOU. Mr. Ward was last seen on Broadway opposite Karen Ziemba in NEVER GONNA DANCE. He appeared as Bob Hope at the Library of Congress' 100th Birthday celebration of the comic's life. Mr. Ward has performed opposite such luminaries as Debbie Reynolds, Phyllis Diller, Shecky Green and Bill Cosby.

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