New Cast Members Join 45th Anniversary Production of NIGHTCLUB CANTATA

Almeria Campbell has replaced Noreen Crayton. New cast members include Jesse Manocherian and Matthew Liu.

By: Apr. 21, 2022
New Cast Members Join 45th Anniversary Production of NIGHTCLUB CANTATA

With performances beginning April 23rd, Nancy Manocherian's the cell theatre and Nightclub Cantata LLC, by special arrangement with Concord Theatricals, will present Elizabeth Swados' 1977 breakout sensation Nightclub Cantata, a provocative, eclectic and heralded theatrical creation rarely seen since its inception decades ago. Bill Castellino directs and choreographs. Cast members include Almeria Campbell, Victoria Casillo, Jesse Manocherian, Matthew Liu, Sarah Nandola, Pearl Rhein (B'way: Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812), Noah Ruebeck, Hansel Tan, and Miles Whitaker. Twenty-five performances will be staged from April 23 - May 22, 2022, at Nancy Manocherian's the cell theatre, 338 West 23rd Street, New York, NY 11201.

Based on texts by Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda and other poets, Nightclub Cantata is a joyful song cycle of world literature about survival: what compels us back to life and to living as one. Created by innovator, activist and theatre icon Elizabeth Swados, the eclectic evening of sound, literature, poetry, and bold physicality melds to intrigue, provoke, and engage the listener. Whimsical, intense, insightful and singular, Nightclub Cantata is a theatrical creation combining what Swados called "the seriousness of a cantata with the frivolousness of a nightclub." The ground-breaking work premiered at The Village Gate in 1977 and has not been seen on the NYC stage for over 40 years! It is born of the avant-garde tradition of the 1960s and 70s, yet it is fresh, vital and relevant to our lives today.

"I want to find words for music, words that will not make either bad poetry or easy emotions. I've been trying to make the form of the song more theatrical," said Swados. "I am first and foremost interested in language, whether it's English or not. I'm interested in getting to emotions through sound, stories and pictures."

Preview performances are April 23-May 1, 2022 - Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. (plus Sunday, April 24 at 8:00 p.m.). Opening Night is Monday, May 2, 2022 at 8:00 p.m. Regular Performances are May 5-May 22, 2022 - Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays at 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays at 3:00 p.m.

Tickets are $35-$75 and can be purchased by visiting:

The runtime is 75 minutes with no intermission.

COVID-19 Policy: Vaccination information, including booster shot info, will be screened at the door to ensure this performance meets safety regulations that match that of New York City's cultural establishments. All guests must wear masks unless actively eating or drinking.

Elizabeth "Liz" Swados (creator) (1951-2016) composed, wrote and directed over 30 theater pieces, including The Trilogy, The Red Sneaks, Nightclub Cantata, Runaways, Alice in Concert, Doonesbury, Rap Master Ronnie, The Haggadah, Jewish Girlz, Jonah, Job, Esther, Jerusalem (with Yehudah Amichai), The 49 Years and Missionaries. Her work has been performed at The Flea Theater, La MaMa, The Public Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, on Broadway, Off-Broadway, at regional theaters throughout the United States, and at locations all over the world. She also published novels, non-fiction books, children's books and poetry.

Recent productions of Swados' work have included Atonement, a theatrical oratorio presented by the Cathedral of St. John the Divine; her own adaptation of S. Ansky's The Dybbuk at NYU/Tisch; Spider Operas at PS122 (with Mabou Mines) and Political Subversities, a political revue presented in two Culture Project festivals and at Joe's Pub. My Depression: A Picture Book, was published in April 2005, and her theater textbook, At Play: Teaching Teenagers Theater, was published by Faber & Faber in June 2006.

Ms. Swados recorded a children's CD, Everyone is Different, in conjunction with Forward Face in March 2007. Her other work on new musicals included Kaspar Hauser, Piano Bar and an evening of Roald Dahl poetry set to music. She was a faculty member at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Her awards include Five Tony nominations, three Obie Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Ford Grant, a Lila Acheson Wallace Grant, a PEN Citation and others. The Liz Swados Project, a recording of musical selections from over 30 years of her career, was released in 2020 and is available from Ghostlight Records.

Bill Castellino (director/choreographer) performed in the Boston cast of Nightclub Cantata directed by Swados. He also directed the West Coast Premiere and the 10th Anniversary Production - both collecting rave reviews and numerous awards. Castellino has directed more works from the Swados' cannon than any other director. These shows include: Lullaby and Goodnight, Rap Master Ronnie, Alice on Concert, Esther (nationally and internationally), and the world premiere of We Are Not Strangers. He has directed and choreographed Off-Broadway, National and International Tours, regionally all over the USA, and on television. He has written eight musicals and produced dozens of special events. Castellino has directed these World Premieres: Cagney, Passion Nation, Soulmates, The Great Divorce, Grumpy Old Men, Christmas in Hell, Jolson at the Winter Garden, Dr. Radio, Lizzie Borden, Crash Club, Heartbeats, Breathe, A House Divided, Fishwrap, I Spy A Spy, Presidents, and others. Also: Desperate Measures, Storyville, Ionescopade, Nightclub Cantata, Tarzan, Rent, Gypsy, Rocky Horror, Hamlet (the rock musical), Carousel, The Slab Boys, Miklat, Godspell, Music Man, West Side, Joseph, Tommy, Little Shop, Evita, Hair, Fame, Chess, etc. Tours: Chess, Jolson, Esther, Les Miserables, Fame, The Presidents and others. Additionally, work on ABC, HBO, SHO, & Cinemax. Awards: Outer Critics, Jefferson, Telly, 4 LA Weekly, 11 Drama-Logue. Nominations: 2 Lortels, Audelco, Carbonelle, LA Theatre Critics, others.

Miles Plant (music director) is beyond thrilled to be joining the cell theatre for this production of Nightclub Cantata! Previously, he served as music director for the First National Tour of Bandstand, and Associate Conductor for the National Tour of The Sound of Music. Most recently, Miles served as the Music Director for this season at the j2 Spotlight Theatre, where he conducted A Class Act, A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, and The Baker's Wife.

Nightclub Cantata is presented by Nightclub Cantata LLC (Jesse Manocherian, producer) and by special arrangement with Concord Theatricals. Music Director: Miles Plant; Lighting Designer: Matt Lazarus; Costume Designer: Nicole Wee; Stage Manager: Arthur Atkinson; Casting: Stephanie Yankwitt, CSA; Public Relations: Paul Siebold/Off Off PR.

Nancy Manocherian's the cell theatre (Artistic Director Kira Simring) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit dedicated to the incubation and presentation of new work across all artistic disciplines that mine the mind, pierce and awaken the soul. Founded in 2006, the cell has provided a developmental home in the heart of Chelsea for works in progress by artists ranging from early career to established staples of the New York community. Originally established as a theatre space, the cell has gradually restructured into a cultural hub for food artists, cyborg theatre artists, musicians, installation artists, choreographers and more. After successfully moving into the digital sphere by streaming virtual concerts and launching socially distanced programming such as Dark Matter Immersive's Garden of Eden (New York Times' Top Ten Things to Do This Week), and Tolerance Party (Time Out New York Best Theater to Stream this Week) the cell has moved back into live performance with What Keeps You Going? by HOLDTIGHT, Persou by One Whale's Tale and Fruma-Sarah (Waiting in the Wings) starring Jackie Hoffman (Time Out New York Recommended). In 2022 the cell will present a new production of Nightclub Cantata by Elizabeth Swados, What Kind of Woman by Abbe Tanenbaum, The Final Veil conceived by Cassandra Rosebeetle and JL Marlor, and a new piece by HOLDTIGHT. Other productions include Found, Hoard (co-produced with Off the Wall), The Evolution of Mann, Bastard Jones (Drama-Desk nominee), Crackskull Row (NY Times Critics' Pick), Hard Times: An American Musical (now the Broadway-bound Paradise Square), The McGowan Trilogy, Hey Jude, Rady&Bloom's Peter/Wendy, Horse Girls and more. / @thecelltheatre.


Almeria Campbell grew up in Texas where she began acting - first in high school, and then at Texas Christian University. After attending Mason Gross School of Performing Arts at Rutgers University, Almeria made her TV debut on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent". Most recently she guest starred on "New Amsterdam." Happy to be home at the cell.

Victoria Casillo Choreography: 2019 Motif Magazine Theater Award Winner for West Side Story (New Bedford Festival Theatre); Desperate Measures (Saint Michael's Playhouse). Associate/Assistant Choreography: I Spy a Spy (Off Broadway- World Premiere); Christmas in Hell (York Theatre- World Premiere); Marry Harry (Feature Film- Amazon Prime). Performances: Paper Mill, North Shore Music Theatre, Riverside Theatre, Ogunquit Playhouse, The Rev, and many others.

Jesse Manocherian is thrilled to be back at the cell to celebrate life with this company. Favorite credits: Cabaret, Parade (x3), A New Brain (NYIT Nomination), Marry Harry (also the film version), Evolution of Mann, The Day Before Spring (Mufti at the York), A Class Act, Marry Me a Little, Seussical, The Hidden Sky. Readings, workshops, and concerts at The York Theatre, Yale Rep, The Director's Co., the New York Theatre Barn, the Cell Theatre, the Actors' Temple, and the ADL, among others. A proud member of Actor's Equity and graduate of Northwestern University, he is a founding member of the Brass Tacks Theatre Collective, and represented by SW Artists.

Matthew Liu is delighted to make his theatrical performing debut in the cell theatre's Nightclub Cantata after making his music directing debut here in 2017's Bastard Jones: A Rock Musical! With 2 degrees from The Juilliard School, Matthew currently plays 10 instruments, arranges music for Nickelodeon and fever's Candlelight Concerts, vocal coaches and is a proud member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Writing Advanced Workshop. Recent credits include music director for Nederlander Worldwide in China on Sound of the Silk Road, a Green Room 42 solo debut this past January and his fourth annual Valentine's Day Show at the Duplex Cabaret Theatre. So much love to all family, friends and mentors - couldn't have done it without you! Insta: @hithereitsmattliu

Sarah Nandola is an actor, singer, writer, director from Chicago, Illinois. She recently moved to New York after working as a Special Education paraeducator in Vermont. She has been seen as Isha in BUST (Soho Repertory Theatre), Jasmine in NBC's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Disney), Alice in Camp Crystal Lake: The Musical (Wolfbane Productions), Into the Booze/The Pourducers (Drunk Musicals) since her arrival. She is so excited to be working on her first Elizabeth Swados piece. She is passionate about creating progressive, playful art with the intention of love. A big thanks to her agent Brian at Hell's Kitchen Agency, she is grateful to be represented by people who push for inclusion of all identities. She also sends love to her friends and family who have supported her through thick and thin. IG: @sarahnandola

Pearl Rhein is an actor, singer, writer, musician and composer-lyricist based in New York. She was in the original Broadway cast of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812; has originated roles in world-premiere musicals at The Irish Repertory Theater and Peoples' Light Theatre in Malvern, PA; and recently played Jo March in Kate Hamill's adaptation of Little Women at The Dallas Theater Center. Other theater credits include Ars Nova, Red Bull, The Civilians, Arena Stage (Washington, D.C.), A.R.T. (Boston), and The La Jolla Playhouse. TV credits include "Succession" (HBO), "Bull" (CBS), "The Blacklist" (NBC), and "Younger" (TVLand). Pearl is currently writing some kind of musical about Amelia Earhart. Proud member of Ring of Keys, Maestra, SAG-AFTRA, Actors' Equity, American Federation of Musicians, and ASCAP. @pearlrhein,

Noah Ruebeck is proud to be a part of this timely piece! He recently graduated from the Penn State BFA in Musical Theater program, where he performed in productions of Hands on a Hardbody, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, and Cabaret, among others. Outside of school, he has performed at Ogunquit Playhouse in their recent production of Young Frankenstein, the Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts in Indiana, where favorite credits include Newsies, Seussical, and My Fair Lady, as well as at Totem Pole Playhouse in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

Hansel Tan reps the small island-state of Singapore and is excited to revive Nightclub Cantata. Favorite collaborations - NEW YORK: The Public, Lincoln Center Avery Fisher, Tectonic, The Flea, Barrow Group, Prospect, Urban Stages, Wakka Wakka, Pan Asian, Ma-Yi, NAAP, Hudson Stage, St Clements, Harbor Lights, NAMT, NYMF. REGIONAL & INTERNATIONAL: Geva, Quantum, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Pioneer, O'Neill Theatre Centre, North Shore Music Theater, Flat Rock Playhouse, The Village, Token Theatre, Live & In Color, Figurteatret i Nordland, Austin City Limits, Sharjah Water Festival, Aichi World Expo, Singapore Repertory Theatre, Wild Rice, Buds Theatre, Method Productions. TV/FILM: "Complete Unknown" (Amazon), "The Service" (Short), "The Blacklist: Redemption" (NBC), "Madam Secretary" (CBS), "In Game: The Webseries" (Man Powered Films). Proud member of Actor's Equity and SAG-AFTRA, emerging educator, and Designated Meisner Teacher.

Miles Whittaker NYC debut! Miles is thrilled to be working on such an important piece with collaborators that truly care about the work. Previous credits include Peter Evans (Bug, Purchase College), Jack (Into the Woods, The Gateway), Tommy (The Who's Tommy, The Gateway)

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