BWW Exclusive: Meet The Cast And Creative Team Of ONE EMPIRE, UNDER GOD

By: Oct. 16, 2020
BWW Exclusive: Meet The Cast And Creative Team Of ONE EMPIRE, UNDER GOD

Today on Friday, October 16th at 7pm, a special virtual reading of "One Empire, Under God" - Anthony J. Piccione's new full-length drama exploring religious extremism & right-wing populism - will be broadcast via Zoom to monthly patrons on Patreon, as well as selected invited guests. Immediately after the reading, there will be a talkback - moderated by co-producer Jay Michaels - featuring the playwright, director & cast.

In advance of tonight's reading, BroadwayWorld has received an exclusive look at the cast and creative team behind this play.

To become a patron and to attend the reading, visit

Matthew Hagen (Damian Cunningham) was born in Billings, Montana where he spent his childhood doing theatre until he moved to NYC when he was 19 to study acting in theatre and film at the Professional Conservatory of Performing Arts with the New York Film Academy. While training he has played roles in Urinetown: The Musical and various staged readings of new shows. He is very excited to be playing Damian in this reading and looks forward to the future of this production!

Marc Verzatt (Reverend Ian MacDougal) is an actor, singer, competitive ballroom dancer, stage director, and an acting coach who specializes in opera and music theater. He has directed productions internationally with the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Houston Grand Opera, the Florida Grand Opera, and the opera companies of Fort Worth, Lake George, Madison, Arizona, Toledo, Atlanta, Kansas City, Baltimore, Boise and Jackson. He has served on the faculty of the Mannes School of Music, Bard College, and Yale University. He is a member of New York's Shakespeare Without Fear workshop, and appears in several independent films, including Bastion, Backpfeifengesicht, Texas & Alexis, The Life I Knew and The Quarantine Murders. He is a member of PlayZoomers ensemble for whom he has appeared in Good Corporate Citizen, as well as directing Curveball in September of this year and Kill Your Darlings in November. With New York Modern Opera, he has appeared as the Judge in Sweeney Todd and as the Mysterious Man/Narrator in Into the Woods. At the Metropolitan Opera, he was the Major-Domo in Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos. He was awarded Classical Singers Magazine Stage Director of the Year in 2006.

Emily Brady (Jessa Barclay) is excited to be a part of bringing another Piccione Production to life, having previously been featured in Unafforably Unhealthy this past spring at The Tank! Off-Broadway: Murder on the Nile (Kay Mostyn), A Christmas Carol (Belle, Mrs. Cratchit), Cinderella the Musical (Nadine), Beauty and the Beast (Norma), The Selfish Giant (dance & vocal soloist) - The Players Theatre, Swing! A Musical (principle dance ensemble, female swing) - St. Luke's Theatre. She will also be helping bring Spring Awakening (Marianna Wheelan, female swing) to life at The Access Theatre once we find a post-COVID world. Emily is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy NYC and is a native of Atlanta, GA.

Luke Hodgson (Josh Garcia) is extremely excited to be a part of this wonderful cast. He recently moved to New York from Detroit where he graduated in May 2020 from Wayne State University with a double major in Theatre and Global Studies. During this unprecedented period of time Luke has taken part in a number of remote projects, including a remote anthology performance featuring a number of musical selections from The Great Comet of 1812 as Dolokhov. Some of his re-pandemic work includes Heathers: The Musical (JD), Mamma Mia! (Sam Carmichael) and a number of film and commercial projects in the Detroit area.

John Blaylock's (Joshua Cunningham) last Zoom performance was as Matthew McCarthy in the Knowledge Workings production of Grudges by T.J. Elliott and Joe Queenan. On the live stage, he appeared this past Fall as Victor Frankenstein in the Articulate Theatre production of Doctor Frankenstein by George Allison and directed by Cat Parker. Other roles include Vernon Tull in the Live Source Theatre stage adaptation of William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, the Narrator/Blind Cowboy in the Untitled Theatre Company production of The Resistible Rise of J.R. Brinkley by Edward Einhorn, Albrecht Muller in The Temple or Lebensraum by Nat Cassidy, Disraeli Levering in the Metropolitan Playhouse production of Both Your Houses and Robert in the Gallery Players production of Proof. He also appears as Fr. Tommy DiCamillo in the soon-to-be-launched web series Blood and Gravy written by Joe Lauinger and produced by Brooklyn Streets Productions and is reprising his role of the Blind Cowboy in the 4-episode podcast presentation of The Resistible Rise of J.R Brinkley due this month.

Eric James Dino (President Darren Cunningham) is thrilled to join the cast of One Empire, Under God. Born in New Hampshire and raised in upstate NY. Eric is an NYC based theatre, film, commercial actor and voice over artist. Favorite theatrical roles include Mitch, A Streetcar Named Desire, Satan, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, and David Sarnoff, The Farnsworth Invention. Along with theatre, Eric has many TV and film credits to his name. Having studied with Uta Hagen and Ed Morehouse at HB Studio in New York in the early 90's, Eric took time off from the business to raise 2 kids. Aside from being a lifelong actor, he also spent 20 plus years in commercial radio. As a country music DJ, Eric has interviewed artists ranging from Garth Brooks to Willie Nelson. For more on Eric, please visit

J'Quay Lamonte GIbbs (General River Kalvin) is a performer from Pittsburgh, PA. He recently received his Bachelor's in Musical Theatre from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Before COVID-19, he was contracted to play Charlie (Show Boat) and be a Featured Dancer (AIDA) at the Glow Lyric Theatre. His most recent credit is of Leading Player (Pippin) at his alma mater, as well as Apollo Singer (Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story) and Ali Hakim (Oklahoma!) at the Highlands Playhouse. His other favorite credits include: Ash (Evil Dead), Mitch Mahoney (Spelling Bee), King Herod (Jesus Christ Superstar), Tina Turner (The Wedding Singer), Julius Caesar (Julius Caesar), Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing), Voice of Audrey II (Little Shop of Horrors) and Jim (Big River).

Raluca Georgiana (President Armani Bakali) is an actor, theatre director, dancer and a mother who has Bachelors of Arts in Theatre, French and Spanish from University of Pennsylvania and a MFA in Acting from Columbia University, where she trained with Kristin Linklater, Andrei Serban, Anne Bogart and Niky and Ulla Wolcz. She spent years directing, choreographing, and teaching for the Dwight School, Fildwith Ensemble and County Prep HS. Most recently she performed in the the lead role (Veronica) in Luceafarul: the Legend of the Evening Star at the Off-Broadway Marjorie S. Deane Little Theatre under the direction of Terrence Montgomery, as well as at the Acorn Theatre. (Theatre Row). Other acting credits include Machinal (Young Woman) at Grayfriar's Kirk in Edinborough, Twelfth Night (Sir Andrew Aguecheek) at Shapiro Theatre, Turandot (Zelima, Arlechino) at LaMaMa etc. Some of her directing credits include among others In the Heights, The Seagull, The Wiz, Jekyll &Hyde (B'way), Ondine, The Fantasticks, Summer and Smoke, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Bodas de Sangre, Brooklyn, The Musical, Hotel Paradise, and Chicago, the Musical. She would like to thank Andrés Gallardo Bustillo for this opportunity. She would like to also thank her family for their patience, love and support.

Lisa Boyett (they/them, she/her; Vice President Zaine Thompson) is a AFAB MOC non-binary actor based in NYC. Lisa moved to New York from New Orleans in the fall of 2018. Born and raised in Georgia, after living in New Orleans for twenty years, it is in NOLA that their roots run deepest, and they will forever more call it home. Theatre credits include The House of Bernarda Alba (Big Easy Award nomination for Best Ensemble), 'Night Mother, Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party, Alleged Lesbian Activities, Sister Act and Bat Boy: The Musical--all in New Orleans and the surrounding area. TV and Film credits include Adaptation (upcoming short film), Ripshit (upcoming TV) and Y.P.R.: Young, Professional & Ratchet (2018 TV).

Ellen Williams (Senator Jane Harvey) After a long career as a classical singer/teacher, native North Carolinian Ellen Williams joined the acting world. She can be seen in numerous indie films, music videos, short films, and commercials. Although her degrees are in vocal performance, her current TV/Film teachers include Matt Newton, Anthony Robert Grasso, Bill Timoney and Marjorie Ballentine whose generosity of spirit and love of actors and their craft inspire her every day.

Louise Heller (Ensemble) is delighted to be part of this production of One Empire, Under God, having previously performed in Anthony J. Piccione's A Therapy Session with Myself (Kate/ Ms. Appleton/Beth at the Kraine Theatre, and the ensemble piece Unaffordably Unhealthy at The Tank. Regional: Hamlet (Gertrude) (Hudson Theatre Works), Schwarz Gemacht (Ruth) (Jersey City Theatre Center), A Royal Family (Miss Peake) (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey), The Mount (Katherine Gross) Lenox, The Mount. Other select New York theatre credits: Hamlet (Polonius), Little Women (Marmee), Spring's Awakening (Mrs. Gabor), Murder on the Nile (Miss Folliot-Ffoulkes), Twelve Angry Women (Juror #3) at Alpha Theatre; O Negative (Helen) and At The Gallery (Louise) at the Hudson Guild Theatre; Marco Millions (multi-lingual ensemble piece) at Target Margin Theatre. She has starred in the award-winning short film Victor!! and other indie feature and short films.

Andrew J. Koehler (Ensemble) is elated to be joining the cast of One Empire, Under God with a cast of such wonderfully talented, fantastic individuals. Favorite credits include Joseph Pulitzer (Newsies), Medieval Ancestor (The Addams Family, 2020 JOSIE Award Nomination), Henry Ford/ Grandfather/ Swing (Ragtime), & Abner Dillon (42ND Street). Cabarets: Tuesdays at 54 Below with Robbie Rozelle, SUNY Cortland College Singers Miscast. Endless Gratitude & Love to ALL of my friends and family for being there to guide me daily. Thank you to my SUNY Cortland Musical Theatre Family, staff and students alike, thank you for pushing me to be my best on and offstage daily. Move Toward the Darkness & Smile. Instagram: @a.j.koehler, Twitter: @_AndrewJKoehler

Beatrice Manfredi (Ensemble) is a trilingual, New York-based actor and dancer born and raised in Rome, Italy. She started as a voice-over actor then later decided to fully follow her dreams and moved to New York City. Upon graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she was offered a year of professional stage acting for the New York Academy Company. During that time Beatrice originated the character of Checa in Margot Connolly's play, Tough, directed by Taylor Reynolds. She also had the honor of starring in the New York City debut of Sisters on the Ground, written by Max Posner and directed by Lisa Milinazzo as well as portray Flo Owens in William Inge's Picnic directed by Adrienne Williams. Beatrice is passionate about working on new materials where she can explore a raw sense originality and freedom. She believes sarcasm to be her most powerful weapon.

Bill McAndrews (Ensemble) is a native New Yorker and is excited to be a part of One Empire, Under God. Bill's selected theater credits include: Stephen (A Women At His Side), Thomas Edison (Shareholder Value), Joshua/Martin (Cloud 9), Cardinal Wolsey (A Man for all Seasons), Master Mayor (WUTOPIA at Columbia Stages), Jonhan Von Struck (Amadeus), Eddie (Scenes of a Sexual Nature), and Sheldon Copper (Correction). Also, Bill has appeared in several independent short-films and recently completed work on a feature film as well as a music video Amor Bonito by Grupo Classe. Love to Marjorie. Carpe Diem!

Sarah Nowik (Ensemble) is a current student at CUNY Hunter College majoring in Theatre. She wishes she had as many cool credits as her castmates but alas, high school and community theatre is about as cool as it gets with her. Favorite credits include Audrey (Little Shop of Horrors), Mary Flynn (Merrily We Roll Along), and Flapper Ancestor (The Addams Family).

Jay Michaels (Co-Producer) has previously been working as Anthony J. Piccione's personal publicist since 2017. His firm, Jay Michaels Communications, has created visibility for independent theatre and film for over 20 years. A producer since the days of the original off-off Broadway movement, he has lent his name to countless Off and Off-Off Broadway plays as well as - commercially - working on the Broadway productions of Guys & Dolls, (1992) Damn Yankees, (1994) and two productions at Broadway's Town Hall: The Vagina Monologues featuring Eve Ensler in 2005 and Beginnings - a jukebox style musical about the rock band, Chicago. (2018) He was part of the 1986 Drama Desk Award-winning American Theatre Exchange at The Joyce Theater and also served as a national tour manager for Cats, Les Miserables, and Edwin Drood; an associate media buyer in NY and California, and a senior marketing executive for an international philanthropy working with the Nederlander, Shubert, and Jujamcyn organizations. He is co-founder and chair-emeritus of Genesis Repertory Ensemble, Inc. a company that fosters emerging artists in theatre & film.

Charlotte J. Bradshaw (Assistant Director) is a British born Actress who began training at age 4 at Applause Theatre School. Since leaving the UK in 2016 she then studied 2 years of Musical Theatre and Film at the New York Film Academy. Charlotte made her Assistant Director debut in March 2019 in a Women's Empowerment Review which was directed by one of her teachers from NYFA Johanna Pinzler. She met Andres at NYFA and is looking forward to working with him on this project. Theatre Credits: Hailey - Fucked Up Fairytales (Alpha NYC, Producers Club), Mrs Fezziwig - A Christmas Carol (Alpha NYC, Producers Club), Desdamona/Burbage/Witch#3 - I Hate Shakespeare (Alpha NYC, Producers Club), Rizzo - Grease (Applause Theatre), Fiona - Shrek (Applause Theatre), Penny - Hairspray (Applause Theatre), Stephanie - Arrowhead: The Musical (Staged Reading), Ophelia - Hamlet (Green Theatre) Puck - A Midsummer Nights Dream (Green Theatre) and Ali - Burlesque (Applause Theatre) TV/Film Credits: Sky - Kaya: Taste of Paradise, Courtroom Opposer - The Trial of the Chicago 7, Patron - Nuclear Knack Knacks, Theater Audience Member - Background, Action!, Worshipper - All Hail Beth, Bar Couple #1 - Three Minutes to Go, Party Girl - Triple Threat, Ice Skater - Love Life, Movie Goer - The Politician and Human Rights Activist - Katy Keene. @charlottejbradshaw

Andrés Gallardo Bustillo (Director) has previously collaborated with Anthony J. Piccione as the associate director of A Therapy Session with Myself, and before that, as an actor in What I Left Behind. He is the Associate Artistic Director of The Phoenix Theatre in the Philadelphia area, where he was the associate director and choreographer on their production of The Tempest. Additionally, he has previously directed shows at the Davenport Theatre and the American Theatre of Actors. His acting credits include West Side Story, (Indio) Peter/Wendy, (Peter Pan) & My Magical Chivita, (The Man) and he is the founder of Cumbres Musical, a pre-professional theatre program in Colombia.

Anthony J. Piccione (Playwright/Producer) is an award-winning writer and producer based in New York City. His full-length drama A Therapy Session with Myself premiered in January 2019 at the Hudson Guild Theatre before transferring in May to the Kraine Theater for an extended year-long run. It is now published at Smith Scripts, and is currently being adapted into a screenplay. Additionally, Piccione's eclectic canon of one-acts has previously been presented in NYC at The Tank, the Hudson Guild Theatre, Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, Midtown International Theatre Festival, and Manhattan Repertory Theatre, as well as at regional venues such as Playhouse on Park, Hole in the Wall Theatre, the Windsor Art Center, and Windham Theatre Guild, and are published at Smith Scripts, Heuer Publishing & Off the Wall Plays. His short drama What I Left Behind was named the NYWinterfest's Best Short Play of 2018, and he was also nominated for Planet Connections Theatre Festivity's Outstanding Playwright award for his avant-garde one-act 4 $tages, and his children's play An Energy Tale was named a finalist in the Connecticut-statewide Wright the World playwriting contest in 2016. In addition to his independent work as a playwright, Piccione also works as a scriptwriter- for-hire, and his work has been commissioned by Sesame Workshop, Speaks Volumes Productions, and various other clients. He is also the founder and producer of Talking It Out, a virtual theatre festival dedicated to mental health awareness, as well as the host of the weekly podcast Indie Art Today. He received his BA in Theatre from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2016 and is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America.

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