Frank Farrell Productions to Present Walt Kelly's SONGS OF THE POGO at NYC Fringe

The production will be Presented as part of the 2024 New York City Fringe Festival April 3-21 at the Wild Project.

By: Mar. 02, 2024
Frank Farrell Productions to Present Walt Kelly's SONGS OF THE POGO at NYC Fringe
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Ben Masterton and Frank Farrell Productions will present Walt Kelly's Songs of the Pogo written by Walt Kelly and Norman Monath and directed by Frank Farrell. The production will be presented as part of the 2024 New York City Fringe Festival with FRIGID New York at The Wild Project (195 E 3rd St, New York, NY 10009), with performances on Wednesday, April 10th at 6:00pm, Saturday, April 13th at 9:50pm, Thursday, April 18th at 7:40pm and on Sunday, April 21st at 1:30pm. Tickets are $25 and available for advance purchase at www.frigid.nyc. The performance will run approximately 55 minutes.

WALT KELLY'S SONGS OF THE POGO recreates the hysterical, imaginative and wonderful world of cartoonist Walt Kelly. In this musical revue, suitable for the whole family, Kelly's writings, songs and comic strip stories are mixed with his personal memoirs. WALT KELLY'S SONGS OF THE POGO is mostly based on Kelly's 1956 book Songs of the Pogo and includes the popular tunes “Go Go Pogo” and “Deck Us All with Boston Charlie.” A company of six actors, tell stories and sing songs found in the songbook in this rip roaring and often gentle musical revue. "It's golly, I go goo goo, goin' go go Pogo!" 

Producers and co-adaptors Frank Farrell and Ben Masterton created the currently running eight-episode podcast Songs of the Pogo https://sites.libsyn.com/451542. They both appeared in a live stage production of Songs of the Pogo at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater back in 1995.

“Ben and I look forward to seeing how Walt Kelly's world of words sit with today's audiences,” says Farrell. “The show has a timeless appeal, adorable songs, entertaining storytelling, some funny jokes with a fractured fairy tale sort of vibe mixed in,” he added. “We want our audience to sit back, relax and be entertained!” said Ben Masterton.

The cast for this 2024 Actors' Equity Association approved showcase production includes actors Tom Beckett*, Danny Crawford*, Lee DeCecco, Aisha de Haas*, Greg Horton*, and Haley Karlich.  The production's Technical Director is Thomas J. Donohoe II. Claudia Egli serves as Assistant to the Director.  *Denotes actors are members of the Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers.

WALT KELLY (1913 – 1973) (Words, Lyrics and Music) was an American animator and cartoonist, best known for the comic strip Pogo. The title character's most famous quote: "We have met the enemy and he is us!" Kelly began his animation career in 1936 at Walt Disney Studios, contributing to Pinocchio, Fantasia and Dumbo. In 1941, he transferred to Dell Comics, where he created Pogo, which eventually became his platform for political and philosophical humor. The Pogo comic strip started in 1948 and ran in daily newspapers till 1975.

NORMAN MONATH (1920 – 2011) (Music Composer) was a composer, known for The Muppet Show (1976) and The Pogo Special Birthday Special (1969). He served during World War II in the U.S. Army, and, at the request of his commanding officer, Maj. Gen. Harry J. Collins, wrote the song, "There's a Rainbow in the Army," which became the official song of the Rainbow Division. As a composer, he collaborated with Hal David, Walt Kelly, Sammy Cahn and others, wrote songs for motion pictures, including "Second Ending" from Blackboard Jungle, and "Silent Voices" from Valley of the Dolls, and had his compositions recorded by many popular singers, such as Dionne Warwick, Jerry Vale, Burl Ives, Ethel Waters, and Burns and Allen. 

Frank Farrell (Director, Adaptor and Producer) has been a Pogo devotee since he was a youngster and had a newspaper route. Frank Farrell has appeared as an actor in theaters all over the U. S. of A. and has formed seven theatre companies in Chicago, Michigan and New York City. He is an actor but also an independent filmmaker, director and producer. While in Chicago he directed and produced plays for the Free Shakespeare Theatre Company, Temporary Theatre, Shakespeare's Herd, Steppenwolf Theater, Raven Theatre, Equity Library Theater Chicago, the North Lakeside Players and Theatre-Hikes. For Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest, IL he directed outdoor productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, Spoon River Anthology, Romeo and Juliet and Scapin. His Zoom film In the Garden of Live Flowers recently won Best Biopic at the Green Academy Awards Film Festival. Since 2015 he has published seven books including Forgotten Soldiers from Our Forgotten War, all available at Amazon.com.

BEN MASTERTON (Musical Director, Adaptor and Producer) has composed and arranged music for dozens of Shakespeare productions in Chicago with the Shakespeare Festival of Chicago, Free Shakespeare, and Body Politic, including Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, Hamlet, The Winter's Tale, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Twelfth Night, Merchant of Venice and All's Well That Ends Well. Other favorite productions include The Lennon Play, Dagon, The Lorenzaccio Story, A Dorothy Parker Revue, Dear Brutus, The Songs of the Pogo Podcast (with Frank Farrell), The Imaginary Invalid, The Successful Life of 3, The Snow Queen, The Crucible and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Raven Theater), Three Sisters (Commons Theater), and The Enchanted (Chicago Waldorf School). Ben has written over a hundred songs and currently resides in Gainesville, Florida.

Tom Beckett (Pete) has appeared on Broadway in Bobby Boland, Epic Proportions and The Father (Roundabout), and Off-Broadway in The Great Divorce, The Temperamentals, Communicating Doors, Travels with My Aunt (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards) and Einstein's Dreams. Other theatre work includes productions at Denver Center Theatre Company (When We Are Married), Hartford Stage (The Crucible), City Theatre (The 39 Steps), Pittsburgh Public (Around the World In 80 Days and Time of My Life), The Maltz Jupiter Theatre (Anything Goes), The Bermuda Arts Festival (The Tempest), Barrington Stage (This Wonderful Life), The Shakespeare Theatre in DC (Romeo and Juliet), the Intiman Theatre and San Jose Rep (Moonlight and Magnolias), Arena Stage (On the Verge), Cleveland Playhouse (Room Service), Yale Rep (Ladies of the Camellias), Long Wharf (Twelfth Night and Travels with My Aunt), Helen Hayes Theatre (Thumbs), South Coast Rep (a Robby Award for Triumph of Love), and multiple productions at Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut. On television Mr. Beckett appeared as Elbridge Gerry in HBO's John Adams, played Mr. Foley in AMC's Remember Wenn for four years (SAG Award nomination), and co-starred as George Gershwin in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

DANNY CRAWFORD (Walt Kelly) His previous touring and regional theatre credits include Luke in The Lighting Thief, Brom Bones in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Angelo in Measure for Measure and Laertes in Hamlet to name a few. Film/TV credits include “Redrum,” “Scorned,” “The Perfect Murder,” and “Playbook 360” amongst others. www.DannyCrawford.com

LEE DECECCO (Scottie) is a New Jersey based actor from the Boston area. They are very excited to be participating in this production of Walt Kelly's Songs of the Pogo. Lee graduated with a BFA in Acting from Montclair State University and has been involved in productions in the New Jersey area. Lee has appeared in the online improv show Zlurp Zlorp as multiple characters. Most recently, they appeared as Lunch in Tin Cat Shoes at Nutley Little Theatre and appeared as many Shakespearean characters in Shakespeare's Ladies at Tea and Shakespeare's Deaths with the First Flight Theatre Company as part of last summer's Little Shakespeare Festival in NYC.

Aisha de Haas (Alice) Graduating from Columbia College Chicago, Aisha's professional career began with Little Shop of Horrors at the Royal George Theater, Four Saints In Three Acts with Chicago Opera Theater and several productions at The Goodman Theater. She returned to New York, where she was cast in her first Broadway show, Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk with Savion Glover. This was followed by the Tony Award Winning productions of RENT and Caroline, Or Change. Off-Broadway, Ms. de Haas was in Nora Ephron's Love, Loss and What I Wore, Stephen Sondheim's Road Show and the world premiere of SUFFS at The Public Theater. She toured North America as Medda Larkin in the 1st National Tour of Disney's Newsies and is featured in the movie released in 2017. Television: Madam Secretary, Shades of Blue, Blue Bloods, Law & Order and The Today Show. Film: Across The Universe, RENT, The Secret Lives Of Dentists and Marci X.  Aisha has a Bistro Award for Outstanding Jazz Vocalist and has enjoyed several appearances with symphonies and music festivals around the country.

Thomas J. Donohoe II (Production Stage Manager) is a NJ/NYC-based stage manager and graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a degree in Directing/Stage Management. Select credits include New Studio on Broadway: Bright Star (PSM) An Experiment. (PSM), Once More, an original musical (PSM), First Flight Theatre Co: Little Women (PSM/Sound Design), Frigid At Under St. Marks: Ladies at Tea & Shakespeare's Deaths (PSM/Light & Sound Design), Mina (Light/Sound Design & Operator), The Tank NYC: 20th Anniversary Gala (PSM), Use Your Words! (PSM), Outlook: Not So Good (PSM/Lighting), Montclair Studio Players: Miracle on 34th Street (PSM/TD), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Lights/Sound Design), Charles Seller Foundation: The Addams Family (PSM/Sound Design), Wolfsmouth Players: Effigy (ASM/Tech), A Very Great Mischief (Tech), Acting Under the Influence: Julius Caesar (Director), Twelfth Night (PSM), Ramapo College: Stop/Kiss (PSM),   Baltimore (PSM), The Big Unknown 1.5° (PSM), A Midsummer Night's Dream (ASM), Antigone (ASM), The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise (ASM). Nutley Little Theatre: A Christmas Carol (Sound Design), Hand to God (TD), Tin Cat Shoes (PSM), [Title of Show] (Tech), Gemini (Tech), The Musical of Musicals! (the musical) (Tech), Regrets Only (Tech). In 2020, he won the KCACTF Region 2 National Award for Stage Management Excellence. Contact at tdonohoe05@gmail.com.

Claudia Egli (Assistant to the Director) actor and singer has performed with the Light Opera of Manhattan in several of their past productions. Most recently she appeared in a benefit reading in NYC of Maxwell Anderson's 1927 comedy Saturday's Children. She has appeared in film and TV productions including all five seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. For the past five years Claudia has been discovering the plays of 20th Century American playwright Maxwell Anderson performing with the First Flight Theatre Company and appearing in staged readings of his plays including Valley Forge, Elizabeth the Queen, Mary of Scotland (in the title role), The Masque of Queens, The Eve of St. Marks, The Feast of Ortolans, Second Overture, The Miracle of the Danube, White Desert and Sea-Wife. She stage-managed the company's production of Forgotten Soldiers performed at two churches in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan in 2018. This past August she appeared in the company's production of Shakespeare's Deaths as part of the Little Shakespeare Festival at the UNDER St. Marks Theater in NYC. Currently she can also be heard in the podcast Songs of the Pogo as Miz Ma'm'selle Hepzibah, a beautiful, coy French skunk frequently baking pies or preparing picnic baskets for her many admirers in Walt Kelly's Okefenokee Swamp. Claudia also reads Shakespeare plays at the New York Public Libraries in collaboration with the Instant Shakespeare Company.

Greg Horton (Norman) is delighted to be joining the company of Walt Kelly's Songs of the Pogo. He most recently appeared as Sir Peter Teazle in Hudson Classical Theater Company's production of The School for Scandal.  Other favorite roles in New York include: Adult Male in the Off-Broadway production of With Glee, Prospect Theater Company; Master Ford, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Benedick, Much Ado About Nothing, both with Hudson Classical Theater Company; Buddy, Follies, and Joe Josephson, Merrily We Roll Along, both at the Astoria Performing Arts Center;  Mr. Carney, A Man of No Importance, (2012 New York Innovative Theater Award, Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role), The Lecturer, Reefer Madness and The Chairman, The Mystery of Edwin Drood at Gallery Players of Park Slope; Voltaire/Pangloss, Candide, Theater 2020; Ko-Ko, The Singapore Mikado, (2006 New York Innovative Theater Award, Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role) and The Lord Chancellor, Iolanthe, both at Theater Ten Ten. Regionally, he played John Adams, 1776, Cortland Repertory Theatre, Cortland, NY, (Nominated: 2015 SALT Award, (Syracuse Area Live Theater), Leading Actor in a Musical). As always, for Roxann. I do love nothing in the world so well as you.

HALEY KARLICH (Cleo) Most recently appeared in First Flight Theatre Company's reading in NYC of Maxwell Anderson's play Saturday's Children and a double bill Shakespeare's Ladies at Tea and Shakespeare's Deaths with the Little Shakespeare Festival in NYC. She is an actor and production assistant of live theatre and film; recent credits include Insidious 5, Nutley Little Theatre's Tin Cat Shoes, Tiny Viking Production's Ghost Light, Fleischmann & Campanella's The Visitation Opera, and other projects. With a BA in Theatre Studies & Musical Theatre, she's also an experienced director, vocalist, combat and voiceover artist; appearing throughout the Radio Repertory Company of America's Anne Manx audio series, as well as dramas produced by Cape Swoosh Productions.

Frank Farrell Productions LLC produced a Zoom film in 2021 of Songs of the Pogo which was submitted to film festivals all over the globe winning several awards and prizes. That was followed by an eight-episode Songs of the Pogo Podcast which is currently available for listening wherever podcasts can be found or at www.thesongsofthepogo.com. Two other Zoom films produced and submitted to Film Festivals: the play Salvador by Rick Young wining 6 awards and several prizes, and The Leaves Were Falling winning 2 awards and several prizes. Zoom films produced by FFP as benefits were Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at The Hermitage in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ and the play Whisper Into My Good Ear benefiting Tacoma Older LBGT in WA. The company also shows and sells artwork by Rick Young (1954 – 2021) www.rickyoungart.com. Frank is the founder and current artistic director of the not-for-profit First Flight Theatre Company.

New York City Fringe Festival is an open lottery-based theatre festival presented by FRIGID New York, which gives artists an opportunity to let their ingenuity thrive in a venue that values freedom of expression and artistic determination. In true support of the Indie Theater Community, 100% of box office proceeds go directly to the artists whose work is being presented.




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