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Planet Connections Theatre Festivity to Stage New Musical WALDEN, 5/29-6/23

The Planet Connections Theatre Festivity presents Walden, a story-theatre style musical adaptation of Thoreau's best seller, featuring his work on the underground railroad and his star-crossed romance. Six performances for Walden will be held at the Robert Moss Theatre, 440 Lafayette Street, NYC from May 29-June 15 as part of The Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. The Festivity will take place May 29th through June 23rd at Gene Frankel and Robert Moss Theatres in New York City.

Book and Lyrics for Walden are written by Katherine Brann Fredricks and the music is composed by Bert Draesel. Brian Maschka directs a cast of ten including Drew Aber, Cole Burden, Ronnie Nelson, Rebecca Odorisio, Kurt Robbins, Thalia St. Hubert, Doug Shapiro, Forest VanDyke, with additional cast members to be announced shortly.

The Mayor orders his daughter out of Walden Woods, to keep her out of the arms of rabble-rousing jailbird, Henry Thoreau. Yet more than young lovers sneak through the huckleberries. Love and freedom conflict in this musical adaptation of Thoreau's best-seller, featuring his work on the underground railroad.

From the Playwright: "We often think of human rights and the environment as separate issues, but Thoreau combined them in his observation of living ecosystems. Both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi credited Thoreau with inventing non-violent civil disobedience, and Thoreau worked actively on the underground railroad. Walden has evolved from a collection of art songs, to a musical drama about the conflict that arises when a man takes a moral stand that his friends and neighbors find uncomfortable, impractical and illegal."

Walden is presented by the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. Co-Producers: Katherine Fredricks & Bert Draesel; Director: Brian Maschka; Musical Director & Additional Arrangements: J. Oconer Navarro; Lighting Designer: Travis McHale; Publicist: Paul Siebold/Off Off PR.

Walden plays the following schedule as part of the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity: Wednesday, May 29 @ 6:30pm; Thursday, May 30 @ 4:30pm; Friday, May 31 @ 7:00pm; Sunday, June 2 @ 2:30pm; Tuesday, June 11 @ 6:00pm; Saturday, June 15 @ 1:30pm.

Tickets are $18 and can be purchased online at www.planetconnections.org/walden or by calling 212-352-3101. The runtime for Walden is approximately 90 minutes, no intermission.

Katherine Brann Fredricks (book and lyrics), has had her work performed in regional theatre, off-off Broadway in New York, and on Cinemax. She is certified as a meditation & yoga instructor with the Chopra Center.

Bert Draesel (composer) attended the BMI Theater Workshop under Lehman Engel, and received his MFA from the NYU Bert's musicals Bouncing Back and Everyman were produced by Triangle Theater; Meteor Girl was produced at La Mama; Troubadour, a story of St. Francis, has received 3 separate off-off Broadway productions; Max and the Truffle Pig, was produced at NYMF. His short musical Fancy Nancy was part of a national tour for TheatreWorksUSA. Bert's religious music, Rejoice and Celebration (recorded on Scepter Records) and Now Hymns for Children are published by E. B. Marks Co.

Brian Maschka (director) As Artistic Director for All Out Arts, he produced Fresh Fruit Festival 2012 including his direction of "8" The Play. Directing credits include Barely There for Crest Theatre, Santaland Diaries at Florida Repertory, The Life & The Spitfire Grill at The Station, Tallish Tales for MITF, Under the Rug at Gallery Players and many shows with Gender Offenders. He worked at Playwrights Horizons, Play Company, Daryl Roth and DR2 Theaters, The Acting Company, The Zipper, The Mint, Barrington Stage, Weston Playhouse, Syracuse Stage and the Krannert Center. Education: Saint Mary's University of Minnesota and California Institute of the Arts.

J. Oconer Navarro (musical director, additional arrangements) NYC: Adding Machine (Lortel, Obie, Outer Critics Circle Awards); The House of Blue Leaves, This One Girl's Story (Best Orchestrations Nomination, NYMF 2011), We The People, Whida Peru, CAP21, Lincoln Center Theater, three National Tours for TheatreworksUSA. Regional: Barrington Stage, Hangar Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Two River Theater, TheatreWorks - Palo Alto, Westport Country Playhouse. Select B'way Music Dep't: The Apple Tree, Avenue Q, Curtains, Mary Poppins, Next to Normal. Recognition as writer: American Theatre Wing Jonathan Larson Grant, Margo Lion Award, Frederick Loewe Foundation Grant. MFA, Faculty: NYU. Proud Member: ASCAP, Local 802 AFM, The Dramatists Guild of America. joconernavarro.com

Travis McHale (lighting designer) Recent Credits: Diary of Anne Frank (Westport Country Playhouse, Connecticut Critics' Circle Award, Best Lighting Design), Zaide (Carnegie Hall), The Last Will (Off B'way-Abingdon), My Favorite Things starring Shirley Jones (Colorado Festival of World Theatre). Off-Broadway Premieres: A Steady Rain (TBG), Camp Wanatachi (3LD), Kiki Baby (Primary Stages), A Charity Case (Theatre Row), Methacular (kef) and The People vs. Mona (Ground UP) Regional: Westport Country Playhouse, Weston Playhouse, Guild Hall, Bucks County Playhouse, No Rules, hit productions of A Lie of the Mind and Burn This in Los Angeles. Broadway: associate lighting designer, The Heiress and The Lyons. Member: United Scenic Artists Local 829. http://www.travismchale.com/

THE PLANET CONNECTIONS THEATRE FESTIVITY is New York's premiere eco-friendly theatre festival. Fostering a diverse cross-section of performances, the festival seeks to inspire artists and audiences both creatively and fundamentally, in a festive atmosphere. At the heart of the festivity are like-minded individuals striving to create professional, meaningful theatre, while supporting organizations, which give back to the community at large.

Cast Bios:

Drew Aber (Thoreau) is very excited to be part of Walden! Hailing from the Midwest, he has been living and performing in the city for 5 years, including playing The Young Man in Broadway's A Tale of Two Cities. He often gets the pleasure of performing new or developing works with NYU's Grad. Musical Writing Program, New Dramatists, Abingdon Theatre, and others. Much love to family, Lauren, and the GRI. AEA!

Cole Burden (Channing) The 25th Anniversary Production Of Les Miserables (National Tour), Legally Blonde (Marriott Lincolnshire), Himself and Nora (American Theatre Group), Applause (City Center Encores!), Bonnie And Clyde, Warrior and The Piper (New York Musical Theatre Festival), Grey Gardens (Philadelphia Theatre Company), Les Miserables (Houston Theater Under the Stars), Evita (Mason Street Warehouse), Red Eye Of Love, Becoming Tennessee (Eugene O'Neill Theater Center). Readings/ Workshops: Fiction in Photographs by Dan Mills and Randy Redd, Yank! directed by David Cromer. Concert appearances: Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's The Human Heart, We Are The Song: After The Storm (Joe's Pub) ABC Daytime Salutes Broadway Cares, The Actors Fund's "Nothing Like A Dame." Film and TV credits: "BEAUTIFUL CREATURES," "One Life to Live," "As The World Turns," "30 Rock".

Ronnie Nelson (Blaine) Rebecca Odorisio (Ellen) is a Resident company member, Island Shakespeare. Recent credits: Ophelia in Hamlet (Kraine Theater), Isabella in Measure for Measure and Hero in Much Ado (Island Shakespeare). More at www.rebeccaodorisio.com.

Kurt Robbins (Flint) Broadway/Off Broadway: Thoroughly Modern Millie (Graydon), The Water Coolers (Glen), Infertility: the musical (Dick). Regional: Jane Eyre (St. John), World Goes 'Round (Man 2), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Joseph), Grease (Kenikie), Les Miserables (Javert), Oklahoma! (Curly), South Pacific (Cable), Sweet Charity (Oscar), Passion (Aguenti), Joan of Arc (Pasqueral), Pirates of Penzance (Pirate King). Film: "A Beautiful Mind." Kurt is very grateful to be a part of Walden again!

Doug Shapiro (Sam Staples & others) is a proud veteran of bringing the work of great composer/lyricist teams to light and has worked on over 35 new musicals in a year's time. His animation work includes voicing several characters for the cast album and live production of FINDING NEMO: THE MUSICAL for Disney and his own cartoon "DougToons" on YouTube. Doug has been a company member with The Barnstormers in Tamworth, NH for twelve seasons, most recently performing an insane amount of roles in the three-man Hound of the Baskervilles. Come visit at www.dougshapiro.com and thank you for supporting live theatre!

Thalia St. Hubert (Mary) is a young artist who finds enjoyment in singing, violin, and acting. She has been studying at The School For Strings since the age of three, and performed at Carnegie Hall with The School for Strings in 2006 and 2011. In addition, Thalia is a chorister in the Young People's Chorus of New York City(YPC), where she has been a member since 2008. With YPC, she has performed at Lincoln Center in 2009,2010,2011, and at Carnegie Hall in 2013, in addition to several other notable concert venues throughout New York City. Thalia played the role of Little TiMoune in Once on this Island at Loyola High School and has participated in her school plays. She acknowledges her mother and thanks God.

Forest VanDyke (Louis, Conjure Man) is an actor and singer from Austin, Texas. Most recently, he performed in the new musicals Goddess (Dir. Saheem Ali), 21 (Dir. Jerry Dixon), Crush (Comp. -Stew and Heidi Rodewald), and completed the workshop and First National Tour of the new musical Click Clack Moo (Dir. John Rando). Forest is excited and feels extremely blessed to be a part of this production of Walden.



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