BOARD OF DIRECTORS 2021-22
AMY WOLK (President) has won 2 MAC awards for her cabaret performances, including the 2011 MAC for Musical Comedy, and the 2004 MAC Award for Best Female New York Debut for her show Different For Girls. in 2020, she won the MAC Award for ‘Outstanding Host for her gamneshow series I Only Have Lies For You. She is also a MAC-winning songwriter, for the song “The Brit Song,” co- written with William TN Hall. She won the 2014 Bistro Award for Musical Comedy. Amy was also named one of the best in cabaret by ShowBusiness Weekly. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts/CAP21, Amy has appeared in shows at The Duplex, Don’t Tell Mama’s, The Metropolitan Room, the Laurie Beechaman Theatre, and Town Hall in New York, as well as at Davenport’s in Chicago. She has also appeared in many regional productions including Evil Dead (Cheryl) Schoolhouse Rock Live (Dori), Into the Woods (Rapunzel), and The Taffetas (Peggy). Amy is the host and producer of the hit gameshow I Only Have Lies For You, now in its 3rd season.
A certified New York City school teacher, Amy has a Masters degree in Education from Fordham University. She works as a freelance teacher with On Location Education as an on set tutor on films and Broadway shows. This job has given her the opportunity to meet great people, teach amazing kids, and has allowed her to eat for free at opening night parties and from craft service tables. Amy has also worked extensively on Broadway as an assistant merchandise manager for over 40 Broadway shows, including Annie Get Your Gun, Les Miserables, Gypsy, Equus, Anything Goes, and The Phantom of the Opera.
Amy has been a member of the MAC Board for over 10 years, and is honored to now be the Board President.
JULIE MILLER (Vice President) is a NYC based producer and general manager of theater and film, and before that, practiced law in NYC for many years. For MAC, Julie has produced the annual MAC AWARDS SHOW for the past ten years, as well as MAC’s recurring show THEY WRITE THE SONGS. Among the feature films she has produced are the original rock musical CLEAR BLUE TUESDAY and the science fiction three-part story FADE TO WHITE. In theater, she has produced the new musical ZAPATA at the Pershing Square Signature Center, and was general manager for the shows SLEEPOVER at The Cherry Lane Theatre, and AMIGO DUENDE at the Theater at El Museo del Barrio. Other favorite production and/or general management projects include the FringeNYC production of THE HURRICANE KATRINA COMEDY FESTIVAL at the Soho Playhouse, which won the Overall Excellence of Production festival prize, as well as SHOW CHOIR THE MUSICAL at The American Theater of Actors. Julie has worked on a wide variety of productions including the DRAMA DESK AWARDS, BROADWAY UNPLUGGED, THE NIGHTLIFE AWARDS, and various series at The Town Hall, including “BROADWAY BY THE YEAR, THE BROADWAY CABARET FESTIVAL, and THE SUMMER BROADWAY FESTIVAL.” Julie is also proud to be a member of the Board of Directors of Prospect Theater Company in New York. Julie is very grateful to be a part of the wonderfully supportive and talented community of cabaret, and honored to be Vice President of the MAC Board of Directors.
NATASHA CASTILLO (Treasurer) is the producer and two-time MAC Award-nominated best emcee of the Three-time MAC Award-nominated best recurring series Spotlight On YOU Open Mic. Natasha Castillo is one of three daughters of late superstar Dai Ling Chuang, who recorded multiple records with EMI/Decca who had her own TV/Radio show in Southeast Asia. Natasha’s musical career started early in school plays, talent shows, and glee clubs. In high school, she experienced her Lincoln Center debut in her performance with the high school A Capella Chorus. Natasha performed as lead singer with an alternative rock band in college and later became the lead singer for the wedding band Eternity. After some time off, Natasha reentered the music world when she joined the Blue Hill Troupe (BHT), an all for Charity off-Broadway Theater Troupe where she learned the in’s and out’s of theater production, from props to costumes to construction to utilizing her skills as a hair and make-up artist. She was elected new members entertainment committee chair the year after she joined the troupe, testimony to her diligence. She performed in the troupe’s annual cabaret shows at the Triad and was cast in the leading role of Ronnette in the BHT’s Fall production of Little Shop of Horrors.
Natasha discovered the world of cabaret through the Singers Forum where she met multiple award-winning director/artist/performer Lennie Watts and multiple award-winning musical director Steven Ray Watkins. She experienced her first break-through in the art of cabaret working with them in “Get Your Act Together” during her 35-minute cabaret show “Re-Evolution” at Don’t Tell Mama in March 2012. Natasha produced her first variety show “Parallel Moments with Natasha Castillo and friends” benefiting Tsunami victims in Japan May, 2011 and subsequently produced multiple variety shows at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY featuring amazing performers/directors: Lennie Watts, Steven Ray Watkins, Teri Ralston, Dan Furman and more… She also produced charity benefits throughout the year in partnership with Hearts and Voices and other charitable organizations. She co-hosted the Singers Forum bi-weekly open mic from 2013-2014, participated in the longest running show at the Metropolitan Room that is now in the Guinness Book of Records as well as multiple variety shows hosted by MAC award winning emcees Bobbie Horowitz and the late Dana Lorge.
ANALISA BELL (Secretary) was born and raised in Perth, the most isolated city in Australia. After high school, she auditioned and gained entry to the prestigious Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts where she studied musical theater. Upon graduating, she performed in a number of musicals and theatre productions, including Oklahoma, Les Misérables and The Vagina Monologues (2007 ITA Best Actress Award). She also worked as a voice over artist and on-air talent for Perth commercial radio stations 96fm and 92.9fm. After several years touring Australia as a children’s theatre entertainer, Analisa discovered the world of cabaret! She went on to tour the cabaret and festival circuits to much acclaim in Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth, before moving to NYC at the end of 2014. She is currently mentored by Tony Award-winner, Faith Prince, is an Alumni of the International Cabaret Conference at Yale, won the 2015 Annual Broadway Spring Festival Cabaret Competition, was a Semi-Finalist in the 2016 and 2017 MetroStar Challenges at the Metropolitan Room, and has performed in a plethora of solo and collaborative cabarets at the former Metropolitan Room, The Duplex, The Triad Theater, Don’t Tell Mama and Feinstein’s/54 Below. By day, you’ll find her working at The New York Pops as Education and Operations Manager.
ANNA ANDERSON is a singer and actress based in New York City. Originally from Tucson, AZ, Ms. Anderson has taken center stage most recently as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (regional), Armelia in Ain’t Misbehavin’ (regional), Mary/Faith in Grab and Grace (NYC), Anne Chovie in The Great Pie Robbery (NYC), Janice in The First Lady (NYC), Bobbie in Ha! the Musical (NYC), and Billie Holiday in the Arizona Onstage production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. Ms. Anderson looks forward to helping the MAC organization grow during her time on the board.
FRANK DAIN received a 2013 MAC Award nomination as Male Vocalist for his show, The Magic of Mathis. He has performed at the Metropolitan Room, Don’t Tell Mama, the Laurie Beechman Theatre, Danny’s Skylight Room and Judy*s. He’s been the guest vocalist, with pianist Kathleen Landis, at the Café Pierre and the Cocktail Terrace at the Waldorf Astoria. For the Mabel Mercer Foundation’s Cabaret Convention, he’s performed at The Town Hall in NYC and the Prince Theater in Philadelphia . Frank is a graphic designer and the Editor in Chief of Cabaret Scenes magazine. www.frankdain.com
RAY DEFOREST Performer, producer, activist, community leader, Ray DeForest, a successful lifelong working actor/storyteller & singer, is also known as his award winning theatrical character Doris Dear. Ray is a 2-time winner of the prestigious Silver Telly Award, 2022 Communicator Award winner, 3 time winner of the MAC Award and a Broadway World award winner. He’s been featured in numerous movies and TV productions, performs in his popular cabaret-style shows and stars in the award-winning series, “Doris Dear’s Gurl Talk”, in its 4th season streaming on BroadwayOnDemand. Ray writes, directs, and produces the series which was an immediate hit and won several prestigious awards. In addition to entertaining audiences and raising funds to support theatre development, Ray is a member of the distinguished Dramatist Guild of America. It’s through his lifelong love of theatre that Ray nurtured his storytelling and comedic talents, as well as his ability to connect with an audience and take them on an emotional journey. “Art requires reaction,” he proclaims. Long before theatre life beckoned Mr. DeForest to Manhattan, he found himself growing up in 1950-1960s Staten Island, where idyllic “Americana” was a real-world version of Norman Rockwell’s iconic paintings. But what is one to do when they don’t fit the traditional mold? “Admitting who we are is never easy,” states Ray. Through the challenges of self-expression, Ray found a creative outlet through character development and performance, and continues to be richly rewarded by audiences who react to the experience and find a safe space in his character Doris Dear’s maternal presence.
KIM GROGG‘s career in theater began when her kindergarten teacher caught her skipping naptime and singing and dancing in front of the bathroom mirror. From there, she went on to graduate from Indiana University with a degree in theater and drama. After 10 years in Los Angeles, she moved to New York City in 1989 and was the Drama Director at the Hewitt School in Manhattan from 1990 to 1998, where she taught drama and speech and directed their drama/musical productions. With a multi-faceted career as a Teacher, Choreographer, Director and Performer, Kim has worked on over 100 musical theatre productions, including productions of Gypsy, Hello Dolly, Pippin, Annie, The Music Man, Show Boat, Oklahoma, Dames at Sea, Damn Yankees, Big River, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Brigadoon, State Fair, Fiddler on the Roof, Guys and Dolls, The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Nunsense and Menopause, the Musical in theatres across the country. Her favorite theatrical experiences are the world premiere productions that she directed and choreographed in her hometown of Wabash, Indiana: Wait ’til You Get to Wabash and Light Up the Town. In addition to stage work, Kim has appeared in several films. Her most exciting and exotic film shoot was for the Italian movie, Ole’, where she played the plucky side-kick to Darryl Hannah’s schoolteacher character. Kim is also a print and commercial model where she has represented Rider Jeans, Heinz, Liberty Mutual, Praluent, Meridia, Januvia, Raptiva, Cimzia and many other pharmaceuticals. Kim began her transition from theater/film to cabaret in 2006, a move that garnered her 3 MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) Award nominations for her many cabaret shows and a 2016 MAC Award win with cabaret artist and friend, Kim Sutton, for their duo show: Whenever I Call You Friend. In 2019 she appeared with her friend Lennie Watts in Hometown Heroes. The highlight of Kim’s work as a cabaret artist was performing at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in It’s Delovely: A 125th Birthday Celebration of Cole Porter. Kim is a founding member and president of Singnasium, a non-profit organization located in New York City; the mission is simple: Keeping the Arts Alive by Helping Vocal Artists Thrive. Kim is a member of AEA and SAG/AFTRA and proudly serves on the MAC Board of Directors. Kim lives considers herself bi-costal. She makes her homes in San Diego and New York City with her husband Rich and their dog.
MICHAEL KIRK LANE is an award-winning cabaret artist, having most recently won the 2020 Manhattan Association of Cabaret Award for Male Musical Comedy Performer. Along with 3 previous MAC nominations, Lane has been nominated for 3 BroadwayWorld Cabaret Awards, winning in 2018 for Best Show. Stephen Mosher of BroadwayWorld Cabaret has called Lane “one of the most popular performers and people working in cabaret today.” Cabaret Scenes Magazine has deemed Lane’s work “musical comedy heaven.”
Lane was seen Off-Broadway in the cast of “Hell’s Belles”, and has appeared in developmental readings and demo recordings for many musicals, including readings at The York Theatre, The Dramatist Guild, Jerry Orbach Theatre, and other venues throughout the city.
Lane also serves as Associate Producer for No Strings Productions, making puppet films for children in troubled areas of the world. He is also a member of the voice cast for International Children’s Television’s YouTube series “The Flying Tent”.
As a teaching artist for over 20 years, Lane has taught all ages from pre-school to retirement homes. In each class he brings the same philosophy to his teaching, no matter the age of the students. “Art, Theatre, and Music are ways for us to connect with our most authentic self, and to explore the world around us.”
JENNIE LITT is one-half of the songwriting and performing duo Alpher & Litt with her husband, composer/pianist David Alpher. A graduate of Harvard College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Jennie was busy pursuing a career as an award-winning fiction writer when she met Alpher at The MacDowell Colony and her life took a left turn. The couple has released a live concert CD with folk legends Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and two CDs of their own original cabaret songs, both available at CDBaby, iTunes, etc.: Two Apples (2014) and Songs For Sapiosexuals (2019). Their songs have been performed at NYC clubs from Don’t Tell Mama to 54 Below; they have appeared as a performing duo at many of NYC’s clubs as well, and as far afield as The Rockport Chamber Music Festival, The Chamber Arts Festival of Marbletown, Cleveland’s Nighttown, and Bard, Vassar, and Harvard Colleges. Alpher & Litt have co-taught cabaret performance workshops and master classes for the Boston Association of Cabaret Artists, Vassar College, The New York Singing Teachers’ Association, and The Brooklyn Cabaret Workshop, as well as privately, and are on the faculty of SummerKeys in Lubec, Maine. Jennie also directs cabaret shows. Jennie was on the Board of Directors of The Chamber Arts Festival of Marbletown from 2004-08. The couple is currently engaged in writing their first musical, based on the lives of the infamous Mitford sisters. She and David have a tween daughter. www.litt-and-alpher.com
KRISTOFFER LOWE an Alabama native, has made NYC home for the last 21 years. An award winning cabaret artist, his show YOU’RE GETTING TO BE A HABIT WITH ME: The Songs of Harry Warren, received critical praise and a 2016 MAC Award. He is also the recipient of a 2015 Bistro Award and a 2015 MAC Award for his debut show. He has sung at the Mabel Mercer Foundation’s Cabaret Convention at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall and historic Town Hall, receiving the 2015 Julie Wilson Award for excellence in cabaret. Theatrical credits include: National and Canadian tour: Vallon in SHOWBOAT; Padre in MAN OF LA MANCHA (Human Race Theatre), Nanki-Poo in THE MIKADO (River Rep. Theatre); Reuben in JOSEPH (Media Theatre); Lord Savage in JEKYLL AND HYDE (Trump Plaza, Atlantic City). He regularly performs with and serves on the advisory board for Vocal Ease, a non-profit volunteer organization that presents hour long concerts of jazz standards and the American Songbook to NYC’s elderly in nursing homes, retirement communities, hospitals and drop-in centers. Classically trained, he is a state winner in the 1998 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and earned the Best Diction Award in the Regional Auditions that same year. B.A. Birmingham Southern College.
SIDNEY MYER Cabaret Booking Manager for almost 4 decades: Don’t Tell Mama, Rose’s Turn and Panache. Artists he has presented have gone on to careers on Broadway, Television, Motion Pictures; become the “Star Search $100,000 Grand Prize Winner”, the highest jackpot winner in Lotto history, receive multiple Emmys, Grammys, Tonys, Oscars and a Pulitzer Prize! He has booked Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz’s Granddaughter, Barry Manilow’s Mother, Dionne Warwick’s Sister, Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward’s Daughter, Fyvush Finkel’s Sons, Neil Simon’s Wife and Alan J. Lerner’s Widow. In 2009, he was featured in a group photograph, above the fold in the cover story of the Sunday New York Times Arts & Leisure Section with the Headline: “Saviors Of The American Songbook”. Theater: Off-Broadway: “Grandma Sylvia’s Funeral”, “Dressing Room”, “Split Ends”; Kaye Playhouse in the 25th Anniversary Revival of “Irene”; Edinburgh Fringe Festival with “La Gran Scena Opera Co.”; Theatre By The Sea in “Beauty & The Beast”. Off-Off-Broadway Credits: “Times Square Angel” with Charles Busch, “The Boys in the Band”, “Laughing Wild”, “The Ball” “Midnight At The Never Get”. Film: 20th Century Fox’s “Headin’ For Broadway”. Television: Seasons 1 & 2 of The 6 Time Emmy Award Winning “After Forever” on Amazon Prime. Celebrity Interviewer: Cable’s “Cabaret Beat” & “Broadway Beat” and Nancy Lamott DVD “I’ll Be Here With You”. Commercials for RCA Victor and New York Lotto. Radio: Regular on “The Joey Reynolds Show”. He’s entertained from San Francisco to New York to London. Recipient MAC, Broadway World, Backstage Bistro, Provincetown CABFEST Lifetime Achievement Award, Mabel Mercer Foundation’s Cabaret Classic & Paula Laurence Awards. DVD: Sidney Myer: Live At The Beechman on Harbinger Records.
WENDY RUSSELL A native New Yorker, Wendy has performed as a jazz and cabaret vocalist at Clubs in and around NYC including the Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Hudson Theater, Don’t Tell Mama, The Duplex, The Laurie Beechman Theater, etc. Wendy is a founding member of the MAC award winning vocal group ‘Those Girls’ and was MAC nominated for her solo cabaret show, “Where Have I Been All My Life”. She’s been a featured soloist in the First Acoustics Concert Folk & Jazz series. She started her singing career, at the age of 8, as a soloist in the Riverside Church’s Children’s Antiphonal Choir and as a soloist for Holt Rinehart & Winston/Triton Records Exploring Music K-12 series of Albums. Wendy is a singer, songwriter, arranger and back-up vocalist. In addition, Wendy teaches vocal technique and performance classes, to all ages, in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Music is Joy. She is delighted to be on the MAC Board. Contact: www.iamwendyrussell.com ~ [email protected]
Eric Michael Gillett
Michael E. Kerker