Last night, Monday March 1, The Epic Theatre Ensemble held their 9th Annual Winter Gala (titled "Spark"). This year's honoree was James Calleri, of Calleri Casting, for his longstanding support of adventurous independent Off-Broadway theatre and his helping spark the careers of many of America's finest actors.
Special appearances were made by two of James Calleri's "discoveries," Kristen Johnston (Baby Anger, "Third Rock From The Sun") and Nina Arianda (who has received raves for her current role in Venus in Fur at Classic Stage Company). Also appearing were longstanding Epic Artists and supporters, Kathleen Chalfant (A Hard Heart) and Colman Domingo.
The event featured Melissa Friedman and Shana Brown, who recently appeared at the White House to receive the Coming Up Taller Award for Epic's Shakespeare Remix program from First Lady, Michelle Obama. David Strathairn, Jeff Whitty, Tamara Tunie, and Gordon Elliot were also on hand.
Epic Theatre Ensemble (Zak Berkman, Melissa Friedman, Ron Russell, Executive Directors) is an OBIE, Lucille Lortel, and Coming Up Taller Award Winning artist-run company. Founded in 2001 to create theatrical events Off-Broadway and in the New York City Public Schools that inspire vital dialogue about social issues, Epic is best known for their premieres of No Child... by Nilaja Sun, Palace of the End by Judith Thompson, and Hannah and Martin by Kate Fodor, as well as their groundbreaking Shakespeare Remix after-school program that received a 2009 Coming Up Taller Award from First Lady Michelle Obama at a White Ceremony this past November.
Epic's newest production, the New York Premiere of Sarah Ruhl's Passion Play will begin performances April 27, 2010 at the Irondale Center in Fort Greene (25 South Oxford Street). For more information, visit www.epictheatreensemble.org.
James Calleri/Calleri Casting (James Calleri, Paul Davis, Erica Jensen): Broadway credits include 33 Variations with Jane Fonda A Raisin in the Sun with Sean Combs, Chicago starring Usher, and James Joyce's The Dead starring Christopher Walken. Other theater credits include Fuerza Bruta (from the creators of De La Guarda), Playwrights Horizons (10 seasons) including such plays as Betty's Summer Vacation, Lobby Hero, Small Tragedy, Goodnight Children Everywhere, Violet to name a few. Classic Stage Company including last seasons Uncle Vanya with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard and The Seagull with Dianne Wiest and Alan Cumming. Other: The Long Wharf, (upcoming NY production of The Glass Menagerie), The Flea, Soho Rep, The Culture Project, Naked Angels, New Georges, stageFARM, Epic Theatre Ensemble, Rattlestick, The Playwrights Realm and many seasons of SPF (Summer Play Festival) and NY Stage & Film. TV: Army Wives, Lipstick Jungle, Z Rock, Ed, Hope & Faith, Monk, the critically acclaimed A Raisin in the Sun on ABC, also pilots for ABC, Fox, NBC. Film: Merchant Ivory's upcoming The City of Your Final Destination and Another Earth. Also Heights, The White Countess, Lisa Picard is Famous, The Jimmy Show, Ready? OK!, and Trouble Every Day. Peter & Vandy (Sundance 2009), Armless. (Sundance 2010). Awarded six Artios Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Casting. Member CSA. James Calleri is the co-author of Acting Professionally: Raw Facts for About Careers in Acting published by Palgrave Macmillan this year and is currently writing Audition: The Rules and Romance of Landing the Job with his associates Paul Davis and Erica Jensen.
Photo Credit: Kyle Dean Reinford