Every day is opening night.

Cast Announced for Pre-NYC World Premiere of New Musical “The Last Smoker in America” at CATCO

New York Contact:
Rick Miramontez / Philip Carrubba
rick@oandmco.com / philip@oandmco.com
(212) 695-7400

Columbus Contact
Rolanda Copley


“T H E L A S T S M O K E R I N A M E R I C A”



New York, NY – (8/30/10) – CATCO (Columbus, OH), in association with Andy Sandberg (Hair), has announced full casting for the world premiere of the musical, The Last Smoker in America, with book and lyrics by Tony Nominee Bill Russell (Side Show) and music by Drama Desk Nominee Peter Melnick (Adrift in Macao) under the direction of Andy Sandberg, with choreography by Tony Award nominee AC Ciulla (Footloose), music supervision by Fred Lassen and music direction by Andrew Resnick. The four-member cast features Natalie Venetia Belcon as Phyllis, Katy Blake as Pam, John Bolton as Ernie, and Teddy Toye as Jimmy.

Performances are slated to begin September 29, 2010 for a limited engagement through October 24, 2010 at CATCO in the Vern Riffe Center Studio Theaters (77 High Street, Columbus), providing central Ohio theatre patrons the unique opportunity to be among the first to see this production before heading to New York.

“We look forward to kicking off our season with the world premiere of The Last Smoker in America,” said CATCO Artistic Director Steven Anderson. “It is a privilege to welcome this extraordinary cast and team of Broadway veterans to Columbus. Bill Russell and Peter Melnick have written a hilarious, original, and irreverent new show. It is also very exciting to be working with Andy Sandberg, a talented, up-and-coming director and producer.”

The Last Smoker in America is an original, four-character musical comedy about a dysfunctional family struggling to survive in a world where smoking has recently been outlawed. Pam, an English lit professor at a small college, is having an impossible time trying to quit smoking. Her husband Ernie dreams of being a rock star and relentlessly practices his electric guitar in the basement. Their teenage son Jimmy listens to so much rap music he’s convinced he’s black. Their nosy, anti-smoking zealot neighbor Phyllis lurks around trying to catch transgressors mid-puff. Will Pam kick the habit or fight for the right to light up as The Last Smoker in America? The musical received a developmental workshop production at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in the fall of 2009 where it extended and played to sold-out audiences.

“We are very excited to be a part of CATCO’s 2010-2011 season and to be sharing the world premiere of this new musical, The Last Smoker in America, with Columbus and Ohio,” says director/producer Andy Sandberg.

The creative team includes Charles Corcoran (sets), Jessica Shay (costumes), Jeff Croiter & Grant Yeager (lights), and Bart Fasbender & Dave Wallingford (sound). Roger Alan Gindi is the General Manager. Cheryl Ruschau is the Production Stage Manager.

Ticket information is available online at www.catco.org, or by calling the CATCO box office at (614) 469-0939. For more information about the show, please visit www.lastsmokerinamerica.com.


Natalie Venetia Belcon (Phyllis) Broadway: Avenue Q (Gary Coleman – original cast); Rent (Joanne). Off-Broadway: Avenue Q. Second Stage: 10 Things to Do Before I Die (Vida); Lincoln Center: The Glorious Ones (Columbina); Playwrights Horizons: The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin. Tours: Once on This Island (1st Nat’l). Regional: Vices: A Love Story (Carbonell Nomination); Center Stage: Fabulation (Dir: Jackson Gay); Philadelphia Playhouse: Play On, Soul Possessed (dir: Debbie Allen); NJ Shakespeare: Two Gentlemen of Verona (Silvia). Film/TV: Woo, Grace of My Heart, Sugar Hill, “Play On” (PBS?Great Performances), “The Education of Max Bickford” (recurring role), “Beverly Hills 90210” (recurring role), “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” “Martin,” “Spin City,” “Melrose Place,” “Damages,” among others. Education: Carnegie Mellon University.

Katy Blake (Pam) most recently appeared in the National Tour of Mamma Mia. She originated the role of Sirocco in the world premiere of Mask (Pasadena Playhouse), directed by Tony Award winner Richard Maltby, Jr., written by Oscar winner Anna Hamilton-Phelan, with music by Grammy winners Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill. Other credits: the Hollywood Bowl production of South Pacific, starring Reba McEntyre; world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Whistle Down the Wind, directed by Hal Prince; Eva in the 20th anniversary tour of Evita; Christine in the San Francisco company of The Phantom of the Opera. Off-Broadway, she has performed with the York Theatre Company, the 42nd Street Workshop, the Kaufman Theatre, and the Ensemble Studio Theatre. Katy is also an accomplished country singer/songwriter. Her CD of original country music is available at ww.katyblake.com.

John Bolton (Ernie) most recently appeared on Broadway in the original cast of Curtains. Additional Broadway credits include original companies of Spamalot, Contact, and Titanic, all of which won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Also on Broadway: How to Succeed…, Damn Yankees. Off-Broadway: Five Course Love, It’s Only Life. NY concerts: Busker Alley, Dreamgirls, Funny Girl, Chess. World premieres: Radio Girl, The Opposite of Sex, Señor Discretion Himself, Paper Moon. Film: The Savages, Eleven. TV: “Gossip Girl,” “Law & Order: CI,” “Ed,” “All My Children” (recurring role), “Guiding Light,” “As the World Turns,” “Late Night with David Letterman.”

Teddy Toye (Jimmy) was recently featured on ABC's “One Life To Live: Star X'd Lover's” musical series, as well as their performance on “The View.” Teddy has toured around the U.S. with Disney's High School Musical and If You Give a Pig a Pancake. Regional credits include Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Will Rogers Follies, The Music Man, Here's Love, Carousel, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Bill Russell (Book and Lyrics) received a Tony nomination for the book of Side Show and shared one with composer Henry Krieger for score. He co-wrote the book and lyrics for Off-Broadway’s Pageant and directed it at the King’s Head Theatre in London and in the West End, where it received two Olivier Award nominations. Mr. Russell subsequently directed Pageant in Chicago, Los Angeles, the University of Kansas, and Stoneham, MA. He authored book and lyrics for Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens, directing it in New York and in London’s Fringe and West End, among many others. Everything’s Ducky (music by Henry Krieger)premiered with TheatreWorks and garnered the Will Glickman Award for Best Play (S.F. Bay area) and the “Backstage West” Garland Award for Best Score. A revised version under the new title Lucky Duck was produced at the Old Globe, and Mr. Russell directed a version at the Boston Conservatory. Mr. Russell’s latest creation with Henry Krieger, Up in the Air, premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. His credits as lyricist include the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular and the official theme for Gay Games. Honorary doctorates from Morningside College and the Boston Conservatory. For more, please visit www.BillRussell.net.

Peter Melnick (Music) His musical Adrift in Macao, a parody of film noir written with librettist Christopher Durang, was presented Off-Broadway at Primary Stages after a successful and award-winning run at the Philadelphia Theater Company. The New York production earned Melnick a Drama Desk Award nomination for his music. Melnick also composed the score to Twyla Tharp's Sextet and, with Bill Russell, wrote two musical one-acts, Patter for the Floating Lady based on Steve Martin's eponymous play, and A Bad Spell. Melnick’s film scoring credits include “L.A. Story,” the Steve Martin comedy; “The Only Thrill,” starring Diane Keaton and Sam Shepard; Horton Foote’s “Convicts,” with Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones; and Bob Saget’s truly obscene “Farce of the Penguins,” with penguins. Melnick's television credits include the recent PBS feature-length documentary, “Cinema’s Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood”; “Indictment: The McMartin Trial”; “Grand Avenue”; and “Lily Dale.” For more information, please visit www.petermelnick.com.

Andy Sandberg (Director/Producer) has been represented on Broadway and London’s West End as a producer of the hit revival of HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical (2009 Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle Awards). Off-Broadway, Andy was a producer of Vigil, a dark comedy by Morris Panych, starring Tony nominees Malcolm Gets and Helen Stenborg, and he is currently represented by his participation in Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss, and What I Wore. Recent/Upcoming: Hal Prince’s Paradise Found at the Menier Chocolate Factory (London) and A Perfect Future, by David Hay. As a director, Andy’s recent credits include R.R.R.E.D. (NYMF), Bernice Bobs Her Mullet (NYMF), Into the Woods (Blue Hill Troupe), “Eli’s Comin’ to Broadway,” a BC/EFA benefit hosted by Nathan Lane (Alice Tully Hall/Lincoln Center), and two Sing for Hope benefits featuring the talents of Dick Cavett, Michael Cerveris, and Richard Kind, among others. Recent Workshops/Readings: Operation Epsilon, Garbo & Me, and Mother Russia. In 2007, Andy assisted Hal Prince on the Broadway production of LoveMusik (SDC Fellowship). B.A. Yale University. Proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, as well as Actors’ Equity Association. He currently sits on the boards of Sing for Hope, The Yale Dramatic Association, and The Whiffenpoof Alumni Association. For more information, please visit www.AndySandberg.com.

AC Ciulla (Choreography) Emmy Award winning choreographer AC Ciulla has enjoyed an eclectic career spanning a wide range of work in different creative arenas. Broadway: Footloose (Tony, Outer Critics Award nominations) and First National Tour. Off-Broadway: The Bubbly Black Girl Shed’s Her Chameleon Skin starring LaChanze (Playwrights Horizons- Lucille Lortel & Audelco Award nominations), Ghetto Superstar starring Billy Porter (The Public Theater). Regional: Stephen Sondheim’s Being Alive (Westport Country Playhouse), Chess in Concert starring Matthew Morrison of Glee (Ford Amphitheater), The Plexiglass Slipper (Asolo Rep), Footloose (Dir/Chor, Carousel Dinner Theatre), The Yiddish Coming (Denver Arts), Barrio Babies starring Sara Ramirez (Denver Theater Center). Vegas: Toni Braxton: Revealed (Flamingo), Signed Sealed Delivered starring Chaka Khan (Venetian), Nights on Broadway II & III (Dir/Chor, Caesar’s Atlantic City). Multiple film, television and commercial credits including One Life to Live Starr X’d Lovers 2010 Musical Event, The Electric Company 2010 (PBS), Viva Variety (Comedy Central), Gray Matters starring Heather Graham. AC won the 2003 Emmy Award for “Outstanding Choreography of a Television Special” for Stars on Ice. In 2010, AC won the Carbonell Award for his critically praised work in the world premiere of the contemporary dance musical Vices: A Love Story.

Fred Lassen (Music Supervisor) has just finished a yearlong run as the Conductor of South Pacific at Lincoln Center Theater. Some other shows he has conducted on Broadway include: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with John Lithgow, Spamalot, Cabaret starring Natasha Richardson and Alan Cumming, 42nd Street, and Once Upon a Mattress. Other theatrical credits include Ricky Ian Gordon's new piece, Sycamore Trees (Signature Theatre, Washington, DC); Christopher Durang and Peter Melnick's musical Adrift in Macao (Off-Bway); Judas and Me (NYMF); The Last Smoker in America (NYMF); notes to MariAnne (O'Neill, NY Stage & Film); Pride & Prejudice (Eastman Theatre). He is a founding member of The Freakers, a band devoted to the music of Shel Silverstein. Fred is active in the developmental process of new musical theater work, and in the past year he music directed readings and workshops of new pieces by Jason Robert Brown, Gabriel Kahane, and Harry Connick, Jr., among others. He has arranged and orchestrated for performers including Paulo Szot, Lauren Kennedy, Stephanie J. Block, Philip Chaffin, and Jeremy Schonfeld, and currently concertizes with Metropolitan Opera bass-baritone David Pittsinger. Fred has a degree in Organ Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory.

Andrew Resnick (Music Director) most recently served as the Associate Music Director/Pianist for the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's Sycamore Trees. He has music directed the world premiere of Paula Vogel's A Civil War Christmas (Long Wharf Theater), as well as the subsequent production at the Huntington Theatre. He is the current music director of Chicago City Limits in NYC. In addition, he improvises with numerous musical comedy troupes, including Broadway's Next Hit Musical. Other credits include One Night Stand: An Improvised Musical (NYMF, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Hudson Theater) and Twilight in Manchego (NYMF). He is a recent graduate of Yale University, where he received a B.A. in Music.

Charles Corcoran (Set Designer) Designs include: Banished Children of Eve (Upcoming), The Emperor Jones, The Yeats Project, Sive, Prisoner of the Crown, Defender Of The Faith, The Field, (Irish Repertory Theatre), The Night Watcher, Exits and Entrances (Primary Stages), The Late Christopher Bean, Sophistry, The Black Monk, The Bully Pulpit (Theatre Row, Beckett Theatre), Without Walls (Mark Taper forum), The Man In Room 306, The Dishwashers (59 East 59th street Theatre), The Molly Maguire’s (Kirby Center), Rock Doves, (Irish Arts Center), The Last Smoker In America, Bernice Bobs Her Mullet (NYMF festival), Shogun Macbeth, Tea, Yohen (Pan Asian Rep), Mercy of a Storm, Gravity Of Honey, Dear Liar, Mr. Dooley’s America (Chester Theatre Company) Associate Designs: Edward Albee’s Me, Myself & I (McCarter Theatre), Raisin In the Sun, The Boys From Syracuse (Broadway), Happiness, Third (Lincoln Center), Iphigenie En Tauride, Rodelinda (Metropolitan Opera), The Ring Cycle, Amelia, (Seattle Opera) Other venues include: Arena Stage, The McCarter Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, The Seattle Rep, The Guthrie, Manhattan Theatre Club, Second Stage, New York Stage and Film, NY Theatre Workshop, The Play company, Playwrights Horizons, The Public Theater, Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Jessica Shay (Costume Designer) is a Brooklyn-based designer and stylist. Her New York theatre credits include Oliver Parker! and The Gingerbread House for stageFarm; OohRah! for Atlantic Theatre; Next Fall, Armed & Naked in America, The Mistakes Madeline Made for Naked Angels; H. M. S. Pinafore for the Vortex; Dog in the Manger for Quinnopolis, N. Y. Her regional credits include: Bad Dates, Shipwrecked! and Underneath the Lintel for Long Wharf Theater; The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) for the Weston Playhouse; Lemnation for Mad Dog Theatre; Haroun & the Sea of Stories and Cabaret & Main for Williamstown Theatre Festival. She has worked extensively as an assistant on Broadway (Spamalot, Shrek the Musical), Off-Broadway (at the Signature Theatre, Arena Stage, MTC, Playwrights Horizons, The Public Theatre) and Live Entertainment, (including various projects with Disney on Ice, the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey). Jessica has a passion for the quirky excitement and collaborative nature of the creation of new and relevant works. She is the designer in residence for the martial arts and cult genre-based Vampire Cowboy Theatre, and the recipient of a NY Innovative Theatre Award. She proudly holds an M.F.A. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a B.F.A. from James Madison University.

Jeff Croiter (Lighting Designer) Recent: Next Fall (Broadway); A Lie of the Mind (NYC); Love, Loss, and What I Wore (NYC); The Liar (Shakespeare Theatre); Superman (Dallas Theatre Center); Band Geeks (Goodspeed); Forum (Williamstown); Ordinary Days (NYC). Other NY include: Kiki and Herb on Broadway; concerts including Chess, On the 20th Century; Jerry Springer The Opera; Rufus Wainwright’s Judy Concert at Carnegie Hall; Family Guy Sings!; Things We want; Streamers; The Voysey Inheritance; Adrift in Macao; The Internationalist; Drumstruck; Jacques Brel; The Dazzle; Jennifer Muller Works. Regional: Williamstown, McCarter Theatre, Kennedy Center, Old Globe, La Jolla, CTG, Huntington Theatre, Geffen Playhouse, George Street, Trinity Rep, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse, Dallas Theatre Center; Goodspeed, and NY Stage and Film.

Grant Yeager (Lighting Designer) Carnegie Hall: An Evening with Kevin Smith, The Music of R.E.M., The McGarrigle Christmas Hour (starring Rufus Wainwright). Other NY: Love Child (Primary Stages), Caligula (Theatre Row), The Voyage of the Carcass starring Dan Fogler (Soho Playhouse), Gay Marshall in Concert (Zipper Theater), Life Science (Shetler Studios), Between You and Me (Kaye Playhouse). Recent favorites include The Tempest starring Anthony Stuart Head at The Bermuda Festival of the Arts, along with numerous associate design credits at Paper Mill Playhouse, McCarter Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company, The Joyce Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Huntington Theatre, and The Kennedy Center.

Bart Fasbender (Sound Designer) NY Credits include: Reborning, The Happy Sad, and Departure Lounge for SPF 2009; Next Fall, dir. Sheryl Kaller, and Fault Lines (Naked Angels); Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Broadway/The Public); Humor Abuse (Manhattan Theater Club); Body of Water (Primary Stages); Three Changes and Drunken City (Playwrights Horizons); Animals Out of Paper (Second Stage); Port Authority (The Atlantic); A View From 151st Street and UNCONDITIONAL (LAByrinth); Made In Poland (The Play Company); Democracy In America(PS122/The Foundry). Also Juilliard, Fordham, Symphony Space, Les Freres Corbusier, Cherry Lane, Clubbed Thumb, BAM, St Ann’s Warehouse. Regional: Williamstown, Berkshire Theater Festival, NY Stage & Film, Barrington Stage, Two River, The Kirk Douglas-CTG, TheaterWorks-Hartford.

Dave Wallingford (Sound Designer) Regional credits include The Importance of Being Earnest, Having Our Say, The Exonerated, and You’re My Boy at CATCO, The Spitfire Grill, Convenience, and Getting to Know You at the Human Race Theatre, The Blue Bird, Red Angel, The Water’s Edge, and Big Bill at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Dave is a founding member of Available Light Theatre, where he serves as Resident Sound Designer and Production Manager. In Columbus, he has also worked with BalletMet, Opera Columbus, The Wexner Center, Phoenix Theatre Circle, Ohio State Univ. Depts. Of Dance, Music, and Sports, Red Herring Theatre, Blueforms Theatre Group, Columbus Children’s Theatre, and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

Roger Alan Gindi (General Manager) is a producer and general manager, who won the 2007 Tony Award for producing the Best Special Theatrical Event, Jay Johnson: The Two and Only! He recently produced Billy Goda’s play, DUST, Off-Broadway. He was general manager of three plays by August Wilson: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, King Hedley II, and Jitney. He produced the Off- Broadway hit Shakespeare's R&J. He managed the original smash-hit productions of Nunsense and its many tours and sequels. He produced Crazy He Calls Me and was the general manager of A Small Family Business, Our Country's Good, and Mixed Emotions on Broadway, as well as David Mamet's Oleanna and Larry Kramer's The Destiny of Me, among many others. Mr. Gindi has also served as the theatrical manager for the past six “Victoria's Secret Fashion Shows” on CBS.

CATCO’s 2010-11, 27th anniversary is sponsored by support from The Columbus Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council, which funds CATCO with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Shubert Foundation and Nationwide. CATCO is central Ohio’s professional Equity theatre company. Its mission is to produce diverse, high quality, and exciting theatrical work that celebrates our common humanity. For more information, visit catcoistheatre.org. Artistic Director: Steven Anderson, Managing Director: T.J. Gerckens.

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