Every day is opening night.

GAYFEST NYC:  World Premiere of “THIS ONE GIRL’S STORY,” a new musical, Begins Perfs 5/27

Philip Carrubba
(212) 695-7400



MAY 27 – JUNE 6, 2010


New York, NY (5/19/2010) – GAYFEST NYC, Inc., (Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, Producers), the country’s premier producer of new LGBT-themed plays, continues its Fourth Annual Festival, a five-week event (May 6 – June 6, 2010) filled with new theatre works spotlighting gay issues, conclude the festival with the world premiere of the new musical This One Girl’s Story (inspired by the proud life of Sakia Gunn), based on a true story with book by Bil Wright, music and lyrics by Dionne McClain-Freeney. Directed by Devanand Janki with musical direction by J. Oconer Navarro, the six-member cast features Tanesha Gary as Promise, Chasten Harmon as Patrice, Zonya Love Johnson as Dessa, Lacretta Nicole as Cee Cee, Desirée Rodriguez as Lourdes and Charles E. Wallace as State’s Attorney Craig/Club Bouncer/Mickey.

Performances began May 27, 2010 for a limited engagement through Sunday, June 6, 2010 in the June Havoc Theatre at the Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex (312 West 36th Street). Opening night is Friday, May 28, 2010 at 8:30 p.m.

This One Girl’s Story, based on a true story, is about four girls out on the town, laughing and loving, until a senseless crime of hate turns a night of joy into tragedy. The powerful score includes pop, gospel, jazz and echoes of traditional musical theatre.

The creative team includes Michael Hotopp (Set), T. Michael Hall (Costumes), and Jesse Belsky (Lights). The Production Stage Manager is Andrea Wales.

This One Girl’s Story will play the following performance schedule: Tuesdays – Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. and Sundays at 6:30 p.m. with special matinee performances on Saturday afternoon, May 29th and June 5th at 2:00 p.m.

As a special added event, The Festival will present the world premiere of Steve Hayes: Tired Old Queen At The Movies: Live! The sensational YouTube Series comes to life on stage with direction by Vincent J. Cardinal, starring Steve Hayes, with John Bixler (May 25-29, 2010, Dorothy Strelsin Theatre). Steve Hayes: Tired Old Queen At The Movies: Live! plays the foll0wing performance schedule: Tuesday – Saturday at 8:00 p.m. with a Saturday matinee on May 29th at 2:30 p.m.

This One Girl’s Story tickets are $18 each. Tickets for the special added event, Steve Hayes: Tired Old Queen At The Movies: Live! are $35. All proceeds from GAYFEST NYC benefit the Harvey Milk High School. Tickets are on sale at www.Theatermania.com or by calling 212-351-3101. For additional information log onto: www.GAYFESTNYC.com.

Sponsors of GAYFEST NYC include American Airlines, Macy's, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Bud Light, Grey Goose Vodka, Lladro, Sutter Home Vineyards, DG Neary Real Estate, Jamie deRoy, Sutter Home Vineyards, Starbright Floral Design, The Protein Bakery, Bamboo 52/Philip Marie, Burgers & Cupcakes, Theatermania.com and media sponsors including the Village Voice, Back Stage, Edge Publications, Next Magazine, GO! Magazine, FunMaps, Mark Nelson Events, HHC Marketing and others. GAYFEST NYC receives generous support from the Office of the Manhattan Borough President.

“GAYFEST NYC’s mission is twofold,” said Jack W. Batman, co-Producer of the festival. “First, to develop new voices for the LGBT community and, in doing so, expand the reach and accessibility of both emerging and established playwrights, composers and lyricists while providing high level entertainment to a discerning and supportive audience. The second part of our mission is to give back. To that end, through our fundraising efforts and the generosity of our sponsors, advertisers and supporters, we have established a scholarship fund to benefit students of Harvey Milk High School,” continued Batman. “Since 2007, GAYFEST NYC, Inc. has awarded twenty-three scholarships to graduating seniors and established an accredited elective Playwriting program at the school.”

Harvey Milk High School (HMHS) is a fully-accredited, voluntary NYC public high school focused on the educational needs of teenagers who are in crisis or at risk of physical violence and/or emotional harm in a traditional educational environment.

“GAYFEST NYC, Inc. is also committed to producing plays that will have a life outside the Festival,” said Bruce Robert Harris, co-Producer of GAYFEST NYC, “plays that will represent the Festival in productions around the English-speaking world and which might also be brought to life in television and/or film presentations. Board members of GAYFEST NYC, Inc. include Lily Tomlin, Terrence McNally, Charles Busch, Douglas Carter Beane, Mario Cantone, Kate Clinton and a distinguished group of Broadway producers, actors, writers, artistic and executive directors of regional theatres plus other entertainment professionals.”


Tanesha Gary (Promise) felt compelled to help tell This One Girl’s Story. God has blessed her abundantly and she counts it on joy to pass those blessings on to others. Broadway/Off-Broadway: Caroline or Change, Chess (with Josh Groban), Walmartopia, Lady of Copper. Regional: Intimate Apparel, Dreamgirls (with Jennifer Holliday), Smokey Joe’s Café, Once on this Island, Hair. National commercials/voiceovers/print campaigns/film/TV: Bamboozled, Mr. Wonderful, New Life Café, and the soon to be released The Cycle (mundolocofilms.com). She is a member of The Broadway Inspiration Voices.

Chasten Harmon (Patrice) recently made her Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning revival of Hair. Before that she was seen playing Lorrain in All Shook Up at the Marriot Lincolnshire Theater where she will return this summer to play the role of Ti Moune in Once on this Island. Off-Broadway credits include Iphigenia 2.0 (directed by Tina Landau) at the Signature Theatre, and Grind (Clementine) at the York Theatre. Additional regional credits include Leader of the Pack at the Cape Playhouse, Radiant Baby (Diva), and Hair (Soloist). She received her training at NYU from the Tisch School of the Arts.

Zonya Love Johnson (Dessa) is excited to assist in telling This One Girl’s Story. Broadway: The Color Purple. National Tour: Avenue Q (Gary Coleman cover). Regional: Kiss Me Kate (Hattie), You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown (Lucy Van Pelt), Intimate Apparel (Mayme), Wit (Susie), Smokey Joe’s Café (BJ), Twelfth Night (Maria), Children of Eden (Eve/Mama Noah) and Crumbs from the Table of Joy (Ermina). She received her BFA from North Carolina A&T State University and MFA The University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Lacretta Nicole (Cee Cee) hails from Kansas City, MO where she made many appearances at the Coterie Theater in such productions as A Wrinkle in Time and 101 Dalmatians. More recently she performed the role of Sarah’s Friend in Portland Center Stage’s production of Ragtime. Children’s theatre is a love of hers, and has been blessed to work for both American Girl place and Disney Cruise Lines. Her classical vocal training has place her in operas and concerts along with a new work produced during New York Opera Week entitled The Theory of Everything.

Desirée Rodriguez (Lourdes) most recently performed in the tour of the one-woman show Tres Vidas (Core Ensemble) where she played Frida Kahlo, Rufina Amaya and Alfonsina Storni. She originally played the role of Regina in Street Lights at MTC and has also performed the role of Marisa in the East Coast Premiere of Kingdom, Lucille Frank in Parade, and Maria in Twelfth Night. For the recent Broadway revival of West Side Story, she worked with director Arthur Laurents and the creative team as the language consultant/dialect coach. She received her BFA in Acting from Montclair State University.

Charles E. Wallace (State’s Attorney Craig/Club Bouncer/Mickey) is excited to be working with the cast of This One Girls’ Story. His most recent NY performance was at the George Faison Firehouse Theater in Zorasque with Lynn Whitfield. Mr. Wallace performed in, and assisted choreographer Hope Clark on, the world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar Gospel, an adaptation of that classic musical at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta, GA. His Broadway credits include Miss Saigon (John), Smokey Joe’s Café and Jekyll & Hyde. Off-Broadway credits include Dinah Washington (Boss/Chase), George Wolfe’s Harlem Song at the Apollo Theatre and Cross that River (Mule Skinner). Regional: Play On (The Duke) at Goodman and Seattle Repertory Theatres, A Soldier’s Play (Davenport) at Arkansas Rep, Jesus Hopped the “A” Train (Lucius), Spunk (Joe /Slang Talk Man), Blues in the Night (The Man) and Ain’t Misbehavin’.

Bil Wright (Book) is a novelist, playwright and director. He is the author of the critically acclaimed novels “Sunday You Learn How to Box,” “One Foot in Love” and “When the Black Girl Sings.” Directing credits include: Yasmine Rana’s The War Zone Is My Bed (San Diego premiere), Bloodsummer Rituals based on the life of poet Audre Lorde (Jerome Fellowship, N.Y. premiere), Men As I Needed Them (International Festival of New Theater and Dance, Theater Am Turm, Frankfurt, Germany) LAMI Playwriting Award for Mother, Father, Lover Man. Silencing Ning produced this spring by Emerging Artists Theatre as part of their EATfest. Member of Dramatists Guild. Graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

Dionne McClain-Freeney (Music & Lyrics) is a pianist, singer, songwriter, choral director, arranger, musical director, teacher and actor, appearing on some of the world’s best known stages, including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Yankee Stadium, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Don’t Tell Mama, Chicago’s Soldier Field and Millennium Park, La Bellevilloise in Paris, and the Lyon Opera House in Lyon, France, and an accompanist for some of New York tri-state area’s most beloved churches, including Canaan Baptist Church, Unity Fellowship Church, Marble Collegiate Church, and Middle Collegiate Church. As an actor, Dionne appeared in Cape May Stage’s production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. She is a composer, creating music and lyrics for This One Girl’s Story, Artistic Director of TruPraise Gospel Ensemble, and a regular performer in, and consultant to France’s Absolute Gospel Festival.

Devanand Janki (Director) directed the hit Off-Broadway musical Zanna, Don’t (winner of the Lortel, Callaway & GLAAD Media Awards). Other New York credits include June B. Jones (Lortel nomination); Henry & Mudge (Lortel nomination); Cupid & Psysche; Bye, Bye Big Guy; and John Patrick Shanley’s Romantic Poetry (MTC). Broadway concerts: Hair with an all-star cast featuring Jennifer Hudson (Grammy nomination); Funny Girl featuring 16 Fanny Brices, including Whoopi Goldberg, Bebe Neuwirth, and Jane Krakowski; associate for Dreamgirls and Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway 101 (The Actors Fund). Lincoln Center: Amahl and the Night Visitors, Babes in Toyland, Anything Goes in Concert (associate). Regional credits include Barrio Grrl! (Helen Hayes nomination, Kennedy Center); the regional premiere Rent (Hangar Theatre); How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back? and Disney’s Aladdin (Chicago Shakespeare); Andrew Lippa’s Asphalt Beach (AMTP); The Man of La Mancha (WPPAC and Maltz Jupiter Theatre); The Full Monty (Foothills Theatre); The Scarlet Pimpernel (Gateway Playhouse); and the workshop of Lily (Huntington Theatre). International: One Man’s Dream II (Tokyo Disney); the Korean premiere of Zanna, Don’t and the 20th Anniversary concert for Japan’s # 1 Boy Band – Shonentai. Live industrial credits include projects for Coca-Cola, MAC Cosmetics, Benjamin Moore Paints and Dove. He has served nine years as an Artistic Associate for Broadway Bares, which benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. As a performer, he appeared on Broadway in Miss Saigon, Cats, The King & I, Side Show and tours of A Chorus Line and West Side Story. www.devanandjanki.com

J. Oconer Navarro (Musical Director) This One Girl’s Story marks his third collaborations with Devanand Janki, including Barrio Grrl! (Kennedy Center) and If You Give a Pig a Pancake (TWUSA). He was musical director on the acclaimed Adding Machine Off-Broadway, and has worked regionally at Barrington Stage Company, Hangar Theatre, TheatreWorks – Silicon Valley, Two River Theater Company and Westport Country Playhouse. Broadway/NYC Music Department: The Apply Tree; Curtains; Duck for President (TWUSA); Mary Poppins; Next to Normal; Rooms: a rock romance; We the People (TWUSA); Whida Peru: Resurrection Tango (Premieres/Primary Stages), and more. As a writer: Jonathan Larson Grant, Margo Lion Award, and more. He is a teaching artist at Camp Broadway, the Stella Adler Studio for Acting, and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he is an MFA alumnus. www.joconornavarro.com

GAYFEST NYC, Inc., a NYS 501(c)(3) non-for-profit corporation, is an Off Broadway theatre company in New York City that nurtures playwrights and develops new LGBT plays and musicals for world stages and film and television production. GAYFEST NYC presents an annual festival showcasing those works most ready for production.GAYFEST NYC is committed to sharing its gifts and its dollars with the next generation of LGBT Americans. To this end, monies raised through ticket sales and other specialized fundraising efforts throughout the year are used to provide in-school elective programs and scholarships for students of The Harvey Milk High School. Since June 2007, GAYFEST NYC has presented twenty-three scholarships to graduating seniors and established an accredited elective Playwriting program at the school.


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