New Cohort of Twelve Artists Aim to Revolutionize the Future of Musical Theatre
New York, NY – Musical Theatre Factory (MTF), a not-for-profit dedicated to the development and production of change-making new musicals in a joyous, collaborative community free from commercial constraints, is thrilled to announce Cohort III of the MTF Makers program. This 18-month residency program will empower and support 12 artists at the forefront of reshaping the musical theatre industry. The Makers of Cohort II include Alex Alpharaoh, Zeniba Now, Jord Liu + Deepak Kumar, Cheeyang Ng, Tẹmídayọ Amay, Samara Cohen + Harold O’Neal, Raiah Rofsky + Nay Harris, Maria Andreoli + EmmaLee Kidwell.
“This radical collective of queer, trans, nonbinary, neurodivergent, people of color embody the expansiveness of experience that the field so desperately needs,” says Brisa Areli Muñoz, Artistic Director of Musical Theatre Factory.” Through MTF Makers, these 12 artists will develop and refine their craft, grow through community, and explore how their unique perspectives can contribute to the industry at large. We believe that by investing in form-bending, process-oriented, change-making artists, we can help shape the future of musical theatre.”
“Makers is all about supporting the iterative journey of artists and their art. The program itself has undergone a similar process. Our learnings from the first two cohorts has helped shape the third’s structure, and how MTF is showing up to challenge the industry status quo. Cohort III is the largest and most diverse to date. It’s thrilling to see how the program has matured since it was introduced.”
Starting in July 2023, MTF Makers Cohort III will embark on an 18-month residency. MTF’s commitment to the needs and aspirations of each Maker will shape a unique roadmap; fostering growth and pushing the boundaries of form, process, and expression. Through MTF incubator and accelerator programming, artists will have the opportunity to develop central questions and interrogate their work, reinventing the form for a more accessible, inclusive, and just future. Makers will collaborate with cross-sector experts, value-aligned organizations, and dramaturgical partners committed to expanding opportunities and centering people of the global majority in theatrical spaces.
For more information about Musical Theatre Factory and the Makers of Cohort III program, please visit www.mtf.nyc. Additional information on the Makers of Cohort III and their groundbreaking work can be found at @mtfmusicals on all socials and by using the hashtags #MTFMakers and #CohortIII.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Alex Alpharaoh is a Guatemalan born actor, writer, poet, solo performer, and teaching artist from Los Angeles, C.A. He is a 2022 Disruptors TV Writers Fellow, and a 2023 NEXT Commissions writer for Antaeus Theatre Company. His autobiographical Solo show titled WET: A DACAmented Journey, earned him the 2018 L.A. Drama Critics Circle award for best solo performance, as well as recognition in 2023 by Los Angeles’ Stage Raw Awards for WET. His Spoken Word Ode To Los Angeles and Shakespeare Titled, “O-Dogg: An Angeleno Take on Othello”, has been workshopped at A Noise Within’s NOW Festival, Garry Marshall’s New Works Festival, REDCAT New Works Festival, EST/LA’s Winterfest, and a Virtual Reality experience featuring Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, was part of OSF’s Quillfest.
Zeniba Now is a musical storyteller and artscientist from Los Angeles, CA. Millions of people have enjoyed her performances online and on stage. As a writer of musicals, her work includes the shorts: “Beloved” (PBS, #BARS at The Public) and “To Be on Hold Forever” from HUMAN RESOURCES (St. Louis Rep, Woolly Mammoth) and full lengths: THE LOOPHOLE (The Public Theater) and TAKE THE LEAD (forthcoming). Her one-woman specials “iQuit: Millennial Retirement Gala” and “Sincerely, Z” can be seen on TikTok and Youtube. She is the winner of the 2020 Richard Rodgers Award, 2021 Vivace Award, 2021 Jonathan Larson Grant, a Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellow, an Independent Film School Lab member, an Alumni Residency Writer for #BARS at The Public, and West High’s Funniest Senior. You can listen to her music on the streaming service of your choice, check out her videos on Youtube or TikTok, and sign up for notifications for stage musicals, stand-up comedy, concerts, and more at www.zenibanow.com @zenibanow
Jord Liu + Deepak Kumar
Jord Liu (she/her) is a theater maker, musician, and creative technologist whose work centers collaborative engagement with art, based in San Francisco, CA. Her first show, “Baked! The Musical,” (co-created with Deepak Kumar) premiered at the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival 2020, where it won awards for Best Lyrics, Best Lead, Best Supporting, and Best Ensemble. Since then the show has been accepted into RAVE 2020, NYMF 2020, and most recently NAMT 2022. She has done residencies at Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, and SFBATCO’s 2022 Creator’s Lab. Jord has produced and music directed with Underscore Theatre in Chicago, the National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO) and Musical Theatre Factory in New York, Shotgun Players, FaultLine Theater and Z-Space in San Francisco. By day Jord works at the Exploratorium prototyping and building new exhibits.
Deepak Kumar (he/him) is a South Asian-American playwright, lyricist, composer based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His work prominently features Asian-Americans grappling with the messiness of their identities. His first show, Baked! The Musical (co-written with Jord Liu) was featured at the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival 2020, where it won awards for best lyrics, best lead performer, best supporting performer, and best ensemble. His theater work has been produced with the O’Neill Theatre Center (NPC ’22), the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Festival of New Musicals (NAMT ’22), the National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO), Musical Theatre Factory, PACE University, Faultline Theater, Underscore Theatre, and Shotgun Players. When Deepak is not writing plays and musicals, he moonlights as a computing researcher.
Born and raised in Singapore, Cheeyang Ng is an award-winning singer-songwriter who writes at the intersection of queer, Asian and immigrant stories. They have performed around the world, including Lincoln Center with Carole King and Carnegie Hall with a cappella group Vocalosity and hold an MFA from New York University and a BMus from Berklee College of Music. They are the first Singaporean to headline a concert at Joe’s Pub and Millennium Stage at Kennedy Center showcasing their original music and their songs have been performed around New York, including The Duplex and Feinstein’s/54 Below. Creator of podcast East Side Story and vocal group The Lunar Collective, they have won multiple vocal awards all across Asia, including Singapore, Taiwan and China. Musicals in development include EASTBOUND (2022 Village Theatre Beta Production, 2020 NAMT) with Khiyon Hursey, MĀYĀ (2021 NAMT) and THE PHOENIX (2022 Goodspeed Mercer Grove) with Stefani Kuo & Eric Sorrels. Select credits include: 2022 MUSE Scholarship, 2021 Princess Grace Award, 2020 Eric H Weinberger Librettist Award, 2019 ASCAP Foundation Lucille & Jack Yellen Award. www.cheeyang.com. @cheeyangmusic
Tẹmídayọ Amay (they/he) is a Black Trans-Masculine Non-Binary writer, producer, actor, and queer activist from Washington, DC. Their written works, including “What’s on Your Walls,” an online “domestic show & tell gallery,” “Freshman Year,” an episodic fiction about African freshmen navigating their first year at a PWI, and “Trans Too,” a video-poem installation celebrating the liminal omnipresence of Trans existence and identity, have been featured in American Theatre Magazine, The Washington Post, and DC Theatre Scene. Tẹmídayọ Amay is the founder and executive producer of PILOT, a producer’s collective dedicated to producing and documenting queer Black stories and championing queer Black liberation. They are a founding member of the Black Artist Coalition, an assembly of DC-based artists and advocates committed to improving the status of Black professional creatives in theater. As an active member of TheatreWashington, an alliance of theater organizations, theater-makers, and theater supporters promoting equity, health, and diversity in the regional ecosystem, Tẹmídayọ Amay has performed alongside the MCC Theater, La MaMa ETC, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and PILOT. They are also a Helen Hayes Award-winning performer.
Samara Cohen + Harold O’Neal
Princess Lockerooo (Samara Cohen) is a highly regarded artist and leader in the dance industry, known for her exceptional work as a producer, director, choreographer, and public speaker. She founded The Fabulous Waack Dancers and is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Waacking, bringing the art form to communities around the world. Princess has collaborated with renowned pop artists such as Madonna, Jody Watley, and Icona Pop, and her productions have been showcased at world-renowned venues including Lincoln Center and the United Nations. She is also a philanthropist and activist for LGBTQ rights, working with organizations such as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and NYC Pride. Currently, Princess is co-directing an untitled feature film with an Academy Award-winning team and writing and directing a new musical, “Princess Lockerooo.” She is making a lasting impact on the dance world and those she inspires.
Harold O’Neal FRSA is a composer and social entrepreneur, known for his work as a producer, pianist, composer, public speaker, and storyteller. He is widely recognized for his association with the legacy of jazz pianists and has also worked with a diverse range of artists across various musical genres, including U2, Kelly Rowland, Akon, Lupe Fiasco, Bob Geldof, Aloe Blacc, and Jay Z. O’Neal’s work has been featured and profiled in numerous publications and programs, including Forbes, NPR’s All Things Considered, Fortune, Studio 360, and the 92Y, with The New York Times comparing him to Duke Ellington and Maurice Ravel. He is considered to be among the greatest pianists and composers of this generation. Harold has been awarded fellowship to the Royal Society of the Arts and recently played a role as a creative expert for the Academy Award winning Pixar film, Soul, with his stories being a resource to the filmmaking process.
Raiah Rofsky + Nay Harris
Raiah Rofsky (she/they) is a composer, orchestrator, and copyist located in New York City. Her music has been produced and performed at Phoenix Theatre Company, the Hollywood Fringe Festival, 54 Below, 52nd St. Project, Rattlestick Theater, and Prospect Theater Company. They are the composer and co-orchestrator of Nayika, a song cycle about the reinterpretation of heroine tropes from Indian classical literature and art. She is also continuing to write her thesis musical Inevitable Transitions, an original, supernatural coming-of-age story. Raiah graduated from Occidental College with a BA in Music Composition, studying under Emmy-winning composer Adam Schoenberg, and later received her Masters from NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. Raiah also had the immense pleasure to be a part of the 2021-2022 Maestra Mentorship program, where she was (and continues to be) a mentee of Broadway’s copyist and Tony-Honoree, Emily Grishman. As a queer, Jewish, and neurodivergent artist, Raiah is dedicated to centering their artistic practices around lifting up marginalized voices. When she is not writing, she enjoys embroidery, drinking iced coffee, and going to drag shows.
Maria Andreoli + EmmaLee Kidwell
Maria Isabella Andreoli (composer) was born and raised in Albany, New York with their Big Fat Greek and Italian family. She started writing music at a young age and would put on concerts for anyone who would listen. Their love of music grew as they learned to play flute, guitar, and piano. Their work has been showcased at the SheNYC Festival, Triad Theatre, Days of The Dead Festival, and can be found under Maria Isabella Andreoli on Spotify and Apple Music. They are a co-founder of Butterfly Effect Productions LLC and are a member of a new indie-folk band, Ditto. Some of her biggest songwriting inspirations are Brandi Carlile, Phoebe Bridgers, and Sara Bareilles. Maria received their degree from Pace University and is a member of Maestra Music & ASCAP.
EmmaLee Kidwell (librettist) was raised in Louisville, Kentucky and now resides in New York City. She is a multi-hyphenate storyteller with a career in performance, writing, directing, and choreography. EmmaLee also works as the Institutional Advancement Manager for the non-profit theatre company Live & In Color. She is a Pace University grad (BFA MT 2021) and is a co-founder of Butterfly Effect Productions LLC – a theatre production company founded with Maria Isabella Andreoli in 2022. They made their Off-Broadway debut in Brilliant at Theatre Row and spent much of 2022 touring the country with the cast of Baby Shark Live! Her work has been performed at the SheNYC Festival, Days of The Dead Festival, and at the Triad Theatre. In their free time, they can be found watching Stephen Colbert, spending time with the Impressionists at the Met, and writing a singer/songwriter album. EmmaLee is a member of Maestra Music and ASCAP.
Musical Theatre Factory (MTF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit artist service organization committed to developing change-making new musicals in a joyous, collaborative community free from commercial constraints. We are committed to dismantling oppressive ideologies toward collective liberation, centering artists of excellence who exist in the intersections of underrepresented groups. For more information or to make a contribution, visit mtf.nyc.
MTF Makers is made possible in part by The National Endowment for the Arts and Jerome Foundation