THE AXELROD ARTISTIC ADVISORY BOARD
JEFF BLUMENKRANTZ Broadway: Bright Star, A Class Act, How to Succeed in Business…, Damn Yankees. Threepenny Opera, Into the Woods. Off-Broadway: Murder for Two (Lortel nomination). Encores: The Golden Apple, Anyone Can Whistle, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater. Film/TV: Succession, Pose, Mr. Robot, Fosse/Verdon, Madam Secretary, The Big Sick, The Detour, 30 Rock, Will and Grace, Law and Order, Joseph … Dreamcoat, Sweeney Todd and Candide. Composer: Best Original Score Tony nomination for Urban Cowboy. Recipient of The Fred Ebb Award. Commissions from Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Guggenheim Works and Process. jeffblumenkrantz.com
A native of the Bronx, New York, MICHELLE FLEET began dancing at the age of four under the tutelage of Lee Aca Thompson. She continued her training at Ballet Hispánico, while attending Talent Unlimited H.S. Michelle earned her B.F.A from the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase Collage. She joined Taylor 2 in 1999 and made her debut with the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 2002. During her 18-year tenure with the Paul Taylor Dance Company Michelle performed in 72 works in over 90 various roles choreographed by Mr. Taylor. Recognized for her versatility, musicality, strength and sensitivity to movement, Michelle was described in the New York Times by Gia Kourlas as “Strong and musically sensitive, dances as if movement is melting off her body.” She has been featured in commissioned works by Larry Keigwin, Doug Elkins, Doug Varone, Brian Arias, Margie Gillis, Pam Tanowitz and Kyle Abraham. She has also performed in works by Bill T. Jones, Merce Cunningham, Kevin Wynn and Corbin Dances. In 2019 she was honored as a Bronx Dance Icon. She has been highlighted in Dance Magazine, Dance Spirit, Self, Elle, TimeOut and other notable publications. In 2006 Michelle earned her M.B.A in Business administration from NYIT. As an entrepreneur she is founder and CEO of Suri & Caya Fiber Art Designs and a co-founder of the Asbury Park Dance Festival.
REUBEN JACKSON—actor, writer, director—is a native New Yorker and received his BFA in Drama from The Juilliard School (1997) and an M.F.A. at Columbia University School of the Arts (2007) in playwriting, where he received The William Shelly Fellowship and The Howard Stein Fellowship in playwriting. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA. His theater-film-TV acting credits include: Henry VIII (The NYSF The Public Theater at The Delacorte), The Lion in Winter (Broadway, The Roundabout Theater Co.), The Alchemist (Classic Stage Company) Women. War. Comedy. (Theater for a New City), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis), The Tempest (The PlayMakers Repertory Co.), Carol Mulroney (The Huntington), The Taking of Pelham 123, Celebrity, Blazin', Law & Order, Third Watch, Whoopi, Linc's, Bridget, One Life To Live (recurring), and As The World Turns (recurring). He was featured in the title role of Shogun Macbeth, for PBS.
His other works include The Sleeping Man, and Blood and Coffee in the City of Wisdom, which was nominated for the 2008 Cherry Lane Theater Mentor Project, and produced by The New Voices New Play Festival 2007 at The Daryl Roth II Theater in NYC and The Rock Theater at The New York Theater Center. Cool Planet, a sci-fi satire was produced by The Blue Box Theater Co. at The Flea Theater in NYC. Reuben was a 2015 teaching artist in theater arts for STEP: Student Theater Enrichment Program at The Cleveland Public Theater. He directed Amadeus, for which he won Basie Awards for Best Director and Best Production, Fiddler on the Roof, The Crucible, Kismet, Macbeth, Into the Woods, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Music Man, and Moby Dick Rehearsed, for The Red Bank Regional Theater Company. He has directed The Colored Museum, by George C. Wolfe at the Columbia University Lerner Blackbox and Blood & Coffee, at The Schapiro Theater at Columbia University.
Reuben was a member of the 1983 inaugural class at The Red Bank Regional High School of The Performing Arts as a creative writing student.
LUIS SALGADO is an international director, choreographer and educator from Puerto Rico currently based in New York City who most recently open his own adaptation of the musical Fame to great reviews in Washington D.C. He was the Assistant Latin Choreographer of In the Heights on Broadway, which won four Tony Awards.
In 2019 Luis worked as the associate director/choreographer of Cirque de Soliel's Paramour in Hamburg, Germany. Among the productions he has directed-choreographed in the United States and abroad are the fantasy musical Ella Es Colombia in Bogota, Colombia with MISI Musicals, the Holland production of On Your Feet!, TO BE OR NOT TO BE... a Shakespearean Experience, Tim Rice and Elton John’s AIDA, Fame, Amigo Duende the Musical, In The Heights, Bountiful,
Zuccotti Park, Song of Solomon, Speed the Plow, The Tempest and Candela Fuerza y Pasión in Lima Peru. In 2017 Luis directed and choreographed the U.S premiere of the Spanish version of In The Heights at GALA Theatre in Washington D.C which received nine 2018 Helen Hayes Awards including Best Musical, Best Direction and Best Choreography. In 2022, he directed the Spanish version of On Your Feet! for GALA as well as the second national tour, for which he and his wife Denisse are co-producers. At the Axelrod PAC, Luis has directed and choreographed four productions: In the Heights, Ragtime, Tim Rice and Elton John’s AIDA and Matilda.
He has appeared on Broadway in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, ROCKY, In The Heights, On Your Feet, as well as Off-Broadway shows and Broadway tryouts The Mambo Kings (Frankie Suarez), Fame on 42nd Street (Joe Vegas, understudy) and Aida, among others.
Film credits include: American Gangster; Dirty Dancing 2, Havana Nights, the television remake of Dirty Dancing, Enchanted and Step Up 2, The Streets (Alejandro), for which he also was assistant choreographer.
Luis is the founder/director of R.Evolución Latina, an affiliate of the non-profit organization Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Luis’s personal mission as an artist and a leader is to empower society through the arts to make a change for the better.
FREDI WALKER-BROWNE is best known for creating the role of JoAnne Jefferson in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical RENT! Most recently, she appears as Ghost in HBO’s Search Party, Beverly in Rebecca Miller’s Maggie’s Plan and Shay in Showtime’s Emmy Award-winning series The Big C. Latest directing projects include: The Color Purple and Bob Stewart’s Let Chips Fall Where They May. She is proud to be a Teaching Artist and the creator of The Professional Skills for Actors Series. Fredi is currently voice of the WICKED campaign! Songs from her new album #1PEOPLE1PLANET are now streaming everywhere.
JONATHAN BRIELLE Broadway: Foxfire (words & music): Jessica Tandy, Tony Award; Off-Broadway: Himself and Nora (book, music, lyrics) Circle Rep, NY: Composer in Residence; Regional: Himself and Nora: American Theater Group, NYMF, Mill Theater, Dublin, Old Globe, CA; Nightmare Alley (book, music. lyrics): Geffen Playhouse, NYMF. A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother (book, music, lyrics) Eugene O’Neill Cabaret Conference, Axelrod Performing Arts Center; Las Vegas: Enter The Night (book, music, lyrics) Stardust Hotel MadHattan (book, music, lyrics) New York, New York Hotel; TV: Wonderama (Theme: music, lyrics); Executive Vice President of the Johnny Mercer Foundation overseeing educational programs; Founder-Writer-Producer in Residence of the JMF Writers Grove at Goodspeed Musicals.
HUNTER FOSTER—actor, director, writer and artistic director—has extensive directing credits in Off-Broadway and regional theater including Give ‘Em Hell Harry starring Fred Grandy for Theatre Aspen, Redhouse and The Encore Theatre in Dexter, Michigan; Bridges of Madison County with Kate Baldwin and Aaron Lazar at the Axelrod PAC, Rock of Ages and The Crossword Play Into The Woods for Theatre Aspen, Elf - The Musical for Northern Michigan University, and for Western Carolina University. In 2018, he directed The Other Josh Cohen Off-Broadway at the West Side theatre in NYC and was named Director of the Year by the Wall Street Journal for his productions of 42nd Street at the Bucks County Playhouse, and The Drowsy Chaperone at the Goodspeed Opera House. He is an Artistic Associate at the Bucks County Playhouse where he has directed: Clue, 42nd Street, Guys and Dolls, Company, Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Buddy Holly Story, National Pastime, The Rocky Horror, Summer of ’42, Million Dollar Quartet and It’s a Wonderful Life. He has also directed the world premieres of the musicals One Hit Wonder for the University of Michigan and A Connecticut Christmas Carol for Goodspeed Musicals. Other directing credits include: Guys and Dolls, Our Town
(Theatre Aspen), The Other Josh Cohen (Geva Theatre), Once, Cabaret, My Fair Lady, The Foreigner, Clue (Cape Playhouse) Rent, God of Carnage, A Syracuse Christmas Carol, Waiting For The Host, It’s A Wonderful Life (Redhouse) Grease (North Carolina Theatre), Spamalot (Casa Manana), Beauty and the Beast (Western Carolina); and he has directed over 20 productions around the country of Million Dollar Quartet for such esteemed theatres as The Paper Mill Playhouse, Cincinnati Playhouse, Geva Theatre and St. Louis Rep. He has written the librettos for two Off-Broadway musicals, Summer of ’42 (Outer Critic Circle Award for Best Musical) and Jasper in Deadland. Other writing credits include: Clue, The Circus in Winter (Goodspeed Musicals), Clyde and Bonnie: A Folktale (Aurora Theatre), Sleepy Hollow (Signature Theatre) and The Big Boom. As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway in The Bridges of Madison County, Hands on a Hardbody, The Million Dollar Quartet, The Producers, Little Shop of Horrors (Tony Nomination), Urinetown, Footloose, Les Miserables, King David, Pump Boys & Dinettes and Grease. Hunter is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Musical Theatre program.
TOM MCKIE is a well-established hip-hop Educator in the tri-state area. His love of dance was sparked by Michael Jackson's performance on Motown's 25th Anniversary special in 1983. Tom honed his craft practicing moves he saw on staple shows like Video Music Box, Soul Train and films like Beat Street and Breakin’. After high school, Tom absorbed himself in clubs like The Sound Factory, The Shelter, Club Zanzibar, and many more. It was not long before he began performing and choreographing professionally throughout the country and internationally. Through choreographing and performing, Tom found a love for teaching dance; an impressive weekly schedule he maintains between colleges/universities, public schools, and various dance studios throughout NJ. In addition to being a teaching artist, Tom also serves as the Program Lead to New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Mentorship Program since its inception in 2020. As program lead, Tom is responsible for mentor/protege pairing, scheduling artist meet-ups ensuring effective development for up and coming performance artists and musicians.
Hailed by the New York Times as “one of the world’s most luminous dancers,” MICHAEL TRUSNOVEC grew up dancing on Long Island, graduated from the Long Island High School for the Performing Arts, and earned a BFA in Dance Performance from Southern Methodist University.
For over two decades, he was a Principal Dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company performing in works by Mr. Taylor, as well as by Pam Tanowitz, Larry Keigwin, Brian Arias, Margie Gillis and Doug Varone. Additionally, he was Associate Rehearsal Director and served as the Director of Worldwide Licensing. Michael has received a 2018 Dance Magazine Award, a 2006 Bessie Award, and was a 1992 YoungArts awardee and Presidential Scholar in the Arts. He is co-founder of the Asbury Park Dance Festival and continues to perform, most recently dancing in the 2021 Joyce Theater presentation of Molissa Fenley’s State of Darkness and in New York City Ballet’s 2020 Lincoln Center performances of George Balanchine’s Episodes. Michael currently serves as Deputy Dance Director for The Metropolitan Opera.
BLAKELEY WHITE-MCGUIRE (MFAIA), born and raised in South Louisiana, is a New York-based dancer-choreographer-writer-educator and interdisciplinary artist critically acclaimed as a former Principal dancer and present official Regisseur of repertory with the Martha Graham Dance Company.
Her current creative process creates contemporary dance theater and site-specific performative works through movement research including with Movement Migration and C.A.V.E.S. Project Entre El Cuerpo y La Naturaleza, an international collaborative interrogating the relationship between art, nature, and the human body.
Her productions have been commissioned by several transformative presenters including the Dancing Human Rights Festival, Oxford, UK; The Museum of Arts and Design, New York, USA Jacob’s Pillow’s INSIDE/OUT, USA; American Dance Festival, USA; Movement Migration (International) and Ballet Metropolitano, Colombia, SA.
Blakeley is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Contemporary Dance at Hunter College and The Ailey/Fordham Professional Division and is the author of several published works including her first book, The Martha Graham Dance Company: House of the Pelvic Truth.
ANDREA DELGIUDICE boasts an international career in Europe and the United States as a leading Italian soprano and conceptual stage director, featuring the true stories of women. She has sung the Puccini and Verdi heroines alongside renowned artists Placido Domingo, Johan Botha, Sherill Milnes, Alexei Steblianko, and Nicola Martinucci. Andrea has been a featured concert soloist throughout the U.S. and Europe. Andrea’s numerous international recordings include voiceovers in over 200 major films and animated features with Walt Disney and Buena Vista, Italy, RAI Television and Sundance Films including the 2018 NY Film Festival winner, Waiting a Documentary. She is one of the most sought-after voice teachers and vocal consultants in NYC. Her students are
currently engaged nationally and internationally at major opera houses and Broadway theaters.
LAURA HALZACK Dancer. Dance instructor. Choreographer. Co-founder of Asbury Park Dance Festival. Laura hails from Connecticut and began her dance training at the age of four with Brenda Barna. She furthered her training at The School of the Hartford Ballet and studied at the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in History from the University of New Hampshire in 2003. She then studied at the Hartt School and at The Taylor School before joining the Paul Taylor Dance Company 2006. During her 13-year tenure in the Paul Taylor Dance Company Mr. Taylor created 16 works on her, and cast her in 67 of his other works, in over 80 different roles. Laura has also performed with the Amy Marshall Dance Company, Syren Modern Dance, in Martha Graham’s Diversion of Angels, and in the original works of Larry Keigwin, Doug Elkins, Lila York, Doug Varone, Bryan Arias, Margie Gillis, and Pam Tanowitz. Dance Magazine has highlighted Laura in its “On the Rise” and “Behind the Curtain” series, and featured her on its February 2018 cover. Recently retired from PTDC, she is now a proud mother, a freelance dance-artist, an adjunct professor of dance at Pace University, a teacher at the Taylor School, a co-founder of the Asbury Park Dance Festival, and an artist with a deep curiosity in the process and craft of dancemaking.
LANE NAPPER, Actor-Director-Choreographer, has been involved in all areas of show business for years. Probably most known for his role as the guidance counselor on the hit television show Victorious. Lane is also an actor plus television and stage choreographer-director. Some of Lane’s work can be seen on such shows as, CNN, iCarly, FBI, Tic Tic Boom, Drake and Josh and Victorious. Recently Lane was awarded “Choreographer of the Year” by the Enginuity Film Awards for his work on the film Carnival Kid. Lane is currently on Faculty for Titans of Dance.
TODD L. UNDERWOOD is an award-nominated director-choreographer whose work has been seen on stages and in film all over the world. Past productions include Cabaret The Color Purple, Man of La Mancha, West Side Story, Saturday Night Fever (Connecticut Critics Circle Award nomination), Rent, Chicago, La Cage aux Folles, Having Our Say, Dreamgirls, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, AIDA, The Princess and the Black-Eyed Pea (NAACP Theater Award nomination), independent film, “Were the World Mine” (Astaire Award nomination), Memphis (Bay Area Circle Critics Award and Connecticut Critics Circle Award nominations), Ain’t We Got Fun (London Concert). His work is featured in the movie musical Hello Again starring Audra McDonald, Cheyenne Jackson and Martha Plimpton, which also received a Chita Rivera Award nomination for Best Choreography in Film. He is also the Associate Artistic Producer at Ivoryton Playhouse in Connecticut.