NY New Works Theatre Festival: Meet Sara McDermott Jain and Steven Skeels & Flesh and Spirit

Name: Sara McDermott Jain (playwright) and Steven Skeels (composer/lyricist)

Current project: “Flesh & Spirit”; BLURB: Michael, a priest, begins a journey of self-discovery that connects his life to that of Daphne, a drug addict and a prostitute. In trying to help Daphne and come to terms with his own sexuality, Michael incurs the wrath of his most devout parishioner, the scorned and jilted Mary, and Daphne incurs the wrath of David, her pimp and sometimes lover.

Where are you performing/why is it the right fit? : We are performing it as part of the New York New Works Theatre Festival (nynwtheatrefestival.com). This is a somewhat controversial show, delving into topics rarely (if ever?) seen in musical theatre. That makes it a little experimental. NYNW provides the perfect, supportive platform to try it out with an audience.

What’s next for you? : We’re looking to collaborate on two new musicals together. Additionally, Sara has one feature film that is releasing this fall and another just going into production, and Steven is currently writing a musical with husband Jerad Bortz as well as developing a one-man show and a new album to release in 2017. 

Biggest inspiration

Steven: “Lin Manuel. He is also an actor/composer/lyricist.” 

Sara: “I feel like I’m inspired by so many people all the time! I’m constantly reading up on my craft and trying to take in as much as I can, and am blown away by the amount of brilliant people in the world. If I have to choose just one person, though, I guess I’ll say it’s my two-year-old, Nicholas Anshuman Jain! It might be cliche, but his amazement at experiencing everything for the first time is awe-inspiring. Since he arrived in my life, he’s pushed me to do more and be better than I ever thought I could be.”

Want more?

Twitter:https://twitter.com/FandSMusical / @fandsmusical

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fleshandspiritmusical/

Sara McDermott Jain is a produced screenwriter and playwright, as well as a published author and director of the Princeton Independent Film Festival (Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, 2016, http://www.prindiefest.com). Her feature screenplay Left, written while at Emerson College, won the Evvy Award for Best Script Drama before being purchased by Gaddis Visuals. The finished film is releasing in Fall 2016. Additionally, she has recently been hired to script the new upcoming horror film franchise Hidden Evil for Unleashed Pictures. Flesh & Spirit is her first experience writing a book for a musical. She currently has several projects in development, including two new musicals, Driven and Switched.

Steven Skeels (composer/lyricist). As an actor Steven originated the starring role of Rusty in both the International and Las Vegas companies of Starlight Express. He had a Top 10 hit single of Starlight Express on CBS records. He also had a top 5 hit in Japan with the song The Letter. Regional: Lt.Cable in South Pacific, Scarecrow in the wizard of Oz and Tom Thumb in Barnum. He has toured the world performing in over 40 countries and has performed with show biz legends Shirley MacLaine, Rita Moreno, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds. Steven also performed an original song on Oprah’s After show titled Light of Love and then recorded it as a single to raise money for Oprah’s Angel Network. He has composed music for the documentary Tiny Pinnochio – The smallest dog in the world. Steven has recorded 5 albums as a singer/songwriter and has performed as a soloist for 3 US Presidents. 

Upcoming project include: CPNY the musical, Whole-A Spiritual Journey, Driven: a new musical, Switched the musical, The Dinky, Stinky & Glippy Show and a play titled Poet O.

______________________________Show info: 7pm, Sept. 12, 2016, at the Elektra Theatre in the Times Arts Center as part of the New York New Works Theatre Festival (http://www.nynwtheatrefestival.com). (Flesh and Spirit goes on at 9pm.)


300 W 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036 – 2nd Floor
AT 7PM sharp.

*Disclaimer: Please be aware shows performing after 8:30pm may not be suitable for younger audiences. No children under the age of 4 are permitted.
** Please note that tickets can be purchased after 3pm the day of the show at the door are $25.
Click HERE for tickets and other festival participants

Meet Susanne Pinedo & And Scene…A Woman’s Journey to Walk Again

Susanne Pinedo
Susanne Pinedo

: Susanne Pinedo

What is your current project?
I’m a publicist for the theatre and film industries, and am currently working on two projects. I’m doing the publicity for the documentary film, “And Scene…A Woman’s Journey to Walk Again,” produced by Casting Director and Indie Film Producer, Liz Ortiz-Mackes and her production company, I Ain’t Playin’ Films. Mrs. Ortiz-Mackes has also written a book about audition preparation for actors, “Ace Your Acting Audition, Second Edition: Using Iconic Specificity and Other Surefire Techniques” and I have the great honor of promoting it, as well.

Where are you performing it and why is it the right fit for your piece?

One of my main focuses is to conduct as much advocacy and activism as I can through my work; social causes are very important to me. “And…Scene” is about actress and wheelchair dancer, Jamie Petrone and the narrative dives deeply into the themes of disability, diffusing stereotypes and pursuing what you love to do regardless of any obstacles. This film depicts and conveys so many important messages that are universal and I have made it my mission to help tell this story of courage and truth.

What’s next for you?

I have recently begun providing publicity consultations to voice over actors through Edge Studio, a leading training institution for the voice over industry. I’m very excited about this opportunity and look forward to this new journey.

Who is your biggest inspiration right at this moment and why?

My mom is a constant well of inspiration and so much of what I do is fueled by her. She came to this country as a single mom and not speaking the language and was fearless. Every day she tells me to do what I believe in and makes me happy. And I do:)

Want more?

Website: http://www.pinedopr.com

Twitter: @PinedoPr

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PinedoPublicRelations

Susanne is a publicist with a passion for providing out-of-the-box, and top-quality, public relations and communications services. Originally from Miami, Florida, she re-located to New York in 2012 and launched Pinedo Public Relations, which specializes in generating publicity for the performing arts community, whether the client is an individual artist, a group, or a theater/production company. She has a BFA in Theatre from Florida International University. Some credits include, Off Broadway: Broke Wide Open, by Rock Wilk, Fried Chicken and Latkes by Rain Pryor, Andrew J. Nemr & Friends by Andrew J. Nemr. Off Off Broadway: Donkey Punch by Micheline Auger and produced by Ivy Theatre Company, The Scary produced by IRTE (Improv Repertory Theatre Ensemble), Right to Remain by Meshaun Labrone, Lady Luck is a Whore by Leanne Linsky, Listen…Can You Hear Me Now? by Gloria Rosen, A Little Potato and Hard to Peel and The Boy Who Would Be Captain Hook by David Harrell, and The Road to High Street by Andrew Potter.
Show information (venue, dates, ticket info)

For more information on “And…Scene” please visit:


For more information on Ace Your Acting Audition, Second Edition: Using Iconic Specificity and Other Surefire Techniques:


Guest Blogger Nick Radu’s Review of The Tower

AntiMatter Collective put on a truly interesting evening of theater entertainment as part of the SubletSeries@HERE with their production of The Tower. The audience was brought into the space and collectively told about the tour they would be embarking on. The backdrop opened onto an entire set in which audience members could roam. There was the cut-away of a log cabin, a picnic table, camp sites with chairs and even debris on the ground to demarcate that we were clearly in the woods. Trees aligned the walls and the sounds of birds and crickets could be heard.
As the tour commenced we were transported back to 1846 as we watched the Donners, the Reeds and other families live out their lives as they traveled west to California; or got caught in a violent snowstorm doing so.This beautiful ensemble cast was a pleasure to watch as they acted out the lives of these ill-fated travelers. One group stayed to weather out the storm, while another party went off in search of help and supplies. The amazing movement sequences, whether in unison or jumbled around, brought such a great understanding of the monotony of the world they lived in.

Projections for snowfall and video for certain scenes also enhanced the experience. However, certain media and other props and effects, such as an electric iron and grille and a seventies disco nightmare dance, pulled us away from the feel of the tough wilderness we had become accustomed to enduring with the characters. It isn’t subtitled The Psychedelic Tragedy of the Donner Party for nothing. That said, I do enjoy a good dance sequence, and these things helped to lighten the heaviness of the show and it’s gruesome topic.

Philip Gates did an excellent job directing this crazy piece of art. Kudos, again, to the wonderful cast for their commitment and talent. Other than standing for the majority of the two hours, as we moved out of the actors’ way and followed the action of the two stories, this was a very enjoyable evening out. Except for maybe those who got eaten.



Thank You, Dr. Angelou

65770636f2645c08d887f79999173d9dSome people are just extraordinarily gifted. They have a way with words. Their thoughts are clear and their intentions pure. These days it’s hard to find a public figure to be a role model. I always looked up to Maya Angelou. I loved her voice especially knowing that she had given it up as a child. She chose the written word instead. What passion and dedication! What a full life. What a power of example. I have seen many interviews and read many articles about her but my favorite is her Master Class on OWN. She stares into the camera and tells her story with love and honor. Because she’s The Phenomenal Woman.

My favorites:

“When people show you who they are, believe them.”

“When you learn, teach, when you get, give.” 

From the Oprah interview on Super Soul Sunday: 

OW: I’ve tried to let people know, as you have taught me over the years, that when you forgive somebody, it doesn’t necessarily mean you want to invite them to your table. 

MA: Indeed not. No, no, no. I don’t even want you around me. It just means I’m finished with you. 

Coincidence v. Synchronicity

Coincidence? I think we have been wrongly defining the word. We make a big deal out of it as if a coincidence is luck hiding behind a curtain and then pops out of nowhere. SURPRISE! Oh my god, what are the chances?!

Actually, a coincidence is simply two events occurring at the same time with a common thread. I think what we are actually getting excited about is synchronicity. Synchronicity is a coming together of seemingly unconnected events.  That’s what we are getting excited about when it happens. I am not a believer of coincidences as there’s an undertone of chance or luck. I believe that everything happens for a reason. That happenstance is preparation for something else that is going to happen. Whatever I am going through now is preparing me for the next lesson. It is up to me to listen, step back and learn.

A few years ago, I went through a very difficult time. I thought that the world was crashing on me. Everything seemed to have come out of the woodworks and needed my attention right there and then. I absolutely didn’t know what to do and how to handle the issues that fell in my lap. They covered the spectrum of life: family, finances, work, career. Each were attached by to a very specific emotion and all emotions at once. As I am sure you know, it is quite overwhelming.  I didn’t think I was going to come out on the other side.  I thought that I lost all of it and depair set in.

Luckily, I had some very loving people in my life who told me just pause. How long is a pause? On some days it’s a few seconds, other times, an hour or a day or week. Who is to say? During my pause, which in this case, was two weeks, I was able to pull myself out of the maelstrom and let the answers come to me.  And they did. And I was willing and desperate to listen. The answer to work and career presented itself. It was time to move on to a new place which would allow me to freely pursue my art. I am sure what you are wondering how that can be? In my head, I had decided that I was going to be bold and walk into my producer/mentor’s office and tell me to give me that he was going to make it possible to work for him, by him, with him in any manner.  I gave myself 8 months to make the change. Scary and unsure but I set the intention and let it be. About two months after I made the decision, I interviewed at my current job on a lark…and was offered a position. I accepted. I did meet with my producer/mentor and told him what I was going to say to him. We laughed and he said very kind words to me. I think the job offer and the career transition is synchronicity. They happened at the same time and aren’t really connected.

I am getting through to the other side. It has been a very long pause but I have learned so much about myself.

I love Deepak Chopra and his teachings. Here he talks about coincidences and synchronicity. He believes in coincidences. I don’t. We can agree to disagree!

Published Poet – Check

As you know I am all about making dreams into reality. When it comes to my own, I usually have to work through the fear, do it and let go. That was the case with my poetry. I love writing poems.

Last summer I faced my fear of writing and reading my poems in a vacuum. I took a poetry class at the Writer’s Studio and slowly found my voice.  It’s in that class that I wrote and worked on Catamarans.It reflects one of the happiest moments of my life – the celebration of my 5th wedding anniversary in the Dominican Republic in 2007. GOOD TIMES! When I received an email from Newtown Literary about accepting submissions for the launch of their inaugural issue, I figured I just have to do it. Just to do it. No hopes.  My goal was to face the fear of sending the poem to the magazine.  So I uploaded it, fretted for a bit, then hit send and ran away from the computer.

Then I totally forgot about it until I received my acceptance 3 months later.

It’s funny but I had the same fear when I wrote my first blog entry almost a year ago. The same thing happened as with the poem.  And I have come to love writing this blog. If anything, I think it has allowed me to tap into me.

The issue debuts in the late Fall.  As with any artistic endeavor, Newtown Literary is accepting contributions. Their campaign is called Sponsor-a-Contributor (that’s me!).  This will help  in covering the printing costs of the journal and developing operational funds as we continue on to the Spring 2013 issue.

Please Check it out: http://fundly.com/ercjdqff.

Are You Who You Say You Are?

Maya Angelou says  “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

People are who they say they are.  I am a follower of Thoughts Become Things. Whether those thoughts are positive or negative, they do manifest into reality.  As of late, I have noticed meanness for the sake of being mean, rude, and proud. Being nasty or mean to others doesn’t make you look cool. As a matter of fact,  one of two things will happen:

1. Other nasty people will love you and your life will just continue to bloom in this negative aura or 2. you will be alone because no one will want to hang out with you.

Sometimes there is a fun factor to being around people like this.  They say the thoughts in your head that remain an inner monologue. However, as someone who tries not be like this anymore,  I have become uber sensitive when it happens around me or to me.  Especially if it comes out of left field.  So,  I have to take note if someone is dismissive. I have to think about whether I need to be in that person’s presence  if someone is rude and hurtful. I also have to absorb the purpose of someone strikes with one remark . Then I remind myself that I should always think before I speak : “does it need to be said” and “do I need to say it”. Once I take these situations under consideration, I know I just probably saved myself a ton of aggravation and self-imposed turmoil.

I personally don’t think it is cool to label one’s self with a negative term.  I find that it diminishes the best parts while highlighting the worst parts.


Check out my other project with the EstroGenius Festival. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays of October,  the staff of the festival answer the Estro 5. I am really proud of how this came together! Tickets are also available.

A Birthday Post (and thank you!)

Ian and I are celebrating our birthday today. We have shared our birthday for the last 14 years. It’s interesting as I had a resentment about it for about 5 years. I took issue with not having a holiday all to myself…which in retrospect is pretty egotistical and sh****y. So I apologize to Ian for feeling that way. I am not that person anymore. I love that we share this special day and that our parents can relish in it together. It’s nice to get those calls and emails all at once (HI DADDY)! We personally get a kick out of the weather that day. It was windy at 3:30am when Ian decided to make his grand entrance and it rained at 1:3opm when I decided to make front page news!

This morning I thought to myself how easy it is to share a birthday. We don’t have to celebrate on different days. Our families can send two birthday cards at once. Our friends can send us beautiful posts at the same time. Luckily, we have similar tastes so we both wanted to see Motley Crue and KISS on Saturday. Plus we were both gung ho about going in make-up. Next month we are seeing Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson because we want to not because we feel obligated to each other.  AND Ian was psyched that I wanted my version of surf and turf for dinner tonight (I opt for shrimp rather than lobster).

So I would like to thank everyone who sent us cards, texts, emails, and Facebook love! Please know that we read every one of those posts. Much love to all of you!

Happy Birthday, Ian. Here’s to a whole lotta more…so much a lot. xoxoxoxo

Specificity (or What I Have Learned from My Infusions)

I learned this term about 5 months ago when I was sitting with my consultant, Michael Roderick. Simply, he is a problem solver who also produces and loves theater as much as I do.  We were discussing about a certain frustration I was feeling. I felt pretty lost and not sure what to do. In this instance, it was regarding theater. Writers have writers block. Producers and directors go through the same thing. And then we are upset that we are stuck or burnt out because we have created in our heads that we are lucky to create. It’s a vicious cycle. Anyway, what I realized is that I have been really lacking some specificity. For example, I want to do everything in addition to my very specific goals. I soon found out weren’t very specific. 

I began my steroid infusions this week to maintain the flair ups of my Multiple Sclerosis. I got really lucky as all my appointments are at 8:00am. That means I have about an hour or so to sit, infuse and reflect. I realized that I should really start being more speficific in all aspects of my life. I have moments when I am all over the place wanting to accomplish everything but at times still feeling unfulfilled. This diagnosis has helped me step back and look at all I have done and what I want to do. For example, deciding which area of theater best serves me and what will be the next big goal; how can I continue to be of service  others to the best of my abililties; what seemed impossible or a dream is slowly becoming a gift which I am truly enjoying.

Being unspecific doesn’t mean one can’t find one’s self but rather narrowing down what speaks to you the most. What do you find yourself always going back to that causes you to light up? What makes you smile? What tugs at your heart and soul?

I am in an enlightened mindset this week. I have so been enjoying the early morning me time while I begin to feel better. I guess this diagnosis is a gift.  I need to look it that way right now…then cry about it later…and contiinue on.

Grace with a Splash of Sass

“Grace is not a do-it-yourself project.” What a great quote from an email I received first thing this morning.  I have been thinking a lot about grace as of late.  I have also been thinking about support. I really love both definitions. Grace is  ease and suppleness of movement or bearing  and support is to keep from fainting, yielding, or losing courage.

Isn’t that just so good?! I have to say that I have a support system, near and far, that keep me from losing courage. Or rather WON’T let me. This past week I was rediagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Being diagnosed a second time came with a flood of emotions. Yet, I chose to accept the news with grace and a plan. I know that this wouldn’t have been possible if I did not have an amazing circle of supporters. Whether it was my mother-in-law on the phone while I was at the doctor’s office, my family and friends rooting for me or my doctors explaining how this is not a death sentence, the support was in the tools that they all were offering me.

It is difficult to be graceful all the time especially since I am broad with tons of sass. It’s part of my charm. However, I have found a lot of humility in choosing to be zen and in the present moment. It is also easy to confuse support with reliance. I thought for a long time that I had to have a reliable group of people to catch me. I need to catch myself. It’s the only way I can keep my eye on the ball. 

So, really, this blog is a thank you to all my readers who send tons of love, support and remind me to be graceful.