Meet Robert and Cristina Farruggia & On the Air

Name: Robert & Cristina Farruggia

What is your current project?

A homage to the golden age of musical theatre, On the Air is an original new musical inspired by the lives of Jack and Loretta Clemens, a real life Vaudeville sibling duo that went on to star on Radio and TV. It’s a story that deals with major changes in society/entertainment through the early half the twentieth century, but at its heart, focuses on two siblings and the balance of their opposing dreams. The musical has gone through a number of prominent theatres/festivals, most recently presented as a reading at The York Theatre Company directed by Tony Nominee Hunter Foster. It was a semifinalist for NAMT and FWD Theatre Project, as well as a finalist for the Santa Fe Musical Theatre Festival and the Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat. On the Air was also presented at the PiTCH Series as part of the Finger Lakes MT Festival. For the first time, On the Air will be produced as a fully staged workshop production at The Gallery Players.

Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production?

On the Air will be presented at The Gallery Players. 199th 14th St. Brooklyn, NY. The show will have a total of 5 performances, May 18th at 8pm, May 19th at 8pm, May 20th at 2 & 8pm, and May 21st at 3pm. This is the first time The Gallery Players will be mounting a fully staged workshop production and it is the first new musical the theatre has produced at this level since the successful Off Broadway hit Yank! This 99-seat theatre is the perfect venue for On the Air, allowing the audience to feel the nostalgia and joy of the golden era of Radio, while also focusing in on an intimidate story about family and dreams.

What’s next for you?

Now that On the Air has been put up on its feet, the next stage of development would be a regional premiere production. In addition to On the Air, we are readying for an industry reading our second musical, The Store Under the Portico, which takes place in WWII Italy. Aside from our musical work, we have a number of original pieces which we hope to showcase in upcoming cabarets/songwriter events. Please check out our social media pages for the latest news on our projects.

What is the name of the last show you saw?

The last show we saw was The Play That Goes Wrong. It was hysterical, and it was great to see a company come together like that to create such great art!

Any advice for your peers?

Our greatest advice is to stay true to your voice. We feel very passionate about the golden age of musical theatre and our writing voices naturally fit that time period. While we initially thought this to be a weakness, we soon found it was our greatest strength. People will resonate most with an original voice that is compelling and true, rather than an imitation of something you think people want to hear. While the music harks back to another time, the themes are still very relevant to today. We like to think of our show as a golden age musical for a modern age audience.

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You Tube:
Robert & Cristina Farruggia are both professional actors/playwrights. As actors, they performed in the closing performance of Les Miserables on Broadway and starred in a number of prominent regional productions. As writers, their work has been featured/finalists for NAMT, FWD Theatre Project, Writer’s Rhinebeck Retreat, 54 Below, Santa Fe Musical Theatre Festival, etc.

Show Information:

When: Thursday, May 18th to Sunday May 21st
Where: The Gallery Players
Address: 199 14th Street, Park Slope
Website: For tickets visit

Meet Jonathan Bruce King & The Gallery Players

Jonathan and I have been chatting about this past season at The Gallery Players. This season has been a great representation of American theatre.  Here it is:

Malini: The Gallery Players celebrates 50 years this year with you as their season producer. The season reflects many genres of theatre (Gypsy, The 39 Steps, A Few Good Men, Marry Me a Little, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Sweet Bird of Youth, Ragtime, and the upcoming Black Box New Play Festival). How did you and your team decide on the shows?

Jonathan: This season is indeed quite varied. We tried to pick shows that were fitting of a 50th season. As a result, we chose very challenging pieces for a 99-seat theatre to perform. Each show presented a unique challenge and one that gave us a chance to explore new things such as the intricate sets for Sweet Bird of Youth, the many locations of Gypsy to the 35 person cast of Ragtime. The desire was to have the season reflect Gallery’s roots but also show where we want to go with more intricate and audience delighting design, cast and production elements. We wanted to find shows that could wow our audience and how them where we want to take the theater and push the limits of what 99-seat theater can be for the audience.

Malini: The company has a rich history. Harvey Feinstein’s Torch Song Trilogy has its roots there. Seth Rudetsky and many other Broadway folks have performed there. What drew you to this theatre company?

Jonathan: It is actually! I’m a huge fan of both Harvey and Seth, and when I heard that they got their start in our theatre, it further solidified my desire to work there. I think what I have loved is coming into an environment that is there to help artists train and develop their craft. It’s been such a great place to learn producing. I’m so grateful to our Artistic Director, Mark Harborth, and the president of the board, Dominic Cuskern, for the amount of support they’ve given me and the leeway to learn.

Malini: What is your goals as an artist?

Jonathan: First, aesthetically, I try to make art that can only be done in a theater, live. Whether this be some kind of improv, immersive elements, or even just surrounding the audience with singers, I try to make sure that this is something you have to attend to understand. I love live performance and I want my audience to have a reason to see my work rather than watching a streaming video. In a more philosophically, my goal as an artist is to create art that has what it needs to succeed. I’m a big believer in creating a piece that is both sustainable, economically and artistically, that gets exactly what it needs but doesn’t have to get what it wants to tell its story and reach its audience.

Malini: What’s next for the company?

Jonathan: We have big plans! The week after we close ragtime we are presenting a workshopped production of a new musical by Cristina and Robert Farruggia, On the Air. It’s a great new piece and is a first for both Gallery Players and its Overtures reading program. Next season should be a great one as for the first time we’re doing four musicals. I can’t tell you what they are just yet, as our announcement has been held until May 9th at our theater’s 50th Birthday party in Park Slope.

Jonathan-Bruce King hails from the beautiful and slightly foggy, Oakland, CA. Originally trained as an actor at Washington University in St. Louis, he now works as the season producer at Gallery Players in Park Slope. Producing select off-off broadway credits include Bottled Up (DCTV), A Doll’s House (Access Theatre), In the Heights (Gallery Players) and Ragtime (Gallery Players). Outside of his work in theatre and the consulting world he enjoys escaping New York for the sunny wonderland that is the west coast, attending lunches at the Coffee House Club, and reading his favorite points and miles blogs. Artistically he tries to be involved with theatre that is immersive and shows off all the amazing opportunities afforded by live performance.

Meet Adrian Rifat (Marry Me a Little & You’re a Good Man…)

Name: Adrian Rifat

What is your current project?

Marry Me A Little, in Rep with You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown

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

The Gallery Players, a smaller and more intimate space, perfect for a tale of two lovelorn New Yorkers in Brooklyn!

What’s next for you?

A new musical adaptation of the Russian story book, The Nose. More details to come.

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

Sia Furler. And the entire team involved with this repertory project. The talent, diligence, vulnerability, and teamwork vulnerability are off the charts!

Want More?

Twitter: @AdrianRifat
Instagram @adrianisinspace

Adrian Rifat was last seen as Horton the Elephant, he’s over the moon to be playing in his sixth(and seventh) show at Gallery! Let’s play!

Show information (venue, dates, ticket info)

The Gallery Players
199 14th Street(between 4th and 5th avenue)
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Runs Thursday to Saturday 8pm

More info at

Meet Paul Williams (Marry Me a Little & You’re a Good Man…)

Name: Paul Williams

What is your current project?

Currently I am playing Man in Marry Me A Little and Charlie Brown in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.

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

Both of these musicals are being performed in repertory at The Gallery Players in Brooklyn. This theatre is absolutely perfect for both shows, but especially for Marry Me A Little. This space provides the actors an opportunity to be intimate with the audience and it feels great to have them right there with us while we are telling this story.

What’s next for you?

I hope more opportunities, like this one, come along where I get to perform with a great cast and work with an amazing creative team!

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

I’m inspired by people who are passionate about what they do and who pour their hearts and souls into their work. The Marry Me A Little cast and creative team are prime examples of this. We have taken a show and applied a completely new concept that is going to affect so many people in such a positive way. I’ve learned something from every single actor I share this show with and I do not know what I would do without them. Each day I walk into the theatre I am inspired to be better and for that I thank them!

Want More?

Twitter: @_paultwilliams
Instagram: @_paultwilliams

Paul Williams is making his debut NYC performance at The Gallery Players. He received his masters degree from Oklahoma City University in music theater and his bachelor’s degree from The University of Southern Mississippi in music education. Some of his previous roles include Tom Collins (Rent), Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Adrian), Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Ragtime), and Jim (Big River).

Show information (venue, dates, ticket info)

The Gallery Players

199 14th St. Brooklyn, NY 11215

January 26th – February 18th

Tickets can be purchased at

More info:

Interview with Barrie Gelles, Director of Marry Me a Little at The Gallery Players


Barrie Gelles stages revivals in unexpected ways. That’s what she said to me when we were chatting about her upcoming revival of Sondheim’s Marry Me a Little. The musical premiered Off-Off Broadway in 1980 for a two month run and then ran again for a in 1981 at The Actors Playhouse. After that, Marry Me… enjoyed runs around the world though it’s never been produced on Broadway. Gelles felt that this was a musical that best reflects her aesthetic. She knew her concept of a two character play performed by three casts would be ambitious and a great challange. However, she knew she had her vision and the support of the historic,The Gallery Players, to make it happen. A woman after my own heart.

When I heard about your concept for Marry Me a Little, I was intrigued. This is a two character musical by Stephen Sondheim and your concept of a rotating cast (2 couples: a man and a woman; two men; and two women) is a fresh and new approach. It’s clever and ambitious. How did the concept present itself and how did you go about bringing it to fruition?

Barrie: I am going to cheat a little here and answer by way of the “director’s note” that I wrote for our audiences.  When I started working on this show, months before casting, it became clear to me that the appeal of this show was its central thesis on love. With that thought, it seemed obvious that this production could and should subvert the typical gender-normative casting and hetero-normative narratives of most musical theatre. The premise of Marry Me a Little is that of two strangers, living in New York City, in the same apartment building, one floor apart.  The story is about love lost and love yet to be found.  It seemed a perfect opportunity to be more inclusive and rethink the casting of the lovelorn duo. I decided to cast three separate duos (one male/female, one male/male, and one female/female) because I believed that the distinctly different interpretations of the same piece of art would create a unique musical theatre experience.

I appreciate you saying it was clever, and I acknowledge that it certainly was ambitious, because we didn’t have any more time that we would usually have to create a musical.  An equity showcase production allots five weeks of rehearsal, regardless of how many casts you may have.  On top of that, we are doing Marry Me a Little in repertory with You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, so we had even less time.  We had to budget our time wisely and create a system in order to block the show with three sets of actors.  We spent each rehearsal tagging-in to the blocking session.  So we’d begin blocking our opening number “If You Can Find Me, I’m Here” and one duo would start the work.  About a third of the way through the song, they would step down and the second duo would get on their feet for the blocking session, then the third duo would follow.  Once the entire number was blocked, each duo would have a chance to run through it in its entirety.  It was as strange as it sounds and more marvelous than you can imagine.  

What are some of the challenges and breakthroughs during the rehearsal process?

Barrie: As you can imagine, it was very challenging to block in the way I have described.  However, many of our breakthroughs happened because the actors had a chance to watch someone else play their part.  By having three actors all creating the same character, they could be inspired by the adjacent interpretations.  

In order to keep the show cohesive, I insisted that all three duos commit to following one clear and consistent narrative.  In that sense, I was very much the dramaturg of the show as well as the director.  During the months leading up to rehearsal, I worked on the show a great deal.  It has no libretto, it is a sung through musical and it is made up of songs that were originally written to be part of other musicals.  Because these songs have been uprooted from their original context, they carry with them their ghosted meanings.  In order to direct this show, I had to strip the songs of their original narratives and reconsider them anew.  I had to create a given circumstances for the show and a narrative arc that we could all latch onto in order to ensure the coherency of the piece.  Because we had three casts, I had to go into the first day of rehearsal with this story already fully formed so that the actors would have a tether to keep them grounded in a very emotional musical that has no traditional plot.  I believe that this process allowed the actors to move into the more delicious realm of character development and intricate song work.  I think that the breakthroughs that they had (individually and collectively) about the songs were so rich because we hit the ground running with the narrative of the piece.

For practicality reasons, most of the blocking of the show is the same between the duos. But there are distinct differences in the physical interpretations of each of the characters.  No two actors play the characters exactly the same way, nor do they take up the stage space in the same manner.  One of the most challenging rehearsals was also the most delightful: I had to choreograph three different dances for “A Moment With You” in order to suit the actors’ bodies and to honor each duo’s particular story.  What other circumstance would yield such a crazy exploration?  

Did the script and score need to be adjusted to fit your vision?

We did not change a single word of the score – the music and lyrics have all remained the same.  In fact, there is a female actor singing the “Man” role and a male actor singing the “Woman” role and we didn’t even change the key of the music for them, we simply cast actors who could sing it (and can they ever!). Through the magic of musical theatre, where we are so willing to suspend disbelief while acknowledging the overt theatricality of people bursting into song, the pronouns and gender specific words just seem to blend into the narrative seamlessly.  This is a huge credit to the actors who are playing the roles.  

Why did you choose this show?

Stephen Sondheim’s music is so lush and so heartbreakingly complex.  It is a pleasure to work with his material.  But I mostly chose this show because it is a unique character study within a musical.  It has the trappings of a realistic, contemporary drama: it is the small world of an apartment, on a single Saturday night, where the action of the play is steeped in everyday life tasks such as reading the paper and pouring a drink.  But along with this “real life” simplicity comes an overwhelmingly emotional journey for the characters, told entirely through song.  Furthermore, because the two characters live in two separate apartments, they spend a great deal of the show without interacting with a scene partner.  The show presents one of the strangest and most intoxicating acting challenges in musical theatre: realism within a musical; unity while being alone; and a story about love that is of the past or the future, but not the present.


This is a charming and bittersweet musical featuring rarely heard songs by Stephen Sondheim. Two urban singles live through a Saturday night of deep yearning and sweet fantasies while never leaving the confines of their solitary New York City apartments. Together they breathe new life and meaning into a collection of trunk songs that were culled from the original Broadway productions of shows such as Follies, Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and A Little Night Music. A must for Sondheim aficionados and any New Yorker who ever found themselves alone on a Saturday night, thinking about love that was lost and love to be found.

By special permission from Mr. Sondheim, Gallery will be presenting this two character musical with male/female, male/male and female/female pairings.]


[A first for this show, there will be three rotating casts performing each weekend.]

Female/Female pairing

Laura Cetti

Cassandra Dupler

Male/Female pairing

Jesse Manocherian*

Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld*

Male/Male pairing

Adrian Rifat

Paul Williams


Thurs, Jan 26 @ 8:00pm (Jesse Manocherian & Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld) M/F pairing

Fri, Jan 27 @ 8:00pm (Adrian Rifat and Paul Williams) M/M pairing

Sat, Jan 28 @ 8:00pm (GalleryTalks) (Laura Cetti and Cassandra Dupler) F/F pairing

Thurs, Feb 2 @ 8:00pm (Adrian Rifat and Paul Williams) M/M pairing

Fri, Feb 3 @ 8:00pm (Laura Cetti and Cassandra Dupler) F/F pairing

Sat, Feb 4 @ 8:00pm (Jesse Manocherian and Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld) M/F pairing

Thurs, Feb 9 @ 8:00pm (Laura Cetti and Cassandra Dupler) F/F pairing

Fri, Feb 10 @ 8:00pm (Jesse Manocherian and Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld) M/F pairing

Sat, Feb 11 @ 8:00pm (Adrian Rifat and Paul Williams) M/M pairing

Thurs, Feb 16 @ 8:00pm (Adrian Rifat and Paul Williams) M/M pairing

Fri, Feb 17 @ 8:00pm (Jesse Manocherian and Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld) M/F pairing

Sat, Feb 18 @ 8:00pm (Laura Cetti and Cassandra Dupler) F/F pairing\

*appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association


Producer – Jonathan King

Director and Choreographer – Barrie Gelles

Lighting Designer – Scott Cally

Costume Designer – Hayley Zimmerman

Set Designer – Paul Radassao

Production Stage Manager – Jillian Christensen

Assistant Stage Manager – Emily LaRosa


Meet Laura Cetti and Marry Me a Little

Name: Laura Cetti

What is your current project?

Steven Sondheim’s Marry Me a Little

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

The Gallery Players in Brooklyn. Gallery is an amazing space. The large, multi-level playing area really suits this piece as the designers have been able to really replicate a Brooklyn loft apartment. Also the fact that the audience seating begins just a few feet from the stage makes it feel as though they are right there spending our Saturday night with us.

What’s next for you?

Well… back to pounding the pavement! Also, I will be working with some good friends at Asterism Theatre Company on a new piece focusing on life after the election. How our nation has become untied and how we can become united again.

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

Without a doubt it is the amazing “Marry Me” team. The 3 rotating casts, comprised of 3 men and 3 women all rehearse together in a tag team collaboration that has been soooo eye opening. To step out of your own scenes and songs for a moment and see it through someone elses eyes, told by someone else voice and body teaches me so much about myself and my interpretation of the character. The support has been overwhelming. We all depend on eachother and build eachother up. I can’t imagine taking on this difficult, sung through Sondheim without them. Especially Jesse and Paul the two brilliant actors who share the role of “Man” with me.

Want More?


Laura Cetti is a singer, actor and mother of two. Recent credits include Imaginary (New York New Works Festival, Semifinalist), We Were Children (Thespis Festival/Hudson Guild Theater), Lady Parts(The AlphaNY) and Pieces(Planet Connections Theater Festivity) for which she was awarded Best Supporting Actress in a Musical 2014.

Show information (venue, dates, ticket info)

The Gallery Players

199 14th St. Brooklyn, NY 11215

January 26th – February 18th

Tickets can be purchased at

Meet Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld and Marry Me a Little

Name: Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld

What is your current project?

Marry Me A Little (in rep with You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown)

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

We are performing at The Gallery Players. The space has the kind of intimacy that the piece requires. It is just two actors and a piano on stage for 70 minutes. That’s it! It wouldn’t work as well in a larger house. In this theatre, we can create the kind of safe space that is necessary for the actors and the audience to really dive in emotionally.

What’s next for you?

I am also a voice actor and my newest cartoon called “Nella the Princess Knight” premieres on Nick Jr. on February 6th. You can also hear me on your TV every Saturday morning on Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Regal Academy.

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

I would have to say my collaborators on this piece are my biggest inspiration right now. Building these characters has truly been a team effort among the three rotating casts, and it has been an incredible experience to see how the exact same given circumstances and blocking can create wildly different characters and moments on stage. Everyone has shown up with extreme generosity, lack of ego, and a readiness to play, and I feel so grateful to be in the room where it’s happening.

Want More?


Twitter: @AlysonRosenfeld

Instagram: @alysonleighrosenfeld

Alyson was last seen in Seussical, The Baker’s Wife, Emma (TGP), Fish in a Tree (MMAC), The Last Cyclist (West End Theatre), Opa! The Musical (dir. Dan Knechtges), All The Rats and Rags (Joe’s Pub). Last heard: “Pokémon” (Disney XD), “Yu-Gi-Oh!”, “Regal Academy” (Nickelodeon). BFA: NYU Tisch. Proud member of AEA & SAG-AFTRA.

Show information (venue, dates, ticket info)

The Gallery Players

199 14th St. Brooklyn, NY 11215

January 26th – February 18th

Tickets can be purchased at

Meet Cassandra Dupler (Marry Me a Little & You’re a Good Man…)

Name: Cassandra Dupler

What is your current project?

I am currently playing Woman in MARRY ME A LITTLE, as well as the female swing in YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN.

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

The Gallery Players theatre is a wonderful, intimate setting which allows the actors to connect with the audience in an extraordinary way. This is ideal for the material we’re singing in “Marry Me a Little”. Our show is about the personal lives of two ordinary people, home alone on a Saturday night. Gallery’s theatre gives the audience an opportunity to get a personal, almost one-on-one glimpse into their private moments.

What’s next for you?

I’m back to auditioning, searching and hoping to do a piece as meaningful as this one.
Who is your biggest inspiration right at this moment and why?
My great aunt, Carol Sawyer, (the original Fruma-Sarah in the 1964 Broadway production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF) has had an incredible impact on my life. As long as I can remember, we’ve talked about theatre, preparing for auditions and roles, and so much more. She has shared her personal insights about her Broadway and summer stock experiences at Tamiment. I grew up hearing anecdotes about such legends as Jerome Robbins, Zero Mostel, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Leonard Bernstein, Neil Simon, Hal Prince and George Abbott, to name a few. She helped give me a deep foundation and a unique perspective on the world of theatre.

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NYC credits: MARRY ME A LITTLE (Woman), YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN (female swing) at The Gallery Players (upcoming!), FIRST COMMUNION (Barefoot Theatre, starring Anna Chlumsky)

Regional credits: SISTER ACT (Sister Mary Patrick) at The Fireside Theatre, THE NOTEWORTHY LIFE OF HOWARD BARNES (Maggie-lead) in Kooman & Dimond’s musical at the Goodspeed Opera House, GYPSY (Electra) at Connecticut Repertory Theatre, starring Leslie Uggams.

Other favorite roles: THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE (Mrs. Meers), ON THE TOWN (Hildy Esterhazy), CAROUSEL (Carrie Pipperidge), LES MISERABLES (Madame Thenardier), SMILE (Maria Gonzales), THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (Katherine), MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (Beatrice), TWELFTH NIGHT (Olivia), YOU OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES (Libby Tucker), THE GINGERBREAD LADY (Polly Meara), THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT (Doris W.), THE TIN WOMAN (Sammy), BERMUDA AVENUE TRIANGLE (Rita), WEST SIDE STORY (Rosalia), WORKING (Rose Hoffman), BOOK OF DAYS (Ruth Hoch), SCAPIN (Zerbinette)

Proud graduate of the Hartt School, BFA in Music Theatre

Show information (venue, dates, ticket info)

The Gallery Players