"Dad" by Shawn Belpanno at the Actors Studio

Happy New Year, friends!

This month, I have the privilege of playing the lead role in a staged reading of Shawn Belpanno’s “Dad” on Wednesday January 23rd at 6PM at the historic Actors Studio in New York.

About the play: Vinny (played by David Beck) is in desperate need for guidance. He is clueless on how to handle his life when the spirit of his deceased father (played by Mike Jankowitz) comes to him to offer him advice and a chance to explore his past and reinvent his future.

Seats are very limited, but if you would like to attend, please contact me for a reservation.

Last month was a flurry of staged readings, including playing the role of Lee Strasburg in Ronald Rand’s screenplay Group Paradise. It was such a treat playing the iconic acting teacher during the formation of The Group Theatre (with Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford, and Stella Adler). These theatre artists forever changed drama, and we are all indebted to the great strides they achieved in the evolution of the craft of acting.

Stay tuned on updates for my short film “Backup Plan”, produced by my non-profit The Great Griffon and production company Blue Slate Films, now being submitted to film festivals nation wide!

The Good Book of Pedantry and Wonder

This is one of those plays that makes me fall in love with acting all over again. I'm thrilled to be taking part in this invited staged reading of the beautiful, funny play "The Good Book of Pedantry and Wonder" by Moby Pomerance tomorrow at 2pm. If you don't have a day job, come on over to the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row and be swept away to Victorian England!  There will be a reception to follow.

This is one of those plays that makes me fall in love with acting all over again. I'm thrilled to be taking part in this invited staged reading of the beautiful, funny play "The Good Book of Pedantry and Wonder" by Moby Pomerance tomorrow at 2pm. If you don't have a day job, come on over to the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row and be swept away to Victorian England! There will be a reception to follow.

Marymount Manhattan College Alumni Panel on Making My Own Work


This past weekend, I had the privilege of being a part of a wonderful panel at my alma mater Marymount Manhattan College.  The topic of discussion was "Creating Your Own Work", geared toward graduating seniors.  I hope we were able to bring a bit of illumination to these kids about to plunge into the professional world of theatre and filmmaking!    

Spring Street is featured in The Huffington Post!

Dear Supporters,

I am so thrilled to announce that Spring Street has received its first bit of press from The Huffington Post!  Thank you to JamesMichael Nichols for endorsing our webseries and Kickstarter campaign.  There is less than one week to make a tax-deductible contribution.  Onward we go! www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/spring-street-web-series_us_57bb2bc5e4b03d513689aebd?

Spring Street - The Webseries has launched!

Dear Friends,

I am beyond thrilled to share with you my latest adventure, Spring Street - The Webseries!  

I wrote this psychological thriller as I was influenced by New York's grit, it's diverse community, and the strength and resilience of its community.  Please take a look to view our video pitch in the link below, and please share it will your contacts!  


Encore Performance of The Piano Teacher March 3rd

Another Chance To See...

The Piano Teacher

Written by Julia Cho

*free admission*

With Rosina Fernhoff, Bilgin Turker, and David BeckDirected by Antonio Merenda

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016 at 7:30pm

St. Malachy's Church

239 West 49th Street   New York, NY 10019

(Between Broadway and Eighth Avenue)










Last night I saw a wonderful play enacted by three of the rarest of "items" in theater today.  Actors who are Real Artists.  There are many talented performers but talent is infinitely more common than artistry.  True Artists are the rare commodity so the idea of an entire cast and director actually all being true artists is utterly overwhelming.  Allow me to make the logical distinctions between the two.  Talent is a gift that's attention-getting that can entertain and even engage but only artists can illuminate the human condition and uplift the viewer transporting him to those mystical regions deep within himself.  Art resonates within us and we find ourselves somewhat haunted by it. Talent makes us happy for a while but art gives us abiding joy which we never forget.  We find ourselves returning mentally to the performance and play repeatedly.  

The three actors are made for great plays and great roles.  There's nothing miniscule about their work, it's all giant economy sized both in terms of heart and technique.  

Alternately comic and tragic BILGIN TURKER adds a large dollop of versatility to the mix as she plays several very different characters with great dexterity and velvety ease.  A real find, she possesses such an embarrassment of theatrical riches she puts most actors to shame.  She inhabits different psyches so completely that the discerning theatergoer knows beyond a doubt that Bilgin can and should play a broad range of roles.  She's a wonder to watch and she leaves us wanting to see more of her insights into the human condition.  She reveals the sub-conscious and the actual heartbeat in each character.  No small feat, that.  

Spoiler alert.  That DAVID BECK is one devious actor!  So low-key and soft-spoken that we're lulled into a false complacency and the fallacy that we know exactly who he is and where he's going.  Nay not so!  David Beck is full of subterranean Sturm und Drang.  When David starts revealing the fault-lines in his character we're dragged through emotional swamps and over rough mountains never to return to safety again. He makes such emotional twists and turns that we're on a roller-coaster ride awaiting our safe return...  An amazing surprise.    

And now ROSINA FERNHOFF, the likes of which most audiences have never had the pleasure of experiencing.  Why?  Because there just plain are not many Rosina Fernhoffs in the world let alone in the theater.  That such talent has never had wide exposure is the world's loss because Rosina is a grand dame of great acting.  Having witnessed her in the same evening morph from Queen Elizabeth the First to a Brooklyn drug addicted mother of three other addicts, to say she has range is an understatement.  She was born to play the piano teacher and she rips off her own skin exposing her beating heart pushing her life blood through her veins.  A lifetime of right living has sharpened her artistic tools to such a degree that her dramatic choices are golden.  She illuminates a character who lives in denial and loves a broken man in spite of it.  To say her performance is moving is an understatement.  

All of the aforementioned is also a large tribute to the director, ANTONIO MERENDA, whose work was so seamless and unobtrusive as to almost disappear.  The complete antithesis to the work of most modern directors who are hellbent on putting their marks on the plays they mutilate.  The director's job is to fulfill the playwright's vision not to lift a leg on every project with unnecessary self-indulgent directorial effluvia.  I don't want to see two inches of cheap colored Cool-Whip frosting on my Sacher torte.  What a welcome relief to find a director who presents the play matching well-suited actors to the piece.  Antonio opened an artistic window and let fresh balmy air into the all-too often stuffy theater.   Bravo Antonio!

And not least of all the playwright without whom even the greatest actors cannot use their talents.  If there had not been a Tennessee Williams or Budd Shulberg we would never have seen Brando at his best.  Great actors cannot act the phone book or every project they acted in would be a prize worthy performance.  Actors need good roles with excellent lines to exercise their talent.  JULIA CHO has given us such a play worthy of this director and actors.  All I can say is Amen!


Artistic Director, Resident Playwright, and Member of The Actors Studio West Playwrights/Directors Unit.

(Written on February 12th, 2016 in NYC, USA)

An Autumn Update

Hello friends!

This fall has been a busy season!  Several staged readings, including playing Sherlock Holmes in the new libretto Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Fallen Giant, commissioned by American Lyric Theater.  This was my second reading this season with ALT and Larry Edelson, and I thank them and my management Uzan International Artists for these unique opportunities.  It's such a fascinating process to be a part of any new work, but this is a particularly special experience because the final libretto will, naturally, be sung!  I hope that we actors helped the composer Evan Meier and lyricist E.M. Lewis in clarifying this invigorating text, and I anxiously anticipate hearing the opera, set to workshop this spring!

Two other readings I had the privilege to take part in were:   Love, Genius, and a Walk by Gay Walley and directed by Myriam Cyr, performed at the legendary restaurant Sardi's and commissioned by the Gustav Mahler Foundation; and the family comedy-drama The Octette Bridge Club with The Twelfth Night Club, the oldest continuing female theatre group in the world, dating back to the 19th century!  My dear friend and wonderful actress Joan Shepard directed.  As a teenager, I interned with her summer stock company River Rep in Ivoryton, Connecticut.  We did everything from The Mystery of Edwin Drood to Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare to Light Up the Sky by Moss Hart.  Where does the time go?!  

I also recently finished recording my eighth book for the blind with the New York Public Library, The Trace by Forrest Gander.  Finally, and most significantly, I signed on with a fantastic director and producer for my feature film The Thin Place.  More details on this coming soon....all I can say right now is that I am absolutely ecstatic, as all the pieces seem to be falling into place...it just proves that if you trust and do the work, it'll happen!

OH...and my non-profit film company The Great Griffon has officially received tax exempt status from the IRS!  This might be the best news ever!

Below is a picture I took Columbus Day weekend when I did a bit of location scouting for The Thin Place.  That's my friend Lindsay's dog Ede (short for Edelweiss) in the photo.  My doggie Mickey was there too, of course (He's the official mascot of The Great Griffon!), but he's hiding in the bushes.  

Have a fantastic day, and thank you, as always, for your support.


The birth of The Great Griffon! Official website and Facebook page

Dear Subscribers,

I am thrilled to launch my non-profit film company's official website!  Please take a moment to check out our mission.  We have some exciting projects coming up that I'll announce soon!  Also, please "like" The Great Griffon on Facebook.  With a logo like this, how can you resist "liking"?

Thank you for your support, and Happy Back-to-School to everyone!

Goodbye Horatio, hello Milarepa

Dear Subscribers,

I am finally back in New York after spending most of the summer in Vermont playing Horatio in William Shakespeare's Hamlet.  The audiences were appreciative, the weather was beautiful, and the reviews were glowing!  

June Pichel Cook from The Hardwick Gazette wrote:  "Horatio (David Beck) is Hamlet's friend and a difficult role to play; a shadow to the "In-your-face" action that may be going on.  He plays it well and deeply.  The final scene reflects a resignation that the course of events was unalterable."

Unalterable indeed...

Jim Lowe from Times Argus wrote:  "Particularly fine performances also came from John Marshall and David Beck as Laertes and Horatio."

This week, I am taking part in a reading of the libretto workshop Mila, the Great Sorcerer (written by Jean Claude van Itallie and Lois Walden) about the life of the sacred Tibetan poet Milarepa at the Opera National Center with the American Lyric Theater.  This is completely foreign territory to me, and I am ecstatic to begin tomorrow.  A few of us actors will read and dissect the bold, new text...which will ultimately be sung, of course, by superb opera singers!     

In the meantime, words to live by...