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In American Idiot on Broadway

HOMETOWN: “Miami, but I was born in Winnipeg, and have dual citizenship with Canada.”

WHY JARADOA? “The opportunity to serve in the community using my talents is something I’ve always wanted to have, and this is the perfect mix of people willing to do that. Also, during Jaradoa productions, every member is involved on every level, giving a better appreciation for what we do, what theater is.”

THE DANGERS OF BROADWAY: “A few days before opening night of In the Heights, my Broadway debut, during the onstage fight scene I got punched in the face so hard my teeth went through my lip and I ended up in the emergency room. I couldn’t move my mouth, couldn’t sing, so I didn’t know if I could perform on opening night. My mom told me to just do it. So stage management worked it out so that I could be in the show while my understudy sang my parts offstage!”

FILM DEBUT: “Playing Jennifer Hudson’s boyfriend in the Sex and the City movie. After the first scene I shot with her, she said, “Come back to my trailer.” When we got there, she asked, “You want some chicken wings?” I couldn’t believe it! I said, “Wait a stinkin’ minute, you’re a chicken wing lover too?!? You have an Oscar! And you have chicken wings! Do stars really eat chicken wings?!?” The answer was yes. And now, because Jennifer Hudson wears her chicken wing badge with pride, who am I to lie to the world about who I am? From now on I will wear it on my sleeve…

Joshua wrote a rap about his love of the chicken wing.  Wanna see it?



Caroline, resident of a nursing home in the Bronx, on Jaradoa Radio Theater:
“I loved it!  But next time it should be longer and with alcohol.”


Jaradoa is excited to report that we’ll be presenting a brand new musical this July at The Vineyard’s Dimson Theatre!

There will be an announcement in the press very soon, and we’ll share the details with you then!



Thank you! In December we held a fundraising campaign to take our theater and literacy program to middle schools in the South Bronx, and thanks to the generosity of many of you, we finished our first Play On! cycle last month.  It was an amazing experience with a fantastic group of students who face many struggles.

For less than $80 per student we were able to guide 90 6th, 7th and 8th graders to write their own play and expose them to the guest artistry of 12 professional theater performers. We were delighted to see impressive personal and academic changes in these students in just 5 weeks!

For a reflection on this experience click here!


Jaradoa has formed a posse of our most faithful radio play volunteers, and we’ve dubbed them the Radio Playaz.  We’ve got 24 of them so far, and we fraternized with them last month at our very first ever Radio Playaz ‘Sup (Script Unveiling Pizza and beer) Party at a swanky loft in Tribeca! Read about it!


EVERY THURSDAY NIGHT – Jarabowlaz bowl in the Broadway Bowling League
APRIL 21 – Play Club
APRIL 24 – Radio Play
APRIL 29 – Jarabowlaz End o’ Season Party!
MAY 13 – Radio Play
MAY 19 – Play Club
MAY, DATE TBA – The Kicknic!(kickball game/picnic)
JUNE 16 – Play Club
JUNE 23 – Radio Play
JULY, DATE TBA – The Jaradoa Jam 2010
JULY 1st – 18th
– 16 performances of a new musical!

To find out how to get involved in any of these events, contact Anika at

by Anika Larsen

Last week, Jaradoa hosted its first ever Radio Playaz ‘Sup Party!

What in tarnation is that, you ask?
Well, Radio Playaz are our most faithful Jaradoa Radio Theater volunteers, the folks we can rely on to be there to perform for the old folks, to listen to and love on the elderly, to get their intergenerational relationships on til the briggity break o’ dawn.

But still, you may ask, what in heckfire is a ‘Sup Party?
That’s a “Script Unveiling Pizza & beer” Party. (Do you like how “Pizza and beer” all squeezes into the “P” of the acronym? If linguistic gymnastics were an Olympic event, we would totally podium.) It’s a party to read the latest radio play script, the one we’re next going to be bringing to the 6 nursing homes we visit. But it’s really an excuse for us to hang with our volunteers, for us all to get the time to fraternize that we don’t have at the radio plays themselves.

We had the ‘Sup Party in a swanky Tribeca loft, generously made available to us by a friend of mine named Allen. Allen has gorgeous hardwood and leather floors, so no shoes are allowed, which means I warned people to wear nice socks, and they showed up rockin’ some beauts! Of course, there was pizza, really delicious thin crust pizza, so delicious we did not have the leftovers I was hoping to leave in the fridge as a thanks to Allen for use of his pad. And there was beer. Heinekin, which had a few takers. But far more popular was the case of Coronitas, which are adorable little 7 oz. Coronas. Put a wedge of lime in the top, and you’ve got yourself a mini-fiesta! I myself may have had five or six. Or seven–don’t judge me, they’re teeny!

Now I’m not gonna lie to ya, we didn’t actually know how the ‘Sup Party was going to turn out, because we’d never done it before. Turns out they are hecka fun! First of all, it’s a fabulous excuse to say “‘Sup” to everyone you greet there (I tried to get the doorman of the swanky Tribeca loft building to say “Sup” to all who came, but apparently he did it once to someone who didn’t get it and then he gave up).

People arrived, un-shoed, grabbed a beer and a slice and mingled. (Some folks, i.e., our Marketing Director Eric Emch, were not afraid to double fist – see the bottom photo.) It was a really diverse group of Jaradoa peeps: Members, Allies, Radio Playaz, staff and interns. Folks were having such a fun time socializing that I had to be reminded to get the actual reading of the radio play started. I passed out scripts, assigned parts, and away we went.

Radio plays work best if you make a big vocal choice, like a crazy accent or a silly voice. Daryl Ray Carliles whipped out a delightful Irish accent to play the detective, which felt appropriate considering it was the day before St. Patrick’s Day. He made it seem like the detective was after both a murderer and his Lucky Charms. Brandon Giles was brow-beaten by yours truly into doing an accent for the butler (butlers should always have accent, am I right, people?), but the only accent in his arsenal was southern, so we had an intermittently Texan butler. April Nickell was reading Announcer 2, and she ambitiously started out with a lateral lisp, but learned that they are not for the faint of heart, and abandoned it shortly thereafter.

Tommy Labanaris was incredibly, hilariously earnest as the leading man, and showed us all that if cold reading were an Olympic event, he would totally podium. Stephanie Martinez was more masculine than any of us would ever have imagined possible as the dead man’s brother. And Patryce Williams was the sassiest secretary I’ve ever known – until she got killed.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the evening was the music. When we got to the places in the script that called for a song, we played our beer bottles. And friends, Coronitas make sweet, sweet music, no matter how much beer might be in them.

What did we learn from this day? We learned that we should drink beer before every radio play, even the real ones in front of audiences. We’re a lot funnier Radio Playaz after a Coronita or seven.

I thought I would share this reflection I wrote on the way home from our final day of Play On! at MS 22.
Sometimes I am struck by the beauty in the world. I see it in human connections, or when people are kind, when they face their fear, or when someone is strong enough to be honest about their life experiences. Today we finished a cycle at MS 22 and I heard a kid say to another: “Thanks for working with me on that. It was fun.” It was so simple and struck me as truly beautiful.

There was one girl who seems to carry a lot of anger and was difficult to manage in the classroom. At one point she was standing face to face with her teacher yelling at him to shut up and she refused to leave the classroom. But how beautiful was the smile she gave me when I pulled her aside the other day and told her how smart and clever her ideas were and that she was a leader — that I was excited to see all that she could become if she could learn to process her anger. She partly looked at me like I was an alien but she also grinned from ear to ear and it was breathtaking.

Another student wrote a hilarious play – yes it was about a guy with a mental illness that made him think his butt was on fire, but hilarious nonetheless! When his peers performed his play, the pride and joy in his eyes was one of the most beautiful things I saw today.
Jeremy was a student that refused to participate and was constantly interrupting our first few sessions but one day after I asked him to control himself yet again, he ripped off his name tag and threw it and his notebook to the ground. So on my way out that day, I was so happy to run into him and let him know I saw his reaction to my scolding and that I was really sorry I hurt his feelings, that I hoped he knew how much I cared about him and that I hoped he would try participating again next time. Once Again, I received a look like I had two heads BUT he started to participate, co-wrote a nice play and ended up being a rock star today, acting in about 3 plays! We voted him Most Improved Player, a title which he was proud to own. It makes all of the struggle worth it.

I guess we sometimes have a hard time expressing what mercy, beauty and truth really means to us, but today I knew that if all Jaradoa ever did was see the beauty in students who rarely recognize their own beauty…it would be enough!

We couldn’t do any of this at MS 22 without all the donations we received in December. Thank you to all those who participate in Jaradoa – donors, members, volunteers, allies! This work matters. Thank You!

April Nickell

Play Club is Jaradoa Theater’s monthly gathering to… you guessed it: read a play. Aloud. Together. Afterward, we discuss its themes, virtues, merits and problems. Sometimes the plays are old, sometimes the plays are new. Sometimes we are graced by the presence of the playwright, who might even want your feedback. But there is always, always good company and plenty of fun to be had.

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Come to Play Club:

1. You’re a playwright who needs to hear this draft read aloud before you can move on in your process.
2. You’ve always wanted to read the role of Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, but you’re only 22. And you’re a dude.
3. You’re an aficionado of the classics, and just love to hear the words spoken aloud.
4. You love to be part of the growth of young scribes and help shepherd clear new voices onto the American stage.
5. You’re a non-actor who likes to act with actors.
6. You’ve been meaning to read that play for [fill-in-the-blank] years, but just haven’t made time to sit down and do it.
7. You’re sure this role is perfect for you, and want to deepen your understanding of it by reading the play with a group of talented actors.
8. You want to share your favorite play with an open-minded, appreciative group.
9. You have a play you think Jaradoa might be interested in producing.
10. You like to snack and drink wine.

Sound like you? Then email if you’d like to attend or you have an idea for what we should read next. See you at Play Club!

Sometimes around Jaradoa we enjoy a good inspirational quote.  So this week’s blog is the first of a series called Nuggets of Wisdom, chock full of nougaty insight.  Because “mercy, beauty and truth” is sort of our mantra, we thought we’d start with quotes about mercy.  Take any you like, or share your own favorite!

“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”
— Winston Churchill

“Nothing can make injustice just but mercy.”
— Robert Frost

“Heaven have mercy on us all—Presbyterians and Pagans alike—for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.”
— Herman Melville

“If you believe, as the Greeks did, that man is at the mercy of the gods, then you write tragedy. The end is inevitable from the beginning. But if you believe that man can solve his own problems and is at nobody’s mercy, then you will probably write melodrama.”
— Lillian Hellman

“The essence of justice is mercy.”
— Edwin Hubbel Chapin

“Think carefully before asking for justice. Mercy might be safer.”
— Mason Cooley

“When having my portrait painted I don’t want justice, I want mercy.”
— Billy Hughes

“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”
— Abraham Lincoln

“Much that we call evil is really good in disguises; and we should not quarrel rashly with adversities not yet understood, nor overlook the mercies often bound up in them.”
— Horace Mann

“Computers are like Old Testament gods: lots of rules and no mercy.”
— Joseph Campbell

“May we not succumb to thoughts of violence and revenge today, but rather to thoughts of mercy and compassion. We are to love our enemies that they might be returned to their right minds.”
— Marianne Williamson

“Pretty woman, I don’t believe you, you’re not the truth.
No one could look as good as you–mercy!”
— Roy Orbison

“Teach me to feel another’s woe, to hide the fault I see,
That mercy I to others show, that mercy show to me.”
— Alexander Pope

“There are two things that Jack Bauer never does. Show mercy, and go to the bathroom.”
— Kiefer Sutherland

“The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show like God’s
When mercy seasons justice.”
— William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice: IV, i

Let me come right out and say that possibly the most excited I have been all year was when I was nominated captain of Jaradoa’s bowling team. I quickly grabbed the nickname “Thunder Strike” and the rest is history.

One of the other sides of this pretty sweet theater company I take part in is teaching our Play On! program at MS 22 in the Bronx. It’s job 10 out of 12 for me… yes, all exaggerations aside, I have 12 jobs at any given time. Anything from organizing and running little Sally’s horse-themed birthday party (with real live plastic horses!), to working for the U.S. Census Bureau, to teaching English to Japanese people via skype, I have a wide spectrum of employment at any given moment.

But still, I don’t really think I could ever be a full-time teacher. It’s hard, reaaaalllyyyy hard, but with MS 22, we just go in two days a week and help 6th, 7th and 8th graders conquer their fears of writing a play and acting. We explore different and more theatrical ways to listen and respond to texts and I think most importantly, we give them a truly safe environment to be creative, where our #1 rule is to never, ever laugh at anyone’s ideas.

Middle school kids are tough. You have to earn their trust, and they may resist you for weeks, but the second you are “in” with them, you’re in for life. These kids have tremendous stories, and without a program like this, how else would they get to tell them?

This week I joined the Xanadu tour as Kira for some rollerskating, disco-licious fun times. In the original Broadway cast I understudied Kira, the Olivia Newton-John role. I’m wicked psyched to be lacing up my skates again!

I’ll only be gone for 9 weeks, and it’s a terrific gig that I’m grateful for, but I’m not gonna lie to ya, it’s hard to leave the N-to-the-Y-to-the-C and Jaradoa! We’ve got so much going on that I don’t want to miss. Dudes, we just started bowling in the Broadway Bowling League! And we’re in seventh place! Holler.

But more importantly I’ll be missing Play On! and Radio Plays – I would have loved to have been there for our first Black History Month Radio Play. Plus after getting to meet the students at PS122 I won’t be able to watch the development of the plays they write. And dammit, I want to know what’s going to happen to the evil grandmother stroking her evil cat which is in turn stroking its evil mouse,,,

Thanks to technology, I’m still a part of it all from the road. I get to coordinate the Black History Month Radio Play, recruit volunteers for Play On!, and even practice my bowling moves in rollerskates! No, it’s not the same as being there, but it’s enough. It’s plenty.

Find out how performers like you have turned their talents into service
with Jaradoa Theater! Check out this self-proclaimed hilarious video to find out what it means to be a  Guest Artist with our Play On! program.
Warning: this video may or may not contain chicken wings.

But what is Play On!, you might ask?
Play On! is a Jaradoa program that uses theater to teach literacy by turning classrooms into theater companies where students become actors and playwrights.

And how does this pertain to you?
One of Jaradoa’s goals is to help artists serve their community by using the theater skills they possess.  So if you’re a performer, you can come act or sing for 6th-8th graders, help them grow as people, and help them read and write better at the same time!

And what does a Guest Artist do?
Guest Artists present a song or monologue to a class which is analyzed and unpacked by students to improve their reading comprehension skills.  Then the Guest Artist helps out with the rest of the session, following the main instructor’s lead, which generally includes improv, games, and cold readings or small group discussions of students’ plays in progress.

So, you wanna come play with us?

We are currently recruiting artists for

Middle School 22 from Feb 9 – Mar 12th. If you can’t do these dates but want to be a Guest Artist in  April or May, let us know!

Email Anika, our volunteer coordinator, at

And hey, if you think you’re interested, but you’re a little nervous or unsure what would be expected of you, just ask!  Lots of folks have volunteered with us and would be happy to share their experience with you.

Hey, readers! Your weekly dose of the Jaradoa Blog is coming from Jen today:

Just yesterday, Brian, a friend with whom I studied theater in college posted this status on his facebook page:

“When people are starving and out of work, why should the government fund the arts?”

Now, Brian’s incredibly thoughtful and a great lover of art, and he asked the question in order to start a discussion on a topic that’s pretty vital in this economic climate. Unsurprisingly, it resulted in a wide range of comments:

Tim: “Because some people are artists.”

RJ: “And many artists are among the broke and starving…”

Brian: “I’m not trying to be generally patronizing. For example: Right now NYS has to cut every part of the budget–including basic health and education for children. I think it was easier to argue the value arts bring to society in times of prosperity. If a $20k production of West Side Story at a 501c3 could pay a cast and crew of college graduated theater artists for a month or a keep a few underprivileged families fed for a year… should I write letters to my local government asking to fund the theater? It’s a serious question.”

Jen: “Because the arts are for everyone to enjoy, not just those with money to burn. No government funding for the arts=arts only for the elite. In my book, most objectionable are cuts to arts education. Studies have shown that an education rich in the arts leads to better scores all around (and presumably, more well-rounded kids.)”

Brady: “I feel like art is important, but I feel that it should come after kids being fed. That being said, there are plenty of places for NYS budget to trim…the budget is flipping ridiculous, with lots of waste.”

Brian: “Jen — So arts=education? That’s something I could get behind. But why aren’t the arts valuable enough to the general population to pay for themselves the way commercial media does?

Brady: “That’s kinda what raised the question for me. When I left SUNY over a year ago, tuition money was already going to bail out other parts of the State (and not towards anything on campus, as students would expect). No cost of living raises for public employees (except where unions were able to push it through). Cuts in funding for mass transit led to MTA fare hike. We’ve heard about debt and cuts all year long. Now schools, hospitals, public services, and… at the end of the list… the arts. Where’s the fat?”

Mary: “Art education puts the rest of the world into perspective with a sense of history, creativity, and integrity . I think it is one of the genuinely most important subjects for a society.
Having said that, if all funding goes towards art education, and nothing towards job development or employment, where is the means to spread your education to those less-informed? You have to be able to take what you know and apply it.”

This led to so much discussion in the office — the economic impact of the arts, how our spending reflects our values, what it means to be human. Thoughts?

What have we been posting?

July 2018
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