End Of Cinematics 1

The Girl


Multimedia, Pop/Rock Opera
This is the third part of Mikel Rouse's "opera verite" Trilogy
Conceived, written, and directed by Mikel Rouse
Produced by Mikel Rouse, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and Double M Arts & Events
Carolina Performing Arts, Memorial Hall-Chapel Hill, NC
Next Wave Festival, BAM-NYC
University of Florida Performing Arts-Gainsville, FL
Royal Court Theatre-Liverpool, England
Carnival Center for the Performing Arts-Miami, FL
Irvine Barclay Theatre-Irvine, (Orange County) CA
Bluma Appel Theatre-Toronto, CN

“The End of Cinematics is one of those shows you are unlikely to forget ... [it] leaves the jaw dropping, the eyes widening and the ears filling ... [it] grabs the attention from the start and never lets you go ... totally captivating ... fascinating ... like nothing you have seen before ... The six performers, Cynthia Enfield, Matthew Gandolfo, Christina Pawl, Robert Rivera, and Penelope Thomas together with Rouse himself, keep the action moving ... sit back and admire.”


[The End Of Cinematics] was sparked by reading two Susan Sontag essays [“The Death of Cinema” “A Century of Cinema”] on the death of formal cinema with the onset of a fragmentary, constantly bombarding form of moving image exemplified in TV commercials, music video, YouTube.

Rouse's pieces certainly unsettle audiences' preconceptions…Though The End of Cinematics is playing at the St. Lawrence Centre's Bluma Appel Theatre, popcorn and other movie-house snacks will be sold. And Cinematics begins with more than 10 minutes of trailers for current Hollywood movies. “It's all about corporate entertainment, and God bless the corporations,” Rouse says with a laugh. “They've never let me down: Every time, from the very beginning, there was a new Batman that went along with it. So of course now we have a new Batman trailer, we have the new Hulk trailer.”

“One of my favourite comments ever was, ‘It's like a moving Rauschenberg.’ And I thought, that's it! I don't care whether it's an opera or not. Whatever it is, it's an art piece, and I'm happy with it.”

—NOW Magazine

“The resulting show creates an environment to lull the audience into a state akin to watching a conventional movie, but then the fun begins. The End of Cinematics is a live 3D phantasmagoria of sound, images and live action that lifts the movie-watching experience to a level beyond IMAX. Using a film he made of him and his wife, Canadian dancer Lisa Boudreau, walking in Paris, Rouse digitally removed the people in the celluloid story and posed real actors in front of them, thereby merging live and film.
Expect to see Ralston Saul and Adrienne Clarkson, whom he counts as good friends, in an audience eager for immersion in Rouse's surreal world.”

—The Globe and Mail


Dennis Cleveland 1

Hippie Chick


Multimedia, Pop/Rock Opera
This is the second part of Mikel Rouse's "opera verite" Trilogy
Conceived, written and directed by Mikel Rouse
Luminato Festival, Toronto Film School Studio-Toronto, CN

“[Rouse] adroitly marries television and opera. In fusing the two genres together, he has created a multilayered work that's absurd, surreal and more than a little disturbing.”

—COLIN EATOCK, The Globe and Mail

“DENNIS CLEVELAND is the most exciting and innovative new opera since Einstein on the Beach.”

—KYLE GANN, The Village Voice

“…the idea is an inspired one and Rouse has fashioned a stunning 90 minute musical drama out of it.”

—PETER G. DAVIS, New York Magazine

“I know of nothing that has this combination: the compositional intelligence of the best of New York's downtown avant-garde, the musical means of a rock band and the ability to transform the sleaziest side of popular culture into near-Wagnerian exaltation.”

—MARK SWED, The Los Angeles Times

“Rouse's music is gripping and hypnotic, alternating singing with sing-songy recitation and blending rock, classical and African elements.”

—BRUCE CULP, Toronto Globe and Mail

“Of all new music composers, only Rouse is at home enough in the world of mass media to have had the chutzpah to engineer the first operatic talk show, with singers in the audience, choreographed cameramen, and an audience watching itself on video.”

—Time Out Magazine

Rouse's pieces certainly unsettle audiences' preconceptions. During Dennis Cleveland, the house lights are never lowered, reinforcing the lack of separation between ticket holders and cast members.
By most accounts, Dennis Cleveland is a bracing experience: As the eponymous TV host and ringleader (played by Rouse) prods four dysfunctional couples to spill their secrets, actors planted in the audience jump up and over-share as well; their images, captured by a pair of TV cameras, are projected on large video screens. Two other people hold up cue cards urging the "studio audience" to applaud, just as in a real TV taping.
“It is absolutely all-encompassing - music, sound, video, and environment - which is why the pieces were called operas. It wasn't to be pretentious, that was the term that made sense, in terms of using all the forces that are available right now in this time period,” Rouse said. “If there's a piece made by somebody my age that is as innovative as Dennis Cleveland that doesn't deserve to be called opera, then I welcome somebody to tell me what it should be called - because, let me tell you something, I'd do a lot better in ticket sales if they weren't called operas.”


Picture this: a TV auditorium where cameras are turned on you, the audience, and on a roving talk-show host. Cleveland is not just about the dumbing down done by popular culture, or about the demeaning and falsifying influence of reality TV. It is a talk show, and you are in it, watching yourself live on screens above the stage.
Rouse, fashioning himself along the lines of New Jersey talk show host Richard Bey, is the presenter, surreptitiously casting the audience as a creative collaborator of the piece. A live chorus of performers sing their sad tales, encouraged by Cleveland to “share your memories.” Singers stand up in the audience to deliver their laments, the way studio audience members will leap to their feet during a taping. “…summed up by a woman Rouse quotes as saying “that was the most entertaining and the most disturbing thing I've ever seen in my life.”
“The goal is not only to entertain but to (let the audience) actually see the culture they're participating in.”

—The Globe and Mail (Toronto)


My Brave Face

The Women and the Demon Regret


Rocabaret (Rock Musical)
Created by Robert John Cook and Shellen Lubin
Direction and Vocal Arrangements by Shellen Lubin
Accompanied by Ian Herman, Roger Post, Mary Noecker, David Patterson
Daryl Roth Theatre, NYC
Waltz-Astoria, NYC
Don't Tell Mama, NYC

“Recently, at an intimate venue in Queens I had a wonderful opportunity to see the thought provoking cabaret, My Brave Face. The show consisted of three performers, and is really more like a rocabaret, comprised of alternative, folk, and rock music. Collectively, Shellen Lubin and Robert John Cook create a richly woven depiction of a man whose post-youth's dreary existence is revealed through his subconscious mind. The various voices and torments of Harry's subconscious are personified by performers Cynthia Enfield and Matthew Gandolfo; together they reveal the journey of Harry's lost paradise.
Harry is the only character who's in present time, while all the others are set in his past. Both, Enfield and Gandolfo portray Harry's demons. The tale begins with Harry's inner re-enactment of dialogue from his more vibrant past. As a newly married couple, he and his wife fantasized about being in a successful rock band. However, as the inner dialogue reveals, Harry who is played by Robert John Cook, remembers himself helplessly spiraling down into a middle class existence-where sometimes human contact decreases and familial responsibilities surge. The youthful dreams of being part of an amazing rock band are brought to a screeching halt by reality.
Robert John Cook, who plays the protagonist, has a smooth melodious rock infused voice; he hits notes flawlessly. The two other performers, Cynthia Enfield and Matthew Gandolfo play the myriad of voices in Harry's past, and are also strong singers. Four of the songs are written by Shellen Lubin; my favorite is titled, “Slow Dancing With You”, and is performed beautifully by Cynthia Enfield and Matthew Gandolfo.
My Brave Face takes us on a journey through song and text as a man reflects on his past, and grapples to come to terms with his missed adventures.”

—posted to newcritics.com by Kelly Hadous

This “Rocabaret” piece (part alternative/folk/rock and part cabaret) explores a critical moment in the life of a man who is trying to come to terms with his past with the help of two voices from inside his head. The journey is through songs by Don Henley, John Hiatt, Joe Jackson, Paul McCartney, John Mayer, Ellis Paul, Martin Sexton, Tom Waits, Stevie Wonder, originals, and more.


Mask Picture

Single Mom


The Postpartum Cabaret
Conceived and Written by Aimee Kessler-Evans and Jessica Sporn with Shellen Lubin and Cynthia Enfield
Directed by Shellen Lubin
Danny's Skylight Room, NYC
Rose's Turn, NYC

Three very distinct women have just given birth. All of them share their own unique experiences of motherhood with each other and the audience through laughter and tears.


Mask Picture

1960's Acid Chick


Directed by Ted Resnikoff and Henry Caplan
Musical Director, Same Carter

Pop-Rock Musical
Music and Lyrics by Sam Carter
Book by Henry Caplan, Sam Carter and Sturgis Warner
Based on an idea by Ted Resnikoff
HERE Arts Center, NYC

LIDDY AND LEARY touches upon the lives, loves and rivalry between Timothy Leary and G. Gordon Liddy. Timothy Leary, who condoned and promoted the use of LSD in the 60’s and 70’s, was arrested by Watergate’s G. Gordon Liddy. After serving simultaneous prison terms, the two rivals, Liddy and Leary, end up touring together on the debate circuit in the 80’s.


Going South 1

Plantation Owner


Gospel Musical
Music, Book and Lyrics by Van Dirk Fisher
Directed by Van Dirk Fisher
Riant Theatre, NYC

GOING SOUTH chronicles the lives of Southern plantation owners and their slaves.


Into The Woods 1

The Witch


Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Jame Lapine
Directed by Michael French
Musical Direction by Wayne Blood
Haft Theatre, NYC

Classic fairy tales (Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Ridinghood and others) are woven with the tale of a Baker and his Wife, who seek to break a spell of childlessness laid upon them by a crabby Witch. In Act One, a farcical, hilarious romp, the characters plot to get their wishes by whatever means necessary. All seems rosy until Act Two, when a furious Giantess arrives by beanstalk to seek revenge for her husband, whom Jack killed. Events turn serious as the characters learn about community responsibilities, the penalties of greed and the consequences of their actions.


Mask Picture



Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by George Furth
From the play "Merrily We Roll Along" by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
Directed by Vincent Sassone
Katie Murphy Theatre, NYC

This is the story of three successful people looking back on their lost friendship. It begins with a journey back in time, recalling rivalries, jealousies, triumphs, failures, and loves both unrequited and reciprocal. It’s a masterful tale of three remarkable people reflecting on years of aspiration and reality, and dreams both fulfilled and lost.


Mask Picture



Music by Matthew Gandolfo
Lyrics by Matthew Gandolfo and Stan Barber
Book by Stan Barber
Directed by Stan Barber
Musical Direction by Matthew Gandolfo
Magical Castle Players, NJ

The musical retelling of the classic fairytale of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.


Cinderella 1



Music, Book and Lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein
Directed by Stan Barber
Musical Direction by Matthew Gandolfo
Magical Castle Players, NJ

A musical retelling of the classic fairy tale of CINDERELLA.