Mother Divine

Book & Lyrics by Laurel Klinger Vartabedian, Music by Bill Evans

Mother Divine

at PTC Performance Space

  • Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 8:00 pm
  • Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 4:30 pm
  • Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 5:00 pm
  • Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 9:00 pm
  • Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Mother Divine has a problem: she’s just passed away and her husband, Harlem evangelist Father Divine, has already found her younger “reincarnation.” With a little help from bumbling tax man Lester Stufflebean, Mother Divine is dead set on proving it’s never too late for a first wife to get revenge! Everyone is chasing someone else’s secrets in this comic romp set to a rousing, Gospel-tinged score.

Running Time: 2 hours 5 minutes with intermission.

Laurel Klinger Vartabedian (Book and Lyrics)

Laurel Klinger Vartabedian wrote the book and lyrics for American Story and Mother Divine. American Story was produced in New York at the Midtown International Theatre Festival, and regionally. The show was the recipient of a Horowitz Foundation grant, and has been invited by the Colorado Ludlow Centennial Commemoration Commission to perform in a multi-city tour in 2014. She has taught at universities in Texas, Kansas, and North Carolina. While a faculty member at Western Carolina she was advisor to The Black Theatre Ensemble and secured a Gannett Foundation grant to produce and direct Ain't Misbehavin', which led to her discovery of Father Divine and the development of Mother Divine. She grew up in Kansas and resides in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Bill G. Evans (Music)

Bill G. Evans' career has been equal parts professor, performer, and composer. He has performed piano concerti extensively and published piano, instrumental pieces, chamber music, art songs, and suite in concerto grosso style, brass and piano. A three-year stint in the Army sparked his interest in jazz. This eclectic background has resulted in two full musical scores with a variety of musical styles.  He composed the music for American Story, which garnered a "Best of Fest Award" at the Midtown International Theatre Festival. He holds a graduate degree from North Texas State and has the distinction of being one of the longest serving faculty members at WTAMU. He resides in Texas.

Erick Carter

Erick Carter (Brother Upward Universe)

Erick Carter is a recent arrival to NYC but has been seen around town as Sammy Davis, Jr. (The Ratpack Undead), in regional theatre as James "Thunder" Early (Dreamgirls) and in a variety of regional roles (Hairspray, Rent, Peter Pan).

Randy Donaldson

Randy Donaldson (Father Divine)

Randy Donaldson has graced the Broadway stage (Wonderful Town, Annie Get Your Gun) and has played major roles in numerous national tours (The Lion King, Kiss Me Kate, A Chorus Line, Grand Hotel). Regionally, a few selected roles include Five Guys Named Moe, Inspecting Carol, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Pippin. We are so glad he decided to bring Father Divine, an icon of Harlem history back to life!

Danielle Lee Greaves

Danielle Lee Greaves (Mother Divine)

Selected credits: Broadway: (A Streetcar Named Desire, Rent, Hairspray, Sunset Boulevard, Show Boat); NY: (Two Gentlemen of Verona, Purlie); National Tours: The Lion King, Rent (2 tours); Regional: A Woman Called Truth, Civil War Voices, Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow, Working, Caroline or Change, Swinging on a Star, Nunsense. Film: Growing Up (and Other Lies). Television: Smash, The Big C, Rescue Me, Damages, Whoopi, and 100 Centre Street.

Jenavene Hester

Jenavene Hester (Miss Bountiful Plenty)

Jenavene Hester is excited to be returning to NYMF this year after her 2011 debut with Andrea McArdle in Greenwood. Recent credits: Mary Phagan in Parade at Brooklyn's Gallery Players, Sound of Music at Paper Mill Playhouse, and Carolyn in the new Jason Robert Brown musical The Bridges of Madison County with Kelli O'Hara. Jenavene received her BFA from ACU in Texas.

Daisy Hobbs

Daisy Hobbs (Emma)

Daisy Hobbs just returned from the First National Tour of the Tony Award-winning musical Memphis (Felicia u/s). Regional credits include: Nimue in Camelot (Pittsburgh Public), The Wiz (Baltimore CenterStage), Cinderella (Paper Mill Playhouse), and the world premiere of Disney's Aladdin (5th Avenue Theater, Seattle). Recent workshops include NYTW and Makandal (Harlem Stage). TV: Law and Order, National Society of Arts & Letters National Finalist for Drama in 2010. BFA Musical Theater/Drama, Carnegie Mellon University.

Mike Longo

Mike Longo (The Prodigal Son)

Mike Longo has just returned from an international tour (Hair), was in a national tour (Virtually Me), and was in Madame X at NYMF '11. He has appeared in multiple productions in New York (Villa Diodati, Heaven Can Wait, An American Tragedy) and regionally (Once Upon A Time in New Jersey, Peter Pan, Annie) and has done film and vocal cast recordings.

Ashley Parizek

Ashley Parizek (Mother Divine In The Second Body)

Ashley Parizek recently graduated with her BFA from Abilene Christian University and spent a Tepper Semester in New York with that program. She has performed with The Blue Gate Theatre in Indiana, and also in numerous shows in Ohio and Texas.

Rose Pedone

Rose Pedone (Miss Glo Ray)

Rose Pedone’s theatrical credits include playing Dot in Sunday in the Park with George, Rhetta in Pump Boys and Dinettes, and she was featured in Side by Side by Sondheim, all at NJ’s Forum Theatre. She appeared as The Witch in Into the Woods at Luna Stage, and at NJ’s Plays-in-the-Park, and was recently featured in the television pilot, Breaking the News, at Tribeca’s NY TV Pilot Festival.

Allyson Tucker

Allyson Tucker (Miss Handsome Is As Handsome Does)

Allyson Tucker is a veteran of the Broadway stage with featured roles (Man of La Mancha, Follies, Ragtime, The Will Rogers Follies, Oh, Kay!) and numerous additional roles on Broadway, and in Regional (West Side Story, Shinbone Alley, Baby) and National/European tours (Jekyll & Hyde, Body & Soul, Satchmo: American's Music Legend), television, workshops, and original works.

Chris Sams

Chris Sams (Arnold)

Chris Sams, a Houston native, is thrilled to be a part of a festival that fosters new ideas and Mother Divine the labor of love of a dear friend. National touring credits include: Smokey Joe's Cafe (Ken Ard)The Color Purple (Grady/Ensemble), and most recently Rock of Ages (Mayor/Ja'Keith). There is no one Chris would like to thank more than the Lowery-Hart family for their unclimbable mountain of love and support, and Ms. Karen Nicely, for entry into the stream. 

Howie Michael Smith

Howie Michael Smith (Lester/Instantly Religious Son)

Howie Michael Smith knows the way to Avenue Q after playing the role of Princeton/Rod on Broadway and performing the show more than 1000 times. His extensive regional credits have taken him to Dallas Shakespeare, Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, and Pittsburgh Pops as a soloist. He has his BFA from Carnegie Mellon. Be sure to visit his sketch comedy site:

Adam Hester

Adam Hester (Director)

Adam Hester has directed numerous original works, musicals and Shakespeare productions. He is the artistic director for the Abilene Shakespeare Festival in Texas and has directed for Atlanta’s Legacy Theatre and the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival. He teaches at Abilene Christian University where he serves as chair of the Department of Theatre. He has been featured online and in national magazines for introducing innovative uses of the iPhone/iPad in both classroom and productions. Some of his favorite productions to direct include [title of show], Othello, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Secret Garden, The Cost of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, All Shook Up and The Three Sisters. He is married to Donna Hester.

Randy Davis

Randy Davis (Choreographer)

Texas-born Randy André Davis has been seen in numerous Broadway shows and National tours. His palette of performances includes the Broadway Revival of Guys & Dolls with Peter Gallagher, Faith Prince and Nathan Lane with a featured role in the Crapshooter Ballet. In Cats, Randy was Mistoffelles and Noodler the Pirate in Cathy Rigby's Peter Pan. As a dance captain, Randy assisted in the original Broadway production of All Shook Up, and he was one of the select actors that appeared at the famed Apollo for the theatre history-making opening of George C. Wolfe's Harlem Song. As a choreographer, Randy has been in demand both nationally and internationally in assisting and restaging such shows as All Shook Up, Whistle Down the Wind and the Japanese Musical Review for Tokyo theaters. He has directed Ain't Misbehavin' and All Nite Strut, and developed a new musical revue, A Stompin' in Harlem, with fellow performer Michelle Robinson. Randy continues to work in the community, mentoring and instructing elementary & high school student productions.

Julianne B. Merrill

Julianne B. Merrill (Musical Director)

Julianne is working full-time in New York City as a Music Director and Sound Designer. Julianne is excited to work with the talented Mother Divine team! Recent projects include Blood Brothers at APAC; Parade and A Man of No Importance at Gallery Players; Halloween Hullabaloo at Joria Stages; Once Upon a Mattress and Finian's Rainbow for Brooklyn Heights Players; The Marvelous Wondrettes, Songs For a New World, and Annie Get Your Gun at Festival 56. Much love to Megan!

Ryan McGettigan

Ryan McGettigan (Scenic Design)

Ryan McGettigan's area credits include designs with Boston's Stoneham Theatre, The Nora Theatre, and Centastage, New Hampshire's Barnstormers Theatre and Granite State Opera. Regional: Houston's Stages Theatre, Main Street Theater, Classical Theatre Company, and Houston Grand Opera, Atlanta's Legacy Theatre, and Next to Normal at Cape Rep Theatre, Brewster, MA and Abilene Christian University, TX. Upcoming is the world premiere of the Vietnamese opera Bound at Houston Grand Opera. Upcoming on the international stage is Henry V, with The Prague Shakespeare Company.

Amy Price

Amy Price (Costume Design)

Amy Price is currently in her second year of graduate school for costume design at the University of Iowa, while freelancing in both New York and Texas.  She recently interned for the Broadway musical Motown, and is excited to return to New York to be a part of NYMF 2013.

Gertjan Houben

Gertjan Houben (Lighting Design)

Gertjan Houben is a New York based designer with an international background. Recent US productions include: Sakharam Binder (Columbia University); Bartholomew Fair  (Muhlenberg College, PA) which received a Kennedy Center ACTF Outstanding Lighting Design Award ; Bourgeois Pig (Muhlenberg College, PA), Hard Times, An American Musical  (the cell); 44 Plays for 44 Presidents  (Muhlenberg College, PA); Miss Lilly gets Boned  (Studio 42, Ice Factory); Pinocchio's Ashes  (SATC); The Clearing  (Axial Theater, Pleasantville NY); A Midsummer Nights Dream (Muhlenberg College, PA) International credits include Andre Rieu's televised spectacles at Radio City Music Hall and the Toronto Skydome and DJ Tiesto live in Rotterdam Harbour for the Volvo Ocean Race. Gertjan has a Bachelor in Arts from the Amsterdam Theater School and a MFA from NYU Tisch's Department of Design for Stage and Film.

Bernadette Schoenborn

Bernadette Schoenborn (Stage Manager)

Bernadette is very excited to be stage managing on Mother Divine! She is a 2005 graduate from Radford University and did an internship in stage management at The Juilliard School. Other regional credits include Utah Musical Theatre, Kentucky Repertory Theatre, and Tuacahn Center for the Arts. Bernadette would like to thank her family and friends for their continuing love and support.

Shae Candelaria

Shae Candelaria (Assistant Stage Manager)

Shae Candelaria has been a stage manager for nearly a decade. She is a graduate of Abilene Christian University. Favorite shows she has stage managed include: Little Shop of Horrors, All Shook Up, Barefoot in the Park, and Into the Woods.

Sarah Vartabedian

Sarah Vartabedian (General Manager/ Marketing)

Sarah Vartabedian is working on the business side of Mother Divine. As a member of Pauper Players while at the University of North Carolina she enjoyed playing Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, and Eve/Mama Noah in Children of Eden.  She recently graduated from the University of Texas and is  joining the faculty of WTAMU this Fall where she will  teach in the rhetoric and mass communication areas.  She was a member of the developmental workshop and cast of Mother Divine at FringeNYC.

Seth Bazacas

Seth Bazacas (Associate Producer)

Seth Bazacas is the current Producing Artistic Director at the Moorlyn Family Theatre in Ocean City, NJ ( He also serves as the Managing Director for ArtsQuest Theatricals in New York City.  As an actor, he has done multiple national tours and performed at both Lincoln Center and Radio City Music Hall.  He is thrilled to be part of the launch of the fabulous musical, Mother Divine.

Neal J. Freeman

Neal J. Freeman (Dramaturg)

Neal J. Freeman is a NYC-based writer, producer, and director. For NYMF he has served as a reader and dramaturg since 2009. Neal served as Executive Director of Brooklyn's The Gallery Players from 2009-2012. He has a BA in Theatre Arts from Cornell University and an MFA in Directing from Brooklyn College, and is a member of SDC. This summer, his play, The Nightmare 'Dream' comes to FringeNYC.  See:

Scotti Rhodes

Scotti Rhodes (Press Agent)

Scotti Rhodes (Scotti Rhodes Publicity) has spent her long career as a publicist in the arts working primarily on behalf of theatre artists. She just finished working on the Workshop Theater Company's Main Stage production of Daniel Damiano's The Golden Year directed by Kathy Gail McGowan. She was press representative for the recent Ego Actus productions of Penny Jackson's critically acclaimed I Know What Boys Want and their revival of Kate Fodor's 100 Saints You Should Know. She is currently working for Ego Actus again on the "rom com" Love Stinks in this year's MITF. She is happy and proud to be working a second time with Laurel Vartabedian on the NYMF Next Link production of MOTHER DIVINE: The Musical.

Michael Cassara, CSA

Michael Cassara, CSA (Casting Director)

has cast over 300 theatre and film projects since 2003.  Recent credits include Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking (off-Broadway/cast album), Barbie™ Live! (Mattel, Inc./int'l tour), Fat Camp (off-Broadway), Heat Wave: The Jack Cole Project (dir. Chet Walker), Kingdom (The Old Globe, dir. Ron Daniels), and countless regional theatre credits.  Michael has been the resident casting director of the New York Musical Theatre Festival since 2007, and has cast over 50 musicals since the festival's inception in 2004.  Selected NYMF credits include The Yellow Wood (dir. Tony-Award Winner BD Wong), All Fall Down (dir. Lonny Price), Twilight in Manchego (dir. Tony-Award Winner Billy Porter), Max Understood (dir. David Schweizer), The Woman Upstairs (Kerrigan-Lowdermilk), Zapata! (dir. Elizabeth Lucas), Swing State (dir. Igor Goldin), and F@!#ing Hipsters (dir. John Carrafa).  Upcoming: Carrie (LA premiere) and the 25th Annual NAMT Festival of New Musicals.  Michael is a native Clevelander and a graduate of Otterbein College.  Member, Casting Society of America. / @michaelcassara

Phoenix Steiner

Phoenix Steiner (Social Media & Videographer)

Phoenix Steiner, web developer, photographer, and graphic designer has worked for several international enterprises, TV, and theatre productions, such as, The Magic Flute, Madame Butterfly, Fidelio,..., for the Vienna State Opera.  In January 2012, Phoenix co-founded, together with Broadway Veteran Randy A. Davis, AppliedArts.Us - an multi-media production company dedicated to creating, planning and handling advertising for its clients.  For more information please visit

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"...Wildly entertaining..." - New York Beacon

06/23/2013 - q&a preview by Howie Michael Smith

06/27/2013 - Mother Divine 

07/03/2012 - Danielle Lee Greaves and Cast Preview MOTHER DIVINE: THE MUSICAL, Set for NYMF

07/09/2013 - Photo Flash: Meet the Cast of MOTHER DIVINE at NYMF

07/18/2013 - Stage Tube: Sneak Peak - Mother Divine at NYMF

07/25/2013 - New York Beacon: "Mother Divine" the Musical is Rooted in Historical Facts