The Fourth Messenger

Book and Lyrics by Tanya Shaffer; Music and Additional Lyrics by Vienna Teng

The Fourth Messenger

at The Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row

  • Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 8:00 pm
  • Thursday, July 20, 2017 at 9:00 pm
  • Friday, July 21, 2017 at 5:00 pm
  • Saturday, July 22, 2017 at 1:00 pm
  • Sunday, July 23, 2017 at 9:00 pm

What if Buddha were a woman, living in our times?

What if the Buddha were a woman, living in our times? Mama Sid is a modern-day “awakened one” with a worldwide following. But a determined young woman seeks to unearth Mama Sid’s mysterious past, exposing secrets that could change everything. Epic and intimate, comic and profound, THE FOURTH MESSENGER investigates what it means to be both enlightened and human. Directed by Broadway’s Matt August (Grinch) with a ravishing score by indie favorite Vienna Teng. “An absolute delight!” —San Francisco Chronicle

Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Tanya Shaffer

Tanya Shaffer (Book & Lyrics)

Tanya Shaffer's (Book and Lyrics) plays have been produced by Berkeley Repertory Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, TheatreWorks, and the Eureka Theatre, and have toured to more than 40 cities nationwide. She’s been awarded Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Awards and nominated for a National Theatre Critics’ Association Steinberg Award. Her play BABY TAJ is available from Samuel French, Inc. Tanya is also the author of the acclaimed travel memoir, Somebody's Heart Is Burning: A Woman Wanderer in Africa.

Vienna Teng

Vienna Teng (Music & Additional Lyrics)

Vienna Teng (Music and Additional Lyrics) is a Singer-Songwriter who has released five albums on the Virt and Rounder labels. Her 2013 album AIMS, debuted at #4 on Billboard’s Heartseekers Chart and received four Independent Music Awards – the most any artist has received in a single year. She has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, NPR’s Weekend Edition, CBS’s Early Show, and CNN’s News Night with Aaron Brown, and has toured with Duncan Sheik, Joan Baez, Brandi Carlile, the Indigo Girls, and others. 

Matt August (Director)

Theatre Credits: GRINCH on Broadway, MSG, Opry, 12 National Tours; Regional Premieres of KING CHARLES III, IN THE HEIGHTS; World Premieres of DISCORD (Geffen/ATC), TWO DOLLLAR BILL (Pioneer), LIBERTY SMITH (Ford’s- 6 Helen Hayes Noms) SIXTEEN WOUNDED (Cherry Lane/Long Wharf), TROUBLE WE COME FROM (Falcon), TIME FLIES and PIG FARM (Old Globe), BABY TAJ (TheatreWorks). Also, MUCH ADO, TEMPEST, TWO GENTLEMEN, MERRY WIVES, ROMEO AND JULIET. Assoc Director to Jack O’Brien 2000-04. Drama League, Killian (OSF), Watermill Fellowships; Mentor Director- Drama League, SDCF Observership Programs. MFA CalArts.

Jesse Lozano (Musical Director)

Selected music directing/piano credits: The Gold (NYMF 2016); The Lady of the Castle (Theater for the New City); Godspell, Company, Next to Normal, Avenue Q (MJR Theatricals); Little Women (A.D. Players); Orfeo ed Eurydice, La Tragédie de Carmen (Opera in the Heights). Jesse's original musical Hot Diggity! was recently workshopped by Music Box Theater in Houston, Texas. He’s currently writing his second musical, You Won't Believe What Happens Next…

Natalie Malotke (Choreographer)

Favorite credits: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Choreography Assistant SDCF), Little Dancer (Workshop), Paper Mill, Music Theatre Wichita, Pioneer Theatre Company, and Nickelodeon (NCL). Faculty at BDC. Upcoming: Really Rosie (Assistant Director) at City Center. University of Michigan grad.

Nick Solyom (Lighting Design)

Past NYMF productions include Scythe of Time (Outstanding Overall Design), I Got Fired, and Our Country. Recent Designs: The Christians (Gulfshore Playhouse). The Prince of Players, Slow Dusk and Markheim (Little Opera of NY). The Way We Get By and Crossing Swords for The American Theater Group. Up next for Nick is Imaginary Comforts at Berkeley Repertory.

Caitlin Ward (Scenic Design)

Caitlin Ward is interested in the intersection of ancient/contemporary performance forms, and works in theater, spectacle, aerial ballet, opera, classical music concert installation, animation, and film.

Josh Liebert (Sound Design)

Selected Designs: The Rocky Horror Show (Buck’s County); Ain’t Misbehavin’ (European Tour); Story of My Life, South Pacific (Delaware Theatre Co.); Off-Broadway: Attack of the Elvis Impersonators, The Other Josh Cohen; Son of A Gun, Galois. Associate Designer (selected): Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, A Bronx Tale, Spring Awakening

Nancy Anderson

Nancy Anderson (Mama Sid)

Broadway: Sunset Boulevard (u/s Norma), Wonderful Town, A Class Act. West End & Tours: Kiss Me Kate (Olivier, Hayes Nomination).Off-Broadway: The Pen, Far From Heaven, Yank!, Fanny Hill, Jolson & Co. (Drama Desk Noms). Television: Madam Secretary, Kiss Me Kate, South Pacific. CD: Ten Cents a Dance.

Samia Mounts

Samia Mounts (Raina)

Samia Mounts is thrilled to be returning to NYMF in this gorgeous story of humanity at its best and worst. Past NYMF: Fresca in Lisa & Leonardo, Loretta in Once Upon A Time In New Jersey. Other theatre: Layla in We Live In Cairo (New York Theatre Workshop), Vocalist in The Source (BAM, LA Opera, SF Opera), Les Miserables (St Louis MUNY, Atlanta TOTS). Samia releases her original music under the name Samia XI, and she's the creator and host of the podcast Make America Relate Again, in which she has compassionate, respectful political conversations with women who voted for Donald Trump. More info at

Alan Gillespie

Alan Gillespie (Sam/Delilah/Bread)

Alan Gillespie is thrilled to be back at the NYMF after performing in Ultimate Man, Tess: A New Rock Opera, and Wallenberg. National Tours: Miss Saigon (Chris), Showboat (Steve Baker) Tokyo, Japan: The Who’s Tommy (The Specialist) Regional: Goodspeed, Florida Studio, Westchester Bdwy, Downtown Cabaret, New Provincetown Players, Bergen PAC. For my wife, Michelle!

Jacob Hoffman

Jacob Hoffman (Derekh/Yasha)

Jacob Hoffman is thrilled to return to NYMF, having previously appeared in Nighttime Traffic and Legacy Falls. New York credits include projects at The York Theatre, Vineyard Theatre, New Dramatists, and NY Fringe. Love and squeezes to Erik, mom, the gang at Avalon, and Mary Beth.

Josh Powell

Josh Powell (Mike/Sunny)

Josh Powell is thrilled to join The Fourth Messenger straight from appearing in My Way at the Ivoryton Playhouse. Earlier this season, he starred in Pittsburgh Public Theater's The Fantasticks (El Gallo). He's also performed with Goodspeed, Merry-Go-Round, Utah Festival Opera, and Light Opera Oklahoma. Love to CC!

Cali Elizabeth Moore

Cali Elizabeth Moore (Harmony/Water)

Cali Elizabeth Moore is thrilled to be a part of The Fourth Messenger! Favorite roles: NBC's 30 Rock (Vanessa) and Off Broadway's The Bardy Bunch (Marcia). Currently, Cali can be seen in Comedy Central’s Broad City and The Fifth Borough pilot recently picked up by Netflix. Endless gratitude to God, my husband, and my fabulous CLA team! 

Terry Palasz

Terry Palasz (Clara/Hag)

Terry Palasz is thrilled to be part of The Fourth Messenger. NY credits include: Williamsburg The Musical! (NY Fringe Festival), Emma (NYMF), Westchester Broadway’s Nine, Hairspray, Fiddler and John Engeman’s My Fair Lady and Oliver. Her one-woman show, The Polish Diva From Milwaukee, was recently produced Off-Broadway.

Faith Sandberg

Faith Sandberg (Myra/May)

Faith Sandberg is grateful to get to lend her voice to this poignant story.  She recently originated roles of Terri in The Good Girl (BMI/Manhattan MUTH Lab), Sophia in Tom Jones (world premiere), and Marilla in Anne of Green Gables The Musical (1st Nat’l Tour). TV: Boardwalk Empire (Kitty, s1), Blue Bloods, Quantico.

Matt Hetherington

Matt Hetherington (Andy)

Theatre: North By Northwest, South Pacific, Hair, Rocky Horror, The Last 5 Years, Sweet Charity, Damn Yankees, Sugar, The Full Monty (Helpmann Award), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Green Room Award), Next to Normal (Green Room Award), Hair. TV; The Detour (TBS), The Voice - Australia (finalist), City Homicide, The Dr. Blake Murder Mysteries, Stingers, Marshall Law, Sea Change.

"The Best Musicals to See at NYMF in 2017...The excellent Nancy Anderson, who gave a breakout performance in last year's one-act musical The Pen, plays a spiritual teacher in Tanya Shaffer's contemporary riff on the story of the Buddha.” - Time Out

"4 Amazing Shows at New York Musical Festival That You Absolutely Cannot Miss...This profound new musical re-imagines Buddha as a woman in the present." - SpoiledNYC

"9 Shows Not to Miss at This Year’s New York Musical Festival... tells the story of what it means to be enlightened, yet human...features a score by Vienna Teng, an Independent Music Award-winning artist." - Playbill

7 Shows With Broadway Stars at NYMF 2017 - Playbill

"Fresh off the triumphant run of Sunset Boulevard, Nancy Anderson will play the role of world-famous spiritual teacher Mama Sid in New York Musical Festival and 4M Productions' East Coast premiere of THE FOURTH MESSENGER." - Broadway World

Tanya Shaffer & Vienna Teng's THE FOURTH MESSENGER to Bring Buddha Legend to NYMF - BroadwayWorld

“An absolute delight…Driven by Teng’s jazz, folk-rock and mantra-infused score, Shaffer’s inspired retelling of the Buddha story, and their punchy, provocative lyrics…” - San Francisco Chronicle

“Satisfying and remarkably entertaining…Takes on spiritual life with wit and emotional resonance…Funny and touching in all the right places.” 

“Hugely ambitious and refreshingly original...Has the audience emotionally involved and often on the edge of their seats...Highly recommended.” 
- Huffington Post

“Beautiful, ambitious and with the kind of depth we’ve come not to expect from musicals, The Fourth Messenger is a triumph.” - Theater Dogs

“Masterful and compelling…both timeless and contemporary” 
- Stage and Cinema

NYMF Interview: Tanya Shaffer on ‘The Fourth Messenger’ - Stage Buddy