My Real Mother

Book, Music, and Lyrics by Riley Thomas, based on the bestselling book Open: An Adoption Story in Three Voices.

Alaina and Alex are strangers when Alaina and her husband adopt Alex's baby girl, but they form an unexpected bond that transforms them both. Chronicling 25 years of their tumultuous and powerful relationship, Alaina and Alex make up the rules as they go along, colliding with their families, jobs and obligations, determined to ensure the child turns out alright. Narrated by Sara, the young woman that baby grows up to be, My Real Mother is filled with humor and heart and set to a lush, contemporary musical theatre score. 


Runtime: 2 hours including a 10-minute intermission.

Riley Thomas

Riley Thomas (Book, Music, Lyrics)

Riley Thomas (Book, Music, Lyrics) is a New York based playwright/composer. Thomas’s musicals Stuck and Wearing Black each had sold-out extended runs in the 2012 and 2015 New York Musical Theatre Festivals (respectively) and went on to collectively win five accolades, including recognitions for music, lyrics and book. Stuck has since been made into a full-length Hollywood feature film starring Giancarlo Esposito, Amy Madigan and Ashanti released on April 19th, 2019. Thomas is a 2016 Weston Playhouse Invited Artist, a 2017 New Group Playwright and has been awarded the Anna Sosenko Assist Trust Grant and the Johnny Mercer Songwriter’s Certificate.

Misti B. Wills

Misti B. Wills (Director)

Misti B. Wills (Director) is thrilled to be participating in NYMF. Recently directed The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the Ovation Nominated production of Sister Act, both at 5 Star Theatricals in L.A. Of note: the NYC premiere of A Pound in Your Pocket (with music by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams.) Other fave credits include: Off- Broadway: In Search of Euphoria (Fidelity Futurestage Program, New World Stages), Tempest (Assistant Director, La MaMa, ETC., NY Times Critics Pick), Twilight the Musical (Assistant Director, New World Stages) Off-Off Broadway:Floyd Collins, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Ordinary Days, Shake the Earth (2015 NY Fringe Festival, Theater is Easy Best Bet, West Coast Tour 2016), The Drunken City (Jump for Joy Productions, NY Workshop Theatre), Afterlight (Cherry Lane, 2009 NY Fringe Festival), Songs for a New World,Twelfth Night (Shakespeare's Sister Company), The Pearl Merchant (Threads Theater Company). Other Regional: My Fair Lady (Forestburgh Playhouse), and New York Water (Depot Theatre). Misti holds a Master of Arts degree and has been on the faculties of The NY Film Academy, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, NY City College of Technology and Long Island University in Brooklyn. Proud member of Stage Directors and Choreographers

Elena Shaddow

Elena Shaddow (Alaina)

Broadway: Ottilie in The Visit, Anne in La Cage aux Folles, Bridges, The Woman in White,  Fiddler on the Roof, Nine, Sweet Smell…, and Les Miserables. London:  Magnolia in Showboat at the Royal Albert Hall. Nat’l Tour: Anna Leonowens in the Lincoln Center tour of The King and I and Clara Johnson in The Light in the Piazza. NYC: Fanny in Fanny at City Center Encores!, The Bacchae at The Public. Favorite Regional: Mary in Mary Poppins (Papermill), Lilly in Carnival (Papermill) Francesca Johnson in The Bridges of Madison County (Williamstown), Olivia in Twelfth Night (Shakespeare TNJ). Concerts: Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady in Concert with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and North Carolina Symphony through UIAPresents. Recent TV: “Conviction”, “Person of Interest”, “Time After Time”, Sister Sophia in NBC’s “Sound of Music Live!”

Katie LaMark

Katie LaMark (Alex)

Katie is from Boston, MA. Syracuse University '13. TV: Mr. Robot (USA Network), Ntn’l Tours: RENT, 20th Anniversary Tour (Maureen Johnson), Rock of Ages 10th Anniversary Tour (Sherrie Christian), Off Bway: 50 Shades! The Musical Parody (Anastasia Steele). Regional: RENT (Syracuse Stage), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (FIPAP, Janet Weiss), Mamma Mia! (ACT Connecticut), Chasing Rainbows (Flatrock Playhouse), Unnecessary Farce (Billie, Chenango River Theater), A Year with Frog and Toad (Northshore Music Theatre). Many thanks to Riley Thomas for telling a story with complex, female central characters. IG: @katielamark,

Rachel Hirschfeld

Rachel Hirschfeld (Sara, the Magician’s Lovely Assistant)

Rachel is thrilled to be making her NYMF debut! Previous credits include That Bachelorette Show Off-B’way, Junie B. Jones Nat’l Tour, Original workshop of 13: The Musical, The American Girls Revue LA, and various Anime Cartoon series and video games.  BFA - Boston Conservatory.  Special thanks to the creative team, ATB, my family, friends, and my pup, Olive! @rachelhirschfeld

Kevin Schuering

Kevin Schuering (Jason)

Kevin Schuering is excited to be a part of My Real Mother! He is honored to work on and create something that explores a rare, untold story of Adoption. Selected credits; Nat’l Tour: The King and I (Lincoln Center Theatre), NY Theatre/Off-Bway: Wearing Black (NMYF), On This Side of The World (Access Theatre), Carousel (NAAP), Lost in Shanghai (Pan-Asian) Regional: Miss Saigon (Ogunquit Playhouse), Disney's Aladdin (Chicago Shakespeare), Disney's When You Wish (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma). For More:, IG: @daschuerthing


Ryan Morales

Ryan Morales (Duncan)

NYMF Debut! Nat’l Tour: Flashdance the Musical (Nick Hurley). Regional: A Man of No Importance (Alfie Byrne), Joseph...Dreamcoat (Pharoah/Levi), Chicago (Fred Casely), Grease (Sonny), Evita (Fight Captain). Thanks to Mom, Dad, Judi and my friends and teachers. Certified Actor Combatant with the SAFD. BFA MT Shenandoah Conservatory. 

CJ David

CJ David (Christian)

CJ David is a New York based tenor who enjoys singing musical theater, opera, pop music, and pretty much anything else people throw in front of him. Recent credits include Stonewall (NYCO), Candide (WNO), Looking for Roberto Clemente (Imagination Stage), and My Fair Lady (Ohio Light Opera). When not singing, he spends his time teaching high school students Biology, Chemistry and Math and wandering around Central Park looking for corgis to befriend. Instagram/Twitter @cjdavid13. 

Rodd Farhadi

Rodd Farhadi (Liam)

Rodd Farhadi just recently moved to NYC from Los Angeles. Recent credits include: Jeannette (Eugene O’Neill), Clopin in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Argyle), Eddie in Mamma Mia! (The Hollywood Bowl) directed by Kathleen Marshall, and George in Sunday in the Park…(UCLA). On screen, Rodd has been featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, in addition to music videos, independent films, and commercials. Thanks to his friends, family, teachers, Tim, Riley, and this amazing team! B.A. UCLA TFT. In the fall, Rodd will be starting at The Juilliard School to receive an M.F.A. in Acting. @roddfarhadi

Lena Grotticelli

Lena Grotticelli (Daniella)

Lena has sung internationally and across the U.S., and has taught theater and public speaking at Rutgers University, for non-profts, and at acting and special needs schools. Selected acting credits: The Little Engine That Could (National Tour), Grease, Spelling Bee, Hair, The Laramie Project, Spring Awakening, Next to Normal, The Diary of Anne Frank. She was a lead singer onboard England's Queen Elizabeth ocean liner and in many NYC tribute bands and concerts--most prominently Riley Thomas' Defy Your Expectations (NYMF) and at The Bitter End. "With Love" for Mom and Dad, who chronicles his own foster care story in his book The Bond.

Kelly Strandemo

Kelly Strandemo (Storyteller)

As an actor, Kelly's off-Broadway/NYC credits include The Drunken City (Workshop Theatre, directed by Misti B. Wills); The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (St. Luke’s); Antigone Noir (EST); and Thirds (Theatre Row). Regional favorites include "Guenevere" in Camelot; “Lucy” in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; and "Portia" in The Merchant of Venice. As a writer, Kelly co-created the web series "30/2010," and her adaptation of Aristophanes’ The Congresswomen was seen in last fall's FringeNYC. Kelly is a founding member of Ducdame Ensemble and holds a Master's Degree in Classical Acting from LAMDA.

Viet Vo

Viet Vo (Storyteller)

Viet thought moving from Hawaii to the island of Manhattan was going to be the same. Nope, just a lot of pavement. However, he's had the great opportunity to work with amazingly talented people. For that, he is living beyond his dreams. Theatre: Carousel, Fishing for Wives, Miss Saigon, The Mikado, Evita, Songs for a New World. TV/FILM: “The Blacklist”, “A Crime to Remember”, “Manifest”, “Tales of the City”, “Lost”. Thank you to the cast and crew. Mahalo Nui Loa to Misti, Shannon, David, Caitlin. Riley- love you for your brilliance. Lina, Hope you're watching.

Shannon Lewis

Shannon Lewis (Choreographer)

Shannon recently choreographed the critically acclaimed new musical The Secret Silk by Stephen Schwartz and John Tartaglia and the musical film “Stuck” starring Giancarlo Esposito. Other credits: The Prompter (Bay Street Theatre); Beauty and the Beast (Maltz Jupiter); Mamma Mia (Bucks County Playhouse); Shrek the Halls (Dreamworks); 2014 Special Olympics Opening Ceremony; Claudio Quest (NYMF); Joseph...Technicolor Dreamcoat; RedRum; BustleFluffah. Off Bway- Show Time; A Dog Story; Lord Tom. Shannon created original works for Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Dance Out Loud, BC Beat. As a performer, Shannon appeared in 10 Broadway Musicals and is internationally known for “I Gotcha” in the OBC of Fosse.

Steve Mazzoccone

Steve Mazzoccone (Assistant Director, Producer)

Steve is a director and actor with his MFA in Performing Arts from SCAD. Directing credits include Blanche in a Wheelchair for the Samuel French OOB Festival and LIC One Act Festival, Absolution at Gallery Players and At the Museum for the Take Ten Play Festival, As You Drink It in Savannah, GA.. Assistant Director; Heartbreak House (GTG), Directing Observer on Long Lost for MTC. Steve is an Associate Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and member of Actors' Equity. Love and Thanks to MM!

Caitlin Kellermeyer (Stage Manager)

Caitlin is a proud alumnus from Sam Houston State University and very excited for her first NYMF production. Post college she worked for various theaters and companies including the Walt Disney Company and La Jolla Playhouse. She just finished working on the Roundabout revival of Kiss Me, Kate at Studio 54. Most recent tours include Irving Berlin's White Christmas, The Magic School Bus, Pete the Cat, and Skippyjon Jones; So What!? Much love to the #kellermeyerkids and TL3!

Kimberly Hicks

Kimberly Hicks (Jackie)

Kimberly Hicks is extremely excited to join the cast of My Real Mother for her first show at NYMF. She recently returned from being the Rafiki track on Disney Cruise Lines. Kim is a graduate of Florida A&M University (BA) and SCAD (MFA). She can also be seen in Emergency the Musical at The Musical Summerfest. Kim would like to thank God, her family, and friends for their constant love and support on this journey.