Directing

Next Directing Project:
TBA
 

 
Directing Resume
 

DIRECTING

Henry VI: An Experiment Director Midlantic Theater Company
Shining City Director Queens Theatre in the Park
Dating Grim (premiere) Director TBG Theatre

Frozen

Director

Queens Theatre in the Park

And Whose Fault is That? (premiere)

Director

Sound Bytes One-Act Fest

Entertaining Lesbians (premiere; named as Fall Collection "Select Artist")

Director

The Fall Collection

No Exit  (“Best of the Fest”, Midtown International Theatre Festival)

Director

Midtown International Theatre Festival

The Dress

Director

The Theatre-Studio, Inc.

Seasons of Love: Four One-Act Comedies by Anton Chekhov

Director

Producer’s Club Theatre

Operation Ajax A.D. / Co-Creator The Butane Group

Collateral Damage (premiere)

Assistant Director

Samuel French Festival

Oedipus Rex

Assistant Director

Cypreco of America

The Tempest (“Best Actress”, Hofstra University Shakespeare)

Assistant Director

Black Box Theatre

DIRECTING (Staged Readings)

Neglected Classics Series: Chekhov's Farces (staged reading) Director Mid-Manhattan Library
Neglected Classics Series: Seneca's Oedipus (staged reading) Director Mid-Manhattan Library
Neglected Classics Series: Venus and Adonis (staged reading) Director Mid-Manhattan Library
A Midsummer Night's Dream (staged reading) Director Shakespeare Group

Arthur (work-in-progress reading)

Director

CAP 21

The Inventions of Eradan (staged reading/premiere)

Director

Church Street School

The Taming of the Shrew (staged reading)

Director

Genesis Repertory Ensemble

Shakespeare Readings

Director/Founder

Barnes & Noble Bookstores

STAGE MANAGING / FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHY

Betrayal

Stage Manager

W.C. Theatre

Absent Friends

Assistant Stage Manager

West End Theatre

Carnival (dir. Tony winner Charles Repole)

Assistant Stage Manager

JCA Playhouse

The Tempest (scene cuttings)

Stage Manager

Black Box Theatre

Man of La Mancha

Fight Choreographer

Star Playhouse

Romeo and Juliet

Fight Choreographer

Arena Classical Theatre

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

Acting

Acting & Scene Study

Adrienne Thompson, John Shorter

 

Sande Shurin’s Transformational Acting

Ginger Prince/Tripp Hanson

 

Alba Emoting (Workshop)

Roxane Rix

Shakespearean Acting

Shakespearean Acting (Master Class)

Ada Brown Mather

 

Unrehearsed Shakespeare / First Folio Technique (Workshop)

Demitra Papadinis (artistic director, N.E. Shakespeare Festival)

Stage Combat

Stage Combat (Workshop)

Rob Ruffin

Movement

Laban Movement for Actors (Workshop)

Tammy Meneghini

Improvisation

Improvisation (Workshop)

Second City Improv

Musical Theatre

Musical Theatre Performance (Master Class)

Jason Alexander

SPECIAL SKILLS

Languages (English, Farsi/Iranian, Spanish), Dialects/Accents (Standard British, Cockney, Italian, Iranian, Israeli, Turkish, Russian), Voices/Impressions, Singing (Bass-Baritone), Dramaturgy, Stage Combat, Fight Choreography, Physical Comedy, Spit Takes, Comedic Straight Man, Stand-Up Comedy, Comedy Writing, Improvisation, Comic Timing, Can Move Eyebrows Separately, Good with Kids

 

 
Directing Reviews
 
Shining City:

Conor McPherson, who may be the hottest English-language playwright just now, next to Shakespeare, had his latest Broadway opening ("The Seafarer") delayed by the stagehands' strike. But the Outrageous Fortune Company, deservedly eligible for Off-Off-Broadway's New York Innovative Theater Awards, filled the Irish gap with its 15th season opener, another searing ghost story by this modern master of soliloquy.

In "Shining City," directed in black-box relief by Rodney Hakim, Ian, a self-defrocked priest, begins a new career - therapist. His first client, John, is a widower who's seeing visions of his dead wife. Meanwhile, Ian is breaking up with his girlfriend and mother of his child because she reminds him of why he left the priesthood. While Ian is able to help John, he may not be able to help himself.

Dayle Vander Sande, as Ian, projects the professorial distance of a man who's hiding from himself, together with the angst of hormonal confusion. In supporting roles, Maureen O'Boyle as the dumped girlfriend and Gabriel Grant as a bedraggled male prostitute provide echo chambers for Ian's blind soul-searching.

But it takes John's desperate soul-cleansing, rivetingly rendered through sweat, tears and McPherson's unfinished sentences - exquisitely unspoken by Stephen Ryan - to shine light on McPherson's psychological striptease. Bravo.

-- Steve Parks, Newsday

 

Conor McPherson's "Shining City" is a sly bit of theater. The audience might at first think that the protagonist is John, the drab little man whose life of quiet desperation has been cracked open by the sudden death of his wife. He's been referred to Ian, a handsome younger man, whom we believe must have his life together - he is a shrink, after all.

But what we learn about him oddly parallels the unhappy life of his client. In many ways, Ian's life - his stammering failures to communicate with people who matter and the resulting chaos in his relationships - is even worse.

Set in an Ireland that's become prosperous, McPherson shows, through his two men, a culture that's giving up its old, traditional problems for new ones. Ian has left the priesthood for the new religion of psychology. John has not only lost his wife but is so convinced that he's seen her ghost - wearing the bright red coat that he could barely afford to buy her - that he's moved out of their house. Ian feels he can't handle the responsibilities toward his girlfriend and their new baby. John's need for connection makes him take up with prostitutes and a wealthy woman he has nothing in common with. Ian also turns to a twitchy rentboy, or male prostitute (Gabriel Grant), and their encounter probably leaves him just as empty. Sexual guilt is clearly alive and well.

McPherson, still in his late 30s, is a good writer who understands the way ordinary people talk - there's much stumbling and fumbling between his characters, but it's poignant and meaningful.

The performances, directed ably by Rodney Hakim and helped by Glenn Rivano's lightning design, are wonderful. One might despise a man like Ian, but Dayle Vander Sande makes the audience empathize with him; he comes across as a boy who's been forced to be a man before his time. Stephen Ryan is spectacular as John, a man who tears himself up trying to find out what went wrong with his marriage and his life. Grant makes for a vaguely menacing rentboy and Maureen O'Boyle is heartbreaking as Neasa, a woman fighting back panic as her frightened lover prepares to cut her loose. The last act seems to say that the men are finally getting on the right track, but there's a shock at the very end that gives one a hint that Ian hasn't gotten his act together after all.

-- Arlene McKanic, Times Ledger

 

Coinciding with the Broadway opening of Conor McPherson’s “The Seafarer,” the Outrageous Fortune Company presented “Shining City” these past two weekends at the Queens Theatre in the Park.
 
“Shining City” tells the story of a man, Ian, who has left the priesthood to pursue a different calling – that of a therapist in private practice.  As he spends time with one client in particular – John -- the problems he faces in his own life are mirrored and then illuminated by the problems John wrestles with during his sessions with Ian.
 
Of the five scenes that comprise the play, two of these present extended therapy sessions with John, a recent widower haunted by images of his dead wife.
 
Stephen Ryan brings a great deal to his portrayal of this tormented individual, especially his capacity to hold an audience rapt during what turn out to be two thirty-minute monologues.  When he finally leaves the couch to pace across the room in consternation, we get the sense that a caged animal has been loosed, so effective was his skill at conveying a man trapped by the confines of his own mind.
 
Ian’s wife, Neasa, is played very ably by Maureen O’Boyle.  Neasa feels that a fissure has appeared in her marriage which is driving her and Ian apart.  Ms. O’Boyle mixes equal parts doubt, anger, fear, guilt, condemnation and supplication into a concoction whereby one could experience the last 500 years of Irish history in the mere 15 minutes allotted to her for her impassioned entreaties.
 
Then there is Laurence, a homeless man whom Ian befriends and shelters.  As played by Gabriel Grant, Lawrence is much more of a ghost than John’s dead wife.  Mr. Grant’s touching performance elicits great empathy for a man laid low by poverty, circumstance and disability.
 
As Ian, the therapist, Dayle Vander Sande is the hub at which these three spokes find their center.  I was intrigued by how this man was able to just sit and listen during his half-hour sessions with John, yet still tell his own story through his unspoken reactions to someone else’s life.  And his scenes with Neasa and Laurence are no less interesting when he is called on to be much more actively involved with the dialogue.
 
Director Rodney Hakim displays an expert hand in many challenging arenas – maintaining a strong Irish sensibility in an American-produced play, moving his people around the stage in a natural yet riveting way, and, most importantly, requiring his actors to dig so deeply into their characters that what is ultimately unearthed is nothing more than pure truth.
 
This was my first exposure to McPherson’s work and I found it quite captivating.  Citing David Mamet as an influence, McPherson demonstrates Mamet’s ability to elevate everyday talk into something much more approaching poetry.
 
It is a genuine mark of success when a production inspires one to seek out additional works by the same author.  I have found this to be true with Mr. Hakim’s presentation of “Shining City” – I am left with a hunger for more.

-- J. Timothy Conlon, Deb's Web Theater Newsletter

 
Frozen:

"A pedophile's brain, a mother's pain"

Amber alert. Child abducted. Hours go by - days, weeks, months, years - before the body is found. Decades elapse before survivors move on, if ever.

For any of us who, as Shakespeare wrote, are born of woman - but especially those of us who have children - the pain is quite imaginably unbearable. Which is both blessing and curse to Bryony Lavery's dissection - no, tri-section - of one such unspeakable crime to which she gives voice.

Lavery's 1998 play was a triumph in London, where there's no Amber alert. It crossed the pond for an acclaimed Off-Broadway re-enactment and an unfortunately enlarged Broadway encore. A mother's agony is best told in an intimate setting, which is what director Rodney Hakim translates in mesmerizing incantation for the brave little Outrageous Fortune Company that could.

In lesser hands, this script might be dreadfully maudlin and manipulative. None of the three main players breaks out of soliloquies for the first hour of an excruciatingly brilliant first act. How much can we take? How much would we tolerate if the players couldn't make us believe?

Not that her role is easy, but Lydia Gladstone has the advantage of our sympathy. She's Nancy, the mother who makes the before-the-fact "Sophie's Choice" of sending her 5-year-old daughter, Rhona, instead of firstborn Ingrid to grandmother's house to deliver garden shears. Rhona never gets to grandmother's. Ralph (who, as played by Donal Brophy, reminds us of a deranged Nicolas Cage) crosses the unseen little girl's path with a "hello" that we know will come to no good end. Intersecting the obscenity of Ralph's effect on Nancy's life - not to mention Rhona's - is Agnetha, an American academic in criminal psychology who has arrived at the conclusion that evil is made, not born. Serial pedophile murderers such as Ralph are themselves victims. In America, we may execute them; in England, if they're caught, they get life in prison without parole.

Gladstone grips us with bedrock mourning and rage in the face of Brophy's twitching, monster depravity. But as Agnetha, Michelle Coffaro has by far the highest hurdle to clear. Why is she convulsed with tears in the first minute of the play? We barely get a clue until the somewhat too neatly tied ending. I'm still not sure I buy her character. Still, as the arbiter between perpetrator and victim (in the person of victim's mother), Agnetha/Coffaro gets at the nexus of guilt and forgiveness.

The title refers to Agnetha's description of the criminal brain as "frozen in an Arctic sea." Are we to forgive their crimes as symptom rather than sin? "Frozen" leaves the verdict to us.

-- Steve Parks, Newsday

 
Operation Ajax (A Game of Skill and Chance):

"In this courageous, unsettling, experimental piece set in a mythical casino, the Butane Group uses the metaphor of addictive gambling to tell the story of the 1953 CIA-led coup that brought down the democratically elected secular Iranian government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, setting in motion a course of events resulting in the current religion-based government of Iran threatening U.S. interests today."

    **Backstage Critic's Pick**

-- Nancy Ellen Shore, Backstage

Click here to read the full review

 

"[The] stagecraft effectively communicates the arrogance of American intervention abroad; like the Butane Group’s last offering, 2004’s The Loneliness of Noam Chomsky, this dramatized op-ed ends with a litany of American military and intelligence projects around the world. One doesn’t hear much about such things on the evening news: Alternately amusing and chilling, the play serves as an appropriately barbed newswire."

                   **Four Stars**

- Adam Feldman, Time Out New York

Click here to read the full review

 

"The [group] takes the intriguing approach of compiling the script from 30 text sources, including everything from Roosevelt's memoirs to reality shows about gambling to Persian religious theater to James Bond movies.  As disparate as all the material is, [the director] ably fits it together. . . This is timely material, a creative script, and a hard-working cast."

-- Kimberly Wadsworth, NYTheatre.com

Click here to read the full review

 
 
Seasons of Love: Four One-Act Comedies by Anton Chekhov:

I had the great pleasure this past Saturday night to see "Season's of Love," four one-act comedies at the Author's Playhouse in Bay Shore.  Yeah, I know, it's Chekhov (for whom the phrase "lost something in the translation" seems to have been coined), but this gutsy production did its very best to bridge the intercontinental divide.  Under the assured hand of Rodney Hakim, the energetic cast was not only true to the source material but also (yikes!) seemed to be able to pronounce all those Russian names correctly AND effortlessly.

First up was "The Wedding" which accomplished the near impossible - it crammed eleven actors into the claustrophobic confines of the theater's modest playing area.  Conjuring the spirit of Groucho's stateroom scene from "A Night at the Opera," the talented actors ran frenetically in circles around the table and chairs, never once banging into one another or upsetting the furniture -- a testament to both the choreography and those executing it.  Into the reception comes a retired naval captain, Fyodor Yakovlevitch Ruvunov-Karaulov (just to give you an taste of what these actors had to deal with merely to address one another), played hilariously by Leon Benedict, who proceeds to bore the celebrants so egregiously that they shout him off the stage.

Each performer -- including the talents of Dino Castelli, Jason Trigger (subbing for Brian Smith), Kim Volpe, Sean Fitzgerald, Peter Vellios, and Rosa Faulisi -- did his or her best to steal focus, which only made the piece more of a smorgasbord of wonderful humorous moments (if you'll excuse the cross-cultural mixed metaphor).

"The Anniversary" comes next and was the most interesting of the lot.  Rodney plays a man who is being feted for having worked fifteen years at a bank.  He is overseeing misogynistic John Tighe, who is rushing to complete the firm's monthly report (on an abacus!) while fending off the attentions of Rodney's sexy wife, played by the ever-so-slinky Claudine Coffaro.  Debbie N. Starker wanders into the mix, mistaking the bank for the unemployment office and demanding benefits for her out-of-work husband.  I know what you're thinking, "sounds hilarious," but really, it is.

After an intermission that provided free soda and cookies (and what theater on Long Island does THAT?), Peter C. Morrison opened Act II with a comic monologue called "On the Harmfulness of Tobacco."  With a master's nuance and impeccable comic timing, Peter delivered one of the most accomplished performances I have seen in a long, long time.  It was pure perfection and called to mind the best of Robert Benchley's short films from the 30s and 40s.

Having already seen love in its early and middle seasons, we now encounter it in its later years, bringing the evening to its touching thematic conclusion.  Closing the night were Phyllis March and Ted Fleissgarten -- she playing a grieving widow and he playing her insistent creditor -- in "The Bear" which, although not as funny as the foregoing pieces, provided riveting theater nonetheless.  Both actors brought a wealth of passion and dignity and truth to their characterizations, as they made their way through their very real conflict.   Rounding out the cast is Lou "Doc" Schimoler as Phyllis's long-suffering footman.

If you have ever made a promise to yourself to support local theater that takes a risk by presenting something you can't find anywhere else on Long Island, then I encourage you to see this show.  If, on the other hand, you simply want to fill your evening with laughter, well, I encourage you to see this show.  At $10, you will not find a better bargain for a night out.

-- J. Timothy Conlon, Deb's Web Theater Newsletter
 
 
Just a little note to say how much I enjoyed "Seasons of Love."  To be honest, I went to see the show because the cast was so big and I wanted to see how Rodney could direct everyone in that little "shoebox" of a theatre.  (I directed 3 shows there so I'm aware of the pitfalls).  What an excellent job he did, and the cast was exceptional.  I also enjoyed all the information on Chekhov in the program.  Thanks for a truly enjoyable evening.  You and everyone involved should be proud of yourselves.  Congrats.
 
-- Joan St. Onge, Director
 

No Exit:

 
** "Best of the Fest" -- Midtown International Theatre Festival **
 
 
TALKIN' BROADWAY.COM  -- Theatre Review by Matthew Murray

Eternity can be a very long time. The very concept of it is a difficult one to grasp, yet Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit deals with it in a unique and effective way. Rodney Hakim's production of the show, currently appearing as part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival, is not perfect, but captures the essence of Sartre's work almost perfectly. Hakim has directed Stuart Gilbert's translation of the play with a very keen eye, bringing out the play's true essence while slightly deviating from typical scenic conventions. Though the dialogue still indicates the setting is a French drawing room, the setting for this production is completely black with the primary features being three black folding chairs downstage, and a black door and mantelpiece upstage. Hakim's simplicity of staging suits the show very well, for what else would one expect of Hell? It is there that the pacifist Garcin (Frank Tangredi), the commonplace Inez (Phyllis March), and the vain Estelle (Claudine Coffaro) are doomed to spend eternity under the guard of the local Valet, played by Stephen T. Wagner. The visitors in hell are not tortured by fire and brimstone, but rather by each other. Their unraveling of their own lives and the understandings they reach as they begin their eternity together are what comprise the play. Yet, despite there being very little action, Hakim has made sure the show is not dull for a moment. It is properly paced, the moments all properly weighted, and the drama and humor meted out in just the right amounts. His staging of the show in the intimate New 42nd Street Theatre brings the audience still closer to the action, making the character's plights all the more significant. Each of the actors is able to bring out the qualities of annoyance that are so necessary in the show, while not drawing focus from the others. Each actor makes significant creative contributions to the show, though unfortunately not consistently. That is the one major problem with them (and the show as a whole): The actors' performances and relationships too frequently seem to be a step or two behind the developments in the script. When this occurs, it does detract from the otherwise tight nature of the production. However, when the actors catch up, the show ignites and becomes gripping and engrossing again. Regardless of how long Inez, Estelle, and Garcin spend trapped in hell, in this production of No Exit the time passes all too quickly and never ceases to be entertaining along the way. 
 
 
OFF-OFF BROADWAY.COM  --  Every day a little death  -- Review by David Mackler

When a character is escorted into a room by someone who gives maddeningly nonspecific answers, it's a safe bet that he or she is now a resident at the Hotel Existential. The thrill of discovering the who/where/what of Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit may be long since passed, but nagging questions about the meaning of life and death will always remain.

The cast of the Midtown International Theatre Festival's No Exit provided well-drawn portraits of the three new tenants of hell and clearly showed their struggles to manipulate the shifting dynamics of power and control. Since the dynamic of the play continually change as each player reaches out, rejects, desires, attacks, bemoans, and needles the others, it was fascinating to watch Garcin (Frank Tangredi), Inez (Phyllis March), and Estelle (Claudine Coffaro) try one approach after another to get (and keep) an upper hand. Their hopes, dreams, fears, and desires were so blatantly on display it was like watching three children in a sandbox. 

But while Sartre has written quite a lesson in human nature, it is also his fault that this production isn't more interesting. Plot points come across as so damned symbolic that the actors must work extra hard to keep the attention on themselves. And while the play was absorbing, it didn't become emotionally involving, instead remaining an intellectual exercise. That's what it is, of course, but there's enough soap opera to keep the drama-obsessed going for quite a while. However, the production did point out a commonly held fallacy of the play. While being confined to a limited space shared with other people is certainly hellish, Sartre's hell is more than that: it is the characters' awareness of being dead that's the kicker. Life will keep going on whether you are there or not, and there's nothing you can do about it. 

Director Rodney Hakim kept the action moving throughout the intermissionless 90 minutes. Some judicious tweaking of the script might have been in order though, as the play begins with much commentary on the Second Empire-style furniture of the room. Since the set (uncredited) was simply three chairs, this became another symbolic hurdle. But the costumes (designed by Rosa Faulisi), executed in black and white, provided their point all the better for not being commented on. This hell is completely bleached of color. 

Lighting (Jessica D'Aloisio) also made its point slyly, and was remarkably precise for a script that specifically mentions that there is no variance in light. When characters stepped to the place downstage where they could see the activities of the people whose lives they are no longer part of, their faces were brightly illuminated. And when the door to the room was opened, a bright red glow suggested just what was outside. In a play thick with philosophical arguing, it was a fitting joke. 
(Also with Stephen T. Wangner as the valet. Original electronic-style music by Peter Cline and Daniel Fine.)

 
 
THEATERMANIA.COM  --  Review by Celena Cipriaso

NO EXIT In this age of realism and cynicism, few people can stomach pieces dealing with the higher themes of heaven and hell. The self-absorbed, “Me Generation” philosophy prohibits most people today from appreciating pieces that confront powers greater than those of a human being. Almost 60 years ago, a French writer who fully understood this cynicism created a world in which hell is not fire and torture but, ultimately, other people. Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialist masterpiece No Exit, first produced in Paris in 1944, still rings with disturbing truth. Rodney Hakim’s production of No Exit, now playing at the New 42nd Street Theater as part of the Midtown International Theater Festival, does its best to do justice to Sartre’s brilliant work. Though the play is meant to be set in a drawing room decorated in Second Empire style, Hakim strips it down to a minimalist level, using only folding chairs, a wobbly black door, and a simple black mantelpiece. No Exit shows us how three recently deceased people— Garcin, Inez, and Estelle, who had not known each while alive— become each other’s torturers. This is a difficult piece to stage, yet Hakim has chosen actors who get the job done. While Garcin is played too stagnantly at times, Frank Tangredi does have the booming voice fit for this stiff, practical character. Phyllis March brings an apt bluntness and sarcastic edge to Inez, although her attraction to Estelle, as played by Claudine Coffaro, is not entirely believable. Indeed, Coffaro is the weakest link in the cast. Though Estelle is supposed to be a vain, rich woman, Coffaro plays that vanity to an unbearable extreme, knocking us over the head with it. (One of the most crucial turning points in the play is Estelle’s realization that she has truly been erased from earth. Unfortunately, Coffaro treats this like an Erica Kane monologue, detracting from its power.) To be fair, Coffaro is not a bad actress. Throughout the play, there are moments when we see her potential; for example, the quiet moment when Estelle realizes that she needs a mirror to exist. But Coffaro indulges in melodrama, as does the production in general. March and Tangredi also fall prey to histrionics at times—e.g., in the awkwardly blocked stabbing scene at the end of the play. Yet, despite the melodramatic fervor he has brought to the production, Hakim does a decent job of holding the piece together.