Jovannei Arroyo (Edward in Magic) A Hunter College Theatre graduate, Jovannei Arroyo recently starred as Mark in J&S’ production of Day of the Feast and as The Soldier in Bina Shariff’s Diary of a Thought. Additional theater roles include Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Alfieri in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge. Film roles include Raphael in Archangel, “The Mark” in Broken Wings, and the Lead in Cubicle Genius.

Kendra Augustin (co-founder and director of Leela NYC Theatre Festival Magic; director, Burying Elephants; Mona in Philoctetes) is an actress and playwright. She has had two plays, All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go and Stranger produced in 2014. She is part of 365 Women A Year: a playwriting project and as a result, wrote Dying is an Art (about Sylvia Plath) which was one of 15 365 shorts presented in a reading at The Sheen Center on April 11, 2015.As a director, she has directed three ten minute plays, a one act, and assisted in directing a 90 minute play.

Carmen Borla (Assitant director Magic) Originally from Argentina and recently graduated with a BFA from The New School. Carmen has performed and assisted in a number of different shows in the city.
She is deeply thankful for the opportunity of working in such a special festival.

Patricia Cardona Roca (co-founder and director of Leela NYC Theatre Festival, Anna in Suicide Club and Eliza in Magic) is an actress and singer from Spain. Patricia received her BEng in Telecommunication Engineering from Universitat de les Illes Balears. After many years working in the IT industry she moved to NYC; graduated from T.Schreiber Studio conservatory program and Musical Theater in NYFA in New York. As an actress roles include Otto in Dying is an Art at Dixon´s Place, Sister in The Kitchen at IATI Theater and featured soloist in Don´t Miss the Boat Musical Revue at QED. More

Kristopher Casey (Hedgehog in Happy Hamster Birthday) is ecstatic to be working with such a fun group of actors! Many thanks to his family and friends for supporting him while he continues to follow his dreams. 

Anthony Castellano (Cat in Happy Hamster Birthday) is a NYC based actor/singer/director for the stage.  Favorite include; Harry in Company, Helmuth Rode in Taking Sides and Sister Hubert in Nunsense Amen!. Thanks to the cast and crew for a wonderful experience and especially his parents for their love and support to follow his dream. Visit his website at 

Christin Eve Cato (director, Suicide Club) is a New York artist with a background in performing arts, playwriting, and production. She is a graduate of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music and Art and the Performing Arts and of Fordham University. She is Co-Chair of Diversity of the YPAC-board of Theater Resources Unlimited, and a member of New York Women in Film & Television. She is also a member of Unit52, the ensemble company, of INTAR Theatre.

Adam Chisnall (director, Happy Birthday, Hamster) is thrilled to be directing for the Leela NYC Theatre Festival! Adam has directed shows for The Strawberry One Act Festival, Venus/Adonis Theatre Festival, The Gallery Players, and Thespian Productions. He is also an actor and has appeared in Old Jews Telling Jokes, The Jackie Mason Musical, and Dotty Dot at The Secret Theatre. Adam performs stand-up all over this fine city. He thanks his parents for their love and support.

Christiana Cole (book, music and lyrics, Happy Birthday, Hamster). The New York Times called Christiana Cole “top-notch.” She’s performed at the York Theatre, Ars Nova, 54 Below, the Queens Theatre, The Labyrinth Theatre Company, and with the Transport Group. She starred as Laurie Partridge in The Bardy Bunch Off-Broadway. As a BMI Workshop lyricist, Christiana is writing a musical about the Three Little Pigs (with Dina Pruzhansky) and an adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen story about underwear called The Charm (with David Shenton).

Laysha Duran (Stage manager and PR team) Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in the Bronx, she has been writing since she first picked up an R.L. Stine book and dancing before she learned how to walk. She is hoping to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration so that her jewelry line Tsukasa and Ana can grow to be successful and long lasting in the Jewelry industry. She is a contributor to Manhattan with a Twist, News Cult, and Fit by Karma.

Mario Fratti (playwright, Suicide Club) is best known for his musical Nine (inspired by Fellini’s famous film, 8 1/2) which in its original production in 1982 won the O’Neill Award, the Richard Rodgers Award, two Outer Critics Circle Awards, eight Drama Desk Awards, five Tony Awards and in 2000 was a recipient of the Otto Award for Political Theater. In its 2003 revival, Nine won three Outer Critics Circle Awards and two Tony Awards.

Victoria Freire (Yoko in Engagement Party) has a Diploma in Acting, awarded by the Cinema School of Madrid (ECAM). She has also trained in the Teatro de Camara in Madrid and with Susan Batson in NYC among others  She has worked in various cinematographical projects: “Un Banco en el Parque”, ”Un Año en la Luna”   She has participated in a number of series, among which are Hospital Central, Estudio 1.  Her CV also features Short Films and theatrical plays.

Gabriela Garcia (hostess Leela, August 27th) Broadway:  CHICAGO; Regional/International: Roman Holiday, Carousel, West Side Story, Joseph…, CHICAGO Vienna and Mexico City. 4 professional ballet companies. Dance Associate for CHICAGO Düsseldorf and Peru. Teaching Artist.  A couple of movies, many Commercials, Voice Overs, Audio Books. Recipient of El Diario’s outstanding women award 2010. Adviser for the Broadway League's Viva Broadway, Co-founder of R.Evolución Latina.

Tyler Gardella (Stefano in Suicide Club) Tyler Gardella is an alumnus of Interlochen Arts Academy, holds an Acting BFA from Ithaca College, and is a former company member of the Flea Theater where he played Beelzebub in Drama Desk Award-winning, The Mysteries. More recently, Tyler has worked with Nylon-Fusion Theatre Company, New York Madness and the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. He is excited to be working with the diverse and talented community of the Leela Theatre Festival.  

Sander Gusinow (playwright, Philoctetes) play Ruth & Naomi received the 2014 TENT­DIY grant for Jewish artists. His short play Hansen & Greta was the winner of Between Us Production’s Short Play Competition 2014. Sander is a graduate of Columbia University’s 2014 MFA in Playwriting Program and a proud member of the American Renaissance Theatre Company.

Brock H. Hill (director, Invoice) is an ensemble based, collaborative artist.  A veteran of many New York theatre festivals as a director, he is also the current Producing Artistic Director of the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity.  Planet Connections is the countries premiere socially conscious theatre festival.  He is also the Artistic Director of the Altruistic Theatre Company, a company that chooses or derives piece to be partnered with a non-profit to help it raise awareness.  With his emphasis on socially aware theatre, he is so excited to be helping Leela bring this festival’s mission of inclusion to fruition.

Ayako Higuchi (Accompanist Happy Hamster Birthday, August 28th) 
Composer/Producer/Pianist based in NYC, originally from Fukuoka, Japan. 
Graduated Berklee College of Music in Jazz Composition Major in 2006, participated in BMI Jazz Composer Workshop directed by Jim McNeely (Vanguard Orchestra) and BMI Composing for the Screen directed by Rick Baitz. The short film "The Butcher's Key" directed by Sung Cho, music by Ayako Higuchi was screened at Soho Film Festival, Coney Island Film Festival etc.Ayako's 1st album "Smooth" is now available at iTunes, Amazon MP3, Google Play

Jax Jackson (Customer in Invoice) is a trans actor based in NYC. Theatre credits: Fuck Over Fuck Under (Maybe Burke); Don't Drink From the River (Will Davis); Lesbian Love Octagon (Kimberlea Kressal); Hir (Niegel Smith); Teddy Ferrara (Evan Cabnet). Film credits: Hannah Free, Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together. 

Abbie Krentz (Mice in Happy Hamster Birthday) is excited to be a part of Leela NYC and “Happy Hamster Birthday!” Originally from the Chicago area, Abbie recently performed with Disney Cruise Line and is part of the national tour of "Clifford the Big Red Dog: The Musical LIVE.” Love to her family and friends on land, at sea, and all over the globe!

Robin Rice Lichtig (playwright, Burying Elephants). Honors and awards include Reva Shiner, Karamu House, Moondance, Perishable, Drury, Finborough (UK), Kernodle, Phoenix Theatre, StageWrite Women's Theatre Initiative, New Millennium, Maxim Mazumdar. Nominations/honorable mentions/finalist: Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, O'Neill, Goshen Peace Play Prize, Smith Prize (National New Play Network), Barrington Stage, Reverie, Kitchen Dog, Jane Chambers, and others.​ Residencies awarded include Great Plains Theatre Conference, The Lark, Cleveland Public, Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, Last Frontier Theatre Conference, Phoenix Theatre, Sarah Lawrence College, Metropolitan Ensemble, America-in-Play.

J.P. Makowski (Yoli in Invoice) is an NYC-based queer performing artist. Theatre: Motel Rasdell (MITF 2013), The Taming of the Shrew, Kiss Me, Kate (Festival 56), Mother/Tongue (Cleveland Public Theatre), A Funny Thing...Forum(Porthouse Theatre), Les Miserables, Shenandoah (The Barn Theatre). TV: PanAm and Boardwalk Empire.  Wrote and performed his first original solo theatre piece, The Bitchiest Wallflower at the Orgy, (Dixon Place NYC) and his first full length solo work, Blanche On A Winter's Eve, premiered at the 2015 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (Best Overall Solo Show). He holds an MFA in Acting from the Actors Studio Drama School. 

Victoria Malena (Yudi in Engagement Party) is an actress, director and acting teacher from Buenos Aires, where she participated in many different plays as an actress or director. She has performed in plays that go from Shakespeare to musicals and improv shows, in conventional and non- conventional performing spaces for all kinds of audiences. Currently collaborates at IATI theater.

Noelle Mauri (director, Philoctetes). From Spain, she began her theatrical studies at the Shakespeare Theatre and worked with several theatre companies in Madrid. In 2006 she became part of the Spanish Repertory Theater. Participates in shorts and feature films. She founded Lunadream Productions and made her debut as a theatre director with the play Yes I Yes. In 2012, she directed her first Short / Documentary about Women Human Rights I Want To, which was selected for various festivals.

Cait Murphy (Hamster in Happy Hamster Birthday) is trilled to be a part of Happy Hamster Birthday! Most recent credits include: Zuccotti Park (Marguerite), In Vestments (Nun), One Night Only with Aretha Franklin, among others. MMC graduate! Many thanks to Adam, Patricia, Kendra, and everyone else involved in Happy Hamster Birthday and the Leela NYC Theatre Festival!

Kevin Necciai (Rabbit in Happy Hamster Birthday) has appeared in roles at theaters in NYC and throughout the region. Trained in opera (Indiana University) and classical piano, he has served as music director for off-off-Broadway productions at the Actors Temple and York Theatre and is also an experienced voice coach and teaching artist. []

Pablo Paz (playwright, Invoice; director, The Engagement Party) is a Spanish artist who studied dramatic arts, cinema direction and music in Spain, Buenos Aires and New York. He has had a 15 year career in theatre, television and cinema. He has directed several plays, web series and films; some of them have won international awards. Pablo is composing his first musical album Purito Despecho and his premiere concert Con Cierto Teatro, will be held in New York in September. 

Yani Perez (playwright, The Engagement Party) is an Ecuadorian born, Brooklyn raised poet and playwright.  Her work can be found in literary journals and websites. Her play God Don’t Exist for Girls from Brooklyn was produced by New Perspectives Theatre and was also part of The Naked Expedition Project Theatre reading series. Her short play, Kane was part of 365 Women A Year: a playwriting project Festival. She assists with literary workshops and publicity at IATI Theater. 

Polly Reavis (Anna in Suicide Club) Polly spent much of her life as a ballet dancer. She has performed in musicals (CATS; Sound of Music, etc), on TV (Discovery ID), film, commercials, and industrials. Polly & husband, David, travel the world to scuba dive. They have five children and seven adorable grandchildren. Polly sends gratitude and love to all who made LeeLa NYC Festival possible.

Kelsey Rodriguez (Colby  in Burying Elephants) is from Bronx, New York. She has studied Meisner with Isaac Byrne at the Matthew Corozine Studio. She is excited to be a part of Burying Elephants. Also, she likes to thank friends and family for being so supportive.​

Doug Rossi (Rob in Philoctetes)- has acted Macbeth, Orlando, Friar Lawrence, Caliban, Orsino, Brutus, Launce, Hamlet & (opposite Kendra) Tartuffe. He also recently played Schultz in Annie Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation. NYC: 80+ productions including Fringe, Planet Connections (Winner: Best Featured Actor) & MITF (Nominated: Supporting Actor) and 50+ on-camera credits including title role of the award-winning independent feature Recruiter. Next: co-writing/ starring in the thriller Blind Spot. MFA: Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

Ramiro Antonio Sandoval (director, Magic) is the founder and Artistic Director of Tabula RaSa NYC Theater and Performance Lab, an international artistic ensemble. He studied acting, directing and staging at the National School for Drama in Bogota, Colombia. He has adapted, directed and co-created bilingual plays. In 2001 Ramiro co-founded ID Studio Theater, along with Germán Jaramillo; He also directed, for ten years, the permanent workshop for actors’ development, a space for research and education.

Noriko Sunamoto (music director and accompanist, Happy Hamster Birthday) is a music director, composer, arranger, orchestrator and pianist from Japan.  She studied at Berklee and NYU.  Noriko has performed with "Mamma Mia!", "The Phantom of the Opera", "Wicked", Takarazuka, and numerous Disney Productions. Currently she works for several Off-Broadway musicals. Noriko can be reach at

Sarah Sutliff (Jennifer in Burying Elephants): is a Brooklyn based actress and teaching artist. A graduate of Wagner College, Sarah additional studied at Stella Adler and the Pearl Theatre Conservatory. She is a resident performer and educator with Galli Theater NY and an actress with The Murder Mystery Co. Find upcoming projects at

Simi Toledano ( Yumi in The Engagement Party) I was born and raised in a town just west of Philadelphia. A graduate of the William Esper Studio, I have acted in a number of off-off Broadway and independent plays. I am also a writer and performance artist storyteller and can be found implicating audiences throughout NYC. Thanks to Kendra and Patricia for this opportunity. Gratitude and respect to God/dess and those who believe in me.  

Irene Turri (Hostess August 28th) is an actress, producer and comedy writer. Graduated in Acting in Milan, since her arrival in New York, she has worked on stage and on camera and has collaborated with all the major recording studios in New York as a voice over actor. Also she produced the theatre play "Neighbors" that is going to be back on New York stages in 2016. She is now a proud member of the International company YoungKIT, directed by Laura Caparrotti.

Jordan Yanco (official accent coach for Leela NYC Theatre Festival) Featured on “Sesame Street” at the age of five, his childhood obsession with character voices, accents, and impressions later led him to stand-up comedy, where he won a Jerry Seinfeld Impersonation Contest at The Comic Strip in New York City. Graduate in Business and Marketing from Montclair State University. He has a library of his own recorded interviews with native speakers from around the world. Jordan is a member of the Linguistics Society of America and the American Dialect Society.

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Who is Who and Bios in alphabetical order

2015 Program and Cast 

MAGIC  written by Kendra Augustin
Directed by Ramiro Antonio Sandoval
A romantic fairy tale about two strangers who meet and find that their strangeness may be their unifying factor.

BURYING ELEPHANTS written by Robin Rice Lichtig
Directed by Kendra Augustin
In an isolated cabin, a woman breaks the news to her lover that she has made a choice between family and love, between duty and romance, between what should be and what must remain hidden.     

THE ENGAGEMENT PARTY written by Yani Perez
Directed by Pablo Paz
Takes us into the preparation rituals of the Delgada family. We learn about body image and what is most important to this beauty queen Latina mother. We also learn-- that where there is way, there is also a donut.  

SUICIDE CLUB written by Mario Fratti
Directed by Christin Eve Cato
A mother lies out of love, she's discovered. She begs her son to lie for her. Ends with a stunning, unpredictable behavior.  

PHILOCTETES​ written by Sander Gusinow
Directed by Noelle Mauri
An ancient greek myth and just a little bit of internet stalking puts misanthropic Mona and people-pleaser Rob on the road to some serious revelations.

INVOICE ​written by Pablo Paz

Directed by Brock Hill
A hooker and john meet. You think you know where the story is going, but you don't.

HAPPY  HAMSTER BIRTHDAY (Musical) written by Christiana Cole
Directed by Adam Chisnall
What will happen when all the rodents get together for Hamster's birthday? Will her friends bring crummy gifts? Will the cat show up? Will there be adorable hamster-style singing? You'll have to watch "Happy Birthday, Hamster" to find out.

Program duration 1h 20 min

Ticket prices online $10 general admission $5 for senior and students at the door with valid ID
Purchase your tickets online
At the door cash only $15

Theatre Centro Español
41-01 Broadway, Astoria, New York

How to get there
Trains M and R, stop Steinway station (4 stops from Manhattan).  5 min walk to the theatre.