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“Celebrate Me Home: A Christmas Cabaret with Jeff Kennedy & Friends”
By Jeff Kennedy
December 17, 2021 - December 20, 2021
Dec. 17, 18, 19, and possibly Dec. 20
Premiered December 2021
Presented by iTheatre Collaborative
Yes, it's back! It seems Christmas was almost cancelled last year because we were not able to do our annual Cabaret with Jeff Kennedy. So get your shopping done early and buy your tickets even earlier because iTheatre’s Christmas Cabaret will get you ready to celebrate the Holidays.
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as Company Member
Matravius is so excited to be returning to iTheatre Collaborative. Matravius has been a massive fan of the Christmas cabaret for years and is thrilled to be a participant this year. Matravius was last seen in iTheatre Collaborative's 2016 production of Passing Strange. A Phoenix-based actor and singer, Matravius spends most of his time on stages throughout the valley. Recent theater credits include: Camelot, Something Rotten, Jekyll & Hyde, My Way, Sister Act, and Little Shop of Horrors. In addition to theater, Matravius has performed as a concert vocalist in the US and Japan. BM University of Denver, MM Arizona State University. Instagram: @matravius, website: www.matravius.com
as Company Member
Trisha is a Phoenix based singer, actress, dancer, director, painter and teacher. She completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Trisha has enjoyed performing with Phoenix Theatre, Arizona Broadway Theatre, Childsplay, Showtune Productions, TAD Management, and Lonely Street Productions here in Arizona. Outside of Arizona she has worked at the Fireside Theatre, Palace Theatre, Bucks County Playhouse, and Butte Opera House. She travelled the world as a singer with Stiletto Entertainment on Holland America Cruise Lines throughout Europe, the Caribbean and Alaska. She also toured Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore with Broadway Asia. After living and working out of both New York and Chicago, she now calls Phoenix home. Favorite roles include Maria in The Sound of Music (Phoenix Theatre Company and Arizona Broadway Theatre), the title role in Mary Poppins, Sister Mary Robert in Sister Act, Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, Percy in The Spitfire Grill and Bea in Something Rotten. Instagram @trishapaintsphx@trishapaintsphx or visit trishaditsworth.com for information on voice and acting lessons, upcoming shows and paintings. Love and thanks to Mom, Dad and husband Matravius, I am so grateful for you!
as Company Member
Lisa is delighted to be singing with friends on a stage with an audience after what seems like an eternity. In the past five years, Lisa has been working, creating, and performing with Adam Vargas and Brian Sweis, otherwise known as the Good Feelz. Some of the most-cherished moments have been shared while eating Thai Food, figuring out harmonies, laughing and singing, supporting each other, playing the ukulele, writing, planning, and performing with Adam and Brian. In January, 2020, Lisa ran her first half-marathon race and immediately signed up for another in May in San Diego. We all know what happened in March, and subsequently, all races were cancelled. Happily, Lisa is in the midst of training for the return of the Rock n' Roll Half-marathon in Phoenix next month! A good amount of time in 2020 was devoted to making masks for donating to volunteer groups or family and friends. Later in the year, Lisa was honored to make the veil and alter the wedding dress for her son's bride. The happiest day was 12/12/2020 when Josh and Mary Kate were married in a small ceremony with 15 family members in attendance. Thanks to all the love and support from Mom, Dad, Russ, Mikayla, Josh, Mary Kate, Jimmy, loving family and friends, the sweetest dogs, the beauty and wonders of nature, laughter and kindness, and the wonders of science, I am still here. Peace to all.
as Company Member
Miguel is SOOO excited to be back with these incredible singers!! They're all such incredible people, that I jumped at the chance to be involved again. We've put in the work, so sit back and be prepared to laugh, (maybe) cry, and get that holly jolly feeling that is crucial at this time of year! A lot has happened for me in these last few years, and I don't want to spoil some of those surprises. Let's save it for the SHOW! But I've been truly blessed, despite some ups and downs, and I'm looking forward to being able to help you ring in the holidays with gorgeous songs, fabulous singers, amazing arrangements, a vintage venue with a subtle TWIST… A few people to thank, if you would indulge me: Jeff Kennedy, thank you for the gift of your friendship. You've helped to build my voice and my life in countless ways. I owe you more than I could ever repay you. Thank you for the gift that this Christmas Cabaret has been to my life. Thank you for the numerous times I have been able to share a stage with you. iTheatre (Chris and Rosie et al), thank you for your continued commitment to pushing the envelope and to being a company that challenges local artists AND audiences. You're both such amazing people and I've been blessed to get to spend these years with you both. To my Castmates: Terri Scullin, Brian Sweis, Lisa Fogel, Adam Vargas, Trisha Ditsworth, Matravius Avent. I have been on stage with you all, so many times, in so many ways. This show has meant a lot to me, and to have us all together again, is a Christmas miracle I know is incoming. I have loved getting to know you all and continue to be excited by what is in store for you all. I marvel at the level of talent in this group and am excited for others to enjoy it also. You know it's good when we're feeling it from the first rehearsal!! And it felt amazing, because you all are amazing. Thank you for letting me be a part. Katrina Jackson, you're my everything. To think after doing that show "It's Only Life” in 2009 (music directed by ??? JEFF KENNEDY!!!), we would end up here all these years later. I can't believe how lucky I am. Thank you for loving the real, raw me. The "I stayed up till 4am playing VR again” moments. The "You and I both have to go work on different cruise ships, so we wont see each other for the next 3 months straight” moments. I couldn't do what I do without your love and your support. I can only spend the rest of my life making more moments with you. Willow Jackson, I told Mommy she was my everything. You know who else shares that spot with Mommy? Our daughter Willow. You're only 9 months, but it's been the joy of my life to watch you start to grow and become a little person. One of Daddy's many wishes for you, is that in whatever career you choose, you get a chance to know what it is like to work with people that you both love AND that are incredible at what you all do together. I apologize for this wall of text. This is why you never give an actor no restriction on bio length. You get a early in the career oscar speech draft for goodness sake.
as Company Member, Pianist and Director
Jeff Kennedy is a theatre artist, musician, author, scholar, and teacher whose interests have led him into a wide variety of experiences. He is currently an Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance at Arizona State University, where he has been teaching since 2000. As a music director, he is currently serving at Phoenix Theatre, most recently playing and conducting Camelot (small cast version), Fun Home, and The Scottsboro Boys. For five years, he was the music director of the Phoenix Theatre New Works Cabaret; the workshop production of The Upside of Down by Amanda Jacobs and Y York, the Phoenix Symphony/Phoenix Theatre concert productions of An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein, South Pacific, My Fair Lady and Oliver; and he received the AriZoni Award in 2016 as Best Music Director for the Phoenix Theatre production of The Toxic Avenger, and in 2014 for Avenue Q. As an actor, he performed the one-person play Liberace, and Anthony in End of the Rainbow, both at Phoenix Theatre and is a proud member of Actors Equity. He has conducted for Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx in a tribute concert to Ray Charles that featured a line-up of jazz all-stars and recently created vocal arrangements performed by Dave Koz on his national Christmas tour. He has directed Arizona premiere productions that have included Passing Strange by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, Floyd Collins and Myths and Hymns: Saturn Returns by Adam Guettel (iTheatre Collaborative); James Joyce's The Dead; the John Bucchino revue It's Only Life; the world premiere of Daniel Lentz's Café Desire (also performed for the Other Minds Festival in San Francisco), and the world premiere live performance of Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration at Phoenix's Orpheum Theatre. For iTheatre Collaborative, he created, directed and performed their Holiday Cabaret for thirteen years. He worked for Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine as a production assistant (revival of Merrily We Roll Along and first production of Into the Woods). He has also been a music director for Broadway performers, including Pamela Myers, Carol Lawrence and Jubilant Sykes. An award-winning composer, arranger and producer, he has many recordings in gospel and choral music and traveled as the pianist for the Bill Gaither Trio and Gaither Vocal Band for a number of years, also accompanying vocal artists that include Sandi Patty, Larnelle Harris, Mark Lowery, and Michelle Pillar. Jeff has a Bachelor of Arts in Music from California State University, Fullerton, and a Masters of Arts and Ph.D. in Educational Theatre from New York University. While a teaching fellow at NYU, he was the founder/producer with Dr. Lowell Swortzell of the award-winning New Plays for Young Audiences reading series at the Provincetown Playhouse, where he also designed the Playhouse's historical gallery and has since become a recognized scholar on the Playhouse and its history. In June 2008, he launched a research website about the Playhouse, www.provincetownplayhouse.com, served for two years as the President of the Eugene O'Neill International Society, and was the chair of their 2011 international conference in New York City and 2015 conference in Provincetown that celebrated the centennial of the Provincetown Players. He is a widely published author of articles, chapters, and reviews, and his new book is Staging America: The Artistic Legacy of the Provincetown Players, published by the University of Alabama Press. Jeff served as the ASU West Campus Artistic Director from 2002-2006, and then again from 2012-2015, where he was the producer of the campus series of artistic and cultural events. He was awarded the Outstanding Teacher Award by the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences in 2012, and in 2015 was given the Champion of the Arts award by the West Valley Arts Council for his work as the ASU West campus Artistic Director. He was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award to study in London at the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. He continues to be a frequent speaker about American theatre nationally for groups like the New York Historical Society, the Greenwich Village Preservation Society, Metropolitan Playhouse, the Newberry Library, and at theatre conferences internationally, most recently in Paris, Nancy, and Toulouse, France, and he will appear on the PBS series Poetry in America this next season.
as Company Member
Terri Scullin is back! Terri currently lives and teaches in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She performed in all but 2 of the previous Christmas Cabarets and yet for some mysterious reason has decided to return yet again. In Santa Fe, Terri has performed at the Santa Fe Playhouse "the oldest continuously running theatre west of the Mississippi.” Productions there include Cabaret and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. When she is not onstage, Terri shares her love for music and drama with her students at the Rio Grande School. She wants to send out a special thank you to Jeff and the cast for putting up with the challenges of rehearsing with her over Zoom!
Brian E. Sweis
as Company Member
Brian is trying his hardest to not use the words "thrilled to be back”, "so excited”, and "feeling blessed” in his bio. Oops. After 2020, he…like so many others…has lost all sense of time, but seems to remember being here for the holidays many, many times before…which would explain why he is feeling ALL the feelings now that he is back at the Kax and iTheatre with Jeff and so many other dear friends as you "celebrate us home”! And now for the fine print: Brian is an active member of the arts community as a live event host, announcer, actor, vocalist, and voice over artist, and is the official "voice” of the AriZoni Theatre Awards. He has performed with over 10 theatres across the valley, and is also the Associate Program Director and current and founding member of The Phoenix Theatre Company's Partners That Heal — a program designed to engage, entertain, and bring a sense of normalcy while working bedside with kiddos and family members at children's hospitals and other care facilities. Brian is a member of Essential Theatre and Playback Theatre Arizona — playback theatre ensembles currently working with marginalized youth and others in the community. As a vocalist, Brian has performed annually (aside from the lost year of 2020!) in holiday cabarets/concerts for the past 16 years at theatres and venues across the valley, and is a member of the vocal trio The Good Feelz with Adam Vargas and Lisa Fogel! Represented by the Leighton Agency, he has worked on countless voice-overs, industrials, and commercials for clients such as The Boston Beer Company, Seattle Mariners, and Arizona Lottery. Keep an eye out for Brian on tv in 2022, where you may catch a quick glimpse of him on "Let's Make A Deal." And now…this one goes out to KV!
as Company Member
Adam loves this holiday cabaret and is so excited that Jeff & iTheatre are bringing it back. He is excited to sing with so many of his friends! Over the past couple of years, Adam has been doing a lot of painting, songwriting and singing at home. Adam also sings with Brian Sweis and Lisa Fogel in a group called The Good Feelz. Many thanks to YOU for being here and supporting iTheatre Collaborative! As always, Adam dedicates this and every performance to his family.