DIRECTOR/founder: ARI AXELROD
NYC credits include: Off-Broadway: Milk and Honey (Cantor/Sheep Boy) at The York Theatre Company. Regional: Weathervane Theatre: Last Five Years (Jamie), West Side Story (Riff), Hairspray (Corny Collins). Repertory Theatre of St. Louis: One Man Two Guvnors (Ensemble). Ari is a proud member of Actors Equity Association.
Ari has had the privilege of working with cabaret icons such as Tony Award winners Faith Prince and Christine Ebersole, Tony nominee Ann Hampton Callaway, Grammy Award winner Billy Stritch, multiple MAC Award winners Marilyn Maye and Karen Mason, and Bistro Award winner Alix Korey.
Ari Axelrod's solo cabaret, "Taking the Wheel", directed by Faith Prince and music directed by multiple MAC Award winner Alex Rybeck, has been performed in multiple cities including two sold out performances at Feinstein's/54 Below in New York City. Ari’s most recent cabaret, “A Celebration of Jewish Broadway” has had two sold-out performances at historic Birdland Jazz Club in NYC, as well as sold out performances in St. Louis, Missouri and at Eastern Michigan University.
Music DIRECTOR: Mike Stapleton
Mike Stapleton is a recent graduate from Berklee College of Music, holding a degree in composition. He has music directed several productions in the Boston area, as well as upstate NY. He was last seen in NYC as a sub conductor/pianist for “Sweeney Todd” at the Barrow Street Theatre, and is currently a keyboard sub for “Wicked”, “Beetlejuice”, and “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway.
GUEST TEACHER: LINA KOUTRAKOS
Singer/songwriter Lina Koutrakos was awarded the Manhattan Association of Clubs and Cabaret Awards for BEST ARTIST OF THE YEAR in 2007. Lina also holds both a MAC and a Bistro Award for Best Director. This year, 3 of Lina's cabaret clients have been singled out and awarded the prestigious 2017 New York City Backstage Bistro Award for their exceptional full length shows she directed. Lina has been on the teaching staff at both the Eugene O'Neil Cabaret Symposium and the Yale Cabaret Conference for a combined 7 years and she has had the pleasure of directing many of the other wonderful Master Teacher/Directors in cabaret: Eric Michael Gillette, Sally Mayes, Patrick DeGennaro, Rick Jensen. Lina Koutrakos along with Lennie Watts is the co-founder of New York's Cabaret Intensive “Summer in the City” which is in its 10th year this summer. Koutrakos has done both weekend intensives and Master Class (most annually) in Waterford, CT, The Berkshires, Binghamton, Chicago, Santa Fe, Washington DC, Boston and Las Vegas. She was one of the original Master Teachers at the St. Louis Cabaret Conference.
Lina has been featured in The New York Times, Billboard Magazine and Mode Magazine. She has garnered fans the likes of Meryl Streep, Kathleen Turner, Kate Mulgrew, Tom Hanks and the late Gregory Hines. Her first independent CD - "Leave A Little Something" has sold thousands of copies. More of Lina’s original material is being played on Television nation wide and Radio stations throughout the world, most notably the BBC. She is a John Lennon Songwriting Contest Award Winner for her original Gospel/Inspirational song BURY ME DEEP. Lina is also an Equity Actress who has appeared Off-Broadway.