An inside look at OTL’s first cabaret

Talia Friedenberg and her roommate, Sophie Brubaker, have spent the past two months brainstorming in their apartment. With the company of an adorable cat, the two arranged Zoom rehearsals with six other artists in the hopes of putting on a cabaret-style performance, one that finally comes to fruition at the end of this month.

Past and Future: A Revue is Off The Lane’s first community cabaret. The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Meux Space in NYC. To register for free, click here! Space is limited.

“The last two years have been a huge period of questioning and learning for the theatre community and it has led to a lot of shifts in perspective, values, and goals for a lot of artists,” said Talia.

She observed how the theatre industry has been evolving since the pandemic. After reflecting on why she fell in love with theatre in the first place and where she hopes the industry will go next, Talia had “a brilliant idea that combined really fun and beautiful numbers with something really meaningful and future-forward,” said Sophie.

During the revue, performers will share two pieces: one that addresses their background and one that addresses their hopes for the future of their art.

Sophie knew there were members of the OTL community who were dying to perform live again, so she was thrilled to connect her personal and professional circles. “That’s what I love to do more than anything,” she said. “Bring people together to create something new and interesting and hopeful.”

Below: Talia Friedenberg, Stephanie Nielsen and Sophie Brubaker rehearse a number in their living room.

With three members of the team in one location and the rest tuning in from their bedrooms, Zoom rehearsals required everyone to transform their living spaces. “It’s a little messy and awkward, and a wonderful example of how we’ve had to adapt to create in these times,” said Sophie. And yes, there were many appearances by the trio’s cat.

Talia had one-on-one conversations where she got to learn more about each performer, their passions, values, hopes and dreams. “It was fun to puzzle it all together and then get to work with the performers on pieces that genuinely inspire them,” said Talia.

Sophie is thankful that Off The Lane is giving them a chance to be creative again. “To me, this cabaret means that if you want something to happen, you make it happen,” she said. “There is nothing more beautiful than getting to know your community, their story, and what’s important and valuable to them as you create together.”

For Talia, this is the first time she’s taken on a directing project by herself. From collaborating with her friends to connecting with new people, she’s found the process empowering and hopeful. “Hope hasn’t always been easily accessible to many of us for parts or all of the past two years,” said Talia. “This project is looking to the future with a hopeful attitude, while honoring where we’re coming from.”

To learn more about the entire team involved, check out their bios below. Be sure to register for free on the event page! Space is limited.

Meet the team

Talia Friedenberg (Director)

Talia Friedenberg is thrilled to be making her solo directorial debut! In addition to directing, she is a playwright, songwriter, performer, and theatre administrator. Her original one-act “Become the Flowers” is available for licensing with Uproar Theatrics; her original album “im/patience” is available on all streaming platforms. Thanks to Sophie for making her revue idea a reality!

Sophie Brubaker (Producer and Performer)

Sophie is an NYC-based actor, singer, and host (and now producer? wowie). She recently graduated from UC Davis with degrees in Theatre and Human Development. Some of her favorite credits include Sydney Summers in Ranked, a Musical, Annie Londonderry in the touring educational musical Light The Way: A Bike Safety Musical, Rae in The Unfortunates, and serving as the community coordinator for Off The Lane and social media manager for Uproar Theatrics. She is an extrovert to her core, fueled by coffee and creative, communal projects, and always a little too busy. Enjoy this adventure from our artsy beginnings to what inspires us for the future of this frustrating and precious industry! 

Stephanie Nielsen (Performer)

Stephanie Nielsen is a multidisciplinary performer from Benicia, California. She began her dance training at age seven, and has since trained in ballet, color guard, and modern techniques. She continued her dance training at the University of California, Davis, where graduated with a B.A. in Theatre and Dance and a minor in Communications in June 2021. Throughout her education at UC Davis, Stephanie trained as an actor and singer under Mindy Cooper, Judy Blazer, Jeff Saver, Lisa Quoresimo, among others. She has also choreographed multiple original works under the supervision of David Grenke. She is currently based out of New York, New York. Stephanie joined the Stoopid Dance Company in Fall 2020 as one of its original company members.

Vivianna DeSantiago (Performer)

Vivianna DeSantiago is the inagural winner of the Ann Reinking Scholarship Program. She grew up in Yuma, Arizona where she began dance training at age 11.  She graduated with a BFA in Dance from the University of Arizona School of Dance.  During her time there, she got to perform works choreographed by Larry Keigwin, Martha Graham, and George Balanchine.  Vivianna spent summers training and gaining inspiration from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Perry-Mansfield, and Ate9.  After beginning her professional career with Modern American Dance Company, she decided to take a chance and move to New York City to pursue her dreams!   She is excited to explore the city, watch live theatre again, and make new connections!

Tamara Denson (Performer)

Tamara Denson is an artist based in the DMV area, earning her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in the department of Dance and Media. She began her exploration into the arts at age ten, miming at her church, and at age 14, she began training in ballet, modern, and jazz at her local studios. In recent years, Denson has attended the Joffrey Ballet summer intensive on scholarship, attended hip-hop workshops held by Shellshock DC, appeared in a music video for the VCU Brandcenter, and teamed up with the VCU Neurology team as a virtual mover. Currently, Tamara Denson is a research assistant in Media and Dance for Dr. Kate Sicchio, researching live coding through dance.  

Rachel Sabo-Hedges (Performer)

Rachel is an North Carolina native and has loved all the opportunities she’s had in the city. Most recently with Off The Lane, Rachel performed at the Ann Reinking Scholarship Fundraiser and is so excited to be performing at the Meaux space once again. Upcoming, Rachel will be assistant directing Bridges of Madison County with Hunter Foster at the Axel Rod theatre company in New Jersey. She hopes you enjoy the Past and Future revue!

Oliva Mitterando (Performer)

Olivia is a recent graduate of Temple University. She is currently living in Philadelphia where she just served as Wardrobe Supervisor for Temple University’s production of Head over Heels. She is so excited to be performing live again with Off the Lane and is so thankful for all of the advice she received in their mentorship program from her mentor Liarra. Her most recent credits include: ensemble in Grease, acting in student-run productions, serving as hair/makeup supervisor at Temple, and being a costume intern at a summer stock theater. Her future plans include participating in the Disney College Program this upcoming fall!

Julia Segal (Performer)

Julia Segal is a singer, actor, songwriter, and teaching artist based in NYC. She is a recent graduate of Colgate University where she received her B.A. in Theatre and Psychology. Julia has also studied at the London Dramatic Academy and is a member of the Off The Lane and Maestra mentorship programs. Julia’s recent performance credits have spanned from musical theatre, to devised work, cabaret and Shakespeare. She is also a jazz vocalist and sings for the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus. In addition to performing, Julia has worked as a music director and vocal arranger. Recently, she was the Vocal Music Director for Hamilton Central School’s production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and for the Colgate Resolutions a cappella group, where she performed and arranged for eight-part vocal a cappella. She is also a Teaching Artist at Treasure Trunk Theatre where she leads kids ages 3-8 in imagination adventure and sing-along classes.

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