The Pilot Team!
MONICA URCINOLI - Monica
Originally from Maine, Monica is most passionate about inspiring a love of food and nutrition in young people through entertainment. Her favorite role yet debuted in 2020 when she became a mother to her dear son Corrado. Monica is Nutritious Life Certified and has a BA and MFA in Theater Arts and Acting from Brown University. Monica is the owner/baker of Monicakes Bakery and has worked extensively within the organic food and beverage CPG industry.
ANDY HAYWARD - Colby
ANDY HAYWARD was an indoor kid whose childhood puppet obsession evolved into a full time career as a professional doll wiggler and funny voice-maker. Most recently, Andy helped breathe life into Larry, the Jim Henson Creature Shop-designed monster in the feature film Come Play. His puppetry can also currently be seen in numerous videos from the hit Super Simple Songs series. Andy has created original puppet designs for shows such as the Emmy-nominated Miss Persona, the Broadway World Award-winning Thank You For Being A Friend, and Off-Broadway's Rescue Rue. Additionally, Andy's voice can be heard in several animated series, including The Bumble Nums, Carl's Car Wash and Finny the Shark.
HALEY JENKINS - Pepper
Haley Jenkins is a native of Matthews, North Carolina, and currently calls South Orange, New Jersey her home. Haley puppeteers the title character on the Fred Rogers Productions/Spiffy Productions PBS Kids show, Donkey Hodie. She also plays Karli on Sesame Street, as well as Marvie for Sesame Studios, and she is the US puppeteer for the international Sesame characters Zari and Basma. Her puppetry can also be seen in the Sony Pictures film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, as well as on Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, America’s Got Talent, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and The Katie Couric Show, as well as in commercials for H&M, National Geographic, McDonalds, and Comedy Central. Haley has performed on stage in The Pee-wee Herman Show (Original Broadway Cast), John Tartaglia’s ImaginOcean, and The Center for Puppetry Art’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Z BRIGGS - Cherry
Lindsey “Z.” Briggs loves to share the magic of puppetry with children, adults and families. Her company, WonderSpark Puppets, co-founded with husband Chad Williams, recently celebrated 10 years of performing excellent live puppet shows for children throughout New York City and beyond. After attending the Puppet Arts MFA program at the University of Connecticut, Z. has gone on to perform for multiple television, film and theatrical productions. Most recently Z. can be heard as Foley, the host of Sesame Street’s Foley and Friends podcast on Audible.
JOHN TARTAGLIA - "Captain" Charlie
JOHN TARTAGLIA At the age of 16, he began his professional career as a puppeteer for Sesame Street. He earned a Tony award nomination for his Broadway debut in the dual roles of Princeton and Rod in Avenue Q. Broadway roles include Lumiere in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and originating Pinocchio in Shrek the Musical. Director: Stephen Schwartz’s The Secret Silk (Princess Cruises, writer/director), Kinky Boots (3d Theatricals), Beauty and the Beast (Maltz Jupiter Theatre), Annie, The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan andShrekthe Musical (MUNY), Claudio Quest (NY Musical Festival, Best of the Fest), Shrek the Halls (DreamWorks Theatricals) and many more. Broadway: Avenue Q (Tony nomination), Beauty and the Beast and Shrek. MUNY: Aladdin (The Genie), Seussical (The Cat in the Hat), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Hysterium, St. Louis Theater Circle Award). Film/TV: The Happytime Murders (STX Films), Johnny and the Sprites (Disney Jr., Emmy nomination), Sesame Street (PBS Kids), Jim Henson’s Word Party and Julie’s Greenroom (both on Netflix), creator, co-executive producer and star of Jim Henson’s Splash and Bubbles (PBS Kids, Emmy nomination). Upcoming: John is serving as an Executive Producer, writer and puppeteer for Apple TV’s upcoming reboot of “Fraggle Rock” Instagram/Twitter: Johnnytartags - John can be heard every Sunday on Sirius XM On Broadway on his show “Sunday Funday with John Tartaglia.”
National Tours: Little Shop of Horrors, Walking With Dinosaurs. Film/TV: “Sesame Street,” “The Muppets,” “Crank Yankers,” “Julie's Greenroom,” “The Wiz Live!,” “The Happytime Murders,” IFC's “Greg the Bunny,” “Warren The Ape,” “Saturday Night Live,” “The West Wing,” “Portlandia,” “Crash & Bernstein,” “The Colbert Report,” “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!," “Dog with a Blog," “It’s a Big, Big World,” “The Book of Pooh," “Helpsters," “Between The Lions”. Check out his original work at www.youtube.com/PaulMcGinnisPuppetry. Proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA. Love to his amazing wife Haley.
Patrick's performed as a puppeteer with PBS productions “Sesame Street”, “SeeMore’s Playhouse”, and has worked as a costume dresser for the Teletubies. He has experience in comedic improv theater, puppet building, illustration, graphic design, digital audio, song writing, video production, marketing and social media. Patrick's hobbies include ice cream making and have become immersed in playing tennis. He received a BFA in Photography from Marywood University and completed an MSA in Advertising from Syracuse University. Patrick had a blast performing puppetry on "Monica's Mixing Bowl" and is very excited to see everyone's contribution on screen and hear those songs again.
Jake Bazel is a puppeteer, voice actor, and writer passionate about telling engaging stories in the kids media space. TV: Sesame Street, Sesame Street in Communities, Sesame Workshop’s Helpsters, and the 90th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with Disney’s The Muppets. Theatre: Dinosaur Train Live! (Henson) and the original off-Broadway casts of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show and Paddington Gets in a Jam. He’s continued to work within the Caterpillar family as the Director of the National Tour and the Puppetry Director of several regional co-productions. He's a proud member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and the Children’s Media Association.
Darren Bluestone, as an actor/puppeteer, most notably played Princeton/Rod in the 10th anniversary cast of AVENUE Q Off-Broadway. As a television actor, he guest starred on “Transparent”, “S.W.A.T.”, and “Jane the Virgin”, as well as “Bizaardvark” and “Liv & Maddie” on the Disney Channel. Darren now writes YA and kids content, and currently pens for Nickelodeon’s reboot of the 90's classic “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”.
MONICA URCINOLI - Co-Creator, Producer
STACEY WEINGARTEN - Co-Creator, Writer, Executive Producer
Stacey is an Emmy-winning artist who specializes in writing, directing, producing, often developing original projects that explore social awareness through entertainment. A bookwriter-lyricist passionate about children's media (shoutout to CMA!), her other family works include a musical fairytale inspired by her adopted dog called Rescue Rue and the award-winning short film Beach Day. Favorite "not-for-kids" projects include the sci-fi rock opera LUDO’s Broken Bride, musicals 5th Republic and Madame, and play cycle 'spirits - the bar plays'. As a self-described 'puppet person', she's worked for shops including the Jim Henson Co., Swazzle, and the Puppet Kitchen, and on shows like Sesame Street, Kidding, Julie's Green Room, and Johnny and the Sprites. She served as Avenue Q's Puppet Wrangler/Wardrobe Head at New World Stages Off-Broadway, and teaches puppetry at Pace University. Dramatists Guild Fellow ’14-’15. FCLC '10. She's super-freakin' pumped to share MMB with the world... let's make friends with food! For more, visit saweingarten.com
DONNA DRAKE - Choreographer, Development
Broadway: Original production of A Chorus Line, Sophisticated Ladies, Woman of the Year, The Wind in the Willows, 5678-Dance, It’s so nice to be Civilized and the original production of The 1940s Radio Hour. She directed 4 Broadway Concerts of Nothing Like A Dame for BC/EFA.
Awards: an Emmy nomination, 4 Drama Desk Nominations,
A Mac Award Nomination, A Theatre World Award and an Off Broadway Alliance Nomination.
She choreographed Catherine Zeta Jones for the American Film Institute Awards, 2009 and The AFI 2011 honoring Morgan Freeman and starring Betty White. She directed a new children’s show; Addy & Uno, John Tartaglia’s Imaginocean.-- Off Broadway, National & International tours. TV credits: Julie’s Greenroom, starring Julie Andrews (choreography.), Monica’s Mixing Bowl, , Disney’s Johnny & the Sprites, AFI Awards 09,11, Word Party 2019 at Henson Studios. ABC TV’s Dear Alex & Annie, One life to live and The Edge of Night (contract roles).
Regional credits: The Wizard of Oz, starring Mickey Rooney & Eartha Kitt; Romance In The Dark, starring Jennifer Holliday; Nothing Like A Dame, BC/EFA 2004-06, All the world is a Stage at Carnegie Hall. A Chorus Line national tour, AIDA, Cats Chicago, Godspell, On your feet, Hello Dolly, Hairspray, Sister Act, Rent, Tommy, Damn Yankees, NEWSicle, Annie, Love Always, Patsy Cline, Smokey Joes Café, Sweet Charity, Honk!, Lucky Guy,, Beauty & the Beast, Anything Goes and Chess. , , The Wiz, Little Shop of Horrors, The Buddy Holly Story, and John Tartaglia at 54 Below, NYC. Miss Drake is currently teaching Acting at PACE UNIVERSITY, New York City and at AMDA LA. DonnaDrakedirector.com
JESSE AVERNA - Director
Jesse Averna, ACE is a 5x Emmy winning Editor. His career has spanned TV and feature, live-action and animation. In addition to his day job, Averna is the current President of the Children’s Media Association’s LA Chapter, on the Advisory Board for Women in Media, and mentoring with Rise Up Animation. Jesse is a founder of the #PostChat community on Twitter and Facebook for Post Professionals, and also taught courses at NYC’s School of Visual Arts Continuing Education.
ROBERT VORNKAHL - Director of Photography
Robert Vornkahl is an award winning filmmaker, cinematographer and editor based in Los Angeles, CA. He has worked on television and web projects for Food Network, Sesame Street and many others. He had an amazing time with the MMB team and can't wait to make more.
LAURA BROCK - Production Design
LISA HOLLANDER - Producer
JAMIE BEDNARCHICK - Hair/Makeup Design
BREE PERRY - Costume Design
CHINESE MOTHER JEWISH DAUGHTER LLC - Executive Producer
Formed in 2011 as a partnership between three multi-cultural and multi-generational women, Chinese Mother Jewish Daughter LLC is a production company that strives to support developing works where art and entertainment collide. Under the executive watch of Stacey Weingarten, the company develops original projects for stage and screen that explore a wide variety of subjects often with an agenda of social awareness through entertainment. CMJD LLC debuted at NYMF 2011 with Les Enfants de Paris (now titled 5th Republic), and has also been developing other musicals including Madame (NYMF reading series 2012), LUDO's Broken Bride, and a 2014 NY Children's Festival world premiere--and NYMF 2014 hit!-- Rescue Rue, slated for Off-Broadway in 2021.
GARY ADLER - Songwriter "Marshmallows, Chocolate, and Love"; Theme; Score
Gary Adler is a conductor, pianist and composer in New York City. He served as the music director/arranger for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular for eight years. He also music directed Avenue Q for its six year run on Broadway. As a writer, Gary received two 2005 Drama Desk nominations for his music and lyrics for the off-Broadway hit Altar Boyz. For Disney Channel, he created the musical world for Johnny and the Sprites, starring John Tartaglia. He co-produced and arranged three albums for Broadway’s Telly Leung (including his most recent album, “You Matter”), and has toured extensively with Chita Rivera. Gary also arranged the dance music for the Jimmy Buffett musical, Escape to Margaritaville. With lyricist Phoebe Kreutz, he composed music for a video Christmas special, “The Nice List” airing December 2020. Other New York playing/conducting credits include The Fantasticks, Urinetown, Hairspray, Kinky Boots, It Shoulda Been You, and Nunsense.
GEORGIA STITT - Songwriter "Proud to be Different"
GEORGIA STITT is an award-winning composer, lyricist, music producer, and pianist. Her original musicals include Snow Child (Arena Stage); Big Red Sun (11th Hour); Samantha Spade, Ace Detective (TADA Youth Theater); The Big Boom; The Water; and Mosaic. She has released four albums of her music, A Quiet Revolution; My Lifelong Love; Alphabet City Cycle; and This Ordinary Thursday, and she’s currently at work on an oratorio and a collection of theatrical art songs. Georgia is on Council at The Dramatists Guild and is Founding Director of MAESTRA, a not-for-profit organization for women+ theater musicians. www.georgiastitt.com
DREW GASPARINI - Songwriter "Count to Cook"
Drew Gasparini is an award-winning musical theatre composer/lyricist, and singer/songwriter currently developing a number of new stage musicals including the Broadway-bound musical adaptation of The Karate Kid (book by screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen), It’s Kind of a Funny Story for Universal Theatrical Group (book by Alex Brightman); Night Shift for Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures; The Whipping Boy (book and co-lyrics by Brightman); and We Aren’t Kids Anymore (a song cycle). Other writing projects include the award-winning Super Bowl publicity stunt, Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical, starring Michael C. Hall; Everything in its Place: The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers, Crazy, Just Like Me (2011 New York Musical Theatre Festival “Best of Fest”); and songs for the NBC television series SMASH.
MICHAEL PATRICK WALKER - Songwriter "We Got Your Back"
Michael Patrick Walker is an award-winning composer/lyricist, writer and musician whose musicals include: being theo, Cupid’s Error, Dog and Pony (with Rick Elice) and the 9th-longest running Off Broadway music of all time, Altar Boyz (with Gary Adler and Kevin Del Aguila). For television, Michael composed for Nick JR’s Olivia and served as the lead composer, arranger and musical director for The Disney Channel’s Emmy-nominated Johnny and the Sprites. Recordings include: Out of Context: The Songs of Michael Patrick Walker (Yellow Sound Label), So Much To Say: Songs For Everytown (Broadway Records), the Altar Boyz cast album (Ghostlight Records) and the Johnny and the Sprites album (Disney Records). As a musician, Broadway credits include: 2017 revival of Sunset Boulevard (assistant conductor), Aladdin, If/Then, Avenue Q (conductor) and more. Concert Performances: Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center and 10 amazing years as Chita Rivera’s associate musical director and pianist. www.michaelpatrickwalker.com
ANDREW HOROWITZ - Songwriter "Silly Mistakes"
Andrew Horowitz is an American songwriter, producer, and recording artist. He is best known as green-tied keyboardist and writer in rock band Tally Hall. Horowitz has worked as a producer/writer with several artists including John Legend, Lindsey Sterling, Jidenna, and Janelle Monae. In recent years, Andrew released a solo album under the moniker "edu," produced music for several animated Disney television programs, and can be heard playing keyboards on countless pop records. He also runs the New York Imagination Society, which promotes community amongst the New York music community.
DANA LEVINSON - Arranger & Orchestrations