Playhouse Stage Company 35th anniversary season continues with [Title of Show]

Relentless Awareness
Relentless Awareness
6 min readJan 18


Humorous and tuneful musical about creating a musical to be performed at Cohoes Music Hall

COHOES, N.Y. (January 11, 2023) — Following productions of Assassins and Disney’s Frozen Junior, the 35th Anniversary Season for Playhouse Stage Company continues at Cohoes Music Hall, with the 2004 musical [Title of Show]. Playhouse Stage Company has been producing free summer musicals in Albany’s Washington Park since 1989 and producing shows year-round at Cohoes Music Hall since 2016. The company took the reins as management of the historic Spindle City venue in 2020.

[Title of Show] originally premiered at The New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2004, later playing two limited runs at The Vineyard Theatre (where it won multiple Obie Awards) before transferring for a Broadway run in 2008. The show is a one-act musical, with music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen and a book by Hunter Bell. It chronicles its own creation as a late entry in the inaugural New York Musical Theatre Festival. Of the material, the New York Times proclaimed the piece “a zesty, sweet, Broadway-trivia-riddled musical about the anxiety and excitement of creating a zesty, sweet, Broadway-trivia-riddled musical.”

“[Title of Show] is an ideal piece for a milestone anniversary season,” said Owen Smith, Playhouse Stage Company’s Producing Artistic Director. “Fans of theatre will revel in the many in-jokes and theatrical references, while the average audience member will be touched by the story of friendship and perseverance that the show unfolds,” he continued. The Director of the production, Michael LoPorto, noted that “[Title of Show] can only exist and succeed as a piece of theatre. It wouldn’t work as a piece of film. It’s a real pleasure to work on a piece that so intimately and effectively brings the audience into the often funny and trying creative process of theatre artists.”

In the show, as in their lives, Jeff and Hunter, two struggling writers, hear about a new musical theatre festival in New York City. However, the deadline for submissions is a mere three weeks away. With nothing to lose, the pair decides to try to create something new with the help of their friends Susan, Heidi and pianist Larry on the keys. With the cast in place, Jeff and Hunter begin a conversation about what to write about. Eventually, Jeff suggests they write about… figuring out what to write about. The show’s name, [Title of Show], is taken from the space on the festival’s application form which asks for the “[title of show].” Ultimately, the show is a journey through the gauntlet of creative self-expression. In the span of 90 minutes, the creators write and perform their show at the festival and beyond, learning lessons about themselves as people, friends, and artists. Above all else, [Title of Show] is a love letter to the musical theatre, a uniquely American art form, and to the joys of collaboration.

The production reunites Director Michael LoPorto and Musical Director Brian Axford, who have collaborated to helm a dozen productions at both Albany’s Park Playhouse and Cohoes Music Hall for Playhouse Stage Company. Axford will play keyboard in the show, portraying the role of Larry, based on Larry Pressgrove, the show’s original music director and orchestrator.

The cast is led by Devin Cortez (Jeff Bowen) and Jacob Lehning (Hunter Bell), who both return to Playhouse Stage for [Title of Show] after previous critically acclaimed performances in previous seasons. Devin Cortez most recently appeared with Playhouse Stage as Benny in In the Heights. Of his work in the Playhouse’s Damn Yankees, the Times Union called him “a real find…gorgeous of voice and face, humble in manner and skilled as an actor.” Cortez recently completed a run in the acclaimed off-Broadway musical Americano. Jacob Lehning is a former student in the Playhouse Stage Academy youth theatre program who now works full-time with the organization. His work has been seen on stage frequently in recent seasons, most recently in Assassins as Giuseppe Zangara. Lehning’s Assassins castmate Michelle Oppedisano, who won praise for her comic work as Squeaky Fromme in the Sondheim thriller, joins [Title of Show] in the role of Susan. Rounding out the cast is another former Playhouse Stage Academy student, Nicole Zelka as Heidi. Since graduating, Zelka has found success performing in the national tours of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and Elf: The Musical, and has been a frequent presence in shows at Capital Repertory Theatre, including Mamma Mia and Jersey Boys.

[Title of Show] will run January 26 through Feb. 12, 2023 at Cohoes Music Hall, with performances playing Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm. Tickets are now on sale through the Playhouse Stage Box Office at Cohoes Music Hall, and flex-pack subscriptions for 35th Season productions are also available. More information about [Title of Show] and Playhouse Stage Co. can be found online at or by calling the box office at 518–434–0776.

About The Cast & Company of [Title of Show]

DEVIN CORTEZ (Jeff) is excited to be returning to Playhouse Stage! Off-Broadway: Americano! (New World Stages), NYC: Wait for Her the Musical, Americano! Workshop (New 42nd). Regional: Evita (Buck’s County Playhouse), On Your Feet (Moonlight Amphitheater), Havana! (NCL), In the Heights/Damn Yankees (Park Playhouse). BWW Nominee! TV/Film: I Love You, Man (Dreamworks), Skyrunners (Disney). BFA Emerson College. Hudson Artists. @devin.cortez

JACOB LEHNING (Hunter) is thrilled to be back performing at The Cohoes Music Hall in Title of Show! Jacob has been affiliated with Playhouse Stage Company in multiple facets since 2017, when he began as a student in the Park Playhouse II program. Some of Jacobs acting credits with PSC include, The music Man, Little Shop of Horrors, Urinetown, Avenue Q, A Year with Frog & Toad, Bright Star, & Assassins. Jake will also be in PSC’s upcoming production of Pinkalicious as Peter Pinkerton! IG: @jakelehning

MICHELLE OPPEDISANO (Susan) is excited to be back at Playhouse Stage Company so soon. Previously she was seen as Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme in PSC’s production of Assassins this past fall. She lives in New York City, where you can sometimes catch her singing at Ellen’s Stardust Diner in between shows. In November, she played Miss Dorothy Simple in Tennessee Williams’s The Case of the Crushed Petunias (Theatre Row, Off-B’way). Another favorite stage credit includes the original cast of New York Nights. Her non-stage credits include cabaret performances, fundraisers, sketch comedy, Homicide Hunter (ID Network), modeling, independent films, and commercials. IG: @michelleoppedisano and @live.well.w.michelle.

NICOLE ZELKA (Heidi) is an Albany, NY native who is very excited to be back at the Music Hall and working with Playhouse Stage Co. after 8 years! Locally, she was last seen in Jersey Boys at theREP. National Tour: R&H’s Cinderella (Gabrielle, u/s Marie), Elf (Ensemble, u/s Emily, u/s Deb), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Ensemble, u/s Mrs. Teavee, u/s Mrs. Gloop). Proud LDC Artist. @nicolezelka /

BRIAN AXFORD (Music Director) favorite PSC credits include Assassins, Bright Star, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Always…Patsy Cline, In The Heights, Sweeny Todd, Chicago, Spelling Bee, Hands on a Hardbody, Footprints on the Moon and A Year With Frog & Toad. Brian is the organist and music director at the Delmar Reformed Church and serves on the board of directors of the Empire State Youth Orchestra.

MICHAEL LOPORTO (Director) is the co-creator of Dialogue with Three Chords, the drummer for The Deacons, and an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. He has directed many productions for Playhouse Stage Company at both Albany’s Park Playhouse and Cohoes Music Hall, including, most recently, Head Over Heels and Bright Star. Michael is a freelance stage director and works as The Associate Director of Student Success at Brooklyn College.