Archive for the ‘News & Updates’ Category

Songs for the Bard

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

The Fools & Kings Project is producing a cabaret for Shakespeare’s Birthday on Thursday, April 23rd. Check out the details below:

Songs for the Bard
A Musical Celebration of Shakespeare’s Birthday
Songs for the Bard - logo
One-night only!  Thursday, April 23rd at 8pm, at the 13th Street Repertory Theatre.
Tickets are $12 online or $15 cash at the door.

Join us for an evening of food, drink, and musical mayhem, as we celebrate the birthday of our resident playwright, William Shakespeare! He may not have been a musical theatre lyricist, but you can bet that some of his most famous characters would have had their favorites. Which ones? Well, you’ll have to join us to find out.

Emceed by Xavier Rodney and featuring Adam Baritot, James Bullard, Lorelei Mackenzie, Melissa Meli, Keith Panzarella, Kristen Penner, Devra Seidel, Peyton Thomas Tucker, and Vanessa Wendt.

Romeo & Juliet

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

It’s happening! I’m playing my dream role: Juliet. The Fools & Kings Project is presenting a gorgeous production in New York City Parks this fall, along with a special show at The Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery. Please see all information below. I hope to see you all there! This is truly one of the best shows I’ve ever worked on, and it will give you a new perspective on this classic play.

The Fools & Kings Project presents Romeo & Juliet

You know the story.
Now see the legend…

Romeo & Juliet

By William Shakespeare
Adapted and Directed by Kristen Penner
Fight Choreography by Ian Heitzman

All performances in New York City parks are outdoors, and ADMISSION IS FREE!
*Please note, the performance at the Harsimus Cemetery in Jersey City, NJ is a suggested $10 donation

Sat, 9/20- 5:15pm: Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (89th St & Riverside Drive)
*Sun, 9/21- 6:00pm: The Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery, 435 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ
Sun, 9/28- 5:15pm: Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument (89th St & Riverside Drive)
Sat, 10/4- 5:30pm: Summit Rock in Central Park (Near the 81st St & Central Park West entrance)
Sun, 10/5- Sat, 5:30pm: Summit Rock in Central Park

Special Halloween performance!
Fri, 10/31- 5:00pm: Summit Rock in Central Park

Melissa on Vash and Justin

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

Check out Melissa on Vash and Justin, Justin Liebergen‘s always brilliant and charming YouTube show, on which he and a guest banter about and eventually review a movie. Justin and Melissa see The Drop, and then talk about how much they like dogs. Be sure to subscribe, and catch the show every week!

The Drop Review - Vash and Justin

The Drop Review – Vash and Justin

Midsummer and Pageant Princess

Friday, June 20th, 2014

It’s a gloriously busy month! Last night, the West Village Musical Theatre Festival opened, and with it, a 15-minute snapshot of Pageant Princess, the Musical, in which I play 8-year-old tomboy Max Thompson, competing in a beauty pageant because her girlier twin has the chicken pox. Come see this glittering show, in a series with four other new musical excerpts. Shows are at The Players Theatre, 115 Macdougal Street, NYC. Remaining showtimes: June 22 at 12:00pm, June 27 at 10:00pm, June 28 at 8:00pm. Get tickets here.

Opening tonight is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, produced by my very own company, The Fools & Kings Project. See me as Hermia, in this delightful outdoor production in New York City Parks. You can RSVP on Facebook, but shows are FREE – no tickets needed! Show times and locations are as follows:

June 20th @ 7pm, Summit Rock in Central Park (West Side between 81st & 85th Streets)
June 21st @ 5pm, Summit Rock in Central Park
June 22nd @ 3pm, St. Nicholas Plaza at 135th Street
June 25th & 26th @ 7pm, Jackie Robinson Bandshell on 145th St & Broadhurst Ave
June 27th @ 7pm, TBA
June 28th @ 5pm, TBA
June 29th @ 3pm, TBA

Producing and Acting and Singing – Oh MY! – 2014 Update

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

This year has been about a lot of exciting preparation. Together with my brilliant and talented friend Vanessa Wendt, I’ve undertaken a wildly ambitious quest: to produce every single one of Shakespeare’s plays. For real. Even King John. We’ve named our venture The Fools & Kings Project. The idea was planted in our brains last year, while Vanessa was in Chicago, when we mused about how wonderful it would be to do A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and play Helena and Hermia. Since she’s been back in town, we’ve revealed the project to the public, and devised plans for our very first production: Midsummer, of course! We’ve hired a wonderful director, Janie Martinez, assembled a stellar cast, and we’re running an Indiegogo campaign. It’s set to go up in a NYC park in mid- to late-June, 2014. Hope to see you there!

Cupcake Lady Productions is also gearing up for some more exciting theatre coming later in the year. But, not ones to sit back and relax, we hosted a sold-out event last month, “A(nother) Taste of Rotten Theatre“. The night featured an Awful Play Contest, which received submissions from all over the country and the world. We presented five finalists, and the grand prize winner was chosen by an esteemed panel of judges and an audience ballot. Fun was had by all.

But I haven’t been lacking for performance opportunities, either! In fact, next Tuesday, May 6th, I’m singing at Don’t Tell Mama as part of Seth Bisen-Hersh’s 300th Showcase Extravaganza! I also sang in Seth’s Not Your Grandma’s Cabaret, and performed in the very first staged reading of a brilliant new musical, The Runaway Clone with Ruckus Rockwell.

Finally (I think that’s it?), I’ve started a blog about my adventures running not-for-profit production companies in NYC, and what it’s teaching me about becoming a better actor. Please read and subscribe to An Actor Produces; I’m hoping some young actors might find it helpful!

More info about Midsummer to follow soon…

Runo Rimac

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

This week, I’m joining my friends at Black Henna Productions for a FREE staged reading of Runo Rimac in the EstroGenius Festival. What happens when a frustrated actor and his unrequited crush come across a zombie in the lost and found?

The 14th Annual EstroGenius Festival & Black Henna Productions present Runo Rimac by Manny Rodiguez

Directed by Nick Radu (Imaginary)
Featuring Ian McDonald. Melissa Meli, Trey Blackburn, Laura Packer, Laura Cetti, Will Manning and Jim Anderson

Tuesday, October 15th – Thursday October 17th at 8pm
357 W 36th St. New York, NY 10018

Free Admission

Reservations are strongly encouraged
Limited Engagement
Kicking off the EstroGenius Festival
EstroGenius 2013 – Runo Rimac (Staged Reading)

250th Showcase Gala Celebration

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Composer Seth Bisen-Hersh is celebrating the completion of 250+ showcases at Don’t Tell Mama! I’ll be singing in this concert series one night only, next Tuesday. Details are below:

Tuesday, September 10th at 7pm
$12 Cover/ 2 Drink Minimum (cash only)
Don’t Tell Mama, 343 W. 46th St.
Call for reservations after 4: 212-757-0788 or online at

New York Fringe Festival

Friday, August 9th, 2013

July kept me quite busy! I performed in the Midtown International Theatre Festival in The Renaissance Dueling Play, and directed the 5th Annual Broadway Meows concert. This month, I’m performing in the acclaimed New York International Fringe Festival! I play Julia in Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona. It’s my first Fringe show as an actor, and it’s going to be fantastic: sword fights, melodrama, silliness, and of course, romance. I’m thrilled to get to perform Julia’s famous letter speech! Here are the details:

C.A.G.E. Theatre Company presents…

Two Gentlemen of Verona: A Swashbuckling Comedy!
Fringe NYC
CSV Flamboyan Theatre at 107 Suffolk St.  Showdates are:
Sunday, August 11th at 5:30 pm
Monday, August 12th at 2:00 pm
Monday, August 19th at 9:15 pm
Thursday, August 22nd at 7:00 pm
Saturday, August 24th at 2:15 pm (this performance includes a talk-back)
Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door. Click here.

Go to for more details.

My company, Cupcake Lady Productions is thriving! This month we are performing at Summer Streets. Please visit our website for more details.

Planet Connections Theatre Festivity: Hit and Match

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

“Hit and Match” is back again – this time, in the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (! I’ll be reprising my role as Betty. Information is as follows:

Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street, NYC
Friday 6/7/13 – 4:30pm
Saturday 6/8/13 – 6:30pm
Wednesday 6/12/13 – 9:30pm
Tuesday 6/18/13 – 5:30pm
Friday 6/21/13 – 4:30pm
Saturday 6/22/13 – 3:00pm
Hit and Match runs 1 hour with no intermission

Tickets: $18 General Admission, $9 for Film/Music Participants, FREE for Theatre Festivity Participants. Click  here.

The Importance of Being Earnest

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

I was trained in theatre directing at school, but I’ve never put it to use. Until now! Next week, my directorial debut opens in Manhattan. Here are the details:

Caitlin LaBarge presents…
The Importance of Being Earnest
A Trivial Comedy for Serious People
by Oscar Wilde

Directed by Melissa Meli

Five Performances Only:
Thursday, April 25th at 8:00pm
Friday, April 26th at 8:00pm
Saturday, April 27th at 2:00pm
Saturday, April 27th at 8:00pm
Sunday, April 28th at 4:00pm

133rd Street Arts Center
308 W. 133rd Street
New York, NY 10027

Tickets: $18 at the door, $15 online: