Meet the Team of Welcome To America: A Caribbean Musical

Welcome To America —“what is the journey really like”—when or if we like Sabrina, answer the songs of ‘well come, well come to America.’ It is this question that “Welcome to America: A Caribbean Musical” tries to answer. This play, which will be presented on October 28, 2017, at Cramton Auditorium @ Howard University, is not only providing, as one person in reviewing the play said, ‘tremendous fun and originality’, but it is now a part of our recorded Caribbean culture as it relates to our American diaspora.

O’Shun Brown (Ensemble) is an aspiring Broadway performer. He majored in musical theatre at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Some noticeable musicals he has played in are Willard in Footloose and Hans in Cabaret. Currently, he is exploring his passion for film, videos, and screenplays. Welcome to America was his New York debut in his performing career and now he is ecstatic to be back for the remount tour. 

Andrew Clarke (Elijah) Actor/Singer/Director/Producer. A graduate of the Edna Manley College (Faculty of Drama) and Brooklyn College Department of Theatre. Selected New York stage credits include Positive, Space Between Two Heartbeats, the Caribbean musical Flambeaux, Girl Without Wings, The Black That I Am, Yaki Yim Bamboo, returning to Flambeaux (AUDELCO award Best Musical), Fences directed by Arthur French and A Man Like You. International Ecstasy (UK Tour) and a Jamaican adaptation of James Baldwin’s Amen Corner (nomination for Best Actor in a Lead Role). His film credits include supporting roles in Bad Lucky and Twang.

Brian Fender-Shirley (Ensemble) is a multi-talented performer, producer/songwriter and recording artist from South Florida. Brian moved to NYC to study Musical Theater, music, and pursue a professional career in the entertainment industry. After graduating, Brian spent time in LA doing an internship with PYMDZ Publishing learning about the record industry, music production, songwriting, recording and sound engineering. Recent Credits include Ready, Set, Go, Race by Reg Flowers, ’50 Central on BET, and Zuccotti Park Directed by Luis Salgado. Brian just released his debut album on his birthday (October 24th) available on all streaming. As a first-generation American with Jamaican parents, Brian would like to thank Braata Productions for the wonderful opportunity to celebrate connect with his roots. 

Shykia Field (Ensemble) is a 35-year-old actor living in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a MFA from Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA. Shykia has been performing professionally in New York City since 2007. She was last seen in The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s reading of Chekhov’s Three Sisters. Before that, she was seen in Braata Productions’ The Black That I Am, Banana Boat’s Production of Cinderella Syndrome, and The TMT Winter Stein Lab with Target Margin Theatre. Shykia is excited to be working with Braata Productions again, especially in this capacity with Welcome to America: A Caribbean Musical. She would like to thank everyone involved with this project for making it such a great and memorable experience. Break legs, everyone!!!

Sofia Klimovsky (Ensemble/Dance Captain) Most recently, Sofia played the role of ‘Paula’ in the acclaimed Off-Broadway musical I like it like that at the Puerto Rican Travelling Theatre. Other New York credit includes Welcome To America a new Musical in New York, The Three Pigettes with Teatro Sea and Las Mujeres de Padilla (stage reading) at Two Rivers Theatre, among others. Sofia recently filmed a new upcoming short film by Univision’s filmmaker Eduardo Vilchez. She deeply thanks the unconditional support of her family, especially her mum and dad and is excited to be reopening “Welcome to America”!

Cecelia Monica-Lyn (Ensemble) Cecelia is ecstatic to be a part of Braata Productions’ Welcome to America cast. This is her first production based in NYC since her move 2 months ago from Niagara Falls, NY. Prior to relocating her past productions included, Valu Home Center commercials (Customer), In the Heights (Ensemble), and Sophisticated Ladies (Featured dancer & vocalist). She would like to thank God, her family and friends for all their support and would also like to thank Braata Productions for this opportunity.  www.ceceliamonicalyn.com

Fitgi Saint – Louis (Sabrina) has trained, performed and competed in a range of dance styles over the last 20 years. Most recently, instructing and performing salsa with Baila Society Dance Company both locally and internationally. Making her theater debut, Fitgi is excited to be a part of Welcome to America! 

Carlene Taylor (Sabrina’s Mother/Aunt Prudence) Jamaican native has been biting chunks out of the Big Apple since she landed in the summer of 2011. Some works include Flambeaux —The Musical – 7 AUDELCO Awards – and Not About Eve – three AUDELCO nominations and special selection at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival – among others.  Notably, Carlene appeared in feature film Kingston Paradise, as well as numerous stage, TV series and TV commercials in her country of origin. Continue to keep her busy, email: calema.taylor@gmail.com

Rytis Valiunas (Barry) Rytis is originally from Vilnius, Lithuania. He is a recent graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. Recent credits include Sgt. Daniels in Warlovers and Damien in an immersive theatre experience RED. Rytis would like to thank his family for their never-ending support and belief in him.

Rachael Washington (Cynthia) is excited to continue her journey with the Welcome to America A Caribbean cast & crew! She is currently part of Forever Motown as a Lead Singer. Previous roles include Regional: Sister Act (Deloris Van Cartier), Songs for a New World (Woman 1), Rent (Mimi). Training: University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Thanks to the creative team for this opportunity and to my parents, grandparents, sister, family, friends, and teachers who continue to guide and inspire!

Andrew Clarke (Producer) has been Executive Producer for Braata Productions since its genesis in 2009. He has since lead the company to productions of various staged reading, 4 seasons of the Braata Folk Singers. Braata’s annual events the Christmas celebration Ole Time Grand Market and their outdoor summer event Bankra Caribbean Folk Festival as well as the recent addition to Braata’s roster, its Caribbean Reading Series. He was proud to be Associate Producer for Flambeaux which swept the 2015 AUDELCO Awards winning in all categories it was nominated in including Best Musical.

Jamaican Musical ‘Welcome to America’ premieres in US Capital

Karl O’Brian Williams (Book) His Off-Off-Broadway production of Not About Eve toured the National Black Theatre Festival and garnered 3 AUDELCO Award nominations for Excellence in Black Theatre for Best Playwright, Outstanding Ensemble & Best Dramatic Production in 2013. The National Theatre of Scotland selected The Black That I Am for presentations in Glasgow, and Galloway. Random was a selection in NYU’s ten-minute play festival and was made into a short film by students at the Art Institute of Atlanta in 2009. Excerpts from What’s In A Name have been published in Out & Allied Volume 2: An Anthology of Performance Pieces by LGBTQ Youth & Allies. The Boys on the Hill was selected for the Culture Project’s 2015 Summer Play Reading series at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre, and for LIU’s Kumble Theatre 2016 Pride Month Celebrations. Excerpts from The Black That I Am were performed at the 2017 Edinburgh Theatre Festival in Scotland.  Currently, Williams is theatre program coordinator at Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY and artistic director with Braata Productions

Yudelka Heyer (Director) is a director, writer an actor who graduated from the America Academy of Dramatic Arts, New York. She is a founder, and artistic director of Red Soil Productions, an African-Caribbean non-profit Company (RedSoilproductions.com).  She is a proud native of the Dominican Republic whose Best Director awards include the short film Unfinished Business in 2016, the play Good Morning in 2014 (Strawberry Theatre Festival), and 3 Outstanding Director awards with LC Productions in NYC.  Last year she directed the critically acclaimed Off-Off production of an African play, A Man Like You. She’s worked with Manhattan Theater Source, Stragenious Theater Festival, and Aching Dogs. As an actor, she was last seen in her own play Anna’s Hope, and her short film Yellow.

Joel Edwards (Musical Director) Joel has been playing music since he was five years old. Since then he boasts an envious reputation as an award winner at numerous festivals including the Jamaica Cultural Development Commissions (JCDC) Festival of the Arts, the most prestigious and consistent showcase of the island’s artistic talent. He is a former director of the Glenmiur High School Choir, one of the nation’s top school choirs, which soared to even greater heights under his tutelage, winning every award possible at the national level, and now operates solely as a performing choir. He has worked with all major choirs in Jamaica including the acclaimed University Singers where he was the official accompanist. He is responsible for discovering the singer Omi (Cheerleader) and has produced hit songs for many Jamaican artists. Joel is currently the musical director for the Braata Folk Singers and for his church The Abiding Word Ministries. He is the owner and operator of his own studio where he produces and arranges music for many upcoming artists in New York.

Jermaine Rowe (Choreographer) is a multi-disciplinary artist who credit includes (Broadway) “The Lion King”, “Fela!” (Off-Broadway & Regional) “Moby Dick”, “Macbeth” “Jesus hopped on The A train”. (Film/TV “Bwoy”, “Freedom”. Jermaine has an MFA in theater from Sarah Lawrence College, and developed several solo shows in New York and internationally. Jermaine is also a theater Professor at Laguardia Community College and Sarah Lawrence College.

Saundrell Davison (Sound Designer) His work as a sound designer and engineer/ producer combines his love of numerous musical genres along with spoken word and poetry. His work can be heard in a variety of media, from off-Broadway plays and musicals to CD’s, documentaries, and live poetry performances. His recent design work includes the Braata Theatre Productions of “Positive”, written by Trevor Rhone and directed by Juson Williams, “The Black That I Am”, written by Karl O’Brian Williams and directed by Kelly Thomas, and “Not About Eve”, written by Karl O’Brian Williams and directed by Daphnie Sicre. Saundrell’s sound design credits also include “The Women of Adonai”, written and directed by Alana Barrett-Adkins, and “Collateral Bodies”, written by Erin Kaplan and directed by Daphnie Sicre.

Mijanne Webster (Stage Manager) Mijanne has been a part of Jamaican theatre since 1998. Working with the country’s premier directors and producers, she has been both cast and crew in most of the top productions emerging from the creative industry and Stage Manager for notable events such as JCDC’s Grand Gala, Mello Go Round and ITI’s Actor Boy Awards. Mijanne has toured with several productions and has done several stints in New York which includes “Alphabet City” put on by the Metropolitan Playhouse.

Producer: Andrew Clarke
Book: Karl O’Brian Williams
Lyrics: Andrew Clarke & Karl O’Brian Williams
Music: Andrew Clarke & Joel Edwards
Director: Yudelka Heyer
Musical Director: Joel Edwards
Choreographer: Jermaine Rowe
Set Design: Karl O’Brian Williams & Yudelka Heyer
Costume Design: D’Marsh Couture
Sound Design: Saundrell Davison
Stage Manager: Mijanne Webster
Videography: Victor Díaz


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