Cast / Creative

248 W. 60th Street (b/w Amsterdam and West End Ave.)
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John Ammatuna (Brother Bear) received his BA in Theatre Performance with a Minor in Musical Theatre from Marymount Manhattan College. Most recently, John made his Off-Broadway debut in The Christians (Playwrights Horizons). Earlier this year, John finished filming as a guest star in Season 5 of the Stop The Bleeding! web series featuring Anthony Rapp. This past spring, John was in a production of Once Upon a Mattress (The York Theatre) as Prince Dauntless u/s directed by Ryan Kasprzak (NBC's SMASH, Billy Elliott National Tour, Fosse National Tour). Select favorite roles include Enjolras (Les Misérables), Chad & Dennis u/s (All Shook Up) and Pippin (Pippin). John would like to thank Holly Buczek, Matt Murphy Productions and Nancy Braun. All my love Mom, Dad and Lauren!

Kim McClay (Mama Bear) was last seen Off-Broadway in Scott Elmegreen & Drew Fornarola's musical debate: Vote For Me as Amy, hopeful FLOTUS. She has also performed with Infinite Variety Productions NYC in their production of A Piece of My Heart, playing Mary Jo Kincaid. Other favorite credits include: White Christmas (Judy), Spring Awakening (Ilse), The Little Dog Laughed (Ellen), and Legally Blonde (Serena). A graduate of Millikin University's BFA program, Kim sends many thanks to Holly, Nancy, Matt, & her friends and family for all their love and support!

Meghan Miller (Sister Bear) is thrilled to be back with the Off-Broadway Bears in Bear Country! National Tour: John Tartaglia's ImaginOcean (Bubbles), Regional: Titanic (Madeline Astor), The Night Before Christmas (Queen Sugar Plum), Noises Off (Brooke Ashton), Scrooge (Belle), Hairspray (Amber Von Tussel).

Kim Simon (Lizzie/Gran/Others). Proud alum of CAP21. NY: The Tutu Trilogy. Favorite credits include Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, Hildy in On the Town, Chava in Fiddler on the Roof, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Madame Thenardier in Les Misérables, Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. Thanks to everyone at Dulcina Eisen. Lots of love and a world of thanks to her parents and siblings.

Josh McWhortor (Freddy/Gramps/Others) is excited to be making his Off-Broadway debut in Bear Country. He is originally from Phoenix, AZ, and graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Credits include: Regional: Breaking Up is Hard to Do, Mystic India: World Tour, Drums Along the Mowhawk, NYC Workshops: Poester, First Snow.

Kelly Leissler (Papa Bear), a recent graduate of the Circle in The Square Theatre School, is thrilled to be joining the cast of Berenstain Bears LIVE! Recently he originated the role of The Phantom in The Phantom of the Improv (Off-Broadway) as well as Richard Strauss in Love, Genius and a Walk at the Manhattan International Theatre Festival. Recent credits include credits include: Mr.Pinkerton in Pinkalicious! (Off-Broadway), The Professor in The Lesson at the Circle in the Square Theatre, and Dr. Madden in Next To Normal (South West Florida Premiere).


Michael Borton (Book, Music & Lyrics) is thrilled that this production will entertain children this summer in NYC. Michael lives in the Philadelphia area and works as a composer, performer, music director, and private instructor. He’s composed for AFTY and the Walnut Street Theatre; including several of their outreach shows and annual A Christmas Carol. He has music directed at the Walnut Street Theatre, La Salle University, Theater Horizon and is currently the Director of Music at Waldron Mercy Academy.

Michael Slade (Additional Book Material) Playwright, librettist, Emmy-nominated television writer. Work for family audiences includes: Ten Theatreworks/USA musicals (Superfudge, Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, The Three Pigs). Pokemon Live! (Radio City Music Hall, national, international tours). Several shows for TADA! And A Child Shall Lead, (PlayScripts) inspiring play about a group of child concentration camp prisoners (opened to rave reviews in Chicago, November 2010). Children’s novel The Horses Of Central Park (Scholastic Hardcover/Apple Paperback) won ISAR Award for Children’s Literature.

Devanand Janki (Director and Choreographer) New York credits: Zanna, Don’t! (Lortel, Callaway & GLAAD awards), Junie B. Jones (Lortel nom.), Cupid & Psyche, Henry & Mudge (Lortel nom.), Romantic Poetry, This One Girls Story. Broadway concerts: Funny Girl, Hair, Dreamgirls, Seth’s Broadway 101. Lincoln Center: Amahl and the Night Visitors, Babes in Toyland, Anything Goes in concert (assoc.). Regional: RENT, Aladdin, Man of La Mancha, The Full Monty, The Scarlet Pimpernel, How Can You Run With a Shell on Your Back?, Asphalt Beach, One Man’s Dream II (Tokyo Disney). Broadway Bares (9 years). Performance: Miss Saigon, Cats, The King & I, Side Show (Broadway), A Chorus Line, West Side Story (tour). www.devanandjanki.com

Lora LaVon (Costume Design) Credits include Junie B. Jones and Click Clack Moo with Theaterworks USA, A Child’s Christmas in Wales for the National Theater of the Deaf, The Time of Your Life and King John at the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey, Lonesome West, Three Days of Rain and Proof at Hartford’s Theaterworks, ART and M. Butterfly at Syracuse Stage, South Pacific and Suddenly Last Summer for Barrington Stage, and Measure for Measure at Yale Rep. Lora earned her MFA from the Yale School of Drama.

Luke Hegel-Cantarella (Scenic Design) NY: Make Me a Song (New World Stages), Human Error (Atlantic), Cam Jansen (Lambs), Junie B. Jones (Lortel); Regional: Lyric Theater of Oklahoma, Two Rivers Theater Company, Berkshire Theater Festival, Barrington Stage, Pittsburgh Public, Repertory Theater of St. Louis, Adirondack Theater Festival, TheatreWorks, Prince Music Theater, Yale Rep. International: Woody Sez (West End/London), Blue Shade (Amsterdam). Opera/Dance: The Wooden Floor, Peabody, Curtis, Wolftrap Opera Company, New England Conservatory, Eastern Connecticut Ballet, Hartford Ballet. Film/TV: Julie & Julia, Damages, Pink Panther 2, State of Play, Synecdoche, NY. Luke is the Head of the Set Design program at the UCIrvine.

R. MacKenzie Lewis (Orchestrations) has music directed, composed, orchestrated and performed for theatres, bands, and orchestras all over the country including the world premier musical with Ben Vereen, Soaring on Black Wings and the upcoming Wings at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. He is also the Co-Executive Director for 8th Wonder Productions and full-time composer/MD for Eastern Michigan University.

Nancy Renee Braun - (Associate Director/Choreographer) NY Choreography: Fantasy Football: The Musical? (NYMF Best of Fest Runner-Up), Godspell Times Square Flash Mob (over 40,000 YouTube hits!), Henri Gabler (Theatre 54), I’m Gonna Love You Forever (The Gene Frankel Theatre), A Night With Northwestern (Hudson Theatre). NY Associate Choreography: Fat Camp (NYMF Outstanding Choreography Award), Robber Bridegroom (Roundabout Theatre workshop), Perez Hilton Saves The Universe! (Joe’s Pub), Babes In Toyland (Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center), Funny Girl (Revision Theatre), If You Give A Pig A Pancake (Theatreworks), and three years as an assistant for Broadway Bares. NY acting credits: Broadway revival of Patti LuPone’s Gypsy, and the upcoming Off-Broadway show Fat Camp.Northwestern University graduate.

Alex James (Associate Director) is a New York City based director and stage manager, and is proud to have worked in multiple positions with The Berenstain Bears Live! since 2012. Off-Broadway credits include: Pinkalicious and Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas with Vital Theatre Company, Jay Allan Zimmerman’s Incredibly Deaf Musical. Other favorite NYC and regional credits include: The Uncanny Valley (The Brick Theater), Infallibility (Fringe NYC 2013), SoundBites (Theater Now New York), The Untitled Ginsberg Project, Betrayal, Spring Awakening, and Floyd Collins. Graduate of Pace University.

Matt Murphy (Producer) is currently one of the producers for the Tony Award-Winning musical Memphis. Other Broadway and Off-Broadway productions include Thurgood starring Laurence Fishburne, Impressionism starring Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons, and Altar Boyz, which became one of the longest-running Off-Broadway musicals in history. In addition to his work on Broadway, Matt is also currently producing an original musical for today’s texting, blogging, and Facebooking generation called Virtually Me!, which was recently profiled on Fox News and NBC for its efforts to educate young students today on how to use modern technology responsibly. Special thanks to wife Julie and daughter Hazel for supporting Papa as Producer Bear! www.mattmurphyproductions.com


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