(via Michelle Tabnick Public Relations; Photo of Bob Ost by Walter McBride.)

Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) hosts weekly Community Gatherings every Friday at 4:30pm via Zoom, to explore the creation of art and theater in the time of COVID-19. Ask questions, bring answers, be part of a community – it’s an opportunity to network with theater professionals and talk about keeping theater alive during these challenging times. To reserve a spot and receive the Zoom invitation, email

TRUnltd@aol.com with “Zoom Me” in the subject line.

A message from Bob Ost, executive director of TRU: “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all TRU live events are being reformatted for virtual participation. We created the weekly Community Gatherings to both minimize isolation and share information within the community. Stay positive, test negative, be safe!” 

TRU continues their weekly series of TRU Community Gatherings this Friday and next, with others to be announced. Or check the upcoming schedule at https://truonline.org/tru-community-gathering

The gathering on Friday, September 11, 2020 will discuss “The Impact of the Pandemic on Writers,” and will include the following speakers: Cheryl Davis, general counsel of Authors Guild; and Emmanuel Wilson, managing director of

 Dramatists GuildThe conversation will explore the organizational pivots writers’ guilds have made during the pandemic, what initiatives they are taking to help members get through all this and how their members are surviving this challenging time.

Friday, September 18, 2020, offers a conversation entitled “When Sitting All Alone in Your Room IS a Cabaret,” and will include the following speakers: Natalie Douglas, actor, cabaret performer, educator, music historian; Alexis Fishman, actor, cabaret performer/coach; Bernie Furshpan, booking director at The Triad in NYC, former managing partner of Metropolitan Room and founder of MetropolitanZoom virtual cabaret; and Mardie Millit, cabaret performer. Speakers will address some of the game-changing initiatives that cabaret is taking to generate intimate performances on isolated platforms, and how performance material needs to meet the current cultural moment.

Videos of past Community Gatherings can also be viewed at 

TRU’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UC43rsChi4fA23dNLeloaF_A/.

About the Panelists

Cheryl Davis received the Kleban Award as a librettist for her musical 

Barnstormer, (written with Douglas J. Cohen) about Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman flyer. The show received a Jonathan Larson Award through the Lark Play Development Center. Her play Maids Door received great reviews, won seven Audelco Awards, and was a finalist for the Francesca Primus Prize. Her play 

The Color of Justice (commissioned by Theatreworks/USA), received excellent reviews in the New York Times and Daily News, and tours regularly. Her musical 

Bridges, which was commissioned by the Berkeley Playhouse, received its world premiere in February 2016 to great reviews and three award nominations from the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. She received a Writers’ Guild Award for her work on “As the World Turns”, and was also nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award. Her work has been read and performed internationally, including at the Cleveland Play House, the Actors Theatre of Louisville, and the Kennedy Center.  She is the General Counsel of the Authors Guild.

Natalie Douglas is a twelve-time Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs Winner. She has been called “a true force of nature,” by Clive Davis of The Times (UK). She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Cafe Carlyle, The Town Hall, Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Pheasantry in London, and at her NYC home club, Birdland Jazz Club where her award-winning TRIBUTES monthly residency (Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Elvis, Dolly Parton, Nat “King” Cole, Dame Shirley Bassey, Ella Fitzgerald, Roberta Flack, Joni Mitchell, Sammy Davis, Jr., Lena Horne, Barbra Streisand and more) is now in its fourth year and her portrait hangs on the Wall of Fame. She is also the recipient of two Backstage Bistro Awards, a Nightlife Award and two awards presented by the Mabel Mercer Foundation, The Donald F. Smith & Margaret Whiting Awards. Natalie has released three albums, including the MAC Award Winning Human Heart. Natalie has also made her mark as a much sought after educator and actor-she is a Master Teacher for the Mabel Mercer Foundation, the St. Louis Cabaret Conference, and the Eugene O’Neill Cabaret & Performance Conference. Natalie holds a bachelor’s degree from USC in Psychology, Theatre and Women’s Studies and a master’s degree from UCLA in Psychology and Theatre. For more info, visit www.nataliedouglas.com.

Alexis Fishman, born and bred in Sydney, Australia, is a graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). She was nominated for a Helpmann Award for her performance as ‘Young Dusty’ in Dusty, her first show after graduating. Alexis then went on to star in some of Australia’s biggest musicals Including Shout! and the award winning Sydney premiere of Kiss of the Spiderwoman. Other Australian credits include Urinetown, Closer, Troupers for the Sydney Theatre Company as well as plays at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Darlinghurst Theatre Company and Monkey Baa Theatre Company. Alexis is the creator of six solo cabaret shows including the award winning Club Gelbe Stern which made it’s US debut at the NYMF where Alexis was awarded ‘Outstanding Individual Performance’. Other shows have been performed across Australia at the Adelaide and Melbourne Cabaret Festivals, Shir Madness Jewish Music Festival, The Reginald Theatre, Chapel Off Chapel, Ginger’s at the Oxford Hotel and Claire’s Kitchen. In New York, Alexis’ shows have been seen at 54 Below, Pangea, JCC Manhattan and Laurie Beechman Theatre as well as various venues in New Jersey, Ohio and Florida. Recent highlights include performing one of her newer shows, Amy Winehouse: Resurrected alongside Amy’s father, Mitch Winehouse at City Winery, NYC in May 2019. Alexis is a producer with Moira Blumental Productions and a cabaret coach, helping clients realize their dreams of creating engaging, intriguing and sparkling cabaret shows.

Bernie Furshpan manages professional singers and songwriters and is the Booking Director at The Triad Theater in NYC, and the former owner of The Metropolitan Club (2011-2017).  The Long Island resident was born in Israel and came to this country in 1963 to be raised in Brooklyn, where he graduated with honors from James Madison High School. Later, when a pre-med student at Stony Brook University, he found time to be a drummer in the rock band, J&B, and was a cartoonist for the Fortnight and Statesman publications. Dr. Furshpan went from graduating New York Chiropractic College to owning one of the largest practices in New York State for 27 years. While practicing, he invented the Furshpan Maneuver to correct disc bulges and herniations. Never forgetting his love of sports, he produced one of the biggest sponsorship pitches on behalf of NASCAR to Nextel for the Cup Series. Finally, before taking ownership of The Metropolitan Room (named NYC’s # 1 jazz/cabaret venue by New York Magazine), he summited Mount Kilimanjaro on his 50th birthday and delved into a successful comedy career. Once COVID hit, he created MetropolitanZoom, an innovative simulated reality of a live nightclub show with a live audience utilizing the Zoom.com platform.

Mardie Millit, “evoking both Bette Midler and a young Carol Burnett” (Stephen Holden, New York Times), vocalist and comedienne Mardie Millit is “high-level finesse and charm” (Larry Myers, Ptown Nitelife). At Elaine’s, the legendary show business and literary nightspot, where she appeared for its final three years, Mardie became known for her late-night duets with TV and movie heartthrobs and even a former head of the CIA. She has also made regular appearances at the Monkey Bar, the Rainbow Room, Birdland, Iridium, 54 Below, and Joe’s Pub, both as a solo performer and with on- and offstage partner Michael Garin. Mardie has appeared regionally in a slew of classic musical theatre roles and in New York premieres of original shows by the likes of William Peter Blatty, Billy Stritch and Mark Waldrop. Her most recent theatrical endeavors have been with Dream Productions at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, where she has played Joanne in Company, the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods, and Berthe in Pippin, and (deities willing) will be playing Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd in 2021. She has been performing her music/comedy show, Live from Lockdown! regularly on Facebook Live from her Harlem living room since April with nothing but a piano playing husband, a smartphone, and a dream.

Emmanuel Wilson is the former director of membership at the Dramatists Guild and the current managing director for the guild. He comes to the position after growing the guild’s membership to more than 8,500 from 6,500 in his three years with the organization. At the Dramatists Guild, Wilson developed new partnerships with Blackboard Plays, the Educational Theatre Association and the Theatre Communications Group. He serves on the Guild’s New Media, Membership, Political Engagement and DEI committees. He is also the founder of Blue Rose Stage Company and formerly the artistic associate and literary manager at TADA! Youth Theater.

Theater Resources Unlimited

(TRU) is the leading network for developing theater professionals, a twenty-seven-year-old 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created to help producers produce, emerging theater companies to emerge healthily and all theater professionals to understand and navigate the business of the arts. Membership includes self-producing artists as well as career producers and theater companies.

TRU publishes an email community newsletter of services, goods and productions; offers a Producer Development & Mentorship Program taught by prominent producers and general managers in New York theater, and also presents Producer Boot Camp workshops to help aspirants develop business skills. TRU serves writers through the TRU Voices Play Reading Series, Writer-Producer Speed Date, a Practical Playwriting Workshop, How to Write a Musical That Works and a Director-Writer Communications Lab; programs for actors include the Annual Combined Audition.

Programs of Theater Resources Unlimited are supported in part by the Montage Foundation and the Leibowitz Greenway Foundation.

For more information about TRU membership and programs, visit www.truonline.org

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