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About a year and a half ago Shaun Taylor-Corbett hand delivered a version of the book and music for Distant Thunder to The Autry. Excited and trepidatious all at the same time to look over a Native American musical, I immediately popped the cd into the computer to just take a peek at what this new team of writers and composers had submitted.  I quickly fell in love with the music and am excited to see the result of all of the hard work writing (and mother and son) team Lynne Taylor-Corbett and Shaun have done this past week at the Playwrights Retreat.  It has been a daunting task working with a cast of 15 people who help to tell the story of Darrell Waters, a half-Native-half white attorney raised in Chicago, who returns to his tribe only to find himself in the midst a tribal crisis. The story is multi-generational, funny, dramatic, and spiritual.  Scroll down to learn more about the extensive cast and crew of Distant Thunder and witness all of their acting and singing talents this Saturday, June 2nd @ 7:30 p.m. for the staged reading!

CO-PLAYWRIGHT~CO-COMPOSER SHAUN TAYLOR-CORBETT (Blackfeet) As a Blackfeet Native American with a mixed heritage, Shaun has always found a strength and connection with his culture and tribe since the age of 15. This drive to preserve language and culture motivated Shaun to create, "Distant Thunder," a musical that he hopes will speak to people of all cultures. It is no surprise that he was incredibly impacted by his experience playing the role of "Sonny" on Broadway in In the Heights. Some of his other shows, which shaped his career as an actor, were "Juan" in Altar Boyz off-Broadway and playing himself as a series regular on Hi-5 (Discovery Kids). He most recently filmed his first supporting role here in LA as "Pedro" in the movie "Supremacy," starring Danny Glover. Shaun is so grateful to Native Voices at the Autry, his mom Lynne, and his wife Noemi for this amazing journey. 

CO-PLAYWRIGHT ~ DIRECTOR LYNNE TAYLOR-CORBETT directed and choreographed "Swing!" on Broadway for which she was nominated for two Tony Awards. She is an ardent supporter of new work, most recently a provocative one-woman show entitled "Asking For It" which she directed for Lincoln Center's Atrium Series. Her dance works have been seen in companies throughout the world including New York City Ballet for which she staged Kurt Weill's "The Seven Deadly Sins" with Patti LuPone in the role of Anna 1. Ms. Taylor-Corbett has written and directed benefits for The Hunger Project among others and The Good Housekeeping's benefit for the National Women's History Museum featuring Meryl Streep. However, the privilege of working with her son, Shaun, on a project for the Autry is the absolute highlight of her career.


DRAMATURG SHELBY JIGGETTS-TIVONY, Director – Theatrical Development, Walt Disney Imagineering - Creative Entertainment, has worked with a number of renowned theater artists including: Chen Shi Zheng, Hinton Battle, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Gordon Greenberg, Kirsten Childs, Alan Menken and John Weidman.

Prior to Disney, Shelby held staff positions at Crossroads Theater, Lincoln Center Theater and the New York Shakespeare Festival/Joseph Papp Public Theater. As a dramaturge she has contributed to the development of over 30 plays and musicals that include several world and U.S. premieres, most notably, the award winning Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk!. Publications: The Production Notebooks, ed. by Mark Bly; Between the Lines: The Process of Dramaturgy by Judith Rudakoff and Lynn M. Thompson.

MUSICAL DIRECTOR MATTHEW SMEDAL Associate Music Supervisor in Charge of Casting Maury Yeston's Peony Pavilion. Music Director for three Barnes and Noble Nook commercials (“Jane”) with Jane Lynch. Regional Music Direction: Man of La Mancha and 1776 (Musical Theatre West) Little Shop of Horrors (Cabrillo Music Theater), Singin’ in the Rain (Ogunquit Playhouse), Jesus Christ Superstar (North Shore Music Theatre), Bat Boy and Hello Again (Musical Theatre Guild). Assoc. Music Direction/Conducting: Man of La Mancha (w/ Brent Spiner & Julia Migenes) and How To Succeed... (Reprise Theatre Company), The King and I (w/ Deborah Gibson) (Cabrillo Music Theatre). Assoc. Music Direction: Two by Two (w/ Jason Alexander, Faith Prince, Megan Hilty and Vicki Lewis), Flora the Red Menace (w/ Eden Espinosa) ( Reprise Theatre Company).

ACTOR: DARRELL WATERS KALANI QUEYPO (Blackfeet/Hawaiian) is an active collaborator with Native Voices Theater at the Autry where he proudly serves on the Advisory Council. Before moving to Los Angeles, Kalani trained in New York City, and was featured on stages all over the country — the Goodspeed Opera House, Trinity Repertory Company and The Ordway. Hollywood has embraced Kalani with prestigious acting projects such as the Oscar-nominated, Terrence Malick film The New World, and Steven Spielberg’s Emmy Award-winning mini-series Into the West. In 2007, Kalani’s short script, Ancestor Eyes, won a screenplay competition, initiating his directorial debut. He has been recognized with twelve awards on the film festival circuit, including RIIFF’s prestigious Directorial Discovery Award.

ACTOR: DOROTHY DARK EYES MARISA QUINN (Lipan Apache) A dedicated performer, visual artist, & creative producer, Marisa can next be seen as “Huilen” – a pivotal character in the highly anticipated Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. She is a graduate of the esteemed Brown University, and as part of her Ivy League undergraduate experience she had the privilege of training at both the National Theater Institute and the St. Petersberg State Theatre Arts Academy in St. Petersberg, Russia.
Upon graduation Marisa moved to New York City where she co-founded Davai Theatre Ensemble. During her time in NYC, she modeled in popular magazines like “Latina” & “Glamour”, appeared in indie films, commercials, and produced and performed in Off-Broadway theater productions. Since moving to LA, Marisa has booked roles in national commercials, print ads, indie films, studio films, movies of the week, and portrayed memorable characters in popular Network TV shows like Sons of Anarchy and Private Practice. Most recently, Marisa has worked with Oscar-winning Director Bill Condon in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Pt. 2. Her artistic endeavors in the realms of music, photography, and production have led to a myriad of opportunities both at home and abroad. Marisa has performed as a professional vocalist in both the Unites States and Mexico, as well as been commissioned as a professional photographer in LA, New York, and Europe. Marisa’s dedication to creating opportunities for artistic expression in Film, Television, and New Media inspired her to establish Monarch Media Productions, an organization committed to generating innovative content which challenges stereotypes and promotes diversity. Monarch Media Production’s first major project, Sweet Mary & Jane, allowed Marisa the collaborative experience of co-producing, co-creating and co-starring in this edgy, female comedic series.

ACTOR: BETTY STILL SMOKING GERI KEAMS (Navajo) is a Navajo storyteller, author, actor who was raised in the Painted Desert of Northern Arizona. She is from the Streak-Of-Black-Forest Clan. Geri has presented her storytelling program, "Legends Come Alive" at the Smithsonian, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She is the author of children's books and is a stage and film actor. She was one of the Technical Advisors for Disney's animated production of "Pocahontas". She has been featured in many films and television shows such as, "Big Love" on HBO, "Sons Of Anarchy" on FX and debuted her acting career by acting opposite Clint Eastwood, in the "Outlaw Josey Wales". She performed at the Mark Taper Forum in "Palestine, New Mexico" for the Center Theatre Group. Geri makes her home in Pasadena, California.

ACTOR: SHAREEN STILL SMOKING OLIVIA ESPINOSA (Azteca) is happy to be making her Native Voices debut. Originally from the Bay Area, she moved to Southern California to study theatre at SDSU. A bilingual actor, singer, dancer and playwright, Olivia’s most recent credits include playing Mari in The Jumpitz, a children’s entertainment group. She most valued the time spent abroad performing for military children and their families stationed across Europe. Additional credits include Tortilla Curtain; Earthquake Sun (San Diego Rep); Learn to be Latina (Diversionary Theatre, San Diego); Escanaba in Da Moonlight (Cygnet Theatre, San Diego).

ACTOR: JIM RUNNING CROW NOAH HUNT (Lumbee) discovered his passion for acting at a young age while participating in local theatre productions in the Tri-City area of Eastern Washington, and has been pursuing it ever since. Noah has always felt a deep dedication and connection to acting which has helped to fuel and develop his acting abilities and career. Noah’s more recent acting accomplishments include playing the lead role of Chokey Jim in the original stage production of Ghosts Of Celilo, the lead role of Shayne in the independent film Given to Walk, and the lead role of Nil in a web series called The Homes which premiered in early 2011. Noah is an accomplished guitarist, drummer, singer, actor, song writer and dancer, and also just finished his first solo EP, "From: Me To: You" Scheduled to come out Dec 2011 - Jan 2012.

ACTOR: WHITE FEATHER MICHAEL WISE (Cherokee) has been working as director/videographer/editor on videos for educational projects for A website geared toward appropriate internet content for children. He has worked in film, television and on stage, and has contributed in past productions of Native Voices at the Autry.

ACTOR: OLD MAN DAVID REDBOY SCHILDT (Blackfeet) I have been an SAG Stuntman/Actor, Cowboy Poet, Singer/Song Writer, School Teacher, Author of Book: Redboy The Indian Bull Rider, Screenplay Co Writer: Redboy The Indian Bull Rider By Lynn Jeanne Davis, Recording Artist: Wild Horses CD, Champion Bull Rider / Bronc Rider, Documentary partner with Lynn Jeanne Davis: Indian Rodeo and Gourd Dancer. I have performed at the National Cowboy Poetry Gather at Elko NV and at the Smithsonian in Manhattan, NY as well as many other venues. Currently I am working on music videos at : harmonyBalance - YouTube (

ACTOR: TONTO SPENCER BATTIEST (Seminole Tribe of Florida) is fast becoming a national sensation in the world of music and entertainment. This kid is everywhere! He has been seen live on ESPN, ESPN2, HBO, & Showtime. He's opened for big names such as Aerosmith, Sting and The Police. He is gripping the world with his charismatic performances in places like Miami, the Bahamas, and London. He was featured in the March 2008 issue of “...Rolling Stone” touting his grand performance in London with other performers including John Myer, Sheryl Crow, Jason Mraz, The Bangles, and Eric Clapton at London's Hyde Park before an astonishing crowd of over 100,000 music lovers. This young man is certainly and inspiration to all young people but especially to his own Native people. Through his collaboration with the Seminole Tribe of Florida of which he is proudly a member of, he promotes Hard Rock internationally through performances and interviews. He is a sincere artist who appears to be one of the most talented teenage entertainers out there. His commitment to his audience doesn't stop with music, at the age of 14, he was chosen from 3000+ hopefuls to perform live in New York City on Broadway at the International Presentation of Performers (IPOP). And to further add to his list of accomplishments Spencer, along with super model Petra Nomcova and R&B artist Sean Kingston, participate as a global ambassador for charity through “Global Angels” - a charity founded by Natasha Beddingfield's mother. It appears the Native community has their own version of a super hero who can leap the globe and mesmerized audiences in any venue. He just recently appeared for a 3 day show at Hard Rock LIVE in Hollywood, FL featuring all original music. He continues to record with the top producers and collaborating with the celebrity artist, he is certain to get the attention he needs to share his incredible talent as an entertainer to an audience hungry for the incredible star. In 2011 he along with his Brother "Doc" wrote and produced a song entitled "The Storm". Later that year "The Storm" Music Video went on to win Best Music Video of The Year at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco California. Awards: IPoP (NYC) - Male Vocalist of the year, AIFI - Best Music Video (The Storm).

ACTOR: AIYANA BUCK SHAYNA JACKSON (Prairie Island Indian Community) My name is Shayna Jackson. I am 18 years old. I have been singing for 17 years and acting for 8 years. This is my first professional project as an actress, though I have been in many community plays and acting showcases. I've been studying with Jeff Alan-Lee at the Young Actor's Studio since I was 13 and am currently working on the role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet for the summer showcase. My parents are professional musicians and trained me in singing from a very young age. I am more than thrilled to be part of the festival and am looking forward to whatever opportunities it may bring.


ACTOR: RAYMOND BUCK SAMMY ESPINOZA (Luiseno, Navajo) I have been in professional theater since I was 8 years old. I moved to Los Angeles in 1996 to pursue television and film. The first week of me being here I met an agent, got signed. The week after that I booked my firs job working on a pilot for Fran Drescher, have been working ever since. The last show I did was KINO and TERESA here at the NATIVE VOICES before I left for retirement in 2008 to pursue a culinary career but I realized nothing can hold me back from theater and being on stage. I am back and I'ts an honor being back on the NATIVE VOICES stage!!

STAGE MANAGER TIM DAVIS began work as a Stage Manager in the San Francisco Bay Area. He moved to the mid-west to attend grad school at University of Missouri Kansas City. Tim moved to LA in May '11 and and has been working at Long Beach Opera, Open Fist Theatre company, Theatrum Elysium and, Universal Studios among others. Tim is a pretty big deal, you should keep an eye on him.

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT OWEN PANNO is the resident stage manager for the Red Brick Road Theatre Company in North Hollywood, and is a staff stage manager for the Teenage Drama Workshop at CSUN. Recent credits The Wizard of Oz (St. Mel Drama Club) and The Wizard of Oz (Jewish Community Center), and as backstage crew on the Colony Theatre's production of Dames at Sea. As an actor, Owen was recently seen as Horton the Elephant in Seussical the Musical. He earned a bachelor's degree in screenwriting from CSUN and is currently pursuing a teaching credential in English.


Unknown said...

This team is amazing!!!!! Thank you to you all for this amazing experience!!

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