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The Uptown Planetarium and Donna Stearns
Minding The Heavens
The Life of Caroline Herschel
by Dr. Mark Littmann
Directed by Jerry Marco
With Original Music and Lyrics Composed by Donna Stearns
October 17, 2009 at 1:00 PM
Centered around Caroline Herschel, one of the most important women in
the history of astronomy, this four-person play follows her life and
tribulations as she gives up her career as an opera singer to help her
brother, William, on his quest to become the greatest astronomer in
Europe. While they both succeed at their quest, and she is lauded worldwide
for her breakthroughs in science, we see her confront terrible prejudice,
and watch her heartbreak as her stardom wanes in her love of singing.
Performed at the
New York Public Library, Inwood Branch
4790 Broadway [near Dyckman St.], New York, NY 10034-4916.
Cast for Minding the Heavens
as CAROLINE HERSCHEL
Megan Cooper has appeared in Young Jean Lee's Church (The Public's
Under the Radar Festival, P.S.122, BAX), The Tempest (Hudson Warehouse),
A Little Night Music (Bristol Riverside Theatre) and 12 Women in a Cell
(The Arcola Theatre in London). She composed music for and music
directed A Strange Serenade (The Player's Theatre Loft). Most recently
she appeared in The Good Doctor with Midlantic Theatre Co. and worked
with Donna Stearns in Shakespeare Saturday Sings!!! In Concert. She
received her Master's in Acting from East 15 Acting School in London.
Thanks to Donna, Jason, Jerry and Mark.
Jonah Ramu Cohen|
as WILLIAM HERSCHEL
A recent arrival in NYC, for the past six years Jonah directed a youth
Shakespeare program outside of Philadelphia. Most recently Jonah has
appeared inKing Lear with The Gallery Players in Park Slope and
a reading of Pericles with Shakespeare Saturdays here in Inwood.
Regional credits include: Antonio in Twelfth Night (Philadelphia
Shakespeare Theatre), Gerald in Women in Love (Living End Theatre
Company), Caligula in Caligula (Echolalia Theater), Twelfth
Night (City Theater Company of Wilmington), As You Like It
(Delaware Shakespeare Company).
in Ensemble: Elegant Woman, Servant, King George III, Lord Storker and John
Everett Goldner is an improv performer from the bay area.
This summer he stage-managed for Hudson Warehouse The Tempest
He is a martial arts and yoga enthusiast, and a student. Thanks to Donna
and Dr. Littmann for this great opportunity!
in Ensemble and stage directions
Alexis Casanovas has recently relocated to NYC from Columbia, SC where he was
teaching Creative Drama and Theater Arts at a public middle school. He
is returning to New Perspectives Theatre Company as Company Manager.
Alexis started to perform at a very young age dancing and playing
Traditional Folk music of Argentina. He received his MFA in acting from
Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University with William Esper
as head of the acting program and a B.A. from the College of Charleston,
SC. His recent credits include the Duke of Buckingham in The Three
Musketeers with the Bard Columbia Shakespeare Company and a guest
appearance on Guiding Light. Among his NPT roles are Ex in the
New York Premiere of Visit by world renowned playwright Ricardo
Monti, Macbeth in Macbeth, and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet in
New York's Shakespeare in the Park Festival. He has also been involved
in numerous youth outreach programs and performances.
Jerry Marco, Director
Jerry Marco's New York directing credits include Much Ado About Nothing, The Dentist (written by Jason Kendall!), and readings of Henry VI parts 1, 2, and 3, and Richard 3. He holds an MFA in Theatre from the University of Texas.
Donna Stearns, Executive Producer
Donna Stearns (Composer) studied Jazz Arranging at Eastman School of
Music and graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Music
Theory and Music Composition. She received three ASCAP Pop Awards and
her debut release FIRST DANCE received an Honorable Mention from the 9th
Annual Billboard Song Contest. FIRST DANCE, recorded by Stearns and
Curtis King, was also a 1st Round Entry on the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards
Nominating Ballot (for Best R&B Song-Category). Her recent commercial
release is UP, UP, UP IN THE SKY, that she recorded with The Big Bangers
(Clara Barton Green, Matt Gordon, Eric Vetter). The song is available on
and CD Baby. It's one of only ten official International Year of
Astronomy songs (IYA2009). Her musical ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE was one
of the Best of Fest winners at The 3rd Annual Midtown International
Theatre Festival. Theatrically, Donna is also an actor and a proud company
member of ShakespeareNYC. Donna and her husband Jason Kendall have also
been producing Shakespeare Saturdays readings at The New York Public
Library, Inwood Branch for the past 5 years. Visit
for more information and to hear music clips. Thank you Mark, Jerry,
the entire cast, and Jason.
Dr. Mark Littmann, Playwright
Mark Littmann grew up in St. Louis and earned degrees at MIT in chemistry and
literature, Hollins College in creative writing, and Northwestern University in English.
At MIT, two of his plays won creative-writing awards.
Mark then became the first director of the Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake City. Over
the next 18 years, the wrote, directed, and produced 35 planetarium programs, most in
play-like form, including the first science fiction shows and the first shows on
archaeoastronomy. He received the first two awards in the planetarium field for
distinguished service. Some of Mark.s shows are still performed worldwide.
Mark.s books include Totality: Eclipses of the Sun; The Heavens on Fire: The Great
Leonid Meteor Storms; Planets Beyond: Discovering the Outer Solar System; and
Comet Halley: Once in a Lifetime. Planets Beyond won the Science Writing Award of
the American Institute of Physics. Comet Halley won the Elliott Montroll Special Award
of the New York Academy of Sciences. Both were also chosen by the Astronomical
Society of the Pacific as Astronomy Books of the Year.
In 1991, Mark joined the University of Tennessee faculty as Hill Chair of Excellence
Professor of Science Writing. He developed and coordinates the Science Communication
Program and teaches three different science-writing courses in the School of Journalism
& Electronic Media. He also teaches astronomy for the Department of Physics &
Astronomy when times permits.
Mark and his wife Peggy have two grown children, Beth and Owen.
They are deeply grateful to Donna Stearns and Jason Kendall for producing this reading
of Minding the Heavens, and to Jerry Marco, director, and actors Megan, Jonah, Everett
for their efforts to bring to life the true story of Caroline
Herschel, the first woman to be a professional astronomer.