Estro Main Stage: Steel Birds

STEEL BIRDS, by Niki Hatzidis and Anastasia Rutkowski, based on Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters

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Steel Birds is an original adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece, Three Sisters. Playwrights and actors Anastasia Rutkowski and Niki Hatzidis met in a classical theatre workshop and were inspired to work together on a modern production of this seminal work. They have grounded this piece at a late 1930’s military base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, transposing turn-of-the-century Russia for a changing culture on the on the eve of the Second World War. 

The three Pavel sisters live in paradise, on a beautiful estate, surrounded by handsome naval men, yet they cannot wait until the day when they return to their beloved Boston. Relationships are being tried, opportunities are passing, and time is fleeting. Yet, little do they know, the sky is about to come falling down all around them.

This is director Jennifer Bronstein‘s fourth time working with Estrogenius and she is proud to call the festival home. She is a filmmaker, television producer, and long-time collaborator of Anastasia’s. Together they are developing a feature-length film and they are excited to return to the theatre with this ambitious and challenging work.

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Julia Pavel………………………………………..Alison Preece

Mary Hardy……………………………………….Niki Hatzidis

Irene Pavel……………………………………….Anastasia Rutkowski

Andrew Pavel……………………………………Sam Leicher

Lieutenant Nicholas Archer……………………..William Hochman

Doctor John Burden……………………………..David Murray Jaffe

Captain William Meridew……………………….Eric Loscheider

Admiral Alexander Wentworth………………….Justin Mohr

Theodore Hardy…………………………………Michael Hinton

Nakeli……………………………………………Inga Schlingmann

Annie…………………………………………….Victoria Blankenship

Creative Team

Directed by Jennifer Bronstein

Written by Anastasia Rutkowski and Niki Hatzidis


Alison Preece

Alison Preece (Julia Pavel) has held principal roles in a variety of plays in New York, Toronto and Victoria, Ca. Favorite credits include Bedroom Farce, Actor’s Nightmare, Lend Me A Tenor, The Mousetrap, Enchanted April and For Abby (Directed by Jennifer Bronstein, Winner Best Play, Best Actress, EstroGenius Festival 2015). She is particularly drawn to door-slamming farces, pining romances, and smart, original works. She is thrilled to be back at Estro and working again with such a talented group! IG: @APreeceNYC

AnastasiaAnastasia Rutkowski (Irene Pavel) is a Graduate of Drew University and a Massachusetts native. Favorite past theater roles include Marlene Dietrich in Silver Screen Parade, Elizabeth in Press, Maria in Twelfth Night. Film: Lobster Fra Diavolo (Cannes Short Film Corner), upcoming: Beachcombers. All her love and thanks to her Mom who kept her acting.

Niki Hatzidis

Niki Hatzidis (Mary Hardy): Mary Hardy is Niki Hatzidis’ first lead role in a full-length theater production in NYC. Niki trained at the Guildford School of Acting in England. She worked on many physical and site-specific theater productions with companies such as Curious Directive, Paradigm Theatre, and 20:20 Vision, as well as classical roles such as Grumio in Taming of the Shrew and in the Chorus in Madea. Niki is excited to continue her acting career in the U.S.

Sam Leichter

Sam Leichter (Andrew Pavel) has appeared as the title role in Macbeth (directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel), Banquo in The Witches, with The New Collectives, Hal in Henry IV pts 1&2 at Inwood Shakespeare Festival, Empty House at NYC Fringe ’14, Fuddy Meers at Marin Theatre Company, Antony & Cleopatra at Marin Shakespeare Co., Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado at Delaware Shakespeare Festival. He holds an MFA from Rutgers. AEA.

William HochmanWilliam Hochman (Lieutenant Nicholas Archer) has acted in multiple productions in NYC, including two short plays that he wrote, Second Avenue and Nocturnal (Best Actor, Studio 4 24-Hour Play Festival). Will also enjoys working in film. He has played the lead in many independent productions, most recently in Rock and a Hard Place (Stonestreet Studios). In November his short film, Fifteen (actor, writer, co-director) premiered at the Big Apple Film Festival. Will likes to play the guitar and squash.

David Murray JaffeDavid Murray Jaffe (Doctor John Burden): NYC: Jungle Fever, PS 122; Suicide in Blue, Dixon Place; Pinky and the Po Boys, Lincoln Center; Henry IV, The Three Cuckolds, Riverside Shakespeare Co.; Uncle Vanya, A Kind of Alaska, 78th Street Theater Lab; The Hollow Crown,The Loves of the Cass McGuire; The West End Theater. Regional: Off the Map, Heroes, The Drawer Boy, The Depot Theater; Salt Speaks, Baltimore Theater Project; Otrabanda Co’s River Raft Revue. TV: Law and Order-CI; Narration for PBS’s Enterprise. David is a graduate of Kenyon College and holds an MFA in directing from Ohio University. AEA/SAG-AFTRA

Eric LoscheiderEric Loscheider (Captain William Meridew): Broadway: Romeo & Juliet (Richard Rodgers Theatre). NY: Man of the Hour (Metropolitan Playhouse), The Boys Next Door (Drilling Company/Identity Theatre), The Poppet Show (Arcade Theatre), Shelf Life (NY Fringe Festival). Regional: Assassins (Berkshire Theatre Festival), 1776 (Drury Lane, Joseph Jefferson Award: Best Ensemble, Best Director), The Taming of the Shrew, (First Folio Shakespeare Festival). Film/TV: Tapestry, Saw 34, Celeste, Possum, A Queen Without His Crown, The Unremembered, Guiding Light.  MFA: Rutgers University.

Justin MohrJustin Mohr (Admiral Alexander Wentworth) graduated from The University of Pittsburgh with a BFA in Theater Arts. His favorite productions include: Lend me a Tenor (Max), Leading Ladies(Jack Gable), Noises Off (Gary Lejeune), Barefoot in the Park (Paul Bratter), and The House of Yes (Marty). He is also a member of the sketch comedy group: B.Y.G. Woof ( He would like to thank the talented cast and crew, friends, and the lovely Rebecca, for their love and support.

Michael HintonMichael Hinton (Theodore Hardy) is a graduate of The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School where he received his MA in Professional Acting. He has also studied at Shakespeare and Company and UCB. Theatre: title roles in Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet, Sir Lucius O’Trigger inThe Rivals, and John in Dark of the Moon. He also records audiobooks with Tantor Media and this summer will be appearing in the short film Druids alongside Valerie Azlynn. SAG/AFTRA eligible.

Victoria Blankenship

Victoria Blankenship (Annie) recently played Mother Bayard in Thornton Wilder’s The Long Christmas Dinner for the Peccadillo Theater; the Dukes, Corin and Martex in As You Like It; Mrs. Grose and Henrietta in Turn of the Screw. The 2014 Barcelona Film Festival honored her with the El Rey Award for Excellence in Acting in a Supporting Role for the role of Faye in the indie short film Escape from Garden Grove, a role she created on stage.


Inga Schlingmann (Nakeli) is thrilled to be making her New York City theatre debut. She is a graduate of the two-year Meisner Program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio (under Maggie Flanigan) and is excited to embark on this journey. She thanks the cast, the writers, director and stage manager for making this a great experience, EstroGenius for honoring women in the industry, Amy and her family and friends for their incredible support. SAG-AFTRA

Jennifer Bronstein

Jennifer Bronstein (Director): This is Jennifer’s fourth time directing for EstroGenius and she is honored to direct their first full-length play. Previous Estro credits: Pussycat, Dinner For Who?and For Abby (Winner Best Play, Best Actress). Other Off Broadway credits include Ronald McDonald Has Wings of Fire. When not directing theater, Jennifer works as a television producer and filmmaker. She is in development on the feature film, Beachcombers, with Anastasia Rutkowski. 

Niki Hatzidis (Playwright): Steel Birds is Niki Hatzidis’ first completed and performed play. She met Anastasia Rutkowski in a Chekhov workshop where they performed the Three Sisters fire scene. Bonding over their Massachusetts roots, and their writing and devising backgrounds, they decided to team up in the creative process and experimentation of seeing what would happen to these complex characters if taken to a different place and time in history. Niki is in the process of writing her own screenplay about her experiences living abroad in England, and hopes that this is the beginning of an ongoing creative partnership with Anastasia.

Anastasia Rutkowski (Playwright): this is Anastasia’s first show with EstroGenius. Theater: Press, Avant Guard Festival (Wild Card Audience Choice), Silver Screen Parade, Unchained Theater Festival (Audience Favorite). Upcoming Feature: Beachcombers (Trailer coming soon). Thanks to this beautiful cast for bringing our words to life! All the thanks to her Dad who kept her reading and writing.

We Did It…With Lots of Help!

We did it–45 events in 26 days! I’ve always said it takes a village to produce this festival and this year that was more true than ever.

Heartfelt thanks to~

Our venues:
Cheryl King & Stage Left Studio
Orietta Crispino & Theaterlab
Haejin Han, our TD at Theaterlab

Our producers:
Deb Long, Margaret Stockton & Anne Carlino – Estro Short Plays
Vinnie Marano – Estro Xtended (Reading Series)
Cheryl King – Sola Voce
Andi Cohen – EstroTaneous Combustion
Heidi Russell – Estro Visual Art
Ashley Marinaccio – Girl Be Heard & Dancing at the Shame Prom
Kia Roger – The God Box

Our co-producing companies:
Malini Singh McDonald & Black Henna Productions for kicking things off with Runo Rimac
Alaina Hammond & Michael Bordwell – My Country Burns & Other Plays
Mary Matoula Web & John Doe Theater – Love at Home
Katie Braden, Gwen Sisco & Ivy Theatre – Mill Fire
Vivian & Eddie Neuwirth & Lagniappe Productions – NOLA Plays
Heidi Russell & the International Women Artists’ Salon – The Creative Lounge

& our Creative Lounge panelists, our actors, our directors, our designers, our SMs and board operators & YOU, our audience!

And a special personal thanks to Malini Singh McDonald for helming our marketing and social media presence and, even more so, for keeping me sane this year!

Can’t wait to see you all in 2014 for our 15th (gasp!) festival.

Jen Thatcher, Executive Producer


It Happened. We’ve Estro-Taneously Combusted!

On Friday night, writers & actors gathered at Stage Left Studios. Writers picked actors’ names out of a hat (actually it was a shoe box, but “out of a hat” has a better ring to it) and our fearless facilitator, Andi Cohen, gave us all a first line and a cultural reference. Writers then scurried off–some to a local watering hole, some to their ateliers, some to other cliched places writers write–to write their scenes overnight. We’ll rehearse today and tomorrow and the results will be presented for your entertainment Sunday, Monday and Tuesday @ 8pm. Tickets only $15.

Writers: Sarah Chichester, Homer Frizzell, Stuart Green, TR Hayes, Maura Kelley, Bill Kozy, Vincent Marano, Jen Thatcher

Actors: Anthony Fuller, Helene Galek, Alaina Hammond, Sonja Kari, Autumn Kioti, Tim Licht, & Christopher Prince

Incredibly ably produced/facilitated/directed by Andi Cohen



Welcome to our brand-spankin’-new EstroGenius blog. Here’s where we’ll try to give you the latest news and cool background info on our festival!