NEW YORK – Trinidadian-born, Emmy nominated television and film producer- director Randy Simon will make his New York stage directing debut with the World Premiere production of The Duchess Of LES: An AI Musical From Little Ukraine by Denis Woychuk.
The production runs from November 16 through December 3 at The Kraine Theatre in the East Village and features music direction by Dana “Che” Belmond and choreography by Sarah Shah. Simon co-produces the production with fellow Trinidadian Lisa Franklyn-Zaidi and Executive Producer Lori Schwarz.
Musical About Love and Betrayal
Set in Little Ukraine, New York City in the 1980s, The Duchess of LES is a musical about love, betrayal of the Code and the power of temptation. It follows the story of Simon Vinnitskiy, a young breakdancer, who falls in love with her psychotic brother’s wife. Production notes state that the musical encapsulates “all the broken dreams and grand hopes that make America the country it is,” and that “from the synth arpeggios to the driving drum beats, the music will transport you back to the dance sounds of the 80s, as imagined by AI.”
For Simon – a 2018 Emmy Award nominee as Assistant Director for the public service announcement campaign Would You Know If Someone Was Following Your Child Online? – his New York stage debut as producer and director is another step in his journey of artistic exploration that began years ago in his native Trinidad and Tobago.
Career in Film
As a child in Trinidad and then later in the USA after emigrating as a young child, Simon was passionate about comic books, storytelling and intricate graphic arts. That interest would subsequently lead to a photography class in high school and eventually, while at Fordham University, a deeper interest in film.
Electing to pursue a career in the film industry, he was hired as a production assistant on the arthouse thriller The Golden Boat and was promoted to 2nd Unit Location Manager midway through the shoot after impressing the production team with his dedication and efficiency. That auspicious beginning was followed by Randy’s involvement in a range of projects across all genres over the next few years, from commercials to PSA’s to reality shows. He has worked and/or collaborated with highly respected industry names such as Oscar-winner Casey Affleck, Joe Brewster, Giancarlo Esposito, Madison Davis Lacy, Mos Def and James Schamus.
Forming his own company, RFSWolf Entertainment LLC in 2004, he has gone on to work with New York Yankees Joe Torre and Jorge Posada’s Foundations, The National Park Service, The Children’s Aid Society, The Board of Education, Sesame Street and many other entities to develop and deliver projects addressing gun violence, voting rights, child abuse, HIV, stroke awareness and school-related health issues.
He is especially proud of his work on the “African Burial Ground” installation. It commemorated the more than 50,000 slaves buried in the Wall Street area in New York City. As well as serving as producer for the film Third Week. An urban drama directed by his longtime friend and collaborator Jordi Torrent. The film will be screened at Rome’s MIA (Mercato Internazionale Audiovisivo) Festival in 2024.
As he tells it, “Going into theatre at this point in my career is just a natural evolution for me as an artist. I’ve always been interested in expanding my horizons in my creative process, starting with photography, then film, then producing and directing for visual media– and now theatre, a new medium for me. I’m especially excited about directing The Duchess of LES because it gives me the chance to bring characters to life before a live audience for the very first time. I’m also a big advocate and supporter of the LGBTQIA community. The show addresses gender norms and pushes some boundaries, which for me is always a very positive thing. I couldn’t think of a better way to start my theatrical career in the world’s foremost theatrical city.”
The Duchess of LES Cast
The all-female cast of The Duchess of LES includes Allison Brooke Clark, Stalinada “Stalina”Gurbechenko, Sarah Shah, Marion Stenfort and Amanda Vazquez, along with understudy Romy Turner.
Performances run Thursdays through Saturdays at 7pm and Sundays at 3pm from November 16 through December 3. The Kraine Theatre is located at 85 East 4th Street, between 2nd Avenue and Bowery Street.
Tickets are also available at www.duchess.nyc.