Meet The Leadership
Jeanne Drennan, Executive director
Previously MTAP’s Managing Director, Jeanne Drennan has taken on the role of Executive Director with the departure of Stephanie Riso to her hometown of Buffalo. Jeanne is a playwright, librettist, and lyricist whose full-length plays have been produced or developed at theatres small and large across the country, from the tiny Messenger Theatre Company in New York to much bigger organizations like the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Bay Area Playwrights Festival. She has received seven individual artist fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and recently was one of six winners of the AACT (American Association of Community Theaters) for her new play Get Out of Dodge, which was produced at the Venice Theater, Venice, FL, and subsequently published by Dramatic Publishing. Her musical Dear Boy, with composer David Berlin, had a 2016 Hot Metal Musicals Incubator Reading and continues in development. Current works in progress include the play Whiteface and a musical-in-embryo with the working title of The Bell Tolls for the Atoll. She very recently (January, 2019) had an Incubator Reading of her new musical comedy Juiced!, for which she wrote book, music, and lyrics. Jeanne worked with City Theatre’s Young Playwrights program as a dramaturg and frequent teaching artist since its inception in 1999 and in 2017 celebrated her 20th Young Playwrights Festival as a dramaturg helping middle and high school playwrights refine their work for production. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the International Center for Women Playwrights. Explore some of her work at: https://newplayexchange.org/users/182/jeanne-drennan
ZHIWEI ma, artistic PRODUCER
Zhiwei Ma is a playwright, librettist, lyricist, composer, director, producer, and performer currently based in Pittsburgh, PA. Born and raised in northwestern China, Zhiwei has been living in the Steel City for eight years now and has since found his groove within the amazing Pittsburgh theater community. Zhiwei is a 2017 New York Musical Festival Songwriting Workshop lyricist. Zhiwei has been heavily involved with MTAP since 2015 as MTAP's Webmaster, and in 2017, Zhiwei served as the Producing Assistant for both MTAP’s Hot Metal Musicals Showcase and the MTAP Incubator Reading of Kaleidoscope by Carla Bianco. In January 2018, Zhiwei directed MTAP’s inaugural First Look Reading of Complete by Marisa Wexler. Later that year, he stepped into the role of lead producer of the MTAP Incubator Reading Series, producing two readings: The Humble Rapture of MARY ANNING, “Princess of Paleontology” (who sold seashells by the seashore) by Laurie Klatscher in December 2018, and Juiced! by Jeanne Drennan in January 2019. As MTAP's newest Artistic Producer, Zhiwei produced the latest Hot Metal Musicals Showcase in July 2019, And this coming March, Zhiwei will be producing MTAP's first ever Incubator Workshop of Abduction by T.J. Pieffer, Becki Toch, and Brad Kemp. Outside of MTAP, Zhiwei currently serves as the Creative Marketing Director of Front Porch Theatricals, and is a producer at Arcade Comedy Theater in downtown Pittsburgh, where he also performs on stage and works as a House Manager. For more information about Zhiwei, please visit zhiweimatheater.com
Steve cuden, MTAP Advisor
Steve Cuden, a native of Pittsburgh, PA, co-created, and co-wrote lyrics for, the acclaimed international stage hit, Jekyll & Hyde, The Musical that enjoyed a successful four year run at the Plymouth Theater on Broadway from 1997-2001, and a limited revival on Broadway at The Marquis Theatre in 2013. Steve also co-conceived the musical, Rudolf, Affaire Mayerling, with Frank Wildhorn, which has been produced on stages throughout Europe and Japan. As a screenwriter, Steve is credited on nearly 90 teleplays for series including: "X-Men," "The Batman," "Goof Troop," "Bonkers," "Extreme Ghostbusters," "The Mask," "Godzilla," "Beetlejuice," "The Pink Panther," "RoboCop," and many others. Steve directed and co-produced the indie cult hit horror-comedy feature, Lucky, which won the awards for Best Feature at The New York City Horror Film Festival, AKA Shriekfest in Los Angeles, and MicroCineFest in Baltimore. For many years, Steve designed the lighting of numerous live stage productions, mainly in Los Angeles, working with a variety of outstanding directors, designers, and actors. He continues to write and create new work while also enjoying the privilege of teaching Screenwriting to the outstanding Cinema and Digital Arts students of Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. Steve is the author of two popular books: Beating Broadway: How to Create Stories for Musicals That Get Standing Ovations, and Beating Hollywood: Tips for Creating Unforgettable Screenplays. Steve also produces and hosts the weekly podcast, StoryBeat: Storytellers on Storytelling, where he interviews artists of all kinds about their creative process. For more about Steve, please visit stevecuden.com, storybeat.net, beatingbroadway.com, and beatinghollywood.com.
Marisa Wexler, Webmaster
Marisa Wexler is a writer and composer who joined MTAP in 2016. Her work has been included in MTAP's Hot Metal Musicals and First Look Reading Series.
stephanie riso, executive director emerita and consultant
Stephanie Riso led MTAP from 2012 through 2018, producing the first Incubator Reading in 2014 and the first Hot Metal Musicals the following year. Her relocation to Buffalo in late 2018 cost MTAP an enthusiastic leader and good friend. Stephanie Riso holds a degree in vocal performance from Carnegie Mellon University and has over twenty years of professional performing and producing experience. She was instrumental in founding PICT Classic Theatre, Cabaret Pittsburgh, and MTAP. While in NYC, she produced a staged reading for TRU Musical Series, participated as a composer/lyricist in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, and was a finalist for the Columbia University T Fellowship for Creative Producers.