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Idina Menzel highlights casting for Powerhouse musicals, in the new work Nero by the Spring Awakening team Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik, which has added a fourth performance on Sunday, July 13

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater announces the casting of Idina Menzel, the Tony Award-winning actress and singer from Broadway’s Wicked and Rent, in the new musical Nero, by Spring Awakening co-creators Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik. The cast will also feature Jeffrey Carlson (Taboo) as the title character, and Lea Michele (Wendla in the original cast of Spring Awakening) as Nero’s young wife Octavia.

An additional performance has just been added to Nero, on Sunday, July 13, at 7:00 pm, which will be presented in the Martel Theater of the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, July 11-13, on the Vassar campus.

Menzel, who is currently on a tour to promote her new album, I Stand, will return to her theatrical roots for the role of Nero’s mistress Poppea in the musical, created by the dynamic team behind the Tony Award-winner Spring Awakening, Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik.

The cast will also include:

  • Laila Robins as Agrippina (Heartbreak House, Frozen, The Herbal Bed, Antony and Cleopatra)
  • OBIE Award-winning actor David Patrick Kelly as Seneca/Narcissus (Festen, Twelfth Night, Uncle Vanya, Flags of our Fathers)
  • Michael Arden as Britannicus (Big River, The Times They Are a Changin’)
  • Paolo Montalban as Tigillinus (Cinderella opposite Brandy, Camelot, Pacific Overtures, The King and I).

Director Daniel Kramer, noted for his work in Britain in theater and opera (Punch & Judy at English National Opera, Hair and Woyzeck at the Gate Theater, as well as work at the Young Vic, Glasgow’s Citizen’s Theater and St. Ann’s Warehouse in NY) will be working for the first time with Sater and Sheik on Nero at Powerhouse.


A black comic tale of the bad-body Emperor who fiddles as all faith in his country burns.

Script and lyrics by Steven Sater, Music by Duncan Sheik, Directed by Daniel Kramer. Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film. $25

  • Friday, July 11, 8:00 pm
  • Saturday, July 12, 8:00 pm
  • Sunday, July 13, 2:00 pm
  • Sunday, July 13, 7:00 pm


  • Jeffrey Carlson as Nero
  • Lea Michele as Octavia
  • Laila Robins as Agrippina
  • David Patrick Kelly as Britannicus
  • Paolo Montalban as Tigillinus
  • Idina Menzel as Poppea
  • Tim Jerome as Claudius
  • Fred Williams as the Guard

Subscription, Schedule, and Box Office Information:
Online sales at Subscriptions and single tickets also may be purchased either by calling the Powerhouse box office on campus at (845) 437-7235 or (845) 437-5599, or in person at the box office.

About Powerhouse

The Powerhouse program is the result of a unique partnership between New York Stage and Film and Vassar College. The program consists of an eight-week residency on the Vassar campus during which more than 200 professional artists and some 40 apprentices live and work together to create new theater works. Powerhouse steadfastly supports both emerging and established artists.

Since its inception in 1985, Powerhouse has played a significant role in the development of hundreds of new plays, provided a home for a diverse group of artists free from critical and commercial pressures, and established itself as a vital cultural institution for the Hudson Valley, the New York metropolitan area, and the surrounding region.

About New York Stage and Film

Founded in 1985 by Producing Directors Mark Linn-Baker, Max Mayer and Leslie Urdang, and now under the leadership of Artistic Director Johanna Pfaelzer, New York Stage and Film (SAF) is a not-for-profit company dedicated to the development and production of new works for theater and film. SAF has developed and produced premiere works by John Patrick Shanley, Jon Robin Baitz, Beth Henley and Theresa Reback, among many others.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations at Vassar should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available.

About Vassar College

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861. Consistently ranked as one of the country’s best liberal arts colleges, Vassar is renowned for its long history of curricular innovation, and for the natural and architectural beauty of its campus. More than 50 academic departments and degree programs – from Anthropology to Cognitive Sciences to Urban Studies – encompass the arts, foreign languages, natural sciences, and social services, and combine to offer a curriculum of more than 1,000 courses.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, June 30, 2008