Mosaic launches inaugural Catalyst New Play Festival January 19–22

Anchored by 'Max and Willy’s Last Laugh,' the festival features award-winning talent and new works by Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi and Annalisa Dias.

The inaugural Catalyst New Play Festival ushers in a new chapter of Mosaic Theater’s commitment to connecting DC-area audiences with thought-provoking new work at all stages of development, and includes panels, workshops, and public presentations of works in progress by local and national writers. Festival events will be held January 19–22, 2023. More information and tickets are available at

“New plays have been the core of my artistic life and the foundation of Mosaic Theater since our inception,” said Mosaic Theater Artistic Director Reginald L. Douglas. “This inaugural weekend of events celebrates that shared commitment by welcoming local and national talent to Mosaic to collaborate in the creation of exciting new work that is diverse in form, full of curiosity, and wonderfully still in the development process.”

The focal point of the festival is Max and Willy’s Last Laugh, based on the true story of entertainers Max Ehrlich and Willy Rosen, who for 18 months performed the funniest cabaret in Europe to ensure their safety at the Westerbork Transit Camp during World War II. The festival also champions local theater talent with readings of Between/Time: A Baltimore Cycle Play by Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi and The Invention of Seeds by Annalisa Dias; amplifies the voices of local women writers through a panel discussion featuring Allyson Currin, Tuyet Thi Pham, and Nikkole Salter; and invests in the future of the field with a reading from the winning entries in Mosaic’s annual High School Playwriting Contest.

“What a particular joy it is to kick off a new year with new plays,” said Mosaic Artistic Producer Chelsea Radigan. “Each of these artists is exploring both the deeply personal and the politically relevant, and Mosaic is thrilled to have a hand in shaping the realization of their fresh and galvanizing work.”

Max and Willy’s Last Laugh is being created by Jake Broder and Conor Duffy. Tony Award nominee Sheryl Kaller (Next FallMothers and Sons) will direct the workshop presentation, with music direction from Emmy and Grammy winner John McDaniel. Broadway stars Jason Graae (A Grand Night For SingingFalsettosStardust) and David Turner (Into the WoodsSunday in the Park with George) will star as central characters Max and Willy, supported by a six-member band that includes accordion, violin, banjo, and more. Performances will take place at the Edlavitch DC Jewish Cultural Center, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will participate in post-show conversations, signs of Mosaic’s deep commitment to creating community partnerships that bolster the artistic work.


Max and Willy’s Last Laugh
By Jake Broder and Conor Duffy
Directed by Tony Award Nominee Sheryl Kaller
Music Direction by Grammy And Emmy Award Winner John McDaniel
Post-show Conversations featuring Scholars from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Thursday and Friday, January 19 and 20, 2023, at 7PM
Cafritz Hall at the Edlavitch DCJCC
1529 16th Street NW, Washington, DC

High School Playwriting Contest Play Reading
Saturday, January 21, 2023, at 2PM
DC Public Library’s Petworth Neighborhood Library Branch
4200 Kansas Avenue NW, Washington, DC

The Invention of Seeds
By Annalisa Dias
Directed by Natsu Onoda Power
Saturday, January 21, 2023, at 7PM
Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H Street NE, Washington, DC

Artists-in-Conversation: Reflections on Craft and Creativity
Featuring local playwrights Allyson Currin, Tuyet Thi Pham, and Nikkole Salter
Sunday, January 22, 2023, at 3PM
Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H Street NE, Washington, DC

Between/Time: A Baltimore Cycle Play
By Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi
Directed by Danielle Drakes
Sunday, January 22, 2023, at 7PM
Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H Street NE, Washington, DC

When German cabaret stars Max Ehrlich and Willy Rosen arrived at the Westerbork Transit Camp in 1942, the star-struck commandant said, “A train leaves here for Auschwitz every Tuesday morning. If you do a cabaret performance on Monday nights, it will lift morale. And if you’re funny, you won’t have to get on the train!” So they were funny. For 18 months, they performed the funniest cabaret in Europe. This true story comes to life in Max & Willy’s Last Laugh, a new musical play based upon the actual comedy sketches, songs, and jokes that have been forgotten for over 70 years—until now.

Jessie and their dad David run a small family farm in rural Indiana. When a private investigator hired by the multinational seed corporation iGrow knocks on their door demanding information, Jessie and David know something can’t be right. The Invention of Seeds is a multidisciplinary performance work of puppetry, sculpture, and theater that follows the battle of small farmers against giant seed corporations over whether life itself is invent-able.

Between/Time: A Baltimore Cycle Play centers on an artist and a CEO in Baltimore as they fall in love while trying desperately to forget mistakes from their past. When the global pandemic struck, Rhonda found work drying up and her money running out, while her neighbor Alex tries to win her affection despite the fact they can only communicate via their windows. As the two begin to fall in love, their past may be the only thing that can tear them apart. Between/Time invites us to ponder the question, what is one’s responsibility in fixing a world that those who came before tried to break.

Jake Broder is currently an Atlantic Fellow at the Global Brain Health Institute (University of California San Francisco and Trinity College, Dublin), who commissioned his play UnRavelled. His play Our American Hamlet premiered at the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, and was nominated for best new play by the IRNE Awards (Independent Reviewers of New England). His musical, Miravel, won the LA Drama Critics Circle (LADCC) Award for best musical score. He co-wrote and originated the role of Louis in Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara, winning Ovation, LADCC, Garland, and LA Weekly awards for Best Actor and Best Musical. The production ran at the Geffen Playhouse, directed by Oscar winner Taylor Hackford. His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley played Off-West End (Soho Theatre), Off-Broadway (59e59), and in LA. Jake’s TV writing includes Typewriter Days (Revolution Studios) and Black Hole Sun (Echo Lake). He was also a fellow at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center under artistic director John McDaniel. As an actor, Jake recently shot The Patient with Steve Carell, was on The Morning Show on Apple TV+, and had a recurring role on HBO’s Silicon Valley. Broadway/West End credits include Mozart in Amadeus directed by Sir Peter Hall (Old Vic, Music Box, Ahmanson), When Harry Met Sally with Alyson Hannigan and Luke Perry (Theatre Royal Haymarket), and Ophelia and Juliet in the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works of Shakespeare (Criterion) in London. He played Ira Gershwin in Words By: Ira Gershwin (Colony Theatre) and Einstein in Einstein Comes Through (North Coast Rep), both directed by David Ellenstein. He received his BA from Tufts University and trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

Conor Duffy has been working as a professional actor, writer, and producer for the last 18 years. He has performed at theaters including the Northwest Asian American Theater, the Pasadena Playhouse, and the Broadwater Complex. Along with Jake Broder, he won the LA Weekly Award for Best Ensemble In A Play for the Pasadena Playhouse production of Stoneface: The Rise And Fall And Rise Of Buster Keaton. Recent television credits include Superstore (NBC), The Mick (FOX), and Good Girls (NBC). He was also seen playing opposite John Savage in the film From A Place Of Darkness. Recent writing/producing credits include both comedy and drama projects with TNT, Warner Brothers, and John Wells Productions.

Sheryl Kaller was nominated for a 2010 Tony Award as best director for Geoffrey Nauffts’ award-winning play, Next Fall. She has directed at many theaters, including the New Group, Primary Stages, Williamstown Theatre Festival, ACT Theatre, New York Stage and Film, the Geffen Playhouse, Philadelphia Theatre Company, American Music Theatre Project, York Theatre Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Rubicon Theatre Company, National Theater of the Deaf, and Naked Angels. She co-founded Two Island Productions (Artistic Director), a New York and Bermuda-based theater company devoted to developing and producing original plays, playwright retreats/workshops, screenplays, concerts, and youth arts and education programs. She has directed and developed a plethora of new plays and musicals with writers including Christopher Durang, Geoffrey Nauffts, Daniel Beaty, Regina Taylor, Dick Beebe, Nick Blaemire, and Alan Menken.

Conductor, composer, orchestrator, record producer, Grammy, and two-time Emmy Award-winner John McDaniel was seen leading the band daily on The Rosie O’Donnell Show for its entire six-year run. He wrote the theme song and received five Emmy nominations for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition. He first worked with Rosie 1994 when he conducted the Broadway revival of Grease, in which Rosie played Rizzo. He made his debut as a producer on Broadway with Brooklyn, the Musical in 2004. Most recently, John created new arrangements and orchestrations for a new production of Pirates which played at the Goodspeed Opera House and the Paper Mill Playhouse. He was the supervising Music Director of the Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun, starring Bernadette Peters (and subsequently Reba McEntire), which won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical and for which he received the Grammy Award as producer for Best Musical Show Album. He also was the supervising Music Director for Boy George’s Taboo on Broadway in 2003, and produced the cast album. He conducted the smash hit Chicago on Broadway, the 1993 reunion of the original Broadway cast of Company in concert at Lincoln Center, the US tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express, and Off-Broadway’s Blame It On the Movies. He also arranged the show Patti LuPone on Broadway. He arranged music for the Tony Awards on CBS in 1997, 1998, and 2000. His most recent arranging and conducting credits for television specials include A Rosie Christmas for ABC, starring Celine Dion and Marc Anthony, and the Friar’s Roasts of Jerry Stiller, Rob Reiner, Hugh Hefner, and Chevy Chase, all for Comedy Central. John produced and conducted The Maury Yeston Songbook for PS Classics, featuring Tony Award winners Betty Buckley, Sutton Foster, and Christine Ebersole, and has recorded three solo albums. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. McDaniel first studied piano with his mother, Jane, and earned a BFA degree in Drama from Carnegie Mellon.

Annalisa Dias (she/her) is a Goan-American transdisciplinary artist, community organizer, and award-winning theatermaker working at the intersection of racial justice and care for the earth. She is Director of Artistic Partnerships & Innovation at Baltimore Center Stage (BCS). Annalisa is also a co-founder of Groundwater Arts. Prior to joining BCS, Annalisa was a Producing Playwright and Acting Creative Producer with The Welders and a Co-Founder of the DC Coalition for Theatre & Social Justice. She has written the works 4380 Nights, the earth that is sufficient, One Word More, The Last Allegiance, A Legacy of Chains, Crooked Figure, Consider the Dust, Matanuska, Coal, and Servant of the Wind. Directing credits include Dust to dust to dust and Dressing Bobby Strong for the Source Festival, and The Salima Project (film). Annalisa’s work has been produced or developed by The Ringling, Groundwater Arts, The Welders, Theater Alliance, Signature Theatre, Arena Stage, the Phillips Collection, Gulfshore Playhouse, the Mead Theatre Lab, The Hub Theatre, Spooky Action Theater, Tron Theatre (Glasgow), and OverHere Theatre (London).

Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi is a Black  African, Cuban, indigenous, American trans performance artist, author, actress, educator, and speech writer. She won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Original Play or Musical Adaptation for Klytmnestra: An Epic Slam Poem, for which she was also nominated for Outstanding Lead Performer in a Play. Her choreography has been twice nominated for Helen Hayes Awards—Nina Simone, Four Women (Arena Stage) and Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea (Theater Alliance). Dane is co-editor of The Black Trans Prayer Book. She is the founder of The Inanna D Initiatives, which curates, produces, and cultivates events and initiatives designed to center and celebrate the work of transgender and gender non-conforming artists of color. She is the curator and a co-producer of Long Wharf Theatre’s Black Trans Women at the Center: An Evening of Short Plays. Writing credits include Refuge for Round House Theater’s web series Homebound, and Arena Stage’s short film The 51st State. Her radio play, Quest of The Reed Marsh Daughter, can be heard on the Girl Tales Podcast, and her play The Diaz Family Talent Show can be read on the Play at Home website.

Mosaic Theater aligns its safety protocols with those of the Atlas Performing Arts Center and Theatre Washington. Effective October 1, 2022, proof of vaccination is no longer needed to enter the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Masks are required in performance spaces and theaters, but masking in public areas such as lobbies is optional. For the latest information, visit For off-site events, defer to the safety protocols published by Mosaic’s venue partners.

Mosaic Theater Company of DC produces bold, culturally diverse theater that illuminates critical issues, elevates fresh voices, and sparks connection among communities throughout our region and beyond. Under the leadership of the newly appointed Artistic Director Reginald L. Douglas and Managing Director Serge Seiden, Mosaic produces plays that spark conversation and connections amongst the DC Metro area’s diverse communities and sees itself as a neighbor and partner with those communities. By sharing stories that both entertain and enlighten, Mosaic uses art to build empathy amongst diverse people united by the magic of theater and hopes to build community by reflecting the people and the many cultures that call DC home.


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