Today we are proud to announce that our 2018 mainstage production will be the world premiere of Folk Wandering, a new musical conceived by Jaclyn Backhaus (Men on Boats) and Andrew Neisler (Clown Bar), featuring a book and lyrics by Backhaus and music and additional lyrics by collaborating composers Blake Allen (Boston|Nebraska), Mike Brun (Music Director, Mr. Burns), Andrew R. Butler (Finn the Fearless), Joel Esher (PharmaBro: an American Douchical!), Alex Fast (The Drawer Boy), Jo Lampert (Joan of Arc: Into The Fire), Barrie McLain (you’ll still call me by name), Annie Tippe (Director, Ghost Quartet), and Dominique Toney (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”). Set to premiere in early 2018, Neisler will direct.

Tales from tenement Manhattan, the deserts of Utah, and small-town Indiana are spun together in this sweeping new folk musical. With a book by acclaimed playwright Jaclyn Backhaus and an expansive score collectively built by a group of burgeoning New York singer-songwriters, Folk Wandering is an exploration of the hopes and heartbreaks that weave through our American fabric, and of the untold past that propels us forward.

Backhaus began developing Folk Wandering with Neisler in 2010, alongside an ensemble of nine of New York’s most exciting emerging songwriters. Since then, workshops have been presented at Joe’s Pub, Ars Nova, Fresh Ground Pepper, and the Polyphone Festival in Philadelphia, culminating in the 2018 world premiere production with Pipeline.

A special sneak peek of Folk Wandering will be presented at our Gala on April 30, 2017 at (le) poisson rouge. Gala attendees will get an exclusive first look at never before seen performances from Folk Wandering and the chance to meet with the artists involved. Tickets to the event are available now and are limited. Snatch ’em up today!


Jaclyn-BackhausJACLYN BACKHAUS (Co-Conceiver, Book and Lyrics) is an Indian-American playwright and a creative director for Fresh Ground Pepper. Her play Men on Boats was a NYT Critics’ Pick for its productions in Clubbed Thumb’s Summerworks and Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons. It was named a Kilroys play in 2015 and received its Chicago premiere at ATC in early 2017. Other works include People Doing Math Live! (Under The Radar Festival’s INCOMING! Series at The Public Theater), The Incredible Fox Sisters (Live Source), and You on the Moors Now (Theater Reconstruction Ensemble, The Hypocrites in Chicago). She has received commissions from Playwrights Horizons, MTC, EST and Ars Nova and is the 2016 Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at Clubbed Thumb. Her work has been developed and showcased with the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Playwrights Horizons, The Public and Joe’s Pub, The Ice Factory Festival, (not just) 3 New Plays, The Civilians R&D Group, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Ars Nova’s ANTFest, and The Falcons. BFA: NYU. She hails from Phoenix, Arizona.

Andrew-Neisler-v2ANDREW NEISLER (Co-Conceiver, Director) is a Georgia-raised, Brooklyn-based theatre director and producer. He is a Creative Director at arts incubator Fresh Ground Pepper (, where he has curated and presented work from over a thousand New York City writers, directors, actors, dancers, musicians, and more. Select directing credits include Cesar Alvarez’s The Elementary Spacetime Show (FringeArts), NY Times’ Critics Pick The Rise and Fall of Marcus Monroe (Ars Nova/Williamstown Theatre Festival), Andrew Farmer’s critically acclaimed The Gray Man (Pipeline Theatre Company), NY Times’ Critics Pick Clown Bar (Pipeline/The Box), and Drama Desk nominated Charlatan (Ars Nova). Currently, he is under commission at Ars Nova developing Bull’s Hollow, a trilogy of theatre and music, with frequent collaborators Jaclyn Backhaus and Mike Brun; working with Cesar Alvarez on his new musical NOISE; and collaborating on a joyful jazz-theatre show with Sammy Miller and the Congregation as part of Ars Nova’s 2017 Makers’ Lab. He has developed new theatre with Naked Angels, Primary Stages, New York Theatre Workshop, Williamston Theatre Festival, The Lark, Ensemble Studio Theatre, NYU, University of the Arts, Playwrights Horizons, and more. He is a Teaching Artist at Playwrights Horizons Theatre School and an alumnus of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, the Civilians R&D Group, and Ars Nova’s Director Residency.

Blake-AllenBLAKE ALLEN (Collaborating Composer) is a composer and violist. Blake made his classical debut at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has had a solo show at 54 Below. Shows include Folk Wandering (SoHo Rep/Ars Nova/Joes Pub) shards, HOCKET, Boston|Nebraska. Other credits: Ring them Bells (Live from Lincoln Center/PBS), 2014 artist in residence at the Banff Centre, ...Very Marti Christmas (54 Below), Carnivorous (Magic Future Box) and five years under Rob Fisher. In development: To the Lighthouse, Marnie, 7 Swans.



Mike-BrunMIKE BRUN (Collaborating Composer). Theater credits include: Music Director/Onstage Musician for Mr. Burns (Playwrights Horizons, 2013); Orchestrator/Onstage Musician for Twelfth Night (Delacorte, 2016); Music Director/Arranger/Onstage Musician for Tumacho (Wild Project 2016); Co-Arranger/Onstage Musician for Old Hats (Signature, 2016; American Conservatory, 2014). Composer of Bull’s Hollow (in development as a commission for Ars Nova). 2014-15 Civilians Research & Development Group. 2014 Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project.



Andrew-ButlerANDREW R. BUTLER (Collaborating Composer) is a composer, writer and performer. With Andrew Farmer he has written Finn the Fearless (Theatre Aspen, Polyphone Festival), Blessing (PHTS commission), The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (TheatreWorksUSA commission), and American Cryptids (Civilians R&D); With Anna Kerrigan: The Dixon Family Album (Williamstown Theater Festival). Also, (Parkland/Weathers) (FGP). Founding member of experimental theater company harunalee; alumnus of Ars Nova’s Uncharted Group, FGP’s PlayGround PlayGroup, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Yale Institute for Music Theater, and NYU’s Experimental Theatre Wing.



JOEL ESHER (Collaborating Composer) is thrilled to be a part of the collaborative creative team on Folk Wandering. Off-Broadway: PharmaBro: an American Douchical! (music, additional lyrics; Players Theater, w/Lauren Gundrum). New York: Sammy Spider (music; Kauffman Concert Hall w/Rebecca Schoffer), Superhots! (Soundbites Festival w/Blair Bodine). Joel is a participant in the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, and is the music supervisor for the Story Pirates. Education: B.M. in Music Direction and Opera from Northwestern University, where he contributed music/lyrics annually to the Waa-Mu show.


Jo-LampertJO LAMPERT (Collaborating Composer) is a Brooklyn-based performer, producer, and DJ (going by the moniker: dj over easy). Selected NYC credits: Joan of Arc: Into the Fire (The Public Theater, directed by Alex Timbers, music by David Byrne); The Lucky Ones (upcoming 2018, directed by Anne Kauffman, music by The Bengsons); Hundred Days (Under the Radar Festival, directed by Anne Kauffman, music by The Bengsons, Jan 2017); Jo Lampert in the Lounge – a solo cabaret (Ars Nova); Rimbaud in NY (BAM, directed by Steve Cossons for the Civilians); New York Animals (Directed by Eric Tucker/Bedlam, new music by Burt Bacharach and Steven Sater); Iphigenia in Aulis (CSC, directed by Rachel Chavkin). In 2014, Jo toured the world with the band tUnE-yArDs. Civilians Associate Artist; BFA, NYU Tisch.

Barrie-McClainBARRIE McLAIN (Collaborating Composer). NYC-based performing artist and creator. 1/3 of the band Plastic Angel, currently recording with Brooklyn indie hip-hop producer Willie Green. Onstage: Siren in Kansas City Choir Boy starring Courtney Love and Todd Almond (Prototype NYC; A.R.T. Boston; C.T.G. LA; Arsht, Miami), backup singer for Julie Klausner Live (Joe’s Pub, The Bellhouse), choir leader/producer for Sherie Rene Scott’s All Will Be Well and Lovestream, vocalist for Sonya Tayeh and The Bengsons’ you’ll still call me by name (Judson Memorial Church, NYLA), featured soloist with Fresh Ground Pepper’s Camp Over There (Bonnaroo), chanteuse Lillian O’Malley in Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More. Recent performances at Lincoln Center, the Feminist Power Awards, La MaMa, Ars Nova. BFA NYU Tisch. #BLM.

Annie-TippeANNIE TIPPE (Collaborating Composer) is a director and creator of new work. Directing includes Dave Malloy’s Ghost Quartet (The Bushwick Starr, etc); Anne Washburn’s When the Tanks Break (Drama League); Washeteria (Soho Rep); Aaron/Marie (w/Rachel Chavkin, Incoming! @ Under the Radar); Far Away (Harvard University); Cowboy Bob (Ars Nova); I Heard Sex Noises (Ars Nova) and Blue Plate Special (ANT Fest). Creator/Director of web series BASIC WITCH. Performance includes Folk Wandering and I’m Miserable but Change Scares Me (New Saloon). Ars Nova’s 2016 Director-in-Residence, Drama League Fall Directing Fellow, WTF Directing Corps, New Georges Audrey Resident.


Dominique-ToneyDOMINIQUE TONEY (Collaborating Composer) is an actress, singer, & songwriter from Los Angeles. Her debut album “A Love Like Ours” was in the Top 10 selling soul albums on Amazon during its debut month. She has appeared on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (The CW) and “The Late Late Show with James Corden” (CBS) & can be found in various national commercials, including spots for McDonald’s, the NBA, Sony, Walmart, & Payless Shoes. Dominique is an avid dog lover, amateur gourmet chef, and proud NYU Alum.