A Political Satire

Text by James Siena, Music by Conrad Cummings

The Cast of Photo-Op. ClintonBPhotography

UrbanArias presents Photo-Op, a 60-minute opera about the absurdity of modern presidential politics. All of the obligatory campaign events are included: stump speeches, rope lines, debates, sound bites, and, of course, photo-ops – but James Siena’s text reduces them to the absurd, taking familiar “politician-speak” and turning it on its head. Photo-Op is by the same composer as UrbanArias’ hit Positions 1956 – Cummings’ minimalist-influenced score is hard-hitting but harmonious. Photo-Op received a three week Off-Broadway run in the 90’s, and is as relevant in this election season as it was then. UrbanArias’ new production, directed by Alan Paul of The Shakespeare Theatre, and choreographed by Lucy Bowen McCauley, is a DC-area premiere.

If you liked Positions 1956, you will love Photo-Op – and if you enjoyed The Filthy Habit, Photo-Op is brought to you be the same director-choreographer-conductor team!

The Washington Post sure loved it! Click here to read the review.

Photo-Op is unamplified, and features an orchestra of four.

Watch a clip of our Sunday performance:


Laurie Williamson, soprano

and Michael Mayes, baritone


Kathryn Connors
Kathleen Gordon
Dustin Kimball
Robert Mintz
Ryan Sellers
Randy Snight
Joseph Thanner
Katherine Turner
Matthew Ward

Saturday, September 8 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, September 9 at 2 p.m.
Friday, September 14 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, September 15 at 8 p.m.

For tickets, click HERE

Or Call Artisphere’s Box Office at 888.841.2787

Only $22!

Director – Alan Paul
Choreographer – Lucy Bowen McCauley
Conductor – Robert Wood

Lighting Design – Andrew Griffin
Costume Design – Rhonda Key


Conrad Cummings PhotoA versatile composer on the faculty at The Juilliard School Evening Division, Conrad Cummings has received the following praise from the NYTimes: “Mr. Cummings is his own man;…[with an] impressive ability to change styles…while retaining a compositional image.” His works have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, and by the New Jersey, Indianapolis, and Louisville Orchestras. Commissions include Canadian Brass, Opera Delaware, and San Francisco Opera Center. Music for his ensemble of amplified instruments and voices appears frequently at alternative clubs and performance spaces, including by Avian Ensemble at New York’s (le) Poisson Rouge.

Currently in the works, The Golden Gate (“Intensity more often encountered in Stephen Sondheim’s musicals than in the opera house.” – Steve Smith, The New York Times) with libretto adapted from Vikram Seth’s novel in verse, received a staged workshop at Lincoln Center’s Rose Studio in January 2010 produced by American Opera Projects and LivelyWorks. It was recently named one of the best operas of the twenty-first century by Opera News.

Prior operas include Eros and Psyche, libretto by the composer, Oberlin Opera Theater (“I can’t think of anybody else who’s doing what he’s doing right now.” the New Yorker’s Andrew Porter); Photo-Op, libretto by James Siena, La Mama with Ridge Theater (“The music is hard-hitting in its clarity,” Kyle Gann, the Village Voice); and Tonkin, libretto by the composer with Thomas Bird, Opera Delaware (“Mr. Cummings samples musical history for techniques and sonorities the way rappers sample pop rhythms.” James R. Oestreich, The New York Times).

Cummings trained at Yale, Stony Brook, and Columbia and did post-doc work at IRCAM in Paris. Prior to teaching composition in the Evening Division at The Juilliard School he served on the faculty of Oberlin Conservatory where he directed the music and media program. Recordings are available on CRI’s Emergency Music label; honors include MacDowell, Djerassi and Tanglewood fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Opera America, and The Rockefeller Foundation. For more information:

Laurie WilliamsonSoprano Laurie Williamson has received critical acclaim, both nationally and internationally, as a Principal Soloist in “Andrew Lloyd-Webber – Music of the Night”, and “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber in Concert.” She performed on Broadway in South Pacific, Ragtime and King David; played the role of Chanteuse in Singin’ in the Rain; and toured nationally as the Confidante in Phantom of the Opera, the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Café O’Lay in Duke Ellington’s Queenie Pie. Some of Ms. Williamson’s regional credits include On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, St. Louis Woman, Wonderful Town, Beehive, Showboat, and Carmen Jones. As a soloist, Ms. Williamson has performed with The New York City Opera, The Little Orchestra Society, The Four Divas, and City Center Encores Concerts. She is featured on the recordings, “The Best of Broadway”, and Dodie Petit’s “Voices of Broadway, songs of Conscience and Hope”. Television credits include Meet the Browns on WTBS, Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime, PBS’ Great Performances, Rosie O’Donnell, and The Today Show.

baritone Michael MayesBaritone Michael Mayes‘ engagements this season included Escamillo in Carmen with Kentucky Opera, Danilo in Merry Widow with Shreveport Opera, Kinesias in Lysistrata with Fort Worth Opera, and debuts with Nashville Opera as Silvio in Pagliacci and Tulsa Opera with the role debut of Joseph De Rocher in Dead Man Walking. Last season’s appearances included Valentin in Faust with Opera Birmingham, Marcello in La bohème with Eugene Opera and Des Moines Metro Opera, Silvio in Pagliacci with Kentucky Opera, the title role in Don Giovanni with Shreveport Opera, and Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with Michigan Opera Theater. Other career highlights include his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 2010, and the role of Edward Gaines in Richard Danielpour’s Margaret Garner which he performed opposite Denyce Graves in the title role at The Opera Company of Philadelphia and Opera Carolina to critical acclaim.

Alan Paul PhotoAlan Paul is the Associate Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. At STC he has directed The Boys From Syracuse, the Free-for-All production of Twelfth Night, and numerous galas and special events. At STC he has also assistant-directed 13 shows for Michael Kahn, David Muse, Rebecca Taichman, Gale Edwards, Mary Zimmerman, Jonathan Munby, and Maria Aitken. Other directing credits include I Am My Own Wife at Signature Theatre, Man of La Mancha at Catholic University, numerous productions for the Source Festival, and regional productions of Richard II and Six Degrees of Separation. He has directed readings for Arena Stage, The Studio Theatre, The Phillips Collection, Georgetown University, The Goethe Institut, and The National Academy of Sciences. Alan has also worked as a musical director and conductor at many Chicago theatres. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.

Lucy Bowen-McCauley PhotoLucy Bowen McCauley is the artistic director, choreographer and creative energy behind Bowen McCauley Dance. Her enduring love for dance moved her to form the company in 1996. Since founding BMD, she has created over 70 works ranging from lyrical ballets to highly physical contemporary pieces set to rock music. Her repertoire offers an unconventional array of genres; her choreography demonstrates a fluent outpouring of dance blending balletic lines, quirky gestures and modern dance’s earthiness that uniquely explores the interplay between music, dance and drama. Washingtonian Magazine named her among those “who have helped transform Washington into one of the nation’s liveliest centers in performing arts.” A dancer since childhood, McCauley’s early training at the Jordan School of Music & Dance in Indianapolis, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Traverse City, Michigan, provided her with a profound appreciation for both music and musicians that is so striking in her work. At age 18, she was offered a scholarship to the Joffrey School in New York City where she performed with the Joffrey Concert Group. She also danced with the Maryland Ballet, the Virginia State Ballet, DC Contemporary Dance Theatre and Daniel West Dancers. She was a founding member of Eric Hampton Dance.

Throughout her career, Lucy has received numerous awards and recognition for her excellence in dance. In 2011, Lucy was selected as a national leader by Dance/USA for their inaugural mentorship program. She was also recognized as an innovator by the Genetic Alliance for BMD’s local Dance for PD program, and was also appointed to the Arlington Commission for Economic Development. In October 2010 McCauley received the prestigious lifetime award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance Education at the 10th Annual Metro DC Dance Awards in Washington, DC. McCauley has received the Alumni Path of Inspiration Award from the Interlochen Center for the Arts and the STAR Award for Artistic Excellence from the Arlington Commission for the Arts. She is a recipient of the Elizabeth Campbell Award for the Advancement of the Arts in Arlington from the American Association of University Women. She is a 2008 graduate of Leadership Arlington. McCauley received the 2009 James B. Hunter III Arlington Community Hero Award, which recognizes people who make an ongoing difference in the Arlington community. Also in 2009, BMD was awarded the prestigious “Nonprofit of the Year” ABBIE Award from the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. Over the years McCauley has taught at The George Washington University, The Washington Ballet and has been a guest teacher at ABT, the Orlando Ballet, The Kennedy Center, Georgetown University and the Escuela Superior de Música y Danza in Monterrey, Mexico. She is currently on the faculty at the Maryland Youth Ballet and Studio Body Logic. She has pioneered a unique stretch technique, Bowen McCauley Stretch, which has been featured in USA Today, Dance Teacher, and The Washington Post.

Kathryn ConnorsKathryn Connors is a company member with Synetic Theater and has performed as Native Sniper in Home of the Soldier and the Orphan in The Magic Paintbrush (2011 DCTS Audience Choice Awards Nomination). Her additional theater credits include Charlotte/Old Sally in the Heritage Theatre Festival’s Oliver! and Blamer in the 2010 Splashlife launch. Selected TV/film credits include Stolen Voices, Buried Secrets, Senior Cut Day The Movie, and Swedish Auto (January Jones stand-in). Currently, Kathryn is understudying Synetic Theater’s Jekyll and Hyde and preparing to film an independent feature. Kathryn holds a BA from the University of Virginia and a Postgraduate Diploma from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Kathy GordonAfter completing her professional dance training in London, England, Kathy Gordon has performed around the world including at The London Palladium Theater, Disney Land Resort Paris, Pheonix Reisen Cruise Ships, The Palace Theater, Temple Theater, UK & US Tours for Spirit of the Dance, UK Tour for LSC Jazz company and also as a backing dancer for many UK music artists including Geri Halliwell of The SPICE GIRLS. Since moving to DC Kathy has performed with many companies including: MICH-MASH PRODUCTIONS, Synetic Theater and Contradiction Dance.

Dustin KimballHaving been raised in a mobile Army family, Dustin Kimball discovered his love for performing arts late in his college education, leading him to pursue dance extensively. Mr. Kimball is currently a member of Bowen McCauley Dance Company in Arlington VA and has been performing throughout the DC Metro area since 2006. The dance role of “Smokey” in The Filthy Habit was Mr. Kimball’s first production with UrbanArias.

Robert MintzRobert Mintz is returning to Washington after performing in and around New York City. He was last seen locally at The Kennedy Center in Girl Crazy, Bye Bye, Birdie, and Sideshow. As Bill in Kiss Me, Kate with The Washington Savoyards, Robert’s dancing garnered rave reviews. He has also performed locally at Signature Theatre, Adventure Theatre, and Toby’s Dinner Theatre. Regionally, Robert has appeared at the Fulton Theatre and The Gateway Playhouse. This fall he will be seen at Arena Stage in My Fair Lady. Robert holds a Bachelors of Music from The Catholic University of America.

Ryan SellersRyan Sellers is a Senior Company Member at Synetic Theater and has performed in several shows there, including The Taming of the Shrew (Petruchio), and has won two Helen Hayes Awards for best ensemble with Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He just completed Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at Studio Theater and will be seen next in You Can’t Get a Decent Margarita at the North Pole with Grain of Sand Theater.

Randy SnightRandy Snight holds a BA in Theatre Performance and a BA in Dance Performance from Winthrop University. Recently he performed as an Aerialist with Force/Collision in The Nautical Yards and with Tattooed Potato in the DC premiere of The Nightmare Dreamer. He has also been in the Ensemble of The Rough Faced Girl and The Magic Paintbrush at Synetic Family Theatre, and selected performances of Synetic’s Taming of the Shrew as the Widow. Randy is a Synetic Associate Member: Active 2011-2013. His work as IQ in Hairspray at Toby’s Dinner Theatre earned him a Helen Hayes nomination for Best Ensemble.

Joseph ThannerJoseph Thanner currently lives in New York City, has studied at the London Dramatic Academy and is a graduate of The Catholic University of America where he appeared in such shows as Candide, Jacques Brel, Jesus Christ Superstar, Honk!, and Grand Hotel. His local credits include 1776 at Olney Theatre, The Producers, Titanic, Joseph, and A Chrismas Carol at Toby’s Dinner Theatre, Nest (understudy) at Signature Theatre, as well as Reefer Madness at Studio Theatre.

Katherine TurnerKatherine Renee Turner, born and raised in the DC metropolitan area, has returned to start her career as a theater and film artist. This past may she graduated from Ithaca College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting—and while there she was fortunate enough to perform in and direct various theater and film projects. Photo-Op is her debut performance with UrbanArias and in the DC, MD, VA theater scene.

Matthew WardMatthew Ward is a graduate of Millsaps College and a native of Memphis, TN. He has made the stages of the DC area his home for several years now and could most recently be seen in Grain of Sands Theater’s Raising Cane. He is also a senior company member at Synetic Theater where his credits include shows such as Genesis: Reboot and Home of the Soldier as well as the Helen Hayes Award winning ensembles of King Lear, Othello, and the first recipient of a Helen Hayes Award for a play for family audiences, The Fisherman and the Golden Fish.