Cheshire Community Theater

Curtain Up, Light the Lights!

Lost In Yonkers

April 25, 26 & 27,  2014


Jay……………………………Thomas Mueller                                             Arty……………………………………Emily Daly

Eddie…………………………Frank DiCaro                                                Bella …………………………………Maria Berté

Grandma Kurnitz ………Joan Barere                                                 Louie…………………………………Buck Biestek

Gert …………………………Felicia Zaffin                                                Female Understudy……………Denise Bigler


Director …………………Joanne Palmieri                                              Director………………………………Michelle Noel

                                                    Stage Manager……………Allison Koppel     


Joan Barere is delighted to be making her debut with CCT as Grandma Kurnitz.  This is not her first time playing a grandmother—she portrayed Ida Kantor, or Bubbie, in Crossing Delancey for the Darien Arts Center.  Other roles include: Marjorie Taub, the allergist’s wife, in The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife and the Peasant Woman in Incorruptible (Eastbound Theatre, Milford), Juanita in Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (Darien Arts Center), and Daisy Stanley in The Man Who Came to Dinner (Curtain Call, Stamford).   She was also a member of the ensemble that performed The Laramie Project/The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later for Bridgeport Theatre Company in 2012, a life-changing experience. A trained audiobook narrator, Joan is most proud of her solo performance of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, for the New York Studio of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.  Joan has studied for over ten years with the legendary Doug Taylor, whose lifetime body of work will be celebrated at Connecticut’s Crystal Theatre on April 27, 2014—she dedicates her performance on the CCT stage in his honor.  


Maria Berté (Bella) is excited to be back on stage again in CCT’s production of Lost In Yonkers. She has appeared in the East Haven Arts Commission’s production of The Father of the Bride as Delilah. She has also directed Little Women the Musical for Cheshire Community Theater.  Maria has appeared in many CCT productions as a cast member. She played Officer Welch in Rumors, an Apostle Woman and Soul Dancer in Jesus Christ Superstar, Joy (stepsister) in Cinderella, Miss Bellamy in Father of the Bride, a Hot Box Dancer in Guys and Dolls, Grace Miller in Requiem for a Heavyweight, and Miss Amory in Black Coffe;, was a Principal singer in A Grand Night for Singing, and most recently portrayed Mrs. Beaver in Narnia the Musical. Maria also served as Assistant Stage Manager for The Odd Couple (The Female Version). Maria has also appeared on stage at the Ivoryton Playhouse as a Royal Wife in The King and I. She was cast as Mrs. Peacock in Clue with Masterminds Productions and appeared as Sophie Seward in Dracula, the Musical? with Comedy 101. Maria is also a member of the Second Company Governor’s Footguard Band as a Corporal. By day, she is an Instrumental Music Teacher at East Haven Academy. Whether she is on stage or behind the scenes, Maria’s love of theatre shines through in everything she does!


Buck Biestek (Louie) graduated from Southern Connecticut State University in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics. Soon after graduating, he joined the family Bail Bond business and never looked back. Buck authored his first book, Bail Guy Prose and Convicts, in 2013. He just completed his second book, Scatterbrain Gumbo, in early 2014. Buck is currently marketing his first two screenplays: Just Presence and River Magic. He is in the final stages of his third feature movie called The Missing Link. He also co-wrote and co-starred in a “short” movie called Interview with a Serial Killer, which will be making the rounds at the Independent Film Festivals. He is currently creating and developing a new Traveling Game Show called “Bull's-eye”. This is Buck’s first crack at stage acting and he is excited and appreciative of the opportunity to work with such a fine cast and production team. Buck resides in Connecticut with his wife, Lori, and their three children, William, Alexander, and Alyssa.


Dee Biggs (Female Understudy) is excited to make her debut into the theater world and is extremely grateful to CCT for offering her the opportunity to learn.  She has lived in Cheshire for 26 years with her husband and three children and is employed by Northeast Utilities as a software developer.  Dee’s hobbies include bicycling, playing ice hockey and gardening.  She would like to thank her wonderful family and especially her loving husband for all their love and support!




Emily Daly (Arty) is a sixth-grader at Doolittle School in Cheshire. Her stage experience includes the part of the Leopard as well as the understudy for Susan in Narnia, the Musical in September 2013 for Cheshire Community Theater. She also played Brigitta in the Summer 2012 CCT production of The Sound of Music and has been involved in the AGP Performing Arts Academy since the fourth grade.  She has filled various roles in The Nutcracker through Cheshire Dance Centre, her favorite part being a Party Girl. Emily's other interests are swimming with the Cheshire Sea Dogs Swim Club, playing basketball with Cheshire Parks and Rec, skiing(with Dad), singing in the Doolittle chorus, and playing the flute and piano, as well as reading everything she can get her hands on. She has very much enjoyed her role as Arty, which is her first non-singing role. "Thanks to all of my classmates and friends for their support, Mom and Dad who drove me to rehearsals, my whole family for their encouragement, all the cast and crew, and to everyone who has ever directed me and made me a better actress!"JJ


Frank DiCaro, Jr. (Eddie) makes his CCT debut and is honored to have been cast as Eddie in Neil Simon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Lost In Yonkers. He is currently employed with LATICRETE International Inc. located in Bethany, CT. Past acting classes/training (in his younger years) was in N.Y. City at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, The Lee Strasberg Theater Institute, (Hope Arthur) and The H.B. Studios (Edward Moorehouse). Past productions include The House of Ramon Iglesias (Julio) at the Theater of the America’s in New Haven, Glengarry Glen Ross (Dave Moss) at the Puppet House Theater in Branford, Arsenic and Old Lace (Officer Brophy) with Fairfield Community Theater, and The Odd Couple (Murray) at Polka Dot Playhouse in Bridgeport, CT. “It’s been a long stretch and  I would like to thank my family, Maria, Ashley and Brandon,  for dealing with all the times I was away at rehearsals.  Thank you for your patience. I hope everyone enjoys the show, and thank you all for coming!”


Thomas Mueller (Jay) is an 8th grader at Dodd Middle School and is very excited to play this role in his first non-musical production.  Previous performances include Seussical (Horton) and Willy Wonka with Cheshire Youth Theater, and The Sound of Music  (Kurt)with  Cheshire Community Theater. Thomas just finished Little Mermaid, Jr. ( Sebastian ) with Dodd Middle School, and is thrilled to be a part of this talented Lost In Yonkers cast.




Felicia Zaffin (Gert) is a newcomer to the stage and delighted to be a part of the cast of Lost In Yonkers.  Felicia is currently a nurse of elementary school children.  She also has a background in interior design, having received her education from Paier College of Art.  She would like to thank the talented cast and the directors who have made her first acting experience an unforgettably happy one.  She lives in Branford with her husband of 33 years, Neil.  Felicia would like to dedicate her performance to Neil and thank him for his time working on the set, and his patience and support during the long weeks of rehearsals.




Joanne Palmieri (Director) has enjoyed immensely working with this amazing cast and her co-director to bring this production to life. She was last on stage in The Mousetrap as Mrs. Boyle. She has also been Assistant Director for Little Women the Musical and Narnia, the Musical and Director for A Grand Night For Singing with Cheshire Community Theater.  Joanne has appeared in several CCT productions including the Ensemble of Jesus Christ Superstar, Mrs. Hutchinson in Night of January 16th, Mickey the Cop in The Odd Couple (Female Version), General Matilda in Guys and Dolls, Golda in Requiem for a Heavyweight, and Mrs. Drudge in The Real Inspector Hound. Joanne is the School Nurse at North Branford High School. She lives in North Branford with her husband of 38 years, Arnie.



Michelle Noel (Director) would like to thank the fabulous cast and her co-director, Joanne, for making her directorial debut such a pleasure. Past CCT credits include The Sound of Music (Mother Abbess), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Stepmother), Guys and Dolls (Miss Adelaide), Jekyll & Hyde, the Musical (Nellie) and Dearly Departed (Raynelle). Michelle has also performed in productions by Manchester Musical Players, Podium Players, Seven Angels Theater, Thomaston Opera House, Southington Community Theater and Connecticut Cabaret Theater. She thanks her husband, Phil, for letting her go out “to play” so many evenings without a complaint.




Allison Koppel (Stage Manager) has been a performer since the age of three.  She is an accomplished actor (Steel Magnolias, Narnia), vocalist (Camelot, Godspell), dancer (Grand Night for Singing, Jesus Christ Superstar), choreographer (Broadway DANCE!!), runway model (BluFish Activewear), print model (Moms Who Kick), voice over artist (WRTI, WRCH, WTIC commercials), director (Lend Me a Tenor) and will soon be gracing the cover of a novel (title to be determined later but due in 2015!).  She has a passion for the Arts and loves being involved with various theater projects.  Currently she is the President of Cheshire Community Theater where she has also served as Executive Producer of three shows.  In her spare time (!) Allison is the High School Community Rep for Lincoln Technical Institute for Southern Connecticut, and she is also a Certified Group Exercise Instructor with the Greater Waterbury YMCA, where she conceived the class “Ballet Body Sculpt”, currently exclusive to that campus.  She is also the proud mom to her son Josh, who is also earning a name for himself on various stages throughout Connecticut!