Allison Janney, Micah Stock team up with Muse Machine for virtual series

The coronavirus pandemic sidelined the Muse Machine’s annual student musical but the arts education organization is excited to engage the community this season with a new programming series entitled “Inside the Muse Studio.”

Four conversations between diverse artists with ties to Muse will allow audiences an intimate perspective on life in the performing arts. The interviews, which are taped, will be followed by a live talkback discussion.

“Because performing is one part of a bigger picture for Muse, we’ve had opportunities to continue great projects that, thankfully, are very much Muse,” said Douglas Merk, Muse Director of Student Programs and Marketing. “With no safe way for Muse to return to the actual stage this season, this will bring something fantastic to people four times throughout the year while raising funds for student arts programs, which feels like a win-win.”

Merk, a member of the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame who produced last season’s outstanding Muse production of “In the Heights,” says the opportunity to reconnect artists within the Muse orbit has primarily fueled this project.

“As the world pivoted to do more and more things virtually, we had a moment to observe what was being attempted by creative groups around the world, what seemed to work well and what was a perfect fit for Muse,” he said. “With a wealth of artists to consider, we found inspired pairings, usually between longtime friends which would spark relaxed and funny conversations. It creates a ‘fly on the wall’ moment for viewers, to listen into conversations from stars of film, TV, stage and the creative arts in an incredibly engaging way.”

Presented in four episodes, the series features:

Episode 1 – Micah Stock and Rodney Veal

Tentatively scheduled for November 2020

Stock, a Dayton native, received a Tony Award nomination as Gus P. Head in the starry 2014 production of “It’s Only a Play.” He also appeared on Broadway in the 2016 revival of “The Front Page.” His film and TV credits include “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” “Bonding,” “Escape at Dannemora,” and “The Right Stuff.” He also appeared in the Muse productions of “On the Town,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Rodney Veal, host of “The Art Show” on ThinkTV, is an interdisciplinary artist, dancer, choreographer, and adjunct faculty member. Veal will chat with Stock about “his path from Oakwood to Broadway, Hollywood and outer space.”

Credit: Scott Varley

Credit: Scott Varley

Episode 2 – Allison Janney and Tory Ross Roman

Tentatively scheduled for January 2021

Janney, a Dayton native, is one of the most widely respected actresses of stage and screen. She is the recipient of an Academy Award (“I, Tonya”), seven Primetime Emmy Awards (“The West Wing,” “Mom,” “Masters of Sex”) and two Tony nominations (“A View From the Bridge,” “9 to 5”). She also contributed voice performances to two Muse musicals, particularly The Giant in “Into the Woods.” Roman has appeared on Broadway in “9 to 5”, “Kinky Boots” and “Cry Baby” as well as both the national tour and film version of “The Producers.” She is also a voiceover artist and provides professional instruction to performers. Her Muse production credits include “The Wizard of Oz” and “Mame.” Janney and Roman are expected to discuss their friendship and career paths.

Episode 3 – Curtiss Cook and Rufus Bonds Jr.

Tentatively scheduled for March 2021

An early Muse alum, Cook, a Dayton native, currently portrays the menacing Otis “Douda” Perry on the Showtime drama “The Chi.” He will also appear in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “West Side Story,” expected to be released next year. His film and TV credits include “Shutter Island,” The Interpreter," “Mayans M.C.,” “Luke Cage,” and “House of Cards.” His Broadway credits include “The Lion King” and “Miss Saigon.” Bonds, an actor/director/writer, has appeared in Broadway, national tour and international productions of “The Lion King,” “The Color Purple,” “Rent,” “Parade,” and “Porgy and Bess” among others. He also directed the Muse productions of “Into the Woods” and “Mamma Mia!” and teaches drama at Syracuse University. Longtime friends Cook and Bonds will “explore creative ideas and discuss their performing journeys.”

Episode 4 – Suzy Bassani and David Sherman

Tentatively scheduled for May 2021

Bassani, creator of Human Race Theatre Company and Muse Machine, will be in conversation with Muse alum Sherman, a filmmaker and five-time regional Emmy Award winner. Sherman notably appeared as Nathan Detroit in the Muse production of “Guys and Dolls.”

Prior to each episode, Muse will send out the confirmation date and time to subscribers. A donation of $200 or more includes all four episodes and talkbacks. The funds will go toward new creative programs for young people and their teachers in the classroom or at home. For more information or to subscribe, visit

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