September 12 – 22

Inspired by the Man Ray painting “Shakespearean Equation: Julius Caesar,” in the Phillips collection, Composer Andrew E. Simpson and Librettist Susan Galbraith have concocted a Dadaist fantastical story of a ‘Caesar,’ a character who is determined to cling to power at whatever cost and sings, “You can’t stick me in a closet; I will not stay there.”
This full live-plus-mixed-media work is expanded from a prescient 2020 opera film produced in response to COVID. In 2024 as we careen toward the November election the story is even more prescient and dangerously relevant today than it was four years ago.
In a fit of brilliance (or is it a dream?), Dadaist artist (Wo)Man-Ray reaches deep into his/her imagination to orchestrate the real-life meeting of two of his/her inspirations: an animate bust of Julius Caesar, and (Wo)Man’s sometime lover, the sexy model/mannequin Kiki. As the rapt creator loosens the strings of his/her living playthings, simmering conflicts escalate between political power and the power of art; between man, woman and (Wo)Man; between truth and history. Kiki vies for agency, (Wo)Man to create something permanent and true, and Caesar – full of dictatorial pretentions – to cling to power at all costs. Each wields violence, mockery, and subjugation against the others while the artist tries desperately to make sense of it all. Will this be the end of the Republic?
Ages 13+
Content Warnings: mild swearing, mild sexual content, mild violence, mild use of weapons


Andrew Earle Simpson, (Composer)

Andrew Earle Simpson is an acclaimed composer of opera, silent film, orchestral, chamber, choral, dance, and vocal music based in Washington, DC.  His musical works make multi-faceted, intimate connections with literature, visual art, and film, reflecting his own interest in linking music with the wider world, an approach which he calls “humanistic music.”

Andrew began his association with Alliance for New Music Theatre when the company was developing its original work based on Vaclav Havel’s letters to his wife Olga when the Czech activist was incarcerated as a political prisoner under the then Soviet controlled Czechoslovakia. Andrew led the instrumental Snark Ensemble and brought his collaborative skills to bear. As Music Director. It was a no brainer to commission this talented artist in again to “play nicely in the sandbox” and ask him to envision and compose a twenty-minute digital opera for the Short Gems series in honor of the Philips Collection’s Centennial as well as the museum’s recent acquisition of a Man Ray painting, and Andrew took turned around and invited writer Susan Galbraith to serve as his librettist. It was a ‘dadaist’ marriage made in heaven.

Andrew otherwise has a very busy schedule. His concert and theatrical works have been performed at such venues as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Music Center at Strathmore, National Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, Smithsonian Museums of American Art, American History and Freer-Sackler Gallery, Getty Museum, and many others.  He has collaborated with visual artists and digital animators in programs at the National Gallery of Art and other venues, including painting, films and animations by Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, René Clair, Sharon Louden, Micheline Klagsbrun, Jodie Mack, and many others.

Andrew is also one of America’s foremost silent film accompanists and has performed across the United States, Europe, and South America. He is Resident Film Accompanist at the National Gallery of Art and a resident accompanist at the Library of Congress’ Mt. Pony Theater in Culpeper, VA. He has performed silent film scores at the Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone, Italy, Lincoln Center in New York City, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, the Sala Cecelia Meireles in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Harvard Film Archive, UCLA Film and Television Archive, and numerous festivals.  Simpson also conceived and co-founded Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Sounds of Silence Film Series, for which he is curator and resident musician. Andrew Simpson’s chamber, vocal, choral, and silent film music has been recorded on multiple labels, and his more than fifty of his orchestral, silent film piano and chamber scores are also available.

Andrew Earle Simpson is a professor and director of the Master of Music, Stage Music Emphasis program at the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art of The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

Susan Galbraith, (Librettist and Director)

Born in Indonesia and raised abroad in European and Asian capitals, Susan was trained as both an actress and dancer in styles that include both western and far eastern performance. She has directed and performed in repertory theatre, new plays, and experimental cross-over forms of dance-theatre and worked with directors ranging from Peter Sellars, Emily Mann, Jim Nicola, Drury Pifer, Virginia Freeman, Mirenka Čechova, and Thomas W. Jones II to the Kabuki team of Leonard Pronko and Takao Tomono.

She has always taken risks and sought adventures, including collaborating with the artist Prince on songwriting, performance, and the first draft of his film Purple Rain.

In 1994, Susan received an invitation to participate in a Composer Librettist Studio being held in Washington DC and taking that opportunity changed her life. Shortly thereafter, she helped found the Alliance for New Music-Theatre.

In the company’s first few years, the members worked in a loose association, supporting works-in-development. Susan collaborated chiefly with composer Robert Johnson on Woman Changed Into a Fox, then a piece addressing global population explosion —Chinese Village – and, together with lead composer Ann Hoopes, on Waiting for Amelia about Amelia Earhart’s rise to fame.

Alliance for New Music-Theatre became a producing entity in 2012, when in her first year as Artistic Director she launched Radical Transformations, a series of four shows and community workshops to celebrate the diversity of music-theatre styles and cultures represented in the Greater Washington area. She wrote and directed Sandaya: Burmese Lessons with composer Kit Young as part of that series, produced at Atlas.

In 2013, Susan formed what would become a long-term partnership with the Embassy of the Czech Republic when she was invited to return to the stage to work with director Mirenka Čechova and performed in the much-acclaimed Unveiling by Václav Havel. She also devised and directed a companion piece about Havel entitled Vaněk Unleashed with composer Maurice Saylor. Both works were produced in the Washington area before traveling to the Czech Republic where they were enthusiastically received and where Susan was nominated for both best actress and best director/ at the Prague Fringe. Subsequently, Susan directed an adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis that incorporated animation and live cello onstage that was produced at Woolly Mammoth before touring.

Susan has since focused her writing and directorial efforts mostly on sharing processes of cross-cultural collaborations, helping bring to light little-known stories such as the history of Afghan women artists, or working with composer Rosino Serrano and  launching a children’s youth chorus in On the Road to Arivaca, an opera about unintended encounters on our southern border. Her love of artistic collaboration has found full expression in this team of The Man Ray Project.

John Boulanger

John Boulanger is a singer, actor, chorister, church musician, and voice-over artist in the DMV.

He has been a member of Alliance for New Music-Theatre since 2009, creating roles in the development of many of the company’s original works of opera and musicals, including A Woman Changed into a Fox, by composer Robert B. Johnson and librettist Susan Galbraith and their collaboration on Waiting for Amelia: A Story of Amelia Earhart with lead composer Ann Hoopes. He went deep underground at Dupont Underground to be featured in the filming of A Retro-futuristic Musical by composer Maurice Saylor in an adaptation of Karel Ċapek’s R.U.R.

John’s repertoire encompasses secular and sacred works for the stage, concert hall, and church, everything from Gregorian chant to 21st century music theatre works and operas, and just about everything in between. Whatever the genre, John believes communication is the goal, whether through the spoken or sung text or through various non-verbal means.

John has sung in the Washington National Opera Chorus since 1988, giving over than 400 performances of more than 45 different operas at the Kennedy Center Opera House, DAR Constitution Hall, and in Tokyo and Yokahama, Japan. With The Forgotten Opera Company, based in Montgomery Country, Maryland, he performed the title roles in Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Tartuffe by Kirke Mechem. In 2016 he took part in the world premiere of the opera Do Not Disturb, by Sean McArdle-Pflueger and Laura Fuentes. In music theatre, he has performed both the title role and Judge Turpin in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, and Fredrik, Carl-Magnus, and Frid in A Little Night Music.

As recitalist, he participated in the Washington premiere of Bernstein’s Arias and Barcarolles at the Supreme Court of the United States and has given performances of Schubert’s Winterreise. He has been soloist, cantor, and chorister at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, St. Matthew’s Cathedral, and St. John the Beloved (McLean), and a chorister at the National Cathedral.

Currently, John is devoting more time to self-producing several performing and writing projects of personal interest. Among other “irons in the fire,” he hopes to plan a series of recitals that will present all three of Franz Schubert’s song cycles: Die Schöne Müllerin, Winterreise, and Schwanengesang. John has also begun narrating audiobooks, and currently has 6 titles available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, with more in the works.


Danielle McKay, (The Mannequin)

Danielle McKay, a lyric coloratura from Buffalo, NY, is hailed as having “stunning high notes that resound and float delicately in her upper register” (D.C. Metro Theater Arts). Danielle enjoys singing music of many genres and feels at home on the opera, concert, and musical theater stage. A few of her favorite past roles include Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Laurie Moss in The Tender Land, Madame Pompous in Too Many Sopranos, Laurette in the English version of Bizet’s Le Docteur Miracle, two roles in Speed Dating Tonight!, and the Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel. Previous operatic appearances include recording the beloved duet between Violetta and Germont from La Traviat with Patrick Carfizzi, Adina in L’elisi d’amore, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Adele and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, and Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief. She is looking forward to singing with the Washington National Opera in the (R)evolution of Steve Jobs next year. In concert, Danielle has performed Górecki’s second movement of Symphony No. 3, the soprano solos in Brahms’ and Mozart’s Requiems, and Respighi’s Laud to the Nativity broadcasted on EWTN.

Previous musical theater roles include Jeanie in Hair, under the direction of André De Shields, and three seasons with Artpark & Company in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, All Shook Up, and Fame.

Danielle McKay holds a Doctor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from The Catholic University of America, where she studied under Sharon Christman. She teaches vocal technique and Duke Ellington School of the Arts, where Danielle conducted The Gondoliers this past year. Additionally, she serves as an adjunct voice professor at the Catholic University of America. Danielle also is a certified yoga instructor and teaches yoga at Georgetown Law. In her free time, she loves getting out in nature and spending time with her tuxedo cat, Ellington.

Excited and grateful, Danielle looks forward to contributing to bringing Caesar and the Mannequin to life at such a critical time in our history. She deeply thanks the rest of the cast, the production team, and the creators for the hard work and passion they’ve poured into this project.


Cara Schaefer, (Wo-Man Ray)

Cara Schaefer first came to the attention of Alliance for New Music-Theatre when she performed the title role in INSeries’ production of Le Cabaret de Carmen, an adaptation of Bizet’s opera, in a performance that was hailed as “sexy,” “transcendent” and “emotionally compelling as it was vocally fearless.”

In 2020, New Music-Theatre invited her to join the ensemble of Short Gems, the company’s digitally-produced series in celebration of The Phillips Collection’s Centennial anniversary in the role of Wo-man Ray in composer Andrew Simpson’s take on the artist Man Ray and his fascination with the would-be dictator Caesar.

Following DC’s lift from COVID, Cara joined as a full company member and splits her time between her artistic and administrative contributions with Alliance for New Music-Theatre and her in-demand administrative leadership as the Executive Director of the choral group Cantate, Inc., for which she appeared as a soloist in Cantate’s Mozart’s Requiem (2020) and Lord Nelson Mass (2022). Never to rest on her laurels, summers she co-leads Bel Canto in Tuscany, an opera training program for aspiring classical singers, in the heart of Italy’s most beautiful region.

As a performer, Cara Schaefer is recognized for “the kind of singing which is consummate in its power to communicate authentically” (DC Theater Arts). She has performed with Teatro Lirico, Opera NoVA, and Maryland Lyric Opera.

In April 2025, Cara will be a featured performer in the New Music-Theatre’s premiere of a work by composer Ronald “Trey” Walton III, DC Emancipation and The Right to Vote.

Ms. Schaefer is also a two-time winner of the Maryland/DC chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Auditions, a Grand Prize winner of the Sue Goetz Ross Memorial Competition, and a vocal teaching artist much in demand. She is also honored to have debuted the official Spanish-language translation of the Star-Spangled Banner for the National Museum of American History.

Calendar for Alliance for New Music-Theatre: The Man Ray Project: Caesar & The Mannequin