magis logoWHO WE ARE

George headshot GEORGE DRANCE has performed and directed in over twenty countries on five continents. New York credits include The Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival, The Metropolitan Opera, La MaMa’s resident company the Great Jones Rep and Ralph Lee’s Mettawee River Theatre Company. With La MaMa, he has toured throughout Europe and Asia, working on several of Ellen Stewart’s original pieces and performing in the Andrei Serban/Elizabeth Swados’ epic Fragments of a Greek Trilogy. Regional credits include The American Repertory Theatre, The New Rep, ImprovBoston, and The Stonington Opera House. He earned his BA from Marquette University and his MFA from Columbia. He has been a guest artist and lecturer at Columbia University, Cornell University, Loyola University Chicago (Teilhard de Chardin Fellow, Marquette University, Marymount Manhattan College, Hebrew Union College, and Boston College. He has been on the faculty of the Marist International Center in Nairobi, Kenya, at Red Cloud High School on the Oglala Sioux Reservation. Film credits include Solidarity and The Light of Eons. Television credits include Oleg the Russian spy on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah." He currently serves as Artist-in-residence at Fordham University Lincoln Center.
margi headshot MARGI SHARP has performed as a singer and actor in Off-Off Broadway venues such as HERE, PS 122, and the Connelly Theater and regionally at the Orlando UCF Shakespeare Festival and at the Opera House Arts in Stonington, Maine. Favorite roles include Hermione in A Winters Tale, Kate in Taming of the Shrew and Madeline in a new play Freudian Slips. She has worked on plays with director and puppet master Ralph Lee, regional directors Dennis Delaney and Russell Treyz, and internationally acclaimed director Andrei Serban. Margi received her BA from Duke University in Drama and English as well as a Certificate of the Arts for her work in dance and theater. She also holds an MFA from Columbia University in Acting. She is a co-founder and the Producing Director of Magis Theatre Company, which had their Off Broadway debut last year with an adaptation of C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce. She is also a member of Crossing Jamaica Avenue theater company and has performed numerous roles with them such as Edna in Chiori Miyagawa's Awakening, and most recently the Contemporary Woman in Thousand Years Waiting. Certified Alexander practitioner, member ATI, certified Pilates Istructor, owner of The Pilates Garage.
Erika headshot ERIKA IVERSON was last seen with the Magis Theatre Company as Cecilia in Frances Burney's The Witlings. She has been featured in Magis productions and co-productions as Perdita in The Winter's Tale, Fruttarola in Caravaggio Chiaroscuro, and as Pam/Artist Ghost/Bright Spirit in last year’s world premiere of The Great Divorce. Other favorite roles include Elena in Haircut and The Pupil in Ionesco's The Lesson with George Drance, which won first place at the Piatra Neamt Teatrul Tineretului International Theatre Festival in Romania after a successful run at La MaMa E.T.C.. Her solo performance work with the Cosmic Joke Collective has been seen at the Knitting Factory and the Cornelia Street Cafe. Erika is a founding member of Magis and serves as the Director of Development in addition to her role as an actor/trainer.Certified Alexander practitioner.
Leslie headshot LESLIE MALAIKA LEWIS has been a performer all her life, since her debut on Sesame Street when she was 6 years old. Her multi-character solo show, “Miracle in Rwanda”, tells the inspirational story of Immaculée Ilibagiza. Since its world premiere in 2007, Leslie has performed it over 190 times on five continents. She co-stars in the film With Child, recently available for streaming on iTunes. Leslie is a Harvard graduate and has her MFA from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. ing
Joe headshot JOSEPH MCGRANAGHANNYC credits include roles with SITI Company, Mabou Mines, Hudson Warehouse, Storm Theatre and Workshop Theatre Company. Regionally: Centerstage, Centenary Stage Company, Lantern Theatre, Clarence Brown Theatre, Asolo Rep, Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre and Pittsburgh City Theatre, among others. Film and TV: "The Lucky 6" and "Hack My Life".
Rachel headshot RACHEL BENBOW MURDYis an actor/ singer based in NYC. Performer/co-writer in “The Millay Sisters Cabaret” at Stonington Opera House, Don’t Tell Mama, Abingdon Theater. Co-writer/performer “Hamlet Cabaret” Joe’s Pub, Don’t Tell Mama. Recently appeared as “The Evil Apothecary” in "Romeo and Juliet and Zombies" at the New Ohio Theatre. Co-creator/performer Connie’s Avant Garde Restaurant. She has performed at Bushwick Starr, Joe’s Pub, Cleveland Public Theater. Rachel is a co-creator with Diane Paulus’s Company: Project 400 Theater Group “The Donkey Show.”
Gabriel headshot GABRIEL PORTUONDO is a native of Brentwood, Long Island, a graduate of Bucknell University and has an MFA in Acting from Columbia University. A founding member of Magis, Gabriel is also a company trainer. He tours his on- man show," The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and "Urban Aura" an original work. Recent credits include: Angelo in Measure for Measure with Shakespeare & Co, Laertes in Hamlet with American Globe Theatre and Edmund in King Lear with the Classical Theatre of Harlem. Recent Film & TV Credits include: American Bomber (Sundance Film Festival 2011), 12 Corazones on Telemundo and Baggage on GSN. Gabriel has also directed the film shorts: The Dark Elf, The Man by the Sea, Tea Time and
Wine & Happiness. Other credits include: Oberon, in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Horatio, in Hamlet with the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey. Count Orsino, in Twelfth Night with Manhattan Repertory Theater. Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard III and Macbeth with The Inwood Shakespeare Festival Javier, in When Santo Domingo Isn’t Enough, which won best play in 2006 at the Cherry Lane Theater during the Downtown Urban Theater Festival. Andres, in Breaking Walls, also at the Cherry Lane Theater.National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer, fitness instructor at CKO Kickboxing
Dennis headshot DENNIS VARGAS is a graduate of the Fordham University Theatre Program. After receiving his BA he studied with a full scholarship at the Corner Loft Studios founded by Jose Ferrer, Otto Preminger and Elaine Gold and trained with there with instructors such as Mark Lenard and Sybil Lines. He has worked with several theatre companies with performances at the Nuyorican Poets Café, LATEA Theater and Around The Block Theater Company to name a few. As a company member of Repertorio Español, Dennis has appeared in their NYC productions and tours of “Wild In Wichita/ Locuras En Wichita” as well as “Boxcar/ Vagón”. In recent years he has worked with Inwood Shakepeare Festival and Theatre 2020 in their summer productions of The Tempest as Sebastian and The Merry Wives of Windsor as Dr. Caius. Other favorite Shakespeare plays he was performed in is Macbeth at HERE Theater and Twelfth Night in the role of Antonio, directed by Damon Kiely. Dennis performed with UP Theater Company in the critically acclaimed play “Ashe” by award-winning playwright Ricardo Perez Gonzalez. Television work includes 2 of the “Law & Order” franchises, as well as soap operas. A short film Dennis did entitled “La Casita” appeared on PBS in their Reel 13 short film series. His work as a voiceover artist in English/Spanish include one project with Sesame Street for a special DVD project entitled “Talk, Listen, Connect. Dennis is a member of AEA, SAG/ AFTRA.
Associate Members
Wendy headshot WENDY MAPES* New York Stage credits include Twinkle, Twinkle, Desdeomona: A Play About a Handkerchief, The Parables of Chang Chou, Animal Farm, Murder, The Comedy of Errors, Cowboy Mouth, Uncle Vanya, California Suite, and Our Town. Wendy played the lead in the short films Fear of Falling(Dusty Award Winning Film), Last Summer and Barnyard. She is a graduate of The New Actors Workshop and Antioch University’s MA program in Theatre. Wendy has taught Acting at St. Jean Baptiste High School, and Appel Farm Arts Acacademy.
Frank headshot FRANK MIHELICH* Frank is a founding member of Magis Theatre Company. For Magis he has performed in such productions as The Winter’s Tale, The Great Divorce, and The Witlings. Frank also served as Company Manager from 2008-2011. Recent directing credits include The Hiding Place, The Spitfire Grill, Twelfth Night, Androcles and the Lion, Our Town and You Can’t Take It With You. Frank has worked as an actor extensively both in NYC and regionally. He has also worked in both commercials and film. Frank has performed for such companies as the Two Rivers Theatre, New Jersey Repertory Company, The Shadowland Theatre, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and the Arizona Repertory Theatre. Frank is the founding Artistic Director of New Threads Theatre Company based in Southern California. He graduated from California Baptist University with a BA in Communication Arts (Theatre) and a BA in Philosophy in 1998, then went on to Columbia University and graduated with his MFA in Acting in 2004. Frank currently lives and works in Southern California where he is an actor, director, and Associate Professor of theatre at California Baptist University. Frank would like to thank Allison, Colton, and Lindy for their love and support. Love God. Love Others.
Elizabeth M. headshot ELIZABETH LEE MALONE* Elizabeth Malone is an LA based actor and theater artist, aiming to create theater that explores the spiritual, restores dignity, and rejoices in the wonder of being human. She often focuses on stories that bring up questions of faith and ones that highlight those under oppression particularly in the Middle East. She is passionate about story-telling and also using drama as a tool for expression and healing in communities. With Magis she performed in the Off-Broadway production, "The Great Divorce," and trained with them during her time in NYC, and took on the title role of "Shakuntala" for the final weekend of our run at La MaMa. She believes in the mission of Magis and is privileged to be an associate artist. Her most recent work was directing original pieces of theater in Palestine with the youth and elderly population in Bethlehem. Member of AEA. malone.lizzie@gmail.com
d THOMAS PIPER* has appeared in numerous Off-Off Broadway productions including Richard 3 (Richard), La MAMA ETC (directed by Andrei Serban); As I Lay Dying, Ohio Theatre; We Killed Kurt Cobain, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Trojan Women, American Studio Theatre; and in Magis productions The Winter’s Tale (Florizel) and The Great Divorce (C.S. Lewis). Regionally, Thomas has appeared in Andrei Serban’s Pericles at American Repertory Theatre; A Christmas Carol and the upcoming Doubt, The Alliance Theatre; Metamorphoses and Measure for Pleasure, Florida Studio Theatre; Our Town, Waiting for Godot, and Summer and Smoke, Theatrical Outfit; The Diviners and Cash on Delivery, Theatre in the Square, Barefoot in the Park, Aurora Theatre; One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Dad’s Garage Theatre; Hamlet and As You Like It, The Stonington Opera House, and once again Hamlet (title role), Othello (Iago), Macbeth (title role), Taming of the Shrew (Petruchio), and Much Ado About Nothing (Benedick and Dogberry) with Piper Theatre Productions (no relation… no kidding). TV and Film: “Law and Order:SVU”; “As The World Turns”; Open Book, Vodka Rocks, Doomer Chicks. Thomas has also directed several productions regionally and in New York. He is an Artistic Associate with Dad’s Garage Theatre in Atlanta, GA and a member and trainer with Magis Theatre Co. in NY. Thomas is a graduate of Duke University and has a MFA in Acting from Columbia School of the Arts.
sajeev SAJEEV PILLAI started his explorations with theatre in the late summer of 2002 at Northlake Community College in Texas. His first role was that of a tree in Shakespeare's Greatest Hits at Northlake. His inablity to keep still eventually caught on with directors and allowed him to explore 'moving' roles including: Freedom (The Drilling Company), Soccer Mom’s from Hell (TSI Main Stage), The Time of Your Life (St Jeans Players), The Father of the Bride (Artisan Center Theatre, TX), Phantom of the Opera - The Melodrama (Pocket Sandwich Theatre, TX) and Shakuntala with Magis Theatre. Training includes Circle in the Sqaure Theatre School - Summer 2006.  He holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering, a major that perhaps couldn't be any further away from the the world of theatre!
Ashley ASHLEY SETZLER From childrens theatre to summer stock to outdoor shakespeare to regional theatre, Taylor has been seen on all types of stages, all over the country. He has been in NYC since April 2008 and a member of Magis since January 2009, and has been seen as the Clown in "Shakuntala," and Chremylus in "Occupy Olympus." He truly loves being a Magisian and is so grateful for the opportunity. It may have actually saved his life...!
taylor TAYLOR VALENTINE is currently a graduate student at NYU pursuing a MA in Educational Theatre. She has been a member of Magis for almost two years. Was last seen as Penny Sycamore in “You Can’t Take It With You” at California Baptist University. Favorite roles include Pantalone in “Androcles and the Lion,” Rhonda in “Almost, Maine,” and Weird Sister in “Macbeth.” Her talents also include designing in the properties department for Sleep No More NYC.!
*denotes associate member currently bringing "Magis" outside the New York area!