ED RAARUP (Author/Composer/Lyricist/Producer/Frank)
is originally from Ashland, Wisconsin, and has pursued the performing arts since his first solo public performance of "Away in the Manger" in his kindergarten Christmas play – a small theatrical moment, but his mom has raved about it for years! He has bachelor degrees in vocal music and theatre from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and he
studied acting and music theatre in the graduate program at the University of California, Irvine. He moved to NYC in 1985 where he joined the ranks of many hopeful actors pursuing their dreams. During that time, he began a television career and appeared on One Life to Live, All My Children, The Guiding Light, Another World, Search for Tomorrow and As the World Turns.
He performed leading roles in regional theatres including Harold Hill in The Music Man and George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life. He also performed in a number of music revues including his own act at cabaret clubs in NYC. Now residing in Milford, Pennsylvania, he couldn't be happier to be making his debut as an author and composer by creating and producing Fireflies and Shooting Stars
– a culmination and awakening of his artistic pursuits. He is proud to be a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Ever optimistic, he hopes this is the beginning of many more stories and music yet to be. www.edraarup.com
LINDSAY NERY (Illustrator)
turns small pieces of everyday humdrum into an enchanted experience. Growing up along the Delaware River in Port Jervis, New York, she strives to recreate the subtle beauty that can be found in moments otherwise overlooked by a busy world. She received her formal art education at the Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, New York, graduating with honors and receiving an associates degree in illustration. She also attended the Career and Technical Education Center of Goshen, New York for advertising design with a concentration in illustration. She graduated top in her academy and was proudly bestowed the Valedictorian Gold Award. She has won many contests both regionally and nationally for her work as well. Lindsay works from home where she enjoys walking along the riverside with her husband, Jason, and their dog, Odin. The scenic surroundings of the area in which she lives provided much inspiration for the illustrations in Fireflies and Shooting Stars
. A pond in her backyard is home to dozens of frogs, fireflies, and many other creatures you may recognize from her work. www.LDNart.com
MICHAEL RICE (Arranger/Composer/Pianist/Musical Director) has been part of the Fireflies and Shooting Stars creative team from the start. He has resided in New York City since 1977, and his professional work has taken him to theatres all across the country as well as on and off Broadway. He was arranger and original musical director for Off-Broadway's Nunsense, Nunsense II, Balancing Act and Sister Amnesia's Nunsense Jamboree, all by Dan Goggin. As a composer/lyricist, he has written American Beauty (the musical) and an adaptation with Eric Bentley of Brecht's The Good Woman of Setzuan. He provided music for the 1983 Best Documentary film He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin' which featured Jacques d'Amboise. He was musical conductor for the world premieres of American Vaudeville and Marathon Dancing, both directed by Anne Bogart. He was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for achievement in theatre, is a member of The Dramatists Guild and he continues to compose, arrange and conduct throughout the country.
LYNNE WINTERSTELLER (Mama Maggy/Grandma Rose)
starred on Broadway in the Tony-nominated Rogers and Hammerstein revue A Grand Night for Singing
, and garnered the prestigious Drama Desk Nomination (Best Actress in a Musical) for her work in the Maltby/Shire Off-Broadway hit Closer Than Ever
. In the role of Grace Farrell in Annie
, she has performed in the Broadway Company, the First & Fourth National Tours and the Martha Raye Tour. Her Off-Broadway credits include Richard Cory
(NYMF Best Actress Award), The Mistress Cycle
, I Sent A Letter to My Love
, The Rise of David Levinsky
, The Grass Harp
, Music in the Air
and Gifts of the Magi
. Her regional credits include starring roles in Sunset Boulevard, The Light in the Piazza, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
(LA Ovation Best Actress Nomination), Kiss Me Kate, Dinner with Friends, Rumors, Scenery and Circle Mirror Transformation
(Kevin Kline Award). Her television credits include Law & Order (CI), Chappelle's Show, Total Security, Big Brother Jake, California Dreams, Saved by the Bell, One Life to Live, All My Children
and numerous national commercials. Lynne has sung with some of the country's most reputable symphonies and composers, and she is a featured vocal artist on the recordings of A Grand Night for Singing, Closer Than Ever, Broadway Sings Christmas, Unsung Musicals II
and Lost in Boston III
RONNIE AND JOE BIONDO (Producers and Singer/Narrator)
have wholeheartedly helped produce Fireflies and Shooting Stars
. They are on the Board of Directors of the Biondo Memorial Foundation. Together with the other Foundation Members, they are founders of "Firefly Field". The Foundation was established by Joe in 1986 to financially assist developmentally, neurologically and physically challenged individuals, their families, their caregivers and others in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. Having been subsidized mainly by the Foundation and with generous private donations, "Firefly Field" has become a reality.
Joe is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Biondo Investment Advisors, LLC. A graduate of the New York Institute of Finance, Joe serves as a director of the Newton Memorial Hospital Foundation in Newton, NJ, as an honorary trustee for Avon Old Farms School in Avon, CT, and is chairman of the Biondo Memorial Foundation.
Ronnie has co-chaired the Pike County Health Fund in Pennsylvania which addresses the growing health concerns of Pike County residents, especially children, senior citizens and working families. Her hope with "Firefly Field" is to provide a community playground that will allow parents, grandparents and caregivers a way to share in the joy of their child's play regardless of the child's abilities. She has thoroughly enjoyed the experience to sing and narrate on the recording of Fireflies and Shooting Stars.
Collectively, Ronnie and Joe are parents to 14 children and grandparents to 21, and counting, grandchildren. By far, these have been their most cherished and rewarding roles. www.biondofoundation.org
SCOTT HAYWARD ECK (Papa Luca/Scoot) has performed the role of Magaldi in numerous productions of Evita including two National Tours, a European tour and several regional productions. He was an original cast member in the first Broadway/International Tour of Grand Hotel and the production at the Westchester Broadway Theatre. Off-Broadway, he performed both male roles in the original production of Maltby and Shire's Closer Than Ever. His regional credits include Lancelot in Camelot, Curly in Oklahoma!, George in La Cage Aux Folles, Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, Dominique in The Baker's Wife and several Minnesota Opera productions. As a singer, he's glad to be the voice of both Papa Luca and Scoot in Fireflies and Shooting Stars. As an architectural designer with his own company, Continuity Design, he is grateful for the opportunity to have created the unique and innovative design for "Firefly Field."
JENNIFER SMITH (Tommy the tadpole/Jenny) has a very active and successful theatrical career. She has performed in twelve Broadway shows including the original companies of La Cage Aux Folles, The Secret Garden, Victor/Victoria, The Producers, The Drowsy Chaperone and Nice Work If You Can Get It. Her television and film credits include Law and Order (SVU and CI), Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Producers, Calling It Quits and Confessions of a Shopaholic. She is a 2006 inductee into the Buddy Holly Walk of Fame.
HARRISON COHEN(Enzo) is so thankful and happy to have the opportunity to make his professional recording debut as Enzo in the cast of Fireflies and Shooting Stars. He is a high school student in New City, New York where he is very active in youth music theatre. In addition to studying voice with renowned vocal coach, Celeste Simone, he also plays guitar and piano, and writes his own original music compositions.
GINA MILO (Suzy) is thrilled to be part of this very special family of fireflies as Suzy! On Broadway, she has performed the role of Eponine in Les Miserables. Her National Tour credits include Les Miserables, Annie and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas starring Ann-Margret. Off-Broadway, she performed the role of Mary in For Christ's Sake–The Musical at New World Stages. As a leading/featured performer, her Regional credits include Xanadu, Annie, Enter Laughing, Hairspray, Spamalot (JEFF Award Nomination), For the Glory, Marvelous Wonderettes, Das Barbecu, Lucky Stiff and Little Shop of Horrors. She has also performed on the cast recordings of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Annie and Carols for a Cure.
AMANDA SMITH(Nell) is actively pursuing her performing career in NYC and is proud to be making her professional recording debut as Nell in the cast of Fireflies and Shooting Stars. She is a member of the cabaret company at Manhattan Theatre Mission, a non-profit organization committed to producing theatrical projects for the benefit of young adults. She was a featured performer in MTM's production of How to Fight Like a Girl. Originally from Fayetteville, Arkansas, she grew up in Texas where she performed leading roles in regional productions of The Sound of Music, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown and Godspell.