When Ryan J. Haddad was five, he founded an acting troupe called The Haddad Theater, and he recruited his family to put on plays. Their living room antics drew such an audience that they eventually moved to the stage of the local community center, where hundreds of people paid a dollar to watch them read from notecards, sing to karaoke tracks, and execute excruciatingly long scene changes. Over the course of eight years, Ryan would write (steal), direct (not tell anyone his vision), and star (star) in ten productions alongside his madcap relatives. Now he is making his Joe’s Pub debut, telling tales of The Haddad Theater in a witty, whimsical memoir full of showtunes. Exclusively showtunes. Directed by Julian Fleisher and music directed by Billy Stritch, Falling for Make Believe is a celebration of childhood dreams and a family learning to love the spotlight. Ryan will probably cry during this performance.
Ryan J. Haddad (Writer/Performer) is an actor, playwright, and autobiographical performer based in New York. His acclaimed solo play Hi, Are You Single? was presented in The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival and continues to tour the country. Other New York credits include My Straighties (Ars Nova/ANT Fest) and Noor and Hadi Go to Hogwarts (Theater Breaking Through Barriers). Regional: The Maids and Lucy Thurber’s Orpheus in the Berkshires (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Hi, Are You Single? (Cleveland Play House). Television: Bull, Madam Secretary, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Ryan has performed original work at La MaMa E.T.C., The New Museum, and The LGBT Center of New York City. He is a member of The Public Theater’s 2019 Emerging Writers Group and a former Queer|Art Performance and Playwriting Fellow, under the mentorship of Moe Angelos.
Julian Fleisher (Director)
Before the art of song was divided into narrow stylistic slices, before there was Jazz or Pop or Rock, there was Nightclub Singing. Like Sammy Davis, Jr, Ethel Water and Mel Tormé before him, Julian Fleisher mixes masterful interpretations of a wide range of popular songs with kick-ass showmanship and a generously endowed band that -- as The Washington Post put it -- "blew the roof off of Joe's Pub.
Billy Stritch (Music Director)
Billy Stritch is one of the premier singer-pianists on the New York and national jazz and cabaret scenes. He began his career in Houston, Texas, where he formed the vocal trio Montgomery, Plant and Stritch. The trio performed all over New York and Europe from 1983 until they disbanded in 1990. A chance meeting with Liza Minnelli in March of 1991 resulted in her asking him to create vocal arrangements for the record-breaking extravaganza Liza Stepping Out at Radio City Music Hall. In addition to his 25-year collaboration with Liza, Billy recently toured with the legendary Tony Bennett as Tony’s pianist and musical director. A solo entertainer in his own right, he has performed his own shows (including tributes to Mel Tormé and Cy Coleman) in concert halls and nightclubs across the country. Billy also serves as music director for such leading vocalists as Linda Lavin, Christine Ebersole, Paulo Szot and Marilyn Maye. He is also the co-writer of the Grammy-winning song “Does He Love You” recorded by Reba McEntire and Linda Davis. When he’s not on the road, he is the pianist for Jim Caruso’s Cast Party open mic night every Monday at New York’s legendary Birdland Jazz Club and he and Jim hold forth on Sunday nights at Bemelmans’ Bar in Manhattan’s fabled Carlyle Hotel.
Falling for Make Believe was developed, in part, with assistance from the Orchard Project, Ari Edelson, Artistic Director, in collaboration with Julian Fleisher and Trevor Bachman.