American Story Theater

Home Events Performers Press
Mailing List Tickets Store Contact

Click the name to go directly to the bio...

Michael Anderson |Jeanne Jordan Bent | Mark Binder | Judith Black | Tom Brillat | Catherine Conant | Tony Cranston | Leeny Del Seamonds | Jeanne Donato | Norah Dooley | Paula Dugan | Catfish Jim Gillen | Jackson Gillman | Katie Latimer | Carolyn Martino | David Mello | Keith Munslow | Marvin Novogrodski | Marilyn Meardon | Laura Packer | Rory Raven | Pat Spalding | Tony Toledo | Valerie Tutson | Clare Vadeboncoeur | The Wippets

American Story Theater Performers are...

Somewhat randomly arrange based more or less on the last time they've been on a program

Click most photos for a 300 dpi version

Mark Binder

Mark Binder is an author, a storyteller, and a nice guy. More than 200 of his stories for young and old have been published in magazines, anthologized in books, and used on standardized tests. His "Bedtime Story Book" collection is a multigenerational masterpiece now in its seventh edition. His novel, "The Brothers Schlemiel" was serialized weekly in print for two years, and is due to be released in hardback in 2008. Mark is an award-winning recording artist and storyteller. He is the founder of the American Story Theater, and teaches a college course in "Telling Lies."

Visit his website at

Judith Black From the The Montreal Comedy Festival to The National Storytelling Festival (featured six times), Judith Black's traditional and original stories have rocked laughing audiences to their feet. Winner of the Oracle: Circle of Excellence, the most coveted award in storytelling, Judith tells tales that range from Old Ironsides to bedsides. She teaches storytelling for Lesley University, and has most recently developed a show on women and aging.

This is her second season with The American Story Theater.

"Smart and undeniably funny, That Fading Scent... is a great example of the power of storytelling."
--Orlando Sentinal

For more information: and


Tony Cranston Tony Cranston was the first westerner ever to be invited to the legendary Childrens Palace Arts centre in Beijing, China. He has met shaolin masters, revolutionary veterans, survivors of Tiannanmen square, teachers and students people young and old, and is working on a book about the tales they told him.

In recent years, Tony has been based in London and Amsterdam and has performed in Switzerland, Ukraine, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands. He also has more than 30 years experience teaching children and adults English Literature, Yoga, Tai chi, Alexander Technique, relaxation and stress management.

He also said that the city of Cranston is named after one of his direct ancestors.

The American Story Theater WaterFire festival will be his first American appearance.


The Wippets– Band Information and Resume

Playing as a band since 2003, The Wippets are Matt Martin on guitar and vocals, Tony Depoto on washboard and harmonica and Sally Sisto on guitar, mandolin, banjo and vocals.  In addition to their original compositions, they cover the music of  various artists from different decades.  Matt’s influences are in the sounds of the South and New Orleans, Tony brings his appreciation of the blues and jazz, and Sally’s musical roots are in traditional and neo-folk music that grew out of the 60’s.  The result is an eclectic assortment of songs appropriate for all ages and venues. 

The Wippets have performed at the Stadium Theater in Woonsocket, RI as part of “A Salute to Vaudeville” sponsored by the RI Council on the Arts (Feb 2007); the R.I. Theater Ensemble’s “Rite of Spring” (2006); “Riversing” in Pawtucket, RI (June, 2005), the Seekonk Public Library (Summer Concert Series) in 2004 and 2006 and locally in Newport, Bristol and Providence. 

Matt Martin

A resident of Rehoboth, MA, Matt was raised in Florida, where he excelled in tennis and soccer as a youth before discovering his love of music. After graduating from the Berklee School of Music in Boston, he moved to Bristol, RI and played in several bands. He then taught guitar lessons at E.U. Wurlitzer and Rick’s Music World, both in Seekonk, MA.  Over the years Matt has performed in several local bands, and in 2004 he hosted an open mic for several months at The Elbow Room in Bristol, RI.   In addition to performing with the Wippets, Matt devotes a lot of his time to experimental music and video production. 

Tony Depoto

A graduate of the RI School of Design, Tony lives and works in Warren, RI, where he is the owner/operator of “Hand Made Signs”.  His work can be seen in business establishments all over the East Bay area. Initially playing harmonica as a hobby, Tony was inspired after a trip to New Orleans in 2003 to take an ordinary washboard and turn it into a versatile percussion instrument….which in turn gives the Wippets their distinctive sound.  Tony’s design work can be seen on the Wippets (demo) CD “Good Time Music”.

Sally Sisto

Sally began playing guitar when she was 9. In the late 60’s-early 70’s, Sally was frequently the host and/or opening act at La Casa Nueva coffee house in Riverside, RI.  Then, after several years away from the music scene, she rediscovered her love for performing.  Sally hosts the Labyrinth Java Jam, a monthly open mic in Seekonk, MA and is a member of the Seekonk Shadowbox Players, a local theatrical group.  For the past five summers she has attended WUMB’s Summer Acoustic Music Week.  She lives in Seekonk, MA.  


Norah Dooley is a storyteller and children' s author. She has published 6 spoken word CDs including: Music of Angels (1999), Stories Nobody Told Me "talian" Folk tales (2002) and Stories from the Neighborhood, World Folk tales (2002), and My Bad,Bad Dog and other Neighbors (2006), Rabbitails (2006) and forthcoming Winter Tales (2006) and Salt, Sea and Piracy (2007) Norah's published picture books, Everybody Cooks Rice, Everybody Bakes Bread, Everybody Serves Soup and Everybody Brings Noodles, (Carolrhoda Books @ are four titles in a series about her former neighborhood in Cambridge, MA.

Norah has been presenting workshops and stories throughout New England for people of all ages. She has performed as a featured storyteller in the Christmas and Spring Revels in Cambridge and Boston MA, the Newport Folk Festival, Albany NY River Festival, 3 Apples Storytelling Festival, MA and at the Clearwater Festival in NY. Visit her website at


Michael AndersonIn the 1960's the place that Catherine Conant called home was central New Jersey was a world of refineries, foundries, factories and the black ribbon of highway known as the New Jersey Turnpike. Her Italian family shared stories of their journeys to America and assured her that the world was larger than one little corner of the Garden State.

Sentenced to a Catholic grammar school crammed with kids fueled by Bosco and baloney sandwiches and nuns who had strong right arms and zero tolerance for creativity, her escape was reading and telling stories. Today she travels the country sharing stories for fun, for health and to support stronger family and community life.

She has shared stories with such diverse groups as the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, The Jamestown Project at Yale, and the Spa at Norwich Inn. She also guest lectures at Southern Connecticut State University and the Graduate Institute. An award winning writer she’s recognized for her ability to guide others in shaping their life experiences into meaningful stories. Catherine's work includes coaching, workshop presentations, keynotes and performances and her CD, Exit 11 and Other Stories, Growing up in the Shadow of the New Jersey Turnpike, received a Storytelling World Honor Prize.

Visit her website at


Michael Anderson Paula Dugan has a BA in Theater Arts and an MLS in Library Science. A professional performer since 1978, she has acted in regional theater in the Southwest, where she had the privilege to work with John Caredine, Noel Harrison and others. She has toured New England with various theater companies, and performed for theaters in and around Boston. She has appeared on PBS and had a role in a play broadcast on National Public Radio. Storytelling credits include several festivals such as the LANES Showcase at the Three Apples Storytelling Festival, the Johnny Cake Storytelling Festival, The New England Folk Festival, The Rhode Island Storytelling Festival, several Celtic festivals and First Night performances throughout New England. She has offered workshops for other storytellers at Sharing the Fire, a regional storytelling conference. She is the Head of the Children's Department at the Newport Public Library where she offers storytelling programs for children.


Jackson GillmanJackson Gillman's storytelling is very lively and fun, spiced up with interactive music and comedy. His visit will include a RI premiere of "Fowl Play", a barnyard murder mystery. Jackson is very adept at getting audience members to participate, WITHOUT embarrassing anyone.

"Stand-Up Chameleon" Jackson Gillman magically transforms himself into a wide array of eccentric characters through his many talents as mime, actor, songsmith and storyteller. His performance roots are in cabaret, but Jackson has made a name for himself in the storytelling world and was a Teller-In-Residence at the International Storytelling Center last summer. For two weeks each year he is also Rudyard-in-Residence at Kipling's historic Vermont home.

Jackson has thrice been a featured performer at the National Storytelling Festival in Tennessee, and has performed at festivals and schools throughout the country. For twenty years Jackson hosted a summer concert series of comedy, music and New Vaudeville on Mount Desert Island. Presenting a new thematic program each year, he set up comedy/music shop every summer and toured the rest of the year. Year-round he now brings his unique brand of one-man theater to diverse audiences across the nation. Whether performing on concert stages, at colleges, business functions, festivals, school assemblies or libraries, Jackson Gillman delights his audiences with his inventions while touching them with his personal warmth.

Visit his web site


Keith MunslowProvidence native Keith Munslow has been writing and performing his own songs and stories for more than ten years, and has a long history in the Providence arts/music scene. He has been involved with AS220 as a performer and board member since its' inception over twenty years ago, and maintains a studio on AS220's second floor. Keith was a principal performer and musical director for the Big Nazo Puppets, and was the in-house composer and musical director for Perishable Theatre's shows for young audiences series. In 2000, Keith wrote and performed "Thick Cut Bacon", a one man show of monologues and songs at Perishable. He appeared at Trinity Rep with Bill Harley in "Lunchroom Tales" and "Up To No Good". These days, Keith performs for kids and families at schools, libraries and festivals in the New England area, and can also be seen tearing it up with his band, The Superchief Trio. He has released four CDs, "Can't Sit Still", "The Bellywog", "Accidentally (on purpose)" and Superchief Trio's "The Devil Knows Me Better". Visit his websites at and  


Clare VadeboncoeurClare Vadeboncoeur delights her audiences with her wacky and wonderful characters that reveal their stories through a mesmerizing mixture of movement and words. She is an energetic teller that is compelling, funny, clever, and full of heart. Clare graduated from the Trinity Rep Conservatory, holds a Masters of Arts Degree in Theatre & Dance and is certified to teach dance, drama and elementary education. She is a devoted teaching artist who is well respected for her work with children. She is founder of Good Heart Productions where she creates and performs unique, interactive storytelling programs and playshops for schools, libraries, museums, festivals and special events for the young and the young at heart. Vist her website:


Michael AndersonBy day, he's a union lawyer specializing in First Amendment defense. Michael Anderson delivers funny, intense political monologues. After he takes off his tie, he talks to audiences in ways they don't allow in federal court. Every piece is an insurrection, an anarchist pep rally.

He has performed in venues from San Francisco to Boston. He starred in Free-Style Shakespeare at Jimmy Tingle's Off-Broadway Theater. He thinks: there's no such thing as free speech if you don't use it.

"Put George Orwell essays, Roadrunner cartoons and the first two Clash albums into a blender, and you've got Michael Anderson."


Catfish Jim Gillen is a native New Yorker, whose heritage is Native American/Celtic. He has been a storyteller for over 30 years, and has toured all over the USA and Europe. Catfish uses a variety of flutes, whistles and percussion t tell stories from around the globe and the animal kingdom. He is also a licensed addiction counselor in the state of Rhode Island, and often speaks at schools in Rhode Island and New York.

Valerie Tutson
Having appeared in international festivals in Africa, Europe and North America as well as theaters, colleges, schools, churches and libraries across the United States, Valerie Tutson has a reputation for raising people's sensitivities. She draws her stories from around the world with an emphasis on African Traditions. Her repertoire includes myths, folk tales and historical pieces and stories that she learned in her travels to South Africa. Valerie also teaches classes in the art of storytelling and theater at an alternative middle school in Providence. She is the host of Cultural Tapestry for Rhode Island's Cox Communications, a talk show celebrating the diverse cultures of new England. Listen to her and you, too may be able to tell the story in three languages!

The low down on Tony Toledo: He has been telling stories to pay the rent since 1990. In 1998 he even bought a house with his storytelling income. Tony tells tales to teachers, pupils, librarians, bus drivers, postal carriers and kids. Folks across New England have grinned more because Tony came to visit. Tony Toledo is 48 years old but reads at a 61 year old level. He lives on a massive one tenth of an acre estate in Beverly, MA with his wife, KR Glickman, her hearing dog Shana, their Corn Museum, his books and her basil. Life is pretty good on top of Whitney Hill.


Rory RavenRory Raven grew up hearing stories told by his Irish family. When he fell sick with one of the childhood ailments, his family's cure was to keep the sick child in a dark room for a few days. During that time, one of his sisters crept into the room to read him Edgar Allan Poe by flashlight. He feel this was a formative experience. Rory has created the Providence Ghost Walk, a walking tour through the haunted history of Providence, where he passes on many of the stories he has collected about the spookier side of the city. His interest in history, magic, theater, and other more esoteric interests make his storytelling style something very different. Rory Raven Will Read Your Mind Visit Today!

Leeny Del SeamondsLeeny Del Seamonds, Master Story Performer(tm), is a multi award-winning, internationally acclaimed master performer of Hispanic/Latino, original and World stories spiced with exquisite mime, a cornucopia of characters, and love of people. Leeny stars in Ribert & Robert's WonderWorld, a new series set for national and worldwide distribution on PBS Television and DVD in September 2005. With a twinkle in her eye and fire in her heart, Leeny breathes life into her stories, as she masterfully and effortlessly springs from one story character to another. A dedicated Teaching Artist, Leeny encourages listeners to feel positive about themselves and to rejoice in human and cultural diversity, inviting them to share in her Latin/Cuban-American sense of humor and love of performing. Visit her website



Marvin Novogrodski, popularly known as Marvelous Marvin, has been a performing artist for over 20 years. A member of the Everett Dance Theatre in Providence, Marvin tours his own science shows for children entitled "The Magic of Science" and "How The Body Works". His brand of story-telling is based on improvisation in which the audience provides Marvin with the title of the story and 20 words to be integrated into the story. Then, Marvin proceeds to make it up right before your very eyes.

Visit his website


Jeanne Donato - M. Ed., Author, Speaker, Educator
Jeanne serves as Rhode Island's State Liaison for the National Storytelling Network (NSN). She is an Educational Kinesiologist /Learning Consultant, Certified Brain Gym and Learning Profiles Instructor. Jeanne holds a masters in storytelling in the curriculum, teaches in the Oral Tradition graduate program at SCSU, and co-authored Storytelling in Emergent Literacy: Fostering Multiple Intelligences from Delmar. She offers classes in "brain-based" storytelling and learning enhancement techniques.
Jeanne Jordan BentJeanne Jordan Bent is a story lover- loves to hear them and loves to tell them. She has told at Rhode Islands' own Jonnycake Festival and Rhode Island's Storytellers in Concert. She has also appeared at the Three Apples Storytelling Festival. Jeanne has been a storyteller for the State Library Services Summer Reading Program, entertaining children at libraries around the state. Jeanne is a member of the Tapestry of Tellers who do storytelling residencies at schools, keeping the art of storytelling alive and well  

Marilyn Murphy Meardon is a founding member of the Spellbinders and has performed in nearly every possible setting in nearly every community in Rhode Island. She has also appeared at the Jonnycake and Connecticut Storytelling Festivals. She tells folktales and literary tales from various cultures, many with participation and filled with humor and wisdom, all enriched by her lively and dramatic telling style. Marilyn has traveled extensively with her solo performance of Queen Elizabeth I, presented in full Renaissance dress. She also brings to life Ida Lewis of Newport, Rhode Island's and America's most famous lighthouse keeper.

David Mello

David Mello has been the Supervisor of Children's Services at the Fall River Public Library since 1988. A life-long lover and collector of spooky stories, he is the storyteller in residence for the sleep-over program at the Battleship Massachusetts. He has been storytelling profesionally for 9 years and travels throughout Southeastern New England with his show "Tales Best Told In the Dark".

While not a ghost himself, he maintains close contact with the spirit world.


Storyteller, actress, writer and educator for over 25 years, Carolyn Martino has been named "one of Rhode Island's most influential artists" by the Providence Phoenix. She happily tells her tales and presents storytelling workshops for all ages at schools, libraries, festivals, conferences and special events throughout New England. Carolyn has been part of the RI and MA statewide summer reading programs for many years and also tours with her special holiday telling of The Nutcracker and with Bella Notte, an evening of Italian tales for adults. She has performed at the Jonnycake and RI Storytelling Festivals, Three Apples Festival, and the Connecticut and Toronto Storytelling Festivals. Called a "true Rhode Island treasure," Carolyn embraces her audiences with warmth, humor, energy and style



Laura Packer as been telling stories her whole life; her mother reports she was born talking. For over ten years she has been telling original and traditional stories for adults and families. Her magical and thought provoking tales have been featured at Sharing the Fire Storytelling Conference, First Night Boston, Club Passim, Three Apples Storytelling Festival, Brother Blue's Storytelling Series, various arts festivals, and more. She is a past Chair of Sharing the Fire, the oldest, largest regional storytelling conference in the country, and hosts several Boston-area storytelling series.

Laura's unusual and enchanting stories are influenced by the oldest myths and everyday occurrences. Her tape, "Kansas and other Stories," has been described as "pure storytelling" by internationally known storyteller Brother Blue, and her CD, "A Passion of Stories," has been described as "lyrical" and "enchanting."

Laura holds a degree in Folklore and Mythology from Boston University. She performs, coaches, and teaches workshops throughout New England and around the world. She can be reached at or at 781-526-7255


Tom Brillat was the Executive Director of the Washington County Adult Learning Center in Wakefield, Rhode Island which provides basic academic, GED, English as a Second Language and computer skills courses to area residents. He has also been a Naval Officer, life insurance salesman, marine coastal planner, harbormaster of the Port of Charleston, South Carolina, air freight manager for the world's largest freight airline, director of the Tall Ship Bounty Foundation, and a marketing manager. He is a founder of Eureka! Stories
Katie Latimer has performed at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tennessee, and many many other festivals, fairs, schools and churches. She is a Rhode Island favorite, having appeared in the RI State Libary Services Summer Reading Program twice.
(sorry no 300dpi version)