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Ryan Knowles, Justine Joli, adult film star and Penthouse Pet, Luqman Brown and Lady Circus troupe aerial artist Anya Sapozhnikova lead the cast of Alfred Preisser and Randy Weiner’s CALIGULA MAXIMUS, at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre, March 12- April 3, 2010.

Presented by LaMaMa e.t.c., CALIGULA MAXIMUS is a project with Hammerstein & Weiner, LLC, Christopher McElroen, Alfred Preisser and Kingsize, USA which begins previews at the Ellen Stewart Theatre, 66 E. 4th St. in New York on March 12, 2010. Opening night is set for March 19th and the show will continue through April 3rd. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 8pm and 10pm.

Alfred Preisser Photo by Lia Chang

Alfred Preisser Photo by Lia Chang

The production will be directed by Alfred Preisser with musical direction by Joe Shavel.
The show will star Ryan Knowles (Caligula), JerZ Short (Helicon), Justine Joli (Caesonia), Luqman Brown (Sulla), and Anya Sapozhnikova (Drusilla). Competitive bodybuilders Myra Adams, Tim Dax, Roxanne Edwards and Raheem Green are featured as gladiatrixes and gladiators, along with Jeff Goldfisher, David King, Jessica Krueger, Andrews Landsman, Aaron Strand and Miriam Tabb. Rounding out the cast in assorted roles are Alexandra Bernard, Angela Buccinni, Claire Buckingham, Eric Dorfman, Alicia Giangrisostomi, Channing McKindra, Ella Mische, Alexandra Petrova, Charletta Rozell, Alicia St. Louis, Jenny Weinbloom and Elian Zach.

CALIGULA MAXIMUS takes place on the last night of the notorious dictator’s life, in his palace where he is stage managing, directing, and starring in one of his famous “entertainments” which test the limits of human intellect and appetite. Caligula, played by Ryan Knowles, sensing the encroachment of monotheistic religions (Christianity and Judaism) holds a phantasmagoric revival meeting in which he attempts to save the world by ushering in a new religion with himself as its principle prophet and god.

Preisser’s vision for Caligula’s “senate” includes an outrageous collection of circus performers, wrestlers, animals, show girls and freaks that enact his spectacles and indulge his whims and fantasies. As the revival meeting reaches fever pitch, his troupe grows weary of being used as toys, gains a sense of their own power and, bedecked in the war paint and leather costumes of barbarian invaders, descend upon him and murder him in mob frenzy. Six different languages will occur throughout the production in song and at the Coliseum. Expect circus, music, dance, rhetoric, and the unexpected.

Ryan Knowles

Ryan Knowles

Best known as the host of Nickelodeon’s daily live show ME:TV, Ryan Knowles (Caligula), most recently portrayed the “Wicked Witch of the West” in the National Tour of Todrick Hall’s OZ: The Musical. Off-Broadway, Knowles originated the role of “Nick Bottom” in the hit Shakespeare musical Fools In Love at the Manhattan Ensemble Theatre to great critical acclaim. Additionally, he originated the role of “Prospero” in Tempest: The Musical at the Cherry Lane Theatre, for which he co-wrote and adapted the book from Shakespeare’s original with composer Daniel Neiden, working with concept author Thomas Meehan (Annie, Hairspray, The Producers). Knowles was recruited by Disney to portray “The Genie” in Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular, directed by Francesca Zambello (The Little Mermaid), a role for which he wrote his own material. On film, Knowles portrayed the demonic villain in Holedigger Films’ 2009 supernatural thriller Camp Hope. As a stand-up comedian, he became the first American in history to win the WUDA World Championship in Stand-Up Comedy. Knowles is the author of 5 plays and musicals, including the forthcoming one-man show Dig & Be Dug: The Gospel of Lord Buckley.

Justine Joli

Justine Joli

Justine Joli (Caesonia) is an adult film star and the 2007 Penthouse Pet of the Month. She has been nominated for numerous AVN Awards, including four for “Best All-Girl Sex Scene Video” (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007), three for “Best Tease Performance” (2003, 2004, 2006), and one for “Best Solo Sex Scene” (2007). Additional film credits include Edouard Salier’s short movie, Flesh , which describes the life and death of Manhattan during a fictional 9/11, and the blaxploitation spoof Black Dynamite. She stars on the 2010 Nerdcore Horror Calendar. Featured in Penthouse, Hustler, and other adult oriented magazines, Joli is also a popular web model, appearing on sites such as ALS Scan, Matt’s Models, and Danni’s Hard Drive.

Luqman Brown

Luqman Brown

Composer, musician and performer Luqman Brown (Sulla) is a founding member of the seminal bands FunkFace, Mackie Riverside & the Street Pushers and Dope Sagittarius, which was recently showcased at the FIFA European football championships in Austria. His credits as an actor, musical director and orchestra leader include Little Tommy Parker’s Celebrated Colored Minstrel Show, Taking Steps 313 the Musical adaptation of Crime and Punishment and Brown Girls Burlesque’s Grind High. He appeared in the film Afro-Punk, on the Tony Hawk video game soundtrack, Project 8, wrote interstitial jingles for Nickelodeon, has been featured on various albums, compilations and singles in the US and abroad, and is in the Smithsonian for his impact as a musician. Brown’s label, BuddhaBug Records will have three new releases in 2010.

Anya Sapozhnikova

Anya Sapozhnikova

Aerial performance artist Anya Sapozhnikova (Drusilla) founded the Lady Circus troupe, and the House of Yes Theater where she has co-produced countless cirque-style stage shows with various collaborators, merging dance, theater, video and the Brooklyn underground circus scenes. She splits her time between performing on cabaret stages, in industrial warehouses, ferry boats and everything in between, and running The Sky Box aerial studio with Jordann Baker, her main aerial performance partner.

With sets, rigging and lighting by Evan Collier, costumes by Laura Clarke and musical direction by Joe Shavel.

La MaMa e.t.c. is located at 66 East 4th St. between 2nd Avenue and The Bowery. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 8pm and 10pm.

Tickets are $30, $25 for students and seniors and can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at 1-866-811-4111



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