PRODUCTION TEAM

D A N E  B R A N D T - L U B A R T

P E R F O R M E R / C O - W R I T E R

 

Dane Brandt-Lubart (performer/co-writer) was diagnosed with autism at age 3 ½ .  Dane’s mother Mia Drake Brandt (My Life On The Spectrum’s co-writer and producer) was told by psychiatrists that it was unlikely Dane would ever be able to read, write, or function independently.  However, after a home program of ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) Dane entered a special education school at age five which he attended until age 19, graduating with a high school equivalency diploma.  Dane participated in many school plays, scoring increasingly important roles each year.

 

Upon turning 17 someone suggested that he audition for a pre-professional musical theatre company for youth.  Amas' Rosetta LeNoire Musical Theatre Academy (RLMTA) rehearsed for seven hours every Saturday and put on eight performances of a full musical theatre production every May.  Dane was not yet able to use the subway alone, and his family was concerned that he would have difficulty focusing for such long, strenuous acting, dance, and singing sessions.  Still, Dane was accepted to the company after auditioning by singing "Luck Be A Lady" and knocking the directors' socks off.  He ended up performing for five seasons with RLMTA, landing lead roles each year.

The fall of 2011 when he was 20 marked a turning point in Dane’s life.  Until then he felt ashamed of being on the autism spectrum and had tried to hide it from others.  However, after working on a persuasive speech about ending use of the “R-word” (“retard”) and performing it as the culminating project in a community college Speech class, Dane was ready to take on a more direct and vocal role as an advocate.

Tired of feeling socially isolated and witnessing the marginalization experienced by himself and others who are labeled as having a disability, Dane and his mother decided to begin working on a play where Dane could spread his message, tell his story, and showcase his talents as a performer.  And in late 2015 "My Life on the Spectrum: A Tuneful Rally debuted at Don't Tell Mama in New York City's theater district, and the rest is history!

Mia D. Brandt

Writer/Producer

Mia Drake Brandt graduated from Yale University, worked as a producer for CNN and ABC News and spent 25 years as Director of Communications for UNICEF/USA whose mission is to save and improve the lives of the world's poorest  children.  She worked in scores of countries for UNICEF producing videos that gave voice to kids caught in wars, genocides, and natural disasters, and advocated for their rights to health, protection, and education.  She has also been privileged to be mother to Dane and his sisters, Kyle and Shea.  Mia and Dane have worked together since 2010 to create "My Life on the Spectrum".  Watching Dane and his show's powerful effect on audiences of a wide range of backgrounds has been one of the greatest joys of her life.

Steven Katz

Music Director, Arranger 

 

Steven’s career as a musician spans more than thirty years. A graduate of Columbia University, his international work as a singer, arranger, and recording artist has taken him from Broadway and Lincoln Center to the White House and Buckingham Palace. As a vocal coach, he has the good fortune of working with extraordinary artists on a daily basis in his Manhattan studio. It was here he started working privately with Dane in 2011, and along with Mia began the beautiful journey of My Life on the Spectrum. Steven and his husband Warren Kelley now proudly consider Dane to be their adopted nephew.

Warren Kelley

Director

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Warren got a BA in Drama from University of the Pacific and an MFA in Acting from Temple University.  He now lives in NYC and has been working in the professional theatre for 40 years.  He has an extensive resume as a professional director, choreographer and acting teacher.  His career as an actor includes more than 200 productions in New York and major regional theatres across the country.  His extremely diverse credits span from the classics to contemporary plays and musical theatre.  He has also worked in television and film:  Birdman with Michael Keaton, Law & Order: SVU, The Blacklist, Boardwalk Empire, Blue Bloods, etc. Warren has found his work on My Life on the Spectrum, with Dane, to be inspiring, moving and profoundly gratifying.     

Andre Lubart

Percussionist 

Andre Lubart holds a doctorate in music education from Columbia University and is an accomplished instrumentalist, composer, and choral conductor.  His career as a music educator has spanned over four decades running arts programs in pubic and private schools for both special needs and typically developing students and serving as Assistant Professor at Brooklyn College.  Andre was percussionist for the legendary dancer and teacher Martha Graham and for La Mama theatre company and currently performs with several bands.  He's also Dane's father, and is thrilled to be performing with his son in "My Life on the Spectrum"

Stephen Michael Thornton

Guitar 

A graduate from Berklee College of Music, Stephen performs regularly as a singer and guitarist with world class musicians primarily in NYC and LA.  He is an award winning songwriter whose music has been used in corporate advertising and TV shows including the hit series "Dance Moms" on Lifetime.  Stephen has worked with My Life On The Spectrum since 2015 and is very passionate about the project.  He is the owner of SMT Entertainment, a social media marketing company which is working hard to bring "My Life On The Spectrum" to a broader audience.  

 

Roo O'Donnell

Piano

 

Roo is best known for being a multi-instrumentalist and founding member of Brooklyn Indie-Pop band Blaze Pascal.  He has also performed with various mainstream acts such as Shania Twain, Mantis Evar, and El Hefe of NOFX.  Performing in "My Life On The Spectrum" gives O'Donnell the opportunity to continue his work in autism awareness, a mission about which he is passionate given that he has close friends and family members on the spectrum.

Katie Battistoni

Guitar

 

Katie Battistoni holds a BFA in Jazz Studies from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor and is now an accomplished guitarist and composer living in Brooklyn. She has performed and recorded all over the country with first-class musicians including Woody Goss (Vulfpeck), Ches Smith (Xiu Xiu, Ceramic Dog) and 2015 Grammy winner Matt Puckett. She finds her work with Dane and the band on "My Life on the Spectrum" enriching, educational, and fun!