Atlantic for Kids

Neil Pepe, Artistic Director | Jeffory Lawson, Managing Director | Mary McCann, School Executive Director




By Lee Cataluna

Directed by Kat Yen



Sienna Aczon

Aaron Banes

Un Joo Christopher

Kristi Donna Ng

Jeremy Rafal


Sets, Emmie Finckel

Costumes, Kathleen Doyle

Lights, Nic Vincent

Sound, Sean-Jospeh Choo

Composer, Sean-Joseph Choo

Choreographer, John-Mario Sevilla

Hawaiian language coach, J. Maki’iliei Ishihara

Hei Coach, Lee Cataluna

Casting, Stephanie Klapper, CSA

Production Stage Manager, Kodi Lynn Milburn

Production Managers: Zach Longstreet, Antonio Ribeiro, Gage Steenhagen

Atlantic for Kids Artistic Director, Alison Beatty

Atlantic for Kids Producing Director, Kellie Taylor


The development of Heart Strings was supported in part by ReImagine: New Plays in TYA, a joint effort of Childrens Theatre Foundation of America, The Kennedy Center, TYA/USA and Write Now.


Sienna Aczon……………………………………………………………….Hoku

Aaron Banes……………………………………………………………….Josiah

Un Joo Christopher……………………………………………………….Mahina

Kristi Donna Ng……………………………………………………………Tutu

Jeremy Rafal……………………………………………………………….Grandpa



On a little island in the middle of the Pacific. Hawaii before statehood



SIENNA ACZON (Hoku) is a Filipino-American multidisciplinary artist based in New York City. She is grateful to make her Atlantic Theater Company debut with Heart Strings—a story set in Hawai’i, where she was born and raised. She holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, and trained at the British American Drama Academy. Recent credits: Do You Speak? (Solo Show, 59E59 Theaters); NEW MONY! (Keyboardist/Singer/Puppeteer, Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival); NuWorks 2022 (Director/Actor, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre). Sienna dedicates her performance to her late grandfather Gregorio L. Aczon. @miss.sepa

AARON BANES (Josiah) is glad to return to Atlantic in Heart Strings. A Filipino-American artist based in New York City, he is honored to help tell this story of Hawai’i, where he was born and raised. International tour: PJ Masks Live. Off-Broadway: The Big One Oh! (Atlantic Theater). Education: NYU Steinhardt. @aaron.banes

UN JOO CHRISTOPHER (Mahina) is ecstatic to be making her Atlantic Theater: Atlantic for Kids Debut in Lee Cataluna’s Heart Strings. Un Joo was most recently seen as Lauren/Hollis in Jay Stull’s The Singularity Play at the Lenfest Center for the Arts, as part of Columbia University’s New Plays Festival 2022. Theatre credits include When/Time (NoDivide KC), Spilled Milk (Black Box KC), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (White Theatre at the J), The Wolves (Unicorn Theatre), The Crucible (Barn Players), and Hana’s Suitcase (Coterie Theatre). This summer Un Joo participated in the LAByrinth Theater Company’s 2022 Intensive Ensemble, supported by the New York City Coalition of Theaters of Color Initiative and Brooklyn College.

KRISTI DONNA NG (Tutu) is thrilled to make her debut with Atlantic Theater Company! Kristi is an award-winning screenwriter, actress, producer, and hula dancer. Her short films have been screened at the Boston Asian American Film Festival, Syracuse International Film Festival (1st Place Winner), The Barrow Group’s 48 Hour Film Festival (Two-time Audience Award Winner), and at The Sparrow Film Project where she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Award. Select theatre credits: Joker (National Queer Theatre), Same Time Next Week (Joust Theatre Company), Love/Sick (PaperKids Theatre Company). Kristi was a playwriting mentor for Quinnipiac University’s New Play Festival for three seasons. Thanks to Kanoa, Kellie, Kat, Lee, and my castmates. All my love to Mom, Banji, and Lola. For Tory. IG:@krisdng

JEREMY RAFAL (Grandpa) is excited to make his debut at Atlantic Theater Company. He was born in the Philippines, raised in Hawaii, and now based in New York City as an actor, musician, writer, director, and educator. He was last seen this summer as The Kralahome from The King & I (Interlakes Theatre). His favorite roles include Philip the Bastard in King John, Hastings in Richard III, and performing his own solo shows The Boy from Bantay and Funhouse Funk. He has also appeared on film, TV, and several commercials. Besides being an actor-musician, Jeremy is also in linguistics, jump roping, and CrossFit.

LEE CATALUNA (Playwright) was born and raised on Maui, though her Native Hawaiian ancestors were from the island of Kauai. Her work for theater includes commissions from La Jolla Playhouse (What the Stars See at Night, Home of The Brave), Oregon Shakespeare Festival (IPU), Arena Stage (Emma Riot), and San Francisco Playhouse (Sons of Maui). Her script, Funeral Attire, won the Von Marie Atchley Award for Excellence in Playwriting from Native Voices at the Autry. Her rollicking ensemble piece Flowers of Hawaii has jolted audiences in Los Angeles, NYC, and most recently at Chautauqua Institute Summer 2022. Her play Home of The Brave, based on interviews with hundreds of children from military families, is produced in schools around the country. This play, Heart Strings, was workshopped at PLAYground at Northwestern University; had a reading at NYU Steinhardt; and received a ReImagine grant through TYA/USA to be developed at Atlantic Theater, NYC. Books include Three Years on Doreen’s Sofa, Ordinary Ohana, and the collection of monologues in Folks You Meet at Longs. In the works are commissions from Arena Stage and San Francisco Playhouse. Her work has been supported by NEA grants. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside.

KAT YEN (Director) is a Taiwanese-American theater artist who has directed at Ars Nova, Cherry Lane, Ensemble Studio Theater, Bushwick Starr, JACK, and The Flea Theater, amongst others. Recent productions include Happy Life by Kathy Ng, Marisol by José Rivera, The Juniors by Noah Diaz, Two Mile Hollow by Leah Nanako Winkler, and Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play by Anne Washburn with music by Michael Friedman and Liam Bellman-Sharpe. Kat is an alumnus of Lincoln Center Directors Lab, a former Resident Director at The Flea Theater, the 2016-2017 Van Lier Directing Fellow at Second Stage and the former Artistic Director of Spookfish Theatre Company. She is also a teaching artist at Stella Adler, LAByrinth Theater company and Marymount Manhattan College and currently resides between Oahu and NYC. MFA D

JOHN-MARIO ARCILLA SEVILLA (Choreographer) from Maui, is a hula student of Hōkūlani Holt, Kawika Alfiche and June Kaʻililani Tanoue. Currently the Director at Large at Luna Dance Institute in Berkeley, CA, he previously was the Visiting Scholar at NYU’s Asia Pacific American Institute and directed 92Y Harkness Dance Center, Dance Education Laboratory and NYC Ballet Education. The Met Museum, LaMaMa, Movement Research, Harkness Dance Center, Dance Theatre Workshop, Lower East Side Tenement Museum, The Asia Society and Bronx Academy of Art and Dance have presented his choreography. He has danced in the companies of Pilobolus, Alison Chase, Murray Louis and Alwin Nikolais, Anna Sokolow, among others.irecting: Yale School of Drama. / @katkoral

EMMIE FINCKEL (Scenic Designer) is a queer, Asian-American scenic designer. Emmie is excited by work rooted in community and collaboration that prioritizes inclusivity and challenges traditional uses of theatrical space. Recent credits include 53% Of (2nd Stage), In the Southern Breeze (Rattlestick Playwright’s Theatre), The Watering Hole (Signature Theatre), Manning (Yale School of Drama), In the Penal Colony (NYTW Next Door), Athena (JACK), Riot Antigone (La MaMa), And It Felt Like A Kiss… (HERE Arts). Assistant/associate design credits include productions with David Korins (Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen) and Gabriel Evansohn (KPOP, Empire Travel Agency) as a member of Woodshed Collective.

KATHLEEN DOYLE (Costume Designer) is a visual storyteller – designing theater, opera, dance and animation. Her ebullient designs have been seen all over the city – from La Mama to Jazz at Lincoln Center. Recent projects supported by The New Victory Theater/42nd St. Studios, The American Museum of Natural History, The Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia and Honolulu Theatre For Youth,. Doyle also can be found ambling around beaches and bodegas, inside her giant polar bear puppet, ‘Qanuk Nanuk’, seeking a healthier climate. M.F.A. in Theater Design, NYU. M.A. in Dramaturgy, Villanova. Goodwill Ambassador to Peru. Fulbright Scholar to Japan, China and Hong Kong. Artist in Residence, Thang Long National Water Puppetry Theatre, Hanoi, Vietnam.

NIC VINCENT (Lighting Designer) is a Brooklyn-based lighting designer originally from Toronto, Canada. He designs for theatre, dance, opera, film, and everything in-between. Recent credits include The Barber of Seville (Sacramento Opera), Jane Anger (New Ohio), Everybody, Constellations (Brown / Trinity Rep), The Indigo Room (La Mama), Fragments, Lists, & Lacunae (New York Live Arts), Hoppla! We’re Alive! (New School / La Mama), NIGHTGOWNS (Sasha Velour / The Documentary Group), El Huracán (Yale Rep / The Sol Project). MFA: Yale School of Drama.

SEAN-JOSEPH CHOO (Sound Designer) is a multi-ethnic, multi-hyphenate artist from Honolulu, and the Lead Steward + Head Jester of Kamamo House, a queer-centered theatre, artist cultivation/advocacy organization, and podcast. Career highlights: i <3 my AAPI grandparents! world premiere, Pan Asian Rep, NuWorks 2022; Think Mink! song and music video commission from TheaterWorks USA; composer/co-director of the Emmy-award winning “Da Holidays” episode of The HI Way; composer/songwriter for Hawaii Shakespeare Festival’s 2018 production of All’s Well That Ends Well; Po’okela Award for Best Sound Design (Koi, Like the Fish, Kumu Kahua Theatre).

KODI LYNN MILBURN (Production Stage Manager) is involved in all things music, theater, and media. She is amicably dubbed the “swiss army knife of theater”. NYFA PCMT ‘17 Cross discipline credits include: Sylvia Milo’s The Other Mozart (Hong Kong, Players Theatre NYC, U.S. Tour), AMP (HERE), Tussaud/Antoinette (IRT), My Onliness (The New Ohio), Chess (American Theater for Actors), Uta Hagen Centennial Salon (Lincoln Center), Utterance of my name (Baryshnikov Arts Center), Sparkle Spa (BMI), Ewalt & Walker (54 Below), Mary & Max (Bobby Cronin & Crystal Skillman), Voyage en Chanson (National Sawdust), L’autre Mozart (Fringe North, Halifax Fringe), Rhinoceros (Atlantic Acting School)

PAUL BIRTWISTLE (Properties Supervisor) Atlantic Props Crew: The Bedwetter. Other Off-Broadway props crew: american (tele)visions (NYTW), Corsicana (Playwrights), Epiphany (Lincoln Center). BA: Bennington College. Love to Dawn, Tom, and James.

STEPHANIE KLAPPER CASTING (Casting) has been working with creative teams and casting projects for over 25 years. Led by Stephanie, the award-winning SKC has cast hundreds of projects in New York, regionally and around the world. Born out of Stephanie’s love of directing, working with creative people, and making impactful connections, SKC approaches every project with the commitment to collaboration with fellow artists. Understanding that each work possesses its own individual facets and unique requirements, SKC brings a commitment and passion for finding the right people and guiding a piece from concept to reality. With innovative thinking and problem-solving ability, SKC brings respect, care, and integrity to every project we cast. Stephanie Klapper Casting is dedicated to inclusiveness, equity, diversity, and the creation

ATLANTIC THEATER COMPANY (Neil Pepe, Artistic Director; Jeffory Lawson, Managing Director). At Atlantic, our aim is singular—to empower simple and honest storytelling that fosters greater understanding of our shared world. We are a family of artists dedicated to exploring essential truths onstage, be it a show at Atlantic Theater Company or a class at Atlantic Acting School. As a producer, presenter, and educator of theater, we are driven by the belief that theater can challenge and transform our ways of thinking and urge us to reflect on our role in society. From our Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning productions to our community-based education programs, we are committed to uncovering and celebrating the stories of our varied human existence. Founded as an ensemble of impassioned artists in 1985, Atlantic Theater Company has grown into a powerhouse Off-Broadway company. We challenge, inspire, and awaken audiences with truthful storytelling presented across our two venues, the Linda Gross Theater and the intimate Stage 2 black-box. As a producer of compelling new works, we are committed to championing the stories from new and established artists alike, amplifying the voices of emerging playwrights through our deeply collaborative programs and initiatives. We have produced more than 200 plays and musicals including Tony Award-winning productions of The Band’s Visit (David Yazbek, Itamar Moses), Spring Awakening (Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik), and The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Martin McDonagh); Pulitzer Prize recipient Between Riverside and Crazy (Stephen Adly Guirgis); New York Drama Critics’ Circle winners for Best New Play The Night Alive (Conor McPherson) and Best Foreign Play Hangmen (Martin McDonagh); Obie Award winners for Best New American Play Guards at the Taj and Describe the Night (Rajiv Joseph); Obie Award Special Citation recipient Skeleton Crew (Dominique Morisseau); Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award and Lucille Lortel Award winner English (Sanaz Toossi); and New York Drama Critics’ Circle, Drama Desk Award, and Lucille Lortel Award winner for Best New Musical Kimberly Akimbo (David Lindsay-Abaire, Jeanine Tesori).