Solo Arts Heal – Cynthia Shaw Velvet Determination

Solo Arts Heal
Hosted by Gail Schickele

Excerpts, talkbacks and Q&A with special guests
providing health and healing education and advocacy.

Wednesday, September 23 | 7:30pm

Cynthia Shaw

Velvet Determination

a musical journey about wrong notes, hard knocks, and the keys to success

Written and performed by Cynthia Shaw
Directed by Peter Michael Marino.

About the Show

Cynthia enjoyed her cheerful Colorado childhood of playing the piano and making music.  All it took was picking up a random New Yorker magazine in her pediatrician’s office to awaken her artistic soul leading her to New York City and its esteemed Manhattan School of Music. This journey proves to be a bit more difficult than she innocently expected when she realizes New York City is very different from her hometown, Pueblo Colorado.  As the student who struggles with shaky memorization, insufficient technique and, conflicts with her jazz trombone playing father’s musical disinterest, the fear that no one truly wants to listen to her, she ultimately masters determination and resilience and overcomes the obstacles that confront this naive, wide-eyed young classical pianist who tackles the Big Apple!  

In this autobiographical show, Cynthia relates the youthful determination of her younger self as she confronts her own personal demons while meeting idiosyncratic characters who either inspired, helped or hindered her journey.  She thrills her audience with musical impersonations of world-famous classical pianists as she remembers hearing them at the legendary Carnegie Hall, and she beautifully demonstrates her formidable piano technique and musical sensitivity as she performs the live classical piano music of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin and Debussy.

“…earnestly tells her story, full of a quiet energy…she clearly knows her way around the keys, and she shows us what a little perseverance can accomplish.”Cayleigh Boniger ​Pittsburgh in the Round​, April 8, 2019

“Every story Shaw tells rings with authenticity and honesty. That is a prerequisite for any autobiographical performance, to be sure, but Shaw has a beautiful way of recapturing her own youthful exuberance that keeps the work light yet sincere.” – Alex Miller, October 29, 2018


Cynthia Shaw

Piano Pieces played in the show include:
Bach Italian Concerto
Chopin Nocturne
Brahms Piano Concerto
Beethoven sonata
Debussy l’isle joyeuse

Greg Rowe-Pasos, LMFT
San Francisco/Santa Cruz

Show Trailer

About The Artist

Cynthia Shaw, pianist, singer and actor, lives in Brooklyn, NY.  She was born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado and moved to New York to attend the esteemed Manhattan School of Music.  Since graduating, she has dedicated her life to music and acting. She has musical directed over 30 regional and off-Broadway shows and acted in New York City and regional theatres.    MUSICAL HIGHLIGHTS include:  backup vocals for Paul McCartney (Carnegie Hall) and Björk (Riverside Church), singing with the New York Philharmonic when they won three Grammy Awards and playing piano for Garrison Keillor and The Prairie Home Companion at Town Hall and on NPR.  ACTING HIGHLIGHTS:  Mrs. Winemiller (Summer & Smoke, Terry Schreiber, director), Liz Fuller (Me and Jezebel, Kentucky Repertory Theatre), Arkadina and Ranevskaya (Mr. Chekov and Mr. Porter, Medicine Show Theatre) and many other Off-Broadway theatres in New York.  Her film work has been presented at Cannes Festival Corner, The Film Society of Lincoln Center, The Soho International Film Festival and The Big Apple Film Festival, to name a few.  Her one woman show, Velvet Determination, won 2018 “Best Festival Debut” at NYC’s United Solo Festival at Theatre Row, Pittsburgh Fringe’s “Best Solo Show”, “Best Personal Journey” at the Boulder Fringe Festival and “Best Theatre Production” at the Galway Fringe Festival.  She was scheduled to perform at the world-famous 2020 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but this year was cancelled so she will perform in Edinburgh in August, 2021.

Talkback Guest Speaker

Greg Rowe-Pasos is a native of Flint, Michigan, a graduate of France’s national school of journalism and now a psychotherapist in the San Francisco Bay Area. During his writing days Greg wrote for magazines, publishers, the theater and independent film including a stint as a writer in residence at the Cinemathèque Nationale in Paris. So convinced is he of both the destructive and healing power of conversation that he hopes to spurn millions of civil mini-discussions among average citizens before the elections.


Solo performers present real-life, empowering stories. Transformative experiences for audiences. A theater of resilience that celebrates overcoming mental and physical life challenges and offers hope and inspiration. SOLO ARTS HEAL includes excerpts, talkbacks, and Q&A that provide education and advocacy. Readings or clips of performances will be shared by artists in conversation with Gail Schickele, whose work as a manager and producer of solo artists inspired collaboration of performing arts presenters with artists on a medical track based on their personal experience. The collective creative vision? To help communities through educational outreach and the healing power of the Arts. 

Gail Schickele (Host) champions arts & sciences taking her left and right brain wherever she travels. As an arts manager, consultant, and producer dba SAGE Artists, she convened an ‘Arts Heals’ group of solo artists at APAP 2020 whose unique stories of physical and mental challenges evince the healing power of The Arts.  The COVID lockdown inspired Stephanie Weisman to create SOLO ARTS HEAL to share these outstanding stories of resilience, dramatic and comedic, for the entertainment and benefit of communities everywhere. Gail’s expertise in marketing, management, booking and production has served various theaters, festivals and events nationwide. Trained as a journalist in New York and Colorado, Gail has covered Colorado state politics and the environmental landscape of the Rockies. Environmental science inspires her educational and advocacy work in California with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, and for the League of Women Voters for which she’s worked as an administrator and reporter on environmental issues Including legislation, climate science outreach, and co-chair of an environmental speakers series. Gail is honored to host SOLO ARTS HEAL where artists powerful stories offer audiences great performance and ‘informance’ on issues related to health and the environment, inexorably linked.

Upcoming Solo Arts Heal Programs

September 30 – Amy Oestreicher

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