producer / writer / actor (merce)
Charles Sanchez is a gay, HIV+ writer, performer, director and activist living in New York City. He is one of the co-founders of Skipping Boyz Productions, and conceived, writes and stars in the musical comedy web series, Merce, which was named Best HIV/AIDS Content at America’s Rainbow Film Festival in 2016 and won the
Audience Award for Short Film at the 2017 Kaleidoscope Film Festival. Sanchez grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, and started his artistic life as a member of the Phoenix Boys Choir. With the choir he toured Europe, Canada, and the US, and even sang for President Carter. Sanchez moved to New York City at 19 to study performing at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. His acting career has taken him from Lincoln Center, Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre, to the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Murry’s Dinner Playhouse in Little Rock, AR. As a director, he has staged plays and cabarets in New York, Los Angeles, and in several theatres regionally. In 2003, Charles woke up in the hospital to find out he'd been in a 3-week drug induced coma, due to advanced HIV: AIDS. Because of his diagnosis, he became an activist. He has attended the national AIDSWatch conference in Washington D.C. four times, and has been featured in public service videos for the CDC’s “Start Talking. Stop HIV.” campaign, as well as for Remedy Health Media and EverydayHealth.com. He was a member of the HIV Divide Flash Collective led by artist Avram Finklestein and writer/activist Mark S. King, which created messaging and imagery around the viral divide between HIV positive and negative gay men. He was also chosen to be a Social Media Fellow at the US Conference on AIDS in 2016, sponsored by the National Minority AIDS Council. Sanchez has been a Contributing Editor for TheBody.com since 2017, and has had essays published on PositivelyAware.com, Them.us and HuffPost Queer Voices. Sanchez has received many nominations at several festivals for his writing of and acting in Merce, and was named Best Actor in a Webisode at The 2016 Official Latino Short Film Festival. He was included in Healthline.com's list of HIV Honors: The Most Influential Voices of 2017, and was honored in POZ Magazine's 2018 POZ 100, celebrating people over 50 making a difference in the fight against HIV and the stigma surrounding it.
producer / director/ actor (mama)
Tyne Firmin is one of the founders of Skipping Boyz Productions, and the director and actor in the web series, Merce, winner of Best HIV/AIDS Content at the 2016 America's Rainbow Film Festival and the Audience Award for Short Film at the 2017 Kaleidoscope Film Festival. Firmin was born in Cajun country in southern Louisiana and lived many years in the Midwest until finding home in New York City. Firmin has worked as a professional actor, director, producer and educator. He performed Off Broadway in Nora, The Crucible, and Biography, as well as the Kafkaesque musical Ministry of Progress. He also starred as Seymour in the European tour of Little Shop of Horrors. He was featured in the independent films Bob Funk and Boot Camp. Firmin trained with master acting teacher Fred Kareman, and worked with Fred’s wife Pamela Moller-Kareman in many productions at The Schoolhouse Theatre in Croton Falls, NY. Firmin also produced and directed the web series Manhattan Man-Travels. For his role as Mama in Merce, Firmin was honored with a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the NYC WebFest in 2016.
composer / lyricist [season two]
Rob Hartmann is a composer/lyricist/bookwriter who co-created and lead the Masters Course in Writing Musicals at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London. He was formerly on the faculty of New York University’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program where he received his MFA. Rob has had more than a dozen musicals produced in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, and Nashville. Most notable productions include Vanishing Point, which has been seen across the US and also in Madrid; Macabaret, which recently saw its 30th production; and projects such as Aliens: The Puppet Musical (a parody version of the movie Aliens).
ADAM J. RINEER
composer / lyriciSt / MUSIC DIRECTOR [season two]
Adam is so honored and thrilled to be working on such an important project as Merce. Originally from Lancaster, PA, he is a NYC-based songwriter and music director. He has traveled the country working as a music director and pianist and as a songwriter his work has been performed in New York (including the New York Musical Festival) and Los Angeles. He is also the co-writer (along with lyricist/playwright Ian Connor) of the developing sex-positive musical, The Naked Truth.
composer / lyricist [season one]
Ken Kruper - pianist, composer/lyricist, and performer. Theater: GRIMM: a new musical (St. John's University, 2012 NY International Fringe Festival), Roman Fever (2014 MITF). Contemporary Music: The Free Candy Band. Performance: Fresh Ground Pepper's Decades, ForwardFlux's create:collaborate series. Ken also performs at Don't Tell Mama piano bar in NYC. Ken was nominated for Best Score at the 2016 NYC Web Fest for his work on Merce.
CHOREOGRAPHER [SEASON TWO]
Garret is a professional circus performer and dancer based in New York City. He likes to describe his passion for performance as "hungry". He got his start as a performer dancing in a dolphin costume and couldn't get enough of it! After college, Garret moved to NYC so he could fulfill his dream of joining the circus. Now you can find Garret performing all over the city, or teaching fitness at studios throughout Manhattan.
Director of Photography / lead editor
Johnny Coughlin studied film at Indiana University. He started his production company, Big Village Media in Chicago. He has shot and edited two feature length films and one documentary for PBS. Since moving to New York in 2014, Coughlin has become a much sought after Director of Photography for both creative and industrial projects. He is currently working on a documentary chronicling the lives of Singing Telegrams. Born in the deep South and brought up in the Midwest, Coughlin now lives in Brooklyn with his wife Alyssa and two small dogs.