130 respond to open transgender casting call for “Southern Comfort”

Southern Comfort

Based on Kate Davis’ 2001 Sundance Award-winning documentary, SOUTHERN COMFORT tells the true story of a group of transgender friends living life on their own terms in the back hills of rural Georgia. Southern Comfort is folk and bluegrass inspired musical, a celebration redefining family and choosing love over every obstacle.

Annette O’Toole and Jeff McCarthy, who originated the roles of Robert Eads and Lola Cola in the 2011 CAP21 and 2013 Barrington Stage Company productions of Southern Comfort, will reprise their roles at the Public.

They will be joined by Lizzie Hagstedt (Storyteller Musician, Bass), Jeffrey Kuhn (Jackson), Elizabeth Ward Land (Storyteller Musician, Djembe), David M. Lutken (Storyteller Musician, Guitar), Morgan Morse (Musician), Robin Skye (Melanie), and Joel Waggoner (Storyteller Musician, Violin). Donnie Cianciotto and Aneesh Sheth complete the cast of after an open call to the transgender community and a nationwide search for submissions.

Winner of the Jonathan Larson Award, Theater Mania reports, this folk- and bluegrass-flavored musical follows the final year in the life of Robert Eads, a trans man dying of ovarian cancer after being refused treatment by a dozen doctors.

The New York Times and Playbill spotlight two of those transactors.

Southern Comfort

Aneesh Sheth

Ms. Aneesh Sheth, according to her website is a singer, actress, producer, director, writer, educator and activist. Born in Pune, India and relocating to the United States at an early age, she quickly found a passion for music. At 6 years old, she began studying piano and by middle school she had also picked up the flute and began voice training. Having sung classically up through high school, she then attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts for Musical Theatre. After receiving her BFA, she travelled the country performing in musicals including A.R. Rahman’s Bombay Dreams as Sweetie in 2006.

In 2008, Aneesh began her journey as a transgender woman. It is unclear at post time which part Ms Sheth will play.

Donnie Cianciotto a trans man from Arizona, will be playing Sam in the off-Broadway production at The Public Theater.

Southern Comfort

Donnie Cianciotto

Donnie told the NY Times that he first came to understand his being transgender while doing drag shows in Tuscon.

“Luckily for me, since my background is in theater, I was cajoled into performing in a drag show when I was 26 years old. Drag was something I never wanted to do because I was afraid people would think I “wanted to be a guy.” Turned out it was a lot more fun than I’d thought it would be (who doesn’t like having money shoved down their pants?) and I was hooked.”
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“One morning after a show I saw a picture a friend had taken of me on social media. It was a candid shot, taken without my knowledge, of me leaning against a wall grinning at whatever was happening onstage at the moment. I saw a picture of a happy guy, with his side burns and facial hair, eyes smiling, enjoying himself and I thought, “Holy crap, that guy is me! Not just, like, literally me but ME!”

Southern Comfort will be playing Feb 23rd through March 27 at the Public Theater. You can buy your tickets online here

Editor in Chief at

Kelli Busey an outspoken gonzo style journalist has been writing since 2007. In 2008, she brought the Dallas Advocate on-line and has articles published by the Reconciling Ministries Network, The Transsexual Menace, The Daily Kos, Frock Magazine the TransAdvocate, the Dallas Voice and The Advocate. Kelli, an avid runner is editor in chief at Planet Transgender which she founded in 2007.

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