DOUGLAS STEPHEN DOWNS
Composer / Lyricist / Co-Writer began his stage career at the age of 8 when he appeared in a concert to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. From there he worked steadily in and around his home county of Surrey, England as a singer, impressionist and ventriloquist. At the age of 12, Stephen landed a featured role in the West End production of DAMN YANKEES, directed by the legendary George Abbott; the first of many appearances in London’s West End. At age 15, Stephen signed with HMV/EMI and began a recording career that lasted for over a decade, and which included a top ten single; Stephen’s ‘pop star’ career culminated in opening for the Beatles at the height of Beatlemania. At age 17, Stephen became Mel Tormé’s protégé, an achievement he rates as one of the highest moments in his career. Stephen was also the youngest performer to ever headline London’s legendary Astor Club. In 1965, Merv Griffin signed Stephen and brought him to New York as a regular on his TV show. Stephen’s career has encompassed stage, television, radio, recording and cabaret. His career has run the gamut from Classics to Pop, and from voice-overs to Shakespeare. Stephen appeared on the TONIGHT SHOW with Johnny Carson and made regular guest appearances on other prime-time TV shows, including HALLMARK HALL OF FAME’s production of Shaw’s Saint Joan with Roddy MacDowell, and ABC STAGE ’67′s On the Flip Side with Rick Nelson. Stephen also cut two albums for MGM records, the second of which gave him the opportunity to display his talent as a composer and lyricist. Stephen’s first musical, FESTIVAL, starring Tony Award winners Brian Stokes Mitchell and Michael Rupert, opened on Broadway after a successful tour of regional theatres, including the Ford’s Theatre, Washington, DC. FESTIVAL is published by Samuel French and is a favorite with High Schools and Colleges. Stephen’s second musical, IN THE BLUE ROOM, was a critical and box office hit in Los Angeles
TONI HANDCOCK DOWNS
Writer / Director / Teacher has worn many hats in her career. She is an accomplished actress, writer, producer, director, acting teacher and drama coach. She has done guest appearances on numerous television shows and worked extensively in theatre, both here and in her second home, London, England, where she is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Back in the States, Toni studied with Stella Adler and various other teachers and began her career as an acting teacher with Jenna MacMahon. Toni continued teaching for Stella Adler, Guy Stockwell and Rudy Solari before starting her own school in the late 70s. Toni also created a very successful children’s acting program; and, while teaching at the Lee Strasberg Institute, Toni created an after-school acting program for children of the homeless. Toni was on the Board of Directors at Betty Garrett’s Theatre West, where she produced the 1990 Theatre West Fest. Toni was also a founding member and co-producer of the Hollywood Center Theatre Repertory and The New Playwrights Foundation.
STEPHEN & TONI began their creative partnership in 1989 when they formed their production company, Hands Down Productions. As a writing, producing, directing and teaching team they have written for stage, film and television, as well as being published authors. They also created the very successful Musical Comedy Workshop in Los Angeles and New York. They have written several musicals, including LOVE 40, a four character book musical about love in your 40s; JOANNA’S DAY, about 12 year-old Joanna Murray's adventures in Camelot. Also, Toni & Stephen were hired by Stephen Spielberg to adapt his made-for-TV Civil War movie, CLASS OF '61, into a Broadway musical. Their musical, THE MAJOR & THE MINOR, has had successful readings in New York City. In 2007 Toni and Stephen formed HANDS DOWN PRESS with JULIE DUQUET as Creative Director. The first two books published under their imprint are THE HIDDEN LIE, A BATTLE & HASTINGS mystery; and the first book in the JOANNA IN TIME series, JOANNA'S DAY. Both books are available on Amazon.com in Kindle Books. Their current musical projects are THE GHOSTS OF THE TITANIC, a mystical, musical visit with the ghosts who haunt the wreck of the Titanic, THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS, and IN THE GOLDEN AFTERNOON, a journey back to Wonderland in the company of the old Alice and her beloved friend Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll.
STEPHEN & TONI have taught music and drama in Westchester for over 10 years and have mentored students into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, England, and Interlochen in Michigan and are members of the Armonk Arts Council in Westchester, NY.