WBT Blog

Monday, January 18, 2016

Erin McCracken Plays PATSY CLINE

Posted by: Pia Haas on Monday, January 18, 2016 at 12:00:00 am Comments (1)

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I was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. No, I did not grow up on a farm, but I do come from a very big family and we spent all the big holiday on my uncle's farm in the mountains of Oklahoma. I spent a lot of time in church where I sang in the choir and was very involved in the youth groups. Both of my brothers, Caden and Logan, were very athletic (and still are!) but I had not one athletic bone in my body. So I stuck with singing and acting.  Thankfully my parents were and are very supportive of my love for musical theater. Being from Oklahoma, my brothers and I were born and bred on country music. We grew up listening to all the great country artists, including Miss Patsy Cline, and of course, all of the great Okie singers like Garth Brooks & Reba McEntire.

My mother was a singer and played the piano so I was singing and singing loud from the start! She has a love for musical theatre that rubbed right off on me. My pastor in Oklahoma says he was completely astonished when he visited our home one day and I got right up on the coffee table and belted out 'Let Me Call You Sweetheart' when I was around 5 years old. I loved being on stage and performing when I was younger but what really sealed the deal for me was my first trip to New York City. I was in the 6th grade and we went to NYC to see our Okie friend, Kristin Chenoweth, in the Broadway show 'Steel Pier'. I was mesmerized by the spectacle of it all. I had seen many musicals but nothing like that. It was that same trip that we saw 'Candide' at the Gershwin Theatre and that just put me over the top. Being a musical theatre actor was what I was going to do. 

I always loved singing but my high school drama teacher, Rosemary Baker, was influential in the sense that she really helped to love acting and creating characters. Being from Oklahoma, I knew I had to study with Florence Birdwell at Oklahoma City University for voice training. She taught me how to really sing. Not only technically but emotionally. Her training prepared me to be a professional in the musical theatre world.  

My very first audition and call back in NYC were for this show, Always...Patsy Cline!  I was too young at the time but after that audition process, I knew it would be on my dream role list. Last year that dream came true. I had the opportunity to play Patsy Cline at Ocean State Theatre under the direction of Amiee Turner, who is also directing this production!  

At first, I was very nervous about portraying Patsy Cline. When you play an icon you automatically have this overwhelming feeling of making sure everything is perfect and spot on. But there is only one Patsy Cline so I just create her to the best of my ability. I read up on her life, studied videos and had a lot of help from coaches to perfect my Patsy sound. 

Dream roles would be Eliza Doolittle in 'My Fair Lady' and Rose in 'Gypsy', although I have a few years to go before I can tackle that character. My "guilty pleasure dream role" would be Elle in 'Legally Blonde', maybe some day!

This will be my third show at WBT. My first was A SLEEPY HOLLOW CHRISTMAS CAROL and then I played Tracy Turnblad in HAIRSPRAY.   One of the things I love about WBT, a regional theatre, is that you can get Broadway quality theatre so close to to New York City...and dinner is included! 

 I live in New York City, so I enjoy exploring the city and finding new and fun places to eat! I love nothing more than spending a night out in the city with good food and good friends. I love going to movies and seeing live theatre as much as I can. But, more than anything I enjoy figuring out how I can get back on stage.
 
My IPod holds Everything! Pop, music theatre, country, jazz, indie... You name it!  I love Christmas music and listen to it year around!  Beyonce, Adele, Carrie Underwood & Kelly Clarkson are constantly on repeat (I have a thing for strong female singers)!

 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lee Harrington Joins The Cast Of Show Boat

Posted by: Pia on Tuesday, January 5, 2016 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

 

Lee Harrington  joins the cast as Magnolia Hawks in SHOW BOAT!

Show Boat as it returns for a second run at Westchester Broadway Theatre from Dec 30th  to January 31st , 2016.

LEE HARRINGTON  (Magnolia) Thrilled to be a part of this wonderful company! Off Broadway: Into the Woods (Roundabout Theatre Company), JELLYBEAN- original solo show (Fringe Festival). Regional: My Fair Lady (Sharon Playhouse), Company (Pittsburgh Public), Merrily We Roll Along (Cincinnati Playhouse) Marvelous Wonderettes (Stoneham Theatre), Man of La Mancha (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey), and Dead Man's Cell Phone (CMU).  Training:  Carnegie Mellon.

Our production stars Sarah Hanlon as Julie Laverne, Lee Harrington as Magnolia Hawks, John Preator as Gaylord Ravenal, Jamie Ross as Cap’n Andy, Karen Murphy as Parthy Hawks, Amanda Pulcini as Ellie May Shipley, Michael James Leslie as Joe, Daniel Scott Walton as Frank Schultz, and Inga Ballard as Queenie.

Featuring the talents of; Malcom Armwood, Eric Briarley, Erin Chupinsky, Micharel Dauer, Jonathan Freeland, Alia Hodge, Justin R.G. Holcomb, Celeste Hudson, Paul-Jordan Jansen, Leisa Mather,  Zoie Morris, Gabriella Perez, Kristyn Pope, Adam Richardson, Roger Preston Smith and Karen Webb.

 Set and Costume Design is by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case, Lighting Design is by Andrew Gmoser, Sound Design is by Jonathan Hatton and Mark Zuckerman, Hair/wig design by Gerard KellySteve Loftus is the Technical Director, The Production Stage Manager is Victor Lukas, Properties are by Grumpy Props. Lisa Tiso is the Associate Producer.

Show Boat, the first great serious Broadway musical, combined the talents of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. The story, which spans almost fifty years, follows the lives, loves, and losses of a troupe of riverboat performers aboard the Cotton Blossom floating theater on the mighty Mississippi.  Its timeless score contains some of the most beautiful and emotionally charged songs ever written for a musical, including "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" and "Make Believe." “Ol’ Man River”, is the show's most memorable anthem about how the mighty Mississippi River, that unstoppable force of nature, is completely indifferent to human suffering.

Show Boat departed from typical musical comedy material, based on a best-selling novel by Edna Ferber, it's a melodrama with musical numbers that actually reveal character and further the plot. 

The musical illuminates the racial and social changes that were shaping the country in 1890-1927. It features a multiracial cast and a plot that deals, among other things, with the plight of an interracial couple for whom it's illegal to perform together in certain Southern states. 

 The show opened on Broadway at the Ziegfeld Theatre on December 27, 1927. The critics were immediately enthusiastic, and the show was a great success, running a year and a half, for a total of 572 performances. It has been revived numerous times--most successfully by Hal Prince in 1994. Two Film versions were produced by MGM including the 1936 film with a Screenplay by Oscar Hammerstein II Starring Irene Dunne and the 1951 Technicolor film version with Ava Gardner and Howard Keel

 We are thrilled to bring this classic hit musical to the WBT stage! Richard Stafford, a WBT favorite, will Direct and Choreograph the show. The Musical Director is Ryan Wise.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Meet Neil Berg!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 12:00:00 am Comments (1)

We caught up with TIM & SCROOGE Composer, Neil Berg. We asked him about his collaboration with Nick Meglin and more. Read on for some insights into the persona of this MULTI-Talented man!

 

In the late 90’s,  I was presenting my  musical “Witches Tail” at the Irvington Town Hall Theater.  Then theater manager, Pamela Rapp mentioned one of the editors at Mad Magazine, Nick Meglin had just written a musical and was looking for a composer.  Shortly thereafter, I received a libretto for a new musical entitled “Tim”.

When I read the piece it was very long but had very talented ideas. The story of a young man who wants to forge my own life resonated with me. My parents wanted me to go to law school or go into real estate. My parents were beyond disappointed that I wanted to write musicals.

I recall that during the reading,  there was one particular lyric that stood out.  It was concise, beautiful, and smart and had a flair for moving the story forward.  I wrote the melody instantaneously.  It was presented and sung by my wife, Rita Harvey (Fiddler On The Roof, Phantom of the Opera).  Nick immediately loved it.  The song “Nothing More” is one of the pivotal songs in the musical and is sung by Tim’s fiancé, Allison.

In middle school, I performed in musicals such as “Oklahoma, “Half a Six Pence”, “Camelot” and was the comic lead in “Up The Down Staircase”.  I had always had a passion for baseball.  In high school, musicals conflicted with baseball and I was forced to choose. I chose baseball and went on to Binghamton University, known for its baseball program. 

At Binghamton, I continued to play in piano bars, rock bands,  and talent shows.  In my junior year, I was asked to write a musical “Ghost Story” which was produced by the University.   I was then sought out by the professional theatre in Binghamton, The Cider Mill Playhouse, to write musicals.  Good bye baseball, good bye,  law school, hello Broadway!

I was accepted into the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop and was trained to write musicals by Skip Kennon and the legendary composer, lyricist, educator and musicologist, Maury Yeston (Nine, Titanic, Phantom, etc.).

Nick and I also wrote the musical version of the hit movie “Grumpy Old Men” which premiered at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre.

When not performing, I am an avid baseball fan,  I love classic rock music, love food and enjoy being a father and a husband.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Meet The unscrupulous, Mr. Hastings, Daniel Marcus

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, December 10, 2015 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

 
Daniel Marcus (l) with Spencer Plachy(as Peter Cratchit) and Justin Scott Brown(as Tim).

I grew up in Menlo Park in California which is next to Palo Alto where Stanford University is. My upbringing? My dad was an attorney in San Francisco and being the youngest of 5 in the baby boom era, mom had her hands full with us.  I have a sister who's married with grown children and has lived on Kibbutz Eilon up on the Lebanese border for 38 years. My oldest brother, Greil Marcus,  is a very well known author,  he's a hugely esteemed guy. One brother is no more but was my hero and cheering squad for my becoming an actor through high-school. He was in all the plays and musicals in high school and majored in theatre and then decided to become a lawyer. Bill Marcus. And the other brother Steve is retired and lives near Santa Rosa in California. 

What Influenced me to pursue Acting?  "Patience" by Gilbert and Sullivan. I was 7 when my parents took me to see an amateur production and that did it. I spent the next 7 years coming home after school and listening to one of the operas by them twice through. This loosened up when Bill (see mentor brother above) suggested we watch something called the Tonys (only the 2nd year of their national telecast). In the midst of the scenes from plays (they did real scenes then like 10 minutes long) "1776" did "Momma Look Sharp" (this is 1969) and the electricity of what was a clear reference to Vietnam when shows like the Smothers Brothers were being censored made me want to find out more about this Broadway thing.

I was (along with Kevin Ligon) in the 1997-8 Broadway revival and if you'd told the 13-year-old me that the next time congress convened on Broadway I'd be one of them I wouldn't have believed you.   

Another coincidence ala "1776". Regarding Gilbert and Sullivan-fate put me in Joe Papp's "Pirates of Penzance" (where Kevin Kline became a star) when it moved to Broadway. My first NY job.

Directors who have made a difference in my life? That would be David Cromer, Charles Nelson Reilly, John Rando (I was the original Officer Barrel in "Urinetown") and Hal Prince. Other big directors have been Trevor Nunn, Des McAnuff, Joe Mantello. Lots of biggies. 

Great Teachers: Larry Moss, Austin Pendleton, Richard Edelman. Did I mention Larry Moss?

I am the "Tim and Scrooge" dinosaur. Nick Corley and I had done many shows together as actors; ALWAYS teamed as a pair and he called and asked me to do this when it part of a  NY festival but I was unable. However, the next time around for a reading, I was and I've been Hastings for the last 9 years of the life of this show.  From the only other full production in Queens in 2006, through readings, demos and even concerts. George Lee Andrews joined the "Tim and Scrooge" rep company a few years later than I and we are the actors who've been involved the longest. However, I have him beat a mile. 

"Company" is my favorite show with number two (which varies) always a distant second. I don't mean the 'revisals' of the show-I mean the original; Hal Prince's production which I saw 5 times. 

My Dream role: in a musical: Tony in "Most Happy Fella". In Gilbert and Sullivan: Jack Point in "Yeoman of the Guard". In a play? I'm not sure I'll say but it's one of the great roles in American theatre and in 2 years I'll be the same age as the character. Terrifying. 

When not on stage, I enjoy reading. Playing with my kitties. Enduring the abuse of my 16-year-old son (part of the job). Playing the piano most of all,  I'm kind of a whizbang, somewhat concert level guy, who started studying at 5 and I've never stopped playing. My favorite composer? Here's a hint: Gershwin is my son's middle name. 

What's on my Ipod?  "HAMILTON". What else?