Stories & Cast Interviews

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Lani Corson as Sister Mary Robert in SISTER ACT!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)


I grew up in a small town in Maine. When I was 8 we moved to an even smaller town, to a farm, where I rode horses and picked blueberries. I remember having to drive 30 minutes to the nearest grocery store. In that same town, as the grocery store was what influenced me to become an Actor. There was this great community theatre that had a theatre camp every summer. My first summer we did The Wizard of Oz. I was, of course, a munchkin, among other things, and that was pretty much the beginning of the end. I did many other shows there throughout the years and the Artistic Director was a big supporter of mine and helped me prepare for my college auditions.

I was super excited when I first heard they were making Sister Act a musical! I've been wanting to do it for years - thanks WBT!! I've always loved the movie; I think some movies lend themselves to be made into a musical and this is no exception. This is actually a role I've been wanting to do for years!

One of my favorite shows is Les Miserables. It was the show that really solidified my love of musical theatre and I always wanted to play Eponine. I have understudied it once and I think I'm actually transitioning to where I would rather play Fantine. Another role I would love to do is the title role in Violet

When I'm not on stage in a theatre I am usually training, teaching or performing as an aerialist. I've been training in aerial and ground acrobatics for about 9 years and am one of the owners of the theatrical circus company, 2 Ring Circus (www.2ringcircus.com). 

I like listening to music, I'm on a Dresden Dolls kick right now!

 

As Sister Mary Robert w/Zuri Washington as Deloris.             Lani in 2 Ring Circus.

Meet Katelyn Lauria as Sister Mary Patrick in SISTER ACT!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I was born in New Jersey but grew up in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. I am the youngest of three and grew up in a loving Italian Catholic Family. My grandfather, Vito, aka Number 1 Fan, influenced me to become an Actor when he took me to see my first Broadway Show, CATS. I was 6 years old and was mesmerized ever since. I had trouble focusing as a child, but that all changed with CATS. I knew then what I wanted to do.

I've had numerous mentors in my career so far, but my newest mentor is Sandy Rosenberg. She is currently starring in Sister Act as Mary Lazarus. She has taught me the wonderful ways of comedy and I really look up to her as professional/ adopted stage mother. 

A funny anecdote I have was when, at a younger age, I was cast in Evita as the role of Eva Peron. During my first performance, I forgot the line "What's New Buenos Aires". I said "Whats New?" and forgot the title of the song completely. I will never forget the look on the conductors face when I missed that line.

I first heard about Sister Act when I saw the original cast perform Raise Your Voice on the Tony Awards. I have been lucky enough to have done this show once before, at the White Plains Performing Arts Center In NY. In my last production, I was the Mary Patrick Understudy, Hooker #1 and an Ensemble Nun. 

This is my first show at Westchester Broadway Theatre and I couldn't be happier to be here. I enjoy working with such professional colleagues! It is truly a blessing to work with such talented people. I've been learning a lot from each and every one of them. 

I grew up watching Sister Act with my sisters; we used to sing along with the VHS tapes!! When I think of stage musicals being made into films, and vice versa, I feel as though, if you have good material it will be a good production either way. It all comes back to what you're working with. I enjoy the movie as well as the musical, but I have a soft spot for the musical more!

My favorite shows are Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, Annie Get Your Gun and Sunday In The Park With George. These musicals have broken barriers with their unique storytelling. My dream role is to be Mamma Rose in Gypsy. I will have to wait a couple of years to pursue that dream, but the day that I do....... Here She Is Boys, Here She Is World, IT'S ROSE!! Other dream roles would be Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd, as well as, Dot from Sunday in the Park with George. I dreamt of being Mary Patrick and I'm so glad that my dream has finally come true. 

When I'm not on stage I love to read Outlander! I love having relaxing days just binge-watching Netflix or taking a yoga or dance class. I also love spending time with my grandfather, Vito. We are best friends; we go bowling, out to dinner and to see movies together. We can also talk on the phone for hours!! He's my stress reliever! 

Currently, I have been listening to Raise Your Voice, from Sister Act. I have a little mix of everything from Beyonce to Irish Folk Music. I mainly listen to Broadway shows, but since I'm from Jersey I also have fist bump music.

Katelyn Lauria (r) as Mary Patrick. with Zuri Washington as Deloris (l)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Meet Danny Wilfred as EDDIE in SISTER ACT

Posted by: Pia Haas on Friday, April 27, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I'm originally from Virginia Beach, VA, and my parents are from Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies. Virginia Beach is a wonderful place to go home to. I miss the beach... but maybe not all the tourists. Haha

My older brother went to The Governor' s School for the Arts in Norfolk, VA  and when I was 5 years old, I saw him in a production of 42nd Street. I pointed to the dancers tapping on those giant dimes and told my mom, "I want to do THAT!"  Years later, I too attended GSA, alma mater to talented performers such as Grant Gustin and Tony-nominated Adrienne Warren. Subsequently, I attended the University of Michigan, received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theater and have been working professionally ever since.

 My experience as a student at GSA truly prepared me to take on this career and I am so grateful for my training there, as well as at the University of Michigan.

I first listened to Sister Act in a performance class at Michigan. I guess they knew I was destined to play Officer Eddie Souther forever! This is my second time with this show after receiving my equity card doing it last year at Arts Center of Coastal Carolina on Hilton Head Island, directed by Evan Pappas. I love the show. It's a lot of fun and has so much heart. Seeing those ladies kill it out there on stage each night is truly inspiring.

I adore the  Sister Act movie. They are definitely two very different approaches to the same story but I really appreciate Mr. Menken's use of 70s style in the musical. I think setting the show in late 70s Pittsburgh raises the stakes as well. It was a tumultuous time for the city. Violence, crime, and race riots pulled the city apart at its seams. As a black male Police Officer under former Mayor and Police Commissioner  Frank Rizzo's authoritarian control would be a terrifying ordeal. Not only is Deloris's life on the line, but his as well. As an actor, that's the kind of background and depth you crave. 

One of my all-time favorite shows is Cabaret. I've done it 3 times, finally playing the Emcee last year at Highlands Playhouse in North Carolina. It is so tragically beautiful and relevant. Donkey in Shrek was a ton of fun, as was Seaweed in Hairspray! Of course, I'd love to play everyone in Hamilton... literally everyone. Haha

When not on stage, I love television! It's one of my favorite means of storytelling and I'm currently working on my own web series. Stay tuned!

Musically, I'm currently obsessed with Chloe and Halle, two teenage sisters, talented beyond their years! Their new album The Kids Are Alright is incredible. I'm also anxiously awaiting the release of Janelle Monáe's new album, Dirty Computer. She's a visionary.

 Danny as Eddie (r) with Zuri Washington as Deloris. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Meet Mary Jo McConnell as Mother Superior in SISTER ACT!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

 I am a native New Yorker. I attended grade school at Most Precious Blood School with the Josephite Sisters  & St. Vincent Ferrer High School with the Dominican Sisters. Summer camp was at Mary Mother Mazzarello in Paterson, NJ with the Salesian Sisters. I had the privilege to sing with The NYU Choral Arts Society at  Christmas Eve mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, celebrated by Pope Paul VI.

I always sang in church and the Sisters asked me if I was "going to offer my voice for God". As a little girl, I knew every lyric of The Sound Of Music film score. My parents took me to see the original production of  Company as a teenager and  I became an instant Sondheim fan.   

I was active extracurricularly in the  NYU Washington Square Players while pursuing my BSN in Nursing.  After graduation, I did ten weeks of Summer Stock at the Surflight Theatre while studying my nursing boards and then went into The U.S. Army Nurse Corps. 

The theatre is one of the most important morale support activities, so, I was a frequent performer even while serving my country.  Judges would travel to all the base theatres around the world and award “Best Actor” trophies, so, I have my two “Army Tonys”!!!!  I started my professional acting career soon after leaving the military and earned an MFA from  American Conservatory Theatre In San Francisco.

I was in the Ensemble and understudied both Mother Superior and Mary Lazarus in the first National Tour of  Sister Act Directed by Jerry Zaks.

My dream role is Queen Margaret in Richard III.  I perform a section of one of her monologues in my short film TRUMPED which I co-wrote and produced.

When not on stage, I enjoy making films, cooking, and travel.