Stories & Cast Interviews

Friday, July 26, 2019

ABOUT MAMBO ITALIANO

Posted by: Pia Haas on Friday, July 26, 2019 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

In 2009 after the successful launch of the musical adaptation of the cult 80s film called “The Toxic Avenger”, Tom Polum and I were brainstorming about other possible underlying works which could be adapted to the stage. Tom suggested an independent Canadian film called “Mambo Italiano” which we both thought was really hilarious. We fell in love with the characters, especially the roles of the older generation played by Ginette Reno and Paul Sorvino. Tom pursued the underlying rights from the authors of the screenplay, Emile Gaudreault and Steve Galluccio (which was based on Steve’s stage play of the same name), through their wonderful agent, Nathalie Goodwin.

Although the film is based in Canada, we went about finding a setting for the show in New Jersey which we knew had a heavy concentration of Italian Americans. We headed to Hammonton, which boasts more than 40% of its population being of Italian descent. We stopped in St. Joseph Church grabbed a church bulletin and headed out to visit some of their advertisers including family-owned Bagliani’s Market. One of the sons in the Bagliani Family’s 4th generation shared many amusing experiences of working in an Italian-American family-owned business. We also attended the “Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel,” an annual celebration dominated by food and families. We eventually made our way to Vineland, New Jersey, which is home to the Landis Theatre. It had been beautifully restored and they were preparing for an upcoming concert by Sicilian-American Bernadette Lazzara, also known as the actress Bernadette Peters!

Lori DiMatteo-Fiocchi, a board member on the Landis Theatre Foundation, organized a gathering of Italian-American mothers for us to chat with to learn more about raising Italian American kids in a very American culture. They generously shared their love of their culture and the trials and tribulations of raising kids caught between two cultures.

Michael Coco, our friend and director of theatre operations for the Shubert Organization suggested it was time to bring on lyricist Omri Schein and composer James Olmstead, the team behind the award-winning musical “Gary Goldfard, Master Escapist,” which had been highly praised in The New York Times for its irreverent book and lyrics and catchy music. We knew they would be perfect for Mambo. Michael also introduced us to Broadway professional Steve Edlund who served as an invaluable dramaturge on our team.

It has been a wonderful journey so far and we are excited about what the future holds. All shows need to go through significant development before heading to Broadway and we are grateful to Westchester Broadway Theatre’s Bob Funking, Bill Stutler, and Lisa Tiso for their wonderful producing team, and the warm and supportive audiences for making this World Premiere possible. Thank you!

Jean Cheever (for the Creative Team)

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Maria Bilbao as Gloria Estefan in On Your Feet!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I grew up in Miami, Florida and was raised by my mom and my abuela. My father was around for the first eight or so years of my life, and we lost contact once he moved to the Dominican Republic. I am so proud to come from a Cuban family and to have this culture engrained so strongly in my being. I spent a few years living in St. Kitts with my mother who was pursuing her dream by going to University studying Veterinary Medicine. While she was finishing her time at school, I moved back to Miami to live with my abuela and start middle school. I knew I wanted to pursue theater, so I then went to a performing arts high school where my love just continued to grow for this craft. My family has always supported my decisions in life, and have always pushed me to pursue my dreams and to never stop trying. 

 

The first moment I knew I wanted to be an actor was when I saw Jekyll and Hyde at the ripe age of seven (I know, dark show for a seven-year-old). I absolutely loved it and from that moment on I told my mom that I just had to be on stage. My mom has been a pivotal influence on me as she has always loved musicals. I remember watching so many shows with her at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami and blasting Once on this Island in the car singing the entire soundtrack. My mom got me involved in a community theater organization called Miami Children’s Theater, where I was able to perform in over 25 shows throughout my high school career and meet so many mentors who have helped shape me into the person I am today. And I can’t forget my amazing theater abuela who always went out of her way to put me in private lessons and classes so I could have the best education. 

 

I first heard of On Your Feet when they were having auditions in Miami Florida for the first time. I was actually on the news waiting in line to audition when channel 7 was doing a special on the auditions taking place. I think I was 17 years old at the time. Then I went on to see the show twice on Broadway with my aunt. I fell in love with the show, and I think I did so much because it reminded me so much of home. It was so beautiful to see people like me on a Broadway stage and to see a story I can relate to on such a personal level. My favorite part of the show was always the song Wrapped during Gloria’s surgery dream, but now my favorite moment is Famous. I love this moment so much because it’s her first real moment of stillness and it is so raw and full of emotion. 
This is my first time working with WBT. I absolutely love the staff and have loved working with the amazing creative team that was on this beautiful show.  I am in love with my cast that has become like a family to me throughout this process. 

 
My favorite shows are currently Hadestown (I am obsessed), Phantom of the Opera, Pajama Game, Kinky Boots, and many more. I lose track, haha. My ultimate dream role is Elphaba in Wicked as well as Christine in Phantom of the Opera

 

I really enjoy practicing yoga, it’s a passion of mine that just makes me feel so good inside and out. I also love to paint, sing when no ones home, and I love a relaxing glass of wine at my favorite wine bar with one or two good friends of mine (or even just myself). After 8 shows a week, it’s so important to rest and take care of your body and mental health. 


Right now I have been playing Hadestown non-stop on my Spotify account. If not that, you will ALWAYS catch me listing to Stevie Wonder or some amazing hits from the ’60s on. I have an old soul for music. I also listen to early 2000’s music, Latin love songs, some Lizzo, Beyoncé, and so much more. I have a very eclectic taste in music. 

  

 

 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Sandy Rosenberg returns as Consuelo in On Your Feet!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, June 13, 2019 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

 I grew up in Brooklyn NY. First generation American. My grandma lived with us.  Very old school. I am a proud product of the NYC Public school system and I attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY.

Being the youngest of 3, you try to find your own place in the hierarchy. I could always make people laugh so getting that reaction probably sowed the seeds of a career in entertainment. 

I believe I've always wanted to perform…from singing ‘RED RED ROBIN’ on top of a piano in the Catskills at age 5 to imitating TV commercials, to school plays. At synagogue, around 6th grade, I did move into the role of Tevye from Yente in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF when Tevye had too much homework.  I was also the Fiddler as I took 50 cent violin lessons every Tuesday.  We also did THE SOUND OF MUSIC at the temple but because it was an orthodox temple, they rewrote history and there were no nuns….and I, as the rabbi’s wife sang CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN….and Maria became Miriam…it could happen.

I first heard of On Your Feet as it was getting ready to open on Broadway. There were a lot of interviews with the Estefans. I Never did this show before.  I Love listening to the glorious music. It just makes you happy.  

This is probably my 6th show here at WBT.  I played Sister Mary Lazarus in Sister Act. I was Carlotta in PHANTOM twice, I performed in one of the Christmas shows, and played Flo Manero in Saturday Night Fever. I Love the people who work at WBT. It feels like a family after all these years.

I’ve been going to the theatre since I was 5…. there are too many favorite shows to mention or even think about.  SWEENEY TODD is one of my favorite shows…. along with CANDIDE, HAMILTON, MAME….) Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd is a dream role but I don’t think I have the energy for it anymore. 

When not on stage, I love to cook, travel, do photography…rest, and play with my dog.

 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Meet Lauren Cosio in ON YOUR FEET

Posted by: Pia Haas on Monday, June 10, 2019 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Lauren plays Rebecca Fajardo, Gloria's younger sister in On Your Feet. She makes her Westchester Broadway Theatre debut! 

I grew up in San Antonio, TX to a Mexican/Israeli family. My mom's family is from Mexico and my father was born in Israel but grew up in South America. The Latin culture was a big part of my upbringing. I grew up listening to a lot of Gloria Estefan

When I was in the 6th grade, I was accidentally placed in choir. For years before that, I was a pianist and had no idea I could even sing. Once I started I couldn’t stop! A few months later, I was cast in my first musical Bye, Bye, Birdie and the rest was history. I guess you could say I got the theater bug!

I first saw this show in 2015 when it opened on Broadway along with a few more times before it closed. I grew up listening to Gloria Estefan, so this show always had a special place in my heart. I love how inspiring this show is. You see the struggles Gloria went through and how she never gave up. I also love the community it creates. Whether you are a part of the Latin community or not, this show will have you dancing and up on your feet by the end! 

On Your Feet is definitely one of my favorite shows! My dream role will always be Christine in Phantom of the Opera. It was the first show I ever saw on Broadway and the reason I pursued this career! 

I grew up with all different styles of music and definitely have an appreciating for everything. My favorite, however, is definitely some 80’s pop/rock!  

I am a huge foodie, so when I’m not on stage, you can definitely find me trying all the new restaurants in NYC!