Stories & Cast Interviews

Monday, October 12, 2015

Meet Michael James Leslie ... He Keeps on Rollin' Along!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Monday, October 12, 2015 at 12:00:00 am Comments (1)

Michael James Leslie plays Joe in Show Boat..  He sings the musical's most famous song, "Ol' Man River". Joe is a sort of one-man, singing "Greek chorus", who comments in song by comparing what is going on in the story to "Ol' Man River", who "just keeps rollin' along".

 

Michael with Inga Ballard (as Queenie)

I am from Brielle, New Jersey on the Jersey Shore.  I went to Brielle Grammar School, Manasquan High School, graduated Rutgers College and Cornell Law School.  I was raised with a single mother with 7 siblings.  She believed very strongly in education and hence there are 2 lawyers, 1 doctor, a psychiatric nurse, and an architect in the family.  

My mother loved the theater and frequently took me to concerts, stage plays, and night club acts such as The Supremes, Lena Horne etc.  My first show that I saw was the Pearl Bailey/Cab Calloway "Hello Dolly" and I was hooked.

 I have known about this musical since childhood.  I was also aware of Paul Robeson because there were similarities in our lives.  We both went to Rutgers, were members of the Rutgers Glee Club, we both went to law schools but opted for show business instead.  Our birthdays are 5 days apart.  I have seen both movies but prefer the 1936 version with Robeson, Irene Dunne, Hattie McDaniels, Helen Morgan, and Alan Jones.

 Stage Musicals made into films? In most cases, they have not been very good because Hollywood opts for "names" rather than true musical talent.

WBT is an interesting theater with some challenges, not the least of which is the stage.   The thing I care most about when doing a show is being respected which has to be earned as well as given. 

Some favorite show are The Drowsy Chaperone, Something Rotten, The Book of Mormon, Company, Dreamgirls, A Little Night Music, Ragtime.  Dream role: Sweeney in Sweeney Todd.

 When you're not on stage, I enjoy Listening to music, working on my voice (a continual process), watching old black and white movies.

 I love all music as long as it is good.  So I listen to everything from Opera to jazz, to R&B, to country, to gospel and spiritual music.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Meet Daniel Scott Walton as Frank Schultz in Show Boat

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

   
                                                  Daniel (as Frank) with Amanda Pulcini (as Ellie)

I grew up in upstate New York, in the Rochester area.  I have been doing theatre my entire life among a family of sports fanatics.  

I have been doing theatre my entire life.  I don't remember specifically how it started although when I was very young, I used to run around the house singing opera as loud and for as long as I could.  This gave my parents the idea to put me into dance, theatre, and singing lessons.  

I learned a great deal about Show Boat in college in my History of musical theatre class.  This musical was a turning point in American History of the theatre.  I am very excited to be performing in what is considered the first integrated musical in American Theatre.  

Stage Musicals being made into movie/tv musicals?  I personally love performing in live theatre.  I think there is truly nothing else like it and I think it is very important for people to see live theatre.  With that being said,  I do love when stage musicals are made into tv/movies because it provides another outlet for the world to see the musicals and everything they can offer.

I have never worked at WBT before! I am a very excited newcomer and very excited to be making my WBT with this classic show!

Some favorite shows include Once, The Light in the Piazza, White Christmas, The Book of Mormon, and I have to include the new musical Waitress, with music by Sara Bareilles which was truly unbelievable and completely moving.  I would have to say my dream role at the moment would have to be J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed....

When you're not on stage, I enjoy playing every type of game that you could possibly think of! Card games, board games, party games...you name it...I probably love it.  I am also a professional bingo player. 

I very often put anything written by Sara Bareilles on repeat on my phone whenever I need music, lol. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Meet Amanda Pulcini, the delightful Ellie in SHOW BOAT

Posted by: Pia Haas on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

   
Amanda (as Ellie May Chipley) with Daniel Scott Walton in Show Boat.

I was watching movies and going to see shows at a young age. I was always fully enamored with the actors. And I also loved watching my older sister tell stories.  She is quick and witty and I remember always thinking, I want to make people laugh like my sister. Why I was young, my mom used to give me voice lessons in the car and I would sing to Celine Dion for hours.  (I am nobody's Celine Dion but it was fun to pretend when I was little!!) Richard Stafford has been a huge mentor in my professional career.  He is always so loving and expects much from you.  I loved a director that pushes me and challenges me.

We had so many film versions of musicals,  my mom and I were always watching classic movies.  Singin' in the Rain was my favorite! Musicals we're really introduced through Disney movies and then very quickly, I was begging my parents to take me to see "Phantom of the Opera". And my dad and I flew to Toronto and to see  it and I was forever in love.  

I think stage musicals being made into movie/tv musicals is such a wonderful idea.  The more we can tell share these stories,  the more the art will grow and blossom. 

I started here sat WBT as a non performing swing  on Nine with Robert Cuccioli, then worked on Legally Blonde, and the last show I did was Fiddler on the Roof. I love the family that is formed between the cast and crew. The friends I have made in these shows, are still friends who I get together with often.  I can only hope for the same camaraderie in Show Boat

Favorite shows? Oh please, I am so fickle. I have a new favorite show/role every other day. However, I love doing shows that make you question your view on life. I am really attracted to scripts that aren't afraid to challenge the status quo. And I feel very passionately about bringing life to new and developing works.
 

 When not on stage, I'm eating. If I could eat and do yoga all day, I would be thrilled. Throw in a little football and bourbon and I am set.!

I like so many different styles of music from classical to pop.  Guilty pleasure is the 80s music. It was just a ridiculously awesome time for feelings and for hair!
 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Meet Bonnie Fraser, our sweet Magnolia!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)


                                        Bonnie & Alyssa Emily Marvin (as Kim)

I grew up on the North Shore of Massachusetts in a little town called Marblehead. My twin brother and I started acting when we were pretty young- I never looked back but he became an attorney.  Ask me which one of us is more of a ham though- you'd swear he's the actor.

My mother is an actress in Boston so I grew up observing this crazy career. The idea of getting a 9-5 job never even crossed my mind. I think it helped watching my mother make a living doing regional theater because I went into this business understanding how difficult it can be. There are so many outrageously talented performers out there working regionally or off-Broadway. You can be a wonderful success and never once step onto the Broadway stage. Being an actress in New York is tough. Knowing that everyone has a different path and success can be measured in so many different ways has definitely helped me keep up my morale in this business. 

I grew up watching so many of the golden age movie musicals, but somehow Showboat never made into my rotating collection. Now watching the story unfold every day in rehearsal, I can't believe it's taken me this long! Yes, the music is beautiful but the story itself is so extraordinary. 

Stage Musicals being made into movie/tv musicals? I think it's great. I especially love when casting takes a risk and incorporates an actor from the theater world into the movie. And it's an awesome way to have musicals reach a broader audience. Maybe someone who's never been to the theater will see the movie version of Into The Woods and suddenly be inclined to buy a ticket at their local theater. 

 I have a lot of favorite shows. I don't think I'll ever get sick of watching My Fair Lady- it's perfect. I also love Stephen Sondheim and Sweeney Todd is probably my ultimate favorite show of his. As far as roles go- I'd like to play Clara in Light In The Piazza some day.

When not on stage,  My husband and I have the sweetest pit bull mutt who I'm obsessed with- so anything with her. I also love to bake (cookies are my specialty) and I LOVE horror movies- the scarier the better. 

I deleted all the music off my phone to make room for the insane amount of pictures I take on a daily basis. I listen to spotify a lot- I like Vampire Weekend, Ryan Adams, and The Spring Standards- their lead singer Heather Robb is working on a new EP which I'm excited about.