Stories & Cast Interviews

Friday, January 10, 2020

LEND ME A TENOR AT WBT

Posted by: Pia Haas on Friday, January 10, 2020 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

“One Of The Classic Screwball Comedies Of The 20th Century!” 

World-renowned tenor Tito Merelli has signed on to sing in Pagliacci at a Cleveland opera company in the fall of 1934. He arrives late and, through a set of crazy circumstances, passes out after mixing wine with a huge dose of tranquilizers. Believing that the divo is dead, the excitable opera manager taps his hapless assistant, an aspiring singer named Max, to suit up as the clown and replace Merelli. Through a  series of mishaps, two clowns are soon running around in costume. Meanwhile, the tenor’s jealous wife, his ambitious female co-star, Max’s young girlfriend and the flirtatious head of the opera guild are on the scene fighting—sometimes literally—for the star’s attention. Guaranteed to leave audiences teary-eyed with laughter.


Lend Me a Tenor is an American farce in the great tradition of English farce of the early 20th century. It Includes a lot of slamming of doors, tons of physical comedy, the use of deliberate absurdity, improbable situations and silliness to entertain. The play celebrates human foibles with a focus on basic human drives; the pursuit of pleasure, glory, money, and above all, a remarkably earthy and immediate expression of love.

Playwright, Ken Ludwig was born in York, Pennsylvania. His father was a doctor and his mother was a former Broadway chorus girl from whom he inherited his love of theatre. “When I was growing up in the farm country of Pennsylvania we would go back to New York once a year to see her family in Brooklyn and my parents would take my brother and me to a Broadway show. I was just star-struck; I thought that this was the most wonderful thing I’d ever seen.”

When I got into Harvard Law School, all those years ago, my parents looked me in the eye and said, Look, you have to go because you need to have something to fall back on.”
I went to Harvard and I went to Trinity College Cambridge – all the while knowing I really wanted to be in the theatre. “My biggest thrill of my musical life was studying with Leonard Bernstein.”

Lend Me A Tenor began life under its original title, “Opera Buffa”, at a summer theatre; The American Stage Festival, in Milford, New Hampshire.

He met an English director named David Gilmore who was visiting the US. Ludwig gave him a copy of Opera Buffa. A few days later, Gilmore called him and said that that he would like to show it to a producer-friend of his, Andrew Lloyd Webber. Excited by the material, Gilmore said, “I love this play. If you just give me the rights, I’ll have it up in the West End in six months.”

Six months later, the play opened on March 6, 1986, at the Globe Theatre, under the new title Lend Me a Tenor directed by David Gilmore. The production starred Denis Lawson and Jan Francis and went on to win the Olivier nomination as Comedy of the Year.

The Broadway production, directed by Jerry Zaks, opened on March 2, 1989, at the Royale Theatre, the cast included Philip Bosco, Victor Garber, Ron Holgate, and Tovah Feldshuh. The show took home four Drama Desk Awards and was nominated for nine Tony Awards, winning three. A Broadway revival opened at the Music Box Theatre on April 4, 2010. Directed by Stanley Tucci, it was nominated for 3 Tony Awards including the best revival of a play.
Lend Me A Tenor has been translated and performed in lots of countries, Europe, the Far East, and South America.
Ludwig has written over 25 plays and musicals, performed in over 30 countries worldwide.

“As Tito would say, “it makes a-me feel proud,” remarks Ludwig. “Proud to hear the laughter of the audiences, proud to see them leaving the theatre with smiles on their faces, and proud to have my play reinterpreted for a new generation of theatre-goers.  I want audiences to enjoy them and really get to see them. That’s why I write.”

*Includes excerpts from Ken Ludwig’s writings:
http://www.kenludwig.com/blog/

Starring: Joey Sorge as Tito, J.D. Daw as Max, Molly McCaskill as Maggie, Phillip Hoffman as Saunders, Hannah Jane McMurray as Diana, Sam Seferian as the Bellhop, Tregoney Shepherd as Julia and Kathy Voytko as Maria 

Directed by: Harry Bouvy,  Set Design by Steve Loftus, Lighting by Andrew Gmoser, Sound by Mark Zuckerman, Costumes by Keith Nielsen, Wigs by Gerard Kelly,  
Victor Lukas is the PSM, Duane McDevitt is the ASM/male standby. Lisa Tiso is Producer.

 Best suited for kids ages 12+

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Richard Stafford Directs It Happened One Christmas Eve.

Posted by: Pia Haas on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Richard Stafford is back to Direct this timeless piece after having directed it in 2014. 


It Happened One Christmas Eve
begins in 1919. It is Christmas Eve in a Brooklyn boarding house peopled by eccentric, loveable people--including an actress, a poet, a housekeeper and during the course of the first scene, 2 Hungarian toy makers. On that particular evening, a baby is left on the doorstep. The "family" takes in the baby while the parents are sought. 

The following scene takes place ten years later and the baby "Dolly" is now a healthy 10-year-old. Her parents were never found and she lives with her boarding house family." As the show continues, we progress through the decades and the rooming house survives through the Great Depression and the War. Lives are lived, loves are made and lost, a child is born. The roomers stick together through thick and thin but become, ultimately, distant as fortunes are made and time speeds by.

There are many kinds of families and sometimes we create our own based on trust, love, and hope. Our characters weren't extraordinary, weren't formally educated and didn't own a thing worth owning. But, they had faith and they trusted in each other. They believed in charity, not the showy kind, but the quite kind that brings comfort to the soul. Isn't that what the spirit of Christmas is all about?

The story is original and so relatable (particularly at Christmastime.) Each character is fully formed and their relationships are full and completely believable. Time passes by as it does in all of our lives. It will remind audiences of their own Christmas pasts and, hopefully, move them in their Christmas present and futures.
There are wonderful original songs as well as beloved Christmas songs and hymns such as "Silent Night", "Away in a Manger" and "O Holy Night" The show features a book by Bob Fitzsimmons, original music & lyrics by Steven Silverstein & Barbara Campbell, and musical arrangements by Steven Silverstein.

All ages will love this show. We have a 10-year-old "Dolly" in the show and kids will enjoy seeing the holiday through her eyes.

I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee where 2 things happened: First, at the age of 10, I saw Betty Grable in a touring production of Hello Dolly! from a balcony seat at the Tivoli theater and I wanted nothing more than to join her singing and dancing on that stage. Secondly, I started taking tap dancing lessons at the age of 11.
I haven't looked back.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Meet Jonathan Young as Henri Baurel in An American In Paris

Posted by: Pia Haas on Friday, November 8, 2019 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I was born and raised in a suburb of Buffalo, NY. My parents were both huge advocates for the arts. My father is a classically trained pianist and my mother has her degree in vocal performance. So our house was always really musical. My sister and I were in lessons from a young age. 
  

As a hyperactive kid, I think it was an easy outlet for all of my energy for my parents to stick me in theatre camp every summer. It was an immediate perfect fit. I couldn’t wait to get back to theatre camp every summer. It was then a natural extension for me to be a part of Buffalo’s amazing, vibrant theatre community once I got a little older. I started working at some of the theatres in Buffalo when I was in high school and was surrounded all the time by artists who were making lives in the theatre. Once I realized that was a viable option, there was no turning back for me.  

 

I wasn’t familiar with the movie "An American In Paris", growing up, but I remember being aware of the Musical adaptation when it came to broadway back in 2011.  Watching these dancers on the Tony Awards that year was so exciting to me because I just thought the whole production looked so gorgeous and sophisticated.  I’ve always loved Gershwin music. It’s some of my favorite music in the American songbook to sing because it’s so cozy and lush. 

     

I love every moment I get to be on stage with Deanna Doyle. She is so incredibly generous and gracious onstage and off that it’s no surprise that the three men in the show all fall head over heels for Lise. She makes it incredibly easy to do so every night.  We have a scene in act 2 which are two songs strung together in a scene that’s them really just these two characters talking candidly about their relationship for the first time. It shows the real love that these two characters have for each other, in spite of the tough spot they’ve been put in, and it’s a little different every night. 

 

I think Ragtime takes the cake for my favorite score of all time. They are just some of the best melodies, orchestrations, and vocal arrangements that exist in this genre. It’s a masterpiece.  There are a lot of dream roles in my list that if I’d love to tackle. They run the spectrum of Elder Price in the Book of Mormon to Billy Bigelow in Carousel (in a few years)  with a lot in between. 

When Not on stage, what do I enjoy doing? The first thing that came to mind was “eat.” I’ve  worked in restaurants alongside the theatre for most of my life, and so one of my favorite things to do on a night off is to go out for a nice meal with friends at any of our favorite places, or to chip away at the rapidly growing list on my phone of new restaurants to try.  

 

In music, I’ve always loved female voices and I really love me some lady rockers lately. Lots of Maggie Rogers, Sylvan Esso, Florence And the Machine, Janelle Monáe, Lake Street Dive and HAIM have been in my ears this summer.

  

 

Lauren Sprague is Milo Davenport in An American In Paris

Posted by: Pia Haas on Friday, November 8, 2019 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I grew up in Cincinnati, OH in a household that watched a lot of movie musicals (Lots of Marilyn Monroe, Doris Day and Shirley Jones). That was definitely where I got the bug for performing originally. 

I loved Gene Kelly and remember watching “An American In Paris” and ”Singin’ in the Rain” on repeat growing up. 

I love the quartet in Act two when Milo and Jerry are breaking up and Henri and Lise are trying to figure out their relationship. It’s a very complicated and layered situation that lends itself to a lot of depth and I particularly love the mash-up of the Gershwin tunes in the scene. 

Dream Roles? The Music Man (Marian), Crazy For You (Irene), The Producers (Ulla), Ragtime (Mother), The Sound of Music (Maria) My Fair Lady (Eliza) 

When not on stage I enjoy Running, Reading, and spending time with friends and family.