Stories & Cast Interviews

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Meet Dr. Jekyll (& Mr. Hyde)!

Posted by: wbtpress on Thursday, September 23, 2010 at 10:31:00 am Comments (0)

 Xander Chauncey , as the Star of JEKYLL & HYDE will be breaking more hearts than just Emma & Lucy's ...With his piercing eyes, gorgeous locks...and that mesmerizing voice...Ladies Beware! I caught up with him at rehearsal and asked him to reveal some tid bits.....Read on!

 

I was an Army brat, so I grew up all over the place. We would usually be stationed at a particular base for a few years and then move on to the next. I relished the opportunity to see so much of the world, but it was tough to leave friends so often and quickly. When I was young, I had a rich imaginary life, friends and all. Maybe Hyde isn't such a stretch. Both of my parents were performers. My father is a popular recording artist in Chile and my mother was a ballroom dancer and operatic mezzo-soprano, so performing was just part of who we were. My step-father, the military man, taught me the discipline and structure necessary for the business part of Show Business.
Being the gypsies that we were, I had to learn to adapt quickly to different surroundings, dialects, customs, languages, etc. From a very young age, I became fascinated with people; all the little strange details that, when strung together, become this enigma we call "personality." I loved to do impersonations. Not just of celebrities, but of the guy at the bakery, the mailman, my second-grade teacher (one of my best performances-earned me a trip to the Principal's office.) I began to see a connection between my odd voyeurism and incredible Actor/Chameleons in a film like Gary Oldman, Kevin Spacey, Daniel Day-Lewis and Johnny Depp. I never cease to be amazed by how selfless their acting is. Sometimes, you're halfway through a film and it suddenly hits you, "Oh my God, that's Gary Oldman?!" I believe that is why acting is unique among all other art forms: excellence is clandestine. When you hear Yo-Yo Ma play or watch Baryshnikov float effortlessly across the stage, their lifetime of training and sacrifice is undeniably evident. When you witness truly excellent acting, however, it is barely unrecognizable. You just accept that what you are seeing is the reality, yet it can be one of the most moving experiences.

 

I was a Junior in high school and someone lent me the concept album with Anthony Warlow as Jekyll. I was immediately hooked. I actually did the song "Confrontation" for the state thespian competition and won Best of Show!! The next year, while in NYC, I sat in the front row and watched Bob Cuccioli play Jekyll and Hyde. I was absolutely transfixed. I met him at the stage door after the show and, starstruck, got his autograph. This is the first time that I have done the show, though it has enjoyed a long run in my shower.

 

I'm a big fan of the off-center musicals like Urinetown, [Title of Show] and Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson. I like any show that takes risks and challenges the preconceived notions of what is possible or appropriate on stage. Also, pretty much anything by Sondheim; he's just freakin' brilliant.


I'm kind of an adrenaline junkie. I love to rock climb, white water raft, play paintball, stuff like that. Lately, I've really gotten into parkour or free-running. It's really just a fancy name for going out and playing the way we did when we were kids. Running, climbing trees, flipping off of rocks in
Central Park... just moving non-stop and completely improvisationally. I'm also a voracious reader; my Kindle is a constant companion.

 

On my iPod? Just about everything. A lot of musical theatre (obviously), Opera, Classic Rock, Alternative, everything The Beatles and Regina Spektor ever released, even some Country and Rap. To quote Kate Hudson in Almost Famous, "Good tunes is Good tunes."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Amazing Andy!

Posted by: wbtpress on Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 3:57:00 pm Comments (0)

Andy Kelso Plays MARK in RENT...read on to discover what makes him rock!

 

I grew up in Aurora, Colorado which is a suburb of Denver. Also-I was born in a car-a 1980 Toyota Corolla that I eventually ended up driving until I was 18.  
Becoming an actor was something I stumbled upon.  In 5th grade, everyone was required to be a part of the school's Christmas show entitled Something's Up Down in Bethlehem. Our teacher had us sing for her so she could cast the show and, much to my surprise, I somehow ended up with the lead.  From then on, acting was always just a hobby-something I did for fun in school.  When it was time to go to college, I thought I wanted to be a sound engineer, so I decided to pursue that and ditch acting.  It was only after realizing how much I missed performing that I decided to change paths and go to school for acting.  It may sound obvious, but my mentors have always been my teachers throughout the years-from my high school theater teacher to my acting coaches in NYC...I've been blessed with some brilliant people as far as that goes.

 

I've been performing this show in the privacy of my own home and/or car ever since high school!  It was the first soundtrack that I knew backward and forwards.  I immediately loved the sound of the show and couldn't get enough.  This show was and is such a huge inspiration to me and I feel so honored to finally get a chance to be in an actual production of it.
I thought seeing the movie was a bit like seeing the movie of a book you've read...it was interesting to see, but nowhere near as good as the real thing. 
Some favorite musicals include Billy Elliot, The Full Monty, Last Five Years, Avenue Q, and Passing Strange.  Playing Mark definitely checks a dream role off the list for me.  And speaking of RENT, I think it would be fun to play Roger someday.  I would also love to originate a role in a show someday.

When I'm not on stage, I like discovering new music, playing guitar, hanging with friends, and exploring the rabbit hole that is New York CityI also love to travel and try and do so whenever I get the chance!

 

On my iPod? A little bit of everything and a lot of rock n' roll.  I love discovering new bands and new sounds.  However, some favorite bands/musicians include Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Led Zeppelin, The Tallest Man of Earth, and Arcade Fire.

 

 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Roger Rocks!

Posted by: wbtpress on Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 10:07:00 am Comments (0)

Mark Ayesh Is a cool guy...Just the right guy to play Roger in RENT! Read on to learn a bit more about him!

I grew up in the city in Kansas called Wichita.  Kansas, though full of mostly rural communities, has a few "larger" cities and Wichita is one of those.  I was lucky enough to attend a small high school that offered just about anything and everything in terms of extracurricular activities.  At first I did the sport-thing spending almost all my time in either football, basketball, or track.  My hobbies at the time were computers and being in a rock band.  My goal in life was to be a computer programmer and go to MIT.  Then one day my choir teacher asked me to audition for our school musical...FOOTLOOSE.  That's when it all shifted gears.  Getting to sing rock n' roll music and dancing (which turned out to be a lot harder than football ever was) on stage in front of hundreds of people was unbelievable.  Thus, I caught 'the bug'.  I tried to continue playing football while taking dance classes but at one point late in high school I finally decided to shift my focus solely to theatre and dance.  I started doing my research, found a few, select schools to apply to, and auditioned for them.  I finally ended up at the University of Michigan where I studied Musical theatre.  I just graduated in May, and moved straight to the city.  That is about where the story ends...for now :)

My high school used to take this trip once every other year to New York City to tour the city AND see 6 shows in 5 days.  We didn't sleep.  On that trip I still was feeling out the whole "musical theatre world" and found myself signed up for a show called RENT.  Up until that point, I was pretty pleased with the rock n' roll, musical theatre music from FOOTLOOSE.  But that didn't hold a candle to RENT.  I was blown away.  Before I went to college I saw the show another 8 times on Broadway.  Then my junior year of college at U of M they announced we were going to be doing the show and I was in a state of shock for at least a month.  I couldn't believe my school was doing RENT.  So, about 5 months before auditions I started working on the audition materials.  7 Months later I had been cast in my dream role, Roger.  I have since had one other chance to reprise the role, at Maine State Music Theatre in Brunswick, ME earlier this summer.
 
 I did see the RENT movie...the day it came out...the first showing.  I was as big of a RENT-head (a term describing those obsessed with the musical) as you can get for Wichita, KS.  I loved seeing the original cast get a chance to capture their performances in that medium.  However, I wasn't a fan of how it was told.  There are many thing/scenes that are washed over and the movie lacks the energy and the excitement that the live show brings.  The recorded final Broadway performance though is amazing.
 
Like I said, I come from a rock n' roll background so I tend to lean towards the more contemporary works.  JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, RENT, and even newer NEXT TO NORMAL.  But, I do have some favorites that don't exist in the realm of pop/rock musical theatre: 42ND STREET, COMPANY, and GUYS AND DOLLS.  As for my dream role, I gotta be honest - I'm playin' it.  However, Judas in JCS is a close second.
 
When I'm not on stage my hobbies vary from running to writing music, to anything computer related.
On my iPod? Jazz, Rock, and of course a lot of Show tunes :)

 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Meet Mimi!

Posted by: wbtpress on Monday, August 16, 2010 at 10:58:00 am Comments (0)

Steena Fernandez stars as The mesmerizing Mimi in RENT. I caught up with her at rehearsal...and learned a thing or two!

I grew up in Odessa, Texas. I used to sing around the house on a turkey baster when I was 3, so mom put me in dance and singing classes. She knew and I guess I knew at a very early age, I had the bug.

I didn't start acting until high school. I saw some posters advertising for Steppin Out auditions at my high school, so I went and auditioned for the show and for the drama department. I got a part in the show and enrolled in the theatre program there. After high school I went to Texas Tech University to further my studies in acting, singing and dance. Mentors include: John Gillas: voice, Dr. Johnathan Marks: acting, and Judy Gorlin: Dance.

 

I loved this show since college. I remember they had an open call in Austin, Texas around the time when it was getting so popular, and me and a group of friends drove from Lubbock, Texas to go audition. I did get a call back but no part. Then when I moved to N.Y. right out of college, I auditioned for the tour and got Alexi Darling, Mimi understudy.  Touring this show was so much fun! 

 

I did see the movie. GREAT!  Basically if it says RENT on the cover I love it! In any production of this show, I can always find the magic!

Mimi is one of my dream roles...so excited to finally be playing her!!!! :) Some favorite shows: Cats, Miss Saigon, Hair, Wicked, Jersey Boys, Moon Over Buffalo, Ragtime and In the Heights.

 

When it's nice out, I love to ride my bike and go for a run outside. I try to go in the sun only in moderation, but I LOVE the beach and sun. Reminds me of going to South Padre Island as a child with family. Oh and I love food network, so I am picking up some good recipes and cooking more these days.

On my Ipod ..Oh I have anything from Van Halen, Johnny Cash, Coldplay: Viva La Vida one of my fav's, Jack Johnson to Lady Gaga and Alicia Keys.  Right now as I type this, I am listening to The Beatles...can NEVER go wrong with that!