Stories & Cast Interviews

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 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!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Patti Wilcox ... Back for RENT!

Posted by: wbtpress on Friday, August 6, 2010 at 1:47:00 pm Comments (0)
Patti Wilcox, the Brilliant Director/Choreographer will return to WBT to direct RENT. WBT theatre-goers may remember her outstanding directorial efforts in our Productions of Little Shop Of Horrors and Aida.
 grew up in Decatur, Illinois with my parentsone sister and two Brothers I had a great Midwestern upbringing and a wonderfully supportive Family. 
It was the works of  Kidd, Robbins, Fosse and countless  modern choreographers that made me want to choreograph. I love the  way story can be told through movement. 
I started out as a Choreographer and Assistant Director for a show in NYC called BLUES IN THE NIGHT.  Sheldon Epps, who is a Broadway Director and was the Conceiver and Director of that show, greatly influenced the Direction of my career.

I have not seen the Film version of RENT. But I had the great pleasure to be at Opening Night on Broadway (1996) And was Invited to closing night but I was, unfortunately, unable to attend. My approach to Directing this ground-breaking piece is to simply tell the story!

As a Dancer, My favorite show to dance was WEST SIDE STORY.  As a Choreographer, seem to love best whatever I am working on at the time.would like to do  KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN  because the movement possibilities are just endless. And what look forward to most would be to work on the piece that has yet to be written.

When not on Stage I enjoy  being with my husband and two children. Traveling, Tennisand we all just discovered ZIP-LINING! 

What's on  my Ipod?  I wouldn't even know where to begin... About  EVERYTHING!  
Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Peter Pan?? Shh...he's really a girl!!

Posted by: wbtpress on Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 2:55:00 pm Comments (0)
Christine DiTota will fly through the theatre as Peter Pan. At 5'2" she'll be the perfect height to play a young boy!  Previously at WBT, she played The Ghost of Christmas Past and other characters in A Christmas Carol and had the challenging task of being the Female Swing in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. (In which she performed both female roles and approx 40 characters!)  She is a brilliant Actor and Singer, as well as an accomplished Director. We caught up with her at rehearsal between flights!
I was raised by my little Italian Mom in a small apartment in Yonkers NY.  My brother and I shared a room until he got a little too old and then I shared a room with my Mom.  It was funny because one side of the room had religious artifacts cluttering the walls and the other side had pictures that I had ripped out of the latest "Teen Beat" magazine taped to the walls.  Usually, the pictures that were hanging on my side of the room were of guitar playing, long-haired icons.  And on her side, the Virgin Mary.  We ate pasta at least three times a week and went to church every Sunday.  It was a standard Italian household.  Lots of food, fun, laughter, and tears! 

I attended Maria Regina High School, graduated with honors from Westchester Community College and received a BFA from Purchase College Conservatory.  My first year of college, I had decided I would become a pharmacist.  I thought that was a strong/reliable choice.  I got a job working in CVS in the pharmacy so that I would be ready.  I had a meeting with my academic advisor and he took a final glance at the courses we had chosen and said: "I’ve got an idea, how about you try taking a theatre class."  I was a little surprised.  Then I thought,  " hmmm, maybe as a hobby".  I signed up for an acting class.  The teacher put actors in pairs and gave out one scene for each couple to perform.  I watched couple after couple get up and perform their scenes. The day came that it was my turn to perform my scene. I sat in a wheelchair, my character was handicapped and began the scene.  Something changed the moment I sat in the chair, I began to feel.  And I forgot who I was for a moment.  When the scene was over the whole class stood up and applauded.  When I could finally focus again, on something besides the character I was playing, I saw everyone standing there, clapping, and I began to cry.  It was a wonderful moment.  I have pursued the theatre since then…..

I love the classics!  It is my absolute dream to one day get the opportunity to play Blanche DuBois in "Streetcar Named Desire".  Some of my favorite roles have been:  Phoebe in  As You Like It,  Diane, a role I originated, in Clinton's View at the American Theatre Of Actors, Mabel in Pirates Of Penzance,  Maria (originated the role) in Swish, Maria in the Mourning.  Anne in A Little Night Music,  Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream,  Audrey in "Little Shop of Horrors, and Willie in "This Property is Condemned.

I’ve worked in the children’s entertainment business for the last 7 years.  I’m a party planner/entertainer.  It’s a great job for an actor.  I’ll dress up as a Princess, Pirate or whatever character a child could possibly desire for their birthday.  We play games with them, give out prizes, face paint, make balloon animals, etc.  It’s a lot of fun working with children and they ARE the toughest audience.  Also, it provides a person with some of the funniest stories you’ll ever hear in your life.  The birthday party business is chock full of entertaining mishaps

When I’m not on stage, I enjoy spending time with family and friends.  I love going to the theatre to see plays or musicals.   Of course, there is the homebody side of me.  I like to curl up on the couch with my husband and dog and watch a good movie. My husband Keith DiBuono and I recently moved from an apartment in Harrison, NY to our first home in Carmel, NY.  We Live there with our cat, Zizi, and dog, Seymour.