Stories & Cast Interviews

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

ULLA - licious!

Posted by: wbtpress on Tuesday, September 16, 2008 at 1:03:00 pm Comments (0)

 

 

I spoke to Karyn McNay who is wowing the audiences as the tantalizing Ulla! She said: 

 

I grew up in Quincy, Illinois. Its a fairly small town on the Mississippi River. My immediate family was simply my parents and one older brother, but nearly all of my extended family lived within a few blocks from our house. No one in my family, to my knowledge,  has ever been involved in the arts whatsoever. I was lucky that the community had such an incredible support for the arts and wonderful outlets for kids to experience.

 

I sort of became an actor unintentionally, really. I have always wanted to be a singer. That's really where my talent lay as a child, and it’s what drew me to performing. I knew early on that I loved musicals, loved the fact that songs could tell a story and convey feeling. I went to college for musical theatre at Illinois Wesleyan University and had some wonderful professors who really inspired me to explore my love of the theatre and acting as well as my love of music.

 

I have so many musicals that I love, and truthfully, most of my dream roles hold that place because I want so badly to be in the show itself. I’d love to play Eva Peron in Evita. Mother in Ragtime. Then there are the ones I literally will never play, but this about dreams, right? Anita in West Side Story, Effie in Dreamgirls, Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha!

 

Being on the Road itself is always an adventure. My favorite thing about performing The Producers in so many different areas of the country was seeing how every person in every culture reacted to all of the comedy. Everyone would laugh.. a lot. How can you not? Mel Brooks’ humor is incredible. But what they found funny changed drastically from place to place. It was fascinating.  Gosh, I wish I had gotten the opportunity to meet Mel Brooks. I’m not through yet, though.... maybe we’ll cross paths eventually.

There are certainly those who just are naturally hilarious, but I don’t think anything is beyond the realm of learning. It just takes time. I feel very lucky to have gotten to work on this show so much, with so many seasoned comedians. It makes it a lot easier to learn by example.  

I’m obsessed with arts and crafts. I’m always knitting or sewing, I make my own crystal jewelry. I love to paint and redecorate my apartment. There is always something. I also am a puzzle enthusiast. I do crosswords, sudoku, logic or mathematical puzzles almost every day. My iPod has all sorts of things on it. Beatles, Feist, John Mayer, Tons of musicals, The Format, Running Still, Lots of 50’s/60’s. Jazz standards...... I have to keep my options open!

 

Friday, August 22, 2008

"deliciously vulgar"

Posted by: wbtpress on Friday, August 22, 2008 at 2:06:00 pm Comments (0)

         

The company of The Producers

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Craig dishes! (p.s. he's a real dish!)

Posted by: wbtpress on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 11:40:00 am Comments (0)

WE caught up with Craig Fols who plays Director, Roger DeBris in The Producers...read on!

Craig as Roger Debris (in gown) and John West as Carmen Ghia                   

I was born in Jamestown, New York, but moved to southern New Jersey when I was five.  My father had left our family, and we (my mother, sister and I) moved into my grandparent's basement.  That summer I put on my first play, in that basement--which I wrote, directed and starred in--(co-stars: my sister and my cousin)--and basically I've been doing the same thing ever since. 

 I started working in professional theatre when I was fifteen--summer stock and dinner theatre.  When I was seventeen,  I moved to Philadelphia and began supporting myself, working in theatres and restaurants.  At nineteen, I moved to New York to study at Circle In the Square. Very shortly after that I did a new play with Colleen Dewhurst, who is/was a major hero/mentor.  (I spent many holidays at her home, "The Farm," in South Salem.)    I did many plays around this time that were written by Lanie Robertson, who was a major influence both personally and professionally.  Another mentor was the Broadway conductor Jack Lee, who showed me how I could be a "serious" actor in musicals.  Later, when I did THE MUSICAL OF MUSICALS, many of my childhood musical theatre heroes came to see the show, and I had a chance to meet them and tell them how much they meant to me:  Harold Prince, Stephen Sondheim, Kander and Ebb, Arthur Laurents, Carol Channing.

 

I tend to like shows in the classic American musical theatre mold, both comic and serious.  Roles I'd really like to play but haven't played yet include Sweeny Todd, Henry Higgins, Harold HIll, and the King of Siam.  One of the fun things about doing MUSICAL OF MUSICALS was that by parodying all those different musicals I really feel that I've played all those characters, from Billy Bigelow to Molina in KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN.

 

I do think people are either funny or they aren't. 

 

I've always taken Mel Brooks for granted as an American comic master, but doing THE PRODUCERS  has given me a new found respect and appreciation for him.  (Also a deepening respect for Thomas Meehan, who co-wrote THE PRODUCERS' book.)  Now that I'm in this, I'd like to revisit some of his other works, BLAZING SADDLES, etc.

 

Wearing the gown and especially the shoes was mainly a technical challenge.  (I only wore women's clothing once before, in THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP, and those costumes were build to be worn over men's clothing.)  At the same time, that dress, and that entrance, sets the tone for my entire performance.  If you come in on a lift, to entrance music, wearing a $40,000 gown, you'd better bring a certain amount of, shall we say, size to the procedings.

 

These days when I'm not working, I'm spending time with my nephew Adam, who is 4.  My sister adopted him three years ago, and since she's a single mother, I've been helping her out as much as I can.  We spend a lot of time at our family beach house in Cape May, New JerseyWhile I was preparing Roger, I would sometimes do some of my lines for Adam while we were building sandcastles, whatever.  Something about my Roger voice always made Adam laugh, which I took as a good sign.   

Friday, August 15, 2008

Director Details!!

Posted by: wbtpress on Friday, August 15, 2008 at 1:44:00 pm Comments (0)

The Producers' Director, David Edwards had some fun tales to share!

I am basically a born and bred New Yorker, although I, mostly, lived in a commuter town in New Jersey while growing up.  My mom was from Passaic, New Jersey and was a trained ballet dancer.  She did Broadway and nightclubs as well, but gave it up before I was born.  My dad grew up in Manhattan.  I was a child actor, on Broadway in THE ROTHSCHILDS at age 12, and singing at NY City Opera at 11.

I can't remember ever wanting to do anything else--I saw Broadway shows from the time I was a toddler.  My mom had been in show business, but was NOT a stage mother.  If anything, she didn't want to push me into the business--to protect me from the hurt and rejection.  But she certainly shared my passion for the theatre and understood my "need" to be a part of it.

 

Actually,  I have played a lot of my dream roles already (at least in musicals) and a few of them at WBT.  Don Quixote in MAN OF LA MANCHA (7 times, once at WBT), Arthur in CAMELOT (twice), Albin in LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (twice, once at WBT), El Gallo in THE FANTASTICKS (I was the final actor to sing "Try to Remember" at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in the record breaking final performance, Fredrick in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC (3 times), and Max Bialystock in THE PRODUCERS (on the national tour).  Still have a few I'd LOVE to tackle--I guess tops would be the title role in SWEENEY TODD.  Came close to happening twice--still on my wish list..and Henry Higgins in MY FAIR LADY.  Have a few other favorite shows I would love to tackle as a director, too--THE MOST HAPPY FELLA, SHE LOVES ME, TITIANIC, FALSETTOS

 

I Stayed with the second National Tour  of The Producers for 14 months. Our choreographer, Matt Vargo, was also in the company as were Bob Amaral & Joel Newsome--for a while I was Bob's understudy.  I alternately played the principal character man, Roger DeBris and Max Bialystock. Nothing like touring with a show that was this kind of hit--we were front page news everywhere we went and treated first class all the way.  The company was an exact replica of the Broadway version, down to the tiniest detail.

 

There is a certain "style" and rhythm to this kind of comedy, and it's getting to be a lost art.  A lot stems from Yiddish Theatre and vaudeville and the early days of "musical comedy"--I had a big success doing a wonderful revival of the classic play ROOM SERVICE Off-Broadway last year that is based on the same type of humor and timing. It's another backstage valentine to the theatre that was made famous by the Marx Brothers in the movie of the same name.  The character I played was alot like Max Bialystock, although a little more of a romantic leading man, and his sidekick was a young playwright named "Leo"--I think Mel may have gotten some ideas from this play.

 

Mel Brooks was at my auditions, some rehearsals, opening night and several performances, working along with us.  He was very loving and protective of this show.  I was so relieved to have made him laugh out loud.  He said of me to the group at the audition (including Susan Stroman) "He can sing, he can act, he can move, he's funny...what more could you want?"  I will also tell you that at my initial audition, they gave me the music to "Heil Myself" that Roger DeBris sings during the "Springtime for Hitler" sequence.  I sang the song and gave a big gesture at the end, drawing the paper across my face and I accidentally got a paper cut just under my nose which immediately started to bleed.  I told them I had just had a freak accident, and everyone was astounded that I suddenly had a red Hitler moustache.  Maybe that's one of the reasons I got the job.

 

When I’m not on stage, I’m looking for work on the stage.  (Just kidding...sorta)  My partner and I love to travel.  I am an ocean liner buff and I collect memorabilia and we enjoy doing things for our home and with our family and friends.  We also try to go to theatre of all kinds--it's hard to separate business from pleasure in that respect.