Stories & Cast Interviews
It's A Hit...34 years & counting!!
Bill Stutler & Bob Funking are the Producers/Owners of WBT
For 34 years, they've put on a show....157 shows.....to be exact! Not always smooth sailing, sometimes, downright hairy...In any case, the show must go on! And it does.....beautifully! Marisa LaScala at Westchester Magazine wrote a wonderful behind-the-scenes expose. You can see the full story at: http://www.westchestermagazine.com/Westchester-Magazine/August-2008/Live-From-New-York/
He's got the Blues!
Producer/Director/Composer, George Puello with some of his treasured cobalt glass pieces. He says they help inspire his musical compositions.
Phantom's James Van Treuren on the show, WBT, and "coming home"
The Man Behind Gerard Carriere By Jon Chattman
James Van Treuren, who portrays Gerard Carriere in Westchester Broadway Theatre’s “Phantom,” says in many ways, playing the role in the current production is “like coming home again.” After all, the actor has starred in ten productions at WBT, including both previous WBT productions of the show in 1992 and 1996 has played the role of Carrier before in another theater and said he’s ecstatic to be playing the role here. We recently spoke with the actor, who's appeared on Broadway in “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and countless regional theatre productions, and asked him all about how it’s going at the WBT.
In a battle between "Phantom" productions, who wins and why? Webber or Yeston? Personally, I like this version better. The development of all the characters is richer, especially for the Phantom. In this version, the audience gets to know the Phantom as a real person with real problems and real emotions. He truly falls in love with Christine and by the end of the story, the audience is rooting for him to get together with her even when they know it can’t ever happen.
What drew you to your character? My character is (hopefully) a great surprise for the audience. The audience first meets me as the “protector” of the Phantom and may indeed wonder why I do the things that I do. In Act II all is made clear and it is a very compelling story line. That is the main thing that drew me to this character. His story line ultimately is as tragic and moving as the Phantom’s
Why'd you get into showbiz? You ask why I got into showbiz? Basically ‘cause I’m lousy at everything else. I got “the bug” early on in my life during high school and I’ve never looked back.
What's your opinion on the Broadway strike? Hopefully, by the time you post this the strike will be history. It’s very unfortunate that the theater community is in this turmoil. It’s all very complicated and a speedy resolve will be in everyone’s best interest. (Wow, he was right!)
What's your favorite show and why? I don’t have any one favorite show, but a list would have to include some of the productions I saw as a young man when I first started going to Broadway shows. They were, "West Side Story" (a revival), "Fiddler on the Roof," "Hello Dolly" (starring Ethel Merman) and of course my first Sondheim musicals the original cast of "Company" and "Follies." If you want to know which shows are my favorites that I have had the pleasure of playing in I would have to say "South Pacific," "La Cage aux Folles" and "Peter Pan." The why part of your question can be answered simply…. They are all great shows with wonderful music, lyric,s and book.
Is there a dream role you'd like to play? I have a short list of roles I would love to play or play again. Now that I am older the list is shorter since the number of roles for someone in my age bracket is fewer. I’m dying to play Don Quixote in "Man of La Mancha." I’d love to do "A Little Night Music" or "Sweeney Todd." Roles I have played and would love to play again are Emile de Becque ("South Pacific"), Captain Hook ("Peter Pan") and Georges ("La Cage...").
What are your short-term and long-term goals? This one is easy my short-term goal is to keep on working…. and my long term goal is to keep on working. I don’t plan on an early retirement. I hope to continue doing this for as long as I can get the jobs.
What's your take on WBT? The audiences? The productions? This is my 10th production at WBT so I guess it’s safe to say I like working here and they like having me work for them. Generally, the audiences are great. This show gets a terrific response. Our weekday matinees are particularly good. Bus loads of groups (mainly seniors) and they love the experience of seeing a live show. They are our most enthusiastic audiences. We love performing the show for them. Visit James Van Treuren's site by clicking here.
Kate Rockwell's ready to breakout
An interview with Phantom's Kate Rockwell By Jon Chattman
Kate Rockwell is arguably best known as one of the finalists on NBC’s “”Grease: You’re the One that I Want,” but she’s quickly changing that. The actress/singer is currently earning raves for her role as Christine Daee in Westchester Broadway Theatre’s (WBT) “Phantom,” the acclaimed Yeston/Kopit production, and has snagged a role in the upcoming “Sex in the City” movie. We recently spoke to the Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory grad and asked her how it feels to be on the verge of stardom, and star in what many consider to be the superior “Phantom of the Opera” production at WBT.
What has the experience been performing at WBT? How has the audience response been? I am loving this show. We have had such a great time. The cast is fantastic, and so much fun to work with. It's also nice performing so close to home. I get to sleep in my own bed at the end of the day! The audiences seem to love the show, which is fantastic. We love it, too and put so much of ourselves into it. It is so nice to see them responding the way they do at the end of the show. I have had women and men come up to me after the show and say "thank you so much, it was great. I cried,” and that is just the perfect thing to hear. I usually tell them, "I cried too!" because I cry every show still.
Were you aware of the theater beforehand? Where are you originally from? I knew of the theater just from working in New York but hadn't worked here before. I am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. My dad and brother still live there and I still think of it as "home."
Were you aware there was another "Phantom" musical out there prior to signing on? Yes, I learned about this particular "Phantom" in college. I grew up listening to and loving the Lloyd Webber version, and when I first heard this one I was like, ‘it’s so different!’ The music is so beautiful and I love all of Maury Yeston's work. He is a genius in my book.
What do you think of the Broadway version compared to this one? I love both versions for different reasons. The Broadway version has always been close to my heart, but I think the story and the book of this show are so beautifully developed. The characters are much more fleshed out, and the music is so gorgeous. It's less of a rock opera score than traditional musical theater, and I think it works so well with the story. I also love that the character of the Phantom is so well developed in this version. He is a real person with real feelings. And at the end, you truly want him and Christine to get together as opposed to wanting him out of the way. It is a real love story between them, rather than a love triangle.
What drew you to the character of Christine in the first place? My heart is in real, classical soprano singing. I am a trained coloratura who rarely gets to use that voice because pop and belting are so popular right now. So when I was given the chance to do one of my favorite shows and sing my favorite type of music, how could I not be overjoyed,
How big a break was "You're the One That I Want?" "Grease" was a huge stepping stone for me. I had just moved to the city about four months before I got cast in the live show, and was so amazed, grateful and terrified all at the same time. I had no idea if it would be a good move or a bad move-I mean, a reality show? Really? But it turned out to be amazing. I met some incredible people-some of the other contestants are my closest friends now and I got a chance to sing for millions of people all at once. It really was a gift.
How soon after you left the show did the offers start coming in? [Laughs] I wish they came in like that! As far as "offers" go, those have been mostly readings. I still have to go in an audition for everything. This is a tough business just because you did one thing, doesn't necessarily mean you will do another. I am still proving myself every day (I hope!) in audition rooms. Which I think is a positive. I like to know I worked for the prize-I think if things were being handed to me based on "Grease," I would feel like I hadn't done anything to deserve the prize. This way, Grease gets to be an amazing stepping stone, but not the only stepping stone, and I can continue to build my career the old-fashioned way, which is what I had always wanted. Good work begets more good work, and I can only keep doing what I'm doing in that regard.
You're in the "Sex in the City" movie - can you describe your role? It's so small. I will be in one scene with the other three girls playing "young" versions of the stars. I don't want to give things away I'm not supposed to, but it was so fun to work on, and I got to meet Sarah Jessica Parker and work with her as well, and Michael Patrick King. It was fantastic! Not bad for my first film!
Lastly, What's up next after "Phantom?" I wish I knew! As of right now, "Phantom" is as far as I can see. But I am constantly looking ahead and doing auditions to line up the next project. If you have any good ideas or want to offer something, please call me!