Stories & Cast Interviews

Friday, November 1, 2019

Ian Knauer as M. Baurel in An American In Paris

Posted by: Pia Haas on Friday, November 1, 2019 at 4:15:00 pm Comments (0)
I grew up in Toledo, Ohio.  My American father owned a truck parts and accessories store and my British mother is a physical therapist.  They both enjoyed going to the theatre so from a very early age I saw all of the national tours that came through town.  I started singing and playing the piano very early as well and I would sing in the church choirs.  I remember loving singing in front of people.  And when I was around ten my church choir director suggested I audition for a local Equity dinner theatre's production of The Sound of Music.  I believe 500 children auditioned for the show!  I got it and performed in the show for around nine months.  That began my love for performing on stage and the people working in the theatre!
 
I remember seeing the movie of An American in Paris a long time ago and loving it.  Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron were just so remarkable.  Then I had friends who were part of the musical from when it went to Paris through to Broadway so I got to "experience" the show through their eyes as they went through the process.  I loved the show when I finally got to see it on Broadway and I hoped that one day I would get to play Monsieur Baurel.  I enjoy it when movies are made into musicals and vice versa when they find another element of the story to tell - when they use that particular medium to make the story and the characters vital and fresh.  Movies and stage are very different experiences for an audience and if they are used to their advantage - the audience gets to experience a familiar story in a new way.
 
One of my favorite moments in the show is the ballet audition near the beginning of the show.  I really love the piece of music that is played - Prelude 2 - and I love watching the ladies and especially Deanna Doyle dance.  Richard Stafford has choreographed a beautiful moment.
My favorite shows are She Loves Me and On The Twentieth Century. I really enjoy traveling and having different cultural experiences around the world.  I love eating amazing food.  And I love spending time with friends and family.

Meet Erika Amato as Mme Baurel In An American In Paris

Posted by: Pia Haas on Friday, November 1, 2019 at 4:00:00 pm Comments (0)

I was born in Plainfield, NJ and grew up an only child in the neighboring town of Mountainside. I attended a private girls' school in Summit, NJ called Kent Place School, and then went to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, where I was a drama major. I moved to LA right after college, where I did some TV and film acting and fronted a successful indie rock band called Velvet Chain before circling back around to theatre and moving back to the NY metropolitan area about 10 years ago.

I've wanted to be an actor since I was very little. I started acting in school plays in kindergarten and never stopped. I was heavily influenced by Katharine Hepburn when I was young, and then later I became quite enamored with Meryl Streep and Maggie Smith, as well as Gary Oldman and Ed Harris. My greatest mentor was my drama teacher, Robert Pridham, who cast me in roles as diverse as the Mother Superior in AGNES OF GOD and Eva Peron in EVITA. He also gave me my first professional acting job at age 17 - in a production of TO GILLIAN ON HER 37TH BIRTHDAY. He continued to support me and see me in as many shows as possible until his untimely death from brain cancer a couple of years ago.

I've known the movie, An American In Paris, since I was little, being both a huge fan of Gene Kelly and the Gershwins. (And Leslie Caron, too!) I saw the original Broadway production, as well. The plot of the stage adaptation differs quite a bit from the film, but it retains a lot of the magic that made the movie a classic.

My favorite scene in the show is when my character, Madame Baurel, finally drops her facade for a moment and shares a sincere moment of warmth and connection with her son, Henri, after his performance at the nightclub. I'm sure it's not anything most audiences even register, but it's the fulfillment of my character arc, and that's why it's my favorite.

I've been fortunate enough to play a few of my dream roles already - the Witch in INTO THE WOODS, Reno in ANYTHING GOES, Maria in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, to name a few - but I would really love to play Diana in NEXT TO NORMAL, Mama Rose in GYPSY, or Margaret in THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA.

I watch a lot of movies, read books, hang out with my husband, and play with our dog. I also ADORE going to the beach, but obviously that's just a seasonal thing.

Believe it or not, I have quite a bit of Gershwin, Porter, Berlin, Arlen, etc. on my playlist. A lot of Great American Songbook stuff, sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughn, Bing Crosby and the like. As for pop/rock, I mostly listen to the old stuff. David Bowie, the Police, the Cure, Tears for Fears...a lot of New Wave from the 80s. Grunge from the 90s. I've loved Radiohead since forever. As for newer bands, I think the 1975 and Cage the Elephant are pretty good. And of course my own band, Velvet Chain. We put out 5 albums between 1995 and 2004.