Stories & Cast Interviews

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ring In The New....Wonderfully!

Posted by: wbtpress on Monday, December 29, 2008 at 4:51:00 pm Comments (0)

A Gala celebration is in store for revelers here at WBT on the Eve of the New Year! A Sumptuous feast, The wonderfully uplifting musical, A Wonderful Life, and then dancing into the night with the Tuxedo Parc Orchestra! At the stroke of midnight, raise a glass of bubbly to the new year, full of  new dreams and unexplored possibilities!

In the past 100 years,  the "ball dropping" on top of One Times Square in New York City, broadcast to all of America (and rebroadcast in many other countries), is a major component of the New Year celebration. The 1,070-pound, 6-foot-diameter Waterford crystal ball located high above Times Square is lowered, starting at 11:59:00pm and reaching the bottom of its tower 60 seconds later, at the stroke of midnight. This is repeated for all four time zones in the continental US. It is sometimes referred to as "the big apple" like the city itself; the custom derives from the time signal that used to be given at noon in harbors. From 1981 to 1988, New York City dropped an enlarged apple in recognition of its nickname.. The song Auld Lang Syne has become a popular song to sing at midnight on New Year's Eve.

If your head really hurts on New Year's Day, you could point your finger at the Babylonians who started this new year revelry nonsense. Though the ancient Romans added the idea of alcoholic excess, or at least perfected it. Julius Caesar fixed the start of the year on Jan. 1 by letting the previous year run to 445 days rather than the traditional 365.

New Year's is among the very oldest and most persistent of human celebrations.

The western world celebrates the new year on Jan. 1. For some thousands of years before the Romans, the new year was celebrated with the first edible crops of the season or the first new moon. The new year celebration is an observance of the earth's ability to renew itself and sustain us for another year. In agrarian societies— foods were the most potent of all new year's symbols.

Ancient Egyptian and Greek societies paraded a baby around to symbolize the new year, at the end of winter when the crops sprouted, not the beginning when we do it. Baby New remains a popular symbol and turns up at celebrations even today. Father Time, who symbolizes the passage of time and the death of the old year, is a kindly looking old fellow, sometimes depicted holding Baby New Year.

At the stroke of Midnight, as the old year passes into the new, only one tradition is left: the kiss. The Romans loved kissing and incorporated it into their Solstice and Saturnalia celebrations. Thus kissing as a New Year's Eve tradition persists today throughout the new world. The kiss is meant to set the tone for the new year, so be careful who you are standing near when the clock strikes 12. Pick a loved one. Awkward is not the tone you want to set for a whole year.              

(excerpts from an article by  Randy Shore of the Vancouver Sun)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wonderful Warblings....

Posted by: wbtpress on Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 12:51:00 pm Comments (0)

Enjoy these little known facts about …It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Lionel Barrymore convinced James Stewart to take the role of George, despite his feeling that he was not up to it so soon after World War II. James Stewart cited George Bailey as being his favorite character. The part was originally developed at another studio with Cary Grant earmarked for the role. When Frank Capra inherited the project, he rewrote it to suit Stewart. James Stewart and Donna Reed reprised their roles in 1947 on radio, first on “The Lux Radio Theatre” and then on “Camel Screen Guild Theatre.” In the Lux version, instead of putting Zuzu’s petals in his pocket, George has a bell that Zuzu likes to play with. The “Lux” version aired in March; the “Screen Guild” version aired December 29th.

Films made prior to this one used cornflakes painted white for the falling snow effect. Because the cornflakes were so loud, dialogue had to be dubbed in later. Frank Capra wanted to record the sound live, so a new snow effect was developed using foamite (a fire-fighting chemical) and soap and water. This mixture was then pumped at high pressure through a wind machine to create the silent, falling snow. 6000 gallons of the new snow were used in the film. The RKO Effects Department received a special award from the Motion Picture Academy for the development of the new film snow.

The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) is showing at the movie house as George runs down the street in Bedford Falls. Henry Travers, who plays Clarence, the angel, starred in that film as Horace P. Bogardus.

For the scene that required Donna Reed to throw a rock into the window of the Granville House, Frank Capra hired a marksman to shoot it out for her on cue. To everyone’s amazement, Donna Reed broke the window with true aim and heft without the assistance of the hired marksman!

James Stewart was nervous about the phone scene kiss because it was his first screen kiss since his return to Hollywood after the war. Under Frank Capra’s watchful eye, Stewart filmed the scene in only one unrehearsed take, and it worked so well that part of the embrace was cut because it was too passionate to pass the censors.

Jean Arthur was Frank Capra’s first choice for the part of Mary. However, she declined the role since she was already committed to a Broadway play.  Ginger Rogers was offered the role of Mary, but turned it down.  It was Donna Reed’s first starring role.

Originally ended with “Ode to Joy”, not “Auld Lang Syne”.  When composer Dimitri Tiomkin’s original score for the finale (featuring “Ode To Joy”) was eliminated, tracks of Alfred Newman’s score from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) were used instead, most notably the chorus singing “Hallelujah”.

In 1947, an FBI analyst submitted, without comment, an addition to a running memo on “Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry,” recording the opinion of an industry source who said that the film’s “obvious” attempt to discredit bankers “is a common trick used by Communists.”

The gym floor that opens up to reveal a swimming pool was real and was located at Beverly Hills High School in Los Angeles.

Vincent Price was considered for the part of Mr. Potter.

The instant that George says “God” on the bridge, it starts snowing, showing that he is back in the real world.

The cigarette lighter seen in this film (the one which George wishes he had a million dollars on) was previously seen in another Frank Capra film, You Can’t Take It with You (1938).

The set for Bedford Falls was constructed in two months and was one of the longest sets that had ever been made for an American movie. It covered four acres of the RKO’s Encino Ranch. It included 75 stores and buildings, main street, factory district and a large residential and slum area. The Main Street was 300 yards long, three whole city blocks!

The raven, named Jimmy, appeared in all of Frank Capra’s movies.

Two of “Sesame Street” (1969)’s Muppets, Bert and Ernie, share their names with the film’s cop and cab driver, respectively, but this is said to be just a coincidence.  When Officer Bert shoots at George, the “s” and the “v” in the electric “Pottersville” sign far away in the distance, go out.

While filming the scene where George prays in the bar, James Stewart has said that he was so overcome that he began to sob right then and there. Later, Frank Capra reframed the shot so it looked like a much closer shot than was actually filmed because he wanted to catch that expression on Stewart’s face.

The film has two lines of “secret dialog” - spoken quietly through a door. (They can be heard when amplifying the volume, and are also explicitly depicted in the closed-captioning.) The lines occur at the end of the scene set in Bailey’s private office with Bailey and his son George, and Potter and his goon present. After George raves to Potter that “you can’t say that about my father”, he is ushered out of the room by his father, then George is shown standing outside the office door. At that moment, George overhears the following two lines of dialog through the glass pane of the door behind him: POTTER: What’s the answer? BAILEY: Potter, you just humiliated me in front of my son.

Pharmacist Gower’s son’s death at college is attributed to “Influenza” in the telegram that Young George reads, dated May 3, 1919. Around that time, there was the “Spanish Flu” worldwide epidemic that claimed millions of lives.

The name of Bedford Falls was combined from Bedford Hills, in Westchester County, New York, and Seneca Falls, a small town midway between Rochester and Syracuse. The town of Elmira, mentioned by the bank examiner, is a real town in New York, not that far from the actual Seneca Falls.

The scene on the bridge where Clarence saves George was filmed on a back lot on a day where the temperature was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why James Stewart is visibly sweating in a few scenes.

Despite being set around Christmas, it was filmed during a heat wave. It got to be so hot that Frank Capra gave everyone a day off to recuperate.

According to an interview with Karolyn Grimes, the actress who played Zuzu, the name Zuzu comes from Zu Zu Ginger Snaps. George makes reference to this near the end of the movie when he says to Zu Zu at the top of the stairs, “Zuzu my little Ginger Snap!”


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Impressions of A Wonderful Life!

Posted by: wbtpress on Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 3:38:00 pm Comments (0)

"This show invites today's audience to face shaky times with the hope that there can be redemption in faith and love. This is the heady stuff of which dreams are made, and at WBT, it's perfectly packaged for the holidays!" Bill Primavera of The Examiner.

"A Wonderful Life will please fans of the movie and likely win over converts who suffer from the bah Humbug virus about this time of year. " Chesley Plemmons of The News-Times

"This is a perfect Christmas treat for a holiday night out or gift for that person who, this year, might have nothing.  Check it out.  You will be glad you did.  We need a little ‘feel good’."  Judie Phillips of The Cue

"Today’s economic climate makes the WBT production especially poignant and will make you feel all warm and mushy at the end with more hope than you had when you walked in. A Wonderful Life  is Mark Twain, Normal Rockwell, Life magazine, filled with the optimism, the heartbreak, the spirit of a small town and the hope in every human being." John Bailey of The White Plains Citizen Net Reporter 

"Never before has the classic story, A Wonderful Life, been more apropos than now when we are told, finally, we have been in a recession for more than a year. After watching the struggles of financial institutions, the story of George Bailey and his family’s savings and loan has special resonance." Fran Sikorski of Hersam-Acorn Newspapers 

"We get a chance to see us as we’ve been longing to see us before the plague set in: good people, kind people, caring people, hopeful people. The way we want to be. And without embarrassment. No sneering at the simple, heart plucking story of George Bailey. It’s all right. In fact, it’s better than all right;  A Wonderful Life is so huggable, so heartfelt, and, yes, so corny, that somehow, you feel refreshed. corny? So what? Before corn was corn, it was nourishing and it is again. Hell, it runs cars. The show is long? Again, so what, if every inch is paved with the breath of belief in the story?" Eugene Paul of Theater

Robert Stoeckle (as Matthew) and Darin Depaul (as Clarence) Plan Clarence's Mission which will earn him his wings!



Friday, December 12, 2008

A Wonderful Life's Wonderful Wunder- Kids!!

Posted by: wbtpress on Friday, December 12, 2008 at 6:23:00 pm Comments (0)

We often feature talented local kids in our shows. A Wonderful Life is no exception!  In fact, these kids are truly (Westchester) Broadway Babies! Read on to learn about “The Bailey Children

Sofia Hantzaridis, (ZuZu,) is nine years old and is in 3rd grade.  She attends Washington Irving Elementary School, In Tarrytown. She loves, to draw, loves to explore nature and also plays softball and the Violin!  Sofia became interested in theatre by watching her older sister, Athena, in plays, and at vocal lessons. The girls would put on shows for their parents and they are always singing and dancing through the house! She is excited to be making her Westchester Broadway Theatre Debut!   She has appeared in shows at Washington Irving as well as with The Lighthouse Youth Theatre and at The Helen Hayes Theater. Favorite shows include; The Jungle Book, School Of Rock, Alladin and The Sound of Music

Sarah Heinzmann, (Beth) is in 7th grade at Scotts Ridge Middle School in Ridgefield, CT. She has always liked being the center of attention.  Besides acting, singing and dancing, Sarah has played travel basketball for 3 years and was a cheerleader for 5 years.  Her squad on which she was a flyer and tumbler, won the American Youth Cheer National title in 2006 & 2007. Sarah fell in love with the theatre at a very young age.  The only thing she wanted for her 4th birthday was to see Cats on Broadway before it closed.  Since then, she has seen 19 Broadway musicals and numerous local and regional shows.  Her room has all of the framed posters & the tickets from the shows she has attended.  Her first performance was as the straw house pig in the Three Little Pigs in kindergarten.  Since then, Sarah had performed in many musicals and shows.  Some of her favorite roles have been Brigitta in The Sound of Music, Annie in Annie, Electra and the Jenny-Any-Dots Trio in Cats with The Lighthouse Youth Theatre.  She has a 16 year old brother, Nick, (who attends the Manhattan School of Music pre-college division and is a major Cello geek!) Her Pets include 3 dogs (Charlie, Sid & Roxie), a cat (Zach) who we found under the porch, a turtle (Carlos) and a fish named Egg (fish named Bacon and Cheese predeceased Egg).

Michael Herwitz, (Tommy) is from Irvington, he is thrilled to be back at WBT after appearing as Chip in Beauty & The  Beast Nathan in The Full Monty  and as a newsboy in Gypsy.     His interest in theatre developed from tagging along as sister, Zoe, was shuttled to singing lessons and rehearsals with youth theatre programs.  He took to the stage himself at age 6 in a revue, Salute to Broadway at Irvington Town Hall Theatre, where an agent in the audience spotted him and he was on his way!  On Broadway, He was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Dracula,The Musical.  Regional audiences saw him in The Music Man,  La Gioconda, Warsaw,   Please Don’t Eat The Dasies,  Les Miserables, and The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley.  Michael is very focused on theatre and enjoys reading scripts, as well as dabbling as assistant director for the plays at school.  He is a seventh grader at Irvington Middle School. He and Matthew Nardozzi met when they were performing Dracula on Broadway when they were 8 years old!

Matthew Nardozzi, (Tommy) has been a professional actor since the age of six. He was recently seen in Inherit The Wind on Broadway with Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy. He can also be seen on the new Schoolhouse Rock dvd and in commercials. Matthew is a member of Broadway Kids Care, a philanthropic organization made up of past and present Broadway child performers. The group performs community service and charity work. Their work has enabled contributions to UNICEF, The Actors’ Home, The Secret Garden, (a safe house for women and children) and homeless shelters in New York City. Next week, Matthew will be assisting in filling stockings for the Secret Garden children and sending scarves that the group has knit to The Actors’ Home. Matthew has been a competitive swimmer since the age of six. He was regional champion in the 100 meter butterfly at nine, achieved CT. Top 16 status as well as Boys 10 and under state champions, along with his teammates, at ten. This past summer, Matthew was regional champion in the 200 meter butterfly, bringing home 8 medals in all, and again achieving state championship level swimming. Matt is secretary to the Student Council this year. He assisted with the delivery of turkeys to the less fortunate at Thanksgiving, and every Monday Matthew arrives at school an hour early to setup a hot chocolate stand for students and teachers as part of his duties.   Matt is a seventh grader at Easton Country Day School, a private school in CT. His favorite subjects are science - he's studying biology now - drama and music. He likes biking and playing the Wii with his friends. He lives with his mom, dad, big sister Nicole - who is at college most of the year - and Mimi his cat. In the summer Matt loves kayaking on the lake by his house and diving in the water.  Matthew became interested in acting and the theater when he was younger because it was a world of make believe and now it allows him to be creative. He is also very interested in architecture and loves the inside of theaters.

Sharon Rosenthal, (Beth) is delighted to be making her Westchester Broadway Theatre debut.  She has performed in Random Farms Kids Theatre and  The Missoula Children’s Theatre productions, in addition to camp and school shows.  Prior shows/roles include Beauty and the Beast (Belle), 101 Dalmatians (Cruella De Vil), and Alice in Wonderland (White Rabbit).  She also has commercial and voiceover credits.  Sharon enjoys playing the piano and drums in her spare time.  Favorite hobbies include horseback riding, flying trapeze, geocaching, and writing poetry.  If there were more time in her day, she would also like to play ice hockey.  Community service activities have included socializing puppies for the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Foundation, entertaining disadvantaged youth at a local residential treatment center, and collecting much-needed supplies for local charities.  Sharon lives in Armonk with her family, a dog, and two pet rats.  She is fondly known to those who cross her path as a passionate advocate for the humane treatment of all creatures, great and small.

Sofia Singer, (ZuZu) is 7 years old.  Currently, she is in 2nd grade at Pequenakonck Elementary School in North Salem.  Sofia Loves going to live theatre performances, especially musical theatre. She also enjoys tennis and soccer.  Anna and Kyle are her younger brother and sister who are twins, She always liked to perform before family and friends. Her first exposure to the theatre was last summer's Lighthouse Youth Arts Center production of Annie, where she played the part of one of the orphans and an apple seller. She is currently training in tap dancing and voice at the Ridgefield Academy of Performing Arts in Connecticut.

Cosmo Zappoli (Tommy) is proud to make his debut at the Westchester Broadway Theatre. He hails from Dover Plains, NY and is an eighth grade student at the Dover Middle School. Cosmo's past performances include Jafar in Aladdin Jr., White Rabbit in Alice and Wonderland Jr., Willy Wonka, the Narrator and the Candyman in Willy Wonka Jr. He has also performed in the High School production of Circ Di Cabaret. Cosmo is the president of the student council and vice squad leader in his saxophone division. He has his black belt in Ryu Renshi Dan Karate and teaches this style on a weekly basis. He is also a member of the Black Belt Fighting Team that uses hand to hand combat. He credits his Mother and Father and all his family members for his success thus far!