Stories & Cast Interviews

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Beastly Guy!

Posted by: wbtpress on Friday, April 18, 2008 at 12:16:00 pm Comments (0)

Not a beast, at all...nice guy, Joseph Mahowald had this to say.........

I was born and raised in Huron, SD (my babysitter was Sheryl Stoppelmoore -- can anyone tell me what her married name is???). [answer: Sheryl Ladd].  I was the youngest of seven children and the only one of us to pursue performance as a career.

When I was a sophomore in high school I saw a production of "Man of La Mancha." It was the first time I had ever seen a stage show and it was…magic!  I was in awe of the lead performer's abilities to act and to sing.  He absolutely captivated me.  I decided then, that I was going to be a performer.  I worked very hard at music and did all the plays I could until I got into college.  When I got there the guy who had played "Quixote"  three years earlier was a graduate student and I was mentored by him for the two years I spent at that University. I transferred to the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati after that and made the Dean's List for nearly all the semesters, finally graduating Magna Cum Laude!


A few years ago, I was honored to do the Disney film "Mulan."  It was such a thrill to do!  The process of making an animated film is unlike anything I've ever been a part of before.  We went to Sony Studios and, I must say, I was honored to be in a room with some of the most talented singers in the world!  We went into a room (a really nice room with BIG TV's) and watched the 'scratch' animation of the scene for which we were about to make the audio.  After that, we went into the recording studio and put down the vocals. It was thrilling!  The best part has come over the last few years when my own children saw the film and kept asking "where are you, papa? I don't recognize you!"


I have performed the "Beast" on two occasions before this.  The first was with my mentor, M. Eric Johnson, as director and as Belle's father.  My second time was Houston Theatre Under the Stars' first revival since they developed Beauty and the Beast.  The Beast costume weighs between 25-30 pounds.  It's always a challenge to lug that kind of weight around and sing!


My two beloved children like it when I appear in something they can attend.  I have played roles that kids really shouldn't see, like Jekyll & Hyde, where the subject matter is really not appropriate for younger children.  A few years ago, I played the title role in "Sweeney Todd" and my 6-year old son loved it!  I took him backstage before the show and introduced him to all the actors and showed him how they make the stage blood.  After the show I, again, brought him back to meet all the people I "killed" and he was fascinated -- he still talks about it over two years later.

I love my family!  My children and my wife are my love and joy.  My siblings and their families, too, are a great source of happiness.  Growing up in a large family has great rewards, in that you are born into a group of best friends.  We still get together on a regular basis to laugh and spend time together.  Holidays are WILD!  I'm also a Cantor in the Catholic church and delight in my faith in God.

What a Beauty!!

Posted by: wbtpress on Friday, April 18, 2008 at 11:11:00 am Comments (0)

Rena Strober..who is the lovely Belle had this to share with us....

I grew up in Goshen, NY, very close to   Westchester Bwy!  I loved being in the country
and getting to drive into NYC to see shows.  My   parents put me into dance class when I  was 4   and sent me to the famous theatre camp, Stagedoor Manor from age 11-16.  Needless to say, they've always supported my choice to be a performer. I have 2 older brothers, one who's a director/writer and the other is a lawyer. We're  all  really close. I've always felt the most comfortable on the stage telling stories through song and dance.  I'll always remember my first Broadway show, Peter Pan.  Ever since, I've always wanted to fly in a show...I"m still waiting to play Peter :)


I was always a big fan of Bernadette Peters, Bette Midler, I guess anyone with lots of big curly hair.  I was also greatly influenced by the greats such as Danny Kaye, Gene Kelly and Ginger Rogers. Their grace, humor and ability to do it all made me work hard and live to tell love stories.


I'm a GIRL!!! Of course I watched every Disney movie! I always loved Cinderella and the fat mouse, Gus.  I was never a fan of Snow White because of the dated ideas of women.  I always loved An American Tale and of course, Beauty & The Beast. One of my first crushes was Robbie Benson who voiced the Beast.  He was also in Ice Castles :)

This has always been a role I've dreamed of playing. I've auditioned for the Broadway production about 6 times and it has never happened for me.  I'm thrilled that my 1st production is with this incredible cast and with Richard.  You have a lot more freedom to explore the character and story in regional productions than on Broadway. Preparing for this role so far has been just to memorize my lines and be ready to open in 10 days!!  But as I learn my lines and blocking, I'm able to start having fun. I get to look back at the time when I was very much like Belle...although I still am.  I'm so lucky to bring out the part of me that loves her independence, courage, family, adventure and of course, happy endings.


Is it challenging bringing a beloved cartoon character to life? Hmm, tough question! I guess,  I would say yes because so many people see her one way, the way she was drawn and voiced in the film.  Many young girls simply want to see that Belle on the stage. However, the script is so well written and the music so glorious that it's not that challenging to really bring her to life.

Well, when I put on the big yellow dress I almost cried.  There I was, this girl from upstate, standing there looking like the Princess I always loved in the story.  I'm also sure that once I see the beast's makeup, it'll make Joe that much more scary.


My 5 year old nephew is so excited to come see Auntie Rena on stage playing Belle. He's been watching the movie all month.

For the past few months, every moment I'm not on stage or rehearsing, I've been in the studio recording my upcoming debut CD. I'm really excited about it!  Other than working hard on other projects, I love spending time with my awesome nephews in Nyack, window shopping and playing with friends’ dogs.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Beast, Beauty & Company Prepare!

Posted by: wbtpress on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 3:27:00 pm Comments (0)

Great excitement was in the air at WBT Monday, as the company of Beauty & The Beast arrived for their first rehearsal!  As the official snoop, I can, happily, say that they looked & sounded great!  Musical Director, Angela Jamieson was extracting heavenly notes and Director, Richard Stafford had them artfully dancing and cavorting on stage!  Opening night will surely be a magical & enchanted evening! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

He knows what you're thinking!

Posted by: wbtpress on Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 11:23:00 am Comments (0)

With a showman’s flair, a comedian's wit, and capacities of a bona fide Mentalist, The Amazing Kreskin has, for over five decades, dramatized the unique facets of the human mind. 

Born in Montclair New Jersey, Kreskin was fully fascinated with magic by the age of five. It was during childhood games, that Kreskin’s remarkable ability to find hidden objects emerged. This fascinating and unusual gift made him stand out among his peers, forcing him to assume the role of omniscient observer. Kreskin was able to harness and refine his gift and began to perform for neighborhood children. At the age of eleven, Kreskin revealed an uncanny determination beyond his years when he received permission to study the entire psychology section of his local public library. Kreskin credits the childhood influence of “Mandrake the Magician” comic books, radio/television pioneer Arthur Godfrey, and magnetic televangelist Bishop Sheen for the direction of his career. 

By his teens, he was nationally recognized as “The World’s Youngest Hypnotist” allowing him to collaborate in psychological clinical studies existing in the realm of Parapsychology and the Power of Suggestion. From his early experiments, Kreskin developed a theory into his special talent; “In most cases, the phenomena of thought transference can be explained as a kind of hyperaesthesia –an almost unconscious raising of the threshold of one’s senses to a degree far exceeding one’s everyday feelings.”

Music has also served as an effective medium for Kreskin, who made his professional debut as a pianist at Carnegie Hall with Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops, later soloing as a guest artist with Symphonies throughout the U.S. and Canada.

From 1971 to 1975 his television series The Amazing World of Kreskin was broadcast throughout Canada and distributed in syndication in the United States. In the 1980s and 1990s, he came to prominence again through several appearances on Late Night With David Letterman. He is still active as a live performer, and appears annually on CNN to give his New Year's Day predictions for the coming year. One of his best known tricks is finding his check for a performance, which he instructs his hosts to hide before each show. 

Kreskin is currently writing his thirteenth book, his long awaited and anticipated memoirs. Kreskin is also a voracious reader capable of consuming an average novel in less than 15 minutes with remarkable retention. In fact, in certain casinos, he is banned from the card tables, not, they say, because of his mind reading skills, but because of Kreskin’s ability to memorize four decks of cards at once!