Stories & Cast Interviews

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Meet Mychal Phillips as Erma in Anything Goes!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, August 9, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I grew up in the small town of Lexington, NC. I am the oldest of four kids, and we all eventually got involved in the arts in some way (my poor parents...). My youngest sister, Gracie, is now an NYC based actor as well.

My mom brought me to a youth theatre production of “Annie” and I was totally enthralled. I was painfully shy (something most people would never believe about me now). When I auditioned for my first show in the 3rd grade, I was so nervous I cried in the bathroom right before I went into the audition room. I was cast as a lost boy in Peter Pan and absolutely loved every minute of it. Performing was a blast, but I think what really hooked me was the feeling of camaraderie that developed amongst the cast. The relationship you have with your fellow castmates is so special because you have created this awesome thing together! To this day, that bond with castmates is one of my favorite things about being an actor. 

My aunt took me to see the Broadway revival of Anything Goes in 2011, and I immediately fell in love with the role of Erma. My aunt said, “that’s a role you need to play one day.” I auditioned for the National Tour of “Anything Goes” in the fall of 2014, and was over the moon to get the job. I toured for eight months. In 2016, I played Erma again in productions at Gateway Playhouse on Long Island and Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine. So this is my fourth time playing the role! I have so much fun with this character.

I’ve never worked at WBT before, but I’ve wanted to for a long time! I’m so happy to be making my debut with this wonderful group of people.

I love old Broadway musicals the best! I don’t have a dream role, but I like anything that makes people laugh. The funny characters are the most fun!

When not on stage, I love to travel! I’ve been throughout the US and Europe as well as parts of Asia and Africa. It’s my other love!

My husband and I love listening to our record player at home- my favs are the classics- Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, the whole gang! Nothing relaxes me more at the end of a long day!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Meet Bob Walton as Elisha Whitney in Anything Goes!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I grew up in Marion, Indiana. The youngest of 5. My dad was a Pediatrician, Mom was a nurse. Marion happened to be a town with a very strong Music/Theatre community I took tap from an ex-Vaudevillian and I got to study a lot of music and theory as a kid. Two of my siblings are in the arts. Brother JIM, who has worked at WBT, and who I have written several musicals with. And sister Joan is a vintage dance Teacher/Choreographer who lives in California. 

Inspiration came from watching my older siblings do Theatre, Music, Dance  That pretty much solidified my desire to pursue it.  The tree of us attended the Cincinnati Conservatory Of Music (At separate times) And our talents and skills grew considerably there. 

 I have done the show twice! - both times when I was around 18. And as so happens in youth, I don't even remember my character being in the show!! I only paid attention to the tap dancers (and the girls!) Favorite part of the show? I greatly enjoy drinking the iced tea that is in the whiskey bottle in Scene 4. 

I worked here for the first time when I replaced my brother, Jim, IN BYE, BYE, BIRDIE IN 2005 at WBT. I love being able to be home and working - I live in Riverdale, and am an avid bike rider. so, I've taken this opportunity to be a bike commuter as much as possible. Rain permitting.
With Tina Johnson (Mrs. Harcourt)

My dream roles are in the past! I greatly enjoyed playing  Bobby in  CRAZY FOR YOU, Pseudolus in A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM. 

I'm a writer/arranger and enjoy working on music projects, Musical Directing and hanging out with my wife and kids. My wife (Laurie) is head of Performing Arts at the Riverdale Y and both of our kids are actors. Alex and Emily. (Look for Emily's first solo CD of her original songs on iTunes: LITTLE LONGINGS. And you can find a show my brother and I wrote; MID-LIFE! (The Crisis Musical) There as well! 

I mostly listen to Jazz: OSCAR PETERSON being on top of the list, as well as Big Bands, Classical, and Classic Rock/RnB. 


Monday, August 6, 2018

Meet The lovely Jackie Raye as Hope in Anything Goes!

Posted by: pia on Monday, August 6, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I grew up in Athens, Georgia, right outside of Atlanta. My dad was a college football coach, so I moved around with his job when I was little. I lived in Athens the longest, so that’s home. 

My biggest inspiration came from a number of places. I believe my first theatrical experience was a community theatre production of Annie, but I was a huge fan of musical movies like Annie, Mary Poppins, and the Broadway Kids cassette tapes, so I always, always singing. I saw my sister in a dance recital when I was in the fourth grade, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I always credit my local community theatre from back home for my biggest inspiration as an actor and dancer. They really allowed us as kids to get disciplined in each genre of musical theatre. I’ve been very lucky in the mentor section in my theatre path. To growing up with Terra and Shane Hannon, to my college career with Harry Parker, and Penny Ayn Maas, I think about these amazing teachers all the time. 

 I knew a bunch of the songs growing up from Anything Goes, but it wasn’t until 2011 when the Anything Goes revival with Sutton Foster performed on the Tony Awards I saw a number from the show. I then saw the national tour in 2012, and I was in a production of Anything Goes in Dallas in 2016 where I played one of Reno’s angels. My favorite moment in the show is the number “Anything Goes.” Richard Stafford’s choreography is so fun to watch, and the ensemble kills it every time. 

 I’ve never worked here prior to this show, but my favorite thing working here is how professional and friendly everyone from the cast to the crew is. It’s a lovely environment to come to work in. And so close to the city!

 I love Stephen Sondheim, so many of his shows are my favorite, like Sunday in the Park with George, Company, A Little Night Music, and Gypsy. 

 When I’m not on stage I love practicing yoga, walking in Central Park, or eating lots of cookies.  In Music, I love a little bit of everything, but I definitely love slow rock, like John Mayer, to classics like Fleetwood Mac, to pop singers like Ariana Grande. I'm definitely a music person!

  With Zach Trimmer (as Billy)    


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Meet Jon Peterson as Moonface Martin in ANYTHING GOES!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, August 2, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I grew up in London, UK. I went to the Royal Ballet for nine years of training and did lots of theatre, altogether ten West End shows, and also became part of the eighties pop video scene as a dancer, before coming here to be an assistant director and then thinking, ew no, I can't do THAT! - and going back to performing.

with Stacia Fernandez (as Reno Sweeney)

Watching those MGM musicals on TV when I was a small kid was my total inspiration. It's ALL I wanted. My most important mentor was choreographer Molly Molloy, who took me under her wing when I was 21, and doing a show for her in London at the Piccadilly Theatre, called "Y". Molly helped to bring out the best in me; not just as a dancer, but as a performer. Molly Molloy was a mentor to Arlene Phillips when she was an up-and-coming choreographer. Molly - and Arlene too -  revolutionized jazz dance in the seventies and eighties. One of the most inspiring and exciting women I've ever encountered in my life. No, THE most. She passed away two years ago. 

 I was in a show in London, at the Dominion Theatre, called "Wayne Sleep And His World Of Dance" - it was basically Wayne Sleep's Greatest Hits (Wayne was a big star of the Royal Ballet, was the original Mistofolees in CATS, the original lead in Song And Dance, was the Emcee in Gillian Lynn's revival of "Cabaret" - lots of stuff) Well, this guy just couldn't STAND me. I'm not entirely sure to this day why he even hired me. We all had solos in the show - I think there were seven of us backing him up - so it was a great vehicle, potentially, for us all; the "next generation", so-to-speak. Opening week, the reviews were put up outside the theatre etc, and there was a picture of me in this number, where I sang and danced a love song to a broom, and the caption was something like, "Jon Peterson, enchanting. A super talent", or some such nonsense. Wayne invited me to lunch at the theater, and once we'd met up, he walked me out to this thing plastered on the wall and said, "See this?" I said "Yes, I'm very lucky..." or something as diplomatic as I could. He then said, "Well, take it in kid, because your number's cut as from tonight!" Haha!! Then he walked away. NO LUNCH!. 

Then we did a benefit concert of the show for Princess Diana, and one of the older dancers in the cast - he was a true veteran of the theatre - wonderful guy - and Wayne was terrified of him - well, he and I were the two ladies in "Two Ladies" which opened the second act. I shared a dressing room with him and he daily regaled me with wonderful and usually filthy stories of his life in the theatre. During this concert for Princess Diana, we were having our cuppa tea and Cadburys dairy milk (with a shot of whiskey - it was the eighties!) as usual, chatting and laughing, but it seemed that the intermission was really dragging on. I had a moment of panic, rushed to the speaker and it was turned off! Wayne was already halfway through "Two Ladies" - alone! We RAN down the four flights of stairs to the stage, pulling on our dresses, pig-tail wigs and high heels, SCREECHING. I thought I was going to be fired, but Wayne was so terrified of the other guy that he never even mentioned it. It was only a couple of years ago that this wonderful man admitted to me that he turned off the speaker on purpose so that we'd miss the number and screw up the show for Wayne!! Ah, now, THAT - as far as I'm concerned - is what a true pro is.

Wayne got his own back though. After the show we all met Diana and she said to me, with a beautiful smile, as the cameras flashed all around us,  "Wayne told me that you're usually late for work and almost missed the show tonight..." and as I sort of laughed and started to tell her, she walked away...I learned a great lesson that night: Royalty, religion,'s all theatre!!

I've always known of the show and even got into the London revival, as one of the dancers, with Elaine Paige starring as Reno - she was so lovely at my audition. I'd heard how TOUGH she could be. But sadly I couldn't actually do it as I'd already signed up for another show.

My favorite moment in our show? - Lord Evelyn Oakley's laugh! Kevin Pariseau is fantastic!!

Yes, I've done two other shows at WBT, "It Happened One Christmas Eve" and "Cabaret". I like the schedule. It allows you to do other things too if you have any energy left.

 Shows that I've done?...well, I adored CATS - I played Skimbleshanks and then Mistofolees and then Skimbleshanks again. Gillian Lynn was a genius and we're all going to miss her very much. I loved CABARET. I was the Emcee on the National Tour, and for a very short time, I even did it in New York. Subsequently got to play it about seven times since at various places, including this theatre. I played Paul in A Chorus Line a number of times, including the last UK National company. Loved that show, because it tells our story. I'm working on a show about Anthony Newley called "He Wrote Good Songs", which is currently pushing through. It won the Connecticut Critics' Circle Award for Best Solo Performance last year, so we are trying to develop it as we speak. Newley was quite a fascinating man and an amazing talent to portray. Hoping it comes to life here in NYC sometime. So I guess a dream role would be either ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT or STOP THE WORLD...

 When not on stage,  I photograph other actors' headshots, I teach yoga, and I eat chocolate. But only 70%.

 I listen to  Chopin, chanting monks, Artie Shaw and Basie.


 Singin’ In The Rain            Cabaret (as Emcee)         Cats (as Skimblesh) 


Irving Berlin In Person (as Irving Berlin)   He Wrote Good Songs (as Anthony Newley)

 Song Man Dance Man (Be A Clown)