Bill Nolte as Nonno Gino Barbieri does the MAMBO!

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Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 12:00:00 am

    I grew up in Genoa, Ohio (farmland /near Toledo) loving the arts, especially watercolor painting, which I enjoy to this day. I didn't really think about having a career in the theatre until I went away to college as an Art major and discovered then that I also could sing and maybe make a living at it.  Transferring from Bowling Green State University to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music  I majored in Opera and minored in Musical Theatre, luckily getting to do both there, and deciding to move to NYC after graduation in 1976. 

 My mentor at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music was our opera director Italo Tajo, who had a big influence on my early creative life.  He gave me my first major leading role and the confidence to aim high.  Also, Maurice Levine at the 92nd St. Y believed in me and kept me singing for a decade with his popular “Lyrics and Lyricists” series. 

 I did a reading of MAMBO a few years back but I barely remember the experience.  We do so many developmental readings that go by so quickly. you remember very little - only that I had a gay son in the piece.  It has grown tremendously since then into a rich musical comedy with so much potential. 

I've worked on many NEW shows: The Secret Garden, King David, A Christmas Carol at MSG, Amour, Jane Eyre, and Annie 2 (which never made it to Broadway after dying a sudden death at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC).  It later morphed into Annie Warbucks - without me in it.  Jekyll and Hyde was the first World Premiere of a new musical I did at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas. My role, Simon Stride was continually "re-written" and I chose not to go on with that show.  Children of Eden was an American Premiere that I did after it flopped in London.  It was an incredible experience that yielded a gorgeous show that has had a life regionally. I also love working at The York Theatre and have done many New Works there, my favorite being The Road To Qatar by David Krane and Stephen Cole. 

I  Loved the movie, Mambo Italiano and I've done a few musicals that have originated as films;  La Cage Aux Folles, The Producers, Oliver.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

I did my first Tevye in Fiddler On the Roof here at WBT, a role I have done many times since. I love it more every time I do it.  It’s great to be back for Mambo and the challenge of working on a New Work in such a short amount of time (10 days).  I think we handled it splendidly and am very proud of our show.  WBT is also a 20-minute commute, door to door for me to Inwood / NYC which also makes it appealing. 

Some of my favorite shows are Fiddler On The Roof, The Most Happy Fella, a show I hope I get to do again in my career.  I'd love to have another crack at Don Quixote in Man Of La Mancha which I did at the Goodspeed Opera House, where I also did Fella and Sweeney Todd. Straight acting roles are appealing as are film and TV roles  I think I have a great Edna in Hairspray in me. Tick tock. 

I also do a lot of volunteering for NY Cares, as well as being a regular artist with Dale Hensley at the AHRC (Association for the Help of Retarded Children) on Broadway Program presenting musical theatre productions featuring mentally and physically challenged young adults who love to sing, be on stage and musical theatre. I'm proud to have been a part of A Christmas Carol (Fezzywig), Beauty And The Beast (Maurice) and The Lion King (Mufasa) with them.

When not on stage, I enjoy gardening, cooking and bird watching.  I love traveling and I’m off to Spain and Portugal with my husband of 36 years in October.  I spend my winters in Las Vegas, where I own a home, so I enjoy the desert and exploring National Parks.  We've driven cross country many times and always try to stop in a new Park each way.  Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce, Zion, Yosemite to name a few. The Hot Springs in Arkansas was last year's treat on the way back to NYC. The government was closed down during our drive out West and so were the parks, so we caught it coming back. New Orleans and the Badlands were also standouts.  

I listen to podcasts often, mostly NPR.  Books on tape are a favorite too.  Dean Koontz's Misery made a 10-hour drive to northwestern Ohio seem like an hour.  I’m thrilled to be back at WBT working on this NEW SHOW.

 

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