Stories & Cast Interviews

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Meet Mary Jo McConnell as Mother Superior in SISTER ACT!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

 I am a native New Yorker. I attended grade school at Most Precious Blood School with the Josephite Sisters  & St. Vincent Ferrer High School with the Dominican Sisters. Summer camp was at Mary Mother Mazzarello in Paterson, NJ with the Salesian Sisters. I had the privilege to sing with The NYU Choral Arts Society at  Christmas Eve mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, celebrated by Pope Paul VI.

I always sang in church and the Sisters asked me if I was "going to offer my voice for God". As a little girl, I knew every lyric of The Sound Of Music film score. My parents took me to see the original production of  Company as a teenager and  I became an instant Sondheim fan.   

I was active extracurricularly in the  NYU Washington Square Players while pursuing my BSN in Nursing.  After graduation, I did ten weeks of Summer Stock at the Surflight Theatre while studying my nursing boards and then went into The U.S. Army Nurse Corps. 

The theatre is one of the most important morale support activities, so, I was a frequent performer even while serving my country.  Judges would travel to all the base theatres around the world and award “Best Actor” trophies, so, I have my two “Army Tonys”!!!!  I started my professional acting career soon after leaving the military and earned an MFA from  American Conservatory Theatre In San Francisco.

I was in the Ensemble and understudied both Mother Superior and Mary Lazarus in the first National Tour of  Sister Act Directed by Jerry Zaks.

My dream role is Queen Margaret in Richard III.  I perform a section of one of her monologues in my short film TRUMPED which I co-wrote and produced.

When not on stage, I enjoy making films, cooking, and travel. 

Meet Sandy Rosenberg, Sister Mary Lazarus, in Sister Act!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

 I grew up in Brooklyn, NY and am a product of the NYC Public School system.  I  was the valedictorian of my 6 girl after school Hebrew School class which makes it all the more fun to be Sister Mary Lazarus.  I attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY.

I believe I've always wanted to perform…from singing ‘RED RED ROBIN’ on top of a piano in the Catskills at age 5 to imitating TV commercials, to school plays. At synagogue, around 6th grade, I did move into the role of Tevye from Yente in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF when Tevye had too much homework.  I was also the Fiddler as I took 50 cent violin lessons every Tuesday.  We also did THE SOUND OF MUSIC at the temple but because it was an orthodox temple, they rewrote history and there were no nuns….and I, as the rabbi’s wife sang CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN….and Maria became Miriam…it could happen.

I auditioned for the Broadway company of SISTER ACT a couple of times and played Mary Lazarus at Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, Pa.  This is my fourth show at WBT.  I was Carlotta in PHANTOM, performed in one of the Christmas shows, and played Flo Manero in Saturday Night Fever last year. I Love the people who work at WBT. It feels like a family after all these years.

I saw the movie of Sister Act when it first came out and probably in bits and pieces since.  If it’s a good adaptation I think it’s a great idea to bring Musical Theatre to the screen & vice versa.  This musical is a good adaptation of the original film.

I’ve been going to the theatre since I was 5….there are too many favorite shows to mention or even think about.  I Would love to play Mrs. Lovett in SWEENEY TODD. (one of my favorite shows….along with CANDIDE, HAMILTON, MAME…..)

 When not on stage, I love to cook, travel, do photography…hang out with the husband and the dog.

   Sandy (l) as Sr. Mary Lazarus with Zuri Washington (r) as Deloris

 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Meet Zuri Washington as Deloris in Sister Act

Posted by: Pia Haas on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I grew up a hop, skip, and a jump away in the Bronx. So I’m a Hometown Girl more or less. I have family who lives less than 10 min from the theatre though (Hey Bells!)!  My father is an English Teacher and my mother is a hairstylist so I grew up with a love of language and vanity. I love a good turn of phrase and when I get dolled up I make sure I am on point. 

I used to be one of those kids who “stage doored” shows on Broadway and I am a slightly embarrassed but altogether proud nerd who can’t believe how far I’ve come and can’t wait to see how far I go. ⭐️ 

I wanted to become an actor because I understood at a young age that the profession had the ability to change people and ideas as well as bring joy in a way that at the time of my youth was extremely different from how I was introduced to the arts. I come from a family of musicians (primarily jazz) and a couple of dancers but no one does what I do. 

I have a couple of mentors but right now my stage “mother” who has been so gracious to lead me and direct me on my career path in the last few years is none other than Tony Award winner Lillias White.  She has been so supportive and present and usually comes to support me when she can so I hope to see her up in Westchester over the course of this production.  She’ll be starting in her own show “Gotta Dance” at the Papermill Playhouse. Once she came to visit me and we got some Popeyes and brought it in as a snack for a showing of “The Jungle Book”. My kind of date night!

If you can believe it, I’ve done this “Sister Act” 4 times in total now!  This’ll be my 3rd time as Deloris. 

I first heard of this show back when it was on its way to London and I heard about Whoopi and her love of Patina Miller in the role and how it was coming to Broadway. I was curious of course because as a 90s baby, “Sister Act 2” is one of the greatest movies of all time so when I saw the show I wasn’t expecting much but I was actually blown away. 

Though I love the original movie, I’m more familiar with the sequel though because of Lauryn Hill and the Hip Hop influences that really elevated the musical moments for me— but I love nearly every movie that Whoopi has been in so I enjoy both.  😁 I’m not typically a fan of movies being made into musicals but some forays onto the stage have really hit the mark so I’m not opposed to the practice of movies on the stage— this one included!!

I’m playing one of my dream roles but other than “Sister Act” would be Sarah (Ragtime), Nabalungi (Book of Mormon), Eponine or Cosette, and Aida.  I get to show my comedy chops a lot and some of these shows have such meaty dramatic material that I would love to sink my teeth into.


I enjoy eating and reading when I’m not onstage. I’m a huge foodie and I’ve been a bookworm since the womb. 

I’m not an avid iPod enthusiast (though I love music) but when I get a moment to surround myself with speakers and curl up with a book, I’d have to say, Kendrick Lamar, the “Black Panther” Soundtrack, Anderson Paak, Frank OceanJames Blake, Anything Motown, Beatles, and most artists from the 60s/70s. I’m the soul of a flower child in the body of a millennial. 

       

 

Meet Ken Jennings as The Monsignor in Sister Act

Posted by: Pia Haas on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I grew up in Jersey City, NJ.  First generation Irish.  Dad from Newry, County Down, Ireland (Northern Ireland, but my family wouldn’t recognize the border).  I got a Jesuit education in high school and college.  I was a Latin major.  But, I have lost my ability at the language because I don’t use it, of course.  I attended St. Peter’s College on a Dramatic Scholarship.  But, it was just an extracurricular activity.  There were no theatre courses or classes.  So, I became a Latin major because it was easy for me to pass because of the high school background.  Since it was easy, I could perform in the many plays various groups did at the college.

Dad was a great storyteller.  Mom was a librarian and often took me to the library with her.  I think I became an actor because of the great stories.

I've never done SISTER ACT.  The most colorful person I ever worked with was George C Scott.  I did two Broadway shows with him.  Both at Circle In The Square.  George directed ALL GOD’S CHILLUN’ GOT WINGS.  And directed and starred in PRESENT LAUGHTER.  Best director I ever worked with for comedy (PRESENT LAUGHTER - Noel Coward).  Funny enough, he was drunk most of the time.  Sometimes, wildly drunk.  But the audience would never know it.  He was so in control on stage.  He’d stumble around, stagger, backstage.  But once he hit the stage, he was in control and wonderful.

I like working at WBT.  I did  THE WIZARD OF OZ up here. I like the people up here very much.  And it is a really easy commute from Manhattan.  The hardest thing about the commute is finding a parking place when I drive home.

  I saw the movie.  But I don’t know that I saw the whole thing.  Sometimes, musicals can make very good films.  I'm watching INTO THE WOODS as I write this.

I would love to play Shylock again in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.  I have played it once.  Shakespeare is very challenging but very rewarding.

I play tournament chess every Wednesday at the Marshall Chess Club;  One of the most famous chess clubs in the world.  I love Chess and there's nothing like real tournament chess.