Stories & Cast Interviews

Monday, October 22, 2018

Roger Preston Smith returns to WBT in PHANTOM.

Posted by: Pia Haas on Monday, October 22, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

   I  grew up in the country outside the small town of Loveland, Ohio about 45 minutes outside of Cincinnati.  I spent a lot of time on my own working the fields and garden and our roadside vegetable stand.  During those hours in the field, I would often get lost in daydreams singing and dancing.  I still don't understand where my desire came from but it was there as long as I can remember.  When I was six, I found a  brochure from the  PTA.  They were offering dance lessons for 50 cents.  I begged my parents to allow me to take tap and I guess the rest is history.  They never really understood what I was doing but they were always supportive.

I spent the first 20 years of my career as a dancer.  Originally I just wanted to be a concert dancer and was a member of several Ballet and Contemporary companies.  In my 30's I began doing Musical Theater and because I didn't look like a chorus boy, I was often given the small speaking parts and understudying principal roles.  This allowed me to extend my career long after most dancers have retired. Even though I still sometimes serve as the dance captain, I am primarily hired as an actor now.

I was aware of this version of  "Phantom" but had never seen it or even heard the score before.  I saw the Broadway version right after it opened and was somewhat unimpressed.  I felt that the show was more about the spectacle than actually telling a story.  In fact, I remember very little about it except the chandelier.  I have been pleasantly surprised with how beautiful and lush the music is in the Yeston version.  I also love the fact that you find out how the Phantom came to be.  It makes him a more real and sympathetic character.

This is my 11th production at WBT.  It's always great to be able to work and still live at home.  Plus you know the shows are going to be high quality.  After, so many shows, the people here have become like a family to me.  I'm always happy to come back.

I think my favorite show is Pippin.  It opened around the time that I arrived in NYC.  I had never seen anything like it.  The tickets booth had also just opened and I bought 1/2 price tickets 12 times to see Pippin.   "Dear Evan Hanson" and "Come From Away" are my favorite contemporary shows.  My dream roles would be Captain Hook in "Peter Pan" and Fagin in "Oliver".  I have understudied Hook several times but never got to go on.  Luckily I was able to perform Fagin for a week but would love to get the chance to do again for a longer period and really develop the character

I'm an avid Cyclist and also love going to the gym.  But my biggest passion is travel.  Luckily my career has taken me around the world and I have friends throughout.  I try to do at least one international trip for at least a month each year.  I want to travel while I'm still able to hike and climb and really enjoy myself

I enjoy Classical music, Musical Theater, and Jazz.

 As Jean-Claude (center) in PHANTOM.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

James Van Treuren returns as Gerard Carriere in PHANTOM!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

  I was born in Paterson, New Jersey and grew up in the neighboring town of Hawthorne. My twin brother and I were always interested in the theater and although our parents knew nothing about show business at all they were always very supportive.

During high school and college we would travel to New York and I was able to see some of the great Broadway Musicals of the day including, "Fiddler on the Roof," "Hello Dolly" (starring Ethel Merman), “Promises, Promises”, and of course my first Sondheim musicals the original casts of "Company" and "Follies." Experiencing these amazing shows at a young age surely helped solidify my love of musical theatre. On a personal note, I actually saw my life’s partner Peter (40 years and counting) in that production of “Fiddler” on Broadway, even though we didn’t meet until years later.

In this production, I’m playing Gerard Carriere for the second time. I have a long history of  WBT’s productions of “Phantom” since I have been in all four productions dating back to 1992. Westchester Broadway has been like a second home to me. I’ve appeared in 14 productions starting with “Annie” in 1983 at An Evening Dinner Theatre. Some other WBT shows include, “Funny Girl”, “Jekyll and Hyde”, “South Pacific”, “Kiss Me Kate” and the list goes on. I’m extremely grateful for the years of work, and the friendships I have made here. 

Getting back to talking about this show, I hesitate to compare the two most popular versions of “Phantom” since they are so different from each other. I am much more familiar with the Yeston/Kopit version so I can say what makes this show so entertaining and exciting is its beautiful score and libretto that is so emotionally complex and compelling. My character is (hopefully) a great surprise for the audience, especially in Act II, which makes him very interesting to play. His storyline ultimately is as tragic and moving as the Phantom’s.   

In my career, I’ve been fortunate to have appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway and many Regional Theatres. I’ve played many of my “dream roles” including, Don Quixote, in “Man of La Mancha',  Emile de Becque in “South Pacific', Georges in “La Cage Aux Folles”, and Captain Hook in “Peter Pan”. In other words, I’ve been around for a while but I’m not ready to hang up the towel yet. I love to work and I’m so lucky to be able to do what I love.

When I’m not on the stage we love to travel. We just got back from a fabulous European cruise this past summer and we’re looking forward to a Caribbean cruise this December when we are on our hiatus from “Phantom”!

As Carriere with Matthew Billman as Erik.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Kilty returns as Alain Cholet in PHANTOM

Posted by: Pia Haas on Friday, September 28, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I was born in Charlotte, NC.  I was raised in North Carolina by Midwestern parents (Chicago).  So the rules that applied in my home didn’t always apply outside.  For instance, when responding to an adult in Southern culture, it is polite to reply with a Ma’am or a Sir.  When I would respond to my mother with a "yes, ma’am”, she would tell me not to take that “tone” with her.  Ah, cultural differences.

My mother is a huge fan of theatre.  I was raised listening to Leonard Stallman’s New Faces of 1952.  What do you mean you don’t know it?  Later on, Annie and A Chorus Line were thrown into the mix. My mother also put together Vaudeville Shows for the Church Fall Festival.  And we always had a piano player at the house when my parents threw big parties.  Clearly, there was no hope for me.

I took class with a Meisner teacher who taught out of the old Carnegie Hall Studios.  His name was Fred Kareman.  He made a lasting impression on me.

My father always joked when I started working professionally, “It’s about time that loud mouth made you some money!”  He was right.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew there was another version of Phantom Of The Opera, but I had never heard, seen or read it. Arguably. I think this one is the better version.  Much more story, connection, and humanity.

I've done several shows at WBT; Carousel, West Side Story, Funny Girl (twice), And The World Goes ‘Round, Happy Days, Christmas Inn, Mamma Mia, and Annie Get  Your Gun.  I love that I can work and live at home (that is the dream).  Also, after many years and many shows, WBT feels like a family to me.  They gave me one of my first jobs as a new Equity member and have always been kind enough to let me return.  

 Some of my favorite shows include The Most Happy Fella, Once on This Island, The Scottsboro Boys, Light in the Piazza, Fiddler on the Roof, Drowsy Chaperone.. just off the top of my head!

My dream role is Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Albin in La Cage aux Folles and I want another shot at Alfie Byrne in A Man of No Importance.

When not on stage, I spend my time trying to find a way on stage!  I listen to tons of musical theatre.  I love podcasts…“This American Life”, “The Moth”, “Ronna and Beverly”, and many more.

 As Alain Cholet with Sandy Rosenberg as La Carlotta.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Meet LA CARLOTTA, Sandy Rosenberg!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, September 27, 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 attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. My parents always loved going to Broadway shows and I inherited that love

 I believe I 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 moved 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 at school. But I never got accepted into the grade school talent shows. Hmmmm.
I’ve been aware of PHANTOM since 1994 when I performed the role of Carlotta at La Mirada Civic Light Opera, the Southern California premiere of the show. I reprised the role right here at WBT in 2007.  I love this version. I feel the audience gets to know and understand the Phantom without all the spectacle. 
 This is my fifth show at WBT.  First was Carlotta in PHANTOM, next HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, the Christmas show,  Flo Manero in SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER last year and most recently Sister Mary Lazarus in SISTER ACT. Love the people who work at WBT. It feels like a family after all these years.

I’ve been going to the theatre since I was 5….too many favorite shows to mention or even think about.  Would love to play Mrs. Lovett in SWEENEY of my favorite shows, along with CANDIDE, HAMILTON, DEAR EVAN HANSEN, the current production of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND and of course PHANTOM 

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

    with Kilty Reidy (as Alain Cholet)