Stories & Cast Interviews
Meet Sara Cline as Dolly in Annie Get Your Gun
I grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City, KS, as part of a loving family which included my dad and mom, my older sister, Laura and younger brother, David. Kansas holds a very special place in my heart, and I am proud of my Midwestern roots. I lived there from the ages of 4 to 18, when I moved out to study Musical Theatre in college. My parents have always been so supportive of my love for singing and theatre, and I am grateful to have grown up in a household that encouraged us, kids, to follow our dreams, to work hard and to be kind.
I started doing Musical Theatre when I was six years old, and I've been doing it ever since. My parents did a great job of exposing the kids to a lot of different types of music, including musicals, which encouraged my love of singing. I knew every word to the 10th Anniversary album of Les Miserables before I knew my states and capitals. After I did my first show as part of a summer program for kids, I auditioned for every show I could around the KC area. I ended up missing a lot of fourth grade because I was "working" around town. (Again, VERY supportive parents!) Of course, then, I didn't think of it as working at all! Eventually though, by the time I hit high school, I knew that I wanted theatre to be more than just a hobby; I dreamed of it being my career. My high school theatre teacher, Dan Schmidt, fostered my passion and helped me to fall in love with acting. Suddenly, I wasn't just a singer, I was a storyteller, and that was the most exciting gift anyone could give me.
'Annie Get Your Gun' was the first musical I ever saw on Broadway, actually! I was lucky enough to see the revival with Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat back in 2001. It was my first trip to New York City as well. The show blew me away and further instilled my love of musical theatre. I will never forget it. Doing the show now as an adult makes me feel very lucky. Previously, at WBT I was in the Christmas Inn this past year. I am so honored to be back with all the kind, professional people who work here. From the audition room to the dressing room, this place is filled to the brim with people I love dearly, whom I hope to work with for years to come.
I have never seen the movie, believe it or not! Generally, I'm a fan of art in whatever form it comes, so I always support musicals being made into movies if it will give someone who wouldn't have had the chance, exposure to musical theatre. Hopefully, if they love it, it will inspire them to buy a ticket to see the show live the next time it plays near them!
My favorite musical of all time is Les Miserables. To me, it is perfect. I also love Sweeney Todd (or really, anything written by Stephen Sondheim). My dream roles include "Fantine" in Les Miserables, "Elphaba" in Wicked and "Cathy" in The Last Five Years.
When not on stage, I love to bake (I make a mean chocolate chip cookie!) but if I couldn't be an actor, I would be a make-up artist or some kind of beauty consultant, so I enjoy playing with cosmetic products a lot. You're likely to find me in the aisles of Sephora with eyeshadow swatches all over my arms. Also, when I'm not onstage, I make sure to enjoy the incredible friends I have in my life. Sometimes, there is nothing better than sitting around with my roommates, having a glass of red wine and watching Shark Tank.
I don't often listen to musicals for recreation; typically I'll listen to shows only if I'm studying for a role. So, my favorites are Singer/Songwriters from all decades. Jim Croce, John Mayer, Joni Mitchell, Sara Bareilles and Ed Sheeran are my all-time favorites!
Meet Devon Perry, The Pistol Packin' Mama!
Growing up in Central Ohio, I was putting on performances in the living room as soon as I could walk and talk. I usually incorporated the services of my dolls and my little brother (thanks, man!), and was always clad in a pink tutu. I watched almost every movie musical and could perform them all from memory. From the age of 6, I began training in ballet and planned to become a professional ballerina, training intensely for over 10 years, until an injury prevented me from going any further. It was about that time that I turned to theatre, attending Interlochen Arts Camp in the summers. I then received a B.F.A. in musical theatre from the University of Michigan, and, well... here I am!
I watched the movie version of Annie Get Your Gun, with Betty Hutton, habitually as a child. Betty Hutton has always been an inspiration of mine - a woman that was fearless in every performance she gave and really changed the image of what it meant to be a woman in her time. I'm also a huge Judy Garland fan, and she was originally supposed to do the film version but was unable to complete it. There are still some clips available of her performing some of the songs. Even though I've never done this show before, I've known most of these songs for many years and they feel like home to me.
This is my fourth show at WBT, and I love it here! It's such a beautiful community to be a part of. Not only are the audiences engaged and supportive, but also the people behind the scenes are just extraordinary, from the box office to the stage crew and everywhere in between. Though it may sound cliche, WBT really has a family atmosphere, which, when felt so strongly backstage and onstage, I know must translate to the audience and make them feel included as well.
Some of my favorite shows include South Pacific, The Wizard of Oz, Sunday in the Park with George, and Annie Get Your Gun! Playing this role has always been a dream of mine. It still feels rather surreal, every time I hit the stage. Another dream role of mine is Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, which I've had the pleasure of playing multiple times, including at WBT!
When I'm not onstage, I also work as a professional musician, which is such a blast! I teach lessons and classes to children, as well as professionals. I also perform around town as a singer and pianist. I enjoy yoga and nature and kissing dogs.
What's on my Spotify these days... I've been listening to a lot of Vulfpeck, an incredible funk band of friends of mine from UofM. I also will always enjoy Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson, Laura Marling and Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan and Hall & Oates.
The Director and ANNIE: Mary Jane Houdina
I was born & raised in Tonawanda, NY. My dad was a plumber and my mom was a homemaker. She made all of my costumes. I went to Tonawanda High School and I choreographed the school musicals before coming to NYC.
I studied Tap, jazz, ballet, acro, and baton with Miss Gloria Jean and then went to Miss Bev for jazz and tap. When I decided I wanted to be a professional dancer, they both ganged up on me and said I needed to take ballet lessons. I went to Kaloff School of Ballet in Buffalo where I studied with Miss Helen. Her father had been with Ballets Russes. Danielian would come and teach a class. So I had very good training from the beginning! I did a lot of performing in the Buffalo area. I'm just old enough to have worked in super clubs as a teen. I also danced for a woman who had been a vaudevillian in her younger years. The group was called Mrs. Dunn's Stars of Tomorrow! We were a bunch of teenagers from different dance schools in the Buffalo area, some singers, and there was a trio, 2 sisters, and their cousin. The girls played accordians, and he played a bass. We performed every 3rd Sunday of the month at the Veteran's Hospital in Buffalo, and at different functions in the Buffalo area. She would introduce me as Buffalo's own Eleanor Powell! I loved that because she was my favorite dancer of all of the movie ladies!
My family was very supportive of my show biz aspirations, although, when I graduated High School, my father offered me a car if stayed home. and a wrist watch if I choose to leave!
I was working on different projects with Choreographer Peter Gennaro and one day he asked if I'd like to assist him on ANNIE, The Musical. I did and was his assistant and Dance Captain and a swing performer in the Original production of ANNIE. I went on to assist on 4 other companies with Peter, and I have done directed/choreographed several versions of my own!
ANNIE is a wonderful show, not just for kids, but adults too!
Some of my favorite shows are Follies, Showboat, The Pajama Game, Irma LaDouce, 42nd Street, and Sugar Babies. I enjoyed performing Aunt Sue in No, No Nanette, Gladys in The Pajama Game and Irma in Irma LaDouce. The one role I didn't get to do was Miss Adelaide in GUYS and DOLLS. She's a real doll of a character!
When I'm not choreographing/directing. I teach dance. I love working with children and adults! Someone asked me the other day how many children's lives have you touched!? When I thought about it, It was awesome to think of all the"orphans " I've worked with! also the children at the school where I teach, the master classes! I'd like to think I left them with positive experiences, and given them helpful information to carry on in their careers!
When not working on a show, I play in a steel drum band! I also like looking for Antiques and I collect depression glass.
Meet Ella & Bill Stanley
Bill & Ella Stanley are a fab Father-Daughter team in ANNIE! Bill is our Musical Director and Ella plays the orphan, Kate! We caught up with them between shows!
Bill at the Keyboard
Bill: I was raised in Logan, Utah. My parents always encouraged arts & music. I studied classical piano in college, but I also enjoyed playing rock & Jazz on the side. So I was very attracted to musical theatre because of the wide variety of styles in the repertoire.
The Annie movie was very popular when I was a kid. In my school, it wasn't cool for boys to like Annie, so I don't think I saw the movie, although I remember many of the songs were played regularly on AM radio. I didn't encounter the show again until 1995 when I was hired as music director at the Surflight Theatre.
Ella: My Mom is a professional singer and actress, my Daddy is a piano player, and my stepdad Roger is a drummer. Daddy plays piano for Shuffles Tap School, and so I started taking tap and musical theatre classes there when I was four.
I watched Annie before I auditioned, to refresh my memory of what happens in the show. The movie was good, but doing the show is more fun!
Bill: I haven't seen the movie recently - I generally make it a point not to, so we can come up with our own version, based on the script & score. I'm generally fine with musicals made into movies, but I find that the live theatre is much more engaging.
Ella: My favorite part of the show is to do is “It’s A Hard Knock Life”, because of all the props. My favorite part to listen to is the song "I Don't Need Anything But You", because of the harmony that Annie & Daddy Warbucks sing together.
Bill: I did many shows here at WBT in the late 90s, and then, after a 17-year hiatus, returned to do Wizard of Oz. I thought it would be a kick to do, particularly if my daughter was cast as a munchkin (which she was). It was such a thrill to bring Ella to work with me, and see her on stage! I did Godspell the following summer, and now I'm back again for Annie - and I hope to come back for next summers show, too!
Ella: Some of my favorite shows are: School of Rock, Peter Pan, Matilda, Legally Blonde.
Bill: Mine are West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, The Full Monty, On the Town
Bill: When not on stage, we love playing with Legos, reading (Harry Potter 5 currently), and slime making (slime making is the unanimous favorite of our cast of orphans, but it is not allowed backstage to protect the costumes).
Ella likes playing music - saxophone is her current favorite instrument.
Bill: On my iPod? I have A lot of classical music, especially Beethoven and Stravinsky, but also Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beatles, Parliament, and James Brown.
Ella: The Allegretto from Beethoven's 7th Symphony.
Ella as Kate.