Stories & Cast Interviews

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

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. 




Friday, March 2, 2018

Meet Michael John Hughes as Paul in A Chorus Line

Posted by: Pia Haas on Friday, March 2, 2018 at 11:00:00 am Comments (0)

 I'm from Wood-Ridge, NJ, only about 15-20 minutes outside the city.  So I grew up taking family trips into the city pretty frequently, seeing Broadway shows and going to dinners.  I was always so enamored and mesmerized by NYC and luckily was able to call it home when I moved in to attend Pace University for college.  At the age of 5, I told my mom I wanted to be in movies, which lead to me starting acting classes which then lead to a number of different dance and musical comedy classes.  I then attended a magnet school in my county where I studied theatre and further fueled my passion for the arts

Michael (Center, as Paul)


I saw the movie The Little Vampire with my mom at the age of 5 and immediately afterward told her I wanted to be an actor.  She signed me up for classes and I soon started taking dance and musical theatre classes as well.  No one else in my family has ever pursued a career in the arts, but thankfully I was able to major in theatre at my high school and I met a ton of amazing professionals who aided me in my pursuit of a BFA degree in musical theatre and beyond.


I don't remember first hearing about the show, but I always knew songs from it, especially "What I Did for Love".  I did the show for the first time before my senior year of college at the Weston Playhouse.  It was a life-changing experience.  I was having a lot of anxiety about graduating from school with a degree in musical theatre and leading the somewhat unstable life of an actor/dancer.  But this show reignites and reinforces all the reasons I began a life in the arts, to begin with.


I've never seen this movie, no, mostly since I've heard from others that it isn't very good.  I think it's great that musicals are brought to the big screen, as long as they're done terrifically (like Chicago and Hairspray).  Broadway shows are incredibly expensive, and I think it's amazing that these movies bring these powerhouse musicals to the general public.


My Favorite shows?  A Chorus Line! Seriously.  I love Hairspray, Spring Awakening, Dear Evan Hansen, West Side Story.  I wouldn't mind being in any of these, as well.


I love fitness classes and try to take lots of yoga, spin, and HIIT classes.  I love to watch movies, and television, especially in this cold weather.  But once it's warm, I love to be outside and go hiking and biking.  


I love my pop divas.  Lorde, Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, Sia, Carly Rae, Halsey, Miley Cyrus.  But I love most music that just makes me want to get up and dance!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Meet Sarah Bowden as CASSIE in A CHORUS LINE

Posted by: Pia Haas on Friday, February 23, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I grew up in Sydney, Australia. I have been dancing since I could walk. I have 2 brothers, also in the business, and it’s really the only thing I’ve ever known and lived. I started professionally at age 16, in the musical Cats

I once saw West Side Story when I was about 13, and I saw the girl playing Anybodys, scale a fence and jump around that Stage with so much energy... I turned to my mum and said, "I want to be just like that girl!! " I haven’t looked back since. My hero and Inspiration is really Liza Minnelli. She is everything I adore about theatre. 

I saw a production of A Chorus Line in Australia in the 90’s... I loved it. I have done the show in German first, performing it in Austria in 2015. And once at the Hollywood Bowl in summer 2016. 

The movie was my first experience of A Chorus Line, and I adored it... but learning the original musical from Baayork Lee herself, well nothing compares to that! I'm all for musicals being made into to movies, get it out there and accessible to more people, as theatre tickets can get expensive. But I do get disappointed, when they don’t cast musical actors... we sing, dance and act, and that’s what makes it special... when one or more of those are lacking, it’s a shame for the piece, for the film. There really is nothing like live theatre... one chance to experience it, one chance to get it right. It’s so in the moment, I love that. 

My dream role would be Velma Kelly in Chicago, I’m working on it.  I would also love to play Charity in Sweet Charity!

When not on stage, I love to run, it helps free my mind. I also love to spend time with family and friends, just simple things but time with them... we sacrifice so much of that, doing what we do and traveling all of the time for work. 

What music is on my iPod? Ha ha ha .... musical theatre. 



Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Meet Brian Dillon as Larry in A Chorus Line

Posted by: Pia Haas on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 2:00:00 pm Comments (0)

I was born and raised near Boston. I always say that to make it easy, but if someone says they know Massachusetts well, I tell them where I’m really from, which is Dracut. Then, when they don’t know where that is, I say it’s right next to Lowell, and they finally say “Ah okay!” Basically my whole family lives there, right down the street from the high school where I discovered my love for musical theater, amid other semi-dorky activities: being drum major in marching band, playing trumpet in orchestra and jazz band, show choir, National Honor Society, Leo Club, and actually the un-dorkiest of them, varsity baseball.      As LARRY (c) in our show.

My first inkling that I liked acting was when I joined my Jr. High production of Annie, Jr. because my friends were doing it. I got the part of Rooster. Senior year of high school I played Gaston in Beauty and the Beast (the six surrounding “silly girls” were taller than Gaston at the time) and I knew from the feeling I had on stage to the rumblings in town to “go see this kid” that I might want to pursue this for real. The director at the time, who would never fake-compliment anyone just to maintain affability, said to me, “You should think about this if you like it.” That was a really big deal to me.

I first heard of A Chorus Line in grade school when my best friend’s mother started playing the record when I was over for dinner one day; said friend rolled his eyes, but I secretly liked what I was hearing. Later, I saw the 2006 revival. At that time I’m not sure I understood the impact of the show, nor did I know how it would soon change my life. I toured with the show 3 months after college graduation under Baayork Lee’s direction as a swing (Wrong Arms Roy, understudy Mark, Al, and Mike). I then took over the part of Mike halfway through the tour.  I swung the show again at Riverside Theatre with Mitzi Hamilton as Tom Tucker and added Don to the understudy roles above. In this production at WBT, I’m Larry, Zach’s assistant. 



As ALAN                                                    As TOM                 As WRONG ARMS ROY


         As DON                 As MIKE                As MARK

I love the way this show looks at WBT, that the thrust stage makes the stories so inclusive and the dancing incredibly close. After doing Mamma Mia here last season, I knew this story would lend itself well to this space. What’s great about being here at WBT is that so many loved ones can come see it, and we New Yorkers are so close to home.

 I’ve only watched the opening sequence from the A Chorus Line movie and that’s as far as I got. They are DANCING in it, my goodness. Someday I need to see the whole thing. I think Chicago is the epitome of movie-musicals. I think it’s perfect. I also appreciate what the Live airing musicals on NBC and FOX are doing today, bringing musical theatre to more households. Grease, though not my favorite show, was such a great Live production on TV. 

Some favorite musicals of mine are Ragtime, Wicked, Hairspray, The Drowsy Chaperone, Next to Normal, Waitress, and Come From Away was fantastic. I’ve always been such a chorus boy and swing in my career, but some dream roles for me are Princeton from Avenue Q, Boq in Wicked, Seymour in Little Shop, Tulsa in Gypsy, Pinocchio in Shrek, and Cassie in a chorus line ;-)

When I’m not on stage during this particular show, I spend at least a day recovering from the week with some stretching, yoga, gym time, baths, or massage. Sometimes I take a shift or two in the service industry making all the party guests happy with Hors d’oeuvres. Auditions are always on-going. But my favorite past time is morning coffee while watching the Great British Baking Show (which I hope comes back soon with a new season!)

The music on my phone is lots of Sara Bareilles, Brandi Carlile, Celine, Rufus Wainwright, Jason Mraz, musicals, all today’s main pop gals, and some older amazing Motown playlists.