Stories & Cast Interviews

Friday, November 30, 2007

Kate Rockwell's ready to breakout

Posted by: WBT on Friday, November 30, 2007 at 4:02:00 pm Comments (0)

 An interview with Phantom's Kate Rockwell By Jon Chattman

Kate Rockwell is arguably best known as one of the finalists on NBC’s “”Grease: You’re the One that I Want,” but she’s quickly changing that. The actress/singer is currently earning raves for her role as Christine Daee in Westchester Broadway Theatre’s (WBT) “Phantom,” the acclaimed Yeston/Kopit production, and has snagged a role in the upcoming “Sex in the City” movie. We recently spoke to the Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory grad and asked her how it feels to be on the verge of stardom, and star in what many consider to be the superior “Phantom of the Opera” production at WBT.

 What has the experience been performing at WBT? How has the audience response been? I am loving this show. We have had such a great time. The cast is fantastic, and so much fun to work with. It's also nice performing so close to home. I get to sleep in my own bed at the end of the day! The audiences seem to love the show, which is fantastic. We love it, too and put so much of ourselves into it. It is so nice to see them responding the way they do at the end of the show. I have had women and men come up to me after the show and say "thank you so much, it was great. I cried,” and that is just the perfect thing to hear. I usually tell them, "I cried too!" because I cry every show still.

Were you aware of the theater beforehand? Where are you originally from? I knew of the theater just from working in New York but hadn't worked here before. I am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. My dad and brother still live there and I still think of it as "home."

Were you aware there was another "Phantom" musical out there prior to signing on? Yes, I learned about this particular "Phantom" in college. I grew up listening to and loving the Lloyd Webber version, and when I first heard this one I was like, ‘it’s so different!’ The music is so beautiful and I love all of Maury Yeston's work. He is a genius in my book.

What do you think of the Broadway version compared to this one? I love both versions for different reasons. The Broadway version has always been close to my heart, but I think the story and the book of this show are so beautifully developed. The characters are much more fleshed out, and the music is so gorgeous. It's less of a rock opera score than traditional musical theater, and I think it works so well with the story. I also love that the character of the Phantom is so well developed in this version. He is a real person with real feelings. And at the end, you truly want him and Christine to get together as opposed to wanting him out of the way. It is a real love story between them, rather than a love triangle.

What drew you to the character of Christine in the first place? My heart is in real, classical soprano singing. I am a trained coloratura who rarely gets to use that voice because pop and belting are so popular right now. So when I was given the chance to do one of my favorite shows and sing my favorite type of music, how could I not be overjoyed,

How big a break was "You're the One That I Want?" "Grease" was a huge stepping stone for me. I had just moved to the city about four months before I got cast in the live show, and was so amazed, grateful and terrified all at the same time. I had no idea if it would be a good move or a bad move-I mean, a reality show? Really? But it turned out to be amazing. I met some incredible people-some of the other contestants are my closest friends now and I got a chance to sing for millions of people all at once. It really was a gift.

How soon after you left the show did the offers start coming in? [Laughs] I wish they came in like that! As far as "offers" go, those have been mostly readings. I still have to go in an audition for everything. This is a tough business just because you did one thing, doesn't necessarily mean you will do another. I am still proving myself every day (I hope!) in audition rooms. Which I think is a positive. I like to know I worked for the prize-I think if things were being handed to me based on "Grease," I would feel like I hadn't done anything to deserve the prize. This way, Grease gets to be an amazing stepping stone, but not the only stepping stone, and I can continue to build my career the old-fashioned way, which is what I had always wanted. Good work begets more good work, and I can only keep doing what I'm doing in that regard.

You're in the "Sex in the City" movie - can you describe your role? It's so small. I will be in one scene with the other three girls playing "young" versions of the stars. I don't want to give things away I'm not supposed to, but it was so fun to work on, and I got to meet Sarah Jessica Parker and work with her as well, and Michael Patrick King. It was fantastic! Not bad for my first film!

Lastly, What's up next after "Phantom?" I wish I knew! As of right now, "Phantom" is as far as I can see. But I am constantly looking ahead and doing auditions to line up the next project. If you have any good ideas or want to offer something, please call me!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dancing News at WBT!

Posted by: WBT on Thursday, November 29, 2007 at 7:06:00 pm Comments (0)

BALLROOM DANCESPORT EXTRAVAGANZA SHOW,  "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS" The highly successful Ballroom DanceSport Extravaganza show, for the first time, will offer both matinee and evening performances on Monday, Dec 3.

This will mark the show's 6th appearance here after performing to five previous sold-out audiences. Showcasing current World and American ballroom dance champions, all forms of DanceSport will be in the spotlight with presentations alternating from International Latin and Standard style to American rhythm and smooth. Also, Cabaret and Theatre Arts.   

 In the star-studded cast are Argentine Tango stars Francisco Forquera and Natalia Hills  (pictured) who were the principal dancers in the hit Broadway show Forever Tango in New York, London and Paris. They also headed the cast of Tango Passion on its tour of the Far East. Their career was highlighted by being specially invited to perform in honor of Princess Diana Spenser at the British Embassy in Argentina.

The new partnership and American debut of 3-times undefeated World and British Empire Champion, Hazel Newberry, with 10-times undefeated United States and North American Champion and Silver medallist for the World Title, Jonathan Wilkins, will take place Monday, Dec. 3rd, at the Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, NY.

Newberry and Wilkins have agreed to replace Erminio Stefano and Liene Apale who dissolved their dance partnership following the World competition two weeks ago in England. Newberry and Wilkins will head the cast at the WBT of the: 

Gherman Mustuc and Iveta Lukosiute, the reigning U.S. National Professional International style 10-dance champions, and silver medallists at the world championship held in Germany, also return with the show. They, too, took 4th place for this year’s World Classical Showdance title held in Holland. They began 2007 by sweeping both the Show Dance and International Ballroom titles in Washington D.C.’s Yuletide Ball and San Francisco’s Grand Ball.

Dmitri and Svetlana Ostashkin were twice winners of the European Latin Championship and have won numerous major American competitions. The Ostashkins, too, are Show Dance champions and should enthrall the audience with their renown "Marilyn Monroe" and Latin theater show presentations.

Steven Dougherty and Eulia Baranovsky, American-style smooth winners of the California Open and Boston’s Yankee Classic are again, in the dazzling cast. Dougherty and Baranovsky were Grand Finalists in both the United States Ballroom Championship and Ohio Star Ball and were featured in the TV special "American Ballroom Challenge" on PBS and ESPN. They are guest teachers and performers for the Juilliard School.

New to the cast are Evgeny Dyachenko and Inna Ivanenko, silver medallists in the World Professional American rhythm championship as seen on PBS. Inna, with her exotic movements and slinky body action, and the energetic Evgeny, toured America this past summer with the "Dancing With The Stars" roadshow. Dance Beat called them "refreshing and fun to watch". Inna, with her former partner, was American Rhythm World Champions.

The Show’s Producer, Bob Beslove, is Master of Ceremonies. Musical Director is Peter Collins who for many years was the deejay at New York City’s Rainbow Room. Tickets are$55 per person plus tax for the matinee and $73 plus tax in the evening. It includes served dinner featuring your choice from six entrees and show. To reserve contact the box office at (914) 592-2222. Tickets can be ordered online at The WBT is located at 1 Broadway Plaza in Elmsford. 

Celebrate the Season

Posted by: WBT on Thursday, November 29, 2007 at 2:20:00 pm Comments (0)

THE WESTCHESTER BROADWAY THEATRE... Will celebrate the Holiday Season with an array of Fabulous Entertainment at a great value! THE TICKET PRICES INCLUDE THE SHOW AND A SERVED MEAL WITH YOUR CHOICE FROM 6 ENTREES. The wonderful Holiday line-up includes a special something for varied ages and diverse tastes!

 A CHRISTMAS CAROL: A BRAND NEW Musical Adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ classic with the Book, Music, and Lyrics by George Puello. A wonderful Holiday Treat to delight all ages! This new musical adaptation features a new score as well as many of the traditional carols we love to sing! See Scrooge and Tiny Tim and all of the timeless characters we’ve all grown to know & love. And this version includes a surprising new twist! With a cast of 23, look for big, colorful production numbers and lots of dancing! An uplifting evening of holiday cheer!

WEDNESDAYS THROUGH SUNDAYS, NOVEMBER 28th TO DECEMBER 23rd. BALLROOM DANCESPORT WORLD CHAMPION DANCERS LIVE AT WBT Erminio Stefano & Liene Apale, Francisco Forquera & Natalia Hills Gherman Mustuc & Iveta Lukosiute, Steven Dougherty & Eulia Baranovsky Dmitri & Svetlana Ostashkin, Evgeny Dyachenko & Inna Ivanenko MONDAY, DECEMBER 3rd MATINEE: $55 PER PERSON PLUS TAX, EVENING: $73 PER PERSON PLUS TAX JOHNNY MAESTRO and THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE YOUR FAVORITE HITS PLUS SOME HOLIDAY MUSICAL CHEER “THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN”,” WELCOME ME, LOVE” “BLESSED IS THE RAIN”. Also appearing: Guest Comedian, RICHARD BYRNE MONDAY, DECEMBER 10th $73 PER PERSON PLUS TAX TONY KENNY’S Christmastime in Ireland A HOLIDAY CELEBRATION OF IRISH MUSIC, SONG, DANCE AND COMEDY Ireland’s premier entertainer, Tony Kenny, and an incredible line-up of entertainers! TUESDAY, DECEMBER 11th MATINEE: $55 PER PERSON PLUS TAX EVENING: $73 PER PERSON PLUS TAX FROSTY THE SNOWMAN A MUSICAL TREAT THE KIDS WILL LOVE! The wonderful Holiday story that enchants us all, is brought to vivid life on our stage! SATURDAYS, DEC. 15th, AND 22nd. 3 SHOWS: 11 AM, 1 PM, 3 PM. ALL TICKETS JUST $15.00 PLUS TAX (SHOW ONLY) THESE THREE TENORS Celebrate The Season Truly consummate artists that sing with beauty and passion. Enjoy a thrilling evening of great dramatic interpretation of Opera, Italian love songs, show tunes, pop tunes and including a tribute to the legendary tenor, Luciano Pavarotti. A very special evening starring the gifted: MICHAEL CROUSE, “a gifted dramatic tenor” – NEW YORK TIMES. THOMAS STALLONE, “a beautiful, beautiful voice”– GIAN-CARLO MENOTTI. RINALDO TOGLIA, “his voice soars with volume and strength” – STAR-LEDGER, NJ And with a very special guest: The Lyric Soprano, JENNY LYNN STEWART MONDAY, DECEMBER 17th $73 PER PERSON PLUS TAX SIMPLY SINATRA Starring STEVE LIPPIA “UNCANNILY LIKE FRANK SINATRA.”– WALL STREET JOURNAL With a hot band to back him up, and a bit of the holiday spirit, Lippia performs popping swing tunes, poignant ballads & holiday favorites with charm and ease. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18th MATINEE: $55 PER PERSON PLUS TAX EVENING: $73 PER PERSON PLUS TAX PHANTOM By Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit This is a deeply moving version of Gaston Leroux's 1911 novel “The Phantom of the Opera”. Developed by Kopit and Yeston just before the Lloyd Webber version reached Broadway, this musical retelling of the Phantom story plumbs the emotional depths of this lonely character and explores the secrets of his past. The sumptuous score features beautiful melodies, ravishing waltzes, and heartstopping duets. As one critic describes the show, "It's about fathers and sons, lovers and mothers, and also how music connects to the deepest part of the soul." Songs include "Melodie de Paris," "Home," "You are Music," "My True Love," "You Are My Own." RESUMES DEC 27th 2007 and runs through FEB 9th 2008 You can order tickets and gift certificates online at BOX OFFICE (914) 592-2222 GROUP SALES (914) 592-2225 Westchester Broadway Theatre 1 BROADWAY PLAZA, ELMSFORD, NY 10523

Another fan of Phantom

Posted by: WBT on Thursday, November 29, 2007 at 2:14:00 pm Comments (0)

 I saw "Phantom" ten years ago when I refused to pay for and wait a year to see the other Phantom production on Broadway. Then last year, our children gave us gift tickets for that other "Phantom." Half way through the Broadway [production], I turned to my wife and said, "I know it has been nine years and my memory of "Phantom" may have faded a bit, but "Phantom" was better. I am not a theater critic but I researched others who are and they agreed with me. So, when I saw "Phantom" was coming back to WBT, I got a group together for the show. my memory did not fail me! I was right. "Phantom" is the better Phantom. If this production was this good on a small stage, I can only imagine what a broadway production would be like. If "Phantom" returns again in ten years to WBT, "I'll be back" again for the real Phantom. - Raymond Ciccolilli