Stories & Cast Interviews
Jonathan Burgard chatted with me about his role and more!
Growing up was sort of a difficult task. My father starting his basic training in the Air Force in 1971, He didn't retire until he reached final rank of a recruiter, Chief Master Sergeant in 2001, so from my birth, relocation was inevitable. By the time I was 18, I had lived in roughly around 25 cities, but the main locations were Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Syracuse, and Wilmington, NC.
My upbringing was quite different from my two sisters, Cory and Jennifer, and brother, Jason (All Older by 7, 10, and 11 years). I got AWAY with more, and of course, I was spoiled more. I was UNPLANNED, let’s put it that way. I was raised with heart and I was raised to NEVER quit. Sports were my life, Baseball, football, and basketball. My father was my coach in baseball and football. He was, and still is, my hero. He taught me how to “take out the trash.” Life is all about change, curveballs are thrown so you have to learn how to adjust, wait for the right moment or take a chance and swing away, people come and go and you don't always get along with everyone you meet, so taking out the trash was the best advice I ever received. My mom is my catalyst, she is what pieces me together and keeps me going. She was the one who taught me how to respect women and to LOVE, she is my ANGEL.
I loved making people laugh so, “Aladdin,” was my first musical EVER, I played the Genie. I had various influences when I started. My brother, Jason, and my favorite actor Influences are Robin Williams, Dick Van Dyke, Gene Wilder, Daniel Day Lewis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Shia LaBeouf. BRILLIANT actors in their own right and great study guides too.
The Disney films that I LOVED, believe it or not, were, in fact, Beauty and The Beast, and Mary Poppins, but I was more of a Hanna-Barbera’s Scooby Doo, every Saturday morning, type a kid. I Loved to solve those mysteries.
This is my FIFTH time playing the role of Gaston. I usually know a few months in advance that I got the role or not. So my prep is strenuous. I am all about METHOD ACTING, and looking the part is important to me. When Gaston is in the works, I hit the gym HARD, six days a week for a couple hours, focusing on biceps and chest, important factors that I feel make Gaston come to life.
The only thing challenging about bringing Gaston to life is to not make him too “cartoony.” It is an easy thing to do, and I started out that way, to get caught up in trying to make the audience laugh. The key is to bringing truth to the role. Yes, the costume is a mess, with a humongous chest and ridiculous abs and the setting of the show, it is important to make the role someone that the audience can relate to, otherwise if you play for laughs, then there is no connection, the laughs will come when the audience can sense a piece of reality in what you are doing. I certainly HOPE that I do that!
My wig is always dark so matching makeup is important as well, coloring sideburns as well as my eyebrows for the cockeyed winks I give to the town Silly Girls. So, YES, it helps tremendously.
My biggest fans are my nephew and niece, Tyler and Jaymee-Kae. They are my best CRITICS and without them making Gaston come to life would not be possible. It is all about the children. They are the ones with the imagination, that is why Child actors are so Phenomenal, their sense of honesty and imagination drive the mind and keep us on our toes.
In my spare time, there are few things that just keep me thanking God for his GRACE. Reading the Gospel, talking to mom and dad and seeing them every chance I get, weight-training, playing Playstation 2, writing when I can, poetry and stories, and of course being with my beautiful and MOST talented Fiance, Talana Maria, and our baby girl, Nala-Jean, our three-year-old Yorkie.
Cab Calloway Awards
On Monday, May 19th, The Arts community of Westchester County came out to honor their own when the Cab Calloway Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented At Westchester Broadway Theatre.
George Puello, John Treacy Egan, Daniel Carlino
The Master Of Ceremonies for The stellar evening was Broadway actor, John Treacy Egan. Mr. Egan has starred in The Producers and Jekyl And Hyde and can be seen currently as Chef Louis in The Little Mermaid. George Puello, looking smart in his signature white tux and ruby red accessories, was the host and has organized this annual event since 2001. Cab Calloway was a resident of Elmsford for 34 years. His career spanned at least six decades and was highlighted by his work on stage, film, television and the recording industry. It is an honor to have the award bear his name. The recipients are recognized for their body of work, dedication and contribution to the performing arts in Westchester County. Invited performers for the evening included; John Coppola (Jersey Boys, Chicago company.) with twin, Tom Coppola, Scott Ramsey and Steve Loftus who all sang a ditty from Forever Plaid, The Lighthouse Youth Theatre, The Westchester Dreamcoats, Peter Iasillo, Alysa Haas, Shana Buxton, Danceworks (The Dance Company of WCC) and Karen Beals, singing George Puello's song, "In My Dream", as a moving tribute to the late Mort Clark. Mr. Egan sang excerpts from The Producers, as well as a selection from his newly-released CD "Count The Stars."
FOUNDER OF THE BRAMSON SCHOOL OF MUSIC. HIS WIFE BERENICE BRAMSON IS BEING HONORED POSTHUMOUSLY.
JOHN B. COPPOLA
FOUNDING MEMBER OF THE NEW ROCHELLE COMMUNITY THEATER (ESTABLISHED IN 1968). HE HAS SERVED IN MANY CAPACITIES FROM SET DESIGNER AND DIRECTOR TO PRODUCER.
SIR MORT CLARK (1928-2007)
HONORED POSTHUMOUSLY FOR HIS GREAT CONTRIBUTIONS TO NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL AMATEUR THEATRE. HE WAS PROFESSOR OF SPEECH AND THEATER AT WESTCHESTER COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR OVER THIRTY YEARS.
IN RECOGNITION OF HIS LIFELONG DEDICATION AS A MUSIC TEACHER AND MUSICAL DIRECTOR FOR OVER FORTY YEARS THROUGHOUT WESTCHESTER COUNTY. HIS WIFE,
JUDY GABERMAN, AN ACCOMPLISHED AUTHOR OF CHILDREN'S BOOKS, WIILL BE HONORED POSTHUMOUSLY.
SUSAN (RYAN) KATZ
FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF WESTCO PRODUCTIONS. HER FATHER SEYMOUR "SONNY" KATZ. A GREAT SUPPORTER OF THEATER WILL BE HONORED POSTHUMOUSLY.
FOUNDER AND PRODUCER OF YORKTOWN STAGE. A LONGTIME DIRECTOR/CHOREOGRAPHER AND ACTOR IN PROFESSIONAL AND
MUSIC TEACHER AND DRAMA DIRECTOR AT PORT CHESTER MIDDLE SCHOOL FOR THIRTY FOUR YEARS. MUSICAL DIRECTOR FOR MANY
COMMUNITY THEATER GROUPS IN WESTCHESTER.
DANCE PROFESSOR AT WESTCHESTER COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR THE PAST THIRTY-FOUR YEARS. AND CO-FOUNDER OF DANCEWORKS WITH MOLLYANN FRANZBLAU
Mrs Potts Spills all!
Stacia Fernandez is bubbling over with excitement as she appears nightly in Beauty & The Beast!
I was born in Columbia Missouri, lived in Monmouth, Illinois until I was 9 and then spent the rest of my growing up years in Atlanta, Georgia. I'm the 4th of 4 girls and we had a blast together!
I think my acting needs are genetic! My Dad is a great actor. He never did it for a career, but I saw him in plays from an early age. I think it's HIS fault!! :)
I'm just old enough to remember Sunday nights and THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY. It was an important television time every week. Daniel Boone, Mary Poppins, The Sword in the Stone, The Nutty professor, Mickey and Minnie? All of them every Sunday night with a bowl of popcorn and my sisters.
I played Mrs. Potts on the National Tour AND on Broadway. I was lucky enough as an understudy to get the contract in both places for awhile! My preparation? Honesty and good spirit. That's where I try to put my head for the lovely Mrs. Potts.
The costume is a big physical obstacle to conveying emotion. I happen to be one of the folks that LOVES this show more when we are in rehearsal without all the big costumes. It's such a sweet story and I think it could be done without costumes completely! BUT that being said? The costumes we are wearing are very "user friendly"!
Children are enchanted by this story and show. I love to see the little girls in their gold dresses and the moms and their sons and daughters holding their hands in the air and singing BE OUR GUEST. And it happens a lot! (oh... and I think some parents are getting their introduction to live theatre THROUGH their children. That is a beautiful thing too!)
My partner and I are finishing renovation on our house! That takes a lot of time. But I also walk my dogs, garden, see movies, theatre when I can and see my friends and try to stay happy and busy. Cause that's what life's all about to me!! :)