Stories & Cast Interviews
An Enchanted Evening!
A standing ovation rewarded the cast of Beauty And The Beast for a GREAT opening night performance! What FUN! What Romance! What intrigue! "The tale as old as time" stands up to a discerning modern-day audience just fine!!
Some of the cast beaming with Opening Night excitement!
(Mahalia,Jessica,Talana,Floryn & Samantha)
(Rena, Stacia, Marguerite)
Chips off the old block!!
Michael Herwitz, Alex Pasieka and Max Wright will alternate the role of CHIP in BEAUTY & THE BEAST at WBT!
Michael Herwitz from Irvington, is thrilled to be back at WBT after appearing as Nathan in The Full Monty and as a newsboy in Gypsy. His interest in theatre developed from tagging along as sister, Zoe , was shuttled to singing lessons and rehearsals with youth theatre programs. He took to the stage himself at age 6 in a revue, Salute to Broadway at Irvington Town Hall Theatre, where an agent in the audience spotted him and he was on his way! On Broadway, He was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Dracula, The Musical. Regional audiences saw him in the Music Man, La Gioconda, Warsaw, Please Don't Eat The Dasies, Les Miserables, and The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley. Michael is very focused on theatre and enjoys reading scripts, as well as dabbling as assistant director for the fifth grade plays at school. He is a sixth grader at Irvington Middle School. A good student, he was recently honored as "student of the month".
Max Wright is really excited to be returning to WBT! After appearing in the spring of 2007 as Winthrop in The Music Man at Curtain Call Community Theater in Stamford, CT, Max made his WBT debut last summer as a newsboy in "Gypsy". Max is new to performing and feels it is a privilege to be able to work, once again, in the professional and friendly atmosphere of WBT. Max lives in Greenwich, CT with his twin sister and three older siblings. He attends the 6th grade at Rye Country Day School. Max is artistic, creative, with a unique sense of humor. He enjoys sketching, cartooning, comedy improv, and the humor of The Far Side and The New Yorker cartoons. He LOVES watching movies-his favorite being a toss-up between Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and Space Balls! He enjoys the outdoors, nature and hiking and he took up squash this past year. Last year he was recognized by the State of CT for a poster he created on Citizenship. He got to attend an award ceremony in the State Capitol building in Hartford.
A Beastly Guy!
Not a beast, at all...nice guy, Joseph Mahowald had this to say.........
I was born and raised in Huron, SD (my babysitter was Sheryl Stoppelmoore -- can anyone tell me what her married name is???). [answer: Sheryl Ladd]. I was the youngest of seven children and the only one of us to pursue performance as a career.
When I was a sophomore in high school I saw a production of "Man of La Mancha." It was the first time I had ever seen a stage show and it was…magic! I was in awe of the lead performer's abilities to act and to sing. He absolutely captivated me. I decided then, that I was going to be a performer. I worked very hard at music and did all the plays I could until I got into college. When I got there the guy who had played "Quixote" three years earlier was a graduate student and I was mentored by him for the two years I spent at that University. I transferred to the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati after that and made the Dean's List for nearly all the semesters, finally graduating Magna Cum Laude!
A few years ago, I was honored to do the Disney film "Mulan." It was such a thrill to do! The process of making an animated film is unlike anything I've ever been a part of before. We went to Sony Studios and, I must say, I was honored to be in a room with some of the most talented singers in the world! We went into a room (a really nice room with BIG TV's) and watched the 'scratch' animation of the scene for which we were about to make the audio. After that, we went into the recording studio and put down the vocals. It was thrilling! The best part has come over the last few years when my own children saw the film and kept asking "where are you, papa? I don't recognize you!"
I have performed the "Beast" on two occasions before this. The first was with my mentor, M. Eric Johnson, as director and as Belle's father. My second time was Houston Theatre Under the Stars' first revival since they developed Beauty and the Beast. The Beast costume weighs between 25-30 pounds. It's always a challenge to lug that kind of weight around and sing!
My two beloved children like it when I appear in something they can attend. I have played roles that kids really shouldn't see, like Jekyll & Hyde, where the subject matter is really not appropriate for younger children. A few years ago, I played the title role in "Sweeney Todd" and my 6-year old son loved it! I took him backstage before the show and introduced him to all the actors and showed him how they make the stage blood. After the show I, again, brought him back to meet all the people I "killed" and he was fascinated -- he still talks about it over two years later.
I love my family! My children and my wife are my love and joy. My siblings and their families, too, are a great source of happiness. Growing up in a large family has great rewards, in that you are born into a group of best friends. We still get together on a regular basis to laugh and spend time together. Holidays are WILD! I'm also a Cantor in the Catholic church and delight in my faith in God.
What a Beauty!!
Rena Strober..who is the lovely Belle had this to share with us....
I grew up in Goshen, NY, very close to Westchester Bwy! I loved being in the country and getting to drive into NYC to see shows. My parents put me into dance class when I was 4 and sent me to the famous theatre camp, Stagedoor Manor from age 11-16. Needless to say, they've always supported my choice to be a performer. I have 2 older brothers, one who's a director/writer and the other is a lawyer. We're all really close. I've always felt the most comfortable on the stage telling stories through song and dance. I'll always remember my first Broadway show, Peter Pan. Ever since, I've always wanted to fly in a show...I"m still waiting to play Peter :)
I was always a big fan of Bernadette Peters, Bette Midler, I guess anyone with lots of big curly hair. I was also greatly influenced by the greats such as Danny Kaye, Gene Kelly and Ginger Rogers. Their grace, humor and ability to do it all made me work hard and live to tell love stories.
I'm a GIRL!!! Of course I watched every Disney movie! I always loved Cinderella and the fat mouse, Gus. I was never a fan of Snow White because of the dated ideas of women. I always loved An American Tale and of course, Beauty & The Beast. One of my first crushes was Robbie Benson who voiced the Beast. He was also in Ice Castles :)
This has always been a role I've dreamed of playing. I've auditioned for the Broadway production about 6 times and it has never happened for me. I'm thrilled that my 1st production is with this incredible cast and with Richard. You have a lot more freedom to explore the character and story in regional productions than on Broadway. Preparing for this role so far has been just to memorize my lines and be ready to open in 10 days!! But as I learn my lines and blocking, I'm able to start having fun. I get to look back at the time when I was very much like Belle...although I still am. I'm so lucky to bring out the part of me that loves her independence, courage, family, adventure and of course, happy endings.
Is it challenging bringing a beloved cartoon character to life? Hmm, tough question! I guess, I would say yes because so many people see her one way, the way she was drawn and voiced in the film. Many young girls simply want to see that Belle on the stage. However, the script is so well written and the music so glorious that it's not that challenging to really bring her to life.
Well, when I put on the big yellow dress I almost cried. There I was, this girl from upstate, standing there looking like the Princess I always loved in the story. I'm also sure that once I see the beast's makeup, it'll make Joe that much more scary.
My 5 year old nephew is so excited to come see Auntie Rena on stage playing Belle. He's been watching the movie all month.
For the past few months, every moment I'm not on stage or rehearsing, I've been in the studio recording my upcoming debut CD. I'm really excited about it! Other than working hard on other projects, I love spending time with my awesome nephews in Nyack, window shopping and playing with friends’ dogs.