Stories & Cast Interviews
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change! wows the crowd!!
It's a hit! Laughter spilled from the theatre into the lobby last night! The audience loved every moment of this little blockbuster!
I caught up with Christine DiTota and Travis Taber between shows and asked them about their challenging roles as understudies. They are poised to jump on stage at any moment, when needed! As luck would have it, Travis has already stepped in for several performances!
Christine: I was raised by a little Italian Woman named Isabelle Pugliese in a small apartment in Yonkers NY. My brother and I shared a room until he got a little too old and then I shared a room with my Mom. It was funny because one side of the room had religious artifacts cluttering the walls and the other side had pictures that I had ripped out of the latest "Teen Beat" magazine taped to the walls. Usually, the pictures that were hanging on my side of the room were of guitar playing, long haired icons. And on her side, the virgin Mary. We ate pasta at least three times a week and went to church every Sunday. It was a standard Italian household. Lots of food, fun, laughter and tears!
Travis: I grew up in Rochester, NY in a family of four; my parents and one older sister.
As a kid I was always doing impersonations and funny voices. I actually did my first musical when I was in fourth grade, I had the leading role in my church's Christmas show they put on. I really didn't know I wanted to pursue acting professionally until high school when I did a community production of Les Miserables. I had such an incredible experience, and the cast was amazing; it really drove me to audition for college programs.
Christine: My first year of college, I had decided I would become a pharmacist. I thought that was a strong/reliable choice. I got a job working in CVS in the pharmacy so that I would be ready. I had a meeting with my academic advisor and he took a final glance at the courses we had chosen and said "I've got an idea, how about you try taking a theatre class." I was a little surprised. Then I thought, hmmm, maybe as a hobby. I signed up for an acting class. The teacher put actors in pairs and gave out one scene for each couple to perform. I watched couple after couple get up and perform their scenes. The day came that it was my turn to perform my scene. I sat in a wheelchair, my character was handicapped, and began the scene. Something changed the moment I sat in the chair, I began to feel. And I forgot who I was for a moment. When the scene was over the whole class stood up and applauded. When I could finally focus again, on something besides the character I was playing, I saw everyone standing there, clapping, and I began to cry. It was a wonderful moment. I have pursued the theatre since then.....
Travis: I love Sunday In The Park With George, and obviously I would love to play George sometime in the future. I think though that my dream role, which I've already played once, is Georg in She Loves Me. I really love that show and the role is a lot of fun to do.
Christine: I love the classics! It is my absolute dream to one day get the opportunity to play Blanche DuBois in "Streetcar Named Desire".
This is my first experience taking on the role of an understudy. I'm finding it very interesting. It is crucial to pay very close attention to the choices the actresses are making. If ever I have to go on, I will need to honor their hard work.
Travis: This is actually my first time doing it also, and it doubles your responsibilities. It's important that you are aware of what both roles that you are covering are doing so that you are able to just jump in if you are needed. I personally took copious notes and made myself some diagrams to help me, and it worked pretty well.
Christine: There are over 40 characters in the play and all of them are so very different. I think that the key to developing each individual character is to find the correct body. I always ask myself, "How does this person walk, move, bend?" In my experience, that is truly the best way to unlock a character.
Travis: I think it's effective to just take one role at a time and break it down for yourself. I dive into each character when I'm working on that scene and then after I finish working and I reach a certain level I leave it, until the next time I work on it and then I try and find more facets within that world to expand upon.
Christine: I've worked in the children's entertainment business for the last 7 years. I'm a party planner/entertainer. It's a great job for an actor. I'll dress up as a Princess, Pirate or whatever character a child could possibly desire for their birthday. We play games with them, give out prizes, face paint, make balloon animals, etc. It's a lot of fun working with children and they ARE the toughest audience. Also, it provides a person with some of the funniest stories you'll ever hear in your life. The birthday party business is chock full of entertaining mishaps.
Travis: I work part time at Starbucks.
Christine: When I'm not on stage, I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I love going to the theatre to see plays or musicals. Of course, there is the homebody side of me. I like to curl up on the couch with my husband and dog and watch a good movie.
Travis: I like to spend time with my wife Debra. I really enjoy golf, as well as disc golf, or for that matter any sport.
Travis: My Ipod has Everything just about, but some of my favorites are: The Format, MAE, Taking Back Sunday, Incubus, Motion City Soundtrack, Kanye, Coldplay, The Hoodies, Dead Poetic, Lloyd Banks....etc.
Christine: I don't have an IPOD.
Too Perfect to Change!
June is the month of love, weddings, and marriage proposals. So, there couldn’t be a more appropriate time for a production of the award-winning musical comedy that has resulted in more than 61 marriage proposals. If you are interested in proposing to your better half in front of a live audience during the show, contact Pia Haas in the publicity office. The Show Runs June 18th thru August 2nd!
The Cast...clockwise: Courtney Balan, Frank Vlastik, Jonathan Rayson and Noel Molinelli.
Fanny of fiction?
Curious about the history behind all the razzle-dazzle? According to John Kenrick of Musicals 101.com …it was reshaped quite a bit for the stage!
Fanny's family name was Borach. After her career took off in burlesque, she changed it to Brice, but her mother was always known as Mrs. Rose Borach.
Fanny was not an only child, but the third of four. Fanny's parents owned a chain of profitable saloons in Newark, New Jersey. So they raised their family in comfort, with household servants and trips to visit relatives in Europe.
Fanny's mother Rose spent years managing those saloons while her husband played cards and drank heavily. Rose finally got a legal separation, sold off the saloons and took the kids to Brooklyn, where she made a good living buying and selling real estate. While Fanny struggled towards fame, her family lived in a series of handsome apartments and townhouses, including one on Manhattan's swanky Beekman Place – nothing like the lower class Henry Streetlife seen in the musical.
Fanny made her amateur debut as a solo singer at Frank Keeney's popular Brooklyn vaudeville theatre. She was never part of the chorus, on roller skates or otherwise.
Fanny was fired from a chorus by Broadway legend George M. Cohan. He dropped Brice from the Broadway cast of Talk of the Town because she could not dance. To cover her disappointment, Fanny claimed she was dumped because of her "skinny legs." That incident inspired the Keeney scenes in the musical.
In her teens, Fanny was married to (and quickly divorced from) Frank White, a small town barber with a taste for young actresses. Although the union was brief, Fanny later claimed it was consummated, so she lost her sexual innocence years before meeting Nick.
Fanny was not in Brooklyn burlesque when Ziegfeld sent for her. In fact, she had already made her legit debut in a touring Shubert Brothers production.
While it is true that Fanny performed material her own way, the pregnant bride number depicted in Funny Girl never happened. Fanny actually made her Follies debut in 1910 singing the now forgotten song "Lovey Joe." Fannny and Ziegfeld always treated each other with professional and personal respect. She always abided by his creative decisions, and never "gave him an ulcer."
Nick Arnstein, “gorgeous"? Oy vey! He may have been sophisticated, and at 6'6" he towered over most men, but he was not a beauty.
Fanny first met Nick in Baltimore while on tour in the Shubert Brother's 1912 revue Whirl of Society. Betting on horses under the alias "Nick Arnold," his real name was Julius Arnstein. He used several aliases to cover his international criminal record.
Nick tagged along with the Whirl of Society tour, returned to New York with Fanny, and immediately moved in with her and her mother. He also began spending Fanny's money. Mrs. Borach saw through Arnstein's charms and distrusted him from day one.
Fanny had Nick investigated and learned he was still married to his first wife. Hopelessly in love, Fanny pretended it didn't matter. She had to wait seven years for his divorce to come through and married him in 1919 -- just two months before the birth of their daughter Frances.
Funny Girl depicts Arnstein as a classy gambler who turned to crime because he didn't want to live on Fanny's money. Not so! Nick was a common criminal and had no qualms about sponging off Fanny for their entire marriage.
Before meeting her, he had already been arrested for swindling in three European countries. Shortly after they met (and before their marriage), he was jailed for wiretapping. The lovesick Fanny visited him weekly in Sing Sing, so she knew what he was long before they exchanged vows.
Nick and Fanny had a daughter named Frances (who later married producer Ray Stark) and a son named William who became a respected artist and college professor. By mutual agreement, William was not mentioned in Funny Girl.
Fanny owned a Manhattan townhouse on West 76th Street and a large county place in Huntington, Long Island. Her money paid for both, so Arnstein's financial losses never changed their living arrangements.
Funny Girl suggests Nick's big "mistake" was selling phony bonds. In fact, he was part of a gang that deliberately stole five million dollars worth of Wall Street securities – a tremendous sum in 1920. Instead of gallantly turning himself in as depicted in the film, he stayed in hiding for four months, leaving Fanny to face the intense press and police harassment while giving birth to their son William. When Nick finally surrendered to the authorities, he fought the charges on every possible technicality for four years - and three guesses who worked like a slave to pay off Nick's gargantuan legal bills.
A federal court finally threw Nick into Leavenworth for 14 months, where Fanny used her influence to arrange for special treatment (including meals cooked by the warden's wife!).
Fanny finally divorced Nick in 1927 after discovering that he was having an affair with an older, wealthier woman.
Nick attempted reconciliation with Fanny in the late 1940s, but she wisely chose not to risk dealing with him again.