Stories & Cast Interviews
Make way for Mrs. Brice...Louisa lets loose!
Louisa Flaningam is brilliant on the WBT stage! She is a delight off stage too! Read on!
I was born in a small town in South Carolina. I’m actually a pre-baby boomer as I was born a few days before VE Day! I lived the first few years of my life in that town in S.C where my grandmother was the county auditor. My parents were trying to get set up in Washington, D.C. but it was hard after the war. We didn’t really settle down as a family ‘til I was 6 in our new house in the suburb of Bethesda, Maryland. I started dancing as a child and loved it. However, when I started college at the University of Maryland I thought I had to study for a more “normal’ career. Maryland had a modern dance department and it didn’t take long for my passion for dance to have me leaping about the stage and dream of New York!
I remember one day I was working on costumes for the dance company at university and the head of the department, Dorothy Madden, looked and me and said “you’re happy here, aren’t you?” She had been a part of the early modern dance world of Doris Humphrey and Martha Graham and I thought she was a very wise woman. I realized she was right…so as soon as I graduated I packed the U-Haul truck and headed to NYC.
I have been so fortunate to have worked with so many great people who were always willing to answer questions and give advice or just teach by example. I got my first job and my union card by sneaking into an equity audition a couple months after I got to NY. The next thing I knew I was at the Goodspeed Opera House in a revival of ALLEGRO. The cast found out it was my first job and just took me under their collective wings. They taught me how to sing harmony lines and not be afraid to ‘act’ even when I wasn’t dancing! Years later Grover Dale who was the choreographer gave me my first Broadway job playing Charmin in the MAGIC SHOW with Doug Henning. I learned there is the magic of the theatre but real magic can be very tricky, dangerous and make for a lot of bruises as you get sawed in half and transformed into a cougar!
I think I have been so blessed to have done such wonderful shows as COMPANY and have Elaine Stritch coach me on how to get a laugh….PIPPIN and knowing Bob Fosse…
singing along side Georgio Tossi in the 1979 Broadway revival of THE MOST HAPPY FELLA and walking into Sardi’s opening night with my mother and father and having the whole place stand up and applaud. To have Tony Randall tell you the most important thing an actor can do is….listen! Wow! Traveling across this great country and playing all kind of theatres. I particularly love the old theatres. I remember that Penny Singleton once told me that in the vaudeville days they called each other “artists”. How lucky to have spent the last 41 following in the footsteps of so many “artists and carrying on such a grand tradition! So, I’ve done so many dream roles from Ma Joad in GRAPES OF WRATH to Daisy in DRIVING MISS DAISY to Bea in QUEEN OF THE STARDUST BALLROOM. I just want to keep trying to do good work and who knows what the future holds!
FUNNY GIRL became a favorite show of mine ever since I worked as a dresser in a summer stock production on the Guber, Ford and Gross circuit in 1967 when I was still in college. George Hamilton played Nick Arnstein and I actually did a play with him years later. I wore the album out and Cornet Man was my up tempo audition song for probably 30 years!!! So it is a real treat for me to play Mrs. Brice….particularly with such a glorious Fanny as portrayed by Jill!!! And…sharing a dressing room with Karen McDonald and having her play my dear friend Mrs. Strakosh is just icing on the cake!!
My dear parents have passed on but were the best “stage” mom and dad. They worried at first as all parents do when they think you’re crazy to try show biz but then relaxed and were great fans!!
My husband, P.J. Benjamin, is not only a fabulous actor…he’s currently the Wizard in the Broadway show WICKED but he’s also a great guy. It means so much to have such great understanding and support at home. We first met on the National Tour of PIPPIN in 1975 and re –met on the national tour of TORCH SONG TRILOGY. He was playing Arnold and I was playing Laurel. It was September 5th, 1984 and the ‘first sneaked kiss in the elevator’ and we have been inseparable ever since. And….that’s really the most important part of my life…home. I love the theatre but as Fanny says…”you can’t take an audience home with you”. I do work I love in order to enjoy my house and garden and trips and exploring and nights with candle light and a big white cat with a very loud meow and dreams of seeing Italy again and someday owning a boat and going out on the Chincoteague Bay on my beloved eastern shore of Virginia and watch the sun set with the man I love and enjoy all the beauty of this world for as long as I can.
Darcy Yellin Takes The Stage!
Local girl, DARCY Plays multiple roles in Funny Girl as well as understudying FANNY! We caught up with her between performances.....
I am originally from Manhattan's upper eastside Yorkville area. At the age of seven, due to education decisions my parents made for my brother and I, we moved to Rye Brook here in Westchester. Growing up my brother and I were always encouraged to do whatever we had immediate interest in. And just as it happens neither one of us could care one bit for sports. So, from a very very young age I was taking art classes, acting, dancing, you name it. My family is very very small and close and we are extremely grounded together, always have been.
There was never a point in my life when I decided I wanted to BE AN ACTOR. I was singing and dancing straight out of the womb. It has always just been a part of my very being and fibers as a human to emote and perform. I have been very fortunate to have many mentors in my life through every age and stage. For about the past 10 years my voice teacher, Richard Lissemore has been my main source of growth and progression. He has always been more than a teacher, he is family.
The funny part of about my dream role is that I am currently fulfilling that desire. Fanny Brice in Funny Girl would hands down be my dream role. At 23 years of age, to be understudying such a massive personality is most certainly a dream come true. My top three favorite shows would have to be Cabaret, Gypsy and West Side Story.
I absolutely love the film. I probably saw it for the first time when I was about seven. Barbra has always been such an idol and icon to me. Brilliant film and no one could fill that part more beautifully than her. After seeing the film I first became aware of Fanny Brice.
My favorite moment in the show is when Fanny sings “Who are you Now”. For the first time the whole vibe of the show is brought to a very simple and beautiful moment. So much of the story revolves around Nick and Fanny’s relationship and yet the script never really lends itself to letting you inside of the relationship. This song, besides being perhaps one of the most gorgeous “pull at my heart strings” songs, it takes you aside and reveals the tender mature Fanny.
Difficult would never be the word I would use to describe the multiple role switching I do in this show. It’s fun, keeps things interesting. Now if I had to play Fanny and 2 other roles in one show, that would be a whole other story, and actually impossible. No, it’s fun to be a forty something card player one moment and a Ziegfeld showgirl the next!
Fanny may be the biggest role created for a female. With Rose and Dolly leading behind. The biggest challenge with this role, as with all of these tour de force roles is stamina and endurance. I don’t know how Jill does it. She is Wonder Woman to me, made of steel! There was no challenge for in terms of memorizing lines or understanding the essence and attitude of Fanny. It’s one of my absolute favorite stories/shows; Fanny is a role I pray I have another chance to play.
When I’m not stage you can usually find me going to as many concerts as possible, cleaning my apartment (I’m a little crazy about the cleanliness of my living space..keeps me sane), squeezing in as much time possible with my boyfriend, and practicing with the band I currently just joined: I LOVE MONSTERS.
My little 2gig ipod is an extension of my soul. Music is my life. Currently you can find The Dresden Dolls, Ani DiFranco Andrew Bird, Jeff Buckley, Ingrid Michaelson, Kings of Leon, Radiohead, Metric, Portishead, The Postal Service, No Doubt, The Strokes, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Just to name a few favorites!
Have You Called Lately?
Dan, Carla and Shayne are busy taking your calls at the box office! Ask them about our special offers.
“OPPORTUNITY” WEDNESDAYS – JUST $30 PER TICKET Come and Enjoy the performance at an unbeatable price! One Wednesday per month, we’ll be shutting down our kitchen for the night and giving you an unbeatable, show-only price. Although you'll be missing out on your choice of our six delicious entrees, we will be offering bar service and snacks to tide you over before the performance.
Offer applies to May 13, June 10, July 22 and August 19, 2009 only.
“BUY ONE GET ONE HALF OFF” THURSDAYS. Purchase a full price ($73) adult ticket to a Thursday Evening performance of Funny Girl, and we’ll give you 50% off a full priced adult ticket to a Thursday Evening performance of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change! That’s a savings of over $36 for two great nights out. Offer limited to six tickets per reservation.
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