Stories & Cast Interviews

Friday, December 31, 2010

LIANNE as Lucy in Jekyll & Hyde!!

Posted by: wbtpress on Friday, December 31, 2010 at 12:42:00 pm Comments (0)
LIANNE MARIE DOBBS joins the cast of Jekyll & Hyde this New Year!  Read on for some insider info!  
I was blessed with a very supportive and musical family- and grew up listening to records (yes records) of Itzhak Perlman, Toscanini conducting the NY Philharmonic, Joan Sutherland at the Met, Tchaikovsky ballet suites, and Abbey Road. (Can't forget Abbey Road!) And on weekends after my ballet class and my little brother's little league game, my brother and I would usually "unwind" watching black & white films, usually comedies like Abbott & Costello or Jerry Lewis & Dean Martin, but sometimes I would convince him to give a Gene Kelly film a try - and if Esther Williams was in a swimsuit for half the film he usually didn't squawk! 
For a while growing up, I didn't know whether I wanted to be Judy Garland or Julie Kent (prima ballerina) - but I finally figured it out. My first professional theatre experience was as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz in Walnut Creek, California, and several of my cast members ended up becoming mentors for the rest of my career.  I shall always strive to live up to the example of professionalism and generosity that my fellow actors in that production gave to me as a young actress.  Both my parents worked backstage that show, and later my brother worked as an assistant stage manager for that company.

I will confidently say that all those years of 30 or more hours of ballet a week helps me in my life every day: nothing teaches self-discipline and perseverance like ballet. Ballet is soooo hard! But for me, ballet class wasn't just about the height of my jumps or precision of my turns- it was about breathing with the music and strengthening my body so that it could reflect the music's melody and rhythms through movement as accurately as possible. And finally, I realized that my definition of the ballet was ACTING not just dancing. I wanted to act out the story of the music... and I wanted to sing with my whole being. So here we are. And I can actually eat FOOD now too! 

The biggest influence in my life is my grandfather- Rocco DiStasio - who was an accomplished symphony trumpet player and conductor. He was also a revered high school music teacher in San Jose, California for many years and was very vocal about his love for GOOD music and fine musicianship. I sang in the church choir from the age of 8, and making Papa proud with the way I sang a solo was a wonderful accomplishment!  My enthusiasm, passion for music, and confidence come from him and I carry the memory of him with me always. 

This is my first time performing Jekyll & Hyde - and I already hope I play Lucy again! I owned recordings of the show, but actually haven't seen a production before!  I love portraying Lucy, and I understand her, in my own way.  We are both strong-minded romantics who take risks in order to survive.  My risks certainly haven't cost me my life, but some of the crazy survival jobs I have done sure don't help my mom sleep easy at night!  It's a wonderful blessing to play opposite Xander Chauncey - who is a dear friend of mine. The story of Lucy and Jekyll & Hyde requires us both to be vulnerable on stage, and sharing that experience with someone you trust and admire is a cherished gift for an actor.

So far my favorite theater experience has been originating the role of Emma in the new musical version of Jane Austen's Emma – from its conception, I journeyed from reading the first draft in the composer's backyard to recording the demo, to doing workshops in CA and NY and then three full productions... an actor's dream come true!  I played Emma opposite the fabulous Timothy Gulan - who previously portrayed Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar at WBT.  I would love to originate another role - it's such a delicious challenge. Hmmm.... maybe Nora Charles in a musical version of The Thin Man - anybody want to write it for me? ;-) 

My favorite hobbies are swing dancing, singing good ol' standards at jazz clubs, getting a single standing room ticket to the Metropolitan Opera and weeping shamelessly, and cooking a big meal and watching friends eat!  Favorite outdoor hobbies that I am ashamed that I don’t do enough are bicycling down the Tuscany hillsides with a backpack full of wine, kayaking in the Russian River, skiing in Tahoe, and motorcycling along the Pacific Coastline – but maybe someday they will all be repeated!

The most played music on my iPod: Barbra Streisand's first three albums (AMAZING!!!!!), Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, Linda Eder, Judy Garland, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Billie Holliday, Oscar Peterson Trio, U2, Mark Lanegan, The Black Keys, The Beatles, and The Who.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another look!!

Posted by: wbtpress on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 5:13:00 pm Comments (0)

Monday, December 27, 2010

He's Baaaack!!

Posted by: wbtpress on Monday, December 27, 2010 at 1:04:00 pm Comments (0)
    JEKYLL & HYDE  on stage...Thru February 6th!!
Xander Chauncey as Jekyll/Hyde
Thursday, December 2, 2010

Meet Mr. Scrooge!

Posted by: wbtpress on Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 10:35:00 am Comments (0)

David Edwards is back as SCROOGE! I caught up with him between rehearsals...He's not as grouchy as I thought!
I grew up in the New York City area, in the city & the burbs. I started performing as a child, so, I was always in the city. I sang at NYC Opera when I was eleven and was one of the kids in the Broadway musical "The Rothschilds".
I don't remember ever not wanting to be an actor. We went to the theatre when I was a child. I guess my mom was my biggest influence for going into the theatre. She was a dancer before she married my dad. Although she loved it, she was hardly the typical stage mother. Instead, of pushing me, she was always cautious,  she wasted to make sure I was really enjoying it because show business can be a hard life.

 Scrooge is a great role, one of the most remembered characters in literature and there are always more things to discover and mine from it.  This is my fourth time playing the role at WBT. They were all different takes on the story, the first was A Country Christmas Carol...Scrooge with a southern accent, set in contemporary times with an original country music score, although, one of my songs was a kind of rap number! The second was set in traditional Dickens' England with an original musical comedy score by George Puello. Last year as part of The Christmas Voyager, we did a 20-minute tab version with me narrating as Dickens/Scrooge, and now Sleepy Hollow Scrooge meets Washington Irving.

Actually, there was a very real connection between Dickens & Irving. Irving was an Anglophile and an admirer of Dickens' work.  Dickens defended Irving against critics who compared him unfavorably to other American writers. As for seeing the headless horseman, well....he does figure into the story, but I think it best to save the "how " as a surprise for the audiences.

I have been lucky to have played so many of my dream roles in musicals. Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, El Gallo in The Fantasticks, Albin in La Cage Aux Folles, King Arthur in Camelot, Fredrick in A Little Night Music, Max in The Producers.   But I still have a wish list of great musical theatre parts such as  Sweeney Todd, Tevye, Henry Higgins and plenty of non-musical parts!  I recently had great fun playing Colonel Jessup in A Few Good Men and Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came To Dinner,  a first cousin to Scrooge. I think I'd be a good fit for George in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Wolf.

My favorite thing around Christmas time is having the tree up. We have two at our house....and over 300 ornaments! Pretty much, all of them have a special memory. From a special person, or place or a show I was in.. we like to put up the trees early (they are up already), so we can enjoy them every evening with a cocktail before bedtime.
When not on stage,  I like to travel when I can, collecting ocean liner history and memorabilia. I love ocean liners, we just visited a wonderful exhibit on the great French liner Normandie at the South Street Seaport.   I also love to entertain in the home,  watch old movies, and more and more, lately,  I appreciate being able to sleep in!  
What's on My iPod? SURPRISE!  Showtunes..and opera, and classic, popular singers like Barbara Cook, Marylin Maye and Tony Bennett.