Stories & Cast Interviews

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Aubrey Sinn is MARIA

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:00:00 am Comments (1)
AUBREY SINN (Maria in The Sound Of Music) shares with us some of her observations!
"I Think SOM is so iconic because it's a beautiful, inspiring story that has received some fantastic productions.  By staying true to the story and the relationships, I think one can escape the trap of mimicking previous interpretations.  When we imbue each of our roles with our own unique humanity, it keeps each moment fresh for the audience but still tells the story of the Von Trapp family.

Putting up an entire musical in 10 days is definitely a bit intimidating!  The producers sent me the script & score early, so I was able to get a lot of memorization done beforehand (which helped immensely). At the same time, there's a freedom in putting something like this together so quickly.  I think it encourages us to trust our instincts and put everything out there in a very committed way, since we don't have time to obsess and over-analyze.  We need to try something, see if it works, and then try something new if it doesn't!
I wish I had a hilarious anecdote but I feel like it's been pretty smooth sailing!I will say that our very first preview audience was amazing.  They were our first audience ever and they applauded for every event, sometimes right in the middle of scenes - when Maria comes back, when Maria and the captain finally confess their love for each other.  I don't know if I even realized before then just how many people know and love this story and these characters and continue to root for them even though we all know how it ends!  It's such a delight to be part of bringing this story to life for people who have loved SOM for years and for people who may not have seen it before.

It's funny to me that I'm working with kids in this show and we did in fact have dogs in the last show I did at WBT! (Legally Blonde last season) Truly, I wouldn't have
it any other way.  We have two terrific casts of children.  I adore them and I love being on-stage with them.  We have all been impressed by how focused and well-behaved they have been.  Are there squirrely moments and hiccups here and there?  Absolutely!  But that comes with being human and being in live theater.  And when unexpected things happen onstage, I've found that these kids can really pull it together.   And the dogs were just super cute - who wouldn't want to hang out with them after a show??"
Monday, July 22, 2013

Cameron (Rolf) Chats!

Posted by: pia on Monday, July 22, 2013 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)
Cameron Bartell (Rolf) in The Sound of Music shares: 
"Rolf has always interested me. He starts off as a boy just wanting his first kiss and progresses into something darker. It was a very exciting point in time for an Aryan youth. As a young person I feel like we are restless for some inciting incident to occur that will carve our path and shape the course of our lives. The Nazi regime and the Anschluss were just that for an Aryan youth in Austria. Here was a massive, radical power telling a young generation that they were ideal. Their parents had pride in them and the majority of my country had pride in them. So, as an impressionable 17-going-on-18-year-old, Rolf would of course follow this path carved out for him. What's interesting about the script is that the encounters with the Von Trapp family really challenge his beliefs."
"The kids in our show keep us all on our toes! I love working with them. They bring a lot of depth to the show. This is a multi-generational story with every person dealing with a very adult problem in their own way. For this reason, the story of the Von Trapp's will continue to be told."

Leisa Mather chats with us about SOM!

Posted by: pia on Monday, July 22, 2013 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)
My name is Leisa Mather (r) .. I was playing Sister Berthe (and now Elsa) in The Sound of Music at Westchester Broadway.
nterestingly enough, the Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation have very strict guidelines regarding the production of their shows. Consequently, the integrity and classic nature of the show remain very much intact. So the freshness of the show comes from the design, the actual physical stage of the theater where it is being performed, which influences the direction of the show and finally the directors concept and interpretation of the piece. While remaining true to the story there is still plenty of room for exploration and interpretation of the script. 
The most challenging/enjoyable aspect of working on this production has been the music! Playing a nun in The Sound of Music requires very complicated liturgical music. A good portion of the nun's music combines difficult harmony lines most often sung in Latin. While it was very difficult to learn it is an absolute joy to sing. Although I may be a little biased, for it's size, I think our female nun ensemble sounds magnificent. 
We have two different children playing Gretl in our production, the youngest being 6 years of age. In our final run through of the show on our last day of rehearsal Gretl is supposed run on to the stage terrified after hearing an enormous clap of thunder. What she didn't understand was that there are several claps of thunder leading up to her entrance. Full of enthusiasm and keen to get her cue right, our dear Olivia, who plays Gretl, ran on with full gusto on at least 3 different occasions. After repeatedly being told, 'no not yet', she still managed to fully commit to every inappropriate entrance until she finally got it right. Hilarious! 
Our kids are fantastic. They are committed, hard working, joyful and extremely talented. While it is true that they can learn much from our experience, we have much to learn from the purity of their vision and the unfailing honesty of their work. 
The Sound of Music is a true American musical classic. It is a story that has heart, truth, strength, courage, danger, humor and love. It appeals to all and has something for all. Keep in mind that the Broadway musical came before the movie version so their are some differences which also make it interesting. I am proud and feel privileged to be a part of this beautiful Westchester Broadway production.
Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Meet Jonathan Stahl

Posted by: Pia Haas on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)
Jonathan Stahl (Director of The Sound Of Music)

He grew up in south central PA in the valley between the north and south mountains.  Newville, PA to be exact. He lived in the country and had a very enjoyable upbringing that did not have a lot of urban culture.  He went to public school and did high school theatre productions. He played in the band, sang in the choir… He did not start dancing till much later and eventually went away to college for musical theatre — somewhat against all odds

He was somewhat influenced by Sunday afternoon movie musicals and movies by Shirley Temple.  He had a very supportive teacher in middle school who did one small community review who gave him encouragement.  In high school, He was mesmerized by the movie ALL THAT JAZZ.  He did not see much live theatre, but did go to local regional theatre when the opportunity arose. His own work has been greatly influenced by working with Richard Stafford as his associate the last few years.
When not working on a show, He is continuing his education…either as a performer (dance classes, acting classes and the like), or as a student of life. He recently got  his undergraduate degree after a 25 year hiatus and thoroughly enjoyed the education he received in doing so.  He likes traveling, going to the gym and museums.  "Ironically, I have to remind myself I need to go see shows from time to time. I always love the theatre."

We asked him some questions re: The Sound Of Music which he has directed for WBT:

1. How do you make such an iconic show such as The Sound Of Music fresh while staying true to the orginal concept?

Although I am not creating a role in the show, I still had the challenge of creating a production that I felt was true to the essence of the movie everyone knows so well, and give life to the musical (which came BEFORE the movie) which has many subtle and wonderful differences.
I love the cast of this production, so employing actors who really understood the piece was the first start.  A set concept was the second way to keep it fresh.  In our production you never see the inside of the Von Trapp estate.  With the  beautiful backdrop of the mountains hovering throughout the piece, you are constantly reminded of the glory of the mountains they conquer  by the end of the show.  And the theatre stage is a thrust theatre, so this also makes for a more open use of the space.  Finally, I encouraged the actors to be true to the journey their character is on. With this focus, I hope the piece feels iconic but fresh.

2. What's been the most challenging/enjoyable aspect of working on this production?

Being a WBT veteran at this point, I am very used to the quick rehearsal process... but being used to it does not make it easier.   It is always a challenge to budget time wisely and make the best use of the actors time/energy. However, the fast pace can also be invigorating.  There have been so many enjoyable aspects to working on this piece; the voices of the nuns, the collaboration with the artists and the artistic staff (great sets, and wonderful props people), the children's energy and excitement to be in a show, and support of friends, cast, crew and the theatre to put this piece together.  However, I think being reminded of how beautiful this story is, and how it was an important movie in my childhood... being taken back to that time of my life... was one of the most enjoyable parts.

3. Has there been anything funny/touching/ unusual that happened during rehearsal?

This cast has been so joyous, and we had many fun laughing moments, but what takes the cake in my mind was on one of the preview performances.  The Nazi soldier who runs behind our big red curtain at the end of the concert to find the Von Trapps  "Gone," could not find the break in the red curtains.  He tried at least four times before he could get through them.  It is a tense moment in the show, and this particular actor is quite good at creating that tension, and once he couldn't get through, all bets were off.  The show did not suffer, but I fell down in my seat laughing.

4. Consider the old saying "Never work with kids or animals" and how that applies to this production.

Hmmmm... well, I think that is a difficult question to answer.  I have done many shows with kids and usually find it a wonderful experience.  Maybe that is because I don't try to "work" with them.  I try to find a sense of play and responsibility with them to help create a show. Their reactions and dedication have always kept me going.  Maybe that is an old saying, but one I would never promote in today's theatre world.

5. Anything else that you would like to add hat would be appealing for my readers.

Westchester Broadway offers a unique experience.  They have a wonderful chef and I enjoy the food very much when I get the opportunity to eat there.  Combine this with top notch productions at a less than Broadway price, I think your readers should make it a priority to experience this great evening of entertainment -- IF not with Sound of Music, sometime soon.  However, I am proud of everyone's work on this show,
and you can't find a better musical to find love, truth, faith and hope through. And humans ALWAYS need to be reminded of these things.  So, I encourage them to come enjoy SOUND OF MUSIC!