Stories & Cast Interviews

Monday, October 13, 2014

"Younger Than Springtime!" Meet Alison T. Chi

Posted by: Pia Haas on Monday, October 13, 2014 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)
Alison T. Chi Plays Liat in our production of South Pacific.
I was born in Taipei and grew up in Hsinchu, Taiwan. I have a brother who is two years older than me. Both my parents are college professors and so was my Grandfather. I was brought up very academically that way I guess - school always came first. That being said, my parents still exposed me to different art forms. I studied dance, the piano and clarinet, taekwando and drawing and was often brought to the theatre to see shows.
I began my dance training at the age of three. Performing was never something foreign to me. I stopped dancing when I was 10 because my parents wanted me to focus on school work, and later I became a genetics major in college. One day as I was sitting in the lab staring at the fruit flies (or drosophila, to be scientifically correct) through the microscope, I asked myself whether that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The answer was no. So I went back to dancing and eventually started acting too.
There are several teachers/mentors who have influenced me as a performer: Tracie Stanfield, Alan Langdon, Don Boros, and Tom Kremer.
A friend of mine told me about South Pacific when I was in college and how much he liked it. It eventually became one of my favorite shows too. This is my first time doing it.
This is my first show at WBT! :)
I think musical movies are great but making one can be tricky. It's a very different setup and one really needs to know what his game plan is. South Pacific is actually one of my favorite shows. I also love Oklahoma!, Sunday In The Park With George, She Loves Me, The Pajama Game, and A Chorus Line. Every role is a dream role for me.
When not on stage, I love traveling. Camping has recently become my new hobby. I also enjoy cooking, baking, sewing, and knitting.
What's on my Ipod? Show tunes and cello music!
Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bloody Mary (Joanne Javien) Is The Girl We Love!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Joanne Javien Plays Bloody Mary in our Production of South Pacific. Before heading out to Bali Ha'i, she shared some thoughts with us!

"I grew up in Southern California, in a town called Cerritos, about 10 minutes from Disneyland.  My family has a love and an appreciation for music.  I was a very active, young girl.  I wanted my Mother to get me a piano, so I was in piano lessons, dance lessons and singing lessons.  My parents saw the love of singing and music that I had and they support me...they still do to this day.  I'm very lucky.

bloodyJoanne as Bloody Mary with Bill E. Dietrich as Luther Billis.
I love singing! When I was little I sang along with Whitney Houston's albums.  I looked up to Lea Salonga, with her role as Kim in "Miss Saigon."  Seeing a Filipino-American on stage gave me the confidence that I can do it too!!

I heard about "South Pacific" at a young age, I actually played Ngana when I was about 9 years old at a local college's production.  This year, I've done "South Pacific" at Paper Mill Playhouse and Music Theatre Witchita, marking Westchester Broadway Theatre my third production of the show this year!!!!

Yes, I watched the movie years ago.  I wish they made more movie musicals, especially the contemporary ones, just like they did back in the day.  It would expand theatre into the mainstream...look at Chicago, Les Miserables...we need more of that out there in the world.

My favorite shows are Here Lies Love, Miss Saigon and Les Miserables. One of my dream roles is to be Estrella in Here Lies Love, Lady of the Lake in Spamalot and Sharon in Masterclass.
I'm watching Netflix!!! I get obsessed with a TV series and cannot stop watching it.  I also love to work out and to eat!!!
On my Ipod? Here Lies Love, Whitney Houston, Bruno Mars, Adele, Avenue Q, and Sara Bareilles!!"
Monday, October 6, 2014

Meet Zach Trimmer, The Sexy Lieutenant!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Monday, October 6, 2014 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)
Zach Trimmer (Lt. Joe Cable)  with Alison T. Chi (Liat) in South Pacific.
  "I grew up in San Mateo, CA, which is just a few miles south of San Francisco. I have 2 older sisters, and we always had pets-- anything from dogs and cats to frogs and iguanas. 
I was a pretty late bloomer, as I only attempted to sing for the first time at around age 15 or 16. But, once I did, I knew right away it was how I wanted to make a living.

Even though I wasn't terribly familiar with the show, I had obviously heard of "South Pacific." Once we got into rehearsals, I was surprised how many songs I recognized. 
 Once I was cast in the show, I watched the movie, so I know it now! I think any crossover from film to musical (or vice versa) is great because it exposes different audiences to various forms of performing arts. If it puts butts in the seats, I'm all for it! 
This is my first show at WBT, and so far, I have loved every minute. The process is fast and furious, but it is made possible and comfortable by the incredibly professional and supportive team.

It's always too hard to narrow down favorite shows, because there are too many. I love different shows for different reasons, but I will say that a role I am dying to play is Bob Gaudio in "Jersey Boys."
I love spending time with friends, and I love snuggling with my dog. I also have a small obsession with Rubik's cubes. :-)

It may be surprising, but I have almost NO musical theatre on my iPod. I have mostly pop/rock and r&b, i.e; Marc Broussard and Robin Thicke.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Meet "The Cockeyed Optimist", Haley Swindal

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 12:00:00 am Comments (1)

We asked Haley Swindal who plays Nellie Forbush in our production to tell us a bit about what got her to the SOUTH PACIFIC! 

 "Like Nellie, I left home pretty young. As she says, "I wanted to see the world and meet different kinds of people." I grew up in Tampa Florida, a very southern town. I left home at fifteen to go to Culver Military and Culver Girls Academy in Indiana, where I met people from all over the world. Then, I went onto college back in the South at UNC-Chapel Hill. I have a wonderful, supportive family who put up with me singing and dancing nonstop around the house from an early age. My family loves music, but I am the only one in my entire family to become a professional artist. They are all in the sports industry though, which is entertainment in itself!!! In college I majored in both theatre and history, so this show has always been on my "wish list." It is also special to me because my grandfather Fred Swindal fought in the Pacific as a Marine and earned a Bronze star.

Gosh! So many people influenced me to become an actor! My teachers along the way, John Huls, Kathi Grau, Richard Coven, Julie Fishell. I remember a specific moment in college when my professor, Julie Fishell, was pushing me to overcome my fear and go further in a particularly moment in a play she was directing me in. I went to the place I needed to go, I was playing a mother defending my son, and it she pushed me to a "breakthrough moment" where something clicked for me. From then onward I vowed that, although I knew I could sing, I wanted to be first and foremost an actor. I am still learning and growing. I don't think I'll ever stop. As my high school teacher Kathi Grau said, "be a sponge." Absorb and learn everything. I have been blessed to work with some amazing talent since I graduated: Stacey WarrenTed Neeley in JCS, Robert Cuccioli, and, currently, getting to fall in love with George Dvorsky every night!!!!

Haley as Nellie Forbush with George Dvorsky (Emile)

I have never done the show before, but I have always wanted to! This is my third show at WBT. Westchester broadway theatre is an incredibly special place for me. I got my equity card here with "Nine", with a cast of women who remain some of my nearest and dearest friends. I also appeared in "Home for the Holidays" a few Christmases ago. I love working here. It feels like home every time I get to! It's such a supportive, wonderful environment that Bill, Bob, Lisa, Victor, and everyone here create... I feel so excited and grateful to come to work every day!!!

I grew up watching the movie, and all the great movie musicals of the Hollywood Golden age of musical theatre. I love movie musicals!! Today, I am so glad they are making a comeback as it is pulling people into it who might not have had exposure to musical theatre. For example, "Into the Woods". Sondheim. Brilliant. But many, many people in this country have never heard of it. With this Meryl Streep version coming out, that will change. It's bringing it to a larger audience, which I believe will ultimately help the theatre community thrive even more.

Nellie always has been a dream role! So I'm living it! But other than this one? Gosh. Well, I think "Gypsy" is the perfect musical. I would love to play Mamma Rose one day, for sure. I'll have to wait a few years, though. In the meantime, I would loveeeee to play Eva Peron in "Evita"  Reno Sweeney in "Anything Goes." Fanny Brice in "Funny Girl". Lilli/Kate in "Kiss Me Kate."

I love to travel!!! Whenever I have been on tour I take the time to explore whatever city I am in, as every city has something special about it. In the break we have on this show in December, I will go to visit my boyfriend's family where he is from in Scotland, so I am excited about that! Last year he and I dressed up in Santa suits and did a Santa run on the beach in Scotland with about three hundred other Scottish people and it was a blast!!! So really, traveling, history, or anything outdoors-hiking, swimming, skiing, random adentures, and exploring!!!

What's on my Ipod?  Literally every genre of music I think. I go through phases. Right now I've been listening to a lot of Doris Day, Dinah Shore, and Rosemary Clooney backstage before the show with Joanne, my brilliant and lovely dressing roommate who plays Bloody Mary. Right now, I'm obsessed with Frank Sinatra and Brandi Carlile, who couldn't be more different but both are fantastic story tellers!!!! "


       Aspiring Nellie Forbush                                 My amazing acting teacher Julie Fishell and 
                                                                             musical genius Mark Hartman, UNC alums as well!                                                  


  My grandfather Fred Swindal       Machu Picchu, May 2014                                          In the Ensemble of NINE