Stories & Cast Interviews

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Victoria Lauzun Plays Her Dream Role In RAGTIME

Posted by: Pia Haas on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 1:00:00 pm Comments (1) 3.jpg 
  I was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up mostly in surrounding areas such as the tiny town of Clarkston until the age of 18.
At that age, I made the move to New York to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, thankfully with the complete support of my parents.
 Victoria as Mother in Ragtime
Growing up, my biggest influences were in classical singing. My mentors were my first voice teacher, Kaye Rittinger, as well as the late renowned opera singer, Elizabeth Parcells. Surprisingly, I did not have an interest in acting until I reached high school. A friend convinced me to audition for a local community theatre, where I booked Hodel in a musical review. From that moment, my original plan to study opera began to shift over to the world of musical theatre - I was dazzled by it!
This is my first time performing "Ragtime", but Mother has been a dream role of mine for years. My first experience with the show came in the form of seeing the national tour as it passed through Detroit. I immediately went out to buy the Broadway cast recording, and began to play it nightly as the music I fell asleep to... for months! My friend and I were so blown away by the beautiful music after seeing the show, that we couldn't decide whether we'd rather be Mother and Tateh, or Sarah and Coalhouse - so we sang both. ALL the time.
Some of my favorite shows are Sweeney Todd, Kiss Me, Kate, The Music Man (In which I have had the great fortune of playing Marian Paroo at the WBT), South Pacific, West Side Story, Jekyll and Hyde, Next To Normal, Candide, and of course Ragtime, to name a few. I have already checked a couple of my dream roles off the list with Mother and Marian. At some point in my career, I would love to tackle Cunegonde in Candide, as well as Lilli Vanessi in Kiss Me, Kate.  
When not on stage, I enjoy spending time with my boyfriend Tom, walking through nature trails, bicycling, reading, playing Disney princesses at children's birthday parties, as well as watching unhealthy amounts of Family Guy.
I have a wide array of music on my Ipod. Florence + The Machine, Coldplay, Beyoncé, Frank Sinatra, Imagine Dragons, Debussy...whatever makes me feel good!
  As Marian in The Music Man


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Craig Waletzko on stage as Father in Ragtime...

Posted by: pia haas on Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 2:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Craig Waletzko (l)  as Father with Todd Ritch (as Younger Brother)

Where did you grow up? Can you share a bit about your upbringing?

I grew up mostly in Northern California, near San Jose. There’s tons of children's and community theatre there. My mom took me to a children's theatre audition for "Alice in Wonderland" in 5th grade. I got cast as King's Horseman #2.

What influenced you to become an actor? Any mentors?

I had seen Singin' in the Rain on TV when I was 7. That hooked me on the musical side. Then in 7th grade I was doing a straight play with this semi-pro theater in my hometown. I got to help one of the character men with his upcoming Julius Caesar audition - the Cassius monologue. ("The fault dear Brutus lies not in our stars but in ourselves...") Language, inflection, rhythm, emotion - HOOKED!!

When did you first hear of  RAGTIME ... Have you done the show before?

I first read the book sometime in the 80's, and I remember being surprised by how much sex was in it. When the original production came to Broadway, I wondered how they would translate it for the musical stage. AMAZED at the result. All that adult-oriented material is kept under the surface. It’s still a (mostly) family-friendly show, but for discerning adults there's a LOT more going on than just what is in the dialogue.

 I've never done the show myself before, and I’m glad to have the opportunity. (Always excited to play the less-than-lovable characters!)

 What are some of your favorite shows? What is your dream role?

Favorite show of all time: Gypsy. I’ve been in five productions (playing everything from newsboy to Tulsa to the back of the cow) including the 1989 Broadway revival with Tyne Daly. The score is amazing, but even if you take away all the songs, the book is so powerful all on its own.

Dream role: Anything that pays well, runs for years, and lets me sleep in my own bed!

What do you enjoy doing when you're not on stage?

I've been married for nearly 24 years to actress/playwright/director Joey Brenneman, and we have two daughters. So offstage life is pretty busy with volleyball practice, college applications, homework help etc. I also work in real estate with the Corcoran Group here in NYC. (Do you know anyone who's buying or selling?)

 What's on your iPod? 

Surprisingly, not a lot of show tunes. Tons of classic and not-so-classic rock, some NPR Podcasts, and I just bought the Inside Llewin Davis soundtrack.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Meet Ragtime's Antoine Smith! (Booker T. Washington)

Posted by: Pia Haas on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)
Booker T. WashingtonI am originally from Gary, IN. But lived most of my life in Sioux City, IA.

My grandmother Modupe Omawale was a playwright and poet. She is where I believe I got my passion and love of everything theatrical.  2 of my greatest mentors were Russ Clifford and Julie DeGroot,  2 of my teachers in High School,  who pushed me beyond what they had to. But,  my ultimate mentors would have to be my parents Christine and Cleotha Wooten. Truly without them I don't know where I would be today. There was never a time in my life where they let me give up on anything. And they have been there every step of the way in my life and my career.

I first heard of Ragtime when it first came out I'd say '97 or '98. I used to come home from school everyday and watch the Rosie O'donell show. And that's the first time I ever saw or heard of Ragtime. Fun fact, my best friend Amanda Adams Berry and I would sing all the Coalhouse and Sarah songs on our way to play rehearsals in high school. She was my white Sarah. And boy could she sing just like Audra McDonald.

Some of my favorite shows are of course RENT being the number 1. The Tony Award Winner for Best Musical "Memphis" not only because I was in it. But it's one of the best musicals to play Broadway in my opinion.  Ragtime of course. Gypsy with Patti Lupone to be specific. The Wiz, FELA, In The Heights, Big River, Chaplin, CATS. Fun fact about CATS:  I used to love that show so much in my freshman year in college,  I didn't have cable, so every night before bed,  I would pop in my CATS VHS to fall asleep to. And 10 years after my freshman year of college,  I had the opportunity to join the National Tour of CATS. I won't say the year:-) I have played several of my dream roles already. But Coalhouse is next on the list. 

When I'm not on stage I enjoy sitting on my couch watching the Food Network. Fun fact, I also have my A.A.S. in Culinary Arts. 

I have everything on my iPod from Classical, to Rap, to African to Gospel music. It's definitely a WIDE array of music. rent (2).jpg memphis (2) (600x800) (600x800).jpg 

 In RENT                                                              In MEMPHIS

John Fanelli Directs RAGTIME

Posted by: Pia Haas on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Since attaining a degree in Theatre Arts from the University of California, San Diego, John Fanelli has dedicated 18 successful years directing, teaching and creating programs for young people in theatre arts. Under the tutelage and mentorship of internationally acclaimed Director Alex H. Urban, John helped to establish a network of theater programs for young people that spanned the coast of California and reached to Auckland, New Zealand.

Mr. Fanelli returned to the east coast and developed Westchester Broadway Theatre’s Young Artists of the WBT. He expanded his reach and scope of programming by taking over as Artistic Director for the Times Square Group based in NYC, where he developed and implemented educational theatre programs for the public schools of NYC.

In 2006, he opened Lighthouse Youth Theatre in Thornwood, an arts education program dedicated to young talent, giving them the tools necessary to succeed not only in the arts, but in life.. Through Standing Ovation Studios, he now brings professional arts education and production to youth and adults of Westchester County, Connecticut and New York City.