Stories & Cast Interviews

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

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Meet the "Enchanting" George Dvorsky..

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 11:30:00 am Comments (1)
  I grew up outside of Pittsburgh PA in a little town called Irwin.  I was the youngest of five.  My family loved the arts.  My Dad sang in a barber shop quartet in the army but I'm the only one who left home to pursue this business we call show!
 When I was in ninth grade I broke my arm playing football.  I needed something to take up my time so I joined the chorus.  I found out that I could sing and then they asked me to do the musicals.  THE REST IS HISTORY!!!

My parents bought all of the movie soundtracks and it seems that they were mostly Rodgers and Hammerstein ones. When I was in High School we went to see South Pacific at the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera.  I'll never forget it. It starred Anita Gillette and Stephen Arlen. I was lucky enough to meet and work with them both years later. I did the concert version of the show in November and was thrilled when I was offered this role at WBT.  It's good to be back. I did two shows in the old theatre, An Evening Dinner Theatre but this is my first time in the NEW space.
George Dvorsky as Emile de Becque in South Pacific 

I know the film very well and I always thought it bizarre that they used the different color washes in some of the scenes.  I, of course, had seen it on TV as a child and I thought something was wrong with the TV when the whole screen went Blue, then Yellow, Then Red...  But I LOVED the film.   And since my favorite movie is THE SOUND OF MUSIC and I love OKLAHOMA! and CAROUSEL, I think the movie musicals are wonderful. Especially the R&H ones.
 For years my favorite show was CAROUSEL. That score is one of the best ever written, but, when I was in the ensemble of the Pittsburgh CLO right out of college the season included CAROUSEL and a gem of a show, SHE LOVES ME.  I had never heard of it but have done it four times since and I feel like the role of George Novak was written for me.  I feel the same way about Capt Von Trapp in THE SOUND OF MUSIC. 
When not on stage, I enjoy taking care of Nine year old rescue, Zeke.  He's a Pomeranian who thinks he's a bulldog.
On my Ipod? Just added this week is CHEEK TO CHEEK the new Tony Bennett/Lady Gaga project. It's pretty wonderful as is Barbra Streisand's PARTNERS.  But people are always surprised to see complete libraries of Olivia Newton-John and Linda Ronstadt.  I have everything they've ever recorded!



Posted by: PIA HAAS on Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

James Michener, a lieutenant, was stationed at Espiritu Santo in the South Pacific during World War two. When he returned, he published Tales of the South Pacific, based on his wartime experiences and observations. The novel won Michener the 1948 Pulitzer Prize.

 Tales of the South Pacific was made up of eighteen stories. Director, Joshua Logan decided to try to buy the rights to adapt one of the stories, for the stage. That story of the doomed romance between an American officer and a young Tonkinese woman, eventually inspired the story of Lieutenant Joe Cable and Liat in South Pacific. But first, Logan needed to find someone to write a play based on the story—his interest was only in directing it. Logan mentioned his idea to Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. When they read Tales of the South Pacific, they decided to buy the rights to all eighteen stories. They believed that they could write a musical based on Michener's work that would be financially successful and, at the same time, would send a strong progressive message on racism.

When Rodgers and Hammerstein collaborated, Hammerstein almost always wrote the words first, and then Rodgers set them to music. Hammerstein found himself stuck when he started to write the book for Tales from the South Pacific. He just couldn’t write the military characters. He had never been to war, and he didn’t know how the characters would talk or behave. Joshua Logan had served in the US Army during the war, so Hammerstein asked him to help make sure he got the military details right. Logan and Hammerstein ended up writing the entire script as a joint effort. 

It is said that Hammerstein shared the words to “Bali Ha’i” over a working lunch, and Richard Rodgers immediately sketched out the tune right there at the table. Other songs were not so easy, “Younger Than Springtime,” the love song that Lieutenant Cable sings to Liat, was only written after Joshua Logan had insisted that the first two attempts at songs for that spot were not good enough.

South Pacific opened on Broadway on April 7, 1949. The production featured Mary Martin as Ensign Nellie Forbush, opera star Enzio Pinza, as Emile de Becque and Juanita Hall as Bloody Mary. The reviews were raves, the show was a smash hit and it ran for 1,925 performances, finally closing in 1954. It won 9 Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize. The 2008 Broadway revival was a critical success, ran for 996 performances and won seven Tonys, including Best Musical Revival.

It was adapted into a 1958 movie.  Mary Martin did not play Nellie Forbush in the movie because Enzio Pinza had already died and the producers considered it to be a hopeless task to find anybody who could match her in the movie. Mitzi Gaynor was eventually cast in the role. Rosano Brazzi was cast as Emile, a role that was first offered to such established stars as Charles Boyer, Vittorio DeSica and Fernando Lamas. This would be the first Rodgers and Hammerstein film of a stage show to contain every song from the stage. Rodgers and Hammerstein were pressured to delete the song You've Got to be Carefully Taught, but the team would not budge. The song was a bold composition about prejudice but Rodgers and Hammerstein had no problem bringing social issues into their musicals. The film was considered a big success and became a top money-maker of 1958.