Stories & Cast Interviews

Monday, June 29, 2015

Meet Xander Chauncey as JUDAS

Posted by: Pia Haas on Monday, June 29, 2015 at 12:00:00 am Comments (1)

Xander Chauncey is currently playing Judas in our Production of Godspell. Audiences enjoyed his performances in our productions of It Happened One Christmas Eve, Titanic, and as the title role in Jekyll & Hyde.

I grew up an Army brat, so we moved every couple of years. It was quite an adventure, but pretty hard to ever feel settled. I think learning to fit in at every new school was my first acting lesson.

Why be an actor? Ever want to be someone else? Sure. Everyone does sometimes. To me, acting is like tourism for the soul.

Honestly, I've never seen Godspell on stage! I'd heard some of the iconic music, of course, but wasn't familiar with the songs that Judas sang before being invited to audition. After hearing "On the Willows," though, I was hooked. The music is gorgeous and the concept of the show is so exciting! I believe the Westchester audiences are in for a treat.

I watched the movie recently, for research. I enjoyed it! The beauty (and downfall) of film is, that it's a snapshot of the time that it was made. The film that I watched is the exact film that audiences watched in the movie theaters over 40 years ago. It was made to speak to future generations, too, but it was created with the language and energy of that time. For this reason, film will eventually feel dated. Live performance, though, communicates directly to the audience at a given performance and ONLY to that audience. There is an intimacy on the stage that can't be found anywhere else.

I'm a sucker for tragic beauty! Give me Les Mis, Ragtime, Titanic and Phantom any day. I've been lucky enough to play a couple of my dream roles here at WBT! 

It's like a family here at the WBT. We not only work together, we've developed strong, lasting friendships. The audience would never believe the shenanigans we get up to backstage!

I've always been big outdoors guy.  When not on stage,  I can usually be found (or not found) backpacking somewhere remote and spending the night under the stars in my hammock. 

I enjoy listening to music, lately, it's been Phosphorescent Blues by Punch Brothers. Oh, and Clash of Clans!

                

As Barrett w/Jeremy Ellison-Gladstone in Titanic              As Dr. Jekyll in Jekyll & Hyde         

  

As Buddy w/ Devon Perry (Dolly) in It Happened One Christmas Eve

 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

PREPARE YE for Gilbert D. Sanchez!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at 12:00:00 am Comments (3)

 Gilbert D.Sanchez Plays Jesus in our production of GODSPELL.  Read on for some insight into this versatile actor!

 was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico where I lived until 2 1/2 years ago. My childhood was full of reading and singing which gave me a wild imagination. I went to Catholic School for 13 years, so Jesus and I go way back.  

As a child, I loved singing. My parents would sit me by the choir at Church so that I could belt my little curly head off. People would often tell my parents that they would purposefully sit by us to hear me sing at church. That was my first audience; I’m sure I loved it. When I was a  little older, the movie Selena came out and changed my life. I would often perform Selena karaoke at parties. From there, I starred in middle school musicals and that’s when I caught the bug.

I have two great mentors from high school and college; Esperanza Plath (high school drama teacher) and Kathleen Clawson (college voice teacher). These women were my other mothers who not only taught me the ins-and-outs of performing and singing, but also so much about who I was as a person.   Also, my amazing college professor/mentor/friend Dr. Brian Herrera, who always has the most enlightening advice on the theatre and has guided me in my time here in New York.

Nana Visitor (Broadway’s Chicago and the Star Trek; Deep Space Nine) spoke at my school, and she gave advice that I live by. She said, “There are times in your life where you will hit a huge brick wall that blocks your path. At that moment, you have to ask yourself how bad do you want to climb over that wall and keep going?” 

 Also, Judy Garland said: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of somebody else.”  

When I was in 8th Grade, the high school I was going to go to was doing a production of Godspell and had extended after a sold out weekend. It was getting a lot of buzz in the middle school circuit, and so I wanted to go see it. My dad drove me to the theatre to watch it, and I remember the lobby was really busy and I got nervous being in this high school theatre by myself so I left and didn’t get to see the production. After that, I was always so intrigued by the show.  I finally got to do the show in 2010 playing Jesus and fell in love with the eclectic and ensemble feel of the show. Also, the music is so good.  

I saw the movie Godspell once. I remember thinking it was really weird. The scene that stands out is Jesus singing “All for the Best” while reclining on a lounge chair on top of a building…hmm.  I have mixed feelings about movie musicals. I think that some movie musicals can be done really well when they are reimagined for the film; i.e. Chicago. But some musicals, like Rent (no offense) is such a beautiful show on stage, but didn’t translate as well to film. I did love Into the Woods however. As Modern Family says, “Meryl could play Batman.”

I think the best musical ever made is West Side Story. Great story, amazing story-telling dance, and classic musical theatre. Other favorites: Next to Normal, Spring Awakening, A New Brain, …Spelling Bee, and Lippa’s Wild Party. 

 Dream Roles; Burrs in Wild Party, Any role in Kiss of the Spider Woman, and Audra McDonald’s son in any musical she touches. 

When not on stage, my day job is at this amazing restaurant called Barbuto, in the West Village, where I love working. I work with my greatest friends, sell amazing food I care about and work for the best people. It’s a gem.  Besides that, I see tons of shows on and off Broadway. I enjoy beach and park days. And of course, enjoy a good Netflix binge watch.  I listen to Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Audra McDonald’s Go Back Home, Bridges of Madison County and Ed Sheeran.