Stories & Cast Interviews

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Director and ANNIE: Mary Jane Houdina

Posted by: Pia Haas on Wednesday, September 6, 2017 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (2)

  

I was born & raised in Tonawanda, NY. My dad was a plumber and my mom was a homemaker. She made all of my costumes. I went to Tonawanda High School and I choreographed the school musicals before coming to NYC.  
I studied Tap, jazz, ballet, acro, and baton with Miss Gloria Jean and then went to Miss Bev for jazz and tap.  When I decided I wanted to be a professional dancer, they both ganged up on me and said I needed to take ballet lessons. I went to Kaloff School of Ballet in Buffalo where I studied with Miss Helen. Her father had been with Ballets Russes. Danielian would come and teach a class. So I had very good training from the beginning!  I did a lot of performing in the Buffalo area. I'm just old enough to have worked in super clubs as a teen. I also danced for a woman who had been a vaudevillian in her younger years. The group was called Mrs. Dunn's Stars of Tomorrow! We were a bunch of teenagers from different dance schools in the Buffalo area, some singers, and there was a trio, 2 sisters, and their cousin. The girls played accordians, and he played a bass. We performed every 3rd Sunday of the month at the Veteran's Hospital in Buffalo, and at different functions in the Buffalo area. She would introduce me as Buffalo's own Eleanor Powell!  I loved that because she was my favorite dancer of all of the movie ladies!

My family was very supportive of my show biz aspirations,  although,  when I graduated High School, my father offered me a car if stayed home. and a wrist watch if I choose to leave!    

I was working on different projects with  Choreographer  Peter Gennaro and one day he  asked if I'd like to assist him on ANNIE, The Musical.  I did and was his assistant and Dance Captain and a swing performer in the Original production of ANNIE. I went on to assist on 4 other companies with Peter, and I have done directed/choreographed several versions of my own!

 ANNIE is a wonderful show, not just for kids, but adults too!

Some of my favorite shows are Follies, Showboat, The Pajama Game, Irma LaDouce, 42nd Street, and Sugar Babies. I enjoyed performing Aunt Sue in No, No Nanette, Gladys in The Pajama Game and Irma in Irma LaDouce. The one role I didn't get to do was Miss Adelaide in GUYS and DOLLS. She's a real doll of a character! 

When I'm not choreographing/directing. I teach dance.  I love working with children and adults!  Someone asked me the other day how many children's lives have you touched!?  When I thought about it, It was awesome to think of all the"orphans " I've worked with! also the children at the school where I teach, the master classes!    I'd like to think I left them with positive experiences, and given them helpful information to carry on in their careers!

When not working on a show, I play in a steel drum band!  I also like looking for Antiques and I collect depression glass.