Stories & Cast Interviews

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Original Cast recording of PHANTOM!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Many of our cast members of the 1992 production are in this recording, singing the glorious Yeston score! Check it out!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Roger Preston Smith returns to WBT in PHANTOM.

Posted by: Pia Haas on Monday, October 22, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

   I  grew up in the country outside the small town of Loveland, Ohio about 45 minutes outside of Cincinnati.  I spent a lot of time on my own working the fields and garden and our roadside vegetable stand.  During those hours in the field, I would often get lost in daydreams singing and dancing.  I still don't understand where my desire came from but it was there as long as I can remember.  When I was six, I found a  brochure from the  PTA.  They were offering dance lessons for 50 cents.  I begged my parents to allow me to take tap and I guess the rest is history.  They never really understood what I was doing but they were always supportive.

I spent the first 20 years of my career as a dancer.  Originally I just wanted to be a concert dancer and was a member of several Ballet and Contemporary companies.  In my 30's I began doing Musical Theater and because I didn't look like a chorus boy, I was often given the small speaking parts and understudying principal roles.  This allowed me to extend my career long after most dancers have retired. Even though I still sometimes serve as the dance captain, I am primarily hired as an actor now.

I was aware of this version of  "Phantom" but had never seen it or even heard the score before.  I saw the Broadway version right after it opened and was somewhat unimpressed.  I felt that the show was more about the spectacle than actually telling a story.  In fact, I remember very little about it except the chandelier.  I have been pleasantly surprised with how beautiful and lush the music is in the Yeston version.  I also love the fact that you find out how the Phantom came to be.  It makes him a more real and sympathetic character.

This is my 11th production at WBT.  It's always great to be able to work and still live at home.  Plus you know the shows are going to be high quality.  After, so many shows, the people here have become like a family to me.  I'm always happy to come back.

I think my favorite show is Pippin.  It opened around the time that I arrived in NYC.  I had never seen anything like it.  The tickets booth had also just opened and I bought 1/2 price tickets 12 times to see Pippin.   "Dear Evan Hanson" and "Come From Away" are my favorite contemporary shows.  My dream roles would be Captain Hook in "Peter Pan" and Fagin in "Oliver".  I have understudied Hook several times but never got to go on.  Luckily I was able to perform Fagin for a week but would love to get the chance to do again for a longer period and really develop the character

I'm an avid Cyclist and also love going to the gym.  But my biggest passion is travel.  Luckily my career has taken me around the world and I have friends throughout.  I try to do at least one international trip for at least a month each year.  I want to travel while I'm still able to hike and climb and really enjoy myself

I enjoy Classical music, Musical Theater, and Jazz.

 As Jean-Claude (center) in PHANTOM.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

James Van Treuren returns as Gerard Carriere in PHANTOM!

Posted by: Pia Haas on Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

  I was born in Paterson, New Jersey and grew up in the neighboring town of Hawthorne. My twin brother and I were always interested in the theater and although our parents knew nothing about show business at all they were always very supportive.

During high school and college we would travel to New York and I was able to see some of the great Broadway Musicals of the day including, "Fiddler on the Roof," "Hello Dolly" (starring Ethel Merman), “Promises, Promises”, and of course my first Sondheim musicals the original casts of "Company" and "Follies." Experiencing these amazing shows at a young age surely helped solidify my love of musical theatre. On a personal note, I actually saw my life’s partner Peter (40 years and counting) in that production of “Fiddler” on Broadway, even though we didn’t meet until years later.

In this production, I’m playing Gerard Carriere for the second time. I have a long history of  WBT’s productions of “Phantom” since I have been in all four productions dating back to 1992. Westchester Broadway has been like a second home to me. I’ve appeared in 14 productions starting with “Annie” in 1983 at An Evening Dinner Theatre. Some other WBT shows include, “Funny Girl”, “Jekyll and Hyde”, “South Pacific”, “Kiss Me Kate” and the list goes on. I’m extremely grateful for the years of work, and the friendships I have made here. 

Getting back to talking about this show, I hesitate to compare the two most popular versions of “Phantom” since they are so different from each other. I am much more familiar with the Yeston/Kopit version so I can say what makes this show so entertaining and exciting is its beautiful score and libretto that is so emotionally complex and compelling. My character is (hopefully) a great surprise for the audience, especially in Act II, which makes him very interesting to play. His storyline ultimately is as tragic and moving as the Phantom’s.   

In my career, I’ve been fortunate to have appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway and many Regional Theatres. I’ve played many of my “dream roles” including, Don Quixote, in “Man of La Mancha',  Emile de Becque in “South Pacific', Georges in “La Cage Aux Folles”, and Captain Hook in “Peter Pan”. In other words, I’ve been around for a while but I’m not ready to hang up the towel yet. I love to work and I’m so lucky to be able to do what I love.

When I’m not on the stage we love to travel. We just got back from a fabulous European cruise this past summer and we’re looking forward to a Caribbean cruise this December when we are on our hiatus from “Phantom”!

As Carriere with Matthew Billman as Erik.