Stories & Cast Interviews

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Richard Stafford Directs It Happened One Christmas Eve.

Posted by: Pia Haas on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Richard Stafford is back to Direct this timeless piece after having directed it in 2014. 


It Happened One Christmas Eve
begins in 1919. It is Christmas Eve in a Brooklyn boarding house peopled by eccentric, loveable people--including an actress, a poet, a housekeeper and during the course of the first scene, 2 Hungarian toy makers. On that particular evening, a baby is left on the doorstep. The "family" takes in the baby while the parents are sought. 

The following scene takes place ten years later and the baby "Dolly" is now a healthy 10-year-old. Her parents were never found and she lives with her boarding house family." As the show continues, we progress through the decades and the rooming house survives through the Great Depression and the War. Lives are lived, loves are made and lost, a child is born. The roomers stick together through thick and thin but become, ultimately, distant as fortunes are made and time speeds by.

There are many kinds of families and sometimes we create our own based on trust, love, and hope. Our characters weren't extraordinary, weren't formally educated and didn't own a thing worth owning. But, they had faith and they trusted in each other. They believed in charity, not the showy kind, but the quite kind that brings comfort to the soul. Isn't that what the spirit of Christmas is all about?

The story is original and so relatable (particularly at Christmastime.) Each character is fully formed and their relationships are full and completely believable. Time passes by as it does in all of our lives. It will remind audiences of their own Christmas pasts and, hopefully, move them in their Christmas present and futures.
There are wonderful original songs as well as beloved Christmas songs and hymns such as "Silent Night", "Away in a Manger" and "O Holy Night" The show features a book by Bob Fitzsimmons, original music & lyrics by Steven Silverstein & Barbara Campbell, and musical arrangements by Steven Silverstein.

All ages will love this show. We have a 10-year-old "Dolly" in the show and kids will enjoy seeing the holiday through her eyes.

I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee where 2 things happened: First, at the age of 10, I saw Betty Grable in a touring production of Hello Dolly! from a balcony seat at the Tivoli theater and I wanted nothing more than to join her singing and dancing on that stage. Secondly, I started taking tap dancing lessons at the age of 11.
I haven't looked back.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Meet Jonathan Young as Henri Baurel in An American In Paris

Posted by: Pia Haas on Friday, November 8, 2019 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I was born and raised in a suburb of Buffalo, NY. My parents were both huge advocates for the arts. My father is a classically trained pianist and my mother has her degree in vocal performance. So our house was always really musical. My sister and I were in lessons from a young age. 
  

As a hyperactive kid, I think it was an easy outlet for all of my energy for my parents to stick me in theatre camp every summer. It was an immediate perfect fit. I couldn’t wait to get back to theatre camp every summer. It was then a natural extension for me to be a part of Buffalo’s amazing, vibrant theatre community once I got a little older. I started working at some of the theatres in Buffalo when I was in high school and was surrounded all the time by artists who were making lives in the theatre. Once I realized that was a viable option, there was no turning back for me.  

 

I wasn’t familiar with the movie "An American In Paris", growing up, but I remember being aware of the Musical adaptation when it came to broadway back in 2011.  Watching these dancers on the Tony Awards that year was so exciting to me because I just thought the whole production looked so gorgeous and sophisticated.  I’ve always loved Gershwin music. It’s some of my favorite music in the American songbook to sing because it’s so cozy and lush. 

     

I love every moment I get to be on stage with Deanna Doyle. She is so incredibly generous and gracious onstage and off that it’s no surprise that the three men in the show all fall head over heels for Lise. She makes it incredibly easy to do so every night.  We have a scene in act 2 which are two songs strung together in a scene that’s them really just these two characters talking candidly about their relationship for the first time. It shows the real love that these two characters have for each other, in spite of the tough spot they’ve been put in, and it’s a little different every night. 

 

I think Ragtime takes the cake for my favorite score of all time. They are just some of the best melodies, orchestrations, and vocal arrangements that exist in this genre. It’s a masterpiece.  There are a lot of dream roles in my list that if I’d love to tackle. They run the spectrum of Elder Price in the Book of Mormon to Billy Bigelow in Carousel (in a few years)  with a lot in between. 

When Not on stage, what do I enjoy doing? The first thing that came to mind was “eat.” I’ve  worked in restaurants alongside the theatre for most of my life, and so one of my favorite things to do on a night off is to go out for a nice meal with friends at any of our favorite places, or to chip away at the rapidly growing list on my phone of new restaurants to try.  

 

In music, I’ve always loved female voices and I really love me some lady rockers lately. Lots of Maggie Rogers, Sylvan Esso, Florence And the Machine, Janelle Monáe, Lake Street Dive and HAIM have been in my ears this summer.

  

 

Lauren Sprague is Milo Davenport in An American In Paris

Posted by: Pia Haas on Friday, November 8, 2019 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I grew up in Cincinnati, OH in a household that watched a lot of movie musicals (Lots of Marilyn Monroe, Doris Day and Shirley Jones). That was definitely where I got the bug for performing originally. 

I loved Gene Kelly and remember watching “An American In Paris” and ”Singin’ in the Rain” on repeat growing up. 

I love the quartet in Act two when Milo and Jerry are breaking up and Henri and Lise are trying to figure out their relationship. It’s a very complicated and layered situation that lends itself to a lot of depth and I particularly love the mash-up of the Gershwin tunes in the scene. 

Dream Roles? The Music Man (Marian), Crazy For You (Irene), The Producers (Ulla), Ragtime (Mother), The Sound of Music (Maria) My Fair Lady (Eliza) 

When not on stage I enjoy Running, Reading, and spending time with friends and family.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Deanna Doyle 'S Wonderful In An American I Paris

Posted by: Pia Haas on Friday, November 1, 2019 at 5:00:00 pm Comments (0)

As a child, I grew up in Brooklyn. My extended family is all from Kansas City, but my mother moved my sister and I to Brooklyn so that she could pursue dance and musical theatre. My sister and I also got involved in performing, and I've been doing musicals, plays, and commercials since I was three years old. 

We come from a long line of performers, starting with my great-great aunts who had a sister act in vaudeville, so dance and performing is sort of the family trade! I studied tap and jazz from my mother and then studied ballet at the School of American Ballet.
 
I grew up watching mostly black and white movies and a lot of movie musicals. Ginger Rogers was my absolute favorite and I remember, even at a very young age, feeling rather sad when I would watch her films because I felt like I had been born in the wrong era. My other on-screen idols growing up were Vera-Ellen, Cyd Charisse, Leslie Caron, Katharine Hepburn, and Judy Garland. 
 
Also watching my mother perform was my main inspiration. Watching her rehearse and do shows like 42nd Street and Bye Bye Birdie made me want to be onstage, and seeing photos of her playing Cinderella and Alice in Alice in Wonderland made me think that she was just magical. I just really wanted to be a part of that magical world. 
 
My mother also took us to a lot of live performances--concerts, musicals, and ballets. I was always very much in love with the beauty of the ballet world. I couldn't wait to get into my first pair of pointe shoes. Because my mother taught dance, she had a bunch of books about teaching ballet and I would read and re-read the pointe section, studying the pictures and preparing for the year that I was finally old enough to wear pointe shoes.
 

An American in Paris was certainly one of the movies I grew up watching. Gene Kelly was a hero in my family, so I knew all his movies.

I think it’s great to see that theaters are doing shows based on these old movie musicals. It makes me feel like maybe I wasn’t born in the wrong era, after all! 

I love the scene/song with Henri during Act II where Jerry and Milo are having a simultaneous scene. It’s my favorite because it is so real and vulnerable and true to life. I think we can identify with the characters, in this case Lise and Henri, caring about each other so much but perhaps not being right for each other. Those difficult moments—the ones where we see layers of feelings and complications—are always my favorite to do as an actor and to watch as an audience member because it shows the complexity of life.     

I grew up loving Oklahoma, South Pacific, 42nd Street. I was obsessed with Julie Andrews in Sound of Music and Leslie Ann Warren in Cinderella. Sometimes it seems like I have too long of a list of dream roles and other times I feel like I just want to be surprised!
I’m a huge fan of classic musicals so I would love to do another Rodgers and Hammerstein musical soon. I also would love to do a play, like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner or Barefoot in the Park. I think my mom would love it if I would eventually used my tap background, haha. And my niece’s favorite Disney Princess is Ariel, so I fantasize about doing a production of The Little Mermaid just so that my niece thinks I’m really cool.

I like doing roles/shows that people think are overdone or irrelevant for the challenge of bringing something new to the role. I think that that can be just as rewarding as doing a new show. 
 
When not on stage, I enjoy so many things! I love to cook, bake, knit, paint, read, and write. I recently finished writing a first draft of a novel, which has always been a goal of mine.
 
I have a lot of jazz standards. Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller, and Frank Sinatra are some of my favorites and George Gershwin has always been at the absolute top of my list. I also have ballet class music on my phone that I use to warm up before a show. And all of Mumford and Sons albums are on my phone, as well!
 
 
Deanna Doyle's great-great aunts