Stories & Cast Interviews

Monday, February 11, 2019

Anita Welch is keepin ' out of mischief in Ain't Misbehavin'

Posted by: Pia Haas on Monday, February 11, 2019 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I’m a California girl born and raised.

I fell in love with theatre when I was a young girl. My father introduced me to musicals and he and I would rent musicals on tape from the public library. My all time favorite was the 1999 film version of Annie

As for singing- music always had a huge presence in my household growing up. I had Chronic Asthma as a child and spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital. My parents put me in voice lessons to help me learn breath support and to strengthen my lungs. Anytime I was afraid my mother would ask me to sing a song. Music helped shape who I am. 

I learned about Ain’t Misbehavin' while I was  studying at AMDA. I worked in the school library and went through a stage where I would watch the 1978 recorded performance they had on copy over and over. 

Ain’t Misbehavin' also happened to be my first equity show. I had the pleasure of doing this show about nine years ago. And get this! I was along side my current co-star Tony Perry! I’m thankful to be doing this show again. This time directed by the creator Richard Maltby Jr! Also working with assistant director A. Curtis Farrow, and Music director Billy McDaniels.  DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON MY LOVE FOR THIS CAST! 

I love the show Dear Evan Hansen. When my friend Charley and I went to see it we were enthralled. But, I can’t really choose a favorite. I also love The Color Purple, Porgy and Bess, and of course Ain’t Misbehavin'. 

As for my dream role, I don’t think it exists yet. It is my dream to originate a role on Broadway. To play a character that touches the lives of those who see it; One that is three dimensional and dynamic. I’ve been fortunate enough to originate some wonderful women in new works. 

When not on stage, I spend time with my dog. I have a beautiful chocolate Labrador named Chance. He makes life fun and reminds me to smile and live in the moment.

My partner and I just made a playlist on Spotify for our game nights titled “The Everything”.  Lately pre-show, I’ve been listening to music that nourishes my soul like India Arie’s "Songversations."

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Richard Maltby Jr. Honored at WBT

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

 Richard Maltby Jr. (left) with A. Curtis Farrow.

Celebrating 40 Years of the Musical Ain't Misbehavin' and how your creation has touched humanity  through the music of Thomas Wright "Fats" Waller.

The award was presented by Curtis Farrow on February 1, 2019 at Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, NY.

The AUDELCO (Audience Development Committee, Inc.) is an organization that acknowledges and honors Black Theatre and its artists in New York City. Established and incorporated in 1973 by Vivian Robinson (1926-1996), to stimulate interest in and support of performing arts in black communities. Developing relationships with individuals, local groups, churches, and other organizations to introduce new audiences to non-profit performing arts. The annual Vivian Robinson/AUDELCO Recognition, “The VIV”Awards are the only formally established awards presented to the black theatre community. 

AUDELCO’s Young Audiences Series addresses the need for positive cultural experiences for children between the ages of 10-17.  This series provides entertainment and cultural experience for the youth in non-academic settings. The Black Theatre Archives: A collection of books, tapes, original scripts, costumes and set designs, photographs, playbills and extensive clippings on current theatre groups and activities. Their many Seminars, Lectures, and Forums address the general awareness about the contributions of Blacks in the cultural and socio-economic environment. They publish two publications; Intermission, (A newsletter to stimulate interest in the performing arts) and The Overture (a black theatre magazine to document exciting work done by Black theatre artists.)

Richard Maltby, Jr. Broadway: Conceived and directed two Tony Award Best Musicals: Ain't Misbehavin' (1978: also, Tony Award for Best Director); FOSSE (1999:). Director/lyricist: BABY (1983); Lyricist: BIG (1996). Co-lyricist: MISS SAIGON (1989); THE PIRATE QUEEN (2007). Director/co-lyricist: SONG & DANCE (1986); Director: RING OF FIRE (2006); THE STORY OF MY LIFE (2009). OFF-BROADWAY: Director/lyricist STARTING HERE, STARTING NOW (1977) and CLOSER THAN EVER, (1989). Director: JUST JIM DALE, Roundabout Theatre (2014), VAUDEVILLE, London (2015). REGIONAL: Lyricist, TAKE FLIGHT, Chocolate Factory (2010), McCarter Theatre (2012); book/lyrics, WATERFALL, (Pasadena, Seattle (2015). FILM: Screenplay, MISS POTTER, (2007). Contributes cryptic crossword puzzles to Harpers Magazine. Son of well-known orchestra leader; Five children: Nicholas, David, Jordan, Emily and Charlotte.    

Meet Amy Jo Phillips in Ain't Misbehavin'

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I was born in Brooklyn and raised in Manhattan, I was bi-racial before it was popular.

I attended the high school of Music & Art.  Though I auditioned as a pianist for both M & A and The High School for Performing Arts and chose M & A so that I could become a vocal major. I first started doing theatre at Ithaca College, specifically with Kuumba Repertory Theatre, where I performed as well as served as Musical Director for 3 years. 

My mentor was my late acting teacher Robert Elston. I first studied with him at HB studios (during summer breaks from college) and continued with him when he opened his own studio/theatre (American Renaissance Theatre). 

Aside from making my Broadway debut in Hal Prince's Show Boat, one of my fondest memories was the process of being cast as Bloody Mary in national tour of South Pacific (starring Robert Goulet) at the age of 27. I vividly remember not going to the Equity principal auditions because they were looking for someone between the ages 35-50. I finally went to an open understudy call for the role of Liat, thinking I might be able to understudy both Liat (not knowing she was a dancer) and Bloody Mary. I was requested to sing “Bali H'ai” by the casting director (Stuart Howard) and then asked where I had been and what made me finally come in. My response was "Little Shop of Horrors" (I was a vacation swing for the off-Broadway show at the time) and that I thought I could be an understudy. Stuart said that they already had a Bloody Mary understudy, but they were still looking for their Bloody Mary. I was given a callback to sing/read for the producers and director (the late Ron Fields). After singing and reading for the powers that be, I was asked how old I thought Bloody Mary was. All I can say, is that God gave me my answer, 32 with an explanation as to why. It must have been good enough, because by the time I got home from the callback, there was a message on my answering machine telling me that I had the job!

I saw the original Ain’t Misbehavin’ on Broadway while I was still in school. I fell in love with it and saw that there was a place for me in theatre (specifically Armelia McQueen), if nothing else, I could do this show.  I’ve done the show with several companies. The last full production was in 2003 at Papermill Playhouse in NJ.

I did South Pacific here at WBT in 1997 as Bloody Mary. The staff is wonderful, they do wonderful productions, and it is close to home (NYC). 

Favorite shows? Ain't Misbehavin’, South Pacific, Little Shop Of Horrors, and new favorite, In The Heights. I have been blessed to do a lot of my dream roles, but one that I haven't done yet is Serena in Porgy & Bess.

When not on stage, I love going to see friends perform, theatre, cabaret etc... just being supportive. I love film, and currently taxes (I also do tax preparation/consulting) I listen to R&B, Jazz, Gospel, and theatre music… like many, I'm a Hamilton junkie!