Actor

  • Interview with Earley Dean

    8-2-16 Interview

    10-18-16 Earley Dean, has played many and varied roles in West Coast Black Theater Troupe productions. Now he is taking the WBTT stage for one performance, Monday night 10/30, with his original piece Happy Birthday Jethro Jenkins. The Church and school Earley attended encouraged and nurtured his natural talent, but his easy accomplishments lead him to believe he could be successful without much effort, Listen to him describe what it took for him to realize his passion for, not only performing, but for the work it takes to make a great performance. And come and see this serious performer rock the night away with songs by Teddy Pendergrass

    continue reading
  • Interview with performer, director Kenney Green

    8-2-16 Interview

    10-11-16 singer, dancer, actor, director, musician, musical director, Kenney Green, is bringing his multiple talents to Sarasota to direct The Wiz for the West Coast Black Theater Troupe. Kenney fell in love with music when he was very young, learning and singing all the “oldies” incessantly. He wanted to know everything about theater and would hang out at the school café-torium, “playing with the wires and switches to just to see how everything worked. An acknowledged workaholic Kenney began to burning the candle at both ends early in his life. In high school he was in Chorus and Drama Club (arriving at 6:30 in the morning to rehearse), the Forensics League (where he lettered in Dramatic Interpretation) the Marching Band, a competitive Barbara Shop quartet and auditioning for and getting roles at the King Musical Community Theater. And he has continued that pace to this day. Listen to this high-energy, very funny, remarkably talented man talk about a life dedicated to everything theater and come see his direction of The Wiz, .the 1975 Broadway musical which won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical

    continue reading
  • Interview with Actor Alana Opie

    8-2-16 Interview

    8-30-16 Alana Opie always knew she loved to sing – everyone in her family is musical. But when she was ten, a flyer, promising a summer of singing, acting and dancing classes arrived, and Alana knew for sure what she wanted to do with her life. Listen to this charming, passionate woman talk about the way she inadvertently got derailed and how – by never losing her passion for performance – she found her way back to the person she always was – and still very clearly is. And come see her demonstrate the correctness of this choice, as she plays the very challenging role of Blanche DuBois in the Players production of Tennessee Williams’ “Streetcar Named Desire.

    continue reading
  • Zach Dorn

    8-2-16 Interview

    8-23-16 Zach Dorn is a multi-talented, if difficult to categorize, theater artist. Having fallen in love with stories as a child, he spent the majority of his time paying with his toys, which he used to tell his stories. Having toyed with acting, directing and other kinds of storytelling, today Zach is using video and shadow puppets to tell his stories. Listen to this thoughtful, serious, self-deprecating, funny man talk about the dilemma faced by everyone who doesn’t fit neatly into a box other people recognize. Hear him describe the challenge of holding on to his unique vision. Fortunately that vision is now being validated. His talent has been recognized by world famous theater/film director and designer Julie Taymor. (*see below.). He is the one of three initial recipients of a $30,000 fellowship endowed by the Julie Taymor World Theater Fellowship. He will spend next year in Japan studying ritual robotic puppetry in Western Honshu and working with Japanese contemporary theater directors; Toshiki Okadain and Niwa Gekidan Penino in both Osaka and Tokyo. And come see what Julie Taymor saw by attending the two final shows he will do before leaving for Japan – August 25 and 31st at Starlight Restaurant 1001 Cocoanut Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236 – seating is limited call for reservations (941) 702-5613
    (Julie Taymor is an American director of theater, opera and film. She is best known for directing the stage musical, The Lion King, for which she became the first woman to win the Tony Award for directing a musical, in addition to a Tony Award for Original Costume Design. She has also received the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design, an Emmy Award, and an Academy Award nomination for an Original Song. She also received the 2012 Director Award for Vision and Courage from the Athena Film Festival at Barnard College in New York City. She was the director of the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and an off-Broadway production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.)

    continue reading
  • Interview with Rafael Petlock

    8-2-16 Interview

    8-16-16 Many actors choose acting as career early in their lives. But few can say that they were in a major motion picture at three, had featured roles in operas at five and six, got their equity card at fifteen as a featured player in a brand new play by Academy Award winning playwright Horton Foote, and were giving a free ride to study theater at a prestigious college before they graduated from high school. Rafael Petlock can, and so much more. Listen to this exuberant, multi-talented, often outrageous man talk about the roller-coaster ride his life has been and come to witness his sparkle on stage in “Why Can’t I be You” at the Players backstage opening on Aug.25th.

    continue reading
  • Interview for Bell Book and Candle

    8-2-16 Interview

    8-9-16 Bell, Book and Candle at the Players Theater

    Although always a “dramatic” child – acting out scenes from TV and making up stories, it wasn’t until her middle school teacher’s extremely positive reaction to the pantomime she’d created and performed, that Helen Holliday, realized her “passion.” From then on she knew that she was going to be an actor, and although her parents would have preferred another occupation for their “dramatic” daughter, they knew, as she knew that nothing was going to stop her. Listen to Helen describe how her complete “confidence” in her ability drove her and how that ability created a lifetime of performing, direction, stage managing and anything and everything that had to do with the theater. And come she her direction of Bell, Book and Candle at the Players.

    Ann Gundersheimer knew from a very young age that she wanted to be an actor; she can still recite a piece she performed in elementary school. Her father, a charismatic lecturer, inadvertently encouraged this impulse by sharing his love of oratory with his daughter. But her parents frowned on the idea of her having a career on the stage so Ann majored in English instead of theater in college, although she “acted all the time,” and then got her Master’s Degree in theater. But her life took several other turns so she wasn’t able to purse her passion for acting until she retired. And now she is finally able to act as often as she is cast, which is fortunately quite a lot. Listen to this thoughtful, talented woman talk about her life and come to see here as one of the larger than life characters in the Players production of Bell, Book and Candle

    continue reading
  • Interview with Tarra Conner-Jones

    5-24-16 Interview

    7-19-16 Listen to singer, actor performer Tarra Connor-Jones tell the story of how she discovered, at 6 years old that she was supposed to sing, describing how she felt when she saw the impact her singing was having of her audience. Follow her journey as she chooses to work as a teacher, doing “theater on the side,” until she got an opportunity to audition for the real thing. Hear how she wound up as part of the West Coast Black Theater Troupe and how the desire to continue to communicate with her audience through her performance motivates her still. And come see her as part of the ensemble company of How I Got Over, a tribute to the Gospel Music of Mahalia Jackson and many other Gospel performers.

    continue reading
  • Interview with Brendan Ragan

    5-24-16 Interview

    7/12/16 Actor, theater maker Brendan Ragan loves being on stage. He always knew he was a natural; but he “never wanted to settle for pretty good,” and the need to hone his “artistry,” to be pushed, to be torn down and rebuilt if that was what it took for him to reach his personal best, drives him. It drove him to risk to joining 11 other graduates to create Single Carrot, a theater company in Baltimore on what was – although they didn’t know it – the most dangerous street in town; it drove him to leave there, although people thought he was crazy to leave that wonderful set up, and apply to graduate school; and its driven him to join Summer Wallace and Harry Lipstein in creating the Urbanite theater in Sarasota. Listen to this passionate, articulate man talk about his obsession to create the very best theater experience he can for himself and his audience

    continue reading
  • Interview with Summer Dawn Wallace

    5-24-16 Interview

    7-5-16 Summer Dawn Wallace discovered acting at four years old. Listen to the sweet story of how little Summer learned that a person could be anything she wanted to be. For example, every day she pretended to be a different animal, and if that day’s animal was a cat, little Summer refused to eat at the table insisting that her mother feed her on the floor This began a lifelong commitment to creating alternate realities for herself and her audiences culminating, with co-founder Brendan Ragan in the creation of the Urbanite Theater, Sarasota’s newest and most unique theater company. In a very short time The Urbanite has proved Brendan and Summer right – that they are clearly filling a need in the community, is borne out by their swift and remarkable success.

    continue reading
  • Interview with Summer Dawn Wallace

    5-24-16 Interview

    7-5-16 Summer Dawn Wallace discovered acting at four years old. Listen to the sweet story of how little Summer learned that a person could be anything she wanted to be. For example, every day she pretended to be a different animal, and if that day’s animal was a cat, little Summer refused to eat at the table insisting that her mother feed her on the floor This began a lifelong commitment to creating alternate realities for herself and her audiences culminating, with co-founder Brendan Ragan in the creation of the Urbanite Theater, Sarasota’s newest and most unique theater company. In a very short time The Urbanite has proved Brendan and Summer right – that they are clearly filling a need in the community, is borne out by their swift and remarkable success.

    continue reading
  • Interview with Joel King

    5-24-16 Interview

    6-14-16 Artist, singer, dancer, actor, playwright, producer, director Joel King discovered his multiple talents unexpectedly. He would simply do these things; draw, sing, dance, write and act, and luckily for him people continually congratulated him on his skill and encouraged him to do more of it. Over time Joel realized that what he wanted to do was sing but to please his mother who, who recognizing his artistic skill and like many other parents wanted him to choose a career that would pay, encouraged him to major in Architectural Design. So Joel majored in Architectural Design and minored in music. Then after auditioning for and capturing a role in a play, Joel was’ persuaded by the heads of the drama dept. to add another minor in theater. He said “I still liked Architectural Design, but I loved theater.” Since graduation Joel has written, produced and directed many original shows and acted in many others. Currently he got to see a workshop production of his HipOpera “Real Life,” done by the West Coast Black Theater Troupe in Sarasota FL. Listen to this gentle, ingenuous young man talk about the ironic way he discovered his talents and his passions and what he wants to accomplish in his life

    continue reading
  • Interview with Alan Brasington

    5-24-16 Interview

    5-31-16 Alan Brasington began his performing career at three when he repeated to neighbors a dirty joke he’d overheard his grandmother telling. It was years before Alan understood the joke (he invented for himself why it must be funny) but he loved the attention the delighted neighbors gave him. Still it would be twenty seven years before he was able to become the actor he was clearly meant to be. Alan’s mother was just sixteen when he was born and she loved the movies. Mother and son would watch films on their black and white TV and revel in the performances of actors like Cary Grant and Greta Garbo – who Alan thought of as Kings and Queens or Gods. It was an opportunity to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London that allowed Alan to discover who he was and what he was meant to do. Listen to him tell the story of his rise from poverty (“we were ‘po,’”) he says, and live a truly extraordinary life. A life he was able to embrace because of his mother positive certainty that he could be/do anything – that all things were possible – and clearly mother was right. To hear how Alan wound up at the Royal Academy and the rest of his remarkable life story come see him perform “The Poem of my Life” at the Starlight restaurant in Sarasota on 5/27 and 6/3.

    continue reading
  • Interview with actor Joseph Parra

    5_17_16 Interview

    5-16-16 Actor Joseph Parra discovered his destiny when he was just four years old. Having watched Shock Theater on television he was captivated by Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. He thought that what they were doing “looked like fun.” When he asked what they were doing – many people responded that they were playing, but that made no sense to little Joseph to whom “playing’” was something you did with trucks and toy soldiers. Finally his second grade teacher came through – she told him that they were “acting.” When Joseph asked why they did it, she replied that “it was how they made their living.” This that was something Joseph understood. And right then and there he knew what he was going to do with his life. Several teachers tried to dissuade him but Joseph would not be dissuaded. In this interview listen to him tell the story of his first non-professional role – that of a beefsteak tomato, and his journey to pursue his passion. Also hear Pamela Wiley’s review of Sweeter than Justice – in which Joseph appears as the “mob boss” and hear some of the original music Joe Micals composed for the show which will run till 5/22 at the Cook theater.

    continue reading
  • Interview with Jean Tafler

    5-24-16 Interview

    5-23-16 Jean Tafler didn’t discover acting until high school. Thinking it would help her overcome her shyness, her father suggested she join some clubs. Jean joined a bunch of clubs but it was in the drama club that she found “her people,” other “odd balls” like herself. Almost immediately the drama teacher recognized her potential as an actor and cast her as Puck in A Midsummer night’s Dream. Jean was hooked. This was a perfect choice, as Jean’s dad was interested in theater, especially in Shakespeare, and she was able to hear and understand the language – a skill she ascribes to her musicality. Not only did Jean have to wait to discover that theater was meant to be her profession – she had to wait even longer to “find her voice.” Thinking she was an alto with a tiny voice Jean was surprised to find that she was actually a soprano and fortunate to find a teacher who would help her find and bring out her real voice. Listen to this delightful woman describe her journey and come to see the result in the Florida Studio Theatre production of The Alabama Story.

    continue reading
  • Interview with Steve Dorff

    5-10-16 Interview

    5-9-16 Steve Dorff was hearing music in his head in his crib before he knew that it was music he was hearing. He could play rings around his older sister by the time he was four. His first – and only – piano teacher thought he was “unteachable,” but actually he needed to teach himself; to express what he heard instinctively. And what he heard instinctively would lead him to an extraordinarily successful career as a composer, arranger, orchestrator and conductor – all with no formal training. Listen to Steve tell the story of how he ingeniously taught himself to write complicated musical phrases, hear one of his hit songs and two songs from the score of Josephine, which he co-wrote with longtime collaborator John Bettis. And come to the Asolo Repertory Theater to see the premier performance of the soon to be Broadway Musical Josephine.

    continue reading
  • Interview with Ana Maria Larson

    5-2-16 Interview

    5-2-16 Actor Ana Maria Larson was born and raised in Colombia. After completing her training she spent 15 years appearing in soap operas, commercials and the plays. In order to give her 8 year old son a chance at a better life she immigrated to West Palm Beach FL. There was little opportunity to work as an actor so, although it broke her heart, she gave up acting and became a hairdresser. Ironically the pastor of her church recognizing her acting experience, tapped her to create a theater ministry. Soon Ana Maria found herself writing, producing and acting in the plays that would make the points the pastor wished to convey to his congregation. Ana Maria is relatively new to the Sarasota area and has landed her first role. She is Molly in the Players Theatre production of The Smell of the Kill by Michele Lowe. The Smell of the Kill features 3 female actors; the sophisticated Nicki played by Carrie McQueen, the conventional Debra played by Pamela Hopkins and the ditzy Molly played by Ana Maria. As Molly, Ana Maria brings a sparkling sauciness to the role, her speedy speech pattern and Spanish accent give the role of Molly added punch. It’s a pleasure to welcome this sparkling new addition to our theater community. Don’t miss The Smell of the Kill – Ana Maria is only one of the delightful surprised you will find when you do.

    continue reading
  • Interview with Taurean Blacque

    4-26-16 Interview

    4-26-16 Actor Taurean Blacque is most famous for playing Detective Neal Washington on the 1980s NBC drama Hill Street Blues, for which he was nominated for an Emmy. He received the 1985 NAACP Image Award for his role in a production of Amen and had a long and extensive film, TV and movie career, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Listen to this extraordinary man talk about his truly unique life; how and why he didn’t discover acting till he was 30 years old and how, once having discovered it, he pursued it relentlessly. Hear him tell of his fight against the discrimination which declared he could not adopt a child because he was “male, single and black,” and how it lead to his remarkable adoption of 11 at risk children, making him the role model for such adoptions and causing President George W Bush to tap him as Spokesman for Adoption. But most of all come and see him play the iconic role of Hoke alongside Carolyn Michel and Kraig Swartz the West Coast Black Theater production of Driving Miss Daisy.

     

     

     

    continue reading
  • Memorial for Jim Noble

    4-19-16 Interview 

    James Noble was devoted to his older brother who desperately wanted to be an actor, but who died heroically in the world War ll. Jim also served in the Navy during the war and, after returning, decided to be the actor his brother never had the chance to be. Listen to him tell the touching and remarkable story of the ironic way he discovered his own destiny – that of being an actor. Jim became a member of the Actors Studio where he studied with Lee Strasberg. He began his stage career in the 1949 Broadway production of “The Velvet Glove.” He is best known for his portrayal of the absent-minded Gov. Gatling on the hit 1980s ABC sitcom “Benson,” which ran for seven seasons and as John Hancock in the musical “1776” and the Rev. John Witherspoon in its1972 movie adaptation. Listen to him talk about the ironic way in which he got these roles – although admittedly – “he can’t sing.” Jim never stopped working and when I interviewed him – he was 92 – he was an active member of The Theater Artists Workshop in Norwalk CN, and looking forward to doing a production of Love Letters with actress E Katherine Kerr,

    Jim’s theater credits included A Far Country, a hit drama about Sigmund Freud which starred Stephen Hill and Kim Stanley .Electra, Night of the Dunce, The Rimers of Eldritch, The Death of the Well-Loved Boy, Trainer Dean Liepolt and Company, A Scent of Flowers, The Long Christmas Dinner and The Vienna Notes.

    His TV credits included episodes of “The Love Boat,” “Perfect Strangers,” “Law & Order,” and the soap operas “One Life to Live,” “Another World,” “The Brighter Day,” “As the World Turns,” “The Doctors” and “A World Apart.” He also appeared in the films “One Summer Love” (1976), “10” (1979), “Promises in the Dark” (1979), “Being There” (1979), “Airplane II: The Sequel” (1982), “A Tiger’s Tale” (1987), “Paramedics” (1988) and “Chances Are” (1989).

    His movie credits included “Being There”  (1979), “10” (1979), “Airplane ll: the Sequel,” (1982)

    continue reading
  • Interview with AK Murhbatah

    4-12-16 Audio Interview

    AK Murhbatah discovered his desire to and delight in performing by the time he was six years old. You can still hear the joy his second grade self-felt at being singled out to be the “Imp who saved Christmas.” But his father didn’t approve and it took a very long time for him to stake a claim to himself, and be what he always knew he was – an actor. Listen to this charming, unguarded man talk about his round-about journey to his destination and come see the results in his standout performance as– Dr. Martin Luther King in All the Way and Dr. John Prentice in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner currently playing at the Asolo Repertory Theatre.

    continue reading
  • Interview with Louisa Flannigan

    4-5-16 Audio Interview

    Louisa Flannigan was destined to be a performer but she had to travel a haphazard path to realize it. She fell in love with modern dance as a child but believed, as her family and extended community believed, that a career in dance couldn’t support you. She soon realized that majoring in elementary education was a mistake and became an art major. Still it took a serendipitous series of events to show her what she was meant to do. Listen to Louisa tell the story of how her fear of water is responsible for her finding what was so very definitely her destiny.

    continue reading