Actor

  • Interview with Barry Pearl

    3-15-16 Audio Interview

    Barry Pearl believes he was born to perform. He was singing, telling jokes and mimicking as a toddler. As the youngest boy in tap class, little Barry and the youngest girl performed for a large audience and Barry was “bitten.” He began to get roles in an adult company and was playing the Duke of York in a production with Roy Scheider when he was 9 years old. He got his first role on Broadway, that of Randolph McAfee in Bye Bye Birdie, when he was 11. And has been an actor ever since. Listen to Barry describe the “woo woo” way his life progressed: the unexpected way he became a director and the irony of having lost a role on a TV show just in time to be cast in the movie version of Grease. Currently Barry lives and works as an actor, director and teacher in Los Angeles. He has just finished a production of the musical 13 and will open a production of Camp Rock for Panic Productions at the NoHo Arts theatre in North Hollywood on May 6th.You can also see Barry as Stan Weaver (the producer for National Bandstand) in GREASE: LIVE which will air on March 27th on FOX.

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  • Interview with George Tynan Crowley

    March 8 Audio Interview

    George Tynan Crowley had a mystical experience at the age of 7 when he spontaneously volunteered to read the prayer at communion and knew that he was meant to “speak out.” From then on he followed this path to speak out by becoming a versatile, talented actor, director, writer, and producer. Listen to this charming, articulate man talk about his work in theater and film, his belief in the power of theater to transform lives and his personal philosophy of life. Come see his powerful performance in the meaningful and beautiful play, Outside Mullingar, currently running at Florida Studio Theater and listen to Sharon Leslie’s review of the play.

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  • Interview with David Breitbarth and Doug Jones

    March 1, 2016 Audio Interview

    Talented and versatile actors David Breitbarth and Doug Jones, both long time members of the The Asolo Repertory Theatre Co are currently appearing in Eugene O’Neil’s comedy Ah Wilderness, listen to these serious professionals talk about their lives and their work. And Listen to Sharon Leslie’s review of Ah Wilderness.

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  • Interview with Summer Dawn Wallace

    2-23-16 Audio Interview

    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.

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  • Interview with Johnny Epstien

    2-16-16 Audio Interview

    Johnny Epstein has had a long career as a Shakespearian Player and acting teacher. Although he knew from age 7 that he was comfortable on stage – when he spontaneously ad-libbed to cover a fellow student missed cue – it was a series of unplanned and unintended actions and comments that lead him to realize that acting was his career. To help him overcome a fear of water his parents sent him to Tuffs Magic Circle summer day camp because campers were encouraged to swim and, by the way, spent the mornings doing theater. Johnny spent 3 years there enjoying doing plays but did not think of acting as a “profession.” Following his first performance in a Shakespeare play (As You Like it) the shop teacher a “plain man with little exposure to Shakespeare” said “I saw that As You Like it – you’re a great actor – is this going to be your profession” This was the first time Johnny considered of acting as a profession. Listen to this knowledgeable, articulate  man describe the ironic way he got his first role on Broadway and talk about his life, the work of acting, and the upcoming production of Macbeth – performed by his class of 2nd year graduate students at the FSU Conservatory for Acting Training.

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  • Audio Interview with Robert Douglas

    2-9-16 Interview

    Robert Douglas fell in love with acting when, at 8 years old, he saw a production of Raisin in the Sun. He identified so strongly with the character of Walter Lee Younger that began to inhabit the character of Walter Lee and believe that it was his job “to tell Walter Lee’s story. “ And when he saw Lady Sings the Blues he researched and fell in love with Billie Holliday’s music. These events lead him to pursue the world of characters and stories. Listen to this passionate, articulate man talk about his journey. If you saw him in the Westcoast Black Theater Troupe’s production of The Whipping Man – you already know how talented an actor he is. Come and get another opportunity to see him at work in the WBTT production of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

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  • Interview with Emily Sophia Knapp

    2-2-16 Audio Interview

    Having accompanied her mother to rehearsals when she produced West Side Story for a local theater group, nine year old Emily Sophia Knapp feel in love with the theater and when she saw her friend in a 50 kid production she knew that was what she wanted to do. But Emily has many interests and she didn’t want to miss out on anything. At Harvard she pursued independent research but found it too solitary and so she went to England to study acting. She sent a letter to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival asking for an audition and spent 2 years living the actor’s life in NY until OSF finally responded, gave her an audition and offered her a position. It was during her two years as an actor at the festival that she discovered an interest in everything about “how plays get produced;” she learned to write grants and developed a software program for the festival. It was there that she also began to direct, becoming assistant director for the earliest productions of All the Way – which she is currently directing for the Asolo Repertory Theatre Company. Listen to this exuberant, flexible, charming woman talk about her unusual path and hear Sharon Leslie’s review of All the Way.

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  • Interview with Soprano Rebecca Caine

    1-26-16 Audio Interview

    Internationally known Soprano and versatile actor Rebecca Caine’s life had a rocky start. When her parents separated her mother took Rebecca and her younger sister out of school and relocated them in London. When Mom and younger sister returned to Dad, Rebecca remained in London. When at 17 she unexpectedly left the Guild Hall School she was alone, without friends or family. But talent and tenacity helped her endure and overcome sadness, loneliness, and depression. Then she was surprisingly picked to create the role of Cosette in the Royal Shakespeare Company premier production of Les Miserables and to originate the role of Christine in Phantom of the Opera. Since then her career has included Opera, Musical Theater and Cabaret. And now luckily for us she is staring in her very first “straight play,” as The Diva in Living on Love at the Asolo Repetory Theater Company. Living on Love by playwright Joe DiPietro is a glorious confection. Genius director Peter Amster found every laugh in this piece and invented many of his own, Karl Hamilton as The Maestro is amazing – especially if you saw him as a very different character – Sen Hubert Humphrey in All the Way. But the star of this piece is the sparkling Rebecca Caine, come to support this courageous and talented woman – or just come to have a roaring good time.

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  • SaraSolo 2016 Interviews

    1-12-15 SaraSolo2016 Interviews

    Last year Annie Morrison, Blake Walton and David Coyle created a one person performance festival called SaraSolo. It was a huge success. This year it is back. SaraSolo 2016 brings a new crop of diverse, interesting and compelling performances. Carolyn Michel and Christine Alexander are two of those performers.

    Carolyn Michel is a staple in the Sarasota theater community. A brilliantly talented actress, she is one of the longest members of the Asolo Repertory Company who has performed at every virtually theater venue. She is bringing a pastiche of several of her favorite characters to SaraSolo2016. Come see her bring Dorothy Parker, Rose, Bev, Trudy, Ann Landers and others both real and fictional to life on Sat 1/23 at 7:00 pm.

    Christine Alexander is founding member of Florida Studio Theatre’s Improv Troupe, and the Lazy Fairie Improv Troupe. Christine has brought her infectious capacity to generate laughter to businesses, corporations, non-profits and regular people’s living rooms. At SaraSolo 2015 Christine brought the audience to their feet. Jay Handelman says of her “she keeps finding new ways to keep everyone laughing.” She’s bringing her improvisational magic to SaraSolo2016 on Sat 1/23 at 1:00 PM

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  • Interview with Dewayne Barrett

    1-5-16 Interview with Dewayne Barrett

    Dewayne Barrett knew he was a performer by the time he was four. He was encouraged by a family that recognized and enjoyed his talent – putting him on the kitchen table to do the popular dances and getting him on the Romper Room. Always able to mimic whatever movement he saw Dewayne was offered scholarships wherever he applied; first at the Georgia Ballet Company and the Atlanta Jazz Theater and later with Steps on Broadway. All through high school Dewayne studied dance, voice and acting and remarkably a choreographer saw him dance and offered him a job and a place to live in New York City and Dewayne has been working dancer, actor, choreographer, director ever since. Listen to this charming Southern boy talk about his extraordinary ride, and hear some of the iconic songs from A Chorus Line which he is currently directing and performing in for the Manatee Performing Arts Hall.

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  • Audio Interview with Ben Vereen

    11-17-2015 Audio Interview with Ben Vereeen

    Ben Vereen is an icon; star of stage and screen, he is an internationally known and loved performer. Although he was singing and dancing in church and entertaining at churches and hospitals by the time he was four, Ben had no aspirations to be a performer; he thought he was going into the military. It took a very perceptive school principal to insist that he try out for the school of performing arts, and another perceptive teacher to see though his “bad audition.” Listen to the ironic way life conspired to help him find his passion. And once having found it he grabbed on and hasn’t let go. His credits include Wicked, I’m not Rappaport, Chicago, Hair, Jelly’s Last Jam, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Christmas Carol and winning the Tony and Drama Desk awards for his performance in Bob Fosse’s Pippen. His movies include Idlewild, All That jazz, Sweet Charity, and Funny Lady. TV; How I Met Your Mother, Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, Law and Order, Criminal Intent, Armstrong. His latest film Time out of Mind costarring Richard Gere opened in September. He’s been inducted into both the Theater Hall of Fame and the Dance Hall of Fame. Hyper aware that his generation “failed to make good on its promise to create a safer more humane world,” Ben has re-imagined the iconic musical Hair and directed a very young cast at the Venice Theater in Venice FL in a production that will run Dec 13th. He hopes that by bringing this version to a current audience he will jump start a renewal of the spirit contained there. Listen to this serious, funny, self-deprecating, man talk about his life, his hopes for his version of Hair; and hear Sharon Leslie’s review as well as several songs from the show.

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  • Interview with Scott Kuiper and Kelly Elizabeth Smith

    11-10-15 Audio Interview

    Scott Kuiper and Kelly Elizabeth Smith are second year students at the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for actor training appearing in in The Actor’s Nightmare and The Real Inspector Hound, which is currently running from 11/4-22 at the Cook Theater. Scott is the actor in The Actor’s Nightmare and Kelly, who plays several very different parts in Nightmare, has a leading role in Hound. Listen to these charming, passionate actors talk about the very different ways they each arrived at their chosen career. And hear Sharon Leslie’s review of The Actor’s Nightmare.

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  • Interview with James Harkness of The Color Purple Part 2

    10-27-2015 Audio Interview Part 2

    In Part 2 of my interview with James Harkness, he tells the remarkable story of how he wound up on Broadway, before he really understood what a big deal it was In it he also talks at length about The Color Purple, explaining why he believes it such an important piece. And listen to more of the wonderful music from The Color Purple.

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  • Interview with James Harkness of The Color Purple Part 1

    10-20-2015 Audio Interview

    Part I James Harkness is currently appearing on Broadway in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. He took a leave of absence in order to make his directorial debut for the WBTT production of The Color Purple in which he performed and choreographed the Broadway debut in 2005 – and will return after the show opens. He recently performed alongside Betty Buckley in Grey Gardens The Musical. His stage credits include Aida, Guys and Dolls, Chicago, Dreamgirls and Smokey Joe’s Café. Film credits include The Maid’s Room and The Mend. He has earned numerous creative credits as a choreographer. Listen to this charming, delightful, spontaneous man tell the story of the ways in which life conspired to help him embrace the dancer he has always been, and to discover the choreographer and director he was always meant to be.. And listen to music from The Color Purple.

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  • Interview with Kathryn Parks and Allen Kretchmar

    Sept 1, 2015 – Audio Interview with Kathryn Parks and Allen Kretchmar

    Dancer, singer, actor, writer Kathryn Parks is part of the stand out cast in Tennessee Williams ground-breaking play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Players Theater. Listen to this talented, articulate woman talk about her life, her work and her role as Maggie the Cat, in which she gets to express aspects of herself which she might otherwise keep under wraps. And find out more about her at her website http://kathrynparks.com. Then Allen Kretchmar, who will be playing the patriarch, ‘Big Daddy,’ in the same production, talks the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and the roller coaster ride he’s taken to finally wind up back where he started and always wanted to be – on stage.

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  • Audio Interview with Katherine Michele Tanner

    6-30-15 Audio Interview with Katherine Michele Tanner

    Katherine Michele Tanner is an artist in the truest sense of the word. Raised by a family that encouraged all of the arts she was able to pursue every one of her passions. As a result she is an exceptional actress, dancer, musician (violin and piano), playwright/composer, singer and painter. Submerged in, and bouncing back and forth between her passions Katherine radiates a breathless exuberance and joy. Listen to this unique woman talk about her life which is brimming over with creativity and productivity and come see her extraordinary performance in The Amish Project at the Banyan Theater from 7/16-8/2.

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  • Audio Interview with Matt McGee

    7-14-15 Audio Interview

    As a boy Matt McGee would on a show for his mother, a nightclub performer. He’d copy sketches he saw on TV – with performers like Carol Burnett and became an accomplished mimic, he could “do anyone.” Although he performed in plays in school and “picked up some money singing” he didn’t take it seriously. His life-long interest in art caused him to major in Art History in College. For fun he auditioned for and got the role of Dr. Jekyll in the first college show. The Drama professors saw his talent and recruited him to give up become a Theater Major. Suddenly there was a lot to learn about performing and Matt dived in. Listen to the ironic way he got to play Carmen Miranda and how that influenced his life. And don’t miss his extraordinary performance as Mame in the freeFall Theatre production with opened 7/11 and runs till August 9th.

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  • Audio Interview with Will Luera and Hunter Brown

    07-07-2015 Audio Interview

    Will Luera, is the Artistic Director of the Florida Studio Theater Improv troupe. Will had no intention of having a career in theater or improvisation. He majored in physics and computer science in college and spent most of his working life in the computer field. But an announcement for an audition which required no script caught his attention and getting cast changed his life. While working at his “day gig” Will continued to pursue improvisation in every way he could. And now he gets to spend all of his time developing the Florida Studio Theater troupes’ expertise at improvisation and play on stage himself. Listen to this thoughtful man talk about the impact that experiencing improvisation has had on his life and he believes on the lives of all who practice it.

    Hunter Brown is the accompanist for the Florida Studio Theater Improv troupe. In contrast to Will’s journey, Hunter seems always to have known that his life would be about music. Although he was home schooled he was able through “dual enrollment” to enroll in the music classes at the local middle school and when he was in high school to enroll in the music classes at a local college. Only just having graduated from high school Hunter is already making money as a musician. Listen to the ironic way he became the accompanist to the improve troupe – when the only improve he’d been exposed to was “Whose Line it is Anyway.” And hear him talk about the complex role he plays in the improve process.

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  • Interview with Tarra Conner jones and Ira Lee Collins

    6-30-15 Audio Interview

    In this show I am airing my interview with singer, actor Tarra Conner jones who was last seen in Sarasota in the West Coast Black Theater Troupes production of The Black Nativity. When she was 11 or 12 years old Tarra’s pastor encouraged her to sing a solo in church. Until that moment she hadn’t thought much about her voice but when she saw the impact her singing had on the congregation, she knew that she was meant to sing. Listen to the roller coaster ride Tarra has taken to finally find herself doing what she was “always meant to do.” And come watch her do it in the West Coast Black Theater Troupes production of The Cotton Club Cabaret opening July 10th.

    In this show I am also airing excerpts from Ira Lee Collins’ cabaret performance of The Gay Geezer. Unfortunately I lost the interview I did with this talented, funny, wise man. But I was able to get these pieces of his delightful performance and in honor of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to make same–sex marriage legal in all states, I am playing the courageous – almost octogenarian – Ira Lee Collins, in which he talks charmingly, poignantly and comically about a life in which he struggled to accept and embrace his sexual identity. If you want more information about Ira Lee you can contact SUSAN L. SCHULMAN (212) 921-4344 www.schulmanpublicity.com.

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  • Audio Interview with Don Walker and Donna Gerdes

    6-23-2015 Audio Interview

    At the Banyan Theater this summer Don Walker stars in Art from 6/25-7/12 and directs My Old Lady with Donna Gerdes from 8/6-23 and Katherine Tanner reprises her extraordinary performance in The Amish Project from 7/16-8/2.

    Don Walker knew he wanted to act from the moment he stepped on stage in the third grade. And although he studied theater in college and graduate school, life made it necessary for him to use his other skills to make a living. Serendipitously, Don’s straight job relocated to Sarasota and after a hiatus of 26 years he risked the audition process (with knees a-knocking). Of course talented as he is he was immediately scooped up by local theaters and is once again able to “feed his heart and soul.” Listen to this gentle, self-deprecating man talk about the art (no pun intended) of acting and the plays he is performing in and directing this summer.

    Donna Gerdes was writing performing plays for family and friends by the time she was 5 or 6. Thinking she was going to be a doctor, Donna majored in Biology and Chemistry and minored in Drama in College. She won a singing competition whose prize was a month long Opera Workshop where she met a friend who said “move to NY with me, my voice teacher can get us jobs with a Gilbert and Sullivan company.” Terrified, but determined, Donna took a train to Penn Station. She and her friend did become Gilbert and Sullivan apprentices and “it just took off from there.” Donna got role after role in musicals in regional theaters around the country, until she met and married her husband and his 4 children. Believing that the children come first, Donna gave up the theater and had many prestigious jobs. But now free of those responsibilities she is back on the boards. Listen to this talented, resourceful, gentle woman talk about her passion for the theater, her deep sense of responsibility and her joy at once again being able to get on stage where she always knew she belonged.

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