• Interview with Actor, Michael Mendez

    2-10-15 Audio Interview

    Singer, dancer, actor, bilingual Michael Mendez didn’t intend to be a performer, he just loved to sing and wanted to get better and better at it. So he said yes to a role in Chorus Line thinking that doing it would strengthen him as a singer. He was completely unprepared for the dancing required but Michael always wants to be “going for growth” and so, helped by the early martial arts training which gave him flexibility, he just learned all the routines. And that was only the beginning, listen to Michael describe his journey from a boy who just loved to sing to a “23 year old aspiring artist who is making a living with his art.” And come see him in the musical, Violet at the Players Theater (2/11-3/1 2015), and his solo performance at the West Coat Black Theater Troupe theater (3/2/2015).

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  • Interview with Joey Panek

    1-13-15 Audio Interview

    Untrained, but with plenty of raw talent, Joey Panek spent his early career as an actor, singer and dancer. When work became scarce, realizing that he didn’t have the skills to make money in the down times, he returned to school and got a degree in video production. Today Joey is impossible to categorize; he still acts, sings and dances on stage, in his cabaret act, and as a popular MC; he is a TV personality, appearing regularly on ABC 7; he is a media personality with a significant on line presence where he has a popular video blog (check him out at; he and Christine Alexander have created various ways bring their improvisation skills to coaching, consulting and just plain bringing laughter. Listen to this joyful, exuberant man talk about what it is like to have a life which doesn’t have a simple definition and just keeps expanding. And come see him and Christine host this year’s Iconcept – the fund raiser for the Sarasota Art Center.

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  • Interview with Carlo Thomas

    12-09-14 Audio Interview

    Carlo Thomas is a gift to anyone who wants to sing – or use their voice. He is not only a brilliant singer and teacher, but kind, generous and committed to helping everyone achieve their potential. And Carlo knows a great deal about achieving potential. Born and raised on a dairy farm where his first audiences were his family and the cows, he went on to a career which included Opera (City Opera, Canadian Opera, Berlin Opera, The Spoleto Music Festival, where he was directed by Gian Carlo Menotti), Broadway (1776, Phantom of the Opera), Concert (soloist at Radio City Music Hall), Recording with the Fred Waring band – and anything that required music. With his life partner Timothy Gray (who with Hugh Martin wrote the score for the musical High Spirits – based on the Noel Coward play Blithe Spirit, and many more), Carlo was enmeshed in the theater scene. Listen to this extraordinary man tell the charming, funny and sometimes outrageous stories of a life and career dedicated to the making of beautiful music. And come see the Manatee Community Theaters production of Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera Amahl and the Night Visitors which Carlo not only directed but in which he plays one of the Kings.

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  • Interview with Stephen Hope

    11-4-14 — Audio Interview

    Actor, singer, dancer, choreographer, stage manager Stephen Hope has brought his talents to more than 30 productions at the Florida Studio Theater in Sarasota FL, and he is doing it again in the current production of Hairspray. All kinds of music was sung and played in Stephen’s home, but it wasn’t until his first role as the cowardly lion in a Jr High School production, that Stephen found what was “right for him. “ Knowing that “people were laughing because of what I was doing – that we were all laughing at the same thing so we weren’t separate, we were one, it was very powerful.” That night Stephen’s Dad said “this is what you should be doing,” and the die was cast. In his 20’s Stephen took a detour; attempting to see if another path was right for him, but he soon realized that while he could do it – his “heart wasn’t there.” So he returned to the theater, to what makes him “happy,” to doing what is “right for him.” Hear him talk about his life and the exciting production of Hairspray. Also hear a rousing song from the show.

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  • Interview with Sheldon Rodin

    7-15-14 –  Audio Interview

    By popular demand Sheldon Rodin is reprising his role as the iconic performer Marvin Gaye in the West Coast Black Theater Troupe’s next production, Marvin Gaye – the Man and his Music. Sheldon clearly remembers the very first time he sang in public. He was six years old and singing in front of his church congregation. He sang with his eyes closed, simply concentrating on the song. When he opened his eyes he was surprised to see the reaction of the congregation – they were smiling. Sheldon can still remember the delicious feeling of bringing a smile to the faces of his audience. Today he is still motivated by his desire to use his gift to make people smile. Listen to this thoughtful young man talk about his intention to bring pleasure and joy wherever he can, and to strive always to be better. And come to see Marvin Gaye – the Man and his Music and let Sheldon put a smile on your face.

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  • Interview with George Ball

    July 8th Audio Interview

    When actor, singer George Ball was four or five years old he could hear a song on the radio and immediately sing it. His talent was discovered by everyone who heard him sing. He auditioned for and was accepted into the Trinity Cathedral Boys Choir when he was just six years old, part of the Pittsburgh Opera Company’s chorus after high school and winner of a Metropolitan Opera contest. Over and over he was encouraged to pursue a career in Opera, but it didn’t feel right. Listen to the ironic way that an abortive audition for the Merv Griffin Show lead to a role in Jacques Brel is Alive and living in Paris, and how he learned the two roles which he would play in Jacques Brel, all over the country and much of the world for the next five years. Hear this articulate, self-disclosing man talk about how he evaluated what did and what didn’t appeal to him and how he achieved a career, which although not that of a star, allowed him to do his chosen work, and have a real life. Then listen to a cut from his first CD, Think of Me, which he is launching as he turns 80 years old.

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  • Interviews with Michael James Leslie and David Brietbarth

    2014-03-23 Audio Interviews

    These are two interviews I did last year but didn’t get a chance to air. They are with two incredible performers both of whom created remarkable performances in the 2013 season at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota FL

    Michael James Leslie fell in love with music and singing very early in his life, for which he credits, among other things, The Supremes. But although he had an extraordinary voice and a passion for performing, he was also a loving son who, like his siblings, honored their mother’s wish to use their brains, and became a lawyer. After passing the bar he took a job which made him feel that the law was not for him (listen to the poignant way he discovered this). He took a break and went to New York City, where as he prepared to take the NY Bar Exam, he fooled around with being a performer. Then in the most ironic way (another fascinating story) Michael found himself on Broadway in the first revival of the musical Hair and “never looked back.” Listen to Michael talk passionately about the importance seeing each other’s similarities instead of differences and the joy of living your life based on something you love – instead of what believes most people are doing which is “living dead.”

    David Breitbarth has been a member of the prestigious Asolo Repertory Theatre Company for 17 years and is last year’s winner of the Lunt and Fontanne Ten Chimney’s Acting Fellowship to study with Alan Alda. Ironically David had no interest in acting, or in fact, any idea what he would do with his life until attendance at a “progressive hippy-dippy boarding school, where students were expected to try everything, put him up on a stage.” Listen to this thoughtful, interesting man talk about his career and what it’s like to be a “rep” actor, for whom it is essential to make the others on stage look good, and how that differs from being an actor who must constantly look for the next job. And come to see him in The Grapes of Wrath currently running at the Asolo Repertory Theatre.

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  • Interview with Patrick Noonan

    12-24-13 – Audio Interview

    Patrick Noonan didn’t come from an artistic family but he and his siblings all went into the arts. Following in his older sister and brother’s footsteps baby brother Patrick auditioned for school shows. A seemingly casual comment made, by of all people his gym teacher, after he’d seen Patrick in a production of West Side Story, changed Patrick’s life and set him on the path he wasn’t aware he wanted and which he has he’s followed ever since. Listen to him tell this remarkable story. Currently Patrick is cutting it on stage at Florida Studio Theater, with a bunch of of talented and hilarious actors in a side=splitting production of Spamalot. If you’ve never seen it – or even if you have – you owe it to yourself to go out and have a great time. Listen to Patrick talk about his life and this production and also hear some of the outrageously funny songs from the show.

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  • Interview with Larry Alexander

    12-17-13 – Audio Interview

    Larry Alexander is one of the lucky ones. He discovered his “calling” early and has been able to make a life with it. Having fallen in love with the musicals as a boy he auditioned for and was in several plays, but when he was cast as the star of Bye Bye Birdie his fate was sealed. He majored in theater in college and has been a working, professional actor since he was 18 years old. Currently Larry is sharing the stage as one of a quartet of extraordinary actor/singer/ dancer/ musicians in the delightful, engaging American Stage Production of A Marvelous Party, a Noel Coward Celebration. In this show I am not only airing Larry’s Interview, but a taste of his vocal skill – a cut from one of his CD’s and a sample of Noel Coward’s amazing repertoire, which is bound to make you want to see the show.

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  • Interview with June Garber

    10-1-13 – Audio Interview

    June Garber always knew that she was born to be performer. She had a natural voice (wait till you hear it!) and at four years old would pack her little suitcase with everything she needed to be a star (again wait till you hear what she packed) and go two streets down to “Hollywood.” June knew what she needed to be and do from the very beginning of her life but the circumstances of her life made it very difficult. A step father and later a husband forbid her to sing or perform and as a girl raised in her generation she obeyed. But June never forgot who she was and finally found a way to pursue what she was meant to do. Listen to this inspiring story and to a couple of cuts from her CD and you too will be glad she persevered.

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  • Interview with Annie Morrison

    8-27-13—Audio Interview

    Actor, writer, singer, dancer, storyteller, philanthropist and Druid Goddess, Annie Morrison is impossible to categorize. Like the Celtic Spirit she embodies Annie is a force for artistic creation. Raised in an artistic hothouse with a family dedicated to artistic collaboration Annie was trained to create, but not to compete. Listen to this charming, ebullient, creativity machine tell the story of how she became who she is and come to New York to see just some of her prodigious artistic expression; on Labor Day (Sept 2nd), at 54 Below where she will be performing NOW YOU KNOW An evening Steve, Lenny –and Annie (the work of Sondheim and Bernstein) and on Nov 14th at 4:00 PM at theUnited Solo of Theatre Row in New York to see her new one woman show Word Painting: Soliloquies around an Easel.

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  • Interview with De’Zhon Fields

    8-20-13—Audio Interview

    Class clown and family entertainer De’Zhon Fields always knew that he would be a performer he just didn’t know what form it would take. Without training or a mentor or a teacher or any real direction, with only his certainty that entertaining was what he was meant to do, De’Zhon found a way. At 19 he studied to become a ballroom instructor thinking that whatever he learned he could use. After that he created very successful Karaoke business which lead him to a gig at a Casino in Washington State. There, unexpectedly he found what has become his passion, creating an homage to Sammy Davis Jr.; something it had never occurred to him to do. Listen to this delightful man talk about how he follows where life leads, hear an example of his remarkable voice, and hurry down to see Sammy Tonight.

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  • Interview with Mary Testa

    Mary Testa, Tony Award Winning Actress7-9-13 – Audio Interview

    Mary Testa is a working actress, singer, dancer, Jill of all trades in the theatre, and winner of a Drama Desk Award for “3 decades of excellent work.” Most recently she starred as the intrepid Annie Edson Taylor in the musical Queen of the Mist, which was written for her by composer, lyricist and librettist Michael John Lachiusa, who has himself been nominated for several Tony and Drama Desk Awards. Like the character she plays in Queen of the Mist, Mary Testa “has greatness in her.” She found a way to survive a childhood which didn’t celebrate her. In Catholic school she was treated very badly because she “everything she wasn’t supposed to be;” Italian, when the nuns were Irish, curly haired and breasted, when the norm was straight hair and a flat-chest, out-spoken and defiant, when good girls were quiet and obedient. Refusing to go to Catholic High School Mary attended the public high school where she was the new kid in town and therefore, once more, odd man out. But Mary would not be suppressed and developed a full out – in your face – “I will say what everyone is thinking but no one else will say,” personality. Accompanying this outgoing personal style is Mary’s prodigious talent and that is what has kept her working in theater. Listen to this guile-less, passionate, funny, thoughtful woman talk about her life and her work, and come see her remarkable performance in the one woman tour de force in My Brilliant Divorce at the Asolo Repertory Theatre.

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  • Interview with Meliss Kenworthy

    7-2-13 Audio Interview

    First a singer, then an actor and currently a director Meliss Kenworthy was the little girl with the loudest voice in her class. She fell in love with Opera as a very young child and pursued her passion for singing, until finally finding that where she really belonged was in Musical Theater, where her beautiful voice, acting ability and good looks made her a shoo-in. Currently she is expanding her reach by directing the Painting Churches the first play in the Banyan Summer Season – Listen to Meliss’s story and hear Sharon Lesley’s review of Painting Churches.

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  • Interview with Noah Racey

    5-21-13 Audio Interview

    When he was just three years old Noah Racey’s Dad gave him a snare drum and was stunned to hear, within the first week, his infant drummer playing an entire John Phillip Souza album. Discovering a place to put his excessive energy and deriving a feeling of belonging and pride at being allowed – by age six – to play with his father’s drum circle, Noah put his foot on the path that would define his life; a life that has grown to include dancing, singing, acting, writing and the creation of his own extraordinary company of triple threat performers. Come see Noah and his troupe perform the premier production of his very own creation; Noah Racey’s Pulse, at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota Fl, and listen to the thoroughly delightful, spontaneous, joy-filled man talk about his love of the work to which he is giving his life.

    Noah has danced in or choreographed for Fine and Dandy, Curtains with David Hyde Pierce, Busker Alley, Where’s Charley?, Babes in Arms, Do Re Mi, Never Gonna Dance, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Baby and Johnny Project, and Look Ma, I’m Dancin’!

    Noah Racey Dancing
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  • Interview with Robert Fowler and Rita Rhen

    Audio Interview

    Although always surrounded by music in his childhood, Robert H Fowler followed his parent’s advice and became an electrical engineer. He was working as an engineer and studying gymnastics as a hobby when his coach suggested he take a dance class. Someone in his class offered him a job dancing in Las Vegas and he never looked back. Although that job fell through it freed him from his previous life and set him on the path to a career as a dancer, a singer, and an actor. Rita Rhen was not only a working professional by the time she was 11 but an entrepreneur as well. She and her sister created The Entertainers – a group of young girls who put on plays and became so successful that they were in demand in their community. Listen to these two talented people talk about the interesting and very different paths they took to becoming professional performers. And come see the result of all their hard work in By Gershwin and The Book Of at Florida Studio Theater.

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  • Interview with Rick Kerby

    3-12 13 – Audio Interview

    Actor, dancer, singer, director choreographer Rick Kerby says “my life has been one big wave, which I’ve ridden wherever it took me.” Opportunities did seem to pop up in front of him but Rick was always ready – listen to the charming and funny story of how he learned to dance for his college audition. While on a trip to NY with his college to see shows Rick courageously placed himself in front of the wave by walking into Actors Equity and, as a non equity actor, auditioning for the tour of Oklahoma. He got the job and never looked back. He was continually working; touring and touring and touring in Oklahoma, The Best Little Whore House in Texas, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers he worked in Las Vegas and he taught. Today he brings that wealth of skill, experience and expertise to his position as producing artistic director of the Manatee Players Theater in Bradenton Florida, which is opening their brand new space with a production of Miss Saigon.

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  • Interview with Jgar Hellwig

    3-5-13 – Audio Interview

    Jgar Hellwig discovered very young that he was “different;” he liked to invent characters, have conversations with the trees and talk to his imaginary friend. Even though his family was “not artistic,” they appreciated, enjoyed and encouraged his talent as a performer and by the time he was twelve he was playing the guitar and entertaining his family and friends with his remarkable voice, which he understood even then, was his “ticket.” Although he had a teacher who criticized his voice Jgar was able to overcome this criticism and continue to do the thing which brings him not only work and recognition but extraordinary pleasure – sing. Listen to him tell his story and hear that remarkable voice in a cut from his CD. Also come see and hear him as the outrageous Miles Gloriosous in the delightful and hilarious Manatee Players production of “A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to the Forum.”

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  • Interview with Brian Sills

    2-19-13  – Audio Interview

    Apparently Brian Sills has The Muppets to thank for his career in theater. Inspired by them, Brian began creating puppet shows for friends, family and classmates by the time he was 6. Ironically Brian’s first role in a national touring company was in The Lion King, where his knowledge of puppetry came in handy. Like so many others Brian credits his teachers with “encouraging his creativity” and the local Community Theater for “welcoming and teaching him.” But he also talks about the potentially devastating effect an arrogant voice teacher might have had on his and other’s creativity. Fortunately this teacher was fired before he could damage Brian’s and other student’s vocal talent. Hear a sample of what we might have missed and listen to this delightful man talk about the joys and struggles of making a career in theater. Also hear Sharon Leslies’ review of “The Heidi Chronicles” currently running at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in which Brian shines as part of the ensemble company.

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  • Interview with Carlo Thomas

    2-5-13 – Audio Interview

    Carlo Thomas is a gift to anyone who wants to sing – or use their voice. He is not only a brilliant singer and teacher, but kind, generous and committed to helping everyone achieve their potential. And Carlo knows a great deal about achieving potential. Born and raised on a dairy farm where his first audiences were his family and the cows, he went on to a career which included Opera, (City Opera, Canadian Opera, Berlin Opera, The Spoleto Music Festival, where he was directed by Gian Carlo Menotti), Broadway, (1776, Phantom of The Opera), Concert (soloist at Radio City Music Hall), Recording with the Fred Waring band – and anything that required music. And with his life partner Timothy Gray (who with High Martin wrote the score for the musical High Spirits – based on the Noel Coward play Blithe Spirit), Carlo was enmeshed in the theater scene. Listen to this extraordinary man tell the charming, funny and sometimes outrageous stories of a life and career dedicated to the making of beautiful music.

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