Singer

  • 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.

    continue reading
  • 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.

    continue reading
  • 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.

    continue reading
  • 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.

    continue reading
  • 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.

    continue reading
  • 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.

    continue reading
  • 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.

    continue reading
  • 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.

    continue reading
  • 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
    continue reading
  • 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.

    continue reading
  • 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.

    continue reading
  • 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.”

    continue reading
  • 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.

    continue reading
  • 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.

    continue reading
  • Interview with Kevin Morrow

    1-15-13 – Audio Interview

    Kevyn Morrow is an actor, dancer, singer, director and choreographer, who hit the ground running. Seen performing as an all American College Band Dancer at Disneyland, he got an audition and his first professional a job at 19 in the National Touring Company of A Chorus Line, where he worked with the legendary Michael Bennett, and again in Dreamgirls. He made his Broadway debut in the Tony Award nominated musical Leader of the Pack. And from there he has done everything, including music videos with Stevie Nicks and a background dancer for Ann-Margret and Cher. As a boy Kevin was interested in everything; and he was lucky enough to have had parents who supported whatever it was their son wanted to do – even when that was acting – something they didn’t understand and were concerned would not support him. He excelled in sports, played the violin and drums, and trained in ballet, and minored in architectural design. But it was the image of his older brother, saying his one line in a local production of Peter Pan, which captured his 6 year old heart and stayed with him. And it was singing, dancing and acting that became his abiding passion. Currently you can see Kevyn’s directing and choreographing skills on stage in the Florida Studio Theater (FST) production of Smokey Joe’s Café and his acting chops in the FST production of Best of Enemies. Listen to this charming, funny man tell his own story and hear him sing a song from a show he was in.

    continue reading
  • Interview with Jeff Parker

    12-11-12 – Audio Interview

    Jeff Parker as John DickinsonJeff Parker began appearing in musicals as a youngster and although he did four years of actor training at California’s USC. But knowing that he could always fall back on ‘the family business,’ Jeff says that he “kind of coasted.” Then a friend set up a surprise audition for him at the theater at which she was working. He was hired and literally never looked back. Last year Jeff starred as the charming, erudite, if arrogant Henry Higgins in Asolo Repertory Theatre production of My Fair Lady at directed by 2 time Tony winner Frank Galati. This year he is back as – the passionate, erudite John Dickinson, who was the only member of the Continental Congress to refuse to sign the Declaration of Independence – in The Asolo’s production of 1776 which is also directed by Frank Galati and he is so convincing you almost want him to prevail. Come see this multitalented actor, singer, dancer, in this extraordinary production.

    continue reading
  • Interview with Berry Ayers

    11/27/12 – Audio Interview

    Everyone in Berry Ayers family sang; his preacher grandfather sang to the congregation, his mother was a soloist in several professional gospel groups and aunt had a record deal. When Berry was 2 Mom and Aunt taught him and his six year old brother a song to sing in church and Berry performed 3 or 4 times a month from then on, learning along the way how to “work an audience;” how the little smile or wink would cause the audience to “go crazy.” To correct a foot deformity he was born with the doctor prescribed ballet or braces, Berry’s mother chose ballet (even though their Baptist religion frowned on it) and Berry has been singing, dancing, writing, acting, choreographing and directing ever since.

    continue reading
  • Interview with Corinne Aquilina

    11/13/12 – Interview

    Currently running at FST’s main stage is Smokey Joe’s Café. In this show you can hear the Musical Director, Corinne Aquilina, who was the arranger/music director for the long running, Off-Broadway show Menopause, The Musical, and played in the Broadway pit of Boy From Oz, talk about this play which she has “gotten up” several times and this particular production. Then listen to the funny, passionate and exuberant Arthur Marks, one of the remarkable players appearing in Smokey, talk about his journey to becoming the versatile and in demand performer he is. When Arthur was 5 he heard his mother sing in church. Without a mike the former Opera singer’s glorious voice filled the room and seeing that the congregation was just as “moved and captivated” as he was, Arthur decided that he too would do that. He made his debut the next year at the same church. And at 6 ½ had his first professional job as a boy soprano in a production of The Magic Flute – for which he sang in German. Gene Kelly’s Singing in the Rain made him want to dance and he studied ballet, tap jazz etc. He studied the piano and the viola (because everyone else was learning the violin.) When the band needed a trombone player he volunteered to learn it, when the symphonic band needed a Bassoonist – ditto. He says he was like a sponge. Listen to him talk about a life filled with the joy of performance and come see the result of all that rigorous training on stage in Smokey Joe’s Café.

    continue reading
  • Interview with Esta Cassaway

    10/23/12 – Interview

    Like Austin, Sheilah and Preston, Esta Cassway knew she was an artist by the time she was 3, and she has the sketches to prove it. But the fine arts – she is an accomplished, represented and purchased painter and print maker – were not enough to satisfy Esta, who is also a singer, a lyricist, a published author and most recently the memoirist of her deceased father. Listen to this extraordinary story of Esta’s attempt to learn about her charming, larger than life father whose history remains a mystery to this day but whose spirit continues to make itself known in the most dramatic ways. Hear Esta describe how she came to believe that her father wanted his story told and how he participated in its telling. Her book, aptly titled Ghost Daddy, was recently published by XLibris and is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book. Go to Esta’s website http://estacassway.wordpress.com to learn more about this amazing journey; listen to Daddy’s voice and get a copy for yourself.

    continue reading
  • Interview with Preston Boyd

    10/16/12 – Interview

    Like Austin and Sheilah, Preston Boyd found his life path very early when his first grade teacher asked him to narrate the class play because he “had such a good voice.” He did and was hooked; having discovered not only that he loved performing but that it was also a way to escape his desperate shyness. Giggle along with us as he re-enacts his very first starring role and listen to this charming unself-conscious man talk about his diligent pursuance of a career in theater, and how he and his family wound up in Sarasota Florida where he now teaches acting, occasionally acts himself, and directs for most of the local theaters. Also listen to songs from Pump Boys and Dinettes the play he is currently directing for Manatee Players Theater in Bradenton FL which opens on October 25th.

    continue reading