Tag "Asolo Repertory Theatre"

  • 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 Andrew Sellon

    3-4-14 Audio Interview

    Actor Andrew Sellon began his career at the age of 8 by volunteering to play a girl in the play his sister and her friend were putting on. It was an auspicious beginning for an actor who is dedicated to bringing truth to every role he plays. It is honesty in performance which motivates Andrew and in this interview he talks about his commitment to finding the humanity in every role – refusing to play a cartoon, but reaching for the person not the caricature. This, he says, is especially important in comic roles – Listen to the story of when Jason Robards commented on his performance in A Thousand Clowns, a play in which Mr. Robards had starred on Broadway and in the film. Andrew received his MFA in Acting from UNC-Chapel Hill, He is currently bringing his honesty to three roles in the Asolo Repertory Theatre season. In this interview we talk mostly about his portrayal of Vanya in Christopher Durang’s absurdist comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Listen to this articulate man talk seriously about what makes a performance funny. And hear Sharon Leslie’s review of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

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  • Interview with Wade Russo

    12-10-13 – Audio Interview

    Wade Russo is the Musical Director of the Asolo Repertory Theatre production of Show Boat and there could hardly have been a better choice, as he fell in love with the score of Show Boat early in his life and never lost his enchantment with it.

    This enchantment led him to read everything there is on the subject. Listen to the fascinating stories he tells about the way Edna Ferber (who wrote the book on which the show is based) came to write it. And listen to Sharon Leslie’s glowing review of the current production.

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  • Interview with Rob Ruggiero

    11-26-13 – Audio Interview

    When he was eight years old Rob Ruggiero would make up stories, corral his cousins, costume and rehearse them and put on performances for his large Italian family. He instinctively knew who he was and what he wanted to do with his life – but like so many of us, he forgot. Luckily in his high school senior year Rob, already a disco dancer, was asked to dance in a production of Oklahoma and he says that it was there that he “found his place, his people, his family.” Still, while he knew that the theater was his path, he didn’t discover his role in it until he took his first directing class in his senior year in college and remembered his eight year passion for creating theater by directing. In addition to a prodigious free lancing career as one of the few directors to earn national recognition for his work in both straight plays and musicals, Rob is the producing artistic director of TheaterWorks in Hartford CT. The only director to have received four Kevin Kline Awards (2 for Best Direction of a Musical (Urinetown and Ella) and two for Best Direction of a play (Take Me Out and The Little Dog Laughed), he is in Sarasota FL to direct his version of Show Boat, which he created for the Goodspeed Opera House, and which garnered him his fifth Connecticut Critics Circle award, to open the 2014 season at the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Listen to this charming, ebullient, delightful man discover his deeper connection to Show Boat and talk about his circuitous path tp the place he calls home.

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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 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 Tyra Abercrombie

    Audio Interview

    4-30-12 – Raised in an environment in which jobs, not careers, were considered appropriate and neither acting nor writing was taken seriously as a way of life Tyla Abercrombie nonetheless discovered early that she was a poet and that she was attracted to, and intrigued by performances of all kinds. Exposure to the classic movies she watched on TV to keep from being scared till her mother came home from work; a performance by the Alvin Ailey dance company at her grammar school; and a production of Sweeney Todd, captivated her. These experience plus the impact she realized she had on others when she read her poetry, stayed with Tyla and although she’d planned to study accounting thinking that it would enable her to “make some money,” she was finally able to honor herself and do “what she wanted;” which was to study writing and acting. And anyone who has seen Tyla on stage as we in Sarasota have been lucky enough to do (she is appearing in You Can’t Take it With You and Clybourne Park at the Asolo Repertory Theatre) is glad that she made that choice. Listen to the forthright, delightful woman tell how she did it her way.

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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 Jay Patterson

    2-12-13 – Audio Interview

    The Lynne Show is about courageously living the life you meant to live and Jay Patterson is a role model for it. Although he says

    “I can never remember wanting to be anything other than an actor”

    as a child he suffered from a “horrible stutter,” and was afraid to try. In his junior year in high school the head of the drama dept encouraged him to audition for a school play; he did and was in 5 plays in his senior year. He “never looked back.” Currently Jay is part of the amazing ensemble company in the Asolo Repertory Theatre production of Glengarry Glen Ross, in a role he understudied on Broadway and “always wanted to play.” Listen to his interesting and sometimes terribly funny stories and hear the incredible story of how he went from being a bar tender at a hotel to starring in a 2 person play on Broadway.

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  • Interview with David Howard

    1-29-13 – Audio Interview

    David Howard is the real deal; an actor who uses everything about himself to make his performance as genuine as possible. After having done what he was supposed to do – gone to law school to become the hot shot labor lawyer his family expected him to be – David finally, if painfully allowed himself the luxury of being himself. Saying that he should always have known, enumerating all of the clues that his unconscious had given him, but which, in his zeal to be a good son he ignored, David at long last embraced what he had always know he was – an actor. And he has been studying, working at, honing his skill ever since. At 85 his performances are flawless but David has not stopped trying to make them better, realer, more universal. Listen to David’s funny, interesting, human story, and come see him in action in You Can’t Take it With You currently running at the Asolo Repertory Theatre.

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  • Interview with Michael Rice

    12-18-12 – Audio Interview

    Michael Rice’s parents brought a piano for his older sister but it was little Michael who at 5 was immediately drawn to it and immediately began to pick out songs. Since then, when it comes to music, Michael has done it all. He was a music therapist ; he played in the most famous piano bars in New York, he accompanied cabaret acts and ballet classes. But he was also passionate about composing and so adapted and wrote the music and lyrics for Berthold Brecht’s “The Good Woman of Szechwan.” And also for a pastiche play called “American Beauty” which including pieces by Pulitzer Prize winning author Romulus Linney and Drama Desk Award nominee Jack Hefner. Michael began his musical director career as part of the original creative team of the musical “Nunsense,” which won four Outer Critics circle Awards, and went on to become the second-longest-running Off Broadway show in history. Today Michael is, for the second time, Musical Director for the Musical 1776, this time at the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Listen to this delightful, ingenious man talk about the way he followed his heart. Knowing from the age of 5 that he was born to make music and taking every opportunity to do just that.

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  • 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.

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  • Interview with Leah Napolin

    5-15-12 – Interview

    Playwright Leah Napolin is a multi talented, thoughtful and courageous woman who was singing, dancing, drawing and reciting the poetry and stories she’d written was by the time she was 4 or 5. In college she was bitten by the “acting bug” and discovered her interest in writing plays. Still she was to teach music in Venezuela (until the revolution closed the school), get married, have children and lead a “bourgeois life,” before getting her chance to become the writer she always was. Her friend Robert Kalfin who’d started The Chelsea Theatre Center in Brooklyn suggested that she read Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Yentl the Yeshiva Boy.. And after being “thunderstruck,” Leah found away to dramatize the folk tale. The production was very successful but she didn’t reap much of the financial benefit because of the roadblocks put up by Barbara Streisand (listen to that interesting story). Finally she was able to hold on to the copy write for her work and the play has found many homes most recently having finished a successful run at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota Florida (in which Hilary Clemens -see above- played the role of Yentl). Listen to Leah talk about her journey towards finding her voice as a playwright and a person.

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  • Interview with Hillary Clemens

    5-8-12 Interview

    Hillary Clemens is one of the lucky ones. Born into a family that loved the arts, Hillary was acting out her favorite stories with her siblings and cousins by the time she was four. She began acting classes at seven and was a working actress performing with Kansas City Rep by the time she was eleven. The only break she’s taken from acting was her first year in college when she decided not to audition for any productions in order to see if she “missed it.” She did, she dived back in and has been working ever since. Currently Hillary is playing three very different characters in three of the six shows running in repertory at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota; see pictures of her in her widely diverse roles below.

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  • Interview with Noah Racey

    4-10-12 –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 tap dancing, acting, and the creation of his own company of triple threat performers, all in the service of storytelling.

    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’!, among others. In 2012 he will appear in 1776 at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota as well as debuting his original dance creation “Pulse” which will directed by Jeff Calhoun.

    But perhaps the thing that most defines Noah Racey is his love of his life, his passion for his work, his spontaneity and his exuberance. Listen to the roller coaster ride of joy and fun that is Noah Racey, and watch his tap dancing magic.

    [youtube vaK_qcY66g4 604 364 autoplay=0 ]

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  • Interview with Peter Amster

    2-21-12 – Interview

    Four year old Peter Amster decided that if Peter Pan could fly so could he and he had to be restrained from jumping out of the window. From then on he never stopped pushing his limits. Although he was to discover that his body was not designed to dance, he became a passionate dancer and choreographer. Although he says he wasn’t a very good actor – he nonetheless got work, and finally although already a working director – he questioned his technique and expanded his skill. Peter is not only a triple threat; he is a charming, delightful and funny man. Listen to his remarkable journey and go see his direction of Noel Coward’s Fallen Angel at the Asolo Repertory Theatre.

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  • Interview with Jeff Parker

    12-6-11 – Interview

    Jeff Parker began appearing in musicals at his church as a youngster but it was not until spending the summer of his high school junior year at Northwestern University’s National High School Institute, that he began to think seriously about a career in theater. He did four years of actor training at California’s USC, but knowing that he could always fall back on ‘the family business,’ Jeff kind of coasted. While teaching at Northwestern’s Institute, a friend surprised him by setting up an audition at the theater she was working at. He got the job and literally never looked back. Today Jeff is starring as Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota FL. Charming and easygoing he nonetheless makes you believe that Henry Higgins is cold, and even boorish. Listen to Sharon Leslie’s review of the show and two songs from the film version of the show, sung by Rex Harrison.

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  • Interview with Sunny Thompson


    Even though she was singing in front of her church by the time she was three years old, Sunny Thompson was always shy. She studied theater at college, where she got an opportunity to perform in every production. Broke after graduation she took a job as a hostess at a local restaurant. Still shy, she went to observe an audition and not only got the job, but eventually married Greg Thomson – the producer of the show. Sunny has starred in all kinds of plays and reviews and even has a gold record. For the last four years she has been giving an amazing performance as Marilyn Monroe in Forever Blond, the one woman story of Marilyn’s life – which has just finished a run at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota Florida, and will be one of the first productions at the brand new Powerhouse Theater in Walla Walla Washington. Listen to Sunny’s contagious enthusiasm and another song from the show.

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  • Undercover Qualities and Interview with Linda DiGabriele


    Discussion – Who are you? Are you the Cover Story you present? Do you know what aspects of yourself you might be keeping Undercover? Do you know which chemicals are being dropped into your bloodstream – and how they influence who you think you are and what you think you can do? – These are the things I am discussing in the first half of the show.

    Interview – Over the last 6 weeks I have focused on Florida State University’s Graduate Acting Program, which is housed in and supported by The Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota Florida. In this show I am airing an interview with Linda DiGabriele, who is the Asolo’s Managing Director. Listen to Linda’s passionate commitment to the arts – especially theater, which began when 6 year old Linda and her siblings and cousins hid behind make shift curtains, and put on plays for their parents. Hear how this courageous woman – who knew what she needed to do with her life, resisted her Mom’s suggestions that she have a fall-back plan. And how right she was!

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  • Interview with actor Greg Leaming

    7-19-11 Interview

    Greg Leaming thought he wanted to be an actor, but his height (he’s 6’6) made that very difficult, so he turned his talents and his interest to the study of directing. This stood him in terrific stead when, as associate and artistic director, he shepherded various regional theaters. Now, combining all of his skills, Greg is the Artistic Director of the Graduate Actor Training Program of Florida State University and the Associate Director of the Asolo Repertory Theatre, which administers the FSU program. Listen to Greg talk about the challenges faced by acting students, and the skills required to help them become as good as they possibly can be.

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