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Theater Buff: Ahmad Simmons Debuts in CATS

July 21st, 2016 Comments off

Purr. Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s nosey little questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. And with all that fur and makeup, we’re happy to strip down Ahmad Simmons as he prepares for his Broadway debut in the much-anticipated revival of CATS.

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Cheryl Mann via The Broadway Blog.)

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Cheryl Mann via The Broadway Blog.)

Name:
Ahmad Simmons

Home State:
Texas

CATS is a Broadway legacy — when and where did you first see the show and what was your reaction?
My obsession with CATS started back when we performed a part of the opening dance recital with Dian West back home in Texas. I think I was a freshman or sophomore in high school and had just started at the studio. I got the VHS and watched it to see how to paint a unitard to look like a cat but then watched it every night for about a year. I remember playing the jellicle ball over and over again… I couldn’t get enough of it.

Ahmad Simmons (Ryan Lowry via The Broadway Blog.)

Ahmad Simmons (Ryan Lowry via The Broadway Blog.)

Tell us about your audition for the show and your role of “Alonzo.”
When I first saw the audition notice I freaked out. I actually was on a little layoff between tours with Parsons Dance so the timing was perfect. I went to the open call and was immediately terrified. It was actually my first big Broadway audition. The waiting room is my doom… There were over a hundred men. They all seemed to know everything about everything.

My main focus was just to be seen by Andy Blankenbuehler. He is my favorite choreographer. I kept thinking, “no matter what happens, you were in the same room with Andy.” When I got the email saying I was called back I flipped. Then four more rounds later, my life changed! I love playing Alonzo. He’s got a distinct look and gets to really dance a range of emotions. This particular version allows him to be more gritty and aggressive. 

This is your Broadway debut… what has surprised you about the rehearsal process?
I was pretty prepared for what the schedule would be from doing some summer stock during college. The most surprising thing to me was the amount of people involved to make a Broadway showhappen. Every department has at least five people in it. That was new for me; especially coming from a concert dance background where it’s normally just the dancers, a choreographer, a composer, and a lighting designer.   

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Jason Ratigan via The Broadway Blog.)

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Jason Ratigan via The Broadway Blog.)

There were some harsh words reported in the media about original choreographer Gillian Lynne’s reaction to Andy Blankenbuehler’s additional choreography, telling The Stage, “It makes me feel like I’d like to murder.” How do you think his vocabulary of movement is going to improve upon a classic?
Andy is a master of creating brilliant movement that furthers narrative, bleeds intention, and narrows focus. Those are the main things that make a show like CATS even better that it was before. He has such respect for the original body of work and is treating it with the utmost reverence. Our generation is able to access this story at a pace that suits the audience of today. The expectations are higher so our job is even harder. Loyalists will be able to recognize the CATS they fell in love with while feeling its weight and relevance in today’s society.

Which is your favorite: Places, Intermission or Curtain Call? 
Definitely places. Hearing the audience respond the overture gets me so hyped!

The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
My new favorite place for a drink is Tanner Smith’s. The drinks are worth the price and the atmosphere is fun. OH, and the nachos are bangin!

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Jason Ratigan via The Broadway Blog.)

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Jason Ratigan via The Broadway Blog.)

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
Chelsea Market. Because who doesn’t love a ton of options for food and a sample sale.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
Probably Italy. I’ve never been but the people are beautiful, the language is beautiful, and I love carbs. 

My workout “secret” is:
This makes me feel guilty because I haven’t quite found my way to the gym since moving here in August. But… I swear by good vitamins and good natural ingredients.

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Jason Ratigan via The Broadway Blog.)

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Jason Ratigan via The Broadway Blog.)

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
Creativity! I don’t need anything extravagant but it’s nice to be surprised with an experience that’s more than just dinner and a movie.

My favorite website to visit that you may not have heard of is:
Right now I’d say Wayfair because I just moved and all I ever want to do is shop for furniture online. 

People would be surprised to learn that I . . .
Won the gold medal at the World Choir Olympics in Bremen, Germany in 2004 with a professional boys choir I spent 10 years singing in. Texas Boys Choir, represent!

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
My great-aunt Yolanda Smith. She was the director of all of the choirs at my church. I used to lock myself in the bathroom, put a shirt on my head (for hair) and wave my arms at the mirror as if I was her directing my own gospel choir. How did it take me seven more years to come out?

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
Giving a new generation of dancers opportunity to realize their dreams in the arts.

CATS
Neil Simon Theatre
250 West 52nd Street
Opening night: July 31

Matthew Wexler is the Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook at @roodeloo

Theater Buff: ‘Fuerza Bruta”s John Alix

June 15th, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s nosey little questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine.

This month we’re heading downtown to rediscover the electrifying Fuerza Bruta and one of its sexy leading men, John Alix. Hold on… it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

John Alix (Photo by Steven Gabriel Bosque via The Broadway Blog.)

John Alix (Photo by Steven Gabriel Bosque via The Broadway Blog.)

Name:
John Alix 

Hometown:
I grew up all over the U.S. until my family settled in the Washington, D.C. area when I was about 14. My family still lives there. 

How would you describe the Fuerza Bruta experience?
It’s a high-energy, immersive theatrical experience, but everyone has a very personal takeaway and a very different interpretation because there is no narrative. You get to take everything in and relate your own personal experience. Everyone always leaves in a great mood, feeling energized. As a performer, it’s so satisfying to see the journey that the audience goes through, really becoming a part of the show, releasing inhibitions, and enjoying the environment. It’s powerful.

John Alix in 'Fuerza Bruta.' (Photo courtesy of Fuerza Bruta via The Broadway Blog.)

John Alix in ‘Fuerza Bruta.’ (Photo courtesy of Fuerza Bruta via The Broadway Blog.)

What was your audition like?
Auditioning for Fuerza Bruta was probably one of the most intense processes that I have ever been through in my career. Usually, in theatre auditions, you have a dance call, they ask you to sing, you have a callback, and then you book the job. Fuerza is not like any other show, so the audition process was a lot more involved. There are so many specialty acts in the show that they really put you through the ringer when looking at actors.

The first day was hundreds of people waiting to be seen, and we learned the Murga, which is the Argentine street dance that is part of the show. They made cuts based on this movement, but luckily I made it to the second day. The men then had to get on the treadmill and put on a harness, and run at various speeds.

The next day was on the treadmill as well, while trying to keep placed furniture from falling off the back, mimicking part of the actual show. It was stressful to say the least. The last act they had us do was a part of the show called Cortinas. This is where we hang from the ceiling and fly around the walls of the room, doing slow, structured choreography.

Finally, we had to do everything again on the last day for Diqui James, the creator and artistic director of Fuerza Bruta. It was intense, but getting that call from my agent that I had booked the show after about four weeks of callbacks was one of the greatest moments of my career.

Will you be participating in Broadway Bares again this year? If so, what can we expect to see? (Or not see!)

Yes! I’m excited to be working on Broadway Bares 26: On Demand this year… my ninth year in a row! This year is going to be something very special. We will be taking over Hammerstein Ballroom on June 19 and hundreds of Broadway and Off-Broadway performers have been rehearsing for weeks to give a one-of-a-kind burlesque show with a Broadway twist.

Our theme this year is all about television, and the numbers are out-of-this-world fun! I’m proud to be choreographing again this year. I’ve been on the creative team for a few years now, and working with director Nick Kenkel and creator Jerry Mitchell has been such a great learning experience. Working with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has become my favorite part of my year, and this year, you don’t want to miss anything. It’s a great mix of sexy and fun. Get your tickets now, because it always sells out!

John AlixAre you working on other choreography project right now?
I’m always trying to work on theatre projects in some capacity. The best part of being in New York is that there are always artists who want to collaborate, or just help out. Some days I’ll just ask a handful of friends to come to a studio, and we will just play for a few hours and see what we can create together.

Sometimes it leads to a performance down the road, but it’s beautiful to just be surrounded by the healing energy of dancers/actors. I couldn’t see my life without it. As far as specific projects, I’m working on a couple videos that I’d like to see produced, and filling up my teaching schedule as much as possible. 

If I weren’t a performer, I would be:
That’s a tough one because theatre has become my life. If I wasn’t on stage, I would definitely like to be inside a theatre or on a set somewhere behind the scenes. I’m addicted to the magic of it all. It makes me happy. I still get goose bumps every time the house lights go to half, and I’m about to be taken to another world. I suppose if I had to leave the entertainment world all together, I have a serious addiction to HGTV, so I think I’d find some interest in home design or flipping houses. I love the idea of making things beautiful in whatever way my brain can work it. 

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call?
PLACES—I love going on the journey!

The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
My absolute favorite place for a drink is on a Sunday evening, after the show at FLY on the rooftop Monarch Hotel in the summer. They have this great rum punch that they serve in an oversized cup. It’s delicious, and you have an incredible view of the Empire State Building and all of midtown as you watch the sunset, surrounded by a crowd of great people. It’s my happy place.

John Alix (Photo: Jeff Eason via The Broadway Blog.)

John Alix (Photo: Jeff Eason via The Broadway Blog.)

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
There are so many options when looking for interesting places to visit in NYC. My suggestion would be to experience all the incredible performance art that is only available here. There are so many experimental shows that are happening all over this city, and the price tag won’t break the bank. Shows like Sleep No More and Then She Fell will leave you questioning what theater can be, and they are exciting! You can’t see them anywhere else in the world, and they are definitely not traditional.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
I have a love affair with another city. New York will always be my number one, but for the past eight years, I’ve taken a week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It’s my little piece of paradise. One day I’d love to move there to retire. It’s a small town, with great energy, great food, and a beautiful sunset. 

My workout “secret” is:
Just GET to the gym. If I can just manage to convince myself to just get there, I can have a good workout. Getting the motivation to walk over to the gym is always the hardest part for me. After being in a show that is so physical, I can be extremely exhausted during the day. I always feel so good once I’ve finished the workout, and I’m glad that I went, but my brain just wants to watch The View on the couch with my cup of coffee.

John Alix (Photo: Steven Gabriel Bosque via The Broadway Blog.)

John Alix (Photo: Steven Gabriel Bosque via The Broadway Blog.)

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
The best thing about dating is figuring out the other person and how they tick. The thing that attracts me most is someone who is up for anything! Spontaneous and exciting are characteristics that keep me interested. I like everyday to feel like an adventure, even if it’s just a small change in my day-to-day life.

My favorite website to visit that you may not have heard of is:
I love the TodayTix app. They have online lotteries that make it SO much easier to see Broadway shows at a discounted rate. I have yet to win one of these lotteries, but one day it will happen!

People would be surprised to learn that I . . .
Used to be a part of an organization called “Children’s Express” when I was a kid. It was an international news outlet for kids age 8-18. I spent about five years working out of the D.C. bureau, reporting news that affects everyone, but told from the perspective of youth. I traveled all over covering political conventions, interviewing world leaders, and learning so much about diversity in our world. It was an enriching and beautiful experience that I am thankful for everyday.

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
I wanted to be just like my father when I was a kid. He was a radio DJ, but above that, he was a showman. I loved going with him to promotional events and watching how he interacted with the crowd. I’d go with him to the studio and sit and watch him broadcast to the country. He was a great man who taught me a lot and helped to shape my future in the entertainment industry.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
I hope to still be working in the entertainment field. I’d love to be working on a Broadway show as a choreographer/director. I’d also love to work more in TV/film. About three years ago, I started taking acting classes, and as I grow as an actor, I’d love to work more on straight plays. It’s a challenge, but one that I’m very interested in. I want to continue this journey of making art. It challenges me and I love it.

Fuerza Bruta is currently playing at the Daryl Roth Theatre, 101 East 15th Street. For more information, visit www.fuerzabrutaglobal.com/nyc.

 

Categories: Theater Buff Tags:

Theater Buff(s): ‘Paramour”s Andrew and Kevin Atherton

May 18th, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s nosey little questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. This month we’re seeing double with aerial artists Andrew and Kevin Atherton, who appear in Cirque du Soleil’s first venture on Broadway: Paramour.

Andrew and Kevin Atherton in Cirque du Soleil's 'Paramour.' (Photo: Matt Beard via The Broadway Blog.)

Andrew and Kevin Atherton in Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Paramour.’ (Photo: Matt Beard via The Broadway Blog.)

Names:
Andrew and Kevin Atherton

Hometown:
Wigan, Lancashire, United Kingdom. [A county to the north and west of Manchester.]

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Greg Gorman via The Broadway Blog.)

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Greg Gorman via The Broadway Blog.)

You’ve been performing with Cirque du Soleil for more than 16 years — how is Paramour different than the previous shows?
Andi and Kevin: Paramour combines musical theater with Cirque du Soleil and is a blend of the two otherwise very separate worlds. With Paramour we follow a very clear, linear story, told with lyrics, text, dance and acrobatics. This is something very different from our previous shows. We feel privileged and proud to be part of something like Paramour.

You famously performed in Varekai for more than 3,000 performances without ever missing a show, but what happens when one of you gets sick? Is there a hidden triplet to step in?
Andi and Kevin: There’s no hidden triplet to step in! Yes, we have been sick on numerous occasions during our time with Cirque du Soleil. Our passion for the stage and performance, along with a good adrenaline boost once we enter the stage, has meant we’ve been able to work though these obstacles. We honestly love every part of what we do, and we’d miss it if we weren’t able to perform for any reason.

(Photo provided by Andrew and Kevin Atherton, via The Broadway Blog.)

(Photo provided by Andrew and Kevin Atherton, via The Broadway Blog.)

If I weren’t an aerialist, I’d be:
Kevin: Fat and hairy.

Andi: Fatter and harrier.

Which is your favorite? Places, Intermission or Curtain Call?
Andi: All of the above. I love to perform.

Kevin: Places. I love the energy backstage before the show begins. Especially at Paramour. It’s electric.

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Dawn Bowery via The Broadway Blog.)

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Dawn Bowery via The Broadway Blog.)

Our favorite best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
Andi and Kevin: The New York Beer Company. It’s near the theatre and has a fun, relaxed atmosphere. It’s a great place to meet friends after the show.

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
Andi and Kevin: The High Line. This elevated parkway offers many great views of the city.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
Andi: On a beach somewhere.

Kevin:  I’m a West Coast kind of guy. I love Los Angeles, so I’d probably live in the hills of West Hollywood.

Our workout “secret” is:
Andi and Kevin: Never lifting weights that are too heavy to compromise your technique. Doing so will only risk injury. We always concentrate on our form no matter what exercise we’re doing.

Our favorite website that you may not have heard of is:
Andi and Kevin: Houzz.com — It’s a favorite of ours, as we both love interior design and architecture.

People would be surprised to learn that we . . .
Andi and Kevin: Drink beer and eat burgers.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
Andi: Happy, healthy, and surrounded by my family.

Kevin: A father!

Paramour opens May 25 at the Lyric Theatre. Click here for ticket information.

(Photo provided by Kevin and Andrew Atherton via The Broadway Blog.)

(Photo provided by Kevin and Andrew Atherton via The Broadway Blog.)

Matthew Wexler is the Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @roodeloo.

Theater Buff: ‘American Psycho”s Anthony Sagaria

April 20th, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s nosey little questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. We’re losing our minds over this month’s sexy buff, Anthony Sagaria, now appearing in the highly anticipated musical American Psycho.

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Jordan Matter via The Broadway Blog.)

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Jordan Matter via The Broadway Blog.)

Name:
Anthony Sagaria

Hometown:
Centerville, Ohio

Do you think Broadway is ready for a musical bloodbath?
Completely. This show is dark, hilarious, bloody, and certain aspects are eerily relevant to today’s society. It’s the perfect time for this show to be making its way to Broadway.

You’re covering five roles in American Psycho — what was the audition process like and do you have a favorite?
The audition process wasn’t too bad actually. I read for one role, got called back to dance for a different role, and then at final callbacks read for both of them. All of that took about a week, and then a month and a half later, I got the call. As for a favorite part, they are all incredible in their own way. The P&P boys (Patrick Bateman’s friends) are probably my favorite, though.

American Psycho is set in the late 80s / early 90s – what is some of your favorite music from that era?
So much good music was being written at that time—from Queen to Michael Jackson, Tears for Fears to Genesis, Radiohead to Run-DMC. The list just goes on and on.

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Lindsay Hoffman via The Broadway Blog.)

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Lindsay Hoffman via The Broadway Blog.)

American Psycho’s lead character, Patrick Bateman, is known for his materialistic tendencies. If you had unlimited funds to fill your medicine cabinet with grooming products or closet with high-end fashions, what might we find?
A closet of well-tailored, good looking suits with ties, cufflinks, dress shoes, and shirts. A well-tailored suit can get you in just about anywhere.

If I wasn’t a performer…
I would be in marketing using my creative side to convince you to buy things you might not necessarily need.

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Brittney Callahan via The Broadway Blog.)

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Brittney Callahan via The Broadway Blog.)

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call? 
Places. The energy backstage while waiting for the house lights to dim is incredible.

The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
It’s a toss up between Glass House Tavern on 47th Street and Betti Bar at the Hourglass Tavern on 46th Street.

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
The Thirsty Koala, in Astoria, which has incredible Australian food or Black Tap in SoHo for the craziest milkshakes you’ve ever seen.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
Italy or London.

My workout “secret” is:
Simply get to the gym. Even if it’s only for 10 minutes, those 10 minutes will eventually turn into 20 and then 30 and so on. Getting motivated to get off the couch and go to the gym is the hardest part.

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
Confidence and originality. If you’re happy with who you are, the rest comes easy.

My favorite website to visit that you may not have heard of is:
You’ve probably heard of it, but as a music lover it is Pitchfork.com.

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Damon Condon via The Broadway Blog.)

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Damon Condon via The Broadway Blog.)

People would be surprised to learn that…
I am an amusement park fanatic. Nothing’s better than getting a group of friends together and going to Six Flags, Cedar Point, Disney World, etc.

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
My dad. He has a gorgeous voice, can figure out how to fix anything, and is one hell of a hard worker.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
Still acting and giving people reasons to support the arts.

American Psycho is currently playing at Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 West 45th Street.

Theater Buff: ‘Trip of Love”s Brandon Leffler

March 16th, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s nosey little questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. This month we get trippy with Brand Leffler, now appearing in Trip of Love.

Brandon Leffler (Photo: Travis Magee via The Broadway Blog.)

Brandon Leffler (Photo: Travis Magee via The Broadway Blog.)

Name:
Brandon Leffler

Hometown:
Mayfield Heights, Ohio

If you could go on a “Trip of Love,” where would you go and whom would you take with you?
Well, if there were no limits, I would probably go back in time to the 1960s and experience the decade of love for myself! James Walski, our director and choreographer, has given us so many details and stories about the 1960s. It was such an incredible time. Hmm, I would probably bring my grandmother, Gloria. She has firsthand experience with the decade and would make an excellent companion and tour guide. Sound good, Grandma?!

Brandon Leffler (Photo: Sean Turi via The Broadway Blog.)

Brandon Leffler (Photo: Sean Turi via The Broadway Blog.)

What are some of your favorite moments from the show?
One of my favorite moments in the show is “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.” Dionne Figgins, who plays the role of ‘Jennifer,’ is absolutely incredible in this number and the dancers are killing it as well. There are constant intricate costume changes throughout the number. It is really a sight to be seen.

If I weren’t a performer, I would be: 
As a kid and to this day I have always been fascinated by the ocean. Growing up I really wanted to be a marine biologist, which then turned into the dream of being a dolphin trainer at Sea World. After the Blackfish documentary came out a few years ago, I was happy with my choice to be a Broadway dancer instead.

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call? 
I’m going to go with places. A fresh start every night.

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
Eataly or Chelsea Market.

Best pre- or post-show meal:
My current favorite spot to chow down is Bocca Di Bacco in Hell’s Kitchen. They have an incredible dish made with squid ink pasta and all kinds of delicious seafood goodness called Taglierini Neri con Grancho. I cannot recommend it highly enough!

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
Possibly Greece or Italy. I have some Grecian heritage that I have never explored.

Brandon Leffler (Photo courtesy of Brandon Leffler via The Broadway Blog.)

Brandon Leffler (Photo courtesy of Brandon Leffler via The Broadway Blog.)

My workout “secret” is:
I do go to the gym a couple of times a week, but my main workout is dance. I dance in the show at night, teach dance and take class when I can. All dance all the time and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
Someone that can look me directly in the eye and speak freely, honestly and open.

People would be surprised to learn that I . . .
Have a crazy fear of heights! The only reason that’s surprising is because in every show that I’ve done I am attempting some incredible feat high above the earth. Not just tumbling, but also stilt walking, surfboard balancing, monkey cage climbing and understudying an enormous giant also on stilts.

(l to r) Kyle Brown, Kelly Felthous and Brandon Leffler in 'Trip of Love' (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

(l to r) Kyle Brown, Kelly Felthous and Brandon Leffler in ‘Trip of Love’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
Paula Abdul.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
Shaping and molding the next generation of incredible dancers and performing artists.

Trip of Love is currently playing at Stage 42, 422 West 42nd Street, NYC. 

Theater Buff: ‘Aladdin”s Yurel Echezarreta

February 18th, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s nosey little questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. This month we go on a magic carpet ride with Aladdin’s Yurel Echezarreta.

Yurel Echezarreta (Photo: Roberto Araujo via The Broadway Blog.)

Yurel Echezarreta (Photo: Roberto Araujo via The Broadway Blog.)

Name:
Yurel Echezarreta

Hometown:
Winter Haven, Florida

Yurel Echezarreta (Photo: Jeremy Folmer via The Broadway Blog.)

Yurel Echezarreta (Photo: Jeremy Folmer via The Broadway Blog.)

If you could go on a magic carpet ride, where would you go and why?
I’d love to go to Australia. . . I’ve always wanted to visit. It’s massive, which means I’d want to stay for a while but with my magic carpet transportation it would be a breeze and I think the sights would be incredible from its vantage point! Also, you have New Zealand, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea all right there. It’d be pretty cool. There’s also the whole “traveling across the world” thing, which would probably happen faster on my magic carpet than on a plane.

Forget three wishes from your Genie in a bottle. . . you’ve only got one. What is it?
To live a full life with no regrets.

If I wasn’t a performer, I would be:

Something active and maybe an extreme sport. Love rock climbing, SCUBA diving. . . but I also love science. Three things I wanted to be when I was a kid: marine biologist, archaeologist, or an astronomer, which has changed to be an actual Astronaut. Let’s go with an Astronaut!

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call?

Curtain Call. You feel good because you accomplished something great, the audience is happy, and then you get to go home and eat all of the food and then cuddle up in your bed to sleep the night away!

Yurel Echezarreta (Photo: Roberto Araujo via The Broadway Blog.)

Yurel Echezarreta (Photo: Roberto Araujo via The Broadway Blog.)

The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:

Vinyl in Hell’s Kitchen. They have delicious frozen beverages that get you feeling so nice…

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
Chelsea Piers on 23rd Street and the Hudson River. It’s an amazing sports complex with every way to entertain yourself imaginable. I love it.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:

Somewhere in Europe. It’s easy to get around to visit different countries and I love an accent.

My workout “secret” is:

To stay active doing other activities. I’m lucky to have been born with good genes so I don’t have to go to the gym. Don’t hate me. It’s weird because there’s this whole gym culture that I’m just not a part of.

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:

Someone who enjoys my humor. . . with my jokes and stories, you really understand who I am.

My favorite website to visit that you may not have heard of is:
CreditKarma.com. It provides you anytime-access to your credit score for FREE and does not negatively affect your credit report!

Yurel Echezarreta as Beyoncé. (Photo: Jason Russo via The Broadway Blog.)

Yurel Echezarreta as Beyoncé. (Photo: Jason Russo via The Broadway Blog.)

People would be surprised to learn that I . . .

That I listen to music other than Beyoncé. I’m obsessed with her. If you haven’t seen her Super Bowl performance this year. . . do it now!

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
My neighbor, Kevin. He was so hot and could get all the girls. But I think really just wanted to him <wink>.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:

Content and happy—regardless of what I’m doing as a career. But as of now, I’d say married to the best guy in the world, shopping for a house somewhere, and working as a well-known and respected performer.

Yurel Echezarreta is currently appearing on Broadway in Aladdin at the New Amsterdam Theatre, 214 West 42nd Street.

Categories: Show Folk, The Buzz, Theater Buff Tags:

Theater Buff: ‘Chicago”s Michael Scirrotto

January 20th, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s nosey little questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. We kick off 2016 with a fresh look at Chicago, the long-running musical that also happens to feature the handsome Michael Scirrotto.

Michael Scirrotto (Photo: Amanda Julca via The Broadway Blog.)

Michael Scirrotto (Photo: Amanda Julca via The Broadway Blog.)

Name:
Michael Scirrotto

Hometown:
Jupiter, Florida

Chicago celebrates its 20th year on Broadway and the title of the longest-running American musical. How long have you been with the show and how do you (and the company) keep it fresh?
I have been with the show for almost two years now. I cannot speak on behalf of the company, but certainly for myself. It all comes back to when I was in acting class in high school. My teacher told us that whenever you step onto the stage, you have to put on your fresh ears/eyes, and always respond honestly as if you are hearing what is being said for the first time.

It is not about giving a consistent line reading night after night, but rather finding the truth in what it is you are doing. As for dance, I always deliver a full-out performance. I don’t know how to “mark.” It is not in my nature. Maybe it was my training. I am so passionate about Fosse and I feel the style suits me well. I have been studying it for years.

What’s your favorite number in the show and why?
Tough question! I absolutely love the “Overture” into “Jazz” but I think my favorite number is “Me And My Baby.” That is the point in the show where I really feel like I can finally bust out and dance. It is so playful, mischievous, and cheeky. It has great moments to showcase acting, Fosse technique and just plain old dance technique. For me, it’s a crowd pleaser.

Are you more Roxie or Velma?
Velma. For sure.

(l ro r) Denny James Paschall, Rumer Willis, and Michael Scirrotto in 'Chicago.' (Photo: Jeremy Daniel via The Broadway Blog.)

(l ro r) Denny James Paschall, Rumer Willis, and Michael Scirrotto in ‘Chicago.’ (Photo: Jeremy Daniel via The Broadway Blog.)

You’ve toured with A Chorus Line and West Side Story. How does this choreography (originally staged by Bob Fosse and interpreted for this production by Anne Reinking) compared to Michael Bennett and Jerome Robbins?
All three men were so different in their styles. Jerome was very ballet driven. In order to dance Robbins, you must have ballet technique. It’s hard stuff. Whereas I feel that Bennett was driven solely by the music and characterization. He did not necessarily have a “style” but rather choreographed to the music and to what made sense to him.

I believe Fosse is in his own category. Not only is it a style, but it is also a “way of being.” Bob was very much influenced by Jack Cole and from what I can gather, by the percussive sounds of Jazz. He played with isolation of the body and finding the stillness in a single movement. But what most people don’t realize is that his style is very actor-driven. You have to play the role of a magician.

I hate it when people say, “Fosse is so easy to dance.” It is more than just isolation. You cant expect to be able to just dance it; like most people think. You have to be a dynamic performer to execute Fosse correctly—otherwise his simplicity in movement is boring to watch. If you aren’t engaged and fully committed to being a jazzy-magician (lol) then you may as well take a seat. I feel that if you aren’t sweating after a simple “Fosse walk”, then you aren’t doing it correctly. Though it is rooted deeply in the isolation of the body, it all comes from the core. If your core isn’t engaged and pulled up tight, then you look sloppy. You have to learn to articulate all the way down to your finger, and then past it. It is at times slow and painful to dance, because you have to pull up very tight. It is sensual, cunning… and unlike any other.

Michael Scirrotto (photo courtesy of M.S. via The Broadway Blog.)

Michael Scirrotto (photo courtesy of M.S. via The Broadway Blog.)

If I wasn’t a performer, I would be:
I would probably be in sales like my father.

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call? 
PLACES. The energy is intoxicating.

The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
As a cast we like to hit up E&E Grill House, which is right by the theater. But I hold a special place for Medi. The bartender there makes a really great extra dirty martini.

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
Brooklyn.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
San Diego, Miami, or London

My workout “secret” is:
The show. I treat it like a workout. If I’m not sweating and tired, then I didn’t work hard enough. In addition, I hit the gym three times a week.

Michael Scirrotto (Photo: Amanda Julca via The Broadway Blog.)

Michael Scirrotto (Photo: Amanda Julca via The Broadway Blog.)

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
Individuality.

My favorite website is:
Amazon. I’m obsessed. I have a problem.

People would be surprised to learn that I . . .
Love to be outdoors. I’m a secret hippy.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
Married with kids, living on a beach. Or on television.

Chicago
Ambassador Theatre
219 West 49th Street, NYC
Open-ended run.
NFL legend Eddie George appears as Billy Flynn through February 28.

Categories: Theater Buff Tags:

The Year in Buff, Part II

December 30th, 2015 Comments off

It’s been an incredible year for Broadway and beyond. The Broadway Blog has had the good fortune to cross paths with 12 of the most dedicated, handsome, and warm-hearted performers in the business for our monthly Theater Buff column. We’re looking back over the next two days to offer you snippets of each, along with a few updates so you can check them out in their current roles/shows. We didn’t need another reason to love the theater, but these 12 guys sure help! Here’s Part II!

July 2015 – Marc delaCruz

Marc delaCruz (photo: DJ StereOtype via The Broadway Blog.)

Marc delaCruz (photo: DJ StereOtype via The Broadway Blog.)

We caught up with Marc delaCruz when he was appearing in Transport Group’s Three Days to See. Our favorite Q&A…
Helen Keller is quoted as saying, “When one door closes, another opens. But we often look so regretfully upon the closed door that we don’t see the one that has opened for us.” Is there a past ‘closed door’ that opened up an unexpected opportunity?
Five years ago I was booked for a show that was unexpectedly cancelled. With nothing lined up, I took some money I had saved up and enrolled in a yoga teacher-training program. At the time I had no idea how much I would enjoy teaching yoga. The experience brought me closer to the practice that is now an integral part of my life and introduced me to the caring, compassionate community at Yoga to the People.
Update: Mac is currently on the national tour of If/Then click here for tour dates!

August 2015 – Patrick Ortiz

(Photo provided by Patrick Ortiz)

(Photo provided by Patrick Ortiz)

Mamma Mia! indeed! Patrick was in the now-closed Broadway company of this ABBA-inspired musical. Our favorite Q&A…
The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
I enjoy the Rum House attached to the Hotel Edison at 227 47th Street between 8th Avenue and Broadway. The bar features old speakeasy-type signature cocktails and they have live jazz most nights. You can’t beat that after seeing a good musical.

September 2015 – Joshua Dean

Joshua Dean (photo: Mark Shelby Perry via The Broadway Blog.)

Joshua Dean (photo: Mark Shelby Perry via The Broadway Blog.)

What goes up must come down, at least we hope that’s the case with Joshua Dean, who continues to perform with BOYS’ NIGHT: An All-Male Cirquelesque Revue. Our favorite Q&A…
People would be surprised to learn that I . . .
Grew up playing with a baby tiger. It is true. A friend of my parents had a tiger. It weighed as much as I did. The only rule when I was wrestling with it was that it was not allowed on the waterbed.

October 2015 – Steven Trumon Gray

Steven Trumon Gray (photo: Rodolfo Martinez via The Broadway Blog.)

Steven Trumon Gray (photo: Rodolfo Martinez via The Broadway Blog.)

Talk about a multi-tasker, not only is Steven a spectacular dancer and singer showcasing his talents as a member of Company XIV, he’s also a respected photographer. Our favorite Q&A…
After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
I haven’t even seen the traditional sites of New York and I’ve been here for three years, but I love going to metaphysical shops in the city. My favorites are Stick, Stone &

Bone in the West Village and Scent Elate on 48th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue. I love getting new crystals, tarot decks, incense and whatever my spirit needs to become more balanced. Being a Sagittarius I really suck at finding balance because I’m a “go get’ em” type.
Update: Steven is currently in Nutcracker Rouge through January 17.

November 2015 – Hector Maisonet

Hector Maisonet (photo: Brad Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Hector Maisonet (photo: Brad Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

We’re on our feet for Hector’s Broadway debut in the Gloria and Emilio Estefan-inspired musical, On Your Feet! Our favorite Q&A…

On Your Feet! is your Broadway debut. How would you describe opening night?
Opening night was very surreal! On Your Feet! is my Broadway debut, and it was extra special because the story is not only about two people that fell in love, but about the lives of every single immigrant that has come to this country.

Not only did I have the support of my cast mates, but I also had my parents that came from Florida to share this wonderful experience with me. It meant more to me that my parents’ first Broadway show was one that their son was in, something I’ll always cherish!

December 2015 – Tyler Hanes

Tyler Hanes

Tyler Hanes

Our grand finale for the year was Tyler Hanes, who is appearing in American Dance Machine for the 21st Century at the Joyce Theater through January 3. Our favorite Q&A…

You’ve worked with some of the theater industry’s best directors and choreographers. In one sentence, how would you describe each of the following:

Ann Reinking: The living legend who changed my life forever and taught me what it really means to be an artist.

Bob Avian: One of the nicest, most generous people I have ever met who gave me one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my career.

Susan Stroman: A true visionary who made me discover the art of storytelling through dance.

Ann Reinking: The living legend who changed my life forever and taught me what it really means to be an artist.

Bob Avian: One of the nicest, most generous people I have ever met who gave me one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my career.

Susan Stroman: A true visionary who made me discover the art of storytelling through dance.

Categories: Theater Buff Tags:

The Year in Buff: Part I

December 29th, 2015 Comments off

It’s been an incredible year for Broadway and beyond. The Broadway Blog has had the good fortune to cross paths with 12 of the most dedicated, handsome, and warm-hearted performers in the business for our monthly Theater Buff column. We’re looking back over the next two days to offer you snippets of each, along with a few updates so you can check them out in their current roles/shows. We didn’t need another reason to love the theater, but these 12 guys sure help!

January 2015 – Albert Guerzon

Albert Guerzon (photo provided by Brilliant Talent Management via The Broadway Blog)

Albert Guerzon (photo provided by Brilliant Talent Management via The Broadway Blog)

Albert appeared in the short-lived Honeymoon in Vegas. Our favorite Q&A…
How do you channel your inner Elvis?
Hmm. My Elvis reminds me of The Dynamo outfits in Mamma Mia. I’ve done that show for so long I can’t help but compare the boots and spandex. But I channel the moment I get to take those heels off after the curtain call. LOL!

Update:
In addition to performing, Albert is a Team Beachbody coach. Click here for details.

February 2015 – Andrew Chappelle

(Photo provided by Andrew Chappelle.)

(Photo provided by Andrew Chappelle.)

When we interviewed Andrew, he was appearing at The Public in Hamiltonwe all know how that went! He’s now in one of Broadway’s biggest hits. Our favorite Q&A…
If I were going to run for political office, my slogan would be:
You’d never find me running for office, but my character, Shermika Ramsey from The Sketch Betch would say “Let A Bitch Know.” She has a zero tolerance policy regarding bad oral hygiene.

March 2015 – Manny Stark

Manny Stark (upside down) in "Gigi" (photo: Howard McGillin via The Broadway Blog.)

Manny Stark (upside down) in “Gigi” (photo: Howard McGillin via The Broadway Blog.)

Manny appeared in Gigi, starring Vanessa Hudgens. Our favorite Q&A…
Swim trunks, speedo or skinny dipping?
Well, it certainly feels most natural to skinny dip! 

Michael Cusumano (photo: Bill Goulding via The Broadway Blog.)

Michael Cusumano (photo: Bill Goulding via The Broadway Blog.)

April 2015 – Michael Cusumano
Michael appeared in the gorgeous production of An American in ParisOur favorite Q&A…
What would you do on your ultimate Paris dream date?
If I was to imagine my ultimate Paris dream date I would chose the holiday time of year because I fell in love with the outdoor Christmas market. We would hold hands browsing the cute shops, while of course sipping a mulled wine. Get the grand!

Then take a ride on the Ferris wheel, and finish the night being cheesy by going to the top of the Eiffel Tower— standing on top of the world and getting lost in each other’s eyes. (I’m a dreamer if you couldn’t tell!)

Update: Michael occasionally teaches at Ballet Arts City Center, so dig out your dance belt and get to class!

May 2015 – Julius Anthony Rubio

Julius Anthony Rubio (photo: Michael Charles via The Broadway Blog.)

Julius Anthony Rubio (photo: Michael Charles via The Broadway Blog.)

Julius just finished his run in Broadway’s Finding NeverlandOur favorite Q&A…
If you could fly like Peter Pan, where would your first destination be and why?
Since Peter Pan originated in London, I think Big Ben would be my first stop. I could literally hang out on the hands of the clock as it’s in motion—taking in that view and feel of the city. I have a huge obsession with that town, let alone that monument, and still have never been. It’d be a dream to visit—flying or not!

(photo provided by Jimi Stanton.)

(Photo provided by Jimi Stanton.)

June 2015 – Jimi Stanton
We went Off Broadway for the month of June and discovered Jimi, making his New York debut in Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, America, Kuwait. Our favorite Q&A…

If I wasn’t a performer, I would be:
I would like to be to a social worker, specifically with Veterans. Over the past few years I have volunteered for different veteran charities and events and I love the idea of trying to help the people who have served our country.

Categories: The Buzz, Theater Buff Tags:

Theater Buff: Tyler Hanes from ADM21

December 16th, 2015 Comments off

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Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s nosey little questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. We couldn’t ask for a better holiday gift than Tyler Hanes, who will be dancing as a member of The American Dance Machine for the 21st Century at the Joyce Theater from December 21 – January 3.

Tyler Hanes (Photo: Audra Hatch Photography via The Broadway Blog)

Tyler Hanes (Photo: Audra Hatch Photography via The Broadway Blog)

Name:
Tyler Hanes

Hometown:
Marietta, Georgia

What is the mission of the American Dance Machine for the 21st Century?
To bring todays audience a living archive of some of the greatest moments in musical theater/dance history, performed by one of the most versatile and talented groups of performers around.

Tell us about your audition for the company:
Nikki Feirt Atkins first approached me about ADM21 after she saw me as Gabey in On The Town on Broadway. Once I knew Wayne Cilento was involved, I was in. I have had the pleasure of working under Wayne’s direction during the Broadway revival of Sweet Charity and am a huge fan of anything he does. His work in Sweet Charity is some of my favorite choreography I have ever danced (especially his Rich Man’s Frug) and I will always jump at the opportunity to work with him again. He is a genius.

Tyler Hanes (Photo: Kristin Hoebermann via The Broadway Blog)

Tyler Hanes (Photo: Kristin Hoebermann via The Broadway Blog)

You’ve worked with some of the theater industry’s best directors and choreographers. In one sentence, how would you describe each of the following:

Ann Reinking: The living legend who changed my life forever and taught me what it really means to be an artist.

Bob Avian: One of the nicest, most generous people I have ever met who gave me one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my career.

Susan Stroman: A true visionary who made me discover the art of storytelling through dance.

Tyler Hanes (Photo: Annette Tanner via The Broadway Blog)

Tyler Hanes (Photo: Annette Tanner via The Broadway Blog)

If I wasn’t a performer, I would be:
A director or an ice cream man.

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call? 
Places. There’s nothing more thrilling to me than the calm before the storm. I love the process of getting into character, hearing the audience in front of the curtain and feeling the excitement that lives in my body before setting foot onstage.

The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
I don’t drink but I do enjoy catching up with friends at Bar Centrale.

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
Chelsea Market, The High Line, or The Cloisters.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
Amsterdam

My workout “secret” is:
Dance, Bikram yoga (when I have the time)… and a lot of push ups.

Tyler Hanes (Photo: Annette Tanner via The Broadway Blog)

Tyler Hanes (Photo: Annette Tanner via The Broadway Blog)

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
A broad sense of humor is extremely important, as well as compassion, wit, drive, and honesty. And he must be named Van Hansis.

My favorite website to visit that you may not have heard of is:
www.breatheheavy.com

People would be surprised to learn that I . . .
am a diehard Britney fan.

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
Mikhail Baryshnikov

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
Performing. Teaching. Creating. Directing. Choreographing. Producing. Married. Kids. The whole package.

Take a sneak peek at ADM21.