“Opening Up” with Cate Elefante, Lulu in Waitress!

When Cate Elefante comes home from a long day at school, she does something rarely any other kindergartener gets to experience on a daily basis. After Cate eats dinner, her mom drives her to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where she performs the role of Lulu in the hit Broadway musical, Waitress. It may seem hard to believe, but this talented and sweet five-year-old (who hasn’t quite lost her first tooth yet!) is performing several nights per week on the Great White Way! 

Cate began her journey with musical theatre when she attended a musical theatre summer camp for two summers prior to her appearance in Waitress, where she performed in two shows with her camp friends! She has also performed in two dance recitals, but Waitress is her first Broadway show.

Thanks to Cate’s amazing mother, Caryn Elefante, I had the opportunity to talk to Cate in between two of her shows this Saturday! She is an incredibly talented girl that is just about as down-to-earth and sweet (as pie) as anyone can get.

Before delving into her experiences in the show, I decided to get to know Cate better and ask her about a few of her favorite things!

Favorite pie? 

Pumpkin pie is my favorite real pie but Mermaid Marshmallow Pie is my favorite pie in Waitress.

What’s your favorite song from the show?

“Opening Up”

What is your favorite Broadway show that you have seen?

Wicked

Do you have a favorite pre-show routine or game you like to play?

My favorite game to play backstage is called “Kids On Stage.” It’s a charades game.  I also like to play balloon volleyball with my mom right before I go on stage to get my energy up!

Favorite song you like to belt out at home?

“Try Everything” from Zootopia

What’s your favorite thing to do on double-show days?

Go to my Gigi and Papa’s house to eat dinner and relax.  They cook me a nice meal and then I watch movies and play.

What is your favorite place in the city?

The M&M Store.


Of course, I also had to ask Cate about her fellow cast members and her experience playing Lulu, Jenna’s daughter. Jenna is currently played by the stunning Jessie Mueller, who is soon to be followed by Sara Bareilles, who takes her first bow on March 31st. Fun Fact: Sara is also the composer and lyricist of the show!

Are you excited to have your new “stage mama” played by Sara Bareilles?

I mean, I’m going to be so sad to see Jessie go, but Sara is so nice and fun too. Yes, we are all really excited to work with Sara!

What was your audition for the role of “Lulu” like?

I had to say “Hi Mama” and run into someone’s arms.

What was your reaction to getting the role of Lulu?

I was so excited! I wanted get started right away!

What’s your favorite on-stage moment in Waitress?

I love when I’m on stage in the finale and I get to pass around the pies. 

What’s one of your favorite memories with the cast?

They threw me a birthday party and sang to me on my 5th birthday which was the day before I opened on Broadway.  Also, we had a Christmas party in the upper lobby of the theater and we played Secret Santa!

Cate is an extremely busy girl, balancing Kindergarten with a Broadway show! She was quick to point out that her favorite thing about Kindergarten is that she gets to learn how to read; currently, her favorite book is “Knuffle Bunny.”

When talking to Cate over the phone, it became clear that she really is a theatre- and family-loving girl, who absolutely loves every moment she gets with her family, both her real and her Waitress family, that is. Cate has become best friends with her cast-mate, Ella Dane Morgan who doubles as Lulu.

Talking to Cate was so much fun and I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next! A special thank you to Cate & Caryn Elefante, as well as the production team of Waitress for making this possible!

CB Interviews Musical Theatre of Anthem’s Cast of Elf Jr

Myself in Jovie’s last costume, when she emerges from the crowd to spread her newly discovered Christmas spirit.

Performing in a show during the holiday season can be a challenging feat. This winter, I was cast as the role of Jovie in Elf The Musical Jr. Although Jovie works at the local Macy’s, has never seen snow, and is a bit rough around the edges, she finds herself falling in love with Buddy the Elf…Who is later the inspiration for a song called “Never Fall in Love (With an Elf)“. Buddy is a character whom our director described as a “labrador puppy”, referencing his fun and energetic attitude.

MTI International summarizes Elf Jr as: “Buddy, a young orphan, mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised, unaware that he is actually a human, until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh reality that his father is on the naughty list and that his half-brother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.”

I was part of the cast of Elf Jr for two months, and throughout the run,  had the amazing opportunity to interview several cast members of Musical Theatre of Anthem’s production of Elf The Musical Jr, and I learned all of their favorite things about community theatre, from the show itself to what they enjoy doing after rehearsals.

I first heard from the star of the show, playing my opposite, Buddy the Elf. His name is J.R., and he embodied Buddy impeccably onstage.

J.R. – Buddy the Elf

Onstage with J.R., who plays Buddy in MTA’s Elf Jr. Photo by Michele Celentano.

Been Performing in Theatre: Almost 1 Year

Favorite Number in the Show: “The Story of Buddy the Elf” 

Theatre Has Made Him: More Outgoing

CB: “What’s the best part about being in a show during the holiday season?”

J.R.: “All my family flies out for the holidays so they get to come see my shows, which is always exciting.”

CB: “What element of your character is most like yourself?”

J.R.: “Buddy is a child in a man’s body, which is me on a daily basis. He also has a short attention span, like me.”

I then interviewed three other spectacular members of the cast:

Derion – Chadwick

Been Performing in Theatre: Just Over 1 Year

Favorite Number in the Show: “The Story of Buddy the Elf”

Theatre Helped Him With: Socializing and Becoming a Team Player

CB: “What’s the best part about being in a show during the holiday season?”

Derion: “It’s being able to share your holiday cheer and inspiring other people to spread holiday cheer.”

CB: “What is the best thing about being in community theatre?”

Derion: “The best thing about community theatre is, when you participate in a theatre show, you make friends- but with a community theatre, you are a family and no words can explain the love you have for the cast and your fellow actors/actresses.”

Grace – Comforting New Yorker & Macy’s Employee

Been Performing in Theatre: 10 Years

Favorite Number in the Show: “Sparklejollytwinklejingley

CB: “What’s the best part about being in a show during the holiday season?”

Grace: “The best part about being in a show during the holidays is that you get to make great memories with friends and get to spend more time with them in the holiday season. Another rewarding thing is when your family comes and sees all the hard work you put into the show.”

CB: “How has theatre influenced you as a person?”

Grace: “Theatre has made me more outgoing and confident. It has taught me that it is important to have your voice be heard.”

Tor – Walter Hobbs

Been Performing in Theatre: 9 Years, and Tech Work for 1.5 Years

Favorite Number in the Show: “The Story of Buddy the Elf”

Theatre Helped Him With: Being More Confident

CB: “What element of your character is most like yourself?”

Tor: “Walter is mean but he’s very focused on his work and loves making money, so I think that’s what is the most like me.”

CB: “What’s the best part about being in a show during the holiday season?”

Tor: “I really enjoy the holidays and Christmas music, and I don’t mind being busy. The best is driving home from rehearsal when everyone’s Christmas lights are on.”

Myself with several of my best friends, all whom I’ve come to know through community theatre.

Elf JR. was performed at a community theatre in Arizona called Musical Theatre of Anthem. MTA is a no-cut theatre, meaning that everyone who auditions is cast. MTA has been my second home for about four years, and I can’t even begin to describe how much I’ve learned there. Community Theatre is a great thing to pursue for anyone, from aspiring Broadway stars to kids and teens that just want to have some fun on the weekends. 

If you’d like more information about Musical Theatre of Anthem, you can check out their Website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. To find a theatre near you, ask a music or drama teacher at your school, visit a local dance studio, or look it up online! Most states have easily accessible community theaters that you can join today! It has changed my life for the past 7 years, and I can’t wait for all of the years to come!

Words of Wisdom for the New Year, from Two Amazing Broadway Pros!

Happy 2017!

 

This year, Camp Broadway is delighted to bring you an AWESOME New Year’s gift: inspiring tips about life on stage from two of Broadway’s most successful pros!

 

The first is Adam Pascal, who most recently played the saucy, sassy Shakespeare in the delightful musical SOMETHING ROTTEN! which had its final performance on January 1st (But don’t worry, it’s going on tour, and you can catch it in a city near you starting January 10th!).

Mr. Pascal is also known for his iconic role of Roger Davis in RENT (a role earning him a Tony-nomination for Best Actor in a Musical, as well as Drama League and Obie awards.) He played this role in the Off-Broadway, Broadway, West End Premiere, and “RENT The Broadway Tour” productions, as well as in the popular movie version. His other Broadway credits include Radames in AIDA (for which he won a Drama League award), Emcee in Studio 54’s CABARET (closing cast), Theo in SCHOOL OF ROCK, Freddie Trumper in CHESS the musical in London (the DVD is available here!), Huey Calhoun in MEMPHIS, and Billy Flynn in CHICAGO. He also co-produced the show FULLY COMMITTED off-Broadway. His albums, “Model Prisoner” and “Civilian” (courtesy of Sh-K-Boom Records), are now available, in addition to his newest album: “Blinding Light”. His several movie roles include those in “SLC Punk!”, “SLC Punk 2”, “Punk’s Dead” and “The Devil’s Carnival Alleluia”. In addition, he is the co-owner of Cybele’s Free-to-Eat with his wife, Cybele Pascal: a company producing cookies that are free of the top 8 allergens, so that children with allergies don’t miss out on yummy snacks.

Check out the wonderful positivity and wise words of the legendary Adam Pascal!

 

CB: What is the most fun you’ve ever had onstage?

Mr. Pascal: There are so many moments! But I think that every new show is the most fun you’ve ever had—at least for me. So, every time I do a show… I always say the same thing. The most fun I’ve ever had is the show I’m in right now!”

 

 

Rory O’Malley, our second Broadway pro, reigns over the Richard Rogers Theater as King George III in the musical sensation, HAMILTON!

Mr. O’Malley is a Tony- and Drama Desk- nominated actor whose Broadway debut was understudying the roles of William Barfee, Leaf Coneybear, and Douglas Panch in THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE. He has appeared Off-Broadway in NOBODY LOVES YOU (Drama Desk Nomination) and LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE at Second Stage Theater. His most famous Tony- and Drama Desk- nominated role was playing Mormon Elder McKinley in Broadway’s THE BOOK OF MORMON. His résumé also boasts numerous movie and television roles, including “Dave and the Sweethearts” lead singer in the movie Dreamgirls, and Michael in the FX network sitcom Partners.  The opening night of his show, PUB CRAWL (a coming-of-age story about growing up with his single mom and the frequenters of one of Cleveland’s local Irish pubs), was a packed audience at Joe’s Pub in at the Public Theater in Manhattan. And, he is the Co-Founder of “Broadway Impact“, a company devoted to inspiring members of the theater community to help educate and advocate for marriage equality. Check out Mr. O’Malley’s podcast here.

Also check out what Mr. O’Malley told Camp Broadway about life on the stage:

 

 

CB: What is the most exciting thing you’ve done onstage?

Mr. O’Malley: I would say, just getting to have an audience like the Hamilton audience. They’re so exciting!

CB: What is one piece of advice you want to give to teens interested in the arts?

Mr. O’Malley: My advice: keep trying, and keep working at your craft. Act because you love it, and not because you hope people notice you. Do it because it’s a wonderful thing to do every day!

 

Make a resolution for 2017 to spread kindness and act as a positive example for everyone around you. Take a tip from the pros: stick with your passion, be grateful for your gifts, and live in the moment.

And remember: a new year means new goals. Whether it’s singing along to a cast album, writing your own script, or starring on Broadway, you can do whatever you put your mind to!

Happy New Year, from Camp Broadway!

 

Thank You to Adam Pascal and Rory O’Malley, from Anna Allport and Camp Broadway, for the gifts of their words!

Serving up Gratitude and Good Cheer: Backstage at WAITRESS with Adele Miskie, Dresser of Jessie Mueller

Wintertime may bring frosty weather, but behind the scenes at Broadway’s WAITRESS, there is enough warmth and cheerful spirit—and freshly-baked pies— to fuel the entire holiday season!

WAITRESS, which opened for previews in March of 2016, has made Broadway history by being the first musical to have a four-woman creative team (writer, composer/lyricist, director, and choreographer.) It tells the moving story of “Jenna,” a hardworking server at an Indiana diner, dealing with an abusive spouse, experiencing a trio of life-changing events, and finding solace and strength in baking extraordinarily delicious desserts.

Did you smell the pie as you walked into the theater? That was no illusion!

The audience gets a full sensory experience of Jenna’s baking: not only does the aroma of a freshly-baked pie greet theatergoers in the lobby, but rotating pie cases grace the proscenium, pie ingredients are mixed and kneaded rhythmically onstage, and mini pies are sold as concessions in the house. A hands-on theater experience for all!

And even more hands-on magic happens behind the scenes—and that has a lot to do with the show’s dressers.

Anna Allport on the set of WAITRESS with Principal Dresser, Adele Miskie!

I caught up with Adele Miskie—the dresser for WAITRESS star Jessie Mueller—backstage at the Brooks Atkinson Theater. Her career of dressing 16 Broadway shows includes the revival of 42ND STREET, THE KING AND I at Lincoln Center, WHITE CHRISTMAS, MOTOWN, and GOLDEN BOY. FUN FACT: Adele is a friend of CB, frequently teaching at workshops and camp programs! Ms. Miskie’s warm, welcoming, kind demeanor is matched by her enthusiasm for her job. “It’s so exciting! There’s always so much going on backstage,” Ms. Miskie says. “I’m thrilled to be a dresser.”

So, what is a dresser exactly?

Many things. Dressers are part of a show’s wardrobe crew, handling all of the costume pieces and conducting “quick changes.” A strong bond between the dresser and the actor quickens the pace of costume changes, and allows for a smooth backstage flow.

Ms. Miskie: “I am responsible for getting the costumes I handle ready for each performance – pressing, steaming, checking for—and making—small repairs. I am responsible for presetting the costumes as well, putting them in a location where I will meet the actor to do the costume change.  During the show I help the actor(s) change their costumes.  Sometimes this is at a leisurely pace, while other times it has to happen in just a few seconds. These fast ones are called ‘quick changes’ and they must be choreographed and executed the same way each night so that the actor and you have this ‘dance’ to make it in time.

“And then I do whatever extra I can to make the actor as comfortable as possible so that they can focus on their show.  This might include but is not limited to: getting coffee, tea, water, snacks at intermission, setting up a humidifier and other things that the actor might need or want.”

Ms. Miskie believes wholeheartedly in chasing one’s career dreams. She absolutely encourages teens, young adults—people of all ages—to think outside the box, try something new, and be open to career paths that change direction.

Ms. Miskie: “There are so many opportunities in the theater world. Each job has a skill set and you can find which job suits you best. I also encourage students to try to schedule an information interview: talking with someone in the field is first-hand knowledge about what to expect on a day-to-day basis.”

In addition to exploring opportunities in the theater, Ms. Miskie says counting her blessings is a large part of her daily work.

So, listen up, teen Broadway fans: counting your blessings is as easy as pie!

Here are five Broadway blessings Ms. Miskie is grateful for:

  1. Appreciate The Journey: Where You Start isn’t Always Where You End Up!

Ms. Miskie: “I actually started out majoring in Horticulture! I studied it in college, and got my degree. Then an advisor told me: ‘Hey, you’re so good at communicating! Have you ever tried teaching?’ I began to look into it, and got my Masters degree in counselor education. I was a high school guidance counselor for 11 years! After a decade of working in public education, I was ready to try something new. A friend sent me an ad in ‘Backstage’ for costume internships and I called the number. The costume shop manager then offered me a job as a dresser. It changed my life!”

  1. Cultivate Your Connections:

 Ms. Miskie: “It’s so important to make connections, because you never know who will help you in the future! I moved to New York in 2000, and was trying to get my first gig [as a Dresser.] My first two New York jobs were off-Broadway, and I got both of those jobs from my contacts at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia! As it turns out, I was invited to a Christmas party hosted by a friend of mine (also a contact from the Walnut Street Theatre.) This friend was cast as a feature in the revival of 42ND STREET on Broadway. We talked for a while, and later, when he went in for his fitting, and said to the costume person, ‘Hey, I know someone who would be really great. Let me give you her contact info.’ The theater contacted me, and I had a job at my first Broadway show! So: I’m all about networking!”

  1. Say Thank-You to Those Who Deserve It: (Those Onstage, and Those Behind the Scenes!)

Ms. Miskie: “There’s a world of activity happening backstage. There are SO many jobs! People should know that their artistry can be of value behind the scenes, and this can be just as rewarding as taking a bow in front of the lights. Everyone backstage contributes to the production and is deserving of thanks. Just think: there are people backstage getting that slice of pie ready; people underneath the stage in the trap room so that when performers jump off of something onstage, they land safely; people changing wigs and costumes…. I would like students to know that there’s a multitude—a multitude!—of jobs in the theater, if they look a little bit beyond the performance and understand not only what those jobs are, but how many there are.”

  1. Support Causes that You Believe In:

Ms. Miskie: “I would have to say that this piece is so special for me because I think that this is the first time I’m doing a show that has a message that is a current social issue. [The subject matter of WAITRESS: the social, financial, emotional issues it addresses] is just so modern and in your face. And the music is so varied! Ms. Sara Bareilles has done such a great job of dividing up the score so that you’re crying one moment and you’re laughing the next.”

  1. Build Community:

Just as Ms. Miskie is thankful to be a part of WAITRESS, Jessie Mueller is thankful to have Ms. Miskie as her dresser. Smiling, Ms. Mueller embraced Ms. Miskie in a hug after a matinee performance.

Ms. Mueller: “We all rely on each other so much, and we were really blessed in the group that we got, because of the heart and creativity everybody puts into WAITRESS. And I think that it’s a reminder every night of how essential community is. Nobody can go out there and do it alone…. I’m grateful for the teamwork aspect of it and I rely on it very, very much.”

As you settle into the holiday season, take a tip from the cast and crew of WAITRESS, and make it a point to count your blessings. It’s a nice exercise to remind you of all that you have and all that you are. And your newfound gratitude may help you serve up kindness to others!

Share your messages of gratitude in the comments below!

Many thanks to Adele Miskie and Jessie Mueller, from Anna Allport and Camp Broadway, for this delightful interview!

The 12 Days of Theater-Themed Gifts!

It’s that time of year again where we deck the halls, light the menorahs, and jam out to holiday tunes. If you’re like me, and have been too caught up watching Hairspray live and listening to Broadway soundtracks, you might still be rounding up some last-minute theater-themed gifts for all of your theater friends.

      Looking for some ideas? I’ve got you covered.

  1. Does your friend want to see their name in lights? Check out this marquee-style initial to make their dreams come true.
  2. Or… maybe they deserves a spotlight of their own. Here’s a desk light that looks just like its larger stage counterpart.
  3. Feeling crafty? Grab a glass vase from your nearest dollar store, and customize it for your bestie. It’ll create a nice new home for all those post-show bouquets.
  4. A picture is worth a thousand words- especially when it defines “actor”! Check out this classy print to hang proudly on a bedroom wall.
  5. Looking for a laugh? Here’s a funny sign that will remind all visitors that they’re never safe from spontaneous show tunes.
  6. Rehearsal gear is always a must. After intense choreography sessions and vocal lessons galore, a full water bottle can be a saving grace for any actor- especially when it’s personalized with their name!
  7.  Let the world know that your pal is going to do great things in the theater realm
    with this Broadway mug. Bonus points if you pair it with some “Throat Coat” tea!
  8. What’s a busy performer without a stellar rehearsal bag? Here’s a backpack that will let everyone know that they have a call time to meet.
  9. Once tech week hits, a make-up bag is an obvious “must”! Check out this NYC-themed cosmetic carrier so your friend can have the most stylish dressing room space.
  10. If jewelry is more up their alley, here’s a sweet theater bangle that will shine like the top of the empire state building.
  11. Who needs an autographed playbill, when you could wear miniature ones from your ears? Check out these hilarious earrings that will spike conversation wherever they go!
  12. And, of course, what better way to keep your friend warm than with this winter season than their very own Camp Broadway sweatshirt? Be sure to view the new CB merchandise available in our store!

 

Happy holidays from Camp Broadway!

P.S. We heard Santa’s still taking orders- and there are still spots in CB’s 2017 Summer Sessions! Register by Dec. 31, and you’ll save $100!

Drama On the Stage! How to Maintain a Friendship Through Auditions

If you’re involved in theater with peers your age, it’s bound to happen at some point… Auditioning for a role against a friend.

One of the beauties of theater is how many close bonds it can form. After spending months in rehearsal together, a cast is bound to get close- which makes the show even better! Being comfortable with your fellow performers and production team not only enhances the experience of creating the show, but it also allows for better communication and a more realistic air on stage. However, auditions can get tough. Nobody wants a competitive audition tugging at their friendship, creating tension that could threaten their relationship. But, unfortunately, it is simply one of the aspects of the art.

Here are a few of my tips on how to keep the “friend” in “friendly competition”!

  • Talk to each other beforehand! While you can’t ask your friend to not audition for the same role, you can both talk about any concerns before the audition takes place. A great conversation starter is:”Hey, I heard you’re going for (character name)! Break a leg- I bet you’ll do great. I’m actually going for that role too! Whatever comes from auditions though, I’m excited to do this show together.” This can provide a nice segue into a pleasant conversation about the roles in regards to your friendship. Be sure to provide each other with positive encouragement!
  • Say “congratulations”. Losing a role to a friend can feel awful, and it’s hard not to mistake the feelings of disappointment for feelings of betrayal. It’s okay to feel sad that the casting didn’t go the way you’d hope! However, it’s important to remind yourself that it’s not anybody’s fault. Maybe your friend had an element in their audition that the directors really liked, or a look that stood out to them. Casting is based off of an endless list of qualities. The outcome doesn’t mean that the friend is a better performer than you, or tried to snatch the role away from you intentionally. If you get cast elsewhere in the show, maybe the directors thought you’d be perfect in another spot that they have in mind! While it may feel hard, it’s important to congratulate the friend when you feel ready, so they aren’t worried about any “bad blood” either.
  • Feel proud of yourself! Maybe you didn’t quite land that role this time around, but that’s what “dream role” lists are for! Everybody keeps a note containing all the roles they hope to play one day (or, maybe that’s just me?) Keep an eye on your goals and remember that every experience in theater will help you grow as a performer. Feel proud that you rehearsed so much and brought your best effort forward! If you didn’t make it into the show this time around, then you’ll have a little extra time to jam out to all the karaoke you want in preparation of your next starring role!
  • But… try not to brag. On the flip-side, landing a dream role can feel BEYOND exciting! After receiving the news that you’re playing the part you worked hard for, it’s natural to want to tell the whole world! However, it’s important to take a second. A respectable announcement post on social media (ie: “I feel excited and honored to be playing the role of ___ in ____’s production of ___!”) can be made if you want to spread the word of your upcoming endeavors- but give it a day or two. Let all those who auditioned be informed of their casting first. When you’re around other people in the production (especially the friend you competed against), try not to talk about your role too much. Nobody likes when a cast mate acts arrogant, but people definitely will notice when you act down-to-earth. If you’re around friends that didn’t make it into the show, try not to bring up rehearsals unless they ask!

While a show will only last for a few months, many friendships last a lifetime. Losing a friendship because of competitive casting can be avoided if you both put your best attitude forward and make an active effort to maintain the quality of relationship you share!

Break legs at your next audition, Camp Broadway, and remember to keep those close who “leave hand prints on your heart”.

“Thank You For the Music” – Interview with MAMMA MIA! Cast Member, Niki Badua!

Today on the Camp Broadway Blog, I am elated to share with all of you, an exclusive interview with Niki Badua – who is currently playing Lisa in the Farewell Tour of MAMMA MIA!

Niki Badua (Lisa) is excited to be returning to MAMMA MIA! Previous theatre credits include: Kim in MISS SAIGON (Serenbe Playhouse), MAMMA MIA! National tour 2015-2016 (Ensemble u/s Ali, u/s Lisa), and IN THE HEIGHTS (Ensemble). She sends her thanks to her mom, dad, friends and family, JDCasting and the Work Light team.

Niki started singing at the mere age of eight and immediately knew that it was something she wanted to pursue. She had dreams of being a popstar, but when her vocal teacher told her she should get into musical theatre, she decided to give it a shot. In school, her first audition was for Les Miserables, but she didn’t make the cast. Her first high school show would be High School Musical, and although she had a “tiny role in the ensemble”, she soon fell in love with theatre. At the age of 18, Niki moved to New York to pursue a career in the theatre.

Fast forward to 2016, and Niki has already performed in the 2015-16 National Tour of MAMMA MIA!, playing in the ensemble and understudying two roles. Now, she returns to the show’s Farewell Tour as Lisa! One of her favorite things about performing in this tour is finding new ways to keep the show fresh, even after performing it hundreds of times.

On making the show her own…

CB: “What is it like being in such a well-known musical?”
Niki: “I grew up listening to ‘ABBA’, my mother would play the album when I was younger, so it was so exciting to be part of something that was so familiar to me. So, that in itself was really awesome. The pressure was there because it’s all songs that people know and are popular, and it doesn’t sound like the CD. Sometimes the pressure is there to make it really, really good, and to not disappoint the audience. We usually do a good job with that, and the audience loves when we start singing “Dancing Queen” during the end, but we can make it our own because we get the liberty to do a lot of our own style and that’s really fun. Normally you’re in a classical musical theatre show where you have to do certain steps, but with MAMMA MIA! it’s like a huge dance party onstage and we have basic steps that we have to hit on certain counts, but for the most part it’s us putting our own personality on it and doing our own type of thing and dancing to music that we know. That’s a really cool part of being part of something really popular, but also trying to make it our own as well.”

The Company of the MAMMA MIA! Farewell Tour MAMMA MIA! Farewell Tour, Kevin Thomas Garcia, 2016

The Company of the MAMMA MIA! Farewell Tour MAMMA MIA! Farewell Tour, Kevin Thomas Garcia, 2016

On the uniqueness of a touring show…

CB: “How is performing a touring production different than a production that stays in one place?”
Niki: “We don’t stay in one place for very long, so that alone makes it very fresh for us; we have a different backstage track, certain venues have different amounts of dressing rooms. Whereas when you’re doing a show where you’re sitting down for one month or a couple weeks, you get used to what’s going on, you kind of know what you’re getting into. Some of that can be really nice because you have a routine, but touring keeps on us on our toes and we’re not bored. That’s the coolest thing about touring, and we get to see all these cool places I never would’ve known existed. Specifically, one of my favorite places was getting to go to the middle of Arkansas, and I was like, ‘I would’ve never known about this place if I hadn’t been on tour’, you know?”

CB: “What is the rehearsal process like for a touring show versus a show that stays in one place?”
Niki: “For a touring show we rehearse in New York City in a studio, so we would do it in this small room which is very similar to Broadway. Then we go to tech, which we did in the middle of Texas, then onto a bigger venue. Sometimes it can be crazy and sometimes it can be really cool, like you don’t stay in one place. So not only are they still changing things during the rehearsal process but your environment is changing.”

On spending time with the cast…

CB: “Do you get much free time with members of the cast to ‘explore’?”
Niki: “Yeah, it depends on how long we’re in one place. For me, I make sure I see things, even if I’m somewhere for only one night. I always try and go out, you know, we’re stuck on a bus for a while… We go to these towns and see these local coffee shops instead of the ‘Starbucks’ that’s down the street. Sometimes, shopping is the best way for us to let off some steam, and most of our wardrobes are all local clothes that were made in that city.”

Chloe Kounadis, Lizzie Markson, Niki Badua, MAMMA MIA! Farewell Tour, Kevin Thomas Garcia, 2016

Chloe Kounadis, Lizzie Markson, Niki Badua, MAMMA MIA! Farewell Tour, Kevin Thomas Garcia, 2016

CB: “Do you all get to bond as a cast by traveling the country together?”
Niki: “Yes. Right now we are very new into the tour and there are so many of us. From here, I have to take my time getting to know people, I hang out with so many different groups and different personalities here. There are the people that like to go to the gym after shows, people who like to go shopping, and people who just like to stay in bed. There are so many different groups and we all realized early on that we’re all going through this together. You have to learn to really enjoy your time with them and your time alone so you’re not tired of hanging around the same people.”

On adjusting to the routine of actively traveling…

CB: “Do you have any routines to stay healthy for your shows?”

Cashelle Butler, Betsy Padamonsky, Sarah Smith MAMMA MIA! Farewell Tour, Kevin Thomas Garcia, 2016.

Cashelle Butler, Betsy Padamonsky, Sarah Smith MAMMA MIA! Farewell Tour, Kevin Thomas Garcia, 2016.

Niki: “The show is very cardio-heavy so I always make sure that my body is warmed up at least two hours before the show. Sometimes I’ll go to the gym, run, all to get my blood pumping. My typical routine is: I’ll go to the gym, get some food, listen to some music and put on my makeup. I also keep a journal. Depending on where I am I’ll steam my vocal cords so I’m not dry.”

CB: “Is flexibility a big part of being in a touring show?”
Niki: “Oh absolutely, if you are not flexible, it would be very difficult to tour. Sometimes you’ll do something at one venue that you can’t do at the next. We travel to different climates and different venues around the country, and that all plays a part in the overall show.”

To close the interview, Niki took a look back at her journey with MAMMA MIA!, and told me how much her experience with the show, specifically the Farewell Tour, has meant to her…

Niki: “It’s crazy to me that it’s the Farewell Tour because I saw it six years ago when it came to Hawaii, which is where I’m from. I can’t believe that I’m part of something so big, and I’m also part of the Farewell Tour of it…. You’re the last cast that people are going to remember and you’re making the last mark of MAMMA MIA! and so the pressure is more of giving it your all, because there isn’t really anything to lose at this point… It’s so cool to be part of something that’s the last, just like it’s exciting to be the first. It’s really exciting to be a part of something that’s the final time, especially something that’s so iconic as this… To be part of the generation that gets to hear it again and share that story, it’s really exciting and makes going to work every night so fun. To think that I’ll get to do this show so many times in the next nine months… I’m really excited because people are coming to see this… It’s so thrilling to be onstage at night, just knowing it’s the last one.”

A Special Thank You to Kari Amarosso, ASU Gammage Public Relations Manager, Kerry Dineen, Niki Badua, and the cast of MAMMA MIA! for making this interview possible!

Camp Broadway’s Best of the Year 2016

Camp Broadway’s team is filled with regular theatergoers who love seeing all the new shows every season. At this time of the year, we love looking back on our nights at the theatre to remember the shows that are our favorites for theatre-loving kids and their families. With kudos to all the great shows produced in 2016, here’s Camp Broadway’s Best of the Year—

Note: A show was to have opened between January 1, 2016 and December 20, 2016 in order to be considered eligible. Our evaluation criteria includes the following: appropriateness for kids, ages 8-18; enjoyability for parents and adults; quality of storytelling; quality of performances; and quality of various artistic elements (costumes, scenic design, lighting, and sound,).

CELEBRATING ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER

1. SCHOOL OF ROCKimgres

The kids who attended Camp Broadway last summer are unanimous that School of Rock is their favorite show of the season. Based on the popular 2003 film about a down-on-his-luck rocker named Dewey Finn. He poses as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school where he creates a curriculum based on rock in roll and turns his class of straight A students into a guitar shredding, bass slapping rock band. Andrew Lloyd Webber has created a new musical that is clever, fun and perfect for the entire family. The show is a blast and the cast is beyond awesomely talented. You’ll be dancing in the aisle or singing along like a rock star. Book this show in the new year, School of Rock.

 2. CATScats

Cats, the Now and Forever musical, is back on Broadway to be enjoyed by a new generation of theatergoers. This production features a cast of 37 talented purr-formers and the original Tony Award-winning costume and set design. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats tells the story of one magical night when an extraordinary tribe of cats gathers for its annual ball to rejoice and decide which cat will be reborn. Having played in over 30 countries in 15 languages, this is one of Broadway’s most famous shows. This summer, Camp Broadway will celebrate the prolific career of by Andrew Lloyd Webber at The Next Step.


FOR THE DISCERNING YOUNG THEATERGOER

3. DEAR EVAN HANSENdeh

Critics and audiences alike are cheering for Dear Evan Hansen by the Tony Award-nominated composing team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and playwright Steven Levenson. This new musical is about a letter Evan writes that was never meant to be seen and his hope for a life he never thought he could have. Dear Evan Hansen is both deeply personal and profoundly contemporary about how we love, feel and survive in the modern world. It is recommended for an audience ages 12 and over. CLICK HERE to read more about the production.

4. A BRONX TALEabronxtale

Based on the critically acclaimed play that inspired the now classic film, A Bronx Tale transports audiences to the stoops of the Bronx in the 1960s—where a young man is caught between the father he loves and the mob boss he’d love to be. The show features an amazing cast lead by Broadway pros Bobby Conte Thornton and Nick Cordero, as well as the scene-stealing newcomer Hudson Loverro as the young Calogero. Don’t miss it. A Bronx Tale is recommended for ages 12 and older. CLICK HERE to read more about the production.


PARENT’S NIGHT OUT 

5. WAITRESSwaitress

Our recipe for a great date includes good wine, great food and tickets to Waitress, a delightful musical confection featuring music and lyrics by Grammy nominee, Sara Bareilles, and starring Tony Award-winner, Jessie Mueller. Inspired by the film of the same name, Waitress is an uplifting musical celebrating motherhood and friendship in a story about a waitress and expert pie maker, Jenna, who dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. The smell of a home-made apple pie will meet you at the doors of the theater where vendors are selling miniature pies that are baked daily. The show is recommended for ages 14 and older. CLICK HERE to read more about the production.

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A Little Bit of College Audition Encouragment

As a high school senior, the college audition process can seem daunting. If you’re like I was, you have put all of your hopes and dreams into getting into that one special program. You’re set on doing musical theatre (or straight theatre), and you won’t let rejection hold you back from accomplishing your goals. These are all things that will help you long past the next few months of pre-screenings, interviews, airplane hopping, and auditions.

Currently in my 2nd year of college majoring in theatre and English and minoring in dance and voice, I remember senior year like it was yesterday…Especially how busy it can get! The audition process itself varies from school to school, but there are a few simple preparations you can make to ensure you find success at every audition you attend.

  1. Make sure your song(s) and monologue(s) showcase your strongest suit. For most BFA’s you will be required to do two songs (possibly an art song, too) as well as a monologue. Picking contrasting material that is not overly done is always the best way to go.
  2. Be prepared for the dance call. Most programs have a dance call where the resident choreographer teaches a combo that you perform in groups after you all learn it. I attended a few auditions where you were also supposed to come in with 2 or 3 8-counts worth of choreography to do for all of the department. Bring any and all dance shoes you have, in case they ask to see more than one style.
  3. Dress to impress. I wore fit-and-flare dresses and character shoes for all of my auditions. I also took a change of clothes for dance calls. It’s always best to dress in dance clothes that show your figure and flatter your body (leotards and dance skirts with skin colored tights are my go-to). Hair should be worn pulled back from your face.
  4. Stay hydrated. Drink, drink, drink. This is important for your vocal folds, as well as for your body in general. I always have a ritual cup of hot decaffeinated tea with honey before any audition I have; I usually also took 3-4 bottles of water with me for college auditions.
  5. Be prepared to wait. Every audition will take a different amount of time. I was at some auditions for 30 minutes and others for 8 hours. Just use the time to focus and get yourself mentally prepared to “wow” your audience.
  6. Take it all in. Remember every audition you attend. Regardless of its outcome, you’re going to meet people. You never know what gatekeepers and friends will come out of every audition.
  7. Be brave and be kind. It may be advice from Cinderella, but this served me well throughout the audition process. Be brave and have confidence in every audition room you enter. Be kind to everyone you meet at the school: the front table workers, the other people auditioning, current students, professors, deans, cafeteria workers, etc. They may very well be giving reports to the people who make your admission decision.

While these next few months will seem super long and stressful, remind yourself why you’re auditioning in the first place…because you love it, and couldn’t see yourself doing anything else with your life! Remain confident even when the rejection hits, keep your head up, and stay focused on your goals. Remember, you can do anything you set your mind to do.

Looking for colleges to audition for? Here are some of the programs I checked out:

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A photo from the day of my Tisch audition.

  • Tisch School of the Arts (NYU)
  • Belmont University
  • Shorter University
  • Oklahoma City
  • Elon
  • Boston Conservatory
  • Baldwin-Wallace
  • Pace
  • Sewanee: The University of the South
  • Southern Illinois University
  • Otterbein
  • Western Carolina
  • Texas State

Break legs, Camp Broadway!

Wardrobe Wonders and Costume Cures!

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Picture this: it’s opening night of your school’s play, and you’re backstage getting ready. You pull on your costume—and a giant tear rips down the back! Horrified, you look to the costume team, but they can’t do much to help on such short notice. You hear the overture start to play…

What do you do?!?

Well…don’t let last-minute wardrobe malfunctions take you by surprise. Instead, learn some quick costume cures to make your wardrobe wonderful again.

Here are three common costume problems, and how to fix them:

  1. TORN FABRIC:

Gather the two ends of the rip on the inside of the garment, so that the frayed parts are pointing in, and the smooth parts are pointing out. Then, center and fold a long piece of duct tape over the frayed ends. Pinch the tape at intervals down the length of it to hold it in place. Add another two pieces of duct tape to both ends, to reinforce the hold.

  1. RIPPED STOCKINGS:

Got nail polish? A dab of clear nail polish on each end of the rip will dry quickly and stop the stockings from ripping further. If you catch the rip at the beginning, it won’t be visible to the audience! If the rip is already noticeable, use a water-based marker in the same color as the stockings on your skin to “fill in” the gap.

  1. MIS-SIZED SHOES:

Wearing shoes that are too big or too small is incredibly uncomfortable—especially in a dance-filled musical! Here are a few quick fixes for mis-sized shoes:

Too small: Shoes tight and pinching? Ice your feet! Sounds crazy, but it actually helps in two ways: first, your feet will contract a little when exposed to the cold, so they might actually become smaller and fit into the shoe better. Second, the ice will act as a numbing agent on your feet, so you might not feel as much pain from small shoes when you’re dancing onstage.

Too big: Stumbling over giant “canoe” shoes? Stuff the toes! Playdough and Silly Putty are best comfort-wise, because those substances mold to your feet. If you don’t have them on hand, other helpful shoe stuffers include cotton balls, tissues, and—ready for this one?—soft breakfast rolls! (Just remember to take them out overnight!) If you can, test these inserts before you go onstage, so that you can choose the one that works best for you and fine-tune their placement for maximum comfort.

Costume emergencies are often unpredictable, but they don’t have to be impossible to solve. The next time you’re faced with one just minutes before you go onstage, don’t panic! A little know-how and some creative re-purposing of everyday household items can make it look like tears, rips, and slips never even happened.

Share your costume cures in the comments below!




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