Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Spotlight On...Stephanie Fittro

Name: Stephanie Fittro

Hometown: Okemos, MI

Education: The School of Hard Knocks!!

Select Credits: Legally Blonde (Kate/Chutney, Broadway- Palace Theater); Hairspray (First National Tour); West Side Story (Anybodys, 50th Anniversary Tour); Carousel (Ensemble/Swing, First National Tour); The Merry Widow (Joujou Met Opera); Jesus and Mandy (Mandy, Theater For The New City); Rough Crossing (Lady of the Chorus, Yale Rep); Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Sarah Kines, Papermill Playhouse); Finian’s Rainbow (Swing, Irish Repertory Theatre);

Why theater?: It's mostly genetic I think.  My dad's side is all singers and performers.  In fact my grandmother met my grandfather because she heard him singing on the radio in West Virginia and hopped on a bicycle- not even hers, a neighbors!- to go find him.  Which was impressive because she was in Ohio.  Kidding.  But she did hop on that stolen bike. 

Tell us about Arnie the Doughnut: Arnie the Doughnut is a wonderful family musical based on the best selling children's book by Laurie Keller.  Frances Limoncelli artfully adapted the book and George Howe wrote fantastic music and lyrics.  It's about a doughnut who dreams of being more than someone's delicious snack.  It's a whimsical, funny and poignant story that also rocks some serious tunes ranging from 60s pop ala Bacharach to vaudeville. 

What is it like being a part of Arnie the Doughnut?: It's been incredible.  Frances and George have created a beautiful show with a lot of heart- it's like "the little show that could"!  They did a previous version in Chicago that developed a cult following and some of those audience members came to opening night here which was amazing.  Our cast is wonderful, Tom Deckman (who plays Arnie) is out of this world! Our director Adam Arian has provided great energy and fresh perspective.  But Frances (as our producer) and George have parented this in a way where we all feel very nurtured.  It's so gratifying to work with the writers and say "is this what you meant?" and have a dialogue about it.  They even added a song for my character, Jelly, which was a dream come true. 

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like anything good, be it Shakespeare or the circus.  But theater that blends the funny and the sad- that's sacred to me. As a choreographer (I trained as a dancer, and now choreograph quite a bit) I love Jerome Robbins, Agnes DeMille and Pina Bausch.  As a singer, jazz music and jazz singers. As an actress, comedians like Kristin Wiig or actress Nina Arandia. 

Any roles you’re dying to play?: After I saw "The Nights of Caberia", which was the Fellini movie that inspired Sweet Charity, I believed I could do that role, and want to very much.  In the Italian version of the story she is little and tough and clowny like me! 

What’s your favorite show tune?: I am a Rodgers and Hammerstein nerd and can often be caught singing anything from South Pacific to Sound of Music to Carousel (the 1st National tour of Carousel was my professional debut and is probably my favorite score). 

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Aggh!! So many people!! Are time and death obstacles?  Because I am really sad about missing Pina. 

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:
I think Joan Cusack could split the part with Jack Black in a wig just so he could do my prat falls.  And it would be called "CareActor", about the 2 year period when I. Could. Not. Audition. Well.  I just cared too much what others thought and made myself a nervous wreck. 

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Book of Mormon because I am super concerned about their sales.  Hangin on by a thread, I hear.  And I recommend Once to myself because I want to see it!!

What’s the best advice you can give someone trying to make it in theater?:
Be a creator.  The only time we feel like pawns is when we don't realize our innate power to create, and it leads to a lot of negativity.  Just love what you do unapologetically and do whatever it takes to keep the love pure. 

What’s up next?: Im thinkin that "CareActor" idea could be my comedy cabaret I keep threatening to do...

For more on Arnie the Doughnut visit http://www.nymf.org/arniethedoughnut. For a preview of the show, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57CuGD-7j04&feature=youtu.be