White Rabbit Theatre presents Disney Cabaret

Performed Friday, December 18, 2015, at Trinity-On-Main in New Britain, CT

A note from the Director

Summer 2015. It had been a year since my last show. Naturally, I was itching to get back into acting, singing, something! So I decide to post an amateur video of myself singing “Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera, to which my friend Kathleen Liseo excitedly responded, “When can we do a Phantom duet?!?!?” Shortly after, we collaborated on a few fun videos that we posted to Facebook, one of which included “A Whole New World.” They came out fairly well, but were intended merely to appease our itching for the arts, and nothing more.

Later that evening, Kathleen felt inspired to film herself singing “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. The performance was so good that I responded, without thinking much of it, with the words, “I think it’s time to put together a Disney Cabaret.”

At the time, I was 100% not serious about a show built around Disney songs. But looking back now, I think it more than likely that if Kathleen hadn’t posted her rendition of Ariel, the wheels in my head never would have made that full revolution needed to get this show into action. Heck, she was the one that wanted to get together to sing in the first place. Long story short, I have her to thank for the inspiration that galvanized this production.

Regrettably, over the past year or more, many of us had been so consumed by other endeavors to devote much time to theatre and music. Several other cast members were looking for a show to satiate their desires to perform. Others simply loved Disney and reached out to me to get involved. This is where the official formulation of White Rabbit Theatre came about.

My hope is that if this show is successful, it will be a springboard for other White Rabbit Theatre productions in the future. While the cast has a variety of ages, backgrounds, and levels of experience, there is too much talent here to be contained. Each person has exceeded my expectations as far as their commitment, level of professionalism, and raw talent, and for that I am grateful. Each and every one of these performers is truly a diamond in the rough. To my fellow directors out there, you would be wise to hire/cast them in the future.

Thank you to all who have helped get this show onstage, from the wisdom of actor/director Jim Williams, to the Trinity staff who have let us utilize their beautiful theatre, to Nightwing Whitehead for her wealth of great costumes, to Jason Ferrandino for his willingness to lend a hand, to Jason Phillips for his musical brilliance, to Chantel Martin for her spectacular choreography, and to Jeanie Wright for being my extra set of ears and eyes. Thank you to Greg Colossale for letting us use his space at BackBeat City, Ron Strine and the entire staff at The Lutheran Church of St. Mark’s for allowing us to learn dance in their hall, and to my sister Lauren for her brilliant artistry. Thank you to my mom and dad for their help with publicity and to my brother Joe for allowing us to use the house for rehearsal. A big thanks to the cast, who all took a big leap of faith in helping to get this theatre company started. Finally, a special thanks to those I have not mentioned in this paragraph! You know who you are!

Adam Tortorello, Director

A note from the MUSIC DIRECTOR

In 2014, I had the pleasure of working with Adam Tortorello in Les Miserables. We used to go with our dear friend, Jim Williams, after rehearsals, and my fiancée, Kathleen Narowski, and have long discussions on how things would be if we directed.  How we believed in the spirit of collaboration, and that regardless of age, we could potentially direct fantastic shows that everyone could be proud of.  It was at one of these meetings that I believe Adam conceived the idea of what it would be like to start his own theatre company.

A year and a half later, Adam called me up to meet, so we met over drinks, and he brought to my attention the idea of having a Disney Cabaret and that he had me in mind to music direct.  Honestly, I was skeptical at first, but after seeing his effort and willingness to put in whatever it took to make his company succeed and the fire of ambition in his eyes, I graciously agreed to music direct.

I have music directed around 15 shows before over the past 10 years, from kids to adults, but with a new theatre company, it can be scary facing the unknown.  However, after hearing all of the auditions, I can say with all confidence that I was blown away by the local talent.  

Every performer sang out with conviction and accuracy with the Disney films they were trying to emulate.  Each rehearsal has been a joy that never truly feels like a job where we all work together to create the best product possible, and everyone has been both positive and a joy to work with.  One of the earliest highlights that come to mind to me was the first time the group sang “God Help the Outcasts” with embellished harmonies and strong dynamic contrast, and there was a moment after the song finished that we all looked at each other and realized we have an awesome show, and yes, that could definitely be put on a marketable CD if we wanted to.

This has truly been a very fun “magic carpet” ride, and I have enjoyed not only music directing, but being choreographed by Chantel Martin, directed by Adam Tortorello, and then working alongside other actors in “That’s What Friends Are For,” and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.”  To be involved in so many levels is both a rare and awesome experience.  I am extremely grateful for Adam and his vision for his company and I hope to be a part of many shows to come.  It’s a great group of people and there is no drama between anyone, and everyone has a high standard of excellence. We are able to not only be strong performers, musicians, singers, and actors, but also a closely knit group of friends.  It’s unheard of, and I will miss everyone involved dearly when this is all over.

The most important lesson I learned is that regardless of your age, everyone has in their heart a love for Disney.  I hope there are moments when you watch this show as an audience member that you can be transported back to when you first saw these songs sung in your favorite Disney movies, and that the songs can move in you as it did in all of us throughout this process.

Enjoy the show!

Jason Phillips, Music Director