Sunday, June 23, 2013

Alex Chester: Minnie Faye, National Asian Artist’s Production of Hello, Dolly (April 2013)



Alex Chester in the National Asian Artist Project's Hello, Dolly! (Courtesy Alex Chester)
Alex Chester grew up in southern California. She started performing professionally at a very young age. At 5 she began her career in modeling, and was the cover for such magazines as Parenting, Woman’s Day, and Victoria Magazine. She modeled children’s clothing lines on The Home Show, along with posters for malls, catalogues, department store and newspaper ads.
It was in the genes. Alex’s mother was also a dancer. Alex was always exposed to theater growing up and she always knew from the get go that she desired to be on stage.  
With a successful modeling career underway Alex ventured into commercials and became the face that introduced the Chevy Geo to the world. Many commercials later Alex has once again introduced a new vehicle, this time the Ford Kuga to Europe.
Television followed commercials, including such shows as 7th Heaven, Boston Pubic, ER and The Closer. Alex filmed the title role in the Independent film, The Mermaid, produced by the award winning production company, Walter Robot Studios.
Alex even had a stint in the pop world as a member of the girl group, Dream, produced by P. Diddy.
Theatre has always been in Alex’s life. She  saw her first live production when she was 4.
with Jaygee Macapugay as Irene Molloy
By the age of 5 Alex had a role in Gigi at the now defunct Equity dinner theatre in Anaheim, The Grand. She worked for Norwegian Cruise Lines at the age of 7 playing Tootie in Meet Me In St. Louie, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz in the Broadway Review, and singing for the Captain’s embarkation parties. Alex has been seen a Mary Rogers in the West Coast premier of The Will Rogers Follies, The Dead Girl in East/West Players production of Six Characters In Search of An Author, flying across the stage as Peter Pan, performing for the Royal National Theatre’s tour of An Inspector Calls, dancing as Eliza in The King and I at the Welk Resort, Punky Who in How The Grinch Stole Christmas at the Pantages Theatre, The Magic Carpet in Disney’s Aladdin Spectacular and Connie in A Chorus Line for the Berkshire Theatre Festival.
Alex has had the pleasure of working with Jeff Marx, co-creator of Ave Q, who wrote the role of Connie for her in his 15 minute musical, Oh God, We’re Gonna Die, the track of which can be heard at http://www.anmt.tv.
Alex is very pleased to have once again landed in Whoville, this time at Madison Square Gardens in December 2012.
Alex is currently working on her bachelor’s degree in theatre through St. Mary's College LEAP Program and was awarded The Caroline H. Newhouse Scholarship for Dancers.
All of this paved the way for her brilliant performance, evoking images of the original Sondra Lee, in the National Asian Artist’s Project’s Hello, Dolly, produced by Baayork Lee and directed by the most logical choice, Lee Roy Reams! With this production, fully staged, the company had a total of forty hours rehearsal. It was all helped by the fact that Lee Roy, assisted by Randy Slovacek, was so crystal clear about what he desired.  That clarity made Alex’s work very easy. Lee Roy knew EXACTLY what he wanted and how he wanted it done. 
All Alex had to do was take his direction and put it forth in the right direction.
Alex also had the added bonus of having done the show twice before. She didn’t play Minnie Fay at that time but it certainly influenced her as to who and what Minnie Fay is all about.
Both previous times that Alex did Dolly, she portrayed Ermengarde. She did it once at the Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater in California with Barbara Hendrickson as Dolly and once at The Welk Resort with Cathy Gene Greenwood.
With the National Asian Artist’s Project, Alex saw at Actor’s Equity that auditions were coming up. She definitely desired to now play Minnie Fay AND in this production. 
with Rebecca Lee Lerman as Ermengarde
It had been a goal of hers to play that part. It was a history making production. It was the first time this classic American musical was done by an all Asian-American Company. It is important to note that Asian American actors, as well as other nationalities and races should have the same opportunities that are afforded Caucasian actors.   
For her first initial audition, she sang The World Must Be Bigger than An Avenue, which is from another Gower Champion musical, Irene, which starred Debbie Reynolds. 
Baayork asked Alex if she could tap and Alex gave an affirmative. She then did a few shuffles and wings for Baayork. She was told she was wonderful and was called in for a callback. They gave her Minnie Fay’s “Cherries and Feathers” monologue and a scene with Mrs. Molloy. They also had her sing again. She got feedback from Lee Roy and repeated some of this. Watching and hearing him say some of the lines, Alex thought he would make a great Dolly! She would LOVE to see him play Dolly.
Lee Roy was at both auditions. Alex got the part the day after her callback.
When Alex is cast in a role, she likes to get the script right away. She likes to show up at the first rehearsal completely off book if possible and familiar with the music, especially when there is only going to be forty hours of rehearsal. Alex is quick with blocking. When she knows the script, she doesn’t need to write things down. She knows where she is required to be.
with Sam Tanabe as Barnaby
When in production, if she gets a big laugh, for example on a bit. She puts that in the back of her mind in order to replicate it. While doing this, the goal is to keep it very fresh, otherwise, it will get stale.  
After completing the two shows of this production, Alex walked away with self confidence in her work. She feels better as a performer after proving to herself that she could do this. She is also taking away wonderful new friendships that she made. It was an overall beautiful experience for Alex. She remembers seeing the 1994 tour with Carol Channing when she was a young girl.

The company, itself, had a huge impact on Alex.
When Alex was a few years younger, she worked on a cruise ship. One of the dancers in the show had appeared in the 1995 tour. She actually remembered seeing him in it. She would have loved to have been in his shoes and work with Carol Channing.
If there were NO restrictions, Alex would LOVE to play Cornelius. The character is so quirky and full of innocence and love and life and such a goofball that it must be a fun role to play.  
The most difficult moment for Alex occurred due to a missed rehearsal. She was out because of a call back. She literally had twenty minutes to pick up all of her steps for the Dancin’ number which is one of the most intricate aspects of the show. Everyone was gracious enough to let her out of rehearsal but it was a difficult pick-up. She ran it, they told her to remember it, and they moved on.
Alex is very happy with the entire end result with her involvement with this production. She, like Minnie, is a happy-go-lucky girl who has a bright outlook on life.
Hello, Dolly, to Alex has wonderful message about love and taking chances. It teaches everyone to live their
with Baayork Lee
lives the way they desire to live their lives.
Her favorite piece of music in the show is a piece that she was not of. It is the Waiter’s Gallop. She feels that it is truly perfect as originally conceived. She always loves the way that it integrates with the scene.   
As of this writing, Alex is in the process of getting her B.A. The advice that she would give to anyone desiring to go into this profession is “Don’t give up”. There is a lot of negativity and rejection in this business. It is the nature of the business.
Hello, Dolly, to Alex, once again is reaffirmation for one to never give up on their dreams and to go after what one desires in life and not wait for someone to hand it to you on a plate. She certainly lives by this philosophy!

Thank you Alex Chester for the gifts you have given to the world and will continue to give!
Can't wait to see your next appearance!


 With grateful XOXOXs ,

 
And don't miss my next special event!


RESERVE TODAY! Richard Skipper Celebrates Jackie Joseph: LIVE at The Metropolitan Room in NYC JULY 3rd at 7PM! A benefit for Actors and Others For Animals (http://www.actorsandothers.com).
Richard and Jackie will sit down for an intimate chat to discuss her career and life and the people she has worked with for the first forty-five minutes.
Imagine "Inside the Actor's Studio" but with Richard Skipper's own personal style.
The last fifteen minutes will be comprised of questions from the audience.

Jackie will meet and greet the audience downstairs afterward.

RICHARD SKIPPER  is a Storyteller! He is also a popular entertainer, theater historian and pop culture blogger. He has conducted over 500 interviews for his daily blog celebrating people in the arts and is currently writing a book to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of Hello, Dolly!, based also in part on his award-winning callondolly.com website chronicling the Broadway classic. He has covered several opening nights as the voice of Feinstein’s at Loews Regency and has conducted on-stage interviews for Carol Channing, Tommy Tune, Ron Young and Peggy Pope at Barnes & Noble and Queensboro Community College. (RichardSkipper.com and CallonDolly.com ) 2013 has been a breakout year for Richard. Richard was the associate producer of the 2010, 2012, 2013 Bistro Awards. He recently produced Peggy Herman’s CD Release Party at Feinsteins, directed by Peter Glebo and Tommy Tune, and it was an SRO success. He also Pamela Luss’ run at The Metropolitan Room, NYC. Richard can be seen in Dori Berenstein's CAROL CHANNING: LARGER THAN LIFE. Richard is now focused mostly on his writing and producing this year. He has a highly successful blog called RICHARD SKIPPER CELEBRATES, focusing on Artists and their body of "Worth" and what makes a great UNIQUE entertainer!

Jackie Joseph is an American character actress, voice artist, and writer known for portraying Alan Brady's niece Jackie on the Dick van Dyke Show, as well as the film characters of: Audrey Fulquard in the original The Little Shop of Horrors, Sheila Futterman in both Gremlins films, and the voice of Melody in the animated television series Josie and the Pussycats and Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space. She was a regular on The Doris Day Show portraying Doris' friend, Jackie Parker and also famously played the love interest of Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show as well as Imogene Harris, the eccentric love-interest of Mario (Jaime Farr) in Who's Minding The Mint…THAT’S JUST FOR STARTERS!
Fifty percent of every cover will benefit Actors and Others For Animals (http://www.actorsandothers.com).
$20.00. Cover ($10.00 of every cover goes to Actors and Others for Animals)/Two drink minimum. Reservations a MUST: 34 W 22nd St  New York, NY 10010
http://metropolitanroom.com/show.cfm?cart&id=104228
(212) 206-0440
Win a chance to win a fabulous gift basket!
Please call with any questions you may have 845-365-0720
TWEET: Richard Skipper Celebrates Jackie Joseph: LIVE at The Metropolitan Room in NYC! For Actors and Others For Animals 7/3 @ 7PM



Check out my site celebrating my forthcoming book on Hello, Dolly!
If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with YOU!




If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at Richard@RichardSkipper.com.



NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!





When it comes to the history of Jerry Herman’s brilliant production, beyond the 5000+ performances of my own, even I turn to Richard Skipper when I have questions about the remarkable ladies who followed me in the role that the world fell in love with over 50 years ago.”-Carol Channing

              
My next blog will be...Samantha Rehr: Hello, Dolly through the eyes of a fifteen year old High School Dolly!


Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!


  


TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com                            
 

This Blog is dedicated to ALL THE DOLLYS and ANYONE who has EVER had a connection with ANY of them on ANY Level!
         





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