This Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 4 PM, Young Artists of America and Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras will present West Side Story + Roméo et Juliette at The Music Center at Strathmore. In Part 1 of 3 interviews, meet Alex Stone.
Introduce yourself and tell our readers about where they may have seen you perform in the DC area:
Hey! My name’s Alex Stone. I work a lot with the Theatre Company at my school, McLean High School. Recent productions: Big Fish, Catch Me If You Can, Annie, Rent, Les Miserables. Around town, I performed in a production of Sweeney Todd and with Young Artists of America in Songs For A New World.
What type of vocal training have you recieved to prepare you for this performance?
I have studied with Muriel Von Villas for going on 5 years now. Working with her and YAA’s Rolando Sanz on achieving a more classical sound has made the work a lot easier and definitely enjoyable.
Why did you want to be part of this performance?
I love the way Young Artists teaches the performer not just how to approach the work from a musical standpoint and to sing it with ease, but also how to craft the arch of each piece and conveying it clearly to the audience.
Which role are you singing and tell us about your character and how you relate to him? Have you ever played this role before, and if you have, how is this production and your performance different or the same?
I play Tony. I haven’t play a serious romantic role like this where the character is absolutely head over heels in love. It’s a very nice change from the dramatic, passionionate, and commanding guy I usually play to the softer, gentle one. It has absolutely opened my eyes as an actor to the wind spectrum of levels I can play.
Tell me about the songs you are singing and what we learn about your character when you are singing your songs.
At first, Tony sings “Something’s Coming,” which is more of a taste of his frantic and excited side, not knowing exactly what might happen but it will be amazing. Then, it is love at first sight when he sings “Maria” and his entire world is changed after he kisses this girl. Both Maria and Tony sing “Tonight” where they both describe the amazing and glorious sensations they felt with each other. They state their vows to each other not matter the chaos around them in “One Hand, One Heart”. After Riff and Bernardo are dead, they plan to escape where the world is behind them and they can be forever one in “Somewhere.”
Take us into your auditon. What did you perform and how long after your audition did you find out that you had the role?
I sang one of my songs I had been working on for my college auditions. Then, they asked me to sing a section of “Something’s Coming,” which was also an audition song of mine. The audition was very relaxed and positive and I heard back a few weeks later.
How would you describe Leonard Bernstein’s score and Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics for West Side Story?
Brilliant. I don’t know if I would have understood how brilliant it is if I wasn’t taking AP Music Theory this year at my school. Bernstein repeats a lot of his melodies in each song and Sondheim cleverly places the words in each song where they make sense over all of the show.
What is your favorite song that you are not singing?
“America” hands down. There is so much sass and fun to be had in that number. I would want to be in that number. However… I am not a girl. But I digress.
What is your favorite lyric or lyrics from any song from the show and why?
In “Maria,” Tony describes her name as the most wonderful sound he ever heard. He says “Say it loud and there’s music playing! Say it soft and it’s almost like praying.” Its not the words but the music underneath that make it glorious. Also in “One Hand, One Heart,, they sing, “Even death won’t part us now.” On the word death, the note is flattened and it sounds sour and dark, giving a hint to what to come (spoiler alert).
How long has the rehearsal process lasted? Take us into your rehearsals. How many will you have had before Sunday’s performance?
We will have rehearsal for the rest of this week, weather permitting. In each rehearsal, we get fully warmed up vocally to stay healthy and what have you, then we spend the rest of the time work on music, blocking, and my favorite, Stage Combat!
What have you learned about yourself the singer during these rehearsals?
Having a classical background of singing has never been more useful. It has helped me sustain my voice through rough patches, but it is extremely useful in this show to sing with a classical voice to reach those high notes.
What have you learned during your time at YAA that has made you a better singer and actor?
You can ALWAYS use classical singing to keep control and stability when singing any kind of music. You will sustain your voice longer and have a much longer career.
What does West Side Story have to say to your generation? What themes and lessons are still relevant today?
Talk to everybody to solve your problems. If everyone in either West Side Story or Romeo and Juliet had just talked everything through with their families and friends first, no one would have died and everyone would have lived happily ever after. Then again, that wouldn’t be a terribly interesting plot.
This Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 4:00 pm
The Music Center at Strathmore
Marriott Concert Stage
5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD 20852
PURCHASE TICKETS HERE
Read the coverage of Alex Stone on DCMetroTheaterArts.
This Sunday, March 8th at 4 PM at Strathmore: Young Artists of America And MCYO Philharmonic & Symphony Orchestras Present ‘West Side Story and Romeo et Juliette’ on DCMTA.
Read all our YAA coverage on DCMetroTheaterArts.
Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras website.
Young Artists of America website.
The Music Center at Strathmore website.