Tag Archives: Mia Gentile

Mia And Jack: Broadway In Bryant Park

The Staples High School-to-Broadway pipeline is well-established, and longer running than any hit show.

So it was no surprise to see 2007 graduate Mia Gentile on stage yesterday at Bryant Park. The “Kinky Boots” star was part of the weekly free outdoor concert series, in the heart of Manhattan.

What made her performance special was the photographer shooting it. Jack Bowman — a Staples Players star 8 years after Mia — was on assignment for TheaterMania.

Mia Gentile performs songs from “Kinky Boots.” (Photo/Jack Bowman for TheaterMania)

I’m sure there were other Westporters in the audience — perhaps even onstage.

And I know there are many other Mias and Jacks, waiting in the middle and elementary school wings.

(For all of Jack Bowman’s Broadway in Bryant Park photos, click here.)

Broadway Stars Warm Up Westport

If the interminable weather has got you down — and played havoc with your trips to, say, Broadway, for entertainment — here’s an “06880” special.

Last week, nearly a dozen Broadway stars came to Staples. They performed a benefit concert, helping Orphenians — the elite singing group — who head to San Francisco later this month. (They’re one of only 10 high school choirs invited to perform at a 4-day workshop with Chanticleer.)

The concert was organized by Adam Kaplan. He’s a 2008 Staples (and Orphs) alum, and already a Broadway veteran (“Newsies”).

Adam rounded up some of his most talented buddies, from the biggest New York shows. They performed spectacularly — and, in between numbers, added insights about the importance of high school theater and music. Adam and fellow Staples grad Mia Gentile were particularly compelling.

Here’s the entire show. It’s exactly the warmth we need, in this long, cold winter. (NOTE: You’ll have to click the underlined “Watch this video on YouTube” once it loads.)

If your browser does not take you directly to YouTube, click here.

 

Mia Gentile Plays “Forbidden Broadway”

Mia Gentile‘s resume includes impressive credits: Off-Broadway and regional shows; 4 years at the prestigious Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music; many awards and honors.

But things get really interesting when she lists “Special Skills”: dialects (Cockney, Scottish, Irish, Spanish, French, German); improvisational singing (jazz scat and gospel solo), and diva imitations (“i.e., Celine Dion”).

Mia Gentile

Mia Gentile

The 2007 Staples grad doesn’t even mention her role in a racy parody of a popular novel, called “Fifty Shades of F****d Up.” Or her star turn in a Stanley Steemer parody video that went viral. Mia sang that repellent jingle over and over and over again — each time in a different genre.

All of that is great training for her latest gig. Mia is one of 2 female cast members in Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging.

Right now, the show is busy adding razor-sharp send-ups of Pippin, Kinky Boots, Les Miz and Matilda, to last year’s favorites like Wicked and The Book of Mormon. Honing its edges, it opens officially on Sunday (May 4) at the Davenport Theatre on 45th Street.

It’s the type of show where Mia can play several African American roles — Diana Ross, anyone? — and land on the right side of hilarious.

Acting on a New York stage requires plenty of talent, energy, flexibility and commitment. But Forbidden Broadway‘s demands are tougher than most.

In this "Sound of Music Live on NBC" sketch, Mia plays Audra MacDonald, (right), while Carter Calvert is Carrie Underwood).

In this “Sound of Music Live on NBC” sketch, Mia plays Audra MacDonald, (right), while Carter Calvert is Carrie Underwood.

“Vocally, I’m all over the map,” Mia says. Each scene, she plays someone new. She not only has to act and sing — she’s got to act and sing like other singers and actors. She has to do it convincingly, and also with humor.

But not too much. This is parody, not slapstick.

“Vocally I’m all over the map,” Mia says. “Every number is a new costume, really a new show.”

During a manic schedule of rehearsals and preview performances, she’s learned a lot about comedy.

“You can’t prepare too much,” Mia says. “You don’t know what’s funny until you’re in front of a live audience. I just have to trust the material, and find out what works as we go along.”

Of course, Mia has prepared plenty for this role. Her career began in Westport, and Music Theater of Connecticut. She credits voice teacher Kevin Connors, Staples choral director Alice Lipson, Staples Players directors David Roth and Kerry Long, and choreographer Joanne Kahn for much of her success.

This "Cabaret Revival" sketch includes Carter Calvert as Liza Minelli, Mia Gentile as Michelle Williams playing Sally Bowles, and Scott Foster as Alan Cumming (the MC).

This “Cabaret Revival” sketch includes Carter Calvert as Liza Minelli, Mia Gentile as Michelle Williams playing Sally Bowles, and Scott Foster as Alan Cumming (the MC).

“The Staples shows were so rich, complex, stimulating, challenging and fun,” Mia says. Yet each was different. For example, Urinetown was “stylized comedy”; The Mystery of Edwin Drood taught her about improv.

At CC-M, many classmates came from performing arts schools. They could not believe Mia had gone to a public high school.

Still, nothing could have prepared the Westporter for the demands of Forbidden Broadway. Pausing in a rare free moment between yoga class and one of her 8 weekly performances (plus rehearsals), Mia says, “This show is very alive right now. We’re getting ready for Tony season, and our opening run.”

That’s no joke.

Mia Gentile Steems You

“1-800-StanleySteemer, the carpet cleaner” is not the world’s most obnoxious remember-this-phone-number jingle.

That honor goes to 1-877-Kars4Kids. Hands down.

The real Mia Gentile.

But even if you think Stanley Steemer is only mildly repellent, you won’t want to miss Mia Gentile‘s music video.

Sure, she repeats the melody over and over. And over. And over again.

But each version is only a few seconds long.

Each is sung in a different genre. There’s jazz. Opera. Girl group. Country. Latin. Torch song. Punk rock. Gospel. Lady Gaga.

Combined with dozens of costume changes, a rollicking piano accompaniment, and Mia’s versatile, vibrant voice, the result is a YouTube video that has — of course — gone viral.

It got 500 hits a couple of hours after Mia posted it on a few Facebook walls. Within a day, there were 13,000.

Now it’s nearing 50,000 hits.

Not bad for a video done just for fun. This was no guerrilla marketing ploy.

Mia Gentile, pitching Stanley Steemer.

Hopefully, though, it will bring the talented 2007 Staples grad — a veteran of Players shows like “Cabaret,” “The Wiz” and “Children of Eden,” who went on the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and earned praise for her regional theater work in plays like “Next to Normal” — to the attention of Broadway casting directors.

Or at least, the producers at a show like “Ellen.”

Mia first recorded “1-800-StanleySteemer” as a voice demo. It was a way to prove her range of styles.

Roger Klug — a very talented rock musician, writer and producer, who collaborated with her on the project — wanted her to turn her jingles into a music video.

The idea sat on the back burner while Mia auditioned in New York. When she returned to Cincinnati, though — performing every night in “Normal,” and singing in jazz clubs — she finally knocked out the video.

It took a few days to come up with costumes. But it was a fun project. Now it’s taking on a life of its own.

Mia, Mia and Mia — a ’50s girl group.

The Facebook friends whose walls Mia shyly posted the video on forwarded it along. It found its way to Reddit, Tumblr and College Humor. Quickly, it went viral.

“It wasn’t our intention to do this for casting directors, but that’s a happy byproduct,” Mia says. “Casting directors want to put you in a box. If people can see I can play a variety of types, that would be great.”

In less than 3 minutes, the video proves, Mia can sing just about any style, and perform just about any role.

Mia and Mia channel Lady Gaga.

Including a sexy woman in a sequin skirt, oozing sensuality while singing about a carpet cleaner: call Mia Gentile.

Though not at 1-800-StanleySteemer.

Click below for Mia Gentile’s YouTube viral video.)