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More Great News About Aaron Galligan-Stierle

May 1, 2009 - Phyllis Sigal
Aaron Galligan-Stierle, a 1998 Wheeling Park High School graduate, who has been involved in theater since his early days in Wheeling, just keeps in racking up some great jobs!

His latest big news is that he's been cast as Henry Ford in the Kennedy' Center's production of "Ragtime," which opened in April to rave reviews and continues through May 17 in the Eisenhower Theater. And, it's already almost sold out! The show is based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow.

After high school, Galligan-Stierle received his bachelor's degree in musical theater from Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., and then a master's degree in acting from Penn State University. He spent his summers at professional theaters including Shenandoah Summer Musical Theater, the "Lost Colony" in Manteo, N.C., as well as at a variety of Shakespeare Festivals, including The Utah Shakespearean Festival.

And since 2005, he's been in New York City, working professionally.

"Ragtime" premiered on Broadway on Jan. 18, 1998, and was the Tony Award Winner that year for Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Musical Score, Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Audra McDonald) and Best Orchestrations. It also won a number of Drama Desk awards.

According to the Kennedy Center's Web site, "In this brand-new production of the acclaimed Broadway musical Ragtime, the Kennedy Center turns back the clock to the start of the 20th century — a time when anything was possible and ragtime music was king! For many, New York City was the land of opportunity. A poor Jewish immigrant sells his 'moving picture' books on the street. A wealthy Victorian couple welcomes a runaway into their home. A Harlem jazz pianist turns an issue of justice into a revolution. One by one, their personal journeys come alive as historic figures offer guidance and diversion--among them escape artist Harry Houdini, auto tycoon Henry Ford, famed educator Booker T. Washington, and chorus girl Evelyn Nesbit. Together, their stories celebrate the struggle between tradition and independence… black and white ... old and new ... all in pursuit of the American dream."

Here is my recent Q&A with Aaron:

PRS: Tell me about your latest role in "Ragtime." What part do you play? How do you feel about the role — especially compared to past roles. 

A G-S: I will be playing the role of "Henry Ford" as well as being a member of the ensemble. The character of Henry Ford is a really nice featured role. I have several brief scenes as well as a big song in Act 1.  One of the interesting things about this show is the way that the fictional characters lives are intertwined with real historical figures. In the little time that Henry Ford appears on stage, I believe the writing of this particular show allows him to leave a strong and interesting impression as a man who changed the face of America by inventing the assembly line. I am also extremely excited to be a member of the ensemble. This is one of my favorite shows of all time and to be honest, I really hope I get to be in every scene, singing every song...and being a member of the ensemble will allow me to be on stage a lot! For this, I am extremely excited and grateful.

PRS: And your newsletter says that you are understudying the principle role of "Father." Have you understudied a principle role before? How does it feel to learn the role and wonder if you'll be able to play it on stage? Is it frustrating or just exciting to have the opportunity? Is it a good "resume builder" to have?

A G-S: I am very excited to be understudying the role of "Father." It is always a great opportunity when something like this comes along (especially in a show i love so much). By being an understudy, I will have the opportunity to learn more of the music, be involved with more of the creative process, and keep my skills as an actor sharp. I actually really enjoy being an understudy because it allows me to really study another actors choices and process with a intensity that is rarely possible. I have been blessed to understudy roles many times in the past but have only "gone on" once before. I played the role of Pickering in My Fair Lady for almost 2 weeks while working at Utah Shakes.

PRS:You've mentioned in the past that you always play "the funny guy." Is this a "funny guy" role?

A G-S: While Henry Ford is definitely a "character part," I am really excited that I will be playing a more serious role than I have in a while. It is always a treat to have an opportunity to do something which is different.  

PRS: Tell me about "Ragtime." What's it about?

A G-S: Ragtime is basically about race relations at the turn of the century. It is truly a great American story. It is about what happens when different cultures come together in this great "mixing bowl" that is the United States. It is about the conflicts but also, more importantly, about what can be gained by this sharing of culture and experience. It is one of the best American musicals ever written and it will be a true honor to be able to perform it in Washington DC at such a historic time for our country.

PRS: Have you ever performed at the Kennedy Center?

A G-S: This will be my first time performing at the Kennedy Center.

PRS: A little more than a year ago, you were in in "The Grinch" on Broadway. How does this role compare?

A G-S: "The Grinch" on Broadway was an incredible experiance. There is nothing in the world like performing on a Broadway stage for the first time. It is truly magical and a culmination of so much time and energy that is leading up to that one experiance.

But I have to say, that if the Kennedy Center was simply located in a different city, it would be a Broadway Theater. It truly is the next best thing. It is the closest thing we have to a National Theater and I can't wait for Opening Night.

PRS: I know you are a busy guy, always working in your field. What have you been doing since "Grinch"? I know I post ed a blog about your role in "Cinderella." How did that go?

A G-S: My Cinderella tour through Asia was truly one of my favorite experiances of my life. I could not have asked for a kinder, more fun group of people to travel the world with. The show was fun, the countries were beautiful, and the people were incredible.

PRS: Any idea what's next for you?

A G-S: As of right now, my plan is to return to NY, enjoy being with my wife,  and continue searching for my next job.



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