Dancer Adds to Repetoire through Opera-Lytes

Raymond F. Castro is playing Mr. Maraczek, the owner of Maraczek’s Parfumery, in She Loves Me. Below he shares his journey of how he came to love performing.

So what’s your story? What brought you to musical theatre?

I had started taking ballet in my early 30’s to get into shape–I couldn’t stand jogging. The studio I attended had a dance company that was invited to perform in two operas at Artpark.   I was asked if I would like to be a supernumerary, and I found myself on stage dressed as a paige in “Riggoletto”.   And as ridiculous as I looked, I knew then that I wanted a lot more of performing.

How did you get involved in Opera-Lytes?

I first learned about Opera-lytes at, of all things, a funeral. I was introduced to someone who told me all about performing for Opera-Lytes.   Some time afterward I saw the audition notice in the paper for “The Sorcerer”, and I offered my services as an extra or a dancer.   I was invited to a rehearsal and found myself for the first time in front of the piano.  I was relegated to the base section and have been there ever since.

You went from dancing to singing…anything else you can do?

Recently I have branched out more into serious acting as well.  My first significant role was Paul Sycamore in the comedy “You Can’t Take It With You”,  produced by Hamburg Theater Under the Stars.  But I still do ballets, and just performed as Dr. Coppelias in the Greater Buffalo Youth Ballets production of “Coppelia”. Most of my stage career has been as a dancer.  I love to dance, so any time I can get on stage as a dancer is special for me.

What has been challenging about your role in She Loves Me?

The director, Deb Jasinski, asked me to help with choreography for the show. Opera-lytes is known for great singing, and as usual the cast for She Loves Me is incredible and the vocal sound is amazing.  My challenge has been getting all of the cast more comfortable with movement.


She Loves Me opens May 15, 2014 and runs till May 18, at the Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo, NY. Visit for tickets!

Opera-Lytes Provides Challenge and Fulfillment for Cast Member

Nicholas Mark Czaplicki recently answered a few questions about his experiences in theatre, how he got involved with Opera-Lytes, and his current role (George Nowack) for the upcoming production of She Loves Me!

Tell us how how you got involved in theatre, and what led you to Opera-Lytes?

My involvement in theater started when I was in elementary school. I was in all the school musicals until I graduated and earned the drama award my senior year. I went to college at SUNY Fredonia and continued performing in shows there. At Fredonia, I had an amazing accompanist, Tricia Betcher. A couple years after we both graduated, I received a message asking me if I still performed and if I would be interested in auditioning for a Gilbert and Sullivan show. I had never done a G&S show before, but I was familiar with them because I sang a couple pieces with my voice teacher in college. I came to the audition, once again reunited with my talented accompanist, and landed the role of J.W. Wells.

This is your third show with Opera-Lytes. Can you say more about that?

I really enjoyed the past shows I have been in through Opera Lytes. I was Captain Corcoran in Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore and J.W. Wells in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer. Working with Opera Lytes is a much different experience than working with any other company. First of all, there are so many talented and knowledgeable people. The directors have clear visions, but work with the performers to make sure we look and sound our best. Second, we have a lot of fun in rehearsal, but we are also very professional. We know what work needs to get done, and our directors expect us to get the job done. Finally, we are a family. I have only been with Opera Lytes for two years, but from the moment I walked into the rehearsal room, I felt more welcomed than I have anywhere else. Since then, this wonderful group of people have been some of the most supportive, helpful, and amazing people I have ever known.

Compare “She Loves Me” to other shows you have done.

Before coming to Opera-Lytes, my favorite was a production at SUNY Fredonia of Godspell. This show is very special to me because I’m used to playing the comic relief, and now I am  cast as a romantic love interest. Overall, She Loves Me has been a great experience because all of the characters interact so well, and not one person is strictly the comic relief – we all get to keep the audience laughing.

What were some of the challenges of preparing for the role of George Nowack?

The best thing about performing in a show is the ability to transform yourself into someone new. This is also the challenge. In order to connect with the character,  I did some research such as watching the movie “You’ve Got Mail” , which  has a similar plot. I also familiarized myself with the works of literature referenced in She Loves Me. It has definitely helped me understand the character and the world he lived in.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about coming out to see the show?

I promise the audience will have a great time!!! We have a fantastic cast and crew, and we have great directors at the helm! It’s going to be an incredible show!


She Loves Me opens May 15, 2014 and runs till May 18, at the Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo, NY. Visit for tickets!



Small Cast, Big Opportunity: The Experience of an Ensemble Member in She Loves Me

We recently chatted with Emily Yancey, who is performing in the Shopper Trio and ensemble of the May 2014 production of She Loves Me. Emily has been involved in theatre ever since middle school, has appeared in lead roles  in several Opera-lytes productions, and recently appeared as “Laurey” in Oklahoma! with the Lancaster Opera House.

What is fun and exciting about performing in a show?

I always enjoy rehearsals because it is provides me with the challenge of learning new material while determining how best to use my instrument to express the material. It’s fresh and exciting. The actual performances themselves produce a blend of nervous excitement and pride as I get to showcase the hard work I’ve put into a role.

 What is it like preparing for “She Loves Me”, compared to other shows you have done?

The characters in “She Loves Me” are delightfully comical and a pleasure to portray. I get a personal satisfaction from satirizing the materialistic, desperate house-wife personality–it’s one I feel deserves a good mocking.

 What is unique about doing this for Operalytes?

The ensemble for this show is very small. I’m not used to small ensemble shows, and it is definitely a different experience. You end up putting that much more energy into your scenes since there are so few of them.

 How and when did you get involved in Opera-lytes?

I initially found Opera-Lytes through an ArtVoice audition ad for their Opera & Broadway concert a couple years back. I find them a delightful, diverse, and accepting group of people whom I am always happy to work with.

 What is challenging about the role, and how have you prepared for it?

This particular role is challenging in that it is less about beauty of sound and more about personality and color. In that way, I have to produce the character through my voice, which requires more focus and attention than if I were just singing as Emily. I’m learning how to color my voice in comical ways, while still retaining a beautiful sound in areas that it is expected and/or required. This is toning my mental and vocal flexibility and adaptation for character.

 Do you have any promises for the audience? What should they expect?

Though it may not seem it, the music for this show is wonderfully complex. They should expect clear, well-developed characters with an anything-but-simple score to support it. You should also be prepared to laugh.

 Is there anything else you would like to share?

Just wait for the café scene! 😉


She Loves Me opens May 15, 2014 and runs till May 18, at the Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo, NY. Visit for tickets!


Spotlight on “Sipos”

We recently interviewed Dale M.McKim, Jr., who is playing the role of Sipos in our May 2014 production of She Loves Me. This is his first show with Opera-Lytes.

How did you get involved in theatre?

Back in college, a professor suggested that I audition.

What were some of your favorite roles in the past?

Favorite roles in the past include Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, King Duncan in Shakespeare’s MacBeth, and Nicely in Guys & Dolls.

What is the best part about being in this show, or any show for that matter?

She Loves Me is not often done. It is a unique project. But overall, I enjoy the rehearsal process.

What has been challenging about preparing for the role of Sipos?

I have a difficult solo, Perspective, in the first Act.

Can you tell us more about that?

There is a subplot where the character I portray is insecure, afraid of being fired. In the song Sipos outlines, to the male romantic lead, his survival strategy. The song constantly changes tempos–I would guess around 20 times.  I spend about a half hour or so just on that song every  day and I am still not there yet. Thank God for Paul’s patience.

She Loves Me opens May 15, 2014 and runs till May 18, at the Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo, NY. Visit for tickets!

A Policeman’s Part in Pirates of Penzance

Dan Lenard is member of the chorus for the 2013 Operalytes production of The Pirates of Penzance. He is particularly distinguished as one of the fine Policemen!


What is fun and exciting about performing in a Gilbert and Sullivan opera?

Ever since I saw HMS Pinafore at the old Studio arena Theater in 6th grade (A LONG TIME AGO), I’ve had  love of Gilbert and Sullivan! The time was right and its great to be back on stage after so many years away.

What do you like about The Pirates of Penzance, compared to other shows you have done?

I love its Victorian campiness. Its very different from the Broadway musicals I used to do.

What is unique about doing this for Operalytes?

Great crew, great cast, wonderful direction, inspiration!

How they you prepared for your role, and how are you trying to bring out the theme of growing up?

Growing up? This is growing up? This is total regression to my youth!

Have there been any particular challenges for you  in your role?

I can’t read music very well… but I can count!

Have you learned anything from your experience performing in The Pirates of Penzance?

How to read music better.

Do you have any promises for the audience? What should they expect?

A rip-roarious good time and lots of highlights!

Major General Stanley: Plucky and Adventurey!

John Vogt is performing as Major General Stanley for Operalyte’s production of The Pirates of Penzance, opening May 10, 2013 at the Alleyway Theatre, Buffalo, NY. He recently sat down with Operalyte’s Publicity Coordinator, Pamela Szalay, to answer a few questions about his experience preparing for the role.

Question: What is it like peJohn (3)rforming in The Pirates of Penzance, compared to other shows you have done?

I really enjoy Major General Stanley. He’s not as cerebral as the Lord Chancelor—I played  that role in 2012 for Operalytes’ production  of Iolanthe. The Major General fancies himself really knowledgeable, but he’s knowledgeable in all for wrong places for his career. He makes no excuses for it, either!

Q: How have you prepared for your role?

The same way you get to Carnegie hall, practice, practice, practice! For me it’s all about line memorization and getting the rhyme schemes. I have also listened to several different recordings and have spoken with my brother, who is currently the president the Maine Gilbert & Sullivan Society. He has been in the show several times and has been a great resource.

Q: Can you share some of challenges of playing Major-General Stanley?

There are a couple things. First, there is differentiating Stanley from other patter roles in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. For example, there is Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore and the Lord Chancelor in Iolanthe. I want Stanley to have his own personality and not be a stock character.

And then there is the patter song itself, Modern Major General—basically, I’ve been consumed by memorizing the lyrics and learning when to breathe so I can get them all out!

Q: Are you learning anything new in this production?


Q: In general, what do you like about performing in Gilbert & Sullivan operetta’s?

I love the structure of the words in the music. It’s genius. The words are intelligently placed within complex melodies. It’s like a musical literary puzzle! And there is such a sense of joy about how the songs are written: the celebration of witty lyrics, the intricate rhyme scheme, mixed with all those wonderful eights and sixteenth notes. I just think it’s fantastic.

Q: Do you have a favorite line from this show?

I love saying “Though I’m plucky and adventury”

Q: Any words for the audience?

I want them to feel Stanley’s energy and  laugh with him!

The Major-General in his P.J.'s?

The Major-General in his P.J.’s?

The Music Director Speaks!

James Welch is the Music Director for Operalytes’ 2013 production of The Pirates of Penzance. Previously, Mr. Welch has served as Operalytes’ pianist and rehearsal accompanist for concerts and stage productions.

James Welch conducts with video cam

James Welch conducting with the help of a video camera

You are not new to Operalytes, but this is your first time on the other side of the production staff. What are some of the challenges you have faced?

One of the biggest challenges of conducting an Opera or Musical is to create a musical sound that supports the story and character actions.  Then there is the technical challenge of keeping all the  musicians,whether they are performing from the stage or the pit, working together despite the physical separation. In the case of this production, the pit orchestra will be behind all of the staging and I will be conducting from far up and center stage.

So the cast can’t see you? That’s awkward.

Yes, very awkward. Obviously the cast needs to see me to get their cues. We solved this challenge by placing a video monitor at the front of the stage that transmits a live video feed of me conducting in the back.

That sounds a little awkward, too. How did that go?

We tried it last weekend and the cast and production staff was really happy with the result!

Just talking about the music now, what are the challenges of directing  The Pirates of Penzance?

This is the first show I’ve done that has three separate choruses.  There is the women’s chorus and two men’s choruses: one for the Pirates, and another for the Policemen. It has been interesting to work on interplay between them, as well as bringing out all the musical and character attributes.

Do you have any final words for the audience?

We have an extremely dedicated and talented cast and orchestra.  Plus the story is hilarious, and the music is easy to listen to.  When you come see our show, be ready to laugh and have a great night out at the theater.