Stephanie Riso is back in town.
In 2006, Riso and her husband, singer and voice teacher Tony Richards, moved to New York City so Riso could participate in the prestigious BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop as a composer-lyricist. The couple moved back in August when Riso became operations director at Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre, which she co-founded in 1996 with artistic director Andrew S. Paul.
Riso and Richards now live in Mt. Lebanon.
As co-founders of Cabaret Pittsburgh, Riso and Richards are dedicated to cultivating solo singers through targeted initiatives such as the Local Showcase and the Inspiring Artists Series, and a new career portfolio program that’s in the works. They also plan to maintain an ongoing relationship with New York City and Los Angeles industry professionals and hope to turn Pittsburgh into a magnet for cultivating solo singers and supporting new musical development.
Already in the works is a plan to bring in legendary Broadway performer Elaine Stritch for a single performance of her Tony Award-winning one-woman show, “Elaine Stritch: At Liberty.”
A joint presentation of Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre, in association with Cabaret Pittsburgh, “Elaine Stritch: At Liberty” will be performed at 8 p.m. Oct. 18 in The Charity Randall Theatre at the Stephen Foster Memorial on the University of Pittsburgh campus in Oakland.
The star who would play me in the movie version of my life:
Either Patty LuPone or Barbra Streisand — they’d be perfect because they’ve got my nose and we’re singers.
Childhood hero and why:
Policemen — for keeping peace and order in difficult times.
Pick your favorite captain:
D. Jack Sparrow
B. Kangaroo — he’s a cool dude with a cool mustache.
A. Andrew Lloyd Webber
B. Richard Rodgers
C. Stephen Sondheim
D. John Kander
C. It has been my lifetime goal to meet him in person — but no such luck yet. I wrote a letter to him after seeing “Passion” in London. Of course, I never sent it because I didn’t know his address.
If the TV is on at 2 a.m., I’m watching:
The channel that is playing the “The Star Spangled Banner” and showing a waving flag … and I’m wondering what the program is.
Three people I’d love to have dinner with:
Stephen Sondheim (See previous question), someone who is really smart and talked the whole time so I wouldn’t have to, and Stephen Sondheim again.
After a long day, I like to relax with a:
B. Cold beer
D. Herbal tea
None of the above. I have workaholic tendencies.
My quirkiest inherited trait:
Is the exact placement of moles identical to my mother’s … weird!
My favorite sandwiches, plus fixings:
Italian subs that include Italian dressing, yellow peppers, black olives, tomatoes and letture — toasted, please.
The first play I saw:
Hmm … I honestly think I was deprived of seeing much live theater. I can remember seeing my brothers and sisters in their musicals, “Sugar Babies” on tour and “Les Miz” (“Les Miserables”) from childhood. That’s about it.
One word your mother would use to describe you:
Nope — although I can admit I had a huge crush on Luke Skywalker when I was a kid.
The oldest thing in my refrigerator is:
Couldn’t say — I don’t cook.
My required snack in a movie theater is:
Could be Raisinettes, could be popcorn, could be nachos — depends on the night.
When I was 10, I wanted to be:
Krystle Starr, sitting in my outdoor lawn chair with sunglasses on, sipping iced tea, surrounded by people wanting my autograph.
If I had to give up theater, I would:
Croak — literally and figuratively. (P.S.: I’m a singer.)
If I were auditioning for “American Idol,” my song would be:
“Call Me” by Blonde. It belts pretty high and gets the point across.
The play I never tire of seeing:
“Sweeney Todd” — I can’t believe I liked the movie!
TV marathon you could watch all day and why:
It appears I can watch “Law and Order” all day, because I have fallen under the spell.
The person I’m most often mistaken for:
A. Can’t do cats — hubby’s deathly allergic. And I cat-sat once — it didn’t go too well.
Opening nights are:
The worst advice I ever received:
Was from the mother of an out-of-town actress who said I needed to get a nose job — I didn’t.
I own 7 pairs of shoes. My favorites are:
The ones that are falling apart — of course.
A. Roomy — very, very roomy
In high school, I was:
Most likely to walk into a tree — is that rightâ¢ I can’t remember now. On the student council and led the annual fruit sale fundraiser — I used to sit in class and count up all the money from the day’s proceeds.
The most famous person I ever became friends with:
Does Liza Minelli grabbing me and telling me my singing was wonderful count?
D. Totally Ringo — for the rhythm. I’ve dated three drummers — no, four — in my lifetime. Hmm, too much info?
The movie that always makes me cry:
Anything if you catch me at the wrong time of the month.
Pick one you love or hate:
B. Polka dots
B. Oooh — polka dots — nasty! I wore a polka dotted skirt once — once! — and I’ll never live it down.
What you’ll always find in my glove compartment:
Gave up my car when I moved to New York City. Now I’m back in Pittsburgh and car-less. Interesting thing: the Port Authority and public transportation when you aren’t in NYC.
My most embarrassing junk food:
If I weren’t a singer-actor-artist, I’d be:
The last book I read:
Didn’t finish it — something about social marketing.
It’s not pizza without:
Mozzarella, tomato, basil.
A. Original Hot Dog Shop fries
B. Primanti Brothers fries
C. Potato Patch fries
D. Pommes frites
The O rocks!
My favorite Web site:
Anything that doesn’t talk back.
My most memorable fashion mistake:
The polka-dotted skirt — or wearing tight jeans to an audition where we had to dance.
Pick a Bond:
A. Sean Connery
B. Timothy Dalton
C. Pierce Brosnan
D. Daniel Craig
Can’t do it — I love them all. But … well, okay — Sean baby!
If I could live my life as someone else, it would be:
An engineer or inventor of something really cool and useful.
My childhood nickname was:
Shaaark (imagine saying it with the “ark” part extended out).
My first job:
Non paid: Helping my mother correct papers for the Stenographic Institute of WNYC, which my dad started.
Paid: Billy Bob’s Ice Cream Stand.
My worst job:
Understudy for three roles at the same time and never going on.
My favorite cable channel:
Video on Demand — I love the control.
The song that always gets me out on the dance floor and why:
“Super Freak” or “Rock Lobster” — they are so much fun. Can’t you hear the music bopping in your head?
Life would be better without:
All the lies …
If I could tour with any two bands, they would be:
Led Zeppelin and Bon Jovi.
I never travel without my:
Sweater. The airplanes are so cold — brrr!
People would be surprised to know that I:
Really do care about making a difference in whatever way I can.