March 3, 2016

Backstage at the Egyptian: An Interview with Phil Masterton from Beth Fowler Dance Company

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Interview conducted by Brandon Pugh – Egyptian Theatre Intern 

Phil is a 20 year veteran of Broadway and London’s West End. He retired 15 years ago and went back into Radio & TV. Phil currently works for the Northern Public Radio.  In the upcoming productions of Paquita and Annie, Phil will play Daddy Warbucks. Visit the Egyptian Theatre online to purchase your tickets for this event! 

Brandon: How did you find out about Beth Fowler Dance Company?

Phil: Years ago I hosted a show on the radio and Beth’s studio was in my territory. I often drove by and one day just decided to stop in and see what the facility was like. I was very pleased to find Beth teaching good technique, unlike many small town studios. Beth was very sweet and we talked for a long time.

Brandon: How many years have you danced with Beth Fowler Dance Company? Do you compete?

Phil: I don’t dance for the company, but the year I met Beth, the gentleman who normally played Herr Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker for her was injured. Beth called me and asked if I’d be interested in helping her out. Almost every year since then I’ve danced Drosselmeyer, King Poseidon or some other role for her.

Brandon: Is there anything special or different about performing in a historic theatre as opposed to other venues you’ve performed?

Phil: I’ve had the good fortune of performing in historic theaters all across our country. (I’ve performed in 48 of the 50 states including Hawaii and Alaska!) Although usually less comfortable than modern theaters, old, historic theaters have an elegance and charm rarely found these days. Locals usually have wonderful stories about the theatre. Many are said to be haunted and have rituals that visiting companies are “advised to heed”!

Brandon: Do you want to pursue dance in the future?

Phil: I do indeed want to keep dancing. Actually, I often wish I could dance like I did in my 20s, 30s and 40s! At my age, I’m just glad to be on stage and sharing my experience with those who might be interested in learning.

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Pictured above: Phil Masterton (burgundy suit coat) during a performance of ‘Show Boat’ at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.

Brandon: What do you enjoy most about performing? 

Phil: When I was dancing professionally, I enjoyed working with those at the top of their game. I’m not sure if you know who Michael Bennett, Susan Strohman or Gillian Lynn are, but if you look them up, you’ll know why it was an honor to be handpicked by them for their shows.

Brandon: If you could narrow it down to a performance, or two, what would your best or favorite performance be?

Phil: My favorite show to perform is Evita. The original choreography is fiery, passionate and intense. Along with a great score, it makes for wonderful performances.

Brandon: What responsibilities do you have as a lead dancer?

Phil: A principle dancer needs to be on his/her gig at all times. We need to be fully warmed up, ready to go when we’re supposed to be. Often we’re asked to push ourselves beyond current limits. We must want to lead by example in rehearsals and performances at all times and mentor younger dancers.

Brandon: If you could meet one famous person, who would it be?

Phil: I have had the good fortune of working with many famous people throughout my career. I’d love to work with Hugh Jackman.

Brandon: If you could possess one super hero talent, what would it be?

Phil: Simple……FLY. Ever since I could walk, I’ve wanted to fly. I’d often look at the clouds and imagine what it would be like to dive in and out of the big fluffy clouds. (Cumulous) Honestly, I still do that while looking out airplane windows.