Tag Archives: Saturday Night Live

Voice of Dora the Explorer, Queens native talks new show


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Bonnie Osborne/Nickelodeon

Even though Dora the Explorer is getting older and making a move to a big city, the Queens native and voice behind the popular cartoon is not going anywhere. 

Fátima Ptacek has been the voice of Nickelodeon’s 7-year-old “Dora the Explorer” since 2010 and will now also be the one behind 10-year-old Dora in “Dora and Friends: Into the City!”


L-R: Alana, Emma, Dora, Kate, Naiya, Pablo in Dora and Friends: Into the City! (Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon)

“She’s stunning, I’m so excited,” said Ptacek about the older Dora who will premiere on Monday, Aug. 18 on Nickelodeon. “Now that she’s in the city, she can identify with city kids.”

The 13-year-old actress says growing up and still living in Queens helps her understand her new role more because she can identify with being a city kid.

“I’m very proud to be living in Queens, it’s one of the coolest places I know,” Ptacek said. “I know it like the back of my hands. I make sure to brag about it to anyone.”

She said she loves living in the borough because of its diversity and food options.

“I’m a total foodie,” Ptacek said. “What’s great is right where I live. We basically have every nationality’s cuisine.”

In “Dora and Friends: Into the City!”, Dora moves to a city named “Playa Verde” and finds a new group of friends who embark on explorations with her including riding the subway, and going to school and parties. There is also a lot more music in this series, with a “pop-feel to it,” according to Ptacek.

Along with the new show, the Emmy-award winning series “Dora the Explorer” will also still air.

“I’ve really loved growing up with Dora and I am so lucky to be the first voice of this [new] show,” said Ptacek, who hopes both shows continue on for a long time. “I want my kids to be able to watch the show just how I did.”

Along with being the voice behind Dora, Ptacek has also performed on stage and starred in films, such as “The Rebound” with Catherine Zeta-Jones, and television shows such as “Saturday Night Light” and “Sesame Street,” where she was able to work alongside Michelle Obama.

She also serves as an ambassador for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, youth ambassador for the Latino Commission on AIDS and volunteers for foundations such as the SAG Foundation BookPALS program.

“Dora and Friends: Into the City!” premieres on Aug. 18 at 8 p.m. on Nickelodeon.

 

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Prop master: Zoë Morsette’s creations bring magic to screen and stage


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

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Zoë Morsette’s studio is where the magic happens.

The prop goddess, who creates ice that won’t melt and feathery, oversized chicken costumes for “30 Rock” stars, houses the enchantment of the theatrical world inside her 21st Street space, where she creates props and costumes for Broadway productions and television shows.

On a damp, grey afternoon, Morsette sat at her work station, shaping plastic straight-razors crafted from melted hair combs with a handheld tool for “Peter and the Starcatcher,” the prequel to “Peter Pan.”

“They keep snapping,” she sighed, examining the instrument which had been redesigned after several of the shows’ actors repeatedly broke her original prototypes.

Overhead, a purple alien limb bobbed in the fan-fueled breeze, displayed like a prize-winning taxidermy marlin. She had made it, cost-free, for a science fiction production at The Secret Theatre. She was happy to help a local artistic organization.

“It was always magical for me when the house lights went down,” she said, reminiscing on a lifetime spent in show business.

A center-stage fixture during her youth, Morsette left her hometown of Cape Cod, Massachusetts to attend Skidmore College, where she studied dance and theatre. She moved to New York City immediately after graduation in 1973. While aggravated tendonitis in her foot prohibited her from dancing professionally, she remained active in the industry, working at the Colonnades Theatre — the downtown venue where big names like Jeff Goldblum and Rhea Perlman got their start. Morsette assisted in the costume department, learning to swatch fabric and assemble patterns. The company couldn’t afford to pay her, so instead of monetary compensation, they gave her free classes.

While working at the Colonnades, Morsette met her former husband, Cordell Morsette. The couple ventured west to North Dakota’s Standing Rock Indian Reservation, Cordell’s hometown, where Morsette taught dance classes for a short time.

“It didn’t work out,” she said briefly.

When her marriage unraveled, Morsette returned to New York City. A friend, who worked in the costume department at Radio City Music Hall as a milliner for the Rockettes, offered her a job. Morsette fashioned headdresses and specialty outfits for the dance company — a job she loved.

She produced custom window displays for Saks Fifth Avenue, Macys and Bloomingdales, including a topiary Jack Russell terrier for a Coach display that she grew particularly fond of.

In the mid-80s, Morsette began designing for Broadway shows. For “Les Miserables,” she crafted 40 dummies to litter the stage during a battle scene, playing dead soldiers. She granted each fake soldier a name, most after workers in the costume shop. For “Shrek the Musical,” Morsette made the show’s character Donkey.

Morsette’s most well-known piece — an advertisement for the New York Care’s coat drive, depicting a shivering Statue of Liberty huddled in the snow — lines the walls of countless subway cars and billboards.

In 2008, Morsette began designing props and costumes for “Saturday Night Live.” Her first assignment — a barrel costume for Will Forte to don during an episode of “Weekend Update” about the stock market crash – fell into her lap when a member of the show’s crew needed a barrel and knew Morsette had crafted one previously. She made it in less than 24 hours.

Through “Saturday Night Live,” Morsette received assignments for “30 Rock,” the show that gained momentum from former SNL stars, including Tina Fey and Jason Sudeikis.

“To see your stuff on stage and on screen is very rewarding,” Morsette said.

For the past 11 years, Morsette has designed one-of-a-kind teddy bears for an auction hosted by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Her bears, dressed in costumes from various musicals including “Beauty and the Beast” and “Camelot” have raised $43,000 to help actors, crew members and productions in need.

From heavy metal to opera performer


| nkarimi@queenscourier.com

Escamillo in Bizet's Carmenw

Astoria artist Adelmo Guidarelli, 40, has been named the 2011 Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs (MAC) award winner for best Comedy/Musical Comedy Performer.

“It’s not something I ever thought about. I mean, I think I’m pretty funny, but this is on a completely different level,” said Guidarelli. “The award is for my performance in the one-man show ‘Operation Adelmo,’ written and directed by Michael Mackenzie Wills, who has worked with such comic greats as Penn & Teller and Blue Man Group.”

Guidarelli attended The Music Conservatory of Westchester, the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music and is a graduate of the Jerome Hines Opera Music Theatre International Program. Guidarelli currently studies privately and receives coaching at the Met.

Guidarelli was also recently selected by producer Ryan Seacrest on the season premiere of his show “Bank of Hollywood” to present Mozart’s “Non più andrai.”

Guidarelli’s director Wills had worked with Penn & Teller when they lived in New York and performed on “Late Night with David Letterman” regularly.

“They would rehearse their Letterman appearances by having Eddie Gorogetsky play Letterman and ask every possible question Letterman might ask. Eddie had been a writer for Letterman and “Saturday Night Live.” Mike [Guidarelli’s director] did the same for me. He chose what piece I would present and then we rehearsed with him asking me every possible question the judges might ask and we worked out the best answers for each question,” said Guidarelli.

“When Ryan Seacrest’s personal assistant first called, I thought it was my sister-in-law pranking me,” said Guidarelli. “I arrived in Los Angeles very prepared and the experience was really great. The audience loved it, the judges loved it, and I loved it.”

Guidarelli was born in Greenwich, Connecticut. When he was six, his parents moved to the Silver Lake area of Harrison, a suburb of White Plains. In 2006, Guidarelli met his wife and she showed him all the great things Queens has to offer an artist.

Growing up, Guidarelli played the lead in many school plays. In high school he got into Heavy Metal and formed a garage band called “Defcon,” where they played Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, TNT and Metallica.

“It was during that time that my Mom made me take voice lessens because she was tired of hearing me scream out of tune in my bedroom. I started taking lessons and learned that the singers from the bands I admired were classically trained,” said Guidarelli. “My very first voice teacher told me she heard an ‘operatic’ quality in my voice, and that’s how it all began. At this early fork in the road to my success I turned my focus from becoming a Heavy Metal star like my idols, to becoming an opera singer.”

“I’m currently preparing for a Metropolitan Opera audition that I have coming up in 2012. I want to play The Met and sing in Vegas,” said Guidarelli. “I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”

Guidarelli has many performers who he admires and would like to work with someday.

“I am inspired by artists with a tenacious drive to expand their horizons, opera singer Bryn Terfel, Italian pop-singer Giorgia, actors Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman,” said Guidarelli. “I recently debuted in the title role of Puccini’s “Gianni Schicci” with Maestro Anton Coppola, the uncle of the famous Francis Ford. He is in his 90’s and has an amazing energy and zest for life.”

Guidarelli’s production team is a member of The Association of Performing Arts Presenters, APAP.

“January 6 and 8, I am going to be doing two showcase performances of the show we presented so successfully at the 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Also, on February 20 we are presenting ‘Operation Adelmo’ at Symphony Space, as a fund raiser and gala for Opera Manhattan,” said Guidarelli.