Where’s that boy with the bugle? Turns out Auntie Mame’s little nephew Patrick is all grown up and now reporting the news for Channel 7.
Even Mame composer Jerry Herman, who lives in Miami Beach, had no idea one-time Broadway child star Roshi Handwerger is the same person as WSVN general assignment reporter Rosh Lowe.
“For three years I have watched newscaster Rosh Lowe, never knowing he was my young Patrick grown up,” says the legendary composer, who also wrote the scores for Broadway’s Hello, Dolly!, Mack & Mabel and La Cage aux Folles. “Mame would be so proud!”
Lowe, 41, grew up in Rye, New York, the son of an orthodontist with a passion for theater. “The first time I ever performed was when I was 5 years old at the Rye Community Synagogue for a production of Noah’s Ark,” Lowe says. “I fell in love with connecting with an audience. I had this love for connecting with a room of people, which is what I do today. Part of being a TV news reporter is being able to connect with an audience.”
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In 1982, Lowe’s dad, Edmund, took him to audition for a Central Park production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “Joseph Papp discovered me and gave me a role,” Lowe recalls.
“The next year, I got my big break,” he continues, recalling an open audition for the 1983 Broadway revival of Mame starring Angela Lansbury.
“There were hundreds of kids there. I knew that when I got up there to sing — it was My Best Girl — I had a few moments to connect with the casting director,” Lowe says. “I got called back and had to sing for Angela Lansbury herself. When I walked in there and saw Angela, I said to myself, ‘Please, God, let me get this role.’ At that point I wasn’t very religious but I said, ‘Please God: Let me look Angela right in the eye and sing this song from the bottom of my heart. Let me connect with her.’ When I walked out, the casting director said, ‘That’s my Patrick Dennis.’”
The Mame revival had a short run (seven previews and 41 performances) at the Gershwin Theatre, closing a week after Herman’s La Cage opened at the Palace.
Little Roshi wasn’t out of work long. A year later he was performing with Patti LuPone and Ron Moody as one of Fagin’s Gang in the 1984 Broadway revival of Oliver!
“I would run the kids through their paces with Fagin,” recalls Richard Jay-Alexander, Miami Beach-based concert director who was dance captain and assistant stage manager for Oliver!
Like Herman, Jay-Alexander didn’t realize Rosh Lowe was once Roshi.
“He reached out to me on Facebook when I posted a picture of Michael Jackson in the boys’ dressing room during Oliver!” Jay-Alexander says. “The minute he reached out, I immediately looked at the face. Of course you time travel and I said, ‘Oh my God, I see Roshi.’ Since then we’ve had wonderful reunions and catch-ups and he’s done more Broadway shows than I have. I must admit I’m jealous he got to work with Angela Lansbury.”
As a child performer, Lowe also co-starred with Esther Rolle in The Member of the Wedding and in The Knife with Mandy Patinkin.
That’s when the final curtain fell on Roshi’s professional life in the theater. “I knew my career was ending when I was in The Knife and tried to hit a high note and my voice cracked. I said, ‘Oh no! It’s the beginning of the end.’”
After high school, he enrolled at Occidental College in Los Angeles. At 19, he married a young woman he met the first day of college. He and Alexandra Handwerger, the incoming English department chair at Hebrew Academy in Miami Beach, have been together 22 years. They have four sons, ages 11, 9, 4 and 1.
After Occidental, he earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, which led to a long television career in Florida, first in Naples, then Fort Myers. Joining Channel 7 in 2002, reporter Rosh Handwerger adopted Lowe — his mother’s maiden name — as his professional moniker. “It was easier for people. Handwerger is a mouthful,” he says.
Reporting also led to a newfound Jewish spirituality.
“I grew up beyond Reform. Not observant at all,” Lowe says. “One of the first stories I covered in Naples was a gruesome murder. … I saw body bags coming out of this apartment and I thought to myself, ‘What is life all about?’ Albert Einstein said either nothing’s a miracle or everything’s a miracle. I decided to look at life as if everything is a miracle.”
Now Orthodox, he is an active board member at the Shul of Bal Harbour. “I may be the only reporter in the country that is Sabbath observant. I do not work on Saturdays,” says Lowe, adding he is “forever grateful” to WSVN station owner Ed Ansin for always giving him the time off. “I have become in the Jewish community a very big role model. Young people look at me and say, ‘Wow, it’s possible to be both observant, true to your beliefs and have a job in the secular world.’ I’m very proud that I can inspire other people.”