|My Texas wife - married for 30 seconds|
|One of the casts leads|
|Nicely Nicely, Bennie Southstreet|
|The Hot Box Dancers - take off those minks|
|Nathan Detroit, Big Julie|
|Mimi and friend|
Norm rants on education and other issues at ednotesonline.org
Memo from the RTC: Many Guys, So Many Dolls and Some Cats and Dogs TooBy Norm ScottJuly 17, 2015
The Rockaway Theatre Company wrapped up the 2nd weekend of sold-out performances of Guys and Dolls with the proceeds of the July 12 Sunday matinee going to the North Shore Animal League shelter in the Carol Jasper Memorial Benefit performance. RTC Producer extraordinaire Susan Jasper has honored her late family member over the past decade with this generous donation.The actors kept sneaking out during breaks to the trailer to check out the animals, with one dog making its acting debut by being carried across the stage cuddled in the arms of one of the Dolls, prompting a comment from one of the Guys: I wish I were a dog. I saw at least 3 cats I wanted to take home but I called and Bernie and Penny said they don’t need any more siblings.
This is the final weekend where we do 4 performances – Thursday, Friday, Saturday evenings at 8PM and Sunday matinee at 2PM - I hear there are lots of seats available for the Thursday and Friday shows while Sat and Sunday may be sold out. The cast party will follow where we know the Dolls will be dancing the Guys’ musical numbers and some Guys will try the Dolls (not me). Can’t wait to see them do “Take Back Your Mink” as they remove their clothes. Could be an ugly sight.There has been a lot of comment on the double casting of the major roles due to the enormous talent pool. Last time I talked about the blow me away 4 performances of Adelaide (Nicole Mangano/Caitlin Byrne) and Nathan Detroit (John Panepinto/Matthew Smilardi) roles.The other leads – Sky Masterson and Sarah Brown (Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons in the film) were also double cast. Michael Whalen, who shared the role of the Devil with John Penipento in last year’s “Damn Yankees”, brings the right touch of mature charm and danger to Sky while the younger Danny Cruz (Joe Hardy and Damn Yankees) adds a classic matinee idol flash to the role. As singers and actors their slightly different interpretations makes seeing the show with both casts a must. They both bring top notch singing and acting to the roles and dance with the crap shooters when not in the lead.
And the same goes for the Sarah roles, played by Maria Edwards (with Mike) and Renee Steadman (with Danny). Renee, originally from Trinidad and now residing in East NY Brooklyn, made her RTC debut in Godspell and with her operatic voice is fast becoming an RTC mainstay. If you were just passing by the theater not knowing a play was on and heard her singing you would stop dead in your tracks. Many people coming out of the theater after the show came over to her to say how extraordinary her singing was. So the next night when Marine Park resident Maria Edwards, making her RTC debut, went on in the role I snuck into the back of the theater. Holy Cow. Oy, oy, oy! How can this little production company known as the RTC attract such awesome talent time and again?Listen, I can go on and on about the show. The young ladies – the Dolls - from high school juniors on up – are not to be missed. And the Guys – from junior high up to – ME – get wild audience reactions as they dance their way in and out of trouble shooting dice – and also try not to rock the boat in the bring down the house number. Some people coming out actually told me I finally learned how to do the box step – thanks to choreographers extraordinaires – new mommy Nicola DePierro-Nellen (whose mom Phyllis plays a noticeable role in her mink) and Gabrielle Mangano, who I keep pestering with questions about which foot I have to move during “The Oldest Establishment Permanent Crap Game in NY.” We’ve watched Gabby and sister Nicole grow up on the RTC stage.
I’ll close with kudos to an often overlooked the major role played by chief Costumier Kerry O’Conner, who also shares the role of General Cartwright with Cathy Murfitt. Kerry is a den mother to the enormous cast and the numerous costume changes. She helps everyone find the proper costumes and even for a low-end performer like me took so much time in getting me shirts, suits, ties, cowboy boots, string ties, etc. Imagine doing this kind of work for 40 people? I blanched in horror when she found me a green double-breasted suit – I have never worn a DB and didn’t even know how to button it. But the suit grew on me, especially when so many of the Dolls commented on how nice it looked and some Guys told me they had dibs on it for a future show.