Saturday, April 15, 2017

Memo from the RTC: How Many Chorus Line Members Can You Fit on the Head of a Pin?

My final column on A Chorus Line. The mirrors are tucked away (they must be distorted because as I was carrying them they made me look so fat) and we have a good deal of the set for the next show, Neil Simon's Rumors, up already. And next Saturday is the first read through of this summer's Producers.

Memo from the RTC: How Many Chorus Line Members Can You Fit on the Head of a Pin?
By Norm Scott

For someone who didn’t care for A Chorus Line when I first saw the original on Broadway, I keep asking myself why I liked the Rockaway Theatre Company production so much better. Of course the acting, singing and most importantly, the dancing is professional level – that’s a given at the RTC. But I also think it is the intimacy of the Post theater compared to big Broadway houses where you don’t get to see the actors tell their stories up close.

Anyway, I went back to tape the final show on Saturday night, this time from a somewhat precarious perch sitting atop the sound booth, but oh what a view. I figured the cast might be a bit tired after doing a matinee but this performance was as top notch as the previous three I had seen.

Catherine Leib as Cassie doing her final dip
Last week I went through as many of the vast cast as I could before running out of my allotted word count and want to continue in this final column on the show. Bay Ridge’s John Panepinto (Greg), who brings his signing, dancing and acting chops to almost every show at the RTC, makes a distinct impression with a funky costume and a noticeable dialect. Erech Holder-Hetmeyer (Ritchie), a Murrow HS grad a few years ago who debuted at the RTC last year in La Cage as the whip bearing Cagelle, is fast becoming an RTC favorite as he brings a 4th dimension to acting, singing and amazing dancing with his athleticism. Erech and John will be joining the cast of The Producers this summer and John is also playing a major role in the upcoming Rumors opening May 19 and playing for only two weekends.

Adding newcomers to the RTC to casts has become a staple and renews the talent pool. Chloe Carlston (Maggie) adds a big voice while Avital Asuleen (Sheila) captures the stage with her sassy performance. Nic Anthony Calabro (Mike) came all the way from Westchester to perform in this street smart role while Mai Odaira (Connie) came from even further away – Saitama, Japan, the third Japanese native to work with the RTC. Ashley Ann Jones (Judy) comes from Missouri (I think) and impresses in the first minute of the show with her ditzy performance. Ensemble cast members playing the first dancers cut at the beginning of the show (Dante Rei, Jessica Mintzes, Alex Stabiner, Samantha Braga, Matt Leonen) joined backstage pit singers Jodee Timpone and Steven Wagner to add voice to the dancers singing on stage.

At the very end of the show the entire stage lights up and the audience breaks out into cheers, not realizing they are applauding RTC lighting guru Andrew Woodbridge. Managing all the sound coming from all the remote mics over the past year has been local resident Daniel Fay who is a major find for the RTC. He works with RTC jack of all trades Rich Louis-Pierre who also plays bass in the band. Rich is one of the major architects of the RTC experience. As usual, Producer Susan Jasper delivers what actors and directors need in her very special way.

Susan also delivered the news to me on Saturday night that I was playing the judge in the Producers this summer. “Do you think you can manage four lines,” she said? I better start studying now. And once again, thanks to Directors Susan Corning and David Risley, musical director Jeff Arzberger and choreographer Nicola DePierro Nellen for bringing this great show to Rockaway.

The cast party began soon after the show ended Saturday night with great food. Antonio Oliveri, veteran actor at the RTC at the tender age of 20, who played Al in the show and did that great duet with Gabby Mangano, set up is DJ kit on stage and all those “tired” dancers despite doing two shows that day were still going when I left the theater at 1 AM.

The last word: Congratulations to one of RTC’s stellar performers Renee Steadman on her April 10 wedding, the afternoon after the show closed, an event many of the RTC company attended – those that could still stand up. Also congrats to her mom Denise Eversley, who put up with my dancing with her in La Cage and her sister Jannicke Steadman. The entire family will be in the cast of The Producers this summer.

When Norm is not practicing his 4 lines so Susan doesn’t yell at him, he blogs at

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