Thursday, August 8, 2019

Memo from the RTC: Newsies Ends Most Successful Run in RTC History - Norm Scott

Memo from the RTC: Newsies Ends Most Successful Run in RTC History
By Norm Scott

There was joy and sadness at Sunday’s final performance of Newsies at the Rockaway Theatre Company as the 50 cast members and crew celebrated the success of a perfect production led by the awesome director, Gabby Mangano who wowed not only the audiences but the entire RTC family with her masterly control of every aspect of the production. Word is it was the highest grossing show of all time.

Dana Mongelli (left), Jessica Helton (top), Ashley Chico (left), Dana Falzone (bottom)

George Raiola and Nick Baytler

Myles Rich and Jonathan Mitchell

Jessica Helton, Dana Mongelli, Ashley Chico
The cast celebrated with a party catered from Thai Rock and when I left at 8PM many were still performing on stage and showing off their individual singing talents The talent in that room was overwhelming.

Last week I talked about the wonderful and mature teen and pre-teens in the show. This week I focus on the twenty-somethings and next week on the old codgers from their 30s to the 70s.

Many people commented on Gabby’s ability to find enough boys and young men who could dance so well. She filled out the cast with a few young ladies.

Last week I mentioned the delightful Forest Hills HS senior, Sydney Williams who turned 17 on opening night.

Bay Ridge’s Adele Wendt (Mike) dropped in as a college intern and has never left, taking on roles in almost every production, in addition to any backstage job necessary. Adele has become part of the RTC infrastructure that assures us of continuity.

Howard Beach native and recent college grad Shannon Connolly (Ike) is another impressive young lady who was marking papers from the Latin class she teaches. She last appeared with the RTC 6 years ago. Shannon is a highly trained singer will be back to share her talents - when she is not teaching high school Latin.

Another Bay Ridger, Ashley Chico (Bowery Beauty/Nun) followed up her appearance in Pippin at the RTC and we expect to see her in future productions. She played 3 or 4 roles and was constantly changing costumes.

Three years ago I met Rockaway native Dana Mongelli (Hannah/Beauty/Nun) in a Frank Caiati acting class. Dana is a LaGuardia HS trained dancer from a decade ago but she wanted to check out acting. She was a bit hesitant at first but since then, WOW! She’s been in almost every production and here she takes a minor role as the secretary and turns it into a tour de farce (with fluttering hands.)

Donna Falzone (Medda Larkin) has one of the most spectacular voices we’ve seen at the RTC. It is clear from her bio that she has extensive training and experience and Gabby was lucky to have snared her.

Long Island native transplanted to Bushwick Jessica Helton (Beauty/Nun), a NYC teacher, followed up on her performance in Pippin and will be in the upcoming Gatsby. She brings a level headed presence to any cast and backstage too. Plus she can act, sing and dance.

Murrow HS grad Erich Holder-Hetmeyer (Newsie) from Park Slope has brought his immense talents to numerous productions, following up his tour de force performance as the Leading Player in Pippin. Ask anyone at the RTC to name one of the top talents in the history of the RTC and Erich’s name will come up. Directors and producers always want him in their shows and his professionalism and enormous sense of joy infect everyone. It was an honor for me to be on the same stage as someone who many believe should be on Broadway.

Brooklyn’s Max Lamadrid (Albert) was Erich’s co-star in Pippin (they were also key dancers in La Cage a few years ago). RTC musical directors always keep Max in mind when doing a show. Max is aiming to be an acting pro and has auditioned for Broadway plays and will be in an upcoming film.

Newcomer to the RTC Jonathan Mitchell (Romeo) was a graduate of the old Beach Channel HS but because it didn’t have a theater program (don’t ask why) he didn’t discover performing until college. He brought a mature and calm presence to the production and is aiming towards professional theater work but promises to come back to RTC when he is available.

Rockaway resident Myles Rich (Spot Conlon) is well loved by all for his infectious personality. An iron worker when he’s not acting, Myles made his debut in The Producers at the RTC.

Bay Ridge’s George(ie) Raiola (Racetrack - the guy with the cigar) was one of the most delightful and talented people in the cast. The power of his stage presence was noted by all. He’s been in 25 productions in the past few years and has serious intentions of making it as an actor and I wouldn’t bet against him.

What can I say about Rockaway’s Dante Cottone Rei (Davey) who I first met as a teen in How to Succeed and have watched him mature into a fine actor, singer, dancer and behind the stage presence at the RTC. Dante has become a go to guy and part of the next gen RTC movers and shakers.
The entire cast of thousands (that's me, lurking, 3rd from right top row)

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