The actors are waiting in the wings, ready to hit their marks, and it’s five minutes to curtain…now all they need is you to fill in your seats in the audience. Can’t you just feel the anticipation?
That’s what must be so electric about Middlebrook auditorium, as the cast of the Wilton Children’s Theater fall production, Disney’s Camp Rock gets ready to go out there and wow the crowds. They’ll be onstage on Friday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 22 at 4 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 23 at 2 p.m.
GOOD Morning Wilton checked in with the cast of 44 Wilton kids, who range from 4th through 8th graders, at their first dress rehearsal this past Monday afternoon. It was one of their last run-throughs, after having put in more than 70 hours of rehearsal time since starting to prepare 10 weeks ago.
They chat, laugh, and practice singing and dancing in small trios and larger groups, standing onstage and sitting in the audience seats as the show’s director, Skip Ploss, keeps the three-ring circus atmosphere humming. The show’s producers–Robin Allen and Erica Buse–watch over the cast and dozens of crew members (middle school and high school students as well as volunteer parents) as they discuss final details–“We got more instagram followers!” one says to the other, showing how much they have to think about as producers to make sure the show is a success.
Interestingly enough, Instagram and social media is a critical way to reach middle school customers–friends of the cast members who want to buy tickets to see their friends. “Friday night is a very big night for Middlebrook and Cider Mill, they all come to see their friends,” Allen says, and Buse adds, “Especially for middle school kids, they want to come watch who they know.”
Top of mind for the parent producers is ticket sales. People can purchase tickets on the WCT website, and they’re being sold outside Village Market today through Friday from 12-2 p.m., and on Saturday, 10 a.m.-noon. They’ll also have tickets available at Middlebrook Auditorium today and Thursday, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Ticket sales aren’t the first thing the kids think about. Instead, they’re excited about wearing their costumes for the first time, making sure they have the dance steps down perfectly and generally just enjoying the experience. Many of them have performed in at least one other WCT production before–as Buse says, the actors typically start in smaller roles as 4th graders and work their way up to larger ones as they get older and have had more onstage experience.
One exception to that rule is Joe Apuzzo, who tried out for the first time ever this season, and won the lead boy role of “Shane Gray.” He’d always played fall baseball before, but this year, as an 8th grader, and in the last possible year he could participate in WCT, he decided to try his hand at musical theater.
“I’ve always liked singing. The play seemed like a way that I could sing and have fun and meet a whole new bunch of people,” he says.
Joe has also found a lot of support from his friends outside the theater. “A lot of my friends are coming [to see the show]. They’re all buying ‘Shane Gray’ t-shirts to wear.”
Katie Buse, a 7th grader who plays “Tess Tyler,” took the more traditional route, working her way up through the ranks. “I’ve done 101 Dalmatians, Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, Alladin, Shrek, Once Upon a Mattress and this one, so seven altogether,” she says. “It could be scary when you know people are out there and they came to see you, like family. It makes you want to do better. But when you practice enough and you know it, you feel very comfortable on stage.”
She also really likes the camaraderie of being part of a theater community.
“You make a lot of friends, and once you make those friends, you get to spend a lot of time with those friends, so it’s really fun,” she says.
For Ploss, the experience is something he’s found worth repeating as well–this is his 10th WCT production as director. What has been most incredible for him has been seeing how the experience of working in a theater ensemble transforms all of the students who take part.
“Seeing them come out of their shells. To go from being shy to belting out tunes, it’s awesome. It’s letting them find themselves and giving them confidence. That’s why we do it,” Ploss says.
That’s echoed by choreographer Judy Abbatiello. “We all love musical theater. We love sharing that experience with the kids. If I can make a child love dance, that’s my job.”
|Mitchie Torres||Taylor White|
|Shane Gray||Joe Apuzzo|
|Nate Gray||Connor Allen|
|Jason Gray||Joseph Redmond|
|Caitlyn Geller||Lilly Casiraghi|
|Tess Tyler||Katie Buse|
|Ella Pador||Molly Foster|
|Margaret “Peggy” Dupree||Eleanor Greene|
|Rosie Day||Christine Jansen|
|Barron James||Dylan Pojano|
|Sander Loya||William Hall|
|Andy Hosten||Mattias Onnerud|
|Brown Cesario||Jake Eagan|
|Martha Savo||Sky Beck|
|Daniel Corrigidor||Charlie Bennett|
|Travis Tweet||Roen Crameri|
|Cleo Thermopylae||Ellie Haljun|
|Anna McMechan||Stephanie Jones|
|Macy Fitzpatrick||Lily Kepner|
|Leah Ardennes||Macaire McNamara|
|Stacy Khrona||Tess Nobles|
|Lacy Corothers||Nicole Saxon|
|Mike Tinian||Colin Williams|
|Dana Turner||Sarah Bates|
|Luke Williams||Dante Stella|
|Axel Turner||Charlie Wendorff|
|Georgina Farlow||Lindsey Hand|
|Diane Waterloo||Caitlin Allen|
|Carol Nixon||Chrissy D’Elisa|
|David San Juan-Hill||Matthew Farago|
|Helena Paducah||Lindsey Hand|
|Samantha Trafalgar||Meghan Wood|
|Camp Rock ……then Camp Star|
|Molly Ebro||Lily Abud|
|Paula Puebla||Ella DeLuca|
|Antonia Monte Casino||Molly DeLuca|
|Liza Meuse||Shannon Dunn|
|Sierra Bismark||Julia Elmasry|
|Donna Kursk||Lia Gordon|
|Pam Pasargadae||Caroline Kepner|
|Shiloh Pulaski||Cecelia Lee|
|Tony Anzio||Jackson Lent|
|Regan Triest||Hannah Rhodes|
|Sandy Eniwetok||Noel Schlageter|
|Carol Mantinea||Alexandra Ukropina|