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Classic Theater Brings What Matters To The Amity Stage in December

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Nov 222016
 

Rehearsal for Our Town

Rehearsal for Our Town

The Amity High School Theater Department will present Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Our Town, on Friday December 9th 2016.

Our Town presents a timeless tale of everyday life in the fictional Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. Teenagers George and Emily meet, fall in love, and marry; enduring both the joys and sorrows of everyday life. Wilder transforms their ordinary story into a poignant and captivating exploration of mortality and the wonder of living.

Our Town has been called the “Great American play by Edward Albee. Thornton Wilder was a lifelong resident of Hamden, Connecticut. Although the play takes place in New Hampshire many of the inspirations for the play come from this region of Connecticut. Woodbridge resident, Yale Professor and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Donald Margulies in his recent foreword to Our Town, wrote; “Indeed the play’s success across cultural borders around the world attests to its being something much greater than an American play: it is a play that captures the universal experience of being alive.”

When Our Town was first performed, America was experiencing the aftershocks of the Great Depression and living under the impending shadow of World War II. Although uncertain times and fear characterized the time period, Wilder focuses the play on the facets of the human experience, which testify to the strength, and endurance of the human spirit. The New York Times hailed the play as “beautifully evocative,” and named it “one of the finest achievements of the current stage.” Our Town cemented its place in history when Wilder was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1938.

For director Rob Kennedy, Our Town’s New England setting and its message about everyday life make it an especially relevant piece for the Amity audiences. “Each visit to Grover’s Corners reveals some new facet,” Kennedy said. And while you may have seen it before or been in it in high school, Wilder himself points out that “I Love You” and “I Suffer” have been said many billions of times, and never twice the same. Kennedy hopes audiences will “watch with fresh eyes, for the first time.”

Our Town includes ACT new comer Brian Forbes as the Stage Manager who leads audiences on their journey through Grover’s Corners; Emily Kilian as Emily Webb; Harrison Paek as George Gibbs; Carrie Ann Canfield as Mrs. Webb; Eric Greenbaum as Editor Webb; Alaina Dwyer as Mrs. Gibbs; and Ryan Rattley as Doctor Gibbs. Other cast members include Lili Querker, Evan D’Onofrio, Ryan Rappaport, Maren Westgard, Shane Gordon, Jeffrey Gallo, Dean Pocwierz, Ben Kemp, Joyce Lin, Emma Ginshannon, Kelsey Paier and Kayla Zamkov.

Set design by Rob Kennedy, costumes by Julie Chevan, and lights by Dan Hassenmayer.

The Assistant Director is Yuliya Faryna and the stage managers are Jacob Okolo, Jillian Gusciora and Sophie Clemons.

The show will be presented to the Amity student body grades 8 through 12 as part of our Spartan Seminar program from December 7th through the 9th. The public performance will take place on Friday December at 8pm.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.amitytheaterdepartment.com or by calling the box office at 203- 392-2019.

Kennedy Featured Speaker at OACC Fall Program

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Sep 262016
 

Rob and Andrea Kennedy

Rob and Andrea Kennedy

The Orange Arts and Culture Council will host its Annual Fall Program on Monday, September 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the Upstairs Meeting Room,at Case Memorial Library, 176 Tyler City Road, Orange.

[The program is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. A brief Annual Meeting will be held at 7 pm for members.]

Rob Kennedy, Amity alumnus and current theater arts teacher, director and producer for Amity Creative Theater, is the featured speaker. Some of the Amity students who had the honor this summer of being invited to Scotland to participate in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe will accompany Kennedy. The students performed their show,The Third Wave at the Festival.

This is the second time Amity has been invited to attend the Festival, appearing first in 2012. The Amity Creative Theater students were chosen from more than 2,500 applicants. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and takes place for three weeks every August in Scotland’s capital city.

Every year thousands of performers take to hundreds of stages all over Edinburgh to present shows for every taste. From big names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers, the festival caters for everyone and includes theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events.

Amity's 2016 Fringe Festival participants

Amity’s 2016 Fringe Festival participants

When at home, Amity students perform in a new 750-seat theater which was built in 2007. A 100-seat Black Box Theater was added in 2013. The students’ level of talent and dedication to the craft has garnered many accolades. According to the theater group’s website, “The school was awarded two Moss Hart Awards from the New England Theater Conference for Best High School production in New England and 21 Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards including Best Actor in the State (John Jorge in 2010), Best Actress (Ali Kramer in 2012) and Best Overall Production (Sweeney Todd in 2013). In 2010, John Jorge also was a semi-finalist at the National High School Musical Theater Awards (The Jimmy’s) on Broadway. The student actors also have performed at the Walt Disney World Resort in 2013 and 2015.”

In addition, OACC will present the winners of this year’s Picture This Photo Contest.

 

A New Voice Under The Friday Night Lights

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Sep 232016
 

rob kennedy announceTonight the Amity Spartans Football Team (0-2) will take on the Jonathan Law Lawmen (1-1) at 7 p.m.

Both of the past games have been well-attended and fans have kept their enthusiasm through the last play.

Amity fans have noticed something different at their home games and some haven’t been exactly pleased.

Several years ago, back when Joey Choiniere was captain of the team, his dad, former football player Ed Choiniere, took over the announcing duties in the booth when longtime announcer Stan Gedansky fell ill on the first day of the season.

Ed stayed even after his youngest son graduated, and was tinkering with the idea of returning this year, until he moved out of the Amity region. (the commute would be a killer). So, Athletic Director Ernie Goodwin went looking for a replacement and found sports fan, Amity teacher Rob Kennedy who was willing to take the seat.

On his first night, the soloist for the National Anthem and Amity Band were not in sync, the numbers on the roster did not match the players on the team, and Kennedy did not have a spotter in the booth to help ID the athletes who made a play, and the scoreboard was not working.

When Kennedy called a number and said what the player had done, fans in the stands were heard saying, “He has a name Jack@**”

Kennedy heard this, but kept going til the end and he returned last week too.

Week 2 was much different. The soloist stood in front of the band, the roster was correct, a spotter showed up and the scoreboard worked fine – so did Kennedy.

“Mr. Choiniere made it look easy,” Kennedy said. “The first week was rough, but it will get better with time.”

You may miss Ed Choiniere, but remember, Rob Kennedy stepped in at the last minute to perform in front of one of the toughest audiences in his career. He teaches all day long, then hangs around until the game and goes home about 15-16 hours after he went to work in the morning.

So Please, if he makes a mistake, remember that YOU are not perfect and you’ve made mistakes too.

He is taking time away from his family to volunteer and provide you with this important coverage.

Appreciate the fact that he cares enough to want to do it.

 

PHOTOS: Amity Musical “Into the Woods” Opens This Week

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Apr 062016
 

IMG_8962If you purchased your tickets for “Into The Woods” early, then you are fortunate. The show is nearly sold out… This weekend IS sold out and you are in for a treat.

Orange Live sat in on a technical dress rehearsal on Tuesday night. The cast is just as talented as in past years, the set pieces, lobby display and costumes are terrific.

Here are a few photos from rehearsal. Soak them in now and enjoy the show!

Note: The two princes are hysterical. 

 

Today Is The First Day Of Auditions For Amity’s Spring Musical — Amity Students Have An Advantage

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Jan 042016
 

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 12.50.36 PMToday and tomorrow, Amity Theater Kids will audition for roles in the Amity spring musical, “Into The Woods.”

Auditioning can be nerve-wracking for even seasoned performers, but the Amity Creative Theater students have a leg up on this one.

Back on Oct. 26, 2015, Broadway actor Rob McClure addressed the theater students who were seated in rows on the Amity stage, sounding more like a friend than a celebrity.

Here is a video from that special event

He shared personal stories of his own experiences and walked them through the way to tackle an audition.

McClure revealed that on his first audition he did not know what show he was auditioning for and decided to try out for the part of Toby (Sweeney Todd). When his turn came up, he sang “Stars” — from… Les Miserables. No, he didn’t get the part, but one hiccup didn’t stop him from achieving his dream of being on Broadway.

He said acting is playing make believe, connecting with the audience and having them empathize with you. If you get good enough at play acting you can achieve anything.

McClure said Steven Sondheim’s “Into The Woods” is the ultimate masterpiece with complicated, catchy tunes and lyrics.

He asked the students to sum up “Into The Woods” — what is the function of fairy tales in real life?

The answer — to teach a lesson.

He said Sondheim asked what do you get when a young girl puts everything she has into getting a prince? What happens after she gets prince charming? Jack  from Jack And the Beanstalk did not have a father figure in his life, and he did a lot of things he shouldn’t have.  What happens after the beanstalk falls and Jack kills the giant? The baker’s wife cheated on her husband with Prince Charming – What happens next?

“This show has so much to offer,” McClure said, “Listen to the lyrics… that’s what woods are for… or is it, ‘that’s what Would’s are for’?  It’s all about the possibilities.”

McClure had all of the kids stand and make a large circle for a warm-up exercise involving eye contact and reactions.

“Acting is reacting,” he tole them, “Everything you do is in response to something else. Your life is a constant state of reacting.”

Another lesson he taught was that eye contact is awkward and personal … the eyes are the window to the soul. Big eyeglasses hide what you’re feeling, you have to let people in.

As students took center stage to sing a few lines from a number from Into The Woods, McClure explained what the character is feeling, realizing about their situation and themselves.

With each break the students’ performances improved (see video link above).

The kids really responded to him and hung onto every word he said.

Now, 2 months after that opportunity of a lifetime, the actors should remember to make eye contact, and to rely on one another.

Before taking the stage for their auditions for “Into The Woods,” today, the actors have to think about their character’s objective, are they in a public or private place, what is their relationship to other characters and more.

We, at Orange Live wish all of the actors the best of luck in their auditions and look forward to a stellar production of Into The Woods next spring.

This full day workshop was facilitated by the Broadway Method Academy of Fairfield, CT.  The Broadway Method Academy was founded in 2014 by Amity alumni Connor Deane of Orange.  Deane is a 2010 graduate of Amity High School and of The University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.  His company offers comprehensive training in acting, singing, and dancing. Broadway Method Academy or BMA offers a variety of classes, private coaching sessions, and performance opportunities, bringing in some of Broadway’s top talents to work with students.  Their mission is to provide the essential tools for young artists to integrate acting, singing, and dancing. BMA helps to build audiences for tomorrow, to educate audiences of today, to enrich the community, and to enrich the lives of children.

Rob McClure received the 2013 Tony, Drama League, Astaire, and Outer Critics Circle Nominations, and won the Theatre World and Clive Barnes Awards for his performance as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin The Musical on Broadway. He recently starred, opposite Tony Danza, in the Broadway production of Jason Robert Brown’s Honeymoon in Vegas.

A two-time Barrymore Award winner, Rob starred on Broadway as Princeton/Rod in the Tony Award-winning musical Avenue Q. He made his Broadway debut in the 2002 Broadway revival of I’m Not Rappaport alongside Judd Hirsch and Ben Vereen.  McClure most recently spent the summer at the MUNY in Ohio playing the Baker in Into The Woods.  Rob will be returning to Broadway in the highly anticipated revival of Noises Off starring Smash star, Megan Hilty. 

Amity partnered with the Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation to bring this opportunity to Amity students. 

Broadway Comes To Amity: Hosted By Amity Alumni Connor Deane

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Oct 192015
 

Broadway Actor Rob McClure

Broadway Actor Rob McClure

The Amity Theater Department at Amity High School will be hosting an audition workshop for the theater students with Broadway Actor and Tony Nominee Rob McClure on Monday October 26 in the John J Brady Center for the Performing Arts.  The event has been made possible by a generous grant from the Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation. 

This full day workshop is being facilitated by the Broadway Method Academy of Fairfield, CT.  The Broadway Method Academy was founded in 2014 by Amity alumni Connor Deane of Orange.  Mr. Deane is a 2010 graduate of Amity High School and of The University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.  His company offers comprehensive training in acting, singing, and dancing. Broadway Method Academy or BMA offers a variety of classes, private coaching sessions, and performance opportunities, bringing in some of Broadway’s top talents to work with students.  Their mission is to provide the essential tools for young artists to integrate acting, singing, and dancing. BMA helps to build audiences for tomorrow, to educate audiences of today, to enrich the community, and to enrich the lives of children.

The workshop will consist of acting and singing audition techniques and will be taught my Deane and Broadway star Rob McClure.  Rob McClure received the 2013 Tony, Drama League, Astaire, and Outer Critics Circle Nominations, and won the Theatre World and Clive Barnes Awards for his performance as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin The Musical on Broadway. He recently starred, opposite Tony Danza, in the Broadway production of Jason Robert Brown’s Honeymoon in Vegas.

A two-time Barrymore Award winner, Rob starred on Broadway as Princeton/Rod in the Tony Award-winning musical Avenue Q. He made his Broadway debut in the 2002 Broadway revival of I’m Not Rappaport alongside Judd Hirsch and Ben Vereen.  McClure most recently spent the summer at the MUNY in Ohio playing the Baker in Into The Woods.  Rob will be returning to Broadway in the highly anticipated revival of Noises Off starring Smash star, Megan Hilty. 

Once again Amity is proud to partner with the Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation to bring this opportunity to our students.  Amity grad and artist Jamie Hulley passed away in 2002 just two weeks before her 21st birthday after a brief battle with an aggressive form of lymphoma.

To celebrate Jamie’s vivacious spirit and the beauty that she brought to the world, her family and friends established the Jamie A. Hulley Arts Foundation. This non-profit organization provides educational and career development opportunities in the arts including Grants for Schools, Special Project Grants in the Community; Scholarships, and Jamie’s legacy programs that reflect the experiences, the places, and the people that she loved. 

In 2014 The Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation sponsored a workshop with Broadway Actor Mike Boland.   The Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation has sponsored the Amity play, musical and a student college scholarship each year since 2007. 

Be Careful What You Wish For… Amity’s 2016 Musical Is “Into The Woods”

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Sep 042015
 

e673cb232b91b7c3e2b1f39118dff0afOn Thursday, Sept. 3, Rob Kennedy revealed the name of the 2016 Amity Spring Musical Production, “Into the Woods.”

“Into the Woods,” starring Bernadette Peters, opened on Broadway on November 5, 1987, so even though it’s not a “new” musical, many people most likely are more familiar with Disney’s screen version, starring Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, and Emily Blunt that was released on Christmas Day 2014, than the stage show.

It’s common knowledge that Stephen Sondheim, who wrote the music for this play is famous for fast-paced, often difficult songs, but if Amity could master “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (also scored by Sondheim) surely, “Into the Woods” will be challenging, but not out of reach for the talented students at our regional high school.

Synopsis

A childless baker and his wife endeavor to lift their family curse by journeying into the woods, where they encounter Rapunzel (and her witchly “mother”), Cinderella, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Little Red Riding Hood and other classic fairy tale characters, and they all must learn the responsibility that comes with getting what you want.

We look forward to seeing how Dan Hassenmayer will light the stage for this one, and how the parents with tools will create the scenery. It should be interesting.

 

Amity Wins 2 of 14 Nominated High School Musical Theater Awards — Plus One Big Bonus

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Jun 022015
 

Ryan Kennedy was honored for his work as young Tarzan.

Ryan Kennedy was honored for his work as young Tarzan.

On May 18, Orange Live was with Rob Kennedy and the Amity Theater kids when they learned they had received 14 nominations from the CT High School Musical Theater Awards officials.

On Monday evening, June 1, everyone was dressed to the nines as they entered the Palace Theater in Waterbury for the Awards Gala.

Amity, with its nomination as Outstanding Production of the Year, opened the show with a musical number from Tarzan. Little Ryan Kennedy as young Tarzan getting hoots and hollers from the crowd, even though, unfortunately, something was wrong with the sound system. For the first 1/4 of the song the audience could only really enjoy the dancing and heard a low mumble as the kids sang their hearts out.

Amity kids weren’t the only ones to be muted, the first best actress nominee to perform powered through about a third of her song without being heard as well.

The Amity contingent went wild when presenter Connor Deane — Orange native, Amity grad, former Amity theater kid, graduate of the University of Cincinnati, College- Conservatory of Music and now the Executive Director/Resident Acting Coach at the Broadway Method Academy in Trumbull— graced the stage to present the award for Outstanding Hair and Make up Achievement.

Presenter Connor Deane greets winner Andrea Kennedy.

Presenter Connor Deane greets winner Andrea Kennedy.

The Amity group also shattered the sound barrier when Andrea Kennedy and David Linet won that award. Andrea hugged her former student, then graciously accepted the award and gave David plenty of time to offer his thanks too.

The second award that Amity won was for Outstanding Sound Design – Tom “Ivan” Ivanovich and Dave Trovarelli – Horizon Sound.

As the evening wound down to a close with only a few categories left to announce, Brett Bernardini, who founded the Awards 7 years ago, announced that they never present any awards for no reason, but several professionals in New York and adjudicators in Connecticut insisted that one person receive an award for his work and for inspiring an entire school. That person is Ryan Kennedy.

Ryan took the stage to thunderous applause and gave a sweet, unprepared speech.

Amity’s Tarzan and Jane, Max Karsanow and Addie Robbins were part of an ensemble group of students from 13 high schools who took part in the tribute song of the evening — “What I Did For Love” — a tradition that began two years ago to honor the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary.

One Amity Alumni that we didn’t see (but his name appeared in the program) was 2013 grad Peter Charney, who was the Assistant Stage Manager.

St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol was the big winner with 7 awards, including Lead Actress, Director and Production of the Year.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 11.59.00 PMBut Amity wasn’t out of the spotlight. While accepting his best director award, St. Paul’s Mark Mazzarella took a moment to mention that his students noticed the person next to him, shook his hand and hugged him whenever he won an award. “Wasn’t he up for that award too?” they’d ask.

That person, his competition, was Amity’s Rob Kennedy.

Mazzarella said, “It’s not that you win, or how many prizes you take home, it’s your actions that the kids see that will leave a lasting impression.”

The Spirit of St. Paul

One of Mazzarella’s students, Chiara Giampietro was up for Best Actress for her role as Maria in The Sound of Music. On Sunday evening she was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Knowing that she wouldn’t be able to perform her full number, Mazzarella quickly put together a 3 minute video showing highlights of her performance in the play.

Out of the hospital, less than 24 hours after her life saving surgery Chiara came on stage after St. Paul’s cast performance and sang a couple of lines from Climb Ev’ry Mountain with KodyLynn Perkins who won the Best Supporting Actress Award for her role as Mother Abbas.

Chiara went on stage a few minutes later when her name was announced as best actress, and then again when St. Paul’s won best production of the year.

Chiara and Best Actor Zac Gottschall will both represent Connecticut in the Nationals on Broadway and have won $1,000 scholarships to attend the Broadway Method Academy’s Musical Theater Summer Intensive course.

This may not have been Amity’s year, but, as Ryan Kennedy said, “Even if we don’t win Production of the Year, it’s just an honor to be here.”

Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards Is June 1 — Orange Live Will Be There

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Jun 012015
 

215px-Tarzan_musical_Broadway_PosterThe Seventh Annual Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards (CHSMTA) Gala, will take place on Monday June 1, 6:30 p.m. at The Palace Theater in Waterbury, featuring Special Guest Master of Ceremonies, Matthew S. Morgan, a Connecticut born and raised actor who has appeared in the Broadway productions of The Lion King and Hairspray.

Awards will be presented in 17 different areas of recognition including Technical, Design, Performance and Educational.

Orange Live was there when the Amity theater kids learned what nominations their production of Tarzan had received.

Amity will attend the gala on Monday with its 14 nominations, including Outstanding supporting actress, Morgan Guadagnoli- who portrayed Tarzan’s ape mother, Kala; Outstanding supporting actor, Kahari Blue (he won an award last year) – who portrayed Kurchik the leader of the gorilla group; Direction; Costumes; Choreography; Chorus; Orchestra; lighting and production of the year.

Orange Live will attend the gala and let readers know what honors Amity receives on Monday evening.

 Originally Published on: May 30, 2015 @ 0:28

Feb 192015
 

Ryan Kennedy as Young Tarzan.

Ryan Kennedy as Young Tarzan.

There are no “bad” seats at the John Brady Center for the Performing Arts at Amity High School, but, if you want to watch the Amity Theater production of Tarzan from anywhere but the back row you’d better act quickly!

At only $18 each, the cost of admission is one of the greatest bargains around and hundreds of people already have taken action and reserved their seats for this wonderfully entertaining musical.

The production has a 5 show run, including one matinee: March 20, 21, 27 @ 8pm, March 28 @ 2pm & 8pm

Click this link to purchase your tickets today.