Amity’s “Anastasia” Wins Top Prize At Awards Gala

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Jul 182021

The Amity Creative Theater (ACT) won the coveted “Best Musical” Award for its production of Anastasia last night during the Stephen Sondheim Awards Gala at the Shubert Theater.

“It’s the best one (award) to get,” said Rob Kennedy after the Gala. “We were all thrilled to get — and to even be there — at all after this long year.”

After last year’s show, “The Drowsy Chaperone” was canceled due to concerns over the Covid-19 Pandemic, ACT had to come up with a safe, alternative venue for this year’s show, and chose the High School parking lot under a tent.

Anastasia was well received and night after night brought audiences to their feet with wild applause.

The Kennedys, Rob and Andrea, took over the Amity Theater program when they were hired by their alma mater in the 2007-2008 school year. Since then they have directed 13 musicals (only one, The Drowsy Chaperone in 2020,  was not seen by any audience due to Covid.

The “Kennedy Productions” have won at least one award every year, the most coveted being “Best Musical” which they competed against many other Connecticut high schools.

Although there have been numerous memorable shows, Rent, Les Miserables, In the Heights, Grease, and Tarzan included,

Amity’s first Best Musical Win was for Sweeney Todd at the 2013 Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards. (Sweeney Todd won a total of 7 awards that year.

Their second chart topper was with the Addams Family in 2018 at the first annual Stephen Sondheim Awards, which took over honoring the High School Musicals when the CT HSMTA ended.

And now the 2021 Stephen Sondheim Award for Best Musical with Anastasia. `
Congratulations to the cast, crew, directors and everyone involved in this year’s show. I can’t wait to see what the Kennedy’s have up their sleeves for next year’s musical production.

Amity’s Outdoor Production Of Anastasia — Still Some Tickets Left

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Jun 092021

Amity High School is proud to present the Broadway musical, Anastasia.

Anastasia is the story of Anya (Grace Blanchard), an orphan in 1920s St. Petersburg yearning to discover her lost family.

She encounters two men — ex-aristocrat Vlad (Nicholas Matalote) and the strapping conman Dmitri (Ryan Kennedy) — who convince her she just might be Anastasia, the Romanov duchess rumored to have survived the Russian Revolution.

Together, they flee to Paris, where they hope to present Anya to the exiled Dowager Empress (Olivia Sceppa), Anastasia’s grandmother, who happens to be offering a reward to anyone who finds her granddaughter.

Anastasia is a musical for the whole family! And… for the first time ever the show will be presented outdoors to provide a safer environment for our audience.

Tickets for our outdoor production of Anastasia the Musical are Now On Sale!
June 16th-19th & 23rd-26th 2021
Click HERE for tickets
The remaining cast members and crew are:
Rylee Maxwell – Young Anastasia, Romanov, Greta Pedenski – Teen Anastasia, Romanov, McKenna Maxwell – Maria Romanov, Marfa, Michael Perrone – Count Leopold, Drunk 2, Kaitlyn Pryor – Drunk 4,
Ian Rosenay – Drunk 3, Harry Rosenay – Count Gregory, Victoria Pocwierz – Swan Lake Dancer, Corey Richards – Tsar Nicholas II, Sergei the Doorman, Drunk 1, Macie Cox Tsarina Alexandra, Jacob Ebert- Gorlinsky, Spencer Fiske – Count Ipolitof, Audrey Jurzyk – Olga Romanov, Dunya, Zola Kneeland – Tatiana Romanov, Paulina, Steven Rizzotti – Alexei Romanov, Antonia Tzepos – Countess Gregory, Brynn Weirsman – Countess Lily Malevsky – Malevitch, Nolan Young – Gleb Vaganov, Jenna Chizmadia – Swan Lake Dancer, Romanov Ensemble.
Also: Bolshevik ensemble — Rhian Alsgaaard, Bridget Browe, Maria Dalle Ave, Gillian Fuchs, Grace Kennedy, Grace Mahon, Zoe Smith, Ava Swain.
Romanov Ensemble — Molly Blair, Annika Lyngdal, Kasey Smith.
And Finally: Cassidy Smith – Stage Manager, Olivia Cheng – Assistant Stage Manager, and Ally Balocca – Costume Crew Head.
Although Amity Musicals traditionally sell out, there are still tickets available for every performance (especially the two Saturday matinee shows).
Click HERE and get your tickets now!
Ticket availability Week One
On opening night, Wednesday, June 16 (5) five seats are available
There are 13 seats available on Thursday, June 17
On Friday, June 18, there are 9 available seats.
There are many seats available for the 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, June 19 and 31 seats for the 7:30 evening performance.
Ticket availability Week Two
There are plenty of seats, (27) available on Wednesday, June 23
On Thursday, June 24, there are still 15 seats available
On Friday, June 25, 19 seats are available.
There are numerous seats available for the 2 p.m. Saturday matinee on June 26.
On Closing Night, there are still 15 seats available for the 7:30 p.m. show.


Amity Spring Musical: Anastasia – Get Your Tickets Now

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May 132021

The award-winning Amity Regional High School Theater Department, under the direction of Robert and Andrea Kennedy, is thrilled to announce the outdoor production of Anastasia.

Anastasia transports the audience from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as a brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing conman and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love, and family.

Performances are June 16, 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. Two matinee performances will take place on June 19 and 26 at 2 p.m. For the first time ever, the musical will take place outdoors, under a tent, at Amity Regional High School, 25 Newton Road in Woodbridge. Masks will be required.

After COVID-19 forced the cancellation of last year’s production just weeks before opening, Amity Creative Theater is excited to offer the community the opportunity to experience this unique venue and for students and musicians to retake the stage. Amity is the first high school in the state to produce Anastasia. Tickets are $20 and are available online at www.amitytheaterdepartment.com or by contacting the box office at 203.392-2019 or email amityboxoffice@gmail.com.

This year’s corporate sponsors include BENDER, Berchem Moses PC, Burns Insurance Group, Coldwell Banker Realty, Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation, Laticrete International, Inc., MitchCo. Tent & Party, Milford-Orange Times, New England Performance Insulation, Rick’s Plumbing Service, and Total Mortgage. All proceeds raised go to the self-funded Amity Theater program.

For further information, please call the box office at 203.392.2019 or email amityboxoffice@gmail.com.

And The Nominees Are:

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Jun 012019

Once again, the Amity Creative Theater’s excellent spring musical production received several nominations for the High School Musical Awards – The Sondheim Awards
If you were lucky enough to see this year’s show, “Catch Me If You Can,” you will most likely agree with the judges on their choices:
Best Actor Marty Gnidula – Carl Hanratty 
Best Actor Ryan Kennedy – Frank Abagnale Jr.
Best Supporting Actress Sophia Halepas – Carol Strong (Brenda’s mom)
Student Assoc. Costume Design Abby Slanski
Student Assoc. Lighting Design Micheal DeCesare
Best Choreography Andrea Kennedy
Best Direction Andrea & Robert Kennedy
Best Musical

The winners will be announced at the Shubert Theater in New Haven on Monday, June 3.


Tonight’s The Night, Amity Talent Shoots For The Moon

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Jun 042018

The first Annual Stephen Sondheim Awards will take place at the Shubert Theater, 247 College Street, New Haven tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Amity Has THREE of its fine actors vying for the Best Actor/Actress title and an opportunity to compete in the National High School Musical Awards.

Best of Luck to Marty Gnidula – Uncle Fester for best actor, Alaina Dwyer – Alice Beineke and Lilli Querker in the best actress category for The Addams Family. We can’t wait to see you perform tonight.

The Addams Family is up for the Outstanding Musical Award.

In addition, Ryan Kennedy is nominated for his supporting actor role of Lucas. Best choreography – Andrea Kennedy. Best Directors – Rob and Andrea Kennedy. Best Costume Design – Marissa Proto.

I will give a full update after the show. Until then, Everyone send out Positive thoughts to our extended “Addams Family” group. We MUST have someone go to the Nationals again this year!!!

And once again, thank you Connor Deane and your business for giving our kids this amazing opportunity to shine! As Always, Judy Primavera and the Jamie Hulley Arts Fund for your participation.




Audiences Give The Addams Family Two Snaps Up

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Apr 082018

Addams Family, The Musical opened at Amity this week and so far, audiences are loving it – at least from comments posted on Facebook and what I observed last night.

Just about everyone was talking about the most lovable character, “Uncle Fester” played by Sophomore Martin Gnidula.

“I can’t believe he’s just a sophomore,” one man said.

“That means he’ll be around for two more years,” someone responded.

“I think this is his first play,” said another as she flipped through the program book.

Lilli Querker, “Pugsley” also got some attention, not only for her voice and performance, but one young girl turned to her mom and said, “I KNEW he was a girl!”

Out in the lobby, a man said, “I can’t imagine what they look like without their stage makeup.”

I wanted to say, go to Orange Live, they did a feature with side by side photos of the lead actors. But I didn’t.

During the show, there were audible gasps when Emily Kilian, “Wednesday” sang. “Wow, she’s so good!”

Ben Kemp, “Lurch” got a lot of laughs with his low growls, moans – whatever you want to call them. He must have practiced endlessly, because, if you watched Orange Live’s meet the Addams Family video, you’ll notice that his speaking voice is not terribly low.

Harrison Paek “Gomez” and Ali Ashworth “Morticia” received equal raves for their performances. Paek being compared to Raul Julia and Ashworth to Angelica Houston.

And Maren Westgard’s “Grammama” was so weird and much more popular with this audience than the television character ever was with all of us baby boomers back in the day.

The conversations were all over the place as we exited the theater.

“So, the boyfriend was the director’s son?”

“Ya, he was the little kid in Tarzan, too, remember?”

Even the lighting left people in awe. “Did the students do the lighting too?”

“Some older guy does it every year and the kids work with him I think.”

“Well, it was amazing. They did a great job.”

“They always do. It’s like Broadway.”

Orange Live will have MORE on this play and audience reaction next week. 


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.”

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.