2002-04-13 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio by Susan Hartenstein

From The Artists Studio by Susan Hartenstein

Rockaway Artists Alliance

Roger Kraus is a bright, articulate 26-year-old actor raised in Rockaway, whose family still lives in the community. He also happens to be the star of the latest stage version of the popular Nickelodeon children’s TV show "Blue’s Clues" -- "Blue’s Clues Live! Blue’s Birthday Party," set to play at Radio City Music Hall from April 26-May 5, 2002. Kraus’ enthusiastic spirit is contagious and is perfectly suited to his role as "Steve" in this production. Roger brings much of himself to Steve, while staying true to the TV character. Kraus has 13 nieces and nephews, a valuable asset since a major dimension of the live stage production, even more than the TV show, is interaction with the young audience.

Roger’s love of working for an audience of children and their parents is obvious. While necessary to "project" a stage performance, it is very important to him to stay true to the intent of the TV show by retaining the intimacy and caring that is so much a part of the original. The stage version was put together by a highly credited creative and production team. For Roger, the freshness, excitement and degree of interaction that this live production provides is essential to the very nature of what he feels it achieves. The children, as well as their parents, are presented with characters they already know and love, but in a wonderful, thrilling way that is the very nature of a live performance, and so, will be remembered all of their lives.

Roger has played to audiences across the country, frequently to children who have never seen a live theatrical production. Roger is very proud of being part of a production he feels is responsible for opening up a whole new world of creativity to which some children would otherwise have not been exposed and to which they will now be inspired to return again and again.

Kraus, who has a long and varied list of stage, film and TV credits, is well aware of how live theater and the arts can light a child’s imagination and ignite his/her creativity for the rest of his/ her life. Roger was introduced to theater as a child. He credits Mrs. Yaeger, whom he refers to as a "great teacher" at P.S.114, and his mother, who directed shows at St. Francis, for giving him his first experience in acting. He appeared in "Godspell," produced by a local Rockaway theater company, at age 8. Guidance counselor Jerry Dever at J.H.S. 180 suggested Roger try out for the High School of Performing Arts. Kraus says that the school "entirely changed my life." His creative education and broadening experiences at the school were essential to making him and fellow classmates, even those who didn’t go on to careers in acting, the successful people they are today. Thrilled with the development of the arts taking place in Rockaway, Kraus recognizes how important it is to have arts participation available on the local level.

Rockaway is also very much a part of what shaped Roger’s life and consciousness. His words and tone become passionate when talking about his hometown, doubly blessed for its beauty and its closeness to the urban center. The neighborhoods and cultures are what make this city so wonderful and Rockaway is " a beautiful piece of that tapestry."

Where is Roger Kraus headed? Well, he was just nominated for the Helen Hayes Award in Washington, D.C. for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Lord Alfred Douglas in "The Judas Kiss," a very different role from "Steve." He wishes to work more in regional theater, which brings good art and theater into local towns and neighborhoods. For right now, if you wish to see this spirited young actor in this production of "Blue’s Clues Live! Blue’s Birthday Party," performance dates are: Friday, April 26 at 7 p.m.; April 27 and 28 at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.; Thursday, May 2 at 2 p.m.; May 3 at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.; May 4 and 5 at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets may be purchased through Ticketmaster.

Camp kidsmART, RAA’s 5-week summer camp program, returns July 8-August 8, Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Campers must be 6 years old by the start of camp. Proof of age is required. Campers will be 6-14 years old. For information and applications, call RAA at 474-0861 or email RockArt116@aol.com.

"Powerful," "Incredible," "Haunting," "Important," "Wonderful," "Moving," "Touching," "Uplifting." Just some of the words used by visitors to the opening reception of "Remembering," RAA’s exhibition inspired by the events of September 11, November 12 and the times in our lives we need to reflect upon and commemorate. Very public events can evoke very private, profound reactions expressed in a myriad of ways. The artwork, some by children, in many media, and people’s responses to that work proves that point. Thank you to Michael Tubridy and to all who made this show possible. Their respect and passion for those who lived through those days and those who did not is to be saluted. "Remembering" can be seen at sTudio 7, Fort Tilden on Saturdays 12-5 p.m., Sundays 1-4 p.m. This is the last weekend to see "Palindrome 2002" in sTudio 6. Gallery hours are the same.

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