2011-03-11 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

RTC Takes Audience To A Whole New World

A Wave Review

Members of the Rockaway Theatre Company’s Young Actors Workshop received well deserved standing ovations after taking to the stage before packed houses in an amazing stage production of Disney’s “Aladdin Jr.” The play, which is the same as the well-known Disney movie, was presented entirely by youngsters ages 7-16. All sixty-two adorable talented cast members sang and danced their way into the hearts of audiences for three exciting performances this past weekend and are looking forward to three equally exciting performances on the weekend coming up.

The stage was a-glitter with dazzling and exotic costumes designed by costumier Matt Smilardi and constructed by Smilardi and his lovely young assistant, Naomi Seitz. An exquisite set depicting the hills of Arabia was designed by talented artist, James Cantirino and painted by his very artistically creative team, while the set and palace were constructed by RTC’s incredible Tech Director, Tony Homsey and his equally incredible set construction team. “Aladdin Jr.” is the culmination of the RTC’s five month long Saturday morning Theatre Program which runs under the guidance of Workshop Director Peggy Page, Music Directors Jodie Timpone and Rich Louis-Pierre and dance teacher, Michelle Micale. The team has worked with the youngsters since the workshop began in September, honing their acting, movement and vocal skills. The fruit of this labor is astounding. When the cast first appears on stage the mere number of performers, singing, acting and dancing in perfect synchronization takes one’s breath away. The title character is played by the handsome, “velvet throated” Nicholas Tsatsis who has been a member of the children’s workshop for the past five years. His leading lady, the beautiful Jasmine, is played by the lovely young Marissa Papapietro. Casey Stabiner, another longtime RTC workshop member who plays Aladdin’s somewhat reluctant genie, along with Michael Newman, her trusty magic carpet, deliver magical performances that are better than anyone could have wished for. Mackenzie Thompson plays the stubborn Sultan and Nicholas Manna is perfectly detestable as the evil Jafar, but the show is stolen by his sidekicks, the hilarious Razoul and Iago played by Abigail Summa and Laurie Klein, respectively.

The impressive dance routines were choreographed by RTC dancer Michelle Micale, who joined the company when she, herself, was not much older than the youngest cast-members. Her dance creativity was best displayed by Narrators Caitlin Byrne, Reilly Charles, Marina Cregan, Stephanie Cochrane, Michael Morley, Jenna Tipaldo and Sophia Zweifler in a catchy tap routine and by monkeys Leigh Dillon, Heather Marks and Luke Romanzi who showed their amazing acrobatic and dance talent. Although every performer on the stage is deserving of individual acclaim, unfortunately, the enormity of this talented and dedicated cast of youngsters makes it impossible to mention each of them individually. The members of the RTC’s Young People’s Theatre Workshop are very proud of the professionalism of this production. Over the past five months these children, tweens and teens have truly learned to blend their talents and work together as a cohesive team. They proved themselves to be as poised and professional as any of the adult actors who will be appearing in the RTC main-stage productions later this season. Parents and friends beamed with pride as they exited the Post Theater. Parents who are considering enrolling their children in this program in the fall will probably want to see what all the excitement is about.

There will be one show this Friday at 7 p.m. and two performances on Saturday, March 12 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. However, if you don’t have reservations for any of the three remaining performances, you will need to call the RTC Hotline at 718- 374-6400 and place your name on the stand-by list as all upcoming shows of Aladdin are presently sold out. However, as always, there is a great deal of fun to be had at Sunday’s St. Patrick sing-along for which reservations are still available.

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