North Kingstown will host 4 performances of ‘Footloose’
When the curtain rises Friday night on the musical “Footloose” at the North Kingstown High School auditorium, Jamestown will be well represented by talented young singers, dancers, musicians, actors and actresses. A lot of islanders landed roles in this production, according to Norma Caiazza, chairwoman of the school’s fine arts department.
Sydney Keen, 17, a senior, will play Wendy. She started appearing with the Providence Ballet Theatre when she was 2, she said. Her parents had taken her to see a Boston Ballet production of “Nutcracker,” and Sydney was “spellbound,” she said.
“Dancing is crying, screaming and laughing all at once,” she said. “It’s just really powerful for me.” She has danced professionally for the past four years, she said, and will continue in college.
Sydney, who is the daughter of Martin and Mary Hall Keen, plans to take a year off to study in China before she starts college.
“I will end up double majoring in dance and either philosophy or international politics, depending on the school,” she said. Meanwhile, she’s enjoying her part in “Footloose.”
“I’m really having a lot of fun dancing and singing in three-part harmony,” said Sydney.
Ethan Marble, a sophomore, said the students chose the play before North Kingstown adopted a new school “dance contract.” The production is about youngsters who want to dance and adults who object and make dancing against the law.
The North Kingstown High dance contract bans intimate touching and suggestive posturing. By comparison, the 1980’s teens depicted in “Footloose” seem part of a more innocent era, Caiazza said, but parents should be cautioned the show has some “objectionable language.”
Tickets are $10 for students and if purchased in advance. Admission is $15 the day of the performance.
In cast interviews last weekend, several of the players said they started out at the Jamestown Community Theater.
“I started in second grade,” Natalie Toland, 14, said. Natalie, daughter of Mike and Kellie Toland, performed in two shows a year. She has studied at Trinity Repertory Company’s Young Actors Summer Institute in Providence, and she’s serious about pursuing a career in theater.
Although she’s just a freshman, Natalie will share the leading role of Ariel.
This production has a double cast, Caiazza said, because due to a small number of orchestral parts, many of the students who in past years would have played musical instruments in the pit auditioned for the cast instead. The result is two sets of leads that will alternate in performances. There will be four total shows this weekend: Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
In past years, it’s been unusual for freshmen to land a part in the school musicals, but this year 18 freshmen are in the show, which has a cast of 63 in all.
“I love being in the show,” Natalie said. She said that she hopes to continue to perform in school productions.
“I’m definitely going to do this as much as I can for the next four years,” she said. “This department is phenomenal.”
Ivy Burns, 18, a senior, also started in Jamestown Community Theatre productions. She auditioned when she was 6, she said, but was “too scared.” A few years later, she was on stage performing partly because the singing roped her in.
“I’m a choir kid,” she joked. Her grandparents, Jeff and Kathleen Williams, were also involved with the theater. Ivy has two parts in this production. She plays one of the leads, and she also has a bit part, Lulu.
“I’ve had a pretty good time and it’s nice to have a lead as a senior,” she said.
Georgia Wright, 17, a senior who’s Brown University bound, also started acting with the Jamestown Community Theatre. She is part of the ensemble and will play “a variety of smaller roles,” she said.
Georgia has been in a school play every year. She’s performed in dramas, such as “Romeo and Juliet.” “Footloose” will mean a change of pace for her.
“I’m really excited to be in a happy musical,” she said.
Jack Clarke, 18, a senior, has also been performing since childhood, but he started at Newport’s Beechwood mansion in the Christmas pageant. He played the star. Jack said he likes to play comedy and wants to pursue a career in entertainment.
Nick Fay and James Mastrostefano, both 17 and seniors, are firsttime actors.
“I figured senior year I should do something to get more involved,” he said. He will be in the ensemble, and Nick grabbed one of the leading roles.
“I almost didn’t try out,” Nick said, but some friends talked him into auditioning.
Charles Keen, Sydney’s brother, is also making his first appearance on stage. He almost didn’t try out either, but ended up landing a big part.
“My sister bribed me with about 3,000 doughnuts,” he said.
The rehearsals do involve a lot of work, according to senior Daniel Gorelick, 17.
“I give up winter to do this,” he said, but added that he isn’t really giving up much because he enjoys performing. This will be his third North Kingstown High production.
“I’m really involved in the music department here,” he said. “I play cello. That’s what’s going to get me into college.” He plans to study engineering and perhaps minor in music.
Marcy Abong, 16, a junior, has an ensemble part this time. She was in a past production of “West Side Story.”
“I just like being on the stage,” she said. “It’s really fun. These are some of the best people in the school to be around.”
Sophomore Dana Larkin, 15, is reveling in her part this year after she missed the tryouts last year. She has performed in Jamestown Community Theatre since she was 7, she said.
Some islanders were rehearsing last weekend and not available for interviews. Sam Hollister, for instance, a sophomore, will play piano in the pit.
This year’s show is being dedicated to former student Mike Ruggieri. “He was one of the two that passed away in the East Greenwich accident,” Caiazza said. “He was a member of the drama club and in three of our musicals.”