It’s showtime! Sussex Tech Drama Club aims to achieve FAME!
REHOIBOTH BEACH – Collectively, singing, dancing, acting and production support talent at Sussex Technical High School is aiming to achieve “fame.”
Weeks of rehearsal have ended and it’s showtime tonight, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon as the Sussex Tech Drama Club presents FAME: The Musical at the Clear Space Theatre in Rehoboth.
About three dozen students have on-stage or behind-the-scene roles in the ensemble production based on the 1980 movie FAME.
“We want students running things as much as we can,” said director Anthony Natoli, an English teacher at Sussex Tech. “We have students running all of the backstage stuff and obviously, all of the students on the stage and a couple up in the pit – the band upstairs.”
Several faculty members are also part of the production, Mr. Natoli said.
Rehearsal began in December for FAME: The Musical, which follows students of the prodigious Performing Arts (P.A) Academy in New York City from their first day as freshman in the fall of 1979 to their graduation in 1984.
Students engage in the ups and downs of high school life while learning of the value of “Hard Work” as they push themselves to achieve fame and “live forever!”
“It’s about high school kids trying to find their way,” said Mr. Natoli. “There is a nice correlation. We’re at Sussex Technical High School where kids pick a vocational technical area. P.A., the school that they are at, they pick a career path. And for a freshman in high school that’s a big decision for a lot of kids. This show really goes into how just because you’re doing that it doesn’t mean it has to define you. It’s a learning tool just like anything else.”
Tech senior Coreye Ross has one of the lead roles. He plays Tyrone Jackson, a talented hip-hop dancer with no real background in ballet. Tyrone encounters another challenge: he is dyslexic.
“He’s a great dancer. He loves it. As the journey goes he has to build up his reading,” said Coreye.
Junior Eryk Bluto plays Nick Piazza. “He is a very classically trained actor and he wants to focus on his studies more than anything else. He wants to go to P.A. He doesn’t want to get involved in any relationships. He just wants to be with himself and make his acting more than it could be,” said Eryk.
Senior Lauren Mahetta plays Miss Sherman, a stern English teacher who in one moment of frustration gives Tyrone an attentive slap to the face.
“I’m sort of – to Coreye’s character – his antagonist,” said Lauren. “The kids that come to P.A., they are so excited. All they can focus on are the arts. They don’t think about the academic side. I am what levels them back down and makes them realize there are other things that you have to focus on besides the arts. Because, what if it doesn’t work out?”
Mr. Natoli, in his fourth year with the Sussex Tech Drama Club, said FAME: The Musical was picked over several other production options.
“This group of seniors has been with me since my first year. I really wanted something to showcase as many as possible. And they are incredible dancers. We had a couple other shows in mind but they didn’t quite work out for one reason or another,” said Mr. Natoli. “My girlfriend, the assistant director Ianna Mosberg brought this (FAME) to my attention. We watched the old movie. We watched some of the TV shows. It’s infectious. Everybody knows FAME … live forever.”
Alyssa Murray, Spanish teacher at Sussex Tech, is the choreography director for FAME.
“These kids are doing an incredible job,” said Mr. Natoli.
Coreye is in his fourth year with the drama club. “It has been a great ride, a great journey, to start from where I was at as a ‘background’ to become a main character,” he said. “And to work with so many talented people who can sing, who can dance and who really put their heart in this because they really want to grow as an actor, I enjoy every moment of it.”
“I don’t know where I would be, who I would be or what I would do without drama club. It’s formed me so well. I love it,” said Coreye, who plans to pursue a career in exercise science at the University of Delaware or Towson State. He also plans to continue his performing career with local theater groups.
Lauren’s college plans are Westminster Choir College in Princeton N.J., with a double major of Music Ed and Voice Performance. “I really want to be a choir teacher. I take private voice lessons which focuses on the more operatic side of my voice,” she said. “And then I take part in stuff like this to work on the musical theater voice.”
Eryk’s passion for musical theater won’t end with high school graduation.
“I love musical theater and acting in general. I find so much joy doing it and performing on stage. I want to actually pursue musical theater in college,” he said. “And if things pan out I do want to act on Broadway.”
Evening shows Feb. 16-18 start at 7 p.m. Sunday’s matinee begins at 3 p.m. The show lasts about two hours, counting intermission.
Tickets ($10 for students/seniors and $15 for adults) are on sale during all school lunch periods at Sussex Technical High School. Tickets are also available to be reserved by email and at the door on performance nights.
Clear Space Theatre is located at 20 Baltimore Avenue, Rehoboth.
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