While many of you are fans of winter and all things associated with it, I’m not that guy. Oh, sure—it can be picture-postcard-pretty here in the Upper Delaware River region, and I do enjoy taking photos in the winter wonderland, which helps the days pass. We’ve yet to get a proper snowstorm, but I have faith that will occur before spring returns. Meanwhile, I’m counting the days till spring—62 to be precise. Even though I might prefer lemonade over hot cocoa, and flip-flops over snowshoes, there are plenty of fun events to attend—both in and outdoors before Old Man Winter blows out of town, and reading The River Reporter is the best way I know to keep abreast of the skating demonstrations, ice fishing competitions and winter festivals.
While scanning our calendar of events (www.riverre porter.com/calendar-events) I noted that Forestburgh Playhouse (FPB) producer Franklin Trapp would be auditioning local actors on Sunday, January 12, at the Seelig Theatre, situated on the SUNY Sullivan campus in Loch Sheldrake, NY. I called Trapp and asked if I could pop by. “Great!” was his response. “We’re really excited about our 2019 Spring Break Musical Theatre Intensive, too,” he enthused. I had checked out the theatre’s website (www.fbplayhouse.org) and read that the playhouse was seeking to cast local adults, teens and children for the 2019 season featuring productions of “The Buddy Holly Story,” “The Producers” and the iconic sixties musical “HAIR,” along with several other plays. In addition to the main stage shows, the FBP presents theatre for the smaller set and features local kids, as part of the company’s dedication to community outreach. So it came as no surprise to see lots of adorable moppets fidgeting in the lobby as they waited their turn to sing and dance for a chance to be cast in “The Wizard of Oz,” which will play all season long on the children’s stage at the playhouse. One by one, their names were called and the hopefuls made their way to the stage, where Trapp and Co. soothed their nerves and helped them through the audition process.
I spent some time in the lobby, chatting with kids and young adults, some of whom had traveled a distance for the opportunity. “Yes, we’re both musical theatre majors,” said Wilkes University sophomore Sarah Weynand, when I asked what brought she and pal Alex Booth to the auditions. “The Forestburgh Playhouse is famous,” Booth added “Who wouldn’t want to perform there?” I popped into the theatre to catch 16-year-old Ronald Kelson sing a selection from “Don Quixote,” impressed by his vocal prowess and professional demeanor. “You have a beautiful voice,” Trapp agreed in encouragement following Kelson’s audition. One by one, aspiring performers made their way to the stage, and I recognized a few familiar faces along the way. “Weren’t you in ‘Annie’ last summer at the playhouse?” I asked a young lady, who was patiently waiting her turn to sing. “That’s right!” beamed her dad. “That’s my daughter, Janah. Wait, aren’t you that guy with the dog?” Laughing, I pointed to Dharma, who was wearing pajamas (don’t judge!) and surrounded by munchkin-wannabes who were calling her Toto and asking their parents to take pictures.
“How many times have you been to the Forestburgh Playhouse?” I asked Middletown resident Amelia, who was there with her grandparents. “A thousand times,” the seven-year-old enthusiastically responded. “I saw ‘The Little Mermaid there. I’m going to be a professional actress,” she said matter-of-factly. “On Broadway.” I also spoke with 10-year-old Homestead School student Violet Adams and took a pic of her singing on stage while Mom Ananda observed from the wings. Violet showed great poise and sophistication while auditioning alone on that great big stage and the producers seemed (IMHO) suitably impressed, as was I. During a break, I spoke with Trapp about the upcoming workshop. “We’re really excited about it,” he said. “The program was created to train teens (ages 13-18) in the art of musical theatre performance. Students will receive instruction in acting, singing and dancing from professionals currently working in the performing arts.” Adding that the FB Playhouse Performing Arts Academy workshop would culminate with a performance and reception for parents, friends and family, I asked him to put my name on the list. “Space is limited,” Trapp said. “This is going to be really cool for the kids in Sullivan County interested in musical theatre, because they’ll be learning from working professionals. Yes,” he said before I could ask the question. “Of course the dog can come.” Curtain up!