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The Spotlight Kidz to visit New York, meet Broadway star

July 15,2016 19:17

“I'm really excited because we'll get to meet the first Asian-American 'Christine Daaé,' ” Frantz said Thursday. “The Spotlight Kidz will have 23 singers ranging from ages 6 to 18 singing alongside Broadway star Ali Ewoldt at The Laurie Beechman ...

Many young people who step into the spotlight at their local community theaters wonder what it’s like at the top.

A group of performers from Schuylkill County, including Ella Frantz, 9, of Pottsville, will travel to New York City on Saturday to find out.

“I’m really excited because we’ll get to meet the first Asian-American ‘Christine Daaé,’ ” Frantz said Thursday.

“The Spotlight Kidz will have 23 singers ranging from ages 6 to 18 singing alongside Broadway star Ali Ewoldt at The Laurie Beechman Theatre on 42nd Street. Ewoldt currently plays the lead role of Christine in ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’ ” Sandy Kost-Sterner, the director of The Spotlight Kidz, said Thursday.

The Laurie Beechman Theatre, according to its website, is a 100-seat cabaret venue at 407 W. 42nd St.

The group is scheduled to meet Ewoldt there at 10 a.m. Saturday.

“We’ll practice, then we’re performing at 11:30 a.m. The show in New York City will feature several group and solo performances from The Spotlight Kidz as well as solos from Ali Ewoldt. Highlighting the show will be the combined performance of Ewoldt and The Spotlight Kidz singing together the song ‘Somewhere’ from ‘West Side Story,’ ” Kost-Sterner said.

Bruce A. Marianelli, Pottsville, a retired Schuylkill Haven Area School District music teacher, will travel to New York to accompany the group on piano. Marianelli is the music director for The Spotlight Kidz, Kost-Sterner said.

In June, Ewoldt became the first Asian-American female lead in the longest-running musical on Broadway, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera,” which is at Majestic Theatre, 247 W. 44th St., New York City.

For more information on the actress, visit her website at www.aliewoldt.com.

The Spotlight Kidz is part of the Pottsville Gymnastics & Theatrical Center Inc. and is under the direction of Kost-Sterner. She formed the group in June 2014 to give youngsters in the area not only local performance opportunities but also unique experiences.

“The Spotlight Kidz is like an all-star group of the area’s top singers and performers. Many of the groups members have excelled locally, winning honors at The Majestic Awards, Winter Carnival titles and Schuylkill County Junior Idol titles,” Kost-Sterner said.

“This is The Spotlight Kidz third straight year performing in New York City. In 2014, they performed with Marissa Perry, who starred as Tracy Turnblad in Broadway’s ‘Hairspray.’ Last summer, the guest performer was Pottsville’s Bradley Dean, who has been in nine Broadway shows,” Kost-Sterner said.

Kost-Sterner said she was fortunate to find these opportunities through contacts she made in New York City over the years.

“It happened through networking and meeting different people,” Kost-Sterner said.

In March, she managed to arrange the meeting with Ewoldt. At the time, Ewoldt was playing Tuptim in “The King and I” at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Among the Schuylkill County-based performers who plan to travel to New York to visit Ewoldt on Saturday are Taylor Brigade, Makenna Copeland, Reiley Lonergan, Lauren Tidmore and Liam Wolfe, Kost-Sterner said.

Frantz and Tidmore were able to go with The Spotlight Kidz on their previous trips to New York.

“I think this is one of the most incredible experiences you’ll have when being part of the program,” Tidmore, 18, of Orwigsburg, a 2016 graduate of Blue Mountain High School, said.

“It’s great to have all the performance opportunities here in Schuylkill County. But being able to travel to New York City — which is, like, the theatre capital of the United States — and be able to sing with someone who’s starring in such a legendary show is pretty awesome,” Tidmore said.

“Having done this with Marissa Perry, I’m kind of used to the process. It’s a different venue, but I’m with the same group. We’ll rehearse the songs with Mr. Marianelli and, maybe, get some feedback from Ms. Ali. And I’m going to be doing a duet and a solo, so I’m very excited,” Tidmore said.

She will sing “Vanilla Ice Cream” from the musical “She Loves Me” as a solo Saturday, Kost-Sterner said.

And she’ll sing a duet with Brigade, 18, of Pottsville, the title theme from “The Phantom of the Opera.”

“This will help me accomplish my goal in music, being on Broadway. I find it really exciting and when you’re performing on Broadway, you never know what’s going to happen each night,” said Frantz, who will be a fourth-grade student at St. Ambrose School in Schuylkill Haven in September.

On Saturday, Frantz will have an opportunity to sing a solo, “Broadway Baby” from the musical “Follies,” Kost-Sterner said.

Brigade, a 2016 graduate of Pottsville Area High School, traveled with the group last year to perform with Bradley Dean. He’s hoping he has the opportunity to ask Ewoldt a few questions Saturday.

“I’d like to know what made her go into theater. I’d like to know what kind of steps she had to take to get to where she is now. I’d love to follow in her footsteps,” Brigade said Thursday, just before he and The Spotlight Kidz rehearsed at the Majestic Theater at 209 N. Centre St., Pottsville.

At the show Saturday, he will have an opportunity to sing a solo.

“It will be ‘The Music of the Night’ from ‘Phantom,’ ” he said.

Looking ahead, Kost-Sterner said, “Next month the group will be performing at Hershey Park and will also be signing the National Anthem at the Little League World Series in Williamsport.”


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