Remember their names: Chester Drama Club presents 'Fame'

| 31 Mar 2016 | 11:10

By Ginny Privitar
— The joint will be jumping.
On Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2, the Chester Academy Drama Club will present “Fame the Musical."
It turns out that the actors can really relate to the Performing Arts High School students they portray. And they have the talent to match.
Actor Caroline Holton, a junior, plays Grace "Lamb Chop” Lamb.
"I feel like her character speaks out to me because Grace is the type of person who’s pop-punk/punk rock," said Caroline. "She always wants to be the best, and I feel like I relate to that character because of the way she dresses. She wears Pink Floyd T-shirts, and I have a whole bunch of those.”
Caroline has been in the drama club since seventh grade.
“It’s just been so much fun," she said. "You get to interact with people who you don’t normally talk to and we all come together, basically like a family.”
The only difficult part was getting over stage fright at the audition, she said.
Olivia Sambataro, a sophomore, and a new transfer student this year from Greenwood Lake, plays Serena Katz.
“She’s the nerd in the play," said Olivia. "She’s kind of shy, but she does have a big personality, and I feel I kind of relate to her like that because I’m usually really shy. I really enjoy playing this part a lot.”
Olivia said that even though Serena is shy, "there’s moments where she’s really big, and I feel like I have to get used to opening up that much to people I’ve just met — I think that’s the hardest part.”
Olivia has a beautiful voice, which is on display in a solo performance.

Stage crew makes it happen
The actors get the applause, but no production would be possible without the work of the unheralded stage crew.
Kaleigh Holton, a senior and one of three Holton sisters in the production, is the stage manager. Her responsibilities are many, including making sure all the mechanical equipment is working.
“My responsibilities are making sure that people are where they’re supposed to be,"Kaleigh said. "Their microphones are on and the set stuff — the moveable stuff — is where it’s supposed to be.”
She said the students bring in props themselves and set them up backstage where they’re easily accessible.
Kaleigh seemed to be everywhere and doing everything during rehearsal. She said the toughest part of her role is “making sure everything is right."
"It’s like playing God," she said. "You can’t just be everywhere at one time — you have to give a little to other people and make sure they know what they’re doing.”
Principal Denis Petrilak watched the young actors rehearse.
“You learn very quickly you can’t control everything," he said. "You learn how to delegate and get good people who are responsible.”
Emily Perez, a senior and assistant stage manager, pointed to Kaleigh.
“I’m her right-hand man," she said. “I make sure everything she needs to have done is done. I run back and forth between the principal and our director, (seeing if) they need anything and if it’s been done. I’m also the treasurer, so I have to make sure our budget is big enough and can be stretched in order to get the supplies we need.”
An additional unexpected expense was buying extra microphones to replace ones that weren’t working properly.
For costumes for this production, the students will dress in normal teen clothes, so that was a savings.
Help from the pros
The production of “Fame the Musical” is fortunate also in obtaining the services of theater professionals.
Director Terita Redd teaches voice and directs shows at the Hudson Valley Conservatory. She has many commercial, Broadway, soundtrack and recording credits on her resume, as well as a bachelor of fine arts in music and a master of arts. At the request of a friend, she agreed to act as both director and musical director for this production.
Not having a team to work with and the students' lack of professional training presented challenges. “In the beginning, you could hardly hear some" of the actors, she said.
But, she said, "It’s been surprising and rewarding to “see them grow....They’ve been motivated from day one, and they’ve kept the excitement going....Now they are really coming on. The fact the kids are having fun — that’s the most important.”
Others who’ve lent their talent to the production are music producer Thomas Venable, choreographer Claire Beebe, and lighting director Caroline DiIorio, who is also the school librarian.
Caroline Holton said hopes to be back onstage for one last Chester performance.
“Next year’s my senior year but I hope to make the best of it because it’s just so much fun," she said. And it’s like leaving a mark — “Like someone says, 'Oh, hey — do you remember this person who played this character, and they absolutely rocked at it?'”