Jim Stanek and Janet Metz to Lead WILLY WONKA and 'JOSEPH' at NewArts This Summer
NewArts, a not-for-profit theatrical production organization based in Newtown, CT that was recently featured in the award-winning documentary film, Midsummer in Newtown, continues its mission of fostering healing and strength through the performing arts and character development as it produces Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for its Summer 2017 season.
The productions feature 130 Newtown-area children onstage, backstage, and in the orchestra; as well as two Broadway performers - Jim Stanek and Janet Metz. A team of professional directors, choreographers, music directors, designers, producers and technicians guide participants in this endeavor of creativity, collaboration and community.
Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka, with music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, adapted for the stage by Leslie Bricusse and Timothy Allen McDonald and based on the book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", features Broadway's Jim Stanek (Fun Home; A Gentlemen's Guide...; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Little Women) as Willy Wonka, and will be performed today, July 27 at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., July 28 at 7 p.m., July 29 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and July 30 at 2 p.m. The show's 80 local youth cast members include double-cast principals (Oompa and Loompa casts) who alternate performances.
Michael Unger (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, eight previous NewArts productions, From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert for Sandy Hook) and Jennifer Paulson Lee (NewArts' Seussical, A ROCKIN' Midsummer Night's Dream, Stephen Schwartz's Magic to Do, Temple) co-direct, with choreography by Ms. Lee and music direction by J. Paul Bourque. Costume design is by Krissy Sneshkoff, and lighting design is by Mitchell Girgasky (2015 graduate of Newtown High School, mentored by G. Benjamin Swope).
In Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Narrator Janet Metz (Falsettoland; Once Upon a Mattress; Fiddler on the Roof; I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change) reprises the role she played opposite Donny Osmond for the show's North American tour. Performing alongside 75 local children, Joseph... will run August 11 at 7 p.m., August 12 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and August 13 at 2 p.m. For this production, Michael Unger directs, with choreography by Tara Jeanne Vallee (Cirque Dreams, NewArts' School of Rock: Youth Production), music direction is by Jeffrey Saver, costume coordination is by Stevie Rival, and lighting design is by G. Benjamin Swope.
For both Summer 2017 shows, scenic design is by Brian Prather, production management is by G. Ben Swope; technical direction is by Jon Curns, sound design is by BrIan Kelly, props are by Mary Paul; Kathy Hoefgen and Jomary Pena are production stage managers and NewArts founder Michael Baroody, MD, is executive producer.
All performances will be at The Theater at Walnut Hill Community Church, 156 Walnut Hill Rd., Bethel, CT. Tickets ($17.50-27.50) and information about supporting NewArts are at www.newarts.org.
NewArts was founded by local parent, Michael Baroody, MD, in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy of December 14, 2012. It is an all-encompassing arts program with a strong element of character development achieved through its ARC (Aspire, Reach, Confidence) Program. NewArts developed this model for teaching children life skills in collaboration with members of the Yale School of Management and Inspire Corps. The ARC program allows participants to cognitively understand their experiences during the rehearsal process and translate them into skills for their everyday lives.
"The participating children will be entertaining the community with a Broadway-quality performance, but more importantly, throughout the rehearsal process, they are learning how to overcome obstacles, face their fears and realize the best versions of themselves," said Michael Baroody, MD, founder of NewArts and its parent organization, the 12.14 Foundation.
The result is a long-lasting, positive impact on how these youths view themselves and the world around them. Numerous stories illustrate how the program is positively impacting Newtown-area children after the mass shooting on December 14, 2012 at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Nicole Kolitsas (age 14, Ms. Salt in Willy Wonka and Ensemble Joseph...) recently blogged about her experience : "After the Newtown tragedy, I lived a life ruled by Fear. I didn't want to go to school; really I didn't want to go anywhere.... My mother had worked at Sandy Hook Elementary at the time and I didn't want her to go to work, afraid that it wasn't over... My fear tightened its grip when my mother and father were both diagnosed with cancer only months after the tragedy. I went to therapy session after therapy session, but I was too well-acquainted with this cruel world that we lived in to go back to being myself...I came out of Seussical [NewArts' inaugural production, in 2013] as a new person, a person that grows every summer. I still get scared. Fear still whispers in my ear and grabs my hand. But I now have the skills to tell Fear that I'm okay, and that I can handle whatever comes my way. Because of NewArts, I can do anything. I can perform in front of thousands of people, I can solve my own problems, I can evaluate myself and find my strengths, and I can tell Fear goodbye."
The venue for NewArts' shows is Walnut Hill Community Church, 156 Walnut Hill Rd., Bethel, CT 06801. Tickets ($17.50-$27.50) and information about supporting NewArts are at www.newarts.org.
NewArts (the theatrical production entity of the 12.14 Foundation) is a non-for-profit organization formed by a local parent, following the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, to encourage personal development through high-level performing arts programs. The Foundation provides experiences that produce a long-lasting, positive effect on the way children see themselves and the world around them. NewArts has produced eight critically acclaimed large-scale musicals, involving hundreds of local participants, over the past four years. This summer the Foundation is staging its ninth and tenth musicals: Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka and Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In December 2017 the Foundation will present its second annual winter production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, directed by Producing Artistic Director, Michael Unger, and created by a Tony Award-winning team; which premiered with NewArts in December 2016 following a successful 16-year run at the Tony-winning McCarter Theater in Princeton, N.J. The making of a previous NewArts production, A Rockin' Midsummer Night's Dream, was recently featured in the documentary film Midsummer in Newtown, which was chosen for the prestigious Spotlight Selection at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. The album for A Rockin' Midsummer Night's Dream is available from Broadway Records (broadwayrecords.com).
Michael Baroody, Founder and Managing Director of the 12.14 Foundation and NewArts, is a plastic surgeon living in Newtown with his wife and two young daughters. "The Foundation's vision was born from a need to not only heal, but to enrich and strengthen the lives of those affected by the events of 12-14. We instill life skills through an innovative combination of character development and high-level performing arts projects. We will provide our children, our community and people throughout the world with powerful tools upon which to build successful lives."
Michael Unger, NewArts Producing Artistic Director, recently conceived and directed the world premiere of A Rockin' Midsummer Night's Dream, adapted and directed The 101 Dalmatians Musical, and directed School of Rock (School Version), The Wizard of Oz, The Lion King, Jr., LiberTy Smith and Seussical the Musical for NewArts. He is also Associate Artistic Director of The York Theatre in New York City where he recently directed You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown. He directed the concert From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert For Sandy Hook. Other directing credits include his highly acclaimed A Christmas Carol (McCarter Theatre; 1998-2015), Two Point Oh (Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theaters; The New York Times Critics' Pick), The Happy Time, The Rink, My Sister in this House at Deaf West Theatre (Ovation Recommended), Grease (Paramount Theatre), Crimes of the Heart (Theatre Aspen) and Pippin (Depot Theatre). World premieres include: Caligula, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Retribution (Off-Broadway). Opera directing credits include Susannah (available on DVD), Of Mice and Men, The Duchess of Chicago (in Russia), A View From the Bridge, The Consul, HMS Pinafore, The Crucible and Die Fledermaus. He is married to actress Janet Metz. Their favorite production: twins, Phoebe and Nathaniel. (www.ungerdirect.com)