BWW Interview: Amy Toporek of HIT HER WITH THE SKATES at Hamilton Stage
The new musical, Hit Her with the Skates, by Christine Rea & Rick Briskin, directed by Michael Schiralli with musical direction by Brandon Ethridge and choreography by Gina Ventura, opened last weekend at Hamilton Stage (UCPAC, Rahway, NJ) from May 12 - 27, 2017.
Hit Her With The Skates is Grease meets Hairspray with a sprinkle of Xanadu! It's 1994, and rock star Jacqueline Miller has a lot to celebrate. She's headlining her first national tour and returning for a hometown concert at her beloved Windy City Skates. When complications hit her head on, Jacqueline comes face-to-face with her 12-year-old self and all the things she learned during the golden age of the roller rink in 1977. From the wisdom of the Ouija Board to the power of Smarties candy, Hit Her With The Skates explores the magic and hope of finding your one true love.
"I'm thrilled to see this show on its feet in NJ before we skate off to NYC. Hit Her With the Skates is a nostalgic romp of a show with a feel-good message for everyone. At its core, it asks the question: What would my 12-year old self, think of the choices I've made as an adult? We've assembled an A-list team of cast, musicians & creatives to bring this whimsical show to life." Book and Lyrics for Hit Her With the Skates, Christine Rea
The cast features John Treacy Egan (Broadway: Nice Work If You Can Get It, Producers. NY: Clinton: The Musical), Madeline Fansler (NYC: Dogfight. Regional: Rent, Chicago), Kyle Jurassic (Regional: Million Dollar Quartet, Rock of Ages), Heather Patterson King (Tour: Mama Mia) Kristin Piacentile (Lost in Love: The Air Supply Musical), Andy Savage (Regional: West Side Story, A Little Night Music), Matthew Schatz (NY: Heathers: The Musical), Kelsey Stalter (National Tour: Teacher from the Black Lagoon), Amy Toporek (National/Intl Tour: Hairspray. Regional: The Marvelous Wonderettes), and Chris Walker (Regional: The Wiz, Aida).
The creative team includes Nathan Avakian (Lighting Design), Lindsay McWilliams (Costume Design), Josh Iacovelli (Set Design), Bruce Yauger (Sound Design), Dee Spencer (Wig Design), Bob Cline (Casting Director), Lisa Dozier King (General Manager).
IF YOU GO:
Pre-New York Developmental Production
May 12 - 27, 2017; Opening Night Saturday, May 20 at 8pm.
Performance Schedule: Thursday at 8pm; Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 2pm; Special Mother's Day Performance - Sunday, May 14 at 2, check the website for details.
At Hamilton Stage (UCPAC, Rahway, NJ) is located at 370 Hamilton St, Rahway, NJ 07065.
Tickets are $15 - $25.
For tickets and more information, visit www.hhwts.com.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
CHRISTINE REA (Book, Lyrics) began her journey of playwriting, producing and performing on her parent's backyard patio. Upon earning a Bachelor of Arts in History at the University of Illinois: Champaign/Urbana, and attending DePaul Theater School, Christine toured the U.S., Canada, and Europe performing. Favorite roles include: Mary Magdalene in the National Tour(s) of Jesus Christ Superstar w/ Ted Neeley & Carl Anderson of the acclaimed Norman Jewison film; Emma Goldman in the Off-Broadway Revival of Tintypes; Magenta in The Rocky Horror Show (European Tour); Sheila in HAIR (Actors Theater of Louisville); Janis Joplin in Beehive & Sonia in Godspell (Alabama Shakespeare Festival). Proud member of Actors Equity Association, The Dramatists Guild and most recently, Graduate of the Commercial Theater Institute's O'Neill & 14-Week Producers Program, 2015/2016 respectively.
RICK BRISKIN (Music and Lyrics) A mainstay of the NYC music scene for over 30 years, Rick has produced and worked with such diverse artists as: Irene Cara (of "Fame"), Angela Ai, Ann Curliss (of Expose), Funky Asiatic, Jean Paul & Q, Craig Chang, and Fearless Music. As a sideman, Rick has shared the stage with a multitude of artists including Diana Ross, Frankie Valli, Cindy Lauper, Sheryl Crow and Anita Baker. He can be heard on national jingles including spots for Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, Tanqueray, Huggies and Equitable Life. Born in NYC, his parents instilled a love and appreciation for musical theatre. Rick's extensive knowledge of musical genres and styles coupled with his enthusiasm for musical theatre made him a natural collaborator on HIT HER WITH THE SKATES. Rick attended the acclaimed Berklee College of Music and Boston University.
Michael Schiralli (Director) is the Artistic Director of Half Moon Theatre at the Marriott Pavilion at The Culinary Institute of America, where he has directed: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, A Christmas Carol, I Love, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti, The Fantasticks, It's A Wonderful Life, The World Goes Round, 2 Ten Minute Play Festivals and Side By Side By Sondheim. Some recent Off-Broadway credits include Nico Underground (NY Times critic's pick), The critically acclaimed A Chanukah Charol (New World Stages) and David Simpatico's Prom Queen (Playwrights Horizon). Other notable productions: Sleepless Variations with Mary Testa & Michael Starobin (Barrington Stage), Jackie Hoffman's solo shows including The Kvetching Continues (Time Out Award) and The Tragic And Horrible Life Of The Singing Nun (NYMF, 3 awards), Varla Jean Merman shows and videos including Enough About Me: An Unauthorized Biography, Coco Peru shows including: Undaunted (GLAAD Award), The Vendler Television Playhouse (Guiding Light TV Cast), Bob&Carol&Ted&Alice with David Rackoff (Culture Project), Born Again Again! with Tammy Faye Starlite, Valentine's Day Massacre (Drama Dept.), Nothin's Easy and Nobody's Happy with Colette Hawley, Gas, Food, Talent (West Bank), Darlene Love's True Love (N.Y., L.A.), Songs for a New World (with Beth Leavel and Jason Robert Brown), Damaged Care (U.S. House of Congress), Everything's Coming Up Moses with Seth Rudetsky, MTW's Holiday Extravaganza with Kristin Chenoweth, Free & Equal (Yip Harburg Foundation) and the feature film, Varla Jean And The Mushroomheads.
Brandon Ethridge (Musical Director) School of Rock (Broadway), We Will Rock You (1st Nat'l Tour), Rock of Ages (1st Nat'l Tour), Rocky Horror Show (Official European Tour). He has a master's degree in a classical piano performance that obviously hasn't done him much good. He is also the music director, backing vocalist, and keyboardist of Queen Extravaganza, the official tribute to the music of Queen. Brandon has lived in Kansas, Arizona, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He currently lives in New York City where he plans on staying forever and ever.
GINA VENTURA (Choreographer) holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, and a Masters degree in Dance Education through the collaboration of Rutgers University's Graduate School of Education and Mason Gross School of the Arts. Her most recent credits include Busch Gardens Williamsburg's original musical Roll Out The Barrel (Featured Dancer); International Star Illusionist Brad Ross' UNBELIEVABLE East Coast Tour (Swing) and Skyline Theatre Company's Dreamgirls (Dance Captain), under the direction of Sam Scalamoni. Gina has taught throughout the NJ area at schools such as Piscataway High School, North Brunswick's SOTA, and as a workshop instructor for MGSA's Summer Dance Camp and Conservatory. Her work can also be seen on the live stage, choreographing for the NJ Arts Collective's Summer Theatre Workshop.