St. Paul’s Interparochial School’s Annual Spring Musical, “Oklahoma!” Explores Fate and New Beginnings

BY CAROLYN JOHNSON

Jeffrey Lieto and Charles Octobre in Oklahoma

St. Paul’s Interparochial School has something that most elementary schools can’t boast of … a theater arts program that produces an impressive annual school-wide spring musical. The school brings in Director Jodi Capeless, Choreographer (and former actress) Kim Galbraith, and Musical Director Sarah Brett England to work with a dedicated group of parents, particularly Producer Mary Mitsinikos, and Assistant Producers Karen Roche and Lucille Conzo.

Costumes, sets and props crews are also indispensable, especially Kathy Parker, Alicia Carvajal, Chris Mitsinikos, Cliff Loncar, Barbara Maurer and Luisa Fox among others. The team works with children aged first through eighth grade, with every level of training and natural talent from beginner to semi-professional to produce a memorable show.

The musical selection for 2012 is “Oklahoma!,” a show that really transformed American theater from just gags and scantily clad dancing girls to material that actually explored deeper elements. It is a show about fate and new beginnings.

“Oklahoma!” is a classic production with lots of action and great music, and big bold numbers, including “People will say we’re in love,” “I cain’t say no,” “The farmer and the cowman should be friends,” and “Surrey with the fringe on top.” Set in the early 1900s, the musical tells the story of two pairs of lovers in the rough-and-tumble Oklahoma territory. The original Broadway production opened on March 31, 1943, and ran for 2,212 performances.

 

Some of the St. Paul’s students are trained in singing, acting and dancing outside of the school, in noteworthy theater programs like Standing O, LLC in Montvale, NJ, and the Paper Mill Playhouse. The outstanding young talent makes for a musical that is presented at Don Bosco Preparatory High School to allow for a larger seating capacity (seats up to 800).

This year, the young talent at St. Paul’s was so hard to choose from, the casting crew chose to double cast lead roles. Watch for leads Kristina Conzo and Theresa Millare as Laurey, Megan Roche and L. Sydney Otis as Ado Annie, Rosemary Pawlowski and Alison Rini as Aunt Eller Jeffrey Lieto and Justin Murad as Cowboy Curly and Hired Worker Jud. Ike is played by Sebastian Fox.

Colton Mauer plays Carnes. Gertie is played by Katie Evans and Kyra Whiteman. Exemplary dancers Cassie Mitsinikos and Kathleen Smith play Dream Laurey. Farmgirls include Maggie Sciabica, Amy Rini, Chloe Balcom, and Katherine Coster. The ensemble is made up from children from grades first through eighth. Student actors, hailing from both Rockland and Bergen Counties, have enjoyed preparing for this production.

It’s a rare treat to see fourth graders joking around with eighth graders, but as Shakespeare said, “The plays the thing” that encourages social health, virtue and examination of conscience. Plays build bridges between people and create community like nothing else. At a time when the arts are often dropped from tightening school budgets, it’s refreshing to see what can happen when volunteers who value such enterprises work tirelessly to keep them in their schools.

“Oklahoma” show times are Friday April 27 at 7 pm, Saturday April 28 at 7 pm and Sunday April 29 at 3 pm. Tickets, which can be reserved in advance by emailing, pegsciabaca@aol.com, will be available at the door at $12. Proceeds will benefit the theater program at St. Paul’s Interparochial School, www.stpaulips.org. Don Bosco Prep High School is located at 492 Franklin Turnpike in Ramsey, New Jersey.

Tell us about good theater in your community: cjohnson@rocklandcountytimes.com