Area kids land key roles in Maltz pro­duc­tion of ‘Newsies’

The Palm Beach Post - Neighborhood Post - Southern Palm Beach County - - Front Page - By Michael Read­ling Spe­cial to The Palm Beach Post

When it comes to per­form­ing, there is ex­pe­ri­ence on the stage hon­ing your craft, and then there is ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with pro­fes­sional ac­tors, di­rec­tors and choreographers be­fore you even have the chance to grad­u­ate from high school.

Or mid­dle school, in some cases.

That is ex­actly what the Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s First Step to Star­dom pro­gram of­fers aspiring lo­cal ac­tors.

For the past eight years, First Step to Star­dom has given ac tors in the Maltz Jupi te r Theat re Gol dner Con­ser­va­tory for the Per­form­ing Arts the op­por­tu­nity to col­lect points to­ward union stand­ing while work­ing side-by-side with na­tion­ally renowned ac­tors and di­rec­tors.

“The qual­ity of our pro­duc­tions is so high and what comes with that is a level of pro­fes­sional tal­ent both in front of the st age and be­hind,” said An­drew Kato, pro­duc­ing artis­tic direc­tor and chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. “The First Step to Star­dom pro­gram is re­ally a daily mas­ter’s class on steroids. The kids are in­volved with all pro­fes­sional peo­ple from the very be­gin­ning to the end of the pro­duc­tion.”

Kato said par­tic­i­pants in the First Step to Star­dom pro­gram are cho­sen from the stu­dents in the con­ser­va­tory, which range any­where from 200 to 500, de­pend­ing on the sea­son’s sched­ule. Those stu­dents come to the the­ater each day, some from as far away as Boyn­ton Beach or Vero Beach.

“Hav­ing a re­gional the­ater of our cal­iber does not ex­ist in ev­ery­one’s back­yards. Tal- ent ex­ists ev­ery­where, you just need to be able to har­ness it,” Kato said. “We have some stu­dents from as far away as 60 and 70 miles. Part of that is their par­ents have to bring them here ev­ery day and then take them home.”

This year, three stu­dents from the con­ser­va­tory are tak­ing part in the First Step to Star­dom pro­gram, work­ing on the cur­rent pro­duc­tion of Dis­ney’s “Newsies The Mu­si­cal.”

Blake Mc­Call, 11, of Jupiter, is the youngest of the group and plays Les in the pro­duc­tion. A sixth-grader at Bak Mid­dle School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Blake also starred in “Gypsy” at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, where he is a mem­ber of the the- ater’s Youth Tour­ing Com­pany and Dance Com­pany.

Alexan­der Good­win-Elam, 14, also of Jupiter, has been a mem­ber of the Gold­ner Con­ser­va­tory since 2012 and will be adding to his long list of the­ater cred­its by play­ing a newsie in the cur­rent pro­duc­tion. Some of his past pro­fes­sional per­for­mances in­clude “Will Rogers Fol­lies,” “The Wiz,” and “Fid­dler on the Roof.” Alexan­der is a fresh­man at Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach.

Casey But­ler, 15, brings a wealth of na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence back to the Maltz, re­turn­ing from Broad­way where he played Ge­orge Llewe­lyn Davies in the mu­si­cal, “Find­ing Nev­er­land.” The Jupiter res­i­dent, who is a fresh­man at The King’s Academy in West Palm Beach, plays the role of Al­bert.

Casey also ap­peared in New York City at the The- ater at St. Jean in the work­shop pro­duc­tion of “Florinda’s Time.” He played the role Tom of War­wick in “Camelot” in the na­tional tour and at Palm Beach Dra- ma­works, where he was also seen re­cently in the dual roles of Gus and Au­gus­tus in Tom Stop­pard’s “Ar­ca­dia.”

Kato said ex­pe­ri­ence like that, even for younger ac­tors, is not un­com­mon for the Gold­ner Con­ser­va­tory and pro­duc­tions at the Maltz.

“T y p i c a l l y, o u r a g e range if from 8 to the early 20s, though we do some K-2 classes as well,” Kato said. “Many of our kids are now go­ing to great col­leges around the coun­try. Be­ing able to get their ground level train­ing here with pro­fes­sion­als preps them to get into the bet­ter schools. We have had one stu­dent who has done three na­tional tours with ‘Les Mis­er­ables,’ ‘Pip­pin’ and ‘Find­ing Nev­er­land.’”

PHOTOS BY ALI­CIA DONELAN

Blake Mc­Call (front, third from right) and Casey But­ler (back, fifth from right) per­form on­stage in a scene from Dis­ney’s “Newsies The Mu­si­cal,” which runs through Dec. 17 at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. The Broad­way mu­si­cal, which made its South Florida...

Blake Mc­Call (sec­ond from right) and Alexan­der Good­win-Elam (back, third from left), stu­dents from the Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s First Step to Star­dom pro­gram, per­form on­stage in Dis­ney’s “Newsies The Mu­si­cal.”

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