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