Two separate casts of Woodhull Intermediate School and Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School students are set to star this Friday, Saturday and Sunday in a drama club production of Disney’s “High School Musical Jr.” on the Huntington High School stage.
There are even two stage crews ready to work behind the scenes to make the show a memorable one for audiences. The musical is being co-directed by Huntington High School alums Stephanie Shea and Jennifer Szilagy-Cové. The stage crews (one for each school) are being advised by Glenn Deveau and Chris Deveau.
The Woodhull School cast will be featured on Friday, February 11 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, February 12 at 2 p.m. The Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School cast will take the stage on Saturday, February 12 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, February 13 at 2 p.m.
“Jenn and I are both Huntington High School alums,” Ms. Shea said. “We participated in the Huntington arts program from grades 4-12 just like these students. We took over directing the play from Ms. [Allison] VonVange and Mr. [Todd] Hiscox in 2019 and our first production was a joint Woodhull/Jack Abrams School show of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in the 2019/20 school year.”
The co-directors have both been professionally trained in acting, singing, dancing and directing. Ms. Szilagy-Cové professionally works directing shows across Long Island and as a casting director
Ms. Shea studied at New York University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education in May 2018. She obtained a juris doctor degree at Hofstra Law School in May 2021. She currently works in the field of corporate compliance.
Two casts and four performances are a novelty. Auditions were the week of Thanksgiving and students have been rehearsing ever since. “We did have to take an “in-person” hiatus right after the holidays due to COVID, but we held Zoom rehearsals and recorded choreography videos for rehearsal during that time.”
Woodhull rehearsals have been held on Monday and Wednesday and Jack Abrams STEM students practicing on every Tuesday and Thursday. The final weeks have been spent at Huntington High School.
Running time for the show is about 60 minutes with a 15 minute intermission. “The students have not only been working on singing, dancing and acting, but have spent rehearsal time talking about the theater industry, learning industry specific terminology and more,” Ms. Shea said. “The students have worked extremely hard and have overcome many adversities relating to performing in a COVID world.”
Teacher aide Debbie Caravetto and Huntington freshman Emily Kustera (stage manager) “have provided amazing assistance throughout the entire process,” Ms. Shea said.
Ms. Szilagy works professionally under the name of Jennifer Cové. “I started doing shows in fourth grade at what was then Huntington Intermediate School and followed all the way through until I graduated from the high school in 2009,” she said. “Since then I received degrees in theater and broadcasting, as well as a masters in theater ed. As of now, in addition to working as an artistic director at schools and theaters in the tri-state area, I also work as a casting director for theater, film and television in New York City. I specifically specialize in working with child actors. So I’ve continued with theater professionally, all of which I have to thank the Huntington school system for.”
The Woodhull cast includes Taylor Ranft, Franklin Mulvaney, Sabrina Bijou, Christian Guandique, Iliana Jarmolowski, Helena Sullivan, Charlie Cirlincione, Lia Zivkovic, Hanna Boyle, Zoe Chiclacos, Anne-Myriam Excellent-Mesidor, Brianna Mata, Rhys Carrillo, Sofia Soler, Cecilia Lee, Nicole Orrego, Salinas, Ariana Hill, Elena Prior, Kellen Anderson, Amelia Brown, Hunter Kline, Karina Rodriquez and Gavin Kline.
Cheerleaders include Ariana Hill, Tallulah Koppele, Gabriella Jones and Amelia Brown.
Brainiacs include Elisabetta Arra, Alyssa Puh, Rhys Carrillo, Taylor Ranf and Karina Rodriguez.
Thespians include Elena Prior, Ariana Hill, Kellen Anderson, Gabriella Jones, Sofia Soler and Nicole Orrego Salinas.
The Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School cast includes Regan Murtagh, Beatrix Hopkins, Isaiah Bynum, Jonathan Soviero, Billy Oliva, Emma Stensland, Gus Panagacos, Emma Martin, Catalina Chanlatte, Bella Duke, Harrison McIntyre, Taylor Peters, Jack McLaughlin, Mackenzie McKay, Cassidy Harris, Leilani Dixon, Victoria Creegan, Lizmarie White, Millicent Ciccotto, Harper Cohn, Benjamin Burke, Brady Duke and Cedar Stanforth.
Cheerleaders includes Abigail Byers, Angelica Cunningham, Celia LoPorto, Victoria Creegan, Vader Renkewitz, Maya Schneider, Gianna Skrobela, Annabel Stein, Millicent Ciccotto and Regan Murtagh.
Jocks include Charlie Broderick, Alexander Castro-Simpson, Benjamin Burke, Ruben James and Luca Garcia.
Brainiacs include James Moy, Gregory Brandine, Ashley Castillo-Guevera, Spencer LoPorto, Regan Murtagh, Cedar Stanforth and Jack Oswald.
Thespians include Harper Cohn, Lizmarie White, Millicent Ciccotto, Leilani Dixon, Ruben James, Mackenzie McKay, Victoria Creegan, Jonathan Naborre, Jack Oswald and James Moy.
The co-directors said developing the production in the midst of the ongoing pandemic has been a major challenge.
“The last time we did an in-person production with Huntington (‘The Wizard of Oz’) was only weeks before the pandemic hit,” Ms. Szilagy said. “It’s been a huge adjustment getting these kids ready for the stage, but it’s also been extremely fulfilling and worthwhile. Nothing can replace in-person performance so we’re at the very least ecstatic to be able to offer these students the opportunity to do that once again.”
Students have adapted to everything that has come their way. “They’ve been very receptive to this new experience, especially because it’s many of their first times ever performing for a live audience,” Ms. Szilagy said. “Unlike previous years, they’ve only had two months to rehearse, as opposed to four months in the past. Lastly, they’re getting a chance to perform at the high school which to my knowledge has never occurred before. So while all of these changes have been challenging, in the end, I think that the gains they will receive will far outweigh any inconveniences.”
While they didn’t attend school together, Ms. Shea and Ms. Szilagy both served separate stints as president of Huntington High School’s drama club.
“We have told the students that we hope to be resources for them regarding questions they have on this process, our time in the district, our time in the arts as a profession and our respective educations and careers,” Ms. Shea said. “We are beyond thankful for this experience and have loved every second with these kids. It has also been really great for both of us to ‘come back home’ to Huntington.”