NEWTON — Director Stella Trikouros of Sparta says she’s a sucker for holiday shows and has wanted to tackle Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" for a while.
“We had a lot of people — specifically children — audition for the show,” Trikouros said. “Auditions were open to both college students and the community.”
Trikouros called the group a loving cast of 29 where everyone gets along and works hard for the performance on the Sussex County Community College stage.
Members of the production staff include Set Designer and Builder Derek Connor, Musical Director Phillip Lid, Technical Stage Manager Jonathon Dragon and Lighting Designer/Technical Director Bryan Zellmer.
The story takes place during the 1950s. World War II veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis form a successful partnership in show business. The plot centers around the romance between Wallace and nightclub singer Betty Haynes, Davis and Betty’s sister Judy, and a plan the men devise to save their old commanding officer, Major General Waverley, played by John Klumpp, from bankruptcy.
Thomas Courtright, 39 of Mount Olive played Bob Wallace. After achieving his undergraduate degree in music from William Paterson University, he attained a Master’s music degree in operatic vocal performance from SUNY Purchase and a Master’s of Business Administration from Centenary College. He’s been involved in theatre 25 years.
Some of his favorite past roles include Archibald Craven in ‘The Secret Garden,’ Miles Gloriosus in ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ and Curly McLain in ‘Oklahoma!’
First-year S.C.C.C. student Sarah Joy Leonardo, 19, of Newton inhabited the role of Betty Haynes.
“My character was kind of hard to portray because she is very serious,” she said. “The story is along the lines of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. I’m that girl. She’s very dramatic.”
This is Leonardo’s first time performing with her younger sister, 12-year-old Chelsea Leonardo, in a show. Musical numbers of hers included, ‘Sisters,’ ‘Love and the Weather,’ ‘Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,’ ‘Falling Out of Love Can Be Fun,’ ‘Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me’ and ‘How Deep Is the Ocean.’
Next year, Leonardo will choreograph a show at Halsted Middle School in Newton. She is a Psychology major.
Musician/Composer David Marin, 27 of Morris County playss Phil Davis. This was his first theatrical performance in 10 years and first time appearing on S.C.C.C.’s stage. His last role was Billy Crocker in ‘Anything Goes.’ He found out about show through S.C.C.C.’s choreographer, Kimberly Jackson.
“Phil is a playboy,” he said. “He flirts with anything that is female and has a pulse.”
Marin also said he hopes people enjoy what the cast and crew have done and noted that people don't get out to theatrical performances as much due to the economy.
"Our price wasn't bad for a good show that reflects the holiday season, so hopefully people left in good spirits."
Cecilia Huddy, 29, portrayed the Rita. Born in Italy and having grown up in Germany, Huddy moved to the U.S. two years ago and now resides in Stillwater. She has a Bachelor in Performing Arts and worked as a set artist for ‘The Wind in the Willows,’ which encouraged her to begin studying studio arts at S.C.C.C. This was her first-ever musical and American production.
“New here in America, I felt I should do something fun,” Huddy said. “My character is really flirty. I like playing her, but I am just exactly the opposite of her. That’s the fun of it — who wants to play their self on the stage?”
Vernon resident Mariajesus Valdes, 16, was Judy Haynes. She has performed in more than 14 musicals over the past several years and has been involved in theatre since she was three.
"it's been a great experience," she said. "Judy is so like me: fun-loving, energetic, scheming. All I needed to do was be myself."
Her musical numbers included, ‘Sisters,’ performed with Leonardo, ‘The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing’ and ‘Falling Out of Love Can Be Fun.’