Scarlett Antonia is building something and the von Trapp Family Singers can help.
Antonia, a Peekskill-based artist, last year began breathing life into a theater program at Peekskill High School with a production of “Grease.”
This year, she’s tackling Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music,” with performances today and tomorrow at the high school.
Talk about “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”
And to broaden the scope of theatrical possibilities beyond the high school, she has cast students from the city’s elementary and middle schools as von Trapp kids.
It’s the kind of effort that required help, Antonia says.
“Last year, when we did ‘Grease,’ it was me,” she says with a laugh. “This year, I’ve got a student director, Catie Davis, I’ve got Jennifer Michel co-directing and teachers Phoebe Hamilton on piano and Andrea Moffett on keyboards. I’ve got great people.”
She also has one of the most cherished pieces in the musical theater canon.
“We wanted to bring in younger kids,” she said.” We’re trying to develop a theater arts program for the middle school and high school. Also, the kids chose it, Catie wanted to do it and she said she knew kids who’d like to try out.”
Antonia didn’t have a huge turnout at the auditions, but those who showed up were eager to work, she says.
The von Trapp kids are:
Davis, 16, a Peekskill High School junior, as Leisl; Nolan Davis, 14, (Catie’s brother) an eighth-grader at Peekskill Middle School, as Friedrich; Molly Balow, 13, an eighth-grader at Peekskill Middle School as Louisa; Joey Hahn, 12, a sixth-grader at Hillcrest Elementary as Kurt; Sarah Stern, 11, a sixth-grader at Hillcrest, as Brigitta; Airika Glickert, 9, a Woodside Elementary fourth-grader, as Marta, and Jodi Glickert, 8, an Oakside Elementary third-grader, as Gretl.
Sophomore Juliana Terjesen plays Maria and Captain von Trapp is Nick Baran, a junior.
Davis says the von Trapp kids weren’t a group of standout solo singers at the outset, but that they’ve grown into the singing.
“When we cast Nick as the captain, we didn’t know if he could sing,” she recalls. “We asked him, are you a tenor or a bass? Where do you sing? And he said, ‘In the shower.'”
Funny guy, that captain.
Broadening the scope of the show has meant making some adjustments, Davis says.
“I’m the president of the drama club. We used to be the Peekskill High School Drama Club, but with all these younger kids, I guess we’re the Peekskill Drama Club now,” she says.
She is, “quite literally 16 going on 17,” the same age as her character in “The Sound of Music.” Davis will be 17 next week.
“This is the kind of role any high schooler could step into,” she says, “but there’s still a lot of depth to her.”
Playing the eldest von Trapp child isn’t hard when she’s surrounded by this cast.
“I’ve known them all my life and we’re kind of like a family,” she says. “We didn’t have that many kids come to auditions and these kids were really excited, open and enthusiastic. All of them had expressed an interest in acting.”
By the time of the first full rehearsal, Davis, who has been doing some of the choreography, had staged three numbers – “Do-Re-Mi,” “So Long, Farewell,” and “The Lonely Goatherd” – giving Antonia and Michel a head start.
“They’re all very energetic kids, which can get a little out of hand, but they’re great,” she says. “And they definitely bring more energy than if you had a high schooler playing their roles. They’re so excited to be here.”
Antonia’s widening circle of friends includes other families besides the von Trapps: Joey Hahn plays Kurt; his brother, John, plays drums, and his father, also John, plays the electric bass.
Antonia knows that teaching sometimes means delegating.
“I’m happy to give the kids as much as they can handle,” she says. “We have students working sound and lights and both of those guys will make it a profession. That’s special.”
“I want the program to happen and we’re going for it. It’s probably better that I didn’t know how tough this show is,” she says.
“Sometimes, if you know too much, it stifles you,” Antonia says. “Better to work on the edge.”
Better still to work on the edge with a lot of help.
Photo by Stuart Bayer/The Journal News: Cast members rehearse a scene from “The Sound of Music” at Peekskill High School. The cast of “The Sound of Music” rehearses at Peekskill High School. For the production, director Scarlett Antonia cast students, not just from the high school, but from the city’s elementary and middle schools.
“The Sound of Music”
Where: Peekskill High School, 1072 Elm St., Peekskill.
When: 7:30 p.m., today and tomorrow; 2 p.m., tomorrow.
Tickets: $8; $6.
With: Nick Baran, Lauren Contard, Catie Davis, Jason Dick, Rebecca Edwards, RenÃ©e Kropf, Ja’Quon Paige, Pamela Pauta, Lauren Prairrie, Juliana Terjesen, Samantha Torres, Danielle Urban, Imani Wright, Nolan Davis, Sarah Stern, Joey Hahn, Molly Balow, Jodi Glickert, Airika Glickert, Nathaniel Thomas, Matt Balch, Tiera Diaz, Danny Bush, Isaiah Brooks, Jessica Curtin, Laura Egan, Christian Garrido, JohnCarlo Garrido, Jessica Hidalgo, Cathleen Joseph, Kyle McDonald, Luis Mendez, Keith Plumer, Heather Rae, Evelyn Romero, Joe Vele, Julia Velesaca, Codie Glickert, John E. Hahn IV