Five shows on local stages this week. Here are profiles from four of them. Decisions, decisions.
Rob Keller, an 18-year-old senior at Rye High School, sees Pippin — his character in the musical of the same name, on stage this weekend — as a man who wants to be liked.
So perhaps it’s a bit of life imitating art when he says that the moment he fears most — the moment he wants to get just right when he takes to the stage — is his “On the Right Track” duet with Luiza Almeida, who plays the Leading Player.
“I don’t want to let her down,” he says. “I want to make that awesome. It’s more of a dance duet. There’s also a singing duet I have with Catherine (Lindsey Noto), so I guess it’s any duet I have that I really want to get right.”
“Pippin,” directed by Michael Limone, is the Stephen Schwartz musical about the son of King Charlemagne, set to rather mod ’70s tunes. There is a play within a play, narrated by Almeida’s Leading Player, a character that is controlling and devious and larger than life.
(Rye also presents “Little Shop of Horrors,” directed by Peter Green, April 20 and 21.)
Pippin just wants to find his way in the world, his “corner of the sky,” but he’s looking in the wrong place, Keller says.
“He doesn’t realize that it’s about what makes him happy that is important,” he says. “He’s thinking about other people. He thinks having other people see him as this demi-god will make him happier. But really, it’s love. It’s a lot simpler.”
North Rockland: ‘Millie,’ quickly
Risa Castro last played a leading role in a school musical in sixth grade.
“I was Jasmine in ‘Aladdin,’” the North Rockland senior says.
This weekend and next, after playing in the ensemble for years, she’s the lead character in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
“It’s all kind of been a build up and now I finally have the lead,” she says. “It’s really scary, but it’s so exciting.”
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” — which won six Tonys in 2002, including best musical — tells the story of Millie Dillmount, who comes to the big city determined to make her way in the “modern” world. There’s also a loopy subplot of white slavery and a couple of characters who speak Mandarin, in a musical that comes with supertitles.
“The Speed Test,” a big number in which Millie is put through her steno paces, puts Castro the actress through her paces, too: Choreographer Justin Boccitto has her dancing across a long line of desks.
“I also have to sing really fast and switch between a mixed voice and an operatic voice,” she says. “I have both, but it’s really hard to combine the two. And it goes really fast.”
After all, it is “The Speed Test.”
Kennedy: Ready to surprise
Megan Callaghan says she couldn’t be more different than Reno Sweeney, the “breakout character” she plays in “Anything Goes,” this weekend at Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers.
(Sophomore Lara Manbeck shares the role.)
“Reno is very flirty and extremely outgoing when it comes to meeting new people,” the soft-spoken senior says. “She’s very sure of herself — which in a way, I am, too, but not to this extent.”
Callaghan’s classmates at Kennedy know her as “the studious one, pretty quiet,” she says. They’re in for a surprise.
“A lot of people started laughing when they heard I’m playing Reno Sweeney, a former evangelist turned nightclub singer. I’m excited to show my friends that I can play other characters.”
While she hasn’t seen the new Broadway revival, Callaghan has been studying its star, Sutton Foster, and likes that she, too, has long brown hair that she tucks into a wig. Playing Reno will mark the first time Callaghan wears a stage wig.
“It’s going to be very different, but it’ll definitely help me get into character,” she says.
Hendrick Hudson: Having fun with ‘Gladys’
Senior Aliyah Hakim is bubbly and vivacious, with an infectious smile. So, too, is Gladys, the secretary Hakim plays in “The Pajama Game,” on stage at Hendrick Hudson High School in Montrose this weekend.
“Gladys, I think, is a real goofball,” Hakim says. “She does what she does because she wants to do it. She’s a performer. She loves to impress. She loves the attention.”
It’s an attention-grabbing role. Gladys appears in two of the musical’s iconic numbers: “Steam Heat” and “Hernando’s Hideaway.”
“The Pajama Game” is about a labor-management battle over a 7 1/2-cent wage hike the union wants at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
But it’s also about Gladys and her efforts to lure her boss, Sid Sorokin (played by senior Garrett Garcia), into her world a bit, to get him to lighten up.
“She’s quirky and a little zany and manages to attract all these people, which I can sort of relate to,” Hakim says. “I have zany tendencies.”
If you go
Kennedy Catholic: “Anything Goes,” 7 p.m. March 1, 2, 3; 3 p.m. March 4. $15; $12 students, seniors in advance; $20, $15 at the door. 914-232-5061, ext. 226 or AnythingGoes@kennedycatholic.org.
Hendrick Hudson: “The Pajama Game,” 8 p.m. March 2, 3; 3 p.m. March 4. $15; $10 students, seniors. showtix4u.com
North Rockland: “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” 7:30 p.m. March 2, 3, 9; 2 and 7:30 p.m. March 10. $12; $10 students, seniors; 2-for-1 students on March 9. 845-942-3000, ext. 4954
Rye: “Pippin,” 8 p.m. March 2; 2 and 8 p.m. March 3 $10; $5 students; seniors free. 914-967-6100.
The Masters School: “Beauty and the Beast,” 7 p.m. March 2, 3. Free. 914-479-6400
Top photo by Joe Larese/The Journal News: Rob Keller as Pippin.
Other photos by Peter D. Kramer: From top, Risa Castro as “Millie,” Meghan Callaghan as “Reno,” Aliyah Hakim as “Gladys.”