Broadway Boot Camp taps into local talent

The first Weston Playhouse-Burr and Burton Academy Broadway Boot Camp participants are, back row, from left, finale teacher Jim Raposa and campers Aedan Coger; Hannah Johnson; Sophie Fleming;  BBA student intern Martha Turner; Tuck Wunderle;, Ryan Mangan; Olivia Saunders; Emily Samuelson; Greta Schaub; Miranda Ryan; and accompanist Kent Baker. Middle row from left, Weston production intern Tara Ludwin, who ran lights;  BBA intern Max Mackson, who ran sound; Ainsley Bertone; Allie Pettit; Isabelle Jade; Anna Pace; Brianna Luman; Amanda Ryan; Claire Mercier; and Riley Vogel. And  in the front row from left, Kelsey McCullough; BBA intern Tess Webber; Grace Powers; Chloe Larabie; and Susan Haefner in center. All photos by Tim Fort unless otherwise noted.

The first Weston Playhouse-Burr and Burton Academy Broadway Boot Camp participants are, back row, from left, finale teacher Jim Raposa and campers Aedan Coger; Hannah Johnson; Sophie Fleming;  BBA student intern Martha Turner; Tuck Wunderle;, Ryan Mangan; Olivia Saunders; Emily Samuelson; Greta Schaub; Miranda Ryan; and accompanist Kent Baker. Middle row from left, Weston production intern Tara Ludwin, who ran lights;  BBA intern Max Mackson, who ran sound; Ainsley Bertone; Allie Pettit; Isabelle Jade; Anna Pace; Brianna Luman; Amanda Ryan; Claire Mercier; and Riley Vogel. And  in the front row from left, Kelsey McCullough; BBA intern Tess Webber; Grace Powers; Chloe Larabie; and Susan Haefner in center. All photos by Tim Fort unless otherwise noted.

The Boot Camp stars board greets attendees at Friday's show. Photo by Shawn Cunningham.

The Boot Camp stars board greets attendees at Friday’s show. Photo by Shawn Cunningham.

By Cynthia Prairie
©2015 Telegraph Publishing LLC

T he finale for Weston Playhouse’s first ever Broadway Boot Camp nearly brought down the house Friday afternoon as parents, family, friends and members of both the Playhouse’s Young Company and its professional cast gave the 20 student actors a standing ovation. (Click on any photo to launch the gallery)

The hour-long program began with song and dance, monologue and dialogue showing what the students’ previous intense three weeks were filled with. The high school actors then finished with rousing performances from numbers from Guys and Dolls, which they would see performed on the Equity stage later that night.

The high school students – 16 from Vermont and four from Florida, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts and New York – spent the three weeks at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester under the tutelage of  Weston Playhouse Theatre Company founding director Tim Fort, musical director Larry Pressgrove and dancer and choreographer

The Weston Playhouse fills up for Friday's performance. Photo by Shawn Cunningham

The Weston Playhouse fills up for Friday’s performance. Photo by Shawn Cunningham

Felicity Stiverson. The finale was created and directed by Jim Raposa, Burr and Burton’s drama teacher and a Broadway actor who performed as Benny Southstreet in Weston’s recent Guys and Dolls.

Actress Susan Haefner, interim education and outreach director, production director Bridget Sullivan and voice teacher and musical theater actress Alisa Klein also taught the students.

Chloe Larabie, left, and Kelsey McCullough sing 'If Mama Was Married' from Gypsy.

Chloe Larabie, left, and Kelsey McCullough sing ‘If Mama Was Married’ from ‘Gypsy.’

Haefner said the number of students — 20 — was “the perfect number” that allow for “a lot of individual attention.”

Tuck Wunderle, who graduates from Green Mountain Union High School in Chester in 2017, said he decided to join the boot camp at the suggestion of his mother Jana Bryan. “It looked interesting. But it was the last three weeks of summer and I was concerned it would take up time from what I love and enjoy,” he said. “But this is something I love and enjoy. So my mother knew what was good for me before I do.”

Ryan Magnan, left, and Tuck Wunderle sing 'Guys and Dolls' from 'Guys and Dolls.'

Ryan Magnan, left, and Tuck Wunderle sing ‘Guys and Dolls’ from ‘Guys and Dolls.’

Wunderle’s father Scott also had a hand in
spurring Tuck’s interest in acting. After urging by his dad, he got a role in last spring’s GMUHS’s Drowsy Chaperone. “He said it was something I would enjoy and he was right,” says Tuck. He also played the dramatic role of Prince John in the Springfield Players’ production of The Lion in Winter.

As for Broadway Boot Camp, Tuck calls it a “really fun, entertaining and joyful experience.” But, he adds, “It was definitely a working experience and a learning experience. It was a chance to work with people who pushed me outside of my comfort zone and made me challenge myself.”

Performing a tap number are, from left, Ainsley Bertone, Tuck Wunderlee, Amanda Sinesi, Riley Vogel, Claire Mercier and Ryan Mangan.

Performing a tap number are, from left, Ainsley Bertone, Tuck Wunderlee, Amanda Sinesi, Riley Vogel, Claire Mercier and Ryan Mangan.

Tuck said he considers himself a “one-and-a-half kind of threat. I can act, I can sing some but I had never danced. That was the most fun and the most challenging.”

Other local boot camp kids were Ainsley Bertone, a sophomore at Springfield High; Aedan Coger, a 14-year-old at GMUHS; Sophie Fleming, of Manchester and a junior at Burr and Burton; Isabelle Jade, a freshman at BBA; Hannah Johnson, a senior at Randolph Union High in Randolph; Bri Luman, a 10th grader at GMUHS; Ryan Mangan, of Rutland; Kelsey McCullough, a Rutland resident who starred as Scout in last year’s To Kill a Mockingbird Bird at

‘A Bushel and a Peck’ performed by, from left, Anna Pace, Brianna Luman, Aedan Coger, Olivia Saunders, Allie Pettit, Emily Samuelson, Greta Schaub and Tess Webber.

‘A Bushel and a Peck’ performed by, from left, Anna Pace, Brianna Luman, Aedan Coger, Olivia Saunders, Allie Pettit, Emily Samuelson, Greta Schaub and Tess Webber.

Weston; Claire Mercier, a Weston Student Ambassador from Killington; Anna Pace, of Manchester and a sophomore a Long Trail School in Dorset; Allie Pettit, a junior at BBA; Grace Powers, a senior at Mill River Union High in Clarendon; Emily Samuelson, a freshman at BBA; Olivia Saunders, a Weston Student Ambassador; Riley Vogel, a 10th grader at BBA; and Tuck Wunderle, a junior at GMUHS.

Riley Vogel, left, and Claire Mercier sing 'Sue Me.'

Riley Vogel, left, and Claire Mercier sing ‘Sue Me.’

Four students crossed state lines to participate: Chloe Larabie of Florida; Miranda Ryan of Washington, D.C.; Greta Schaub of New York; and Amanda Sinesi of Massachusetts.

The cost of the boot camp was $750 plus a $50 materials fee. The intensive, the brainchild of producing director Steve Stettler, is expected to be offered again next year.

 

 

 

 

 

The finale of the finale was of course 'Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat.'

The finale of the finale was of course ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat.’

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeIn the Arts

About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor for 30 years, having worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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