Tag Archives: Adam Kaplan

Cabaret!

Broadway was dark last night. That’s a Monday tradition.

But a capacity crowd at Christ & Holy Trinity Church’s Branson Hall enjoyed an evening of entertainment as show-stopping as anything you’ll see in New York.

Tony Award-winning Kelli O’Hara and “A Bronx Tale” lead Adam Kaplan headlined an all-star cabaret. It was a fundraiser for Staples Orphenians, who travel to Australia this summer for performances and workshops.

Kelli O’Hara, at last night’s cabaret. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

O’Hara — a Westport resident — wowed the crowd with her operatic voice. She was full of praise for Staples’ stellar a cappella group, who she first heard perform last spring, at the Levitt Pavilion.

Standing in the church hall loft, the Orphenians — led by choral director Luke Rosenberg, down below — accompanied O’Hara on 2 compelling numbers.

Kaplan — a 2008 Staples graduate — recalled his days in the music and drama programs. At Elon University, he said, he talked so much about his high school that his friends joked there were 3 levels of performance: “Elon, Broadway, and at the top, Staples.”

Adam Kaplan (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

The cabaret also featured Staples grads Clay Singer and Caroline Didelot, and solos by 9 Orphenians.

(Click here for the Orphenians’ GoFundMe page.)

Adam Kaplan’s Bronx Tale

What’s a nice Jewish boy from Westport doing in 2017 with an Italian-American Bronx teenager during the 1960s?

Acting.

On Broadway.

Adam Kaplan — the 2008 Staples High School grad whose post-Players career includes starring roles in “Kinky Boots” and “Newsies” — has a new gig. He recently took over as Calogero, the narrator/lead in “A Bronx Tale.”

It might seem that playing a scrappy Italian city kid is a stretch for a boy from the ‘burbs. (And one who went on to major in musical theater at North Carolina’s Elon University.)

But, he says, his character is “eager, wide-eyed, willing to learn and make something of his life.” Those, Kaplan adds, are traits “any aspiring performer can relate to.”

Adam Kaplan and “A Bronx Tale” dance captain Brittany Conigatti.

The Westporter may no longer be “aspiring.” Following his 2 roles in “Newsies” — plus nearly 40 performances as understudy for lead Jack Kelly — Kaplan moved to Los Angeles for television work.

He had just finished a guest role on ABC’s “Deception” when “Bronx Tale”‘s casting director called. Several whirlwind trips to New York later, he got the job.

Two days later — on October 18 — Kaplan began intensive rehearsals. His first show was November 9.

Joining the cast of an established show is very different from signing on at the start. Rather than discovering elements together with the rest of the cast, Kaplan says, “everyone already has their rhythm. My job is not to disrupt it.”

His goal is to “take the audience on a 2-hour journey, and tell this story truthfully.”

Opening night was special. Family and friends were in the audience. “I walked on stage, and got entrance applause,” Kaplan recalls. “That was sweet!”

It’s been a great gig. Writer Chazz Palminteri — who based the show partly on his own childhood — has been “a great springboard, and very complimentary. He came with a full notebook, ready to take notes about me. But he only had a few.”

As a teenager on the Staples stage, Kaplan always dreamed of Broadway. Now — playing the lead again, in his 2nd show — it all seems “surreal and crazy.”

A few years ago, Kaplan read actors’ interviews on Broadway.com. Now he’s the interviewee. (He also finished 10th in the voting for the site’s Sexiest Man Alive contest.)

A screenshot of Adam Kaplan’s Broadway.com interview.

Broadway, he says with a hint of surprise, “actually is all it’s cracked up to be.” There are perks like singing at a Brooklyn Nets games, and the honor of greeting Westport fans — those he knows, and those he meets for the first time — at the stage door after a show.

Though Kaplan starred in a wide range of Staples Players roles — “Romeo and Juliet,” “Children of Eden,” “Diary of Anne Frank” —  he was never in a rough-and-tumble production like his 2 Broadway hits.

This fall’s Players mainstage was “Newsies.” Unfortunately, the “Bronx Tale” schedule prevented Kaplan from seeing his alma mater’s spectacular rendition.

He saw photos of it, though. He forwarded them along to actors who’d worked on the show with him.

“They were shocked,” Kaplan reports. “They couldn’t believe that was my school, doing it like Broadway.”

That’s quite a Bronx Westport tale.

Players Learn From A Real-Life Newsie

Most high school theater groups prepare for a show by listening to the cast album. They watch a video. The director adds whatever insights he or she can.

Staples Players is not most high school theater groups.

For one thing, this fall’s main stage production is “Newsies.” Players scored a coup last spring, when Disney asked directors David Roth and Kerry Long to pilot the production. They’ll provide executives with feedback. A year from now, other amateur companies across the nation can produce the show too.

For another thing, Players’ cast and crew learned about “Newsies” from an actual newsboy.

Actual, as in one who was on Broadway.

Adam Kaplan — the former Players star who graduated in 2008 — played a newsboy (and Morris Delancey) in the New York production. He also understudied for lead Jack Kelly.

Last week, Kaplan returned to the Staples auditorium. He shared stories about his time with “Newsies,” including how he got the role and how he trained for it.

Adam Kaplan (center) with Nick Rossi and Charlie Zuckerman. The Staples students are double cast as Jack Kelly –the role Kaplan understudied on Broadway. (Photo/Kerry Long)

He also offered advice on how the young actors can take care of themselves, while doing such a physical show.

The students seemed awed when Kaplan walked in. But they quickly responded to his enthusiasm and charisma.

They loved when he joined them in “Zip, Zap Zup” — a popular theater game he played, when he was at Staples.

And when he himself dreamed about making it to Broadway.

The cast and crew of Staples Players’ “Newsies”pose with Adam Kaplan. (Photo/Kerry Long)

(Click here to join Staples Players’ email list, for ticket information on upcoming shows.)

All-Star Cast Raises Voices For ADL

Fairfield County is a microcosm of our country. People of every race, ethnicity and religion — and with every imaginable political view — live within minutes of each other.

But we all live in strictly defined towns and cities. We hardly ever mix — let alone listen to each other.

For over 100 years, the Anti-Defamation League has used its strong voice to build mutual respect among communities.

On Sunday, September 10 — thanks to the leadership of ADL’s Connecticut director Steve Ginsburg, a Westport resident — the organization will use many voices to bring area residents together in a celebration of similarities and differences.

“Voices: A Concert for Unity” will inspire its Levitt Pavilion audience through music, dance, video and spoken word. The list of performers is very impressive.

Emcee Paul Shaffer — of David Letterman fame – will introduce the red-hot Plain White T’s, and national artists Suzanne Vega, Garland Jeffreys and Napoleon da Legend.

Plain White T’s

They’ll be joined by Westporters who have earned national notice: Alisan Porter (winner of “The Voice”), “Newsies” star Adam Kaplan, Michael Bolton’s drummer Drew McKeon, and Justin Honigstein (lead singer of Honeystone). The Staples High School 2016-17 Orphenians will sing too.

Also onstage: Bridgeport’s ABCD, Neighborhood Studios and Pivot Ministries Choir; Weston’s Chris Coogan and the Good News Choir, and Fairfield’s Double Up Dance Studio and FRANK (School of Rock).

Westport’s own Alisan Porter. with “The Voice” trophy.

Artistic director Sarah Green is one of the Founders of Kool to be Kind, and the director of the wildly successful Slam Jam held earlier this year at the Westport Country Playhouse.That broad array of talent is matched by a variety of partners. ADL is working with more than 40 non-profits across the area.

They’re reaching out too to religious groups, universities, local and state law enforcement agencies, and government officials across the political spectrum — though this is a non-political event.

The outpouring of support from national and local celebrities, businesses, volunteers and the host town of Westport is greater than for any previous local ADL event, organizers say.

Sponsors are still being sought, to enable community partners to attend free of charge — and help fund ADL’s programs to fight bias, bigotry and bullying of all kinds.

ADL has been a powerful voice in an important fight. They’ve assembled other powerful voices for September 10. Now you can add yours, too.

(For tickets to “Voices: A Concert for Unity,” click here. To learn more about sponsorships click here, or contact Terry Sidera by email [tsidera@adl.org] or phone [203-780-0209]).

Stop The Presses! Staples Players’ Fall Production Is “Newsies”!

Just when you think Staples Players directors David Roth and Kerry Long have no more theatrical tricks up their sleeves — they stage a new one.

Every spring, they gather their cast and crew together to announce the following fall’s mainstage. It’s highly anticipated — but brief and straightforward.

A couple of weeks ago, Roth got an email from Disney Theatricals. The company handles all Disney productions — “Lion King,” “Mary Poppins” and “Newsies,” for example.

A few years ago, Roth and Long enjoyed the latter show on Broadway. As a recent production though, they never imagined it would be available.

Caley Beretta, as a Staples senior. (Photo/Kerry Long)

But Disney’s email — prompted by 2010 Staples grad Caley Beretta, who now works there as a creative development coordinator — posed an intriguing question: Would Players want to pilot a production of “Newsies”?

If so, the highly respected high school troupe would give Disney feedback on what worked well (and did not), and provide video and photos. Disney executives would see the show, and use Staples’ experience to revise their production. It will then be released to other amateur groups to stage, beginning in the fall of 2018.

The process for selecting a show usually takes much longer. But Roth and Long love “Newsies.”

‘”It’s a true story about the 1896 newsboys strike,” Roth notes. “It’s incredible how kids working together forced Joseph Pulitzer to not take advantage of them. It really is a show about kids. And it’s an ensemble show, which is great too.”

This being Staples Players, there’s a strong connection to the Broadway version. Adam Kaplan — Staples ’08 — played Morris Delancey and a newsboy (and understudied for lead Jack Kelly).

Adam Kaplan (left) and “Newsies” fans (called “fansies”).

Long had a great idea: Kaplan could announce the play to Players.

Last Friday morning, she contacted him. He quickly filmed a video, and sent it over.

That afternoon, Players gathered in the auditorium. Roth had said all day, “I am not announcing the show.”

Technically, he didn’t.

The video began. Kaplan insisted there was no specific reason he was chosen for the task. Meanwhile, he coyly showed his “Newsies” t-shirt, held up an album cover and walked over to a poster.

It was a clever performance — and the audience of actors quickly understood. They laughed and applauded. (Watch Players’ reactions in the upper left of the announcement video below.)

Soon — after this month’s “Peter and the Starcatcher” Black Box, and July’s production of “Working” — they’ll turn their attention to “Newsies.”

Roth and Long are already thinking ahead. They know they’ll integrate more girls into the show. “There were actually female newsboys back then,” Roth says.

And Kaplan will help in some way — with talks, workshops, whatever.

Those details will still be worked out. Like all shows, it’s a work in progress.

Stay tuned for more news.

(“Peter and the Starcatcher” will be performed May 25, 26, 27 and 28. Online tickets are sold out, but a limited number of standby seats may be available at the door, 20 minutes before curtain. Click here for show times.)

Adam Kaplan’s “Kinky Boots”

Just 6 years out of Staples High School, Adam Kaplan was on Broadway.

The 2008 grad — who starred in Players, then earned a degree in musical theater from Elon University — had 2 roles (and understudied for the lead) in the hit show “Newsies.”

When the show closed, Adam joined the touring company of “Kinky Boots.” He’s already played 22 cities, all across America.

Next month (June 8-12), he’ll be thisclose to both Broadway and Westport. “Kinky Boots” comes to New Haven, for a limited — but very exciting — run.

Adam Kaplan (left) has learned that life on the road is not all fun and games.

Adam Kaplan (left) has learned that life on the road is not all fun and games.

Adam loves touring. The idea of being paid to see the country — while doing what he loves — always appealed to him. A huge foodie, he checks out the hot spots at each stop.

A cast member writes a “Boots Bugle” newsletter, giving helpful hints about each city. So far, Adam has particularly enjoyed the barbecue in Austin, and the Riverwalk in San Antonio. In New Orleans, the city honored the show with a “Silly Shoes” parade.

Yet, Adam says, as glamorous as it sounds, it’s also exhausting. “Doing 8 shows a week on Broadway was hard. Doing 8 shows a week — and traveling to a different city every Monday — adds another element.”

The constant changes in climate — allergies and pollen in Atlanta, then dry Los Angeles, for instance — take tolls on the actors’ bodies and voices.

Charlie — Adam’s character — rarely leaves the stage. Cindy Lauper wrote “amazing” music for the show, Adam says. But “it’s not an easy sing.” He takes plenty of coconut water and Claritin, and sleeps as much as he can.

That being said, Adam finds it “incredibly rewarding” to tell “Kinky Boots”‘ story across the country.

Adam Kaplan and the cast spend time promoting "Kinky Boots" -- on a red carpet, of course.

Adam Kaplan and the cast spend time promoting “Kinky Boots” — on a red carpet, of course.

The title connotes “debauchery and raunchiness,” he knows.” But at its heart it’s about 2 very unlikely people who come together to solve a problem. We preach the idea that ‘you change the world when you change your mind.'”

Certain markets need to hear that message more than others, Adam says. Each city reacts uniquely. Audiences laugh and cheer at different moments.

Yet, Adam notes, “whether we’re in conservative markets or liberal San Francisco, they’re on their feet at the end of the show.”

He’s gratified to receive letters from grown men, saying they wish they had a show like “Kinky Boots” when they were younger, to give them support.

Adam is surprised that he knows at least one person in every city he’s visited. But most of his friends and family are in New York and Connecticut, so he’s especially excited about New Haven.

Having grown up at the Shubert, he’ll feel “surreal” on that stage. (He also looks forward to sleeping in his own Westport bed.)

When Adam went on for the lead in “Newsies,” Westporters flocked to see him. “Connecticut is in the house!” the stage manager joked.

Next month, Adam’s many friends and fans will make the even shorter journey to New Haven. After all, it began right here.

(For more information and tickets, click here,  call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000, or visit the Shubert box office at 247 College Street, New Haven.)

Adam Kaplan, on stage. (Photos/Matthew Murphy)

Adam Kaplan, on stage. (Photos/Matthew Murphy)

Extra! Extra! Adam Kaplan Performs At The White House!

The Easter Egg Roll is a 137-year-old White House tradition.

“06880” records are incomplete, but next Monday’s event might mark the 1st time a Westporter has performed at the largest White House gathering of the year.

Adam Kaplan — a 2008 Staples grad — will be part of the cast of “Newsies,” his Broadway show, performing on the “Rock ‘n’ Egg Roll Stage.”

Adam Kaplan (carrying a fellow actor on his back) strikes the same pose as shown on the Nederlander Theater door. This shot was taken the day the poster went up.

Adam Kaplan (carrying a fellow”Newsies” actor on his back) strikes the same pose as shown on the Nederlander Theater door.

He’ll be joined by DJ Fussyman, Diggy Simmons, Fifth Harmony, MKTO, Sesame Street and “So You Think You Can Dance” All-Stars. None of that means much to me, but I’m sure it does to the thousands of little egg rollers and their minders, who will pour onto the South Lawn.

This year’s event features sports and fitness zones, cooking demonstrations (including Bobby Flay), and classics such as the egg roll and egg hunt, plus storytelling and (cue “Newsies”) live music.

And you thought nothing ever got done in Washington!

Broadway Stars Warm Up Westport

If the interminable weather has got you down — and played havoc with your trips to, say, Broadway, for entertainment — here’s an “06880” special.

Last week, nearly a dozen Broadway stars came to Staples. They performed a benefit concert, helping Orphenians — the elite singing group — who head to San Francisco later this month. (They’re one of only 10 high school choirs invited to perform at a 4-day workshop with Chanticleer.)

The concert was organized by Adam Kaplan. He’s a 2008 Staples (and Orphs) alum, and already a Broadway veteran (“Newsies”).

Adam rounded up some of his most talented buddies, from the biggest New York shows. They performed spectacularly — and, in between numbers, added insights about the importance of high school theater and music. Adam and fellow Staples grad Mia Gentile were particularly compelling.

Here’s the entire show. It’s exactly the warmth we need, in this long, cold winter. (NOTE: You’ll have to click the underlined “Watch this video on YouTube” once it loads.)

If your browser does not take you directly to YouTube, click here.

 

Broadway Stars Benefit Orphenians

Adam Kaplan has not forgotten his roots.

Adam Kaplan

Adam Kaplan

The 2008 Staples High School graduate scored some prime roles — Martin Delancey and a newsboy, plus understudy for lead Jack Kelly — in the popular Broadway show “Newsies.” But he has returned to Westport often, enjoying Staples Players productions and  visiting Greens Farms Elementary School music classes.

Now Kaplan is donating his talents to a fundraiser for the Orphenians, the elite high school singing group that helped boost his career. The a cappella musicians have been invited to San Francisco — the only East Coast group to participate in the famed Chanticleer National Youth Choral Festival, this March.

Kaplan has put together an all-star Broadway cast, for a benefit performance. Set to appear with him in the Staples auditorium on Monday, January 26: “Newsies” Tommy Bracco and Molly Jobe; Matt Shingledecker (“Wicked,” “West Side Story,” “Spring Awakening”); Steffanie Leigh (the final Mary of “Mary Poppins”); Robin de Jesús (current star of “Wicked”; 2-time Tony nominee for “In the Heights” and “La Cage aux Folles”); Barrett Wilbert Weed (“Heathers the Musical,” “Lysistrat Jones”) and Kara Lindsay (“Wicked,” “Newsies”).

Proceeds will help all Orphenians be able to make the trip. Click here to order tickets ($40 for adults, $20 for students and seniors). If you can’t attend but would like to contribute, click here.

The 2014-15 Orphenians

The 2014-15 Orphenians

A Star Is Born

Adam Kaplan stepped up up from understudy to lead in last Saturday’s matinee and evening performances of “Newsies.”

Adam Kaplan PlaybillThe 2008 Staples grad played Jack Kelly at the Nederlander Theatre.

A perhaps-only-slightly-less-than-objective Westport fan said, “He was wonderful! His singing, acting, comic timing and dancing were totally Broadway-worthy. ”

She was also struck by “the kindness, patience and genuine warmth that he showed to fans outside the theater.”

His fans included dozens of Westporters — among them his father and mother, Jeff and Carol; his former music teacher Suzanne Sherman Propp, and current and former Staples Players.

Adam Kaplan and a few fans, after the show.

Adam Kaplan and a few fans, after the show.

Adam — whose usual roles are both Morris Delancey and a newsboy — may take the role again soon.

Where will that lead? Read all about it — not in newspapers, but on “06880.”

(Fun fact: “Newsies” associate director Richard [Ricky] Hinds danced in Staples Players summer shows, before Adam’s time.)

The work of a star is never done.

The work of a star is never done.